Sunday, August 22, 2004

What should I write about?

My last post was over two months ago. A new post is well overdue, but there is one hurdle to overcome before the new post is, umm, posted. I have no idea what to write! I suppose that's not entirely accurate. There are plenty of things I could write about, but I don't know what topics readers would find interesting and which topics readers really don't care about.

I've given this quite a bit of thought (approximately one minute and seventeen seconds) and decided I'll let the readers choose what my subject matter will be. If you would like me to post on a particular subject or answer some quesions, add a comment to my most recent post telling me what you would like. You might also try emailing me (there is a mailto link somewhere in my profile), but make sure you indicate in the subject that the email is regarding this blog, otherwise I might delete the message before reading it. Understand, however, that there are some things I will not discuss. I'll let you know when you're suggestion falls into that category.

Of course, I will not limit myself to reader suggestions. Why? Well, I may not receive any responses or something may come up which I would enjoy writing about but has not been suggested as a topic by any readers.

I doubt I'll get a response from this, but at least the "Most recent post" will be a little more current.

So long for now!

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Meijer Nymph

So I was trying to determine what direction to go with this post, and the following paragraphs are what I came up with. I've read them over and over, eventually coming to the conclusion that I didn't actually write any of it. However, I'd rather not anger the true author by deleting it, so it will remain. A note to those who dislike particularly mawkish (hee, hee, I found that one in the thesaurus!) content should browse elsewhere.

Not too long ago, sometime last week actually, I had a most extraordinary experience in the most unusual location for such a thing. It was on this particular day that I found myself in need of a new pair of shorts. Fortunately for me, my mother found herself in need of various items as well. I say fortunate for me because I had (and still have) no reliable transportation of my own with which to travel into town. So it was that my mother and I were standing in the checkout lane at the local Meijer store, when the extraordinary experience took place.

All together, the day had been terribly uneventful and dull. One of those days which is so unremarkable, it leaves no impression whatsoever in one's memory. I was working out a plan which would result in my obtaining a candy bar without having to spend any of my own money, when I noticed a movement in the checkout lane to my right. Normally, I would have paid little attention, as movement in and around checkout lanes is quite common, but as this day had been so uneventful I could not resist.

I turned my head in the direction of the movement, and was completely and utterly taken by the sight before me. A woman. Not just any woman, mind you, but possibly the most incredible woman mortal eyes have seen. Realizing I was staring and in danger of being discovered, I averted my gaze. It was not long before my eyes found their way back to this woman. Again and again I tried to look away. Again and again I failed.

A great sin it would be to attempt to capture her with words, so I beg forgiveness for what I am about to do. She was grace and elegance personified, beauty reimagined and redefined. To look into her eyes was to see eternity itself, unimagined magnificence. Her delicate hair was a light brown silk, her skin soft and light. The drab uniform of a Meijer employee did nothing to hide her loveliness. She was truly enchanting.

A moment later, and I was through the checkout lane. I cast one last glance at the lovely woman, hoping to never forget what I had seen, then left the building. It was an incredible experience. I have been back to the Meijer store on three occasions, but have not seen the woman since. Someday I hope to meet her, to speak with her. Two things remain which inspire this hope: my memories of that day, and her name as it was printed on her nametag. Hope...

Wow, okay, yeah. I still don't think I wrote that.

Comments anyone?

Well, it has been a while since my last post, and it might be a little bit longer before I make another real post (as opposed to this post which is obviously not "real"). For anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis (and I question the existence of such a being) you may have noticed that the HaloScan commenting is gone. Apparently, Blogger has undergone some changes since my last post, and they are now providing a commenting system themselves. I'll be trying this out for a little bit, and if I like it, I'll cancel my HaloScan account. So please, comment your hearts away so I can make sure this will work!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Motivated by Procrastination

This is one of those posts written with the sole purpose of giving me an excuse to procrastinate on my studies. With graduation only two and a half weeks away and classes ending (for me) next week, I'm finding that procrastinating has become entirely too commonplace in my life. I've just got to give it that final shove and hopefully let my momentum carry me through.

Since graduation is indeed so close, it's also time for me to start thinking about moving out of this town. While I cannot say I'll miss the winters up here, I will miss the slower pace at which everyone seemed to move. That is one of the things that has kept me sane these past three years. I'm also looking forward to ending my employment at ShopKo. While I have only been working part time since October, I've experienced enough to decide that I never, ever, ever want to work in retail again.

