2001 Aug 1 (Wed), 12:44 Hi! How are you=3F .. I send you this file in order to have your advice
I am so danged sick of this virus! I get about twenty of these stupid messages a day!

I have Linux, so I don't have to worry about infection (obviously)... but this is a very annoying virus since it forwards some file from the infected computer's system to mine... And often this file is massive! So when I get my new mail, it sometimes take s forever to download (and I have a cable modem connection!) as these massive files eat up my bandwitdh!

In addition to these viral funnies (Windows users can be so damned idiotic) our little next door neighbor gang-member had another drive-by shooting at his house Monday night. Monday night at 6:50pm my wife and I were playing "Spot" for the NES (had just purchased it at a thrift store) when we heard the gunshots.

6:50pm.... Hell... it wasn't even dark yet. Punk-assed kids got their car totally I.D.'ed.

This time, the cops never even showed up. The last time something like this happenned, the cops were here in 8 minutes. Then, when there was the brawl that took out our mail-box a few weeks ago, the cops were here with a helicopter in 15 minutes. This time.... nothing.

What the hell is wrong with the world? Why do people suck so much?

Then I read here on Slashdot about how the Pentagon put on a fake presentation of their new Missle Defense Shield (thank yo u very much Bush). Anyone who thinks America is so much better than anywhere else on this globe is a freakin' moron.

On a much lighter note, we have our 1.0 release candidate for Tux Typing online. If all goes well, we plan on having the official release sometime next week. Also, I am planning o n attending some NMI courses this fall to help me do this whole Tux4Kids thing.

2001 Aug 2 (Thu), 10:41 Pinecone fart

Just rec'd a nifty procmail rc file yesterday from Jan Schaumann which takes care of my SirCam virus headaches (where people keep sending me tons of junk via their lovely e-mail virus- see yesterday's posting). This procmail rc looks to be working so far (managed to catch all but one of the 10 infected e-mails I got today). Anyone else interested can grab the procmailrc file from here.

I read recently (sorry, can't find a link ;-) that modern music bands are facing a severe shortage of drummers. There has been supposing that this is because drummers are arguably the least appealing and least noticable member of the band. I, however, would beg to differ. Wayne Pygram, Scorpius of Farscape, was an accomplished drummer for many years before becoming the evil villan Scorpius. I think the real threat to music groups is not the perceived cultural standings of drummers in modern society..... but science fiction TV shows stealing them away to be evil villans!

Just my suspicion....

2001 Aug 5 (Sun), 11:43 Snack-patti-wack

Been working on Tux Reader (probably mentionned it before, but it will be another Tux edu game which will use Festival to help children learn how to read- no URL for the project yet). I made some real headway Friday, and Saturday. About 2/3 of the most difficult aspects of the app are done. Presently it doesn't do much more than boot, init Festival, init the various libs in use, and shut down... so it doesn't look very impressive yet. But what's going on underneath is very nifty. I was so thrilled, I had to take a screenshot of it. I expect to have something ready to release within a week or two. It may not be very functional yet, but the basic skeleton will be there.

Tux Typing's 1.0 release should happen tomorrow. The Win32 port may not be ready for the release, but we can always catch that later. We will be having a 1.0 release party on our #tux4kids IRC at OpenProject's this week as well. Should be fun.

Uhm.... don't know if I mentionned this or not, but my wife got me Twisted Metal: Black for our anniversery last weekend. So I've been playing that an awful lot ;-) I got her the latest Farscape DVDs ;-)

2001 Aug 6 (Mon), 20:01 New Improved Society! 10% Intellect - 90% Filler!

Whenever any geeky or technological tool or toy becomes popular enough, you start attracting the wannabes. It keeps happenning time, and time again. When the wannabes come, the technology/thing in question must dumb down in order to keep its popularity amongst the idiotic masses. When this happens, the magic is usually gone, and whatever this technology/thing is or was dies. In TV shows, people call it Jumping The Shark. Well... if any piece of technological thingy has jumped the shark, it must undoubtedly be Slashdot.

I used to enjoy Slashdot all the time. It was at times very funny, and other times incredibly brilliant and poignant. But I have not only noticed a marked decline in articles they have been accepting (from the really embarrasing SDL Ask Slashdot to today's annoying Ogg Vorbis vs. MP3 stupidity) but a remarkable decline in posters comments. It's almost like most of the brilliant people who used to post got sick of being inundated with lusers, and took their comments elsewhere.

