# Thursday, 31 August 2006

The XNA Game Studio Express has been released! Althought right now I think it's pretty much just the XNA Framework and a Project Type that attaches on to Visual C# Express, but in the future there is supposed to be some more add ons that make game developement even more fun and simpler.

Good news is.. because of this I don't see why I couldn't just reference the XNA framework classes and give it a go in Visual Basic .Net as well, something which I will try later.

Great news is... YES, the XNA framework DOES make things SOOOOOOO much easier when you're trying to develope a game. No longer will you have to write pages of boiler plate code to acuire, init, reaquire your devices. The sample game which they provided is a TREASURE TROVE of game programming guidance. Hopefully this will truly revinvigorate all the hobbyists game programmers out there!

Bad news is I haven't found a way to init a game as a window inside a form ala a user control, hence right now I can't use XNA to code my advanced graphical displays in my real world business apps. Hopefully I just missed out something in the docs!


Thursday, 31 August 2006 13:40:46 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

Today is Malaysia's independence day, I guess some people would call me unpatriotic for not basking in the celebrations but while I apprepreciate and treasure the safety and the opportunites the country has given me.

Sometimes there are just some people who do things which makes me feel pretty sad about the situation overall.


Thursday, 31 August 2006 13:00:23 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 29 August 2006

At one point or another most programmers will have a dream... a dream to code the most complex application type known... a dream... to write GAMES!!

In about 2 more days, that dream will be closer to reach with the release of Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express a combination of both Visual C# Express, a framework to make game developement easier, and a bunch of tools (I think!) to make the job easier as well.

I'm looking forward to the release for 2 things, one is the obvious fact that I have the dream too! The 2nd is... anything that makes it easier to write snazzier display graphics (such as with WPF and DirectX) is always usable in real world applications! I just hope I can still compile something as a user control in the XNA:GSE!

The easiest way to tell a current game developer how XNA will change the way he developes games for Windows is to show him the skeleton of a simple game, and here's one courtesy of the XNA Team Blog

public class SampleGame : Game
{
    private GraphicsComponent graphics;
  
    public SampleGame()
    {
        this.graphics = new GraphicsComponent();
        this.GameComponents.Add(graphics);
    }
  
    protected override void Update()
    {
    }
  
    protected override void Draw()
    {
        this.graphics.GraphicsDevice.Clear(Color.Blue);
        this.graphics.GraphicsDevice.Present();
    }
  
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
        using (SampleGame game = new SampleGame())
        {
            game.Run();
        }
    }
}

You'll only really appreciate the simplicity of this loop if you have written any sort of game initialization and draw loop before.

Of course.. I am a bit peeved that they're using C# instead of VB for the first release, but I'll let it slide this time!


Tuesday, 29 August 2006 10:19:12 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 28 August 2006

On Saturday I went and got the stroller which I had my eyes on. A Peg Prego A3, my baby's own personal Warthog! Anyway.. only after buying it did I realise one thing... DAMN.. it's big!!! I was paying so much attention to how well it seats the baby and the other necessary stuff I forgot I need to put it in my car... DAMN.. it's big!

Then later that night my aunt called and ask if we needed anymore stuff since she didn't need it anymore, so off we went to pick up... literally every piece of baby furniture you'd need.. cot, high chair, sleeping net, tub, etc. etc.

Now where the fark am I supposed to put all this?


Monday, 28 August 2006 00:06:38 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [2]  | 
# Friday, 25 August 2006

I've used a lot of Pocket PCs, upgraded quite a few of them as well. But recently I found myself totally stumped by one of them.

The Dell Axim X51 is what you'd call a pretty good handheld platform, it's supported by Dell so you can use it for your corporate clients, has Wifi, Bluetooth, and most importantly has both a CF and an SD slot. Which is very important to me cause my job requires the use of a CF tag reader.

Only problem was when we first received the Axims I found a little problem with it, I couldn't open the CF card's serial port more than twice without having to pull the reader out and put it back in again. At first I thought it was the reader's fault but after going through a few more I concluded that it was the Axim's fault. Searching through the web I found that other people have encountered the same problem as I did and Dell was being quiet on the topic of fixes.

Finally a few weeks ago Dell released a new firmware update that very specifically said

FIXES SERIAL PORT CONNECTION PROBLEM

Alright, finally I can get my stuff working! So I download the firmware update and ran the update program, so it installs the latest boot loader and then it tells me to hard reset the Axim on the cradle so I do so but... the confirm hard reset screen just flashes by not allowing me to confirm. So I tried again... and again.. and again...

I call Dell, first they told me the usual follow the instructions.. so I told them I did. Long story short, they tell me that my unit has been corrupted and they'll send me a replacement. So I tell them I've got ANOTHER Axim in the office if that upgrade also fails they're gonna have to send me another one. They tell me to try the upgrade on a different machine.

It DIDN'T WORK!!

So in the end, I send the Axim's back to Dell they upgraded it, and the tech support person was sooooo pleased to tell me that the upgrade worked WITHOUT a hitch. So I told her.. yes, I'm too stupid to follow simple instructions. To which she started apologizing profusely, then I said ok.. my machine's aren't good enough to upgrade the Axims. She started apologizing profusely again.

In the end, I got my upgraded Axims and they work perfectly. I still don't get WHY I weren't able to upgrade them myself.. it has got to be my fault!


Friday, 25 August 2006 21:10:48 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

My wife who's a lecturer recently got given an assignment. She was supposed to come up with a document to list out some guidelines for students in choosing the development platform for their final year projects. So she asked me to just give her a quick run down of what I know. I told her I only knew about .Net, and very little about JSP web developement... but even without knowledge of JSP web developement I did recently witness someone setting up an enviroment for a DB