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     Broadening my horizons
    Filed under: — David @ 12:37 pm

    Every now and then I look into what it would take to get me started on Windows programming, especially since I would like to have certain of my projects working on Windows as well as Mac OS X. One challenge has been figuring out exactly what .NET is; Microsoft’s own descriptions tend to sound like a pile of marketing buzzwords. The most recent meaningful definition I’ve heard is that it’s like Cocoa, though I expect the analogy breaks down in certain areas. For one thing, Cocoa is tied to Objective C, while .NET’s ties to C# apparently have been loosened.

    Another issue is finding a development environment. As a student I can get Visual Studio .NET for $99, though I am graduating soon. In the less expensive and free category, Dev-C++ seems popular, at least according to the SourceForge rankings. I haven’t found any definitive answer on whether it works with the Visual C++ Toolkit, which apparently would be really nice.

    It would be a lot easier if Microsoft’s developer tools were free like Apple’s… but I’m sure you’ve heard enough monopoly rants.

     BR4 1.0b2
    Filed under: — David @ 7:13 pm

    The new beta has been posted. I’ve fixed quite a few bugs - more than in any of the internal betas. There are several fixes to things like the HUD and scoring issues. Most notable are the new HUD indicators to show which team is carrying which ball, and it automatically adjusts the Team Balls setting to ensure that at least one ball shows up. That lets mappers restrict which Team Balls options are allowed on a particular map.

    As before, report bugs here.

     Adventures in HTML
    Filed under: — David @ 9:38 pm

    Today I was experimenting with my Icons page, playing around with interesting things to do in HTML and CSS. I decided to try doing something about all those little download icons, since it seemed redundant to specify the image location, size, padding, and alignment over and over. So I came up with a CSS style that would replicate the information easily:
    .foldericon:before { width:16; height:16; padding:4px; vertical-align:middle; content:url(images/folder.png); }

    I’m not sure specifying the width and height did anything; it seemed to be taken to refer to the entire “before” element, and not the image itself. Ah heck, it’s not hurting anything. Anyway, thereafter I could insert a folder icon by saying <span class="foldericon"/>. The HTML 4.01 validator didn’t quite like that though, since the span element is supposed to have an end tag, and the / at the end of the one tag doesn’t count.

    So I thought I’d switch to XHTML, where that kind of thing is welcomed… in fact, it’s required. I ran into two problems there. The first was that, even though the “border” attribute for images is no longer allowed, I could find nothing else that would prevent Firefox from drawing a border around linked images. I tried the border CSS attributes, but that had no effect. So I had to put the “border=0″ back in. The second problem was that suddenly things were getting spaced differently, and in particular I was getting a space under the top two images (the Uncommonplace logo and the navigation bar). I couldn’t figure out what was causing that, until I tried deleting the DOCTYPE line at the top of the file. That made the space go away in both Firefox and Safari (or rather, SubEthaEdit’s web preview window). Interesting… so I tried switching back to HTML 4.01. The space came back. Then I changed it to HTML 4.01 Transitional. The space went away again.

    I thought the difference between Strict and Transitional was just whether or not deprecated tags and attributes were allowed. Why the heck would it affect the actual layout? Oh well… I guess I just have to go with what works.

    Edit: I found the solutions.

    • img { border:0 none } fixes the image borders in Firefox
    • vertical-align:bottom fixes the unwanted space… though I still don’t understand why

    The new version of the page is now up.

     Spam and the Social-Technical Gap
    Filed under: — David @ 4:56 pm

    Here is an article on the Computer Magazine web site about an approach to the spam problem. I really like the approach they take. It’s not just another filtering or blocking scheme built on top of the ancient e-mail system we all still use. They actually take a step back and examine the fundamental problems behind e-mail, spam, and computer privacy. This is what I’ve been thinking for a long time. The solution to spam is not more band-aids. Someone needs to be brave and set forth a dramatically new system for exchanging messages on the Internet.

    The continued growth of spam suggests the need for a new approach. Although most see spam as a personal problem, we suggest it is a social problem that needs a social response. Yet traditional social responses—law, courts, and the judiciary—seem to work poorly in cyberspace. We propose bridging the gap between society and technology by applying social concepts to technology design.

     BR4 1.0b1
    Filed under: — David @ 2:37 pm

    Now that CTF4 is out, I can post the first public beta release of BR4. Although the gameplay is nearly all done, what we really need is more maps.

    To report bugs, go to the bugs database at Apartment 167 and sign up.

     Flag Domination 3.2
    Filed under: — David @ 6:45 pm

    I figure I’ve sat on this one long enough. Flag Domination 3.2 has been released, featuring numerous improvements. Probably most notable is compatibility with the ECE Bonus Pack, as well as the yet-again-improved flag placement, fixing cases where the B flag was absent, and placing the C flag on more maps. See the forum post for the full list of changes.

    Edit: If you downloaded the umod version and it incorrectly claims you don’t have the ECE Bonus Pack installed, I’ve fixed that, so try downloading it again.

     It eats bugs
    Filed under: — David @ 3:17 pm

    I have set up a bug reporting database on my site (using Mantis), with projects set up so far for Icon Machine and Flag Domination. BR4 already has a bug database on Greg Laabs’ site, together with CTF4 and his other stuff. That, in fact, is what inspired me to do this. Volley and ACCELA, of course, already have bug databases as part of their SourceForge projects.

    If you would like to be a beta tester for Icon Machine or Flag Domination (or something else that I haven’t set up a project for yet), just sign up for an account and fill out the bug report form. Note that this is for people who intend to be testing and reporting on a regular basis, and want to participate in private betas. If you only expect to give feedback occasionally, you can use the forums.

     “Definately” not
    Filed under: — David @ 10:18 am

    One of the problems with the Internet is it helps people reinforce each other’s bad spelling and grammar habits. My two pet peeves: “definately” and misuse of “then”.

    In my head, whenever I see “definately”, I read it like it looks: there’s a “nate” in the middle. It’s also funny when a typo makes it come out as “defiantly”, which gives a totatlly different meaning to the sentence. Come on people, it’s not that hard. Just think of it as being related to the word “definition”. You don’t say “defination”, right?

    Then there’s “then”. Many people seem to have forgotten that the word “than” exists. “Better then” means “better at that time”. “Better than” is making a comparison.

    Just to make myself feel better, I’ve gone through some wiki pages here and there and corrected these errors. I found some interesting places along the way, too. Like the They Might Be Giants wiki, which has pages where people discuss possible meanings of TMBG songs. Silly people. Didn’t they see the movie?

    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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