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| Stuff I’ve been doing lately ||9/28/2005 |
- Listening to podcasts - I currently live within walking distance of the office, and the walk is just about the same length as the average podcast.
- Kyoto Podcast - I’m into Japanese stuff, and I particularly like this podcast’s descriptions of various historical sites in Kyoto. I generally skip Donald the Nut.
- LDS Voices - They post two talks a day, so I’ll never catch up, especially since I pretty much only listen to these on Sunday. I have to pick out the General Conference talks since I’ve already downloaded those, and I find the roundtable discussions to be not quite as interesting as the rest. They’re actually just posting links to talks that are already available on the LDS church and BYU web sites, and before I found this podcast I had no idea there were so many available.
- Science Friday - My car’s antenna broke, so it’s great to not have to depend on that to get interesting NPR stuff.
- The World’s Technology Podcast - I found the recent story on fab labs fascinating. Finally, something that brings technology to the people instead of requiring them to move to the big city at the expense of the small towns and villages.
- Morning Stories - Stories about people, instead of just plain news. Sometimes that can be even more thought-provoking.
- Watching Food Network - I’m not much of a cook, and I’m getting bored with the limited range of stuff I can make for dinner. Maybe I can learn something useful.
- Good Eats - By far my favorite. He doesn’t just cook and talk. He gives detailed explanations of what’s going on inside the food. And as a former cinematographer, he gives the show a very unique and creative style.
- Unwrapped - Actually, I watch this mainly because it’s on after Good Eats. Mark Summers’ narration style gets monotonous sometimes.
- The Secret Life Of… - More interesting than Unwrapped, but not as convenient a time. It’s interesting to see how little shops that I’ve never heard of, and am not likely to visit any time soon, put some creative twists on well-known foods. My favorite (which I don’t actually remember what TV program I saw them on) is donuts with rose petals on them. Yes, you do eat the whole thing.
- Watching cartoons - This has been a hobby of mine for quite a while. I’m linking to the Wikipedia pages because the official ones on the Cartoon Network site aren’t very interesting or informative.
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee - The initial ads didn’t look like anything special, but this is a good, funny show. The rare serious moments are actually meaningful (I especially like the end of the Auntie Roon episode), and the jokes are better than your average kid’s show.
- Justice League Unlimited - I was initially disappointed that they didn’t stick with the original Justice Leauge pattern of “every episode is a two-parter”, but then I discovered that they’re actually building up an overall story arc a little at a time. It really is like an animated comic book.
- Playing games - I seem to go through phases of playing and not playing.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - I rented this for a week and got about halfway through. It’s pretty good, but RPGs tend to suck up too much time (gotta level up! gotta get more items!) and I’d rather find something more like Super Mario Sunshine.
- Unreal Tournament 2004 - Yeah, I’m still at it. There is of course the mutator I recently released. I’ve mostly been playing Onslaught and Vehicle Flag Domination offline. My new favorite variation: lightweight Paladin arena. A well-placed shot at the ground just to the side of an enemy Paladin can get some pretty dramatic flips.
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| Get In, Stupid! ||9/17/2005 |
I’ve been wanting to write this for a while.
Get In Stupid is a mutator that makes bots get in your vehicle when you hit them, instead of just yelling “Hey, same team!”
Now, when I wrote this, I didn’t realize that honking a vehicle’s horn is the same as ordering the nearest bot to follow you, which will make it get in your vehicle. But you may not necessarily want this bot to follow you around for the rest of the game; you just want a gunner for as long as you’re in this vehicle. I think this also makes it easier in the Cicada, where you can just swoop down and grab someone instead of honking and waiting.
I tried to build this feature into Flag Domination a while back, but I didn’t quite get it right.
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| Every 10 minutes ||9/16/2005 |
I had a strange attack on my site recently. For several days, about every 10 minutes the site would get 4 or 5 requests for the SmackBar preview image from the Icons page, all from the same IP address. These requests would either get a 403 response (not allowed) because of the hotlink protection I have enabled, or a 304 indicating that the client already has the latest version of the file. Eventually I added it to my IP address blacklist (which consists mostly of blog spammers), so then it was getting nothing but 403s. And yet it continued.
Finally I looked the address up and found it was a DSL account (no surprise) belonging to Zen Internet, an ISP in the UK. Their contact page is aimed at current or potential customers, so the sales address was listed as the general inquiry contact. So I sent my complaint there. I got no response, so I tried the support address the next day, and that one got their attention. I gave them a sample of my log file, and soon after that the attack stopped.
I call it an “attack” even though it was only a few requests every 10 minutes… but I figure other sites were likely being affected too. If nothing else it was an annoyance because it was polluting my logs - I periodically check the recent error messages to see if anything needs fixing. I only wish I knew what was going on; I got nothing but a generic abuse complaint response when I sent them my log.
The hotlink thing, for those who missed that, means that only certain sites are allowed to link to images on my site - mainly they’re forums where I post links to my own images, like screenshots of UT mods. The reason I use that is I discovered there are some cheap forum sites that link to other sites’ graphics instead of using their own, and a couple of them targeted mine. I thought that was weird since I still use the standard phpBB graphics (except for the user rank images). But I guess they don’t discriminate.
It’s sad that there are people out there that think that way… content to live as parasites…
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| Inkscape ||9/4/2005 |
I’ve been experimenting lately with using Inkscape for creating icons. It has its pros and cons. I got into it mainly because I’ve been investigating SVG.
One of its good points, compared with Photoshop’s vector layers and effects, is in stroking. Inkscape is a vector drawing app, so naturally it strokes the path directly. Photoshop’s stroke effect works off of the layer contents, so when you’re working with the nearly sub-pixel-level details of small icons, that can be a little inaccurate. Photoshop does have the ability to stroke a path directly, but that’s a command, not a live effect. It paints the stroke into a bitmap layer. If you change the path, you have to erase and stroke again. I tried this route with the original Squiver set, since at the time Photoshop didn’t yet have vector layers. It was pretty tedious.
On the con side, there’s the lack of a screen-resolution preview. It works like Illustrator: when you zoom in, you get a higher resolution view of the image. Actually, there is an “icon preview”, but that’s a new feature that has some growing up to do. It shows a preview of the current selection scaled to a few standard icon sizes, the largest being 48x48. (I also haven’t figured out the purpose of the popup menu in the preview window, which doesn’t seem to do anything). I’m not quite sure why it only shows the current selection; the only way I could figure out to get it to show the whole canvas was to create a dummy rectangle that matched the size of the canvas, and preview that. It’s also not a live preview: you have to click “refresh” now and then.
The other down side is that it runs as an X11 application. Now, the UI is quite decent for an X11 application, and I appreciate that they’ve gone to the trouble of creating a drag-installable Mac build. But when I’m working in OS X, it’s always preferable that the apps I use have a native UI. I keep forgetting to hit ctrl-Z instead of cmd-Z for Undo.
So far I’ve made Sprightly and Squiver style icons and it’s working well. Smack or Paper Folder can’t be done currently, because Inkscape doesn’t yet support SVG filters. Even if it did, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent for Photoshop’s Inner/Outer Glow, which I use a lot in the Smack and Paper Folder icons. Core Image doesn’t seem to have that either, so this is going to be a challenge.
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