Speaking of leaving my job and moving out, there is a period of time between May 14 and May 24 when I will have absolutely nothing to do but pack and relax. I just hope I have enough money left by then to enjoy the time off!

Well, that was a complete waste of time, but at least I was able to put off my homework for another ten minutes. Now I get to waste time going to class, then I'll have to eat dinner, so it looks like I get another three hours before I have to start studying again!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Something to think about...

I have been reading through Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (the 2nd book in the Dune series) for the third time, and came across an interesting passage. I've read it before, but for some reason, it caught it my attention this time around:

"'You produce a deadly paradox,' Jessica had written. Government cannot be religious and self-assertive at the same time. Religious experience needs a spontaneity which laws inevitably suppress. And you cannot govern without laws. Your laws eventually must replace morality, replace conscience, replace even the religion by which you think to govern. Sacred ritual must spring from praises and holy yearnings which hammer out a significant morality. Government, on the other hand, is a cultural organism particularly attractive to doubts, questions and contentions. I see the day coming when ceremony must take the place of faith and symbolism replaces morality.'"

While these words were taken from a letter written by Jessica to her daughter regarding the way Alia and her brother were governing the empire from Dune, I think the ideas are more generally applicable. Rather than continuing with a discussion of my own views on the significance of this passage, I will give you a chance to think about it without my influence. Go with it where you will, and leave a comment if you have an interesting thought.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Back to School

I'm back in Houghton after spending last week at home in Traverse City. It was an enjoyable, if uneventful, spring break. As much fun as it was to spend all day lounging around doing nothing much at all, there was something missing. However, to discuss such a thing here would take this blog into areas which I have deemed too personal. Besides, the topic would have required its own entry, and I don't feel like writing two posts tonight.

I was really hoping I might see some of my friends, but it turns out Michigan Tech sent their students home on break one week before every other college in Michigan, or so it seemed. Fortunately, I didn't feel like doing much of anything so it worked out in the end. I ended up spending quite a bit of time on my computer (not a big surprise) using Windows (huge surprise). It turns out the guy who writes the port of Duke Nukem I use added support for high resolution textures. Since I haven't spent much time working on graphics projects in quite a while, I decided I'd work on creating my very own replacement artwork for the game. The results weren't something I'd ever make public, but they were good enough to enhance my own playing experience. I also gained some valuable knowledge about graphics design that will no doubt prove useful later in life.

I know, this is pretty boring stuff, but if you've been reading my past posts you should have expected that by now. Perhaps I'll have something more exciting in the next one.

Oh, oh, I almost forgot. I was doing some deep, deep thinking the other day, and came up with this thought: My initials are M.M. If I marry a woman whose first name begins with an 'M', then her initials will be M.M. as well. Then together we'd be a couple of M&M's! Whew, my mind is reeling from thinking all that through again. ;-)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A Change is in the Air

I have changed my mind...again. This blog will no longer focus on technology. It was difficult for me to find worthwhile topics and publish with any frequency. Of course, being a computer science major, many of my entries will more often than not include a heavy dose of tech. However, I am now free to explore many other topics and maybe create a more interesting blog.

To celebrate this change, I would now like to ask a question which has bothered me since I've been old enough to use a mouse: Why do right-handed people get all the good mice? All of the really cool mice with the nifty features are invariably for right-hand use only. Those mice which can be used on the left are often marked "left or right handed" and have no more than 3 buttons. Perhaps the market for left-handed mice isn't that big, or maybe I'm the only left-handed person to actually use a mouse on the left. I'll stop now before I get myself all worked up, but I will leave you with one last thought to ponder: How many times have you seen an electronic device with just as much thought given to left-handed users as right-handed users?

Oh, I would like to mention one more thing before I conclude. I recently reread my entry on running Doom and Duke Nukem 3D under Windows XP, and realized that it might have made me out to be more of an FPS fan than I would have liked. For the record, I am not particularly fond of the first-person shooter, but the two games I covered are about the only games I can run in high resolutions with all of the "eye candy" turned on and still acheive blinding performance. Yes, my old GeForce 2 GTS is starting to show its age. Actually, it was starting to show its age when the GeForce4 was just coming to market, but I was in denial.

Now, for anyone who might still be reading (and I can't imagine who that would be, even I lost interest after the first paragraph), here's a little saying I came across when running the fortune program the other day, "Two heads are more numerous than one."

