Haul: Sour Fame

28. February, 2010

A bit late but the next scene is ready for you:

1.7 Sour Fame – Mark Satchez, the famous TV host behind the Pantero Report, plans the report about the battle at LC-5437.

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Previous post: Haul: Enemy Mine

1.7 Saurer Ruhm – Mark Satchez, der berühmte TV-Moderator von dem der Pantero Bericht stammt, plant den Bericht über den Kampf bei LC-5437.


OO 2.0: Reuse

25. February, 2010

What’s the most important feature of OO? Reuse.

What’s the biggest problem of Java? Reuse.

In Java, it’s considered good practice to make everything private or even final. This goes along the lines “when I open part of my API, someone might use it and this might cause problems for me later when I have to change the API”. So all fields are private. Which leads to huge lists of getters and setters which you don’t need most of the time. But you can’t omit them because if you need them, you can’t retrofit them. I guess all of us have a story where we wanted to use a class and everything was fine until we needed one more thing from that class and that thing wasn’t public or protected.

The underlying problem is that Java is based on the idea that the code is simple to parse and read. Which means that things like templates, patterns or pre-compilers aren’t supported. Even when you use annotations, you can’t modify the output at compile time. You can use load time byte-code manipulation but at compile time, the code is about as flexible as a bridge pillar.

But there is hope. The guys from the Object Teams project (OT) have created a Java-like language where you can reach into existing code and manipulate it in various ways. If you’re wondering if this is AOP with a new name or just delegation on steroids, this post will help to understand what OT is and what it’s not.

In a nutshell, OT is about reuse. If some class doesn’t provide a getter for a private field, OT can insert one for you. To get a feeling if OT can help you, I suggest to browse the blog and the examples. The stop watch example is probably the most simple to understand. The other examples look a bit incomplete or they might show that OT still has some issues with the syntax (which you’ll remember from AOP but it’s certainly not as extreme).

I, for one, will keep an eye on this project.

Demons? Really? Really! But not as you think

23. February, 2010

I just read Linus Torvalds’ post “Demons? Really?” Which is about exorcism in case you don’t want to read his piece. Apparently, there are people who believe that you can drive a demon with prayers from a human body. Which is complete nonsense according to Linus.


What are we talking about here? What is a demon? I’m not sure what the scientific definition would be but I’m pretty sure that the people discussing the topic don’t know either. They don’t care. For them, the demon is not important but to help the possessed.

From our scientific eye, talking about demons and exorcism is ridiculous. We assume that a demon is probably some kind of sickness and the poor victim would be better off in a hospital or psychiatric care. They are just sick. Just imagine when you are in pain. It affects your mood: You become thin-skinned and easily irritated. So the sickness has a mental component.

Treating the sickness would solve the mental issues. So we’re happy and the missionaries must be stupid. Or so we think.

Question: Have you ever been in this situation? In a village thousands of miles away from anywhere? Without clear water, healthy food, and people with a yearly income in the range of $5 or less? Good luck finding medicine for them or sending them to a doctor. They either have no access to such resources or can’t afford it.

What do you do? Walk away, happy with the fact that you know what would help? Or do you stay and try to help to the best of your abilities?

If you stay, what can you do? You have no medicine, you’re no doctor and you probably have no idea what is really going on. There are people around, probably from the same village who think “I don’t know what he has but I don’t want it! Let’s get rid of him before we all get sick!” These people still have to learn that modern science exists. They couldn’t care less because for them, the biggest issue is how to get enough food to survive another week. National Geographics? FDA? These are all non-issues for these people.

For them, the sick are possessed because that is something they can relate to. It explains the unknown. Demons can be shooed away.

So what do you do? Stick to your scientific knowledge? Or do you start to pray to drive the demon out? Showing compassion, doing what is expected from you, possibly triggering the self-healing effects of a placebo? Doing what you can in such a situation?

Yes, we can mock these people because they probably believe that demons really exist. But maybe they have understood hundreds of years ago that science can only help the rich. People who have (almost) unbound access to good water, food and electricity.

Maybe for them, it’s more important to help than to be right.

Haul: Enemy Mine

20. February, 2010

I’m trying to release one scene per week of my story. This week:

Enemy Mine – Forne realizes that the Haul in the capsule is not so dead as it seemed. Being the quick thinker he is, he immediately starts wondering how he can use this to as his advantage.