For example, in the Ogg Vorbis vs MP3 debate today the question they pose is very single-minded, and doesn't really account what the strength that Ogg Vorbis has over MP3 can do for the format. Ogg Vorbis may never replace MP3's in everyday supposed music "piracy" (quoted because in many cases this is a highly debatable term), but for people wanting to use high quality audio with small file sizes in their applications (such as Open-Source and Free-Software games), using a patented format such as MP3 is not only risky, it's moronic. In each and every game I intend on making (including those I will never get to ;-) I plan on using patent-free Ogg Vorbis over patent-shackled MP3. Why risk my project just because there seems to be so much prior art in MP3? Why risk it just because the MP3 patent holders haven't had another legal rally lately? 'Nuff said.

Anyway.... enough bitching.

Tux Typing just had it's 1.0 release today! Wahoo! Yippee! Hooray! This is our first stable release. I have been working on this project for a year and a half now, and I am so pleased. My current dev team is top-notch, the project (and others like it) are going at breakneck paces. I couldn't be happier.

Well... I guess I could be happier if the incesant dullard roar on sites like Slashdot would quiet down.... ;-)

2001 Aug 8 (Wed), 17:36 Pickled Lamb Shank

Okay, I am beat (as in tired).... so I am going to make this short and sweet so I can go in and watch the Simpsons....

Today at 1pm I finally finished the Tux Typing 1.0 announcements! Wahoo!.... Yippeee...... *sigh*... Gosh it's hard to do announcements for this project now.... They wind up taking 3 days because I have so many places to announce to. It's really quite exhausting..... Perhaps I need to get a PR guy for the project.... hmmmm .... ;-)

I put up a QND site for TuxReader. There ain't a whole lot there right now (as a matter of fact, the source that is there is almost a week old :-/ ), but it will be the future home of TuxReader. I've also applied for hosting at FSF's Savannah for the project (thought I'd do a comparative study ;-) .

I've done ever so slightly a little bit of work on Tux Typing- working on the build problems we've had since day one. I will be using my SDL & KDevelop HOWTO (which is another thing I haven't updated online in a while). I will tell you this much with respect to this bug, I can't wait until the KDevelop 2.0 release allows me to make an SDL template!.

Erm... nothing else for now... Need some rest.

2001 Aug 10 (Fri), 11:04 Get up, and put your body in motion

Woah.... busy busy week.

On Thursday (yesterday) we had our online Tux Typing 1.0 Release Party. It went pretty well, and you can read the IRC chat logs here (with summaries).

Related to this, I finally got the Tux4Kids site up. This site is temporary until we can get some funding to move it to its own URL. Tomorrow I will be attending NMI's orientation since I intend on taking some of their non-profit management classes for this whole Tux4Kids thing.

After the orientation, my wife and I will be staying in Phoenix. Her father will be in town through the week attending some other non-profit management courses (he works for Red Cross), so we will be visiting with him until Wednesday (when my wife needs to be back for the start of school. Actually, it starts about a week later, but the teachers need to be back then.) During that time, I will have my laptop, and intend on focusing on the build process bug. Also, anyone sending me any patches or mail will have to wait till I get back for a reply.

Today, I released a new update to my SDL & KDevelop mini-HOWTO. After the 2.0 version of KDevelop it out, I will have to massively rewrite this. But that's okay, I will still keep what I have, just say it is geared toward 1.x users.

Hmm... think that's all for now.....

2001 Aug 10 (Fri), 22:53 To Infinity... And Beyond!

Not really a journal entry... just showing off this goofy screenshot I made a few weeks back:


Now, I am offically signing off until Wednesday ;-)

2001 Aug 16 (Thu), 10:43 How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Alright.... so spending four days in Phoenix, AZ (just two hours away from home) might not be much of a summer vacation.... But my wife and I sure needed it.

First of all.... let me tell you how much I hate Phoenix. The drivers are insane, they drive too damn fast, and they are rude and inconsiderate. The roads are a nightmare (primarily because the traffic moves at least 20 MPH over the speed limit everywhere), the stores are typically too high priced, and there's crime rampant everywhere. Oh.... and all the stores close down too early (which was something I found odd considering how big a city it is).

Asside from how much I hate the town, we had a very nice time. We stayed in Chaparel Suites (which is actually in Scottsdale) with Cassie's father who was in town for a Red Cross conference of some sort. We had an awful lot of fun, lounging at the pool (playing pool basketball) and walking around the overly expensive Mall nearby.

I also attended my NMI orientation... which was very informative. I presenttly plan on taking several classes. Plus, my wife and I went to the Mesa Temple... which was nice as well.

I had said on the Tux Typing dev mailing list that I would be working on solving the build problem during my trip. I actually did solve it on Monday night.... but then I worked a bit more Tuesday morning and screwed it all up again.... REALLY BAD. So I need to go back today and fix what I messed up. Grrr...

The problem is that I am a bit busy with things at the moment, and haven't had much time since Tuesday to work on in some more.

Oh... on Tuesday afternoon I got food poisonning (probably ;-)

Other than these, I have about 200 e-mail messages waiting for me to deal with, so I guess I better get cracking on those....

