What She Said

September 28, 2001
12:15 PM
I never knew that riven was really a word. I saw MSNBC's "Riven By Conflict" (referring to the middle east) and I thought they had mis-spelled "Driven", but nope. Turns out the Myst sequel Riven was in fact named after a real word.

8:23 AM
I guess this answers my question of how to save the chick in the ICO demo (for PlayStation 2).

8:20 AM
Hwua? Serious Sam on PalmOS? How? Why? NEED MORE INFO!

September 27, 2001
10:12 AM
The mighty gmax was finally released today, and Blue's News had a post on it buried within another post in a massive flurry of no hype at all. I of course only know of this profuct because I heard it mentioned a long time ago and I saw (and used) it at QuakeCon 2001. I like Discreet's enthusaism with this product, but when I almost missed its mention on Blue's, I was afraid that it would be completely overlooked. However, either Autodesk (Discreet's parent) is completely incompetent when it comes to FTP servers or they're getting totally hammered (more likely). I'll have more on gmax whenever my downloads get finished (like never).

7:23 AM
OK, there's nothing quite as embarrasing as shooting your mouth off about how much better you are beause you do X instead of Y only to learn later why it is people do Y to begin with, which is directly related to their experience and your inexperience.

Ao for that reason, I've put up a static SchnappleCam image for the time being. I realize now why people have static images - you only do something worth looking at a few times a day. Plus the cam software I have puts a small drain on my CPU I don't want at this point. I'm going to rig the page to only show the non-static image at certian times of the day, but in the meantime take a looky at what I got in the mail from Hong Kong yesterday...

September 26, 2001
12:31 PM
ClassicGaming.com has posted an interview with Andrew Davie, a fellow who has created a game for the Atari 2600 recently called QB. They prodded him for some details as to what it's like to program for the 2600 and he told them of the "synching with the electron gun" bit. I'd heard of this, but never seen it explained anywhere before. Here's what he had to say:

A typical TV picture is composed of many horzontal lines (have a close look at any TV image). When a TV is drawing the picture that you see, it draws it line by line, very quickly. There are 262 lines in a typical NTSC TV image, and each image ("frame") is displayed for just 1/60th of a second. So, in other words, the entire picture is redrawn 60 times per second. In all modern video game systems, there is a bit of hardware which "feeds" the correct picture to the TV, line by line, so that it draws the image you want. Typically, some memory on the console is used to contain the data for generating the TV image, and the hardware just looks at the memory to see what to send to the TV.

Now, in the Atari 2600, there is NO video memory. And there is NO hardware to tell the TV exactly what to display for the entire frame! All that the machine does have is a few registers (memory locations) to which you write single-bytes (8 pixels) of data. The hardware sends the contents of these registers to the TV. To get any meaningful pictures on the TV, you have to make your program write to these registers very very quickly, so that the changing pattern in the registers will draw the picture on your TV as the TV electron-beam sweeps line-by-line down the screen.

The only way to do this effectively is to know exactly how long it takes the TV to draw a single line, and exactly where the electron-beam is on the line, so that you can change the registers at exactly the right time. And the only way to be exactly sure of the time is to "cycle-count" your code. Basically, you have to know EXACTLY how long each instruction takes, and make sure that when you write data to the registers, you are "at" the correct place in the TV picture. In other words, not only does the code do all the drawing of the TV picture, it is actually totally in-synch with the So, Atari 2600 programmers are not just limited by the small amount of RAM (128 bytes) and ROM, but also by the need to do the work of a video-chip, by controlling the data that is sent to the TV for display. To get complex graphics on the screen, it is often necessary to change the registers in the MIDDLE of scan lines, at exactly the right point in time. It is quite challenging, and quite foreign most modern console programmers.

Holy shit! You have to give it the pixels as the TV is drawing them! How did anyone make a game for this console? Better yet, how did they make E.T. in 2 weeks, even as crappy as it was? No wonder people take up programming for the 2600 these days - if you can pull anything off on it you're worth your salt. I'll have to put this on my "to do" list - due date in the next five years or so...

11:42 AM
I've lucked out. Seems that TNN (formerly The Nashville Network but now The National Network now that country music is in the shitter) is now the new home for rerun episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Further, they're running a marathon starting October 1st of ST:TNG episodes and such, and it continues for a full week. The part I've lucked out on, however, is that they're not showing every episode and so therefore I don't feel an overwhelming urge to tape them all, 24-7. Phew, that was close. However, they are playing the episodes in order after that. Perhaps it's time to give up my NYPD Blue quest in order to persue better endevours...

10:47 AM
Must read Lord of the Rings by December 19. Must read Lord of the Rings by December 19. Must read Lord of the Rings by December 19. Must read...

September 25, 2001
1:37 PM
Okay folks, here's a head-scratcher. Remember the magazine Total Movie? I subscribed to this magazine for its initial doomed 4 issue run - a bimonthly issue and a DVD full of movie trailers and short films. It was pretty cool, I thought.

