Recent blog entries for ChrisMcDonough

Over the past few weeks I have been doing very little "off hours" work. This is because I have purchased a Microsoft XBox, with about 10 games, and it has since sucked every spare moment of my life away.

I very regularly get my ass kicked by 11-year olds in the one online game I have been playing called MechAssault. It's evidently a continuation of a series of games in the "MechWarrior" series, which I've never played, that has more of an arcadey feel than the other games. The older games are primarily strategy games. This game doesn't have much overt strategy, although if you want to win, there is a lot of strategy involved in staying alive and killing other mechs.

None of which I understand, evidently. I really don't understand how everyone in the world can be better than I am at this game. I have never won a match (in "Destruction", an online deathmatch style game), though I've been playing it regularly for weeks now. Now, I admit, I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, and my reflexes probably aren't what they used to be, but for the love of god, I should be able to win one measly match. But somehow, people named, for example, V3G3TA and SHUTYOURMOUTH pound the snot out of me every time. It's beginning to impact my self-image. ;-)

Despite my lack of proficiency at this particular game, I am pretty awed at the the networking and UI code that went in to making these kinds of multiplayer games. I haven't really played any videogames since about 1982, so I'm a little overwhelmed by the difficulty of the controls and the complexity of the games themselves.

Another game I've played a lot is one called Jet Set Radio Future. Although it's not a multiplayer game, the sheer creativity of this game is astounding. Basically, while playing the game, you are a rollerblading kid who needs to perform various tasks in a huge virtual world. The world itself is just beautiful. I found myself just skating around, ignoring the tasks I was supposed to perform, to try to take in all of the gorgeous scenery. The storyline is a bit hokey, but it's an incredibly fun game.

Must... get.. back.. to.. coding...

MichaelCrawford, an excellent article! Very brave. It's very informative, one of the best things I've read in months. It's also fantastic that you have a sense of humor about the situation, it's tremendously funny in parts! Thanks so much.

First Avogato diary entry.

Let's see... what's going on. I'm in the middle of several hairy customer projects for ZC which all involve in one way or another managing and creating documents. This is somewhat unsurprising. What's amazing is how unlike one another they all are... it often feels like we reinvent the wheel for every project. I think this is mostly because the projects are different from one another in subtle but important ways that makes it hard to share generalized code across them. This is somewhat disappointing, but since we always seem to be in such a hurry, there's not much I can do about it.

I'm also collaborating a bit with fdrake on a software configuration system named ZConfig (see CVS, in particular the zconfig-schema-devel-branch branch). This is a pretty neat system which is a bit like Python's ConfigParser, but allows you to create hierarchical data structures using a format much like Apache's config file format. Unlike ConfigParser, ZConfig will allow you to define a "schema" for a config file. When the schema is violated in some way (if someone places an unknown key or section somewhere, or if a key value cannot be converted to something that makes sense like putting a string where an integer is supposed to go), the configuration parsing stops and an error is raised. I created a prototype of the system in the 'chrism-install-branch' branch of ZConfig, and the zconfig-schema-devel-branch is Fred's reworking of the use cases serviced by the prototype. It's not quite "there" yet, but we hope to have Zope configured using ZConfig by Friday, followed shortly thereafter by ZEO.

Went to visit the Simpsons (Evan, Penney, and kids aka 4am) in Texas, and had a wonderful time. I did nothing whatsoever and it was pretty marvelous. Stephanie and I got the Simpsons a Tivo for Christmas, so we futzed around with that for a while and had quite a bit of fun. We also played a board game named Hoopla which is evidently made by the creators of Cranium. It's a cooperative game that has elements of Charades and Pictionary. Unfortunately, at one point I was required to draw a slumber party. That didn't work out very well. ;-)

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