Table of contents

Previous post: Haul: Three new scenes

Geliebter Feind – Forne muss feststellen, dass der Haul in der Kapsel nicht so tot ist wie er dachte. Aber da er ein Schnelldenker ist, überlegt er sofort wie er das zu seinem Vorteil nutzen könnte.


Are they out of their mind?

19. February, 2010

I while ago, I downloaded the demo for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s a PS3 game and I like Wolverine, so I was really excited. Whoa, they really spent some time on the levels … lush forests … tree roots, plants … okay, I can’t leave the paths (in games, heroes can’t climb or crawl … see my post on Batman Arkham Asylum *sheesh*).

Anyway. I played a while. Hack’n’slay (you have to chop people to bits with Wolverine’s claws … so he has no brain, either … oh well). Then, there was that helicopter scene. You’re on a rope bridge or an edge or something, I forget. There is this helicopter with the machine guns, making your life (or rather the game character’s life) miserable. So you jump on it, slice the window, pull the pilot out and … chop his head to bits with the main rotor of the ‘copter …

What did you feel in that moment? Please comment below.

I felt: WTF?

In an instant, I found the game revolting. All my impressions about the nice graphics, all the artistic work was washed down with a wave of disgust. To my shame, I continued to play until he end and took out the last boss. Okay, there are special moves and such … but for some reason, I didn’t buy the game and I deleted the demo without hesitation. Later, I saw a game review in TV where they showed a lot of special moves, how to use spikes and your environment to impale your enemies and gore them in various ways. For some reason, they ran it in the afternoon, around 1500.

Frankly, are you out of your mind? I’m not a softy or against so called “killer games” but some time last year, a border was crossed for me. Wolverine. Wet. Bayonetta. Brain-dead games, meant for simple button mashing, asking for the reflexes of a 15-year old but with the graphics of a motion picture.

I’m not sure who pays the money to produce such games. I’m not sure who works on such games. I’m not sure which person at Sony gave their OK for the production or distribution of such games. I don’t care. I don’t care if you think it’s OK. I don’t care if any court think it’s OK.

I’m proud to say that I feel this is WRONG.

Maybe you should read up a bit on how the human brain works. For everyone else, just don’t buy such games. They are a waste of time and money. And while there is no proof that they are bad for your soul, they aren’t any good either. As I said: A waste.

Haul: Three new scenes

16. February, 2010

There are twothree new scenes on-line:

Retreat – Admiral Martia Restino of the Rabit Space Force has to face her defeat. Should she stay longer, risking her crew, for the small chance to save a few pilots from the Haul or jump home immediately?

Rescue Capsule – On his way back to the crash site of his ship, Forne notices an unexpected radio signal.

Bad News – While the Rabit at LC-5437 fight for their lives, Ambassador Woren Garek on the Haul home world has her very own worries.

Table of contents

Previous post: Haul: Waiting to die

Drei neue Szenen sind online:

Rückzug – Admiralin Martia Restino muss sich ihrere Niederlage stellen. Soll sie noch ein paar Minuten ausharren, ihre restliche Crew riskieren, um vielleicht einige wenige Piloten vor den Haul zu retten oder sofort nach Hause springen?

Rettungskapsel – Auf dem Weg zur Absturzstelle seines Schiffs bemerkt Forne ein unerwartetes Funksignal.

Schlechte Neuigkeiten – Während die Rabit bei LC-5437 um ihr Leben kämpfen, hat die Botschafterin Woren Garek auf der Heimatwelt der Haul ganz andere Sorgen.


ePen 0.8 status update

8. February, 2010

Followup to my last ePen post: All but the first point are resolved. You can open an existing project by specifying the path on the command line but that’s too tedious for something which is supposed to be simple. Since I want to give a good first impression, I want this fixed before I release 0.8.

For spell checking, I’ve switched to jazzy which is more simple to use than JaSpell. You can find the repository with my fork here: http://epen.hg.sourceforge.net/hgweb/epen/jazzy/. Unfortunately, just invoking the spell checker for every key press is too slow, so I had to disable the code for the time being. I’ll resolve this with ePen 0.9 where I hope to fix some other issues with the editor as well.

[EDIT] The project home page is at http://sourceforge.net/projects/epen/