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February 19th, 2008

No real news today

There was actually a lot of it over the weekend, but I don't have time to tell you about it. I just wanted to highlight that Oxford University plans to spend 4 million dollars researching why people believe in God. When the end result is that the theologians win the coin toss and present the consensus as "Because He exists," they're going to feel stupid for having wasted their money. However, there is a tiny, tiny chance that some of them will come up with a good answer, other than "atheism is unnatural", in which case I'm all for it. We might get some respect.

Also, it occurred to me this morning why so many strange things were happening in my Game Maker game, and I think I can finally fix the problem at its source and remove a lot of the kludges with just a few simple changes. Here's hoping.
Today's Bridge: Power to our side.Collapse )

Today's Work: Felt like a lesson in how a computer works, at times. We're working on solidifying some requirements, and the other teams involved don't all seem to understand what a computer can and can't do. A computer can't determine whether what's on the video display is the thing you're trying to shoot at. A computer, in general, CAN tell if you've been through 200 steps on the way to pulling the trigger... but ours won't. That's way too much work. A computer program can rarely determine whether the variable it's just set has failed to be set properly... I mean, sure, you can sit there and check it, but you won't unless you actually SEE a problem and need to verify the sanity. It's the same reason you don't set a variable more than once in a row... once you set it, it's set. These fundamental concepts are important for everybody who puts requirements on computer systems, whether they understand programming or not. I can only come up with so many simple analogies before I lapse into jargon. Especially after a full day in a building where the heater was obviously on full blast... I had to strip to my T-shirt and really wished I'd brought my emergency shorts. Yes, it's Shorts in February time again, only in whatever building I happen to be in at the time.

Speaking of computer programs, I spent the evening (after another failed session of golf... are they EVER going to bother trying to fix the program?) fixing up the physics in my game. The problem I'd suspected was indeed the case, and I eliminated the kludge with no apparent ill effects. I also discovered the wonder of the "parent" system in all its glory... I was aware of the concept, vaguely, but I didn't realize just how powerful it was. I didn't know that I could set an event for "collides with TerrainObject" and it would affect every child object of the TerrainObject, unless I also specify a "collides with SpecificChild" as an override. And instead of a giant set of if clauses listing all the terrain objects I have, I can just use the TerrainObject parent object to condense all of the checks into a single statement. I don't know if it's any faster this way, but I assume it is... at the very least, it should only be stepping through the instance list once per iteration instead of once per type of terrain. The revelation will also help future development... in the past, if I added a new terrain type, I'd have to remember to add it to my checks. Now, I just specify that its parent is TerrainObject, and the work is done! And then I decided to rename some of my sprites (the names had spaces, which are invalid, but the game compiled even so), and discovered an advantage to working with the graphical language rather than code... the events referring to sprites were some of the few I did in graphics, and they updated automatically! Game Maker is awesome, and I'm just about ready to buy the Pro version even though I haven't run out of things I can do in the free version yet. It's just that cool. And there's an extension for Wii remote support. No fooling. I assume I'd need a custom plug or maybe even a USB infrared receiver (pair), but how can that go wrong?

So, another non-night of gaming, but I fully intend to watch another episode of Spiral, and the manga's now in my reading queue. Very different from what I was expecting, and quite intriguing.

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Yes, I'm THAT Nidoking. Sometimes I write fanfiction... often I waste all my time playing video games and watching anime. But it's not a waste if I enjoy it, right? I can quote from a movie, video game, anime series, or British comedy apropos of just about any situation, and one of my main goals in life is to entertain people. (The other big one is amassing as much anime and manga as I can... see below for a progress report.) That's me in a nutshell. ("Help! I'm trapped in a nutshell! What a bloody great nutshell this is!")
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