I think what happened to the remainder of money for the magazine went into my Next Generation subscription (along with the money applied to the failed Official Sega Dreamcast Magazine). However, now Total Movie has relaunched and it's a little more pricey this time. However, according to the relaunched website, the yearly subscription price of $39.99, you get 6 bi-monthly issues of Total Movie, 6 bi-monthly issues of Inside DVD (a second magazine that apparently doesn't even bother with a print medium - it's just a snapper case) and - here's the kicker - 40 DVD movies.

Here's what they say about that:

"The 40 movie bundle includes Classics, Westerns, Noir, Sci-Fi, Cult, Animation and even French New Wave; from directors including Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola and Frank Capra; starring actors including Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant and contemporary fave John Travolta."

Damn. I really want this now. Of course this hits as all my magazine subscriptions need to be renewed and I have a hard enough time doing that - plus they're being delayed because the money is tight (as always). But still - even though I know that a lot of these movies won't be, say, A+ titles, it would be cool to suddenly have a much expanded DVD collection for cheap. My guess is these are probably a bunch of "never did sell" titles that perhaps would be nice to have on DVD but you would never get around to buying for various reasons If you only get to buy a DVD once in a blue moon, it's always something balls-out like Star Wars, but for those "eh, what the hell..." movies this may be just what you need. Kinda like when you flip to a Turner owned network and they're playing some movie you'd like to watch, but you don't want to pay $20 for.

Must... scrounge up.... change....

(having said that if they're all shit movies there's no way I'm getting it - someone's bound to put out a list of them soon)

9:07 AM
We computer junkies are a bitchy little bunch. Part of the impression of intelligence is the fear and paranaoia that comes along with the notion of someone telling you you're wrong, so the tendency is to lash out proactively against thosw who might oppose you. Case in point: I had a friend I worked with at one point, let's just call him the Microsoft Fan, who hated Leo from The Screen Savers, because the man was "stupid and always dead wrong." Translation: he's a Linux enthusaist and therefore a threat to Microsoft. While I have noticed Leo state things wrong in the past (or at least be misguiding about it, which is bad considering he's "here to help") and I do notice a bit of an anti-MS bias, I don't think there's really anything wrong with what he says or how he chooses to go about doing it - rather the fault probably lied with my friend, as he felt his knowledge somehow undermined by a person on TV.

However, every morning on KTSR they have some recurring content, including the local news, the jokes made by Jon Stewart and Jay Leno the night before, and Lazlow's Underground Hard Drive. Let me tell you, this guy is a putz. This morning's little diatribe: "With all the Windows operating systems out there, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000 and now Windows XP, consumers may feel a little bit overwhelmed..." Yes, Lazlow, do that. Play on the igorance of the masses to make Microsoft seem like an evil fuck. Nevermind the fact that Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT aren't even available anymore (as MS buys the copies back once a new version is out). Nevermind the fact that Windows 2000 is only found at certian places and even when it is it's so expensive as to ward off the average user. Nevermind the fact that once Windows XP hits shelves it will be the only OS MS will market anymore and the only one on shelves, just sit there and make a big deal out of nothing, fucktard.

Maybe my friend was right after all.

September 24, 2001
9:46 AM
I guess now I'm officially an old fart. I participated in the Aggie Band reunion. It was interesting to see how I compared to the "real" old farts. This weekend was the Corps reunion - 125 years old (the Band only goes back to 1894). They did a presentation and some various events around campus - it was pretty cool.

Also this weekend, and perhaps more significantly, at the football game A&M did a little stunt called "Red, White and Blue Out". A little history - a few years ago (1998) seems we kept not only getting beat by Nebraska (where they breed their football players big apparently) but we kept getting annihilated by them. Everyone did - they had an undefeated record stretching back a year or so. So someone came up with idea to do "Maroon Out" - since the Nebraska game that year was at Kyle Field the idea was to print out tons of maroon T-shirts with "Maroon Out" on them (maroon and white are the A&M colors) and sell them as cheaply as possible - $5 (barely covering the $4+ price of printing the shirt) with the hopes of the football players' spirits being encouraged by seeing so much maroon in the stands and the opposing team being scared by the strong showing. When the Aggies won the game 28-21 the Maroon Out concept was given most of the credit. For that game 31,000 shirts were sold to the crowd of 68,000+ (remember that most A&M fans already own a maroon shirt of some sort). Now each year a game is designated the "Maroon Out" game (this year it's Notre Dame, next weekend), but there's always a ton of these shirts at the game.

In wake of the WTC incident someone came up with a concept to do "Red White and Blue Out" - only this time to infest the three different decks of Kyle Field - third (top) deck was red, second (middle) deck was white, first (bottom) deck was blue. And as you can see from this picture the effort was not only successful, but was an amazing success - 70,000 shirts were sold to the 82,601 people at the game. The section of khaki on the first deck is the Corps of Cadets and the splotches of orange on the other side of that deck are Oklahoma fans, but the second and third decks especially were more or less perfect in their participation. The $150,000 profit from the $5 shirt sales will go to the relief efforts.

The "USA" is being spelled out by the Aggie Band and somewhere in that cluster of maroon people on the top of the field is me - that's the Reunion Band and we had just left the field after playing "The Noble Men of Kyle". All in all it was pretty cool and it's futher evidence that I'm involved in something that will never die.

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