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Comments On

The commenting is now back in action, thanks to HaloScan. Of course, that doesn't really mean anything since no one ever comments on my entries anyway!

Monday, January 26, 2004

Comments Off

I just found out that BlogSpeak, the free blog commenting tool I was using, is no longer free. Thus, I have removed it from my blog. Until I find a replacement, any comments will have to be emailed to me. Sorry. :-(

It works! It really works!

I have finally managed to get Doom and Duke Nukem 3D running under Windows XP. Yes, it took a long time, but not because the task was difficult. The delay was due mostly to my procrastination and some other projects which got in the way. Actually, the process of getting these two games back up to speed was very easy, easier than the installation process of some modern games.

To get DN3D running again, I had to download a port of the engine used in the game. After 3DRealms released the source code of the build engine (by Ken Silverman) and GPL'd it, some enterprising programmers set to work porting it to various platforms. Once such individual made a very good port of DN3D for use with Win XP, and in the process added some useful features. I managed to find this port after reading through some messages posted on the PlanetDuke message boards, but anyone else should be able to find it by doing a Google search for "JonoF's Games Site". After downloading the ZIP file for JonoF's port, I installed the game from CD the same as I did back when I first purchased it. Then I created a new Directory called "JFDuke" and unzipped JonoF's port to that directory. After that, I simply copied the *.CON files, DUKE.RTS, and DUKE3D.GRP to "JFDuke" and the game was ready to go. The port includes a setup program which you may want to run first to setup the video and sound. In my opinion, the controls can be adjusted easier from the in-game menu. That's all it took to get Duke back on my computer. I should also mention that the port includes an OpenGL renderer which helps improve the graphics quite a bit.

To get Doom running again took a little bit longer than DN3D only because I started using one Doom port, then switched to another one I liked a little bit more. First, let me discuss each of the ports before I get into the details of installation.

The port I played with first is called ZDoom, which is at version 2.0.61 at the time of this writing. There were a number of things I liked about this port, not the least of which was the map overlay (similar to the map overlay in DN3D). I also felt the crosshair that changed color depending on the players level of health was a nice touch. The addition of simple particle effects for things like bullet puffs and blood was also nice. ZDoom also implements blood splattering better than the other port I use. Furthermore, the saving and loading of games is enhanced with a screenshot, date, and time. ZDoom will also create an autosave at the beginning of each level, a good thing when you begin the next level already surrounded by enemies. The only problem I had with ZDoom was that the graphics are only slightly better than they were back when Doom first arrived on the scene. This may seem inconsequential (after all, the game is 10 years old), but once you've seen what Doom Legacy does with the graphics in Doom, anyone who cares first and foremost about graphics may not want to continue with ZDoom.

After I had used ZDoom for a while, I found another port that has now become my port of choice, though I do go back every now and then to play ZDoom. This new (to me) port is called Doom Legacy, and while it doesn't have some of the features of ZDoom, the graphics more than make up for them. If my only experience with Doom had been through Doom Legacy, I would find it difficult to believe the game is 10 years old. The programmers responsible for DL have added a number of special effects and ported the Doom engine to OpenGL. Spectacular! Everything looks much better. They've also added an option to make the status bar transparent. I don't want this to become and advertisement for Doom Legacy's graphics, so I'll just add this: If you tend to be what they call a graphics "whore", then you'll want to at least give DL a try. As I mentioned, there are some features missing from DL, including the map overlay, the date/time on saved games, and the ability to start a new game without ending the game in progress.

Ok, now the installation. Both ports installed similarly, but running them was slightly different. I started by installing Doom from the CD, just as I did with DN3D. Then I uncompressed the ports, each to its own directory (note: ZDoom comes in a .cab file while Doom Legacy comes compressed in a .zip file). After the ports were unzipped, I copied the DOOM.WAD file from the original DOOM directory to each of the port directories. That's all that was involved to install these ports. To run ZDoom, all you do is execute zdoom.exe. Doom Legacy requires you run the program from their launcher (named launcher.exe). There are a few settings you'll need to play with in the launcher before you can start a game for the first time.

That's it, now I can play Doom and Duke Nukem 3D under XP! Now I've just got to get a new video card so I can start buying new games too. Anyway, that's it for today's entry. I'm thinking my next entry will be Linux related, as I just downloaded and installed Mandrake Linux 9.2 (I was running 9.0). We'll see, there are other things to talk about too - like Mozilla, or this free program for burning/copying CD's.