# Older blog entries for mstarch (starting at number 17)

Finished the first of 3 books in a historical novel about Alexander the Great. Now I have to go and find the other 2 somewhere, but I fear they won't be in the bookstores (grumble).

Actually did some weekend coding (the first in a long while), trying to make a decent freecell ai player. I havent made it complete its first game yet, but it seems to be doing fairly well up to the point where it gets confused by long sequences of sorted cards. I guess I'll have to make some special support to detect situations where it's advantageous to move an entire part-column of cards onto another column.

I found good use of the "design patterns" methodology, recognizing the benefits of the command pattern in representing the different permutations of the game state for the decision tree. I have a game state that contains the state of a game at a specific moment. The ai subsequently tries to play a predefined number of moves, where it for each move adds all possible moves from that situation into a list. Each move is assigned a weight depending on how much is gained by performing the move, and this is weighted together with an overall combination of the weight of the obtained game state. Weights are calculated for all attempted moves, and the list is sorted by weight. The next iteration subsequently considers follow- up's to the N best states obtained in the previous iteration. I really am not sure if this will be sufficient to produce a working ai, and I really don't care about the performance. It's just "a bit of fun". I will work a bit more on the ai tonight, tweaking the weights and adding some special moves coded as sequences of basic commands.

Came home for a relaxing week in my mothers summer house. Read "The early history of Rome", which is pretty much a year-by-year rundown of the happenings in the early days of Rome from its founding in 753 BC, until around 370 BC. The interesting part is that it's one of the great surviving comtemporary histories, written by Livius around 20 BC. The thought of reading a book that actually 2000 years old is fascinating in itself (although of course it was in an english translation ;-)).

Read some of Design Patterns. Obviously a classic. Most interesting part was recognizing patterns one has used for different purposes countless times, but still with some extra rationale as to when that particular pattern is useful, and what it's drawbacks/benefits are, that adds some extra perspective to the design process (or something like that :-)).

Now I'm looking forward to reading "Code Complete", in my little game of catch-up to some of the software engineering classics.

I really agree with lkcl's commentary on the mono project subject. Building a brave new world of free software is fine, but if you're going to keep up with the development budget of a multi-billion dollar company, you're in a hurry.

I think that visionary projects like Mono is what Linux needs, but perhaps they should have tried building some of the more basic system building blocks that Linux lacks instead. On the other hand, facilitating .net applications may be a way to avoid some of the system infrastructure demands that "normal" applications would otherwise confront Linux with.

I've started reading "Design patterns". It's an obvious classic, sort of like a zoo of class structuring techniques with rationales. I have also received 2 books about the history of philosophy, and Livy, "The Early history of Rome", which I hope to find time to read during my vacation next week.

Back from Sicily. The weather was hot, and the island is incredibly beautiful. We spent the first week in Taormina, and drove around the last 4 days, to Syracusa, Agrigento and Palermo. If you're mind-numbingly bored, you can check out some pictures here.

Now a week of work awaits me, before I'm going for away for another week - this time in my mothers summer house.

I'm looking forward to reading "Design patterns" which I've finally acquired. Otherwise, I've been reading a bit on the vacation about the thinkings of Wittgenstein and Schopenhauer.

I've also bought the expansion set to Diablo - Lord of Destruction. Just thought I'd write that, so I can look back in time at some later point, to see where it went wrong ;-)

3 days before I'm going to Sicily for 2 weeks :-) The search engine finally went online a few weeks ago, and has (thankfully) run without any problems since then. Now I've started working on some new functionality that is needed in another search engine related project.

I was on a very nice company picnic a week ago, where we visited the prime minister of Denmark, and saw his house, and was showed around by his wife, who is also an active politician, but in the european parliament. It was a bit weird sitting there, listening to a guy you otherwise only see on television, but it was pretty interesting, and definitely a funny experience.

I have become addicted to freecell! Yes, it's true - what you would normally think unthinkable has happened. I have now played almost 200 games in the last 3 weeks, and soon I will be forced to uninstall it, because it's just too silly.

Today is a day called "Sankt Hans" in Denmark, where it's customary to burn a fires on the beaches in celebration of the longest day in the year (which is actually a few days before). I bicycled to Charlottenlund, and saw a huge fire on the beach. Nothing special, just thought I might as well write it.

Today I also read a small introductory text about the authorship of SÃ¸ren Kirkegaard. It was interesting, but at the same time, it would probably be more healthy to spend my time reading something a little less depressing.

A little about my trip to Silicy. I'm going to be away for 10 days, and I'm travelling with my father and my little sister. We're going to spend the first week in Taormina (have you seen "The Big Blue"?), and the last days driving around on the island. I think the history of Sicily is very exciting - it's very few places in the world that has been influenced by so many different cultures, and I really love the mediterranean and Italy in particular.

Joyous celebrations! The search engine is now almost done, and is now officially a beta-version. It's being tested right now, but most searches show pretty decent results.

Have been reading an excellent book; Exceptional C++ by Herb Sutter. Although it isn't groundbreaking, it has some very good points, and it's very well written. Usually I actually don't like reading technical litterature that much, but this book I read in 2 afternoons.

Time for a diary entry.

I haven't made any new entries these last days, because I didn't feel I had much to write. Unfortunately this is still the case, so it's going to be a short entry.

I'm still busy completing the work on the search engine. Various adjustments to the search ranking logic keeps postponing the initial release, and I *really* want to get it over with.

I'm still reading Foucaults Pendulum - haven't had much time to read, but its definitely an interesting book. I think I will read a general-purpose book about the thoughts of the various philosophers next.

I just bought the new Depeche Mode album, Exciter. I downloaded it through napster a month ago, and have already listened a lot to it. Good example of how mp3 privateering isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I worked a bit on my home page. I'm trying to think of interesting subjects to write about, because writing is relaxing, but when I need a subject to write on, my mind goes blank. Bummer.

Guess it's the same feeling as when sometimes you really feel like coding some cool new game or program, but when you need to decide on exactly what it's going to be, no good ideas show up. Bummer.

Work: Been quite busy completing the work on the search engine. The code is now complete, some tweaking of the parameters controlling the search results are still needed though.

Been enjoying some great danish weather :-)

Not much new. Passed by slashdot and wired, and read about the Craig Mundie speech. It always scares me to see how worked up people can get as soon as GPL or the like is discussed. If the average linux person could use a little less time discussing the finer points of GPL, LGPL, BSD etc. and a little more time building usable and user- friendly applications, linux might stand a better chance.

Have been reading Ernest Hemingways, Garden of Eden, and enjoying the good weather in Copenhagen, where the summer seems to have finally started :-)

Book reading. Been reading "In the name of Rose" by Umberto Eco, and "To kill a mocking bird" by Harper Lee. Next in line will be Umberto Ecos "Foucaults Pendulum", which I look forward to.

Work. Still attempting to get the search engine ready for prime time. Sigh.

Gary Larson. If you havent got one of those uninventive table calenders with gary larson drawings yet, get one. Gary Larson has been my favourite cartoon drawer for ages, and his sense of humour is _good_ :-)

Programming. Sigh, it seems I haven't made any _new_ code in ages. Just bugfixes and small feature-requests. Need a new project soon. Read Bjarne Stroustrups brainstorm suggestions for language improvements in the next round of C++ evolution. Go Bjarne, Go Bjarne! :-)

Music. The new Depeche Mode album, Exciter, is so ... so... Depeche Mode :-)

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