29 Nov 2002 TheCorruptor   » (Master)

Life

Seems I've spent virtually every night this week drinking and seeing mates. Pretty good to catch up on the social life as it means I can bury myself away and code/pixelate...

YaSS2

I've just been through the XML file that CrashChaos is using for the level definitions, and considering his outright disgust at XML a year or so ago he's created something pretty close to a work of art. Background and layer GFX are all nicely defined, enemies and enemy groupings are in along with positional information.

Looks like a good base to start from...

This got me thinking about writing another article, as between YaSS and Civil I've seen some great uses of XML in games. Might be worth doing some research and punting about.

Something for the new year...

Wireless

I've been having fun in the office. Came in the other day and my TiBook suddenly connected to a wireless network. Turns out we've got two test networks setup in the office for some of the mobile toys we're playing with, so I got kisMAC , ettercap and ethereal down and started sniffing. KisMAC works pretty well, loads a Viha driver for the airport card and gives you monitor mode. Also dumps the packets it gets, but so far I've not had a great deal of joy running WEPCrack over them. Ettercap and Ethereal work as you'd expect...

Obviously a small lecture on WEP, locking down wireless networks and changing the SSID quickly followed to the two guys responsible for setting up the base stations. It's not everyday you can telnet to a Cisco AP and get straight in with no need for authentication. Unless you work here...

Microsoft

I've ranted several times about Microsoft's complete inability to create a usable interface for PDAs and mobile phones. Everything from dialog boxes that are too large for the screen real estate (requiring you to scroll them around to get to tabs), to stupid recompilations of desktop applications, in the vain hope that they provide the type of functionality required for the mobile user (they don't! Face it, you're not going to write a word document on an XDA).

Pocket IE has recieved most of my wrath of late, especially when compared to Opera on Symbian. However, all that aside, it's actually been a pleasure to witness their stumbling attempts at producing products with appeal and functionality, not to mention stability (I've lost count of the number of times I've had to hard reset PocketPC). This Register article is particulaly amusing reading in light of my recent experiences, and several things strike me -- the most important being Microsoft's complete inability to develop for markets that they are not already incumbants in. There's been abortive interactive TV attempts, shoddy PDA systems, and now seriously delayed, over priced and downright unappealing mobile phones. 600 squid for signing code? I'll be writing some Java for Symbian then...

I'm hedging my bets that Microsoft's abortive platform will die a slow and lingering death. Unfortunately, I suspect Microsoft will do their usual and keep on releasing crap until version 4, by which point they'll have finally figured out how to emulate the environments already popularised by the competition.

As a last comment, I've been wondering for a while why Microsoft, even with the raft of User Interface Experts, focus groups and testing have managed to make PocketPC's interface so appallingly bad. Why isn't there an option to flip to a landscape view? Is this something Palm is to blame for? I seem to recall landscape displays on Psions and old phones long before I got my Palm... PCs have had landscape resolutions for years, at the very least mobile devices should give you an option.

Now, if I can rationally argue for another PDA that will run Linux for a comparision I might shut up for a while. I've got a feeling things may be a lot better with free software.

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