2001 Aug 20 (Mon), 08:07 Upchuck the Light Fantastic

I said in my last entry that I had gotten food-poisonning in Phoenix... Well, that may have not been entirely correct. On Friday night I got sick with the exact same damn symptoms, and this time the illness lasted until Sunday night. So I guess it was a bug of some sort, and not the result of something I ate.

Something of import that happenned in Phoenix that I failed to mention before was that during the Red Cross conference that my father-in-law was attending his $500 prescription glasses were stolen from him. He had these $300 Armani frames, with these $200 prescription lenses (he has some serious troubles with his eyes, and his prescription is tre' expensive). During a break in the Red Cross conference, he set his glasses down to get a drink (a bit naive, I'll admit) and found that they had been stolen when he returnned to them. The real kicker is that someone in this Red Cross conference (which consisted entirely of big-wigs in the Red Cross) was the person that stole it (since they were the only ones around). How horrid. Here this person is supposed to be working for this non-profit, charitable organization... they are supposed to ascribe to similar ideals as the organization... and they steal a fellow Red Cross person's prescription glasses just for the frame. What slime.

Okay... now some project updates.
  • Tux Typing: The build process bugfix made it into CVS last week... Apparently the bugfix didn't fix the bug. This is actually because I am still using KDevelop (and still want to use it) and it can't keep its grubby fingers out of the build files. I will be working on this today. Another thing I really need to do is deal with these bugs. Plus, as the result of my chat with Aaron, I need to eliminate the Digital Monkey stuff from Tux Typing (because of legal concerns, since there are already so many Digital Monkey companies and organizations out there).
  • TuxReader: The web site is up and we are hosted on GNU's Savannah. Not really much news here yet, but I expect to have some by the end of this week.
My wife has been playing Escape from Monkey Island for the PS2 (we rented it). She has had fun with it, but finds it suffers from the exact same problem as the last one (puzzles are too screw-ball and difficult to figure out!) Meanwhile, I have been playing Eighteen Wheeler for the Dreamcast (we also rented it). I find this game is very fun. There may not be many levels in it, but you can easily forgive that because the gameplay is so good.

We also rented and watched Heartbeeps. Why? Ehh... well I like schlock, and my wife and I both like Andy Kaufman. Plus, when this movie originally came out, my wife's mother wouldn't let her see it (why, I have no idea). Can I just say "oog"? Actually, I suppose it wasn't as bad as they rate it on IMDB... but it was pretty bad. Of course, the absolute worst part was Christopher Guest's tiny and awful role. His character reminded me of an ilegitimate bastard offspring of Rick Moranis and Bruce McCulloch- very frightenning...

2001 Aug 21 (Tue), 17:00 Clam-screw? Thank-you!

Okay, inspite of my previous commitment to not letting people know I work with computers, somehow one of my wife's co-workers found out about my computer-literacy (gee, I wonder if my wife told her? Naah.... couldn't be... then I'd have to keel her!) Anyway, this buffoon has been bothering me night and day with ignoramus Windows questions. Everytime her system locks up, she calls me (which means she calls me a lot!) The real kicker is everytime I say the same thing (three-fingered salute), so she really has no reason to call me. Plus, every time her damned Active Desktop monstrosity needs to be reconfigured.... and since I don't use Win32, nor do I use Active *freakin'* Desktop, I don't know what to say. So our phone conversations usually ammount to no more than me saying:
"Hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete.... No Ctrl is the lower left-most key... No, on the left.... No, the left.... Alt is next to it.... Next to it... Near the space bar.... The space bar.... That big key on the bottom... No the bottom.... Okay... next to that...."

followed by a few more eons of this until she finally reboots

"...No I don't know what it is asking.... Do you use Active Desktop?... I don't know if you use it.... Just click `OK'.... `OK'.... No, that says `Cancel'.... It's asking what?.... I dont know what that means, I dont use Windows.... I dont know what that means.... I dont know.... I dont use Windows...."

and on and on....
Anyway.... as I said in my infamous anti-MS tirade on Strenua Inertia... "They chose their faulty OS!! Why do I have to give assistance with it?!"

Uhm... no new project news. Just needed to vent.

2001 Aug 27 (Mon), 15:11 Ponderous Ponderosa

I have been very busy this last week.

First off, Bill Kendrick has graciously accepted the role of Lead Developer & Project Manager for Tux of Math Command. His first code from the project is really impressive (it certainly was a lot more than I could have done in the same time ;-) I am really stoked to see where this project goes. I will be acting as supplimental manager for the project.... lending support where needed. The real great thing about this is that Tux of Math Command can get done without having to wait for me to find time to devote to it ;-)

We just had our 1.0.1 release of Tux Typing. This was actually a minor release, a long time in the making. It fixes the build process bug.... which is a serious bug, but which was a bit nastier to fix than it ought to have been (because we have been using KDevelop). I need to get back on the ball with the project... I just have been so busy.

As if drive-by shootings weren't enough this last saturday one of our (otherwise considerate) neighbors had a noisy little party from 1am to some even more unholy hour. I mean, sure, many people do sleep in Sunday.... but not everyone! My wife and I had to get up for church at 7am. So they were horribly inconsiderate, and I didn't get enough sleep (I'm an insomniac who is also a very light sleeper). Bastards....

Oh... and on Saturday my wife and I went to Biosphere 2. That was actually very fun. I was surprised to find out they are actually still performing experiments there (controlled biological experiments that cannot be done elsewhere).

Also, I have rented and been playing Working Designs awesome PS2 port Silpheed. I actually was a fan of the original Sega CD game.... and I know people did poo-poo this PS2 sequel. But I don't know what the hell is wrong with them, this is an incredible top-scrolling shooter (at a time when top-scrolling shooters are scarce). Plus, the graphics really are top-notch! I recommend it highly.

Oh... and one last thing. My AC in the den (which is where I work, and which I just barely repaired at the beginning of summer) went out again! It was the exact same problem (pump went out). So I had to spend a few hours this morning repairing it (especially because they say that we will reach a record-breaking 107 degrees F today in Tucson!)

2001 Aug 29 (Wed), 12:47 Glad you're happy, Mr. King

I saw on the news the other day that blues great BB King is very happy these days. He said something to the effect that "these are the happiest days of his life". That makes me happy for him. I am a big blues fan, and I love his music. I also know that he did go through many many years of deep depression. Speaking as someone who does know how that feels, I am glad he's now so happy (even if it means he wont be able to make any more songs like "The Thrill Is Gone" ;-)

Anyhoo.... been working more on stuffies for TuxMath. Mainly I've been doing graphic and web work, but I did manage to squeak in a teensy bit of code. Dang, Kendrick is a machine... He's taken this project from concept to game in almost a week! Even if I had the time to devote now to an individual project, I still couldn't do that!

Uhm... we had another Tux Typing release on Monday. I guess I already said that, huh? ;-) Haven't had time to work much on this one....

There's still a few days left in the LinuxFund.org grant cycle, so if you haven't already, go on in and donate pesos! ;-)

2001 Aug 30 (Thu), 16:15 Spunkbubble

Woah... there has got to be something wrong with me.

I was going through my old Strenua Inertia comic strips, and I ran across these three: 1, 2, and 3. There has got to be something seriously wrong with me.

Finally got some time to work more on TuxReader. Somehow I am doing something really inefficient in this app, because what little I have runs very slow. I haven't really looked too much into it yet... I'm sure I'll figure it out.

I'm going back and re-playing Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for the 8-bit NES. Excellent game.

Still time left at LinuxFund.org. You can donate pesos here ;-)

2001 Aug 31 (Fri), 13:48 Existential Realism and the Death of Fried Chicken

I'm actually taking a day off from my projects today because I am feeling soooo burned out (and I need to get back into the swing of things by the 5th). So no real news...

Actually, I lie, I do have one peice of news- Because of my work with TuxReader and using Festival in a pseudo-gaming project, I have decided against using Festival to add speech to Tux Typing. My reasons (which can be found here on the TuxMath devel mailing list) are basically because Festival is not responsive enough to be used in most games. Granted, it's not intended to be very responsive, rather it's goal is advanced speech synthesis.... But I really had no idea how unresponsive it can be. I am still planning on using it for TuxReader (simply because this isn't much of a reflex game), but I doubt I'll try using it in any of the other games.

Saw this little item on LinuxToday about the problem in the older 1.x versions of KMail (the mail client I use). It's actually something I knew about for quite some time (and the reason I decided a while back to perform a massive system update)... But I had forgotten about it since then.

I also have been reviewing the available secure web-browsing options available for friends of mine (I use them occassionally as well, but I typically don't need to because I have Konqueror setup with extreme paranoia ;-) . I of course know about (and prefer) SafeWeb, but I wanted to give some other options as well.

Well, I found out about Ponoi which claims it has "Portability", because it "was developed as an Internet service and not a desktop application, you can access the service from any compatible networked computer". Great! I thought, People can use it regardless of OS or browser. However, when I tried to use it I got this page which says they only support Internet Explorer 5.0 under the Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT OSes. Man.... talk about portability!

Anyway.... next week I may be a bit busy, and will likely be less than responsive.... In addition to the NMI class I will be taking, it looks like I'll have jury duty. So anyone contacting me next week, keep that in mind.

Oh... and only one day left to donate pesos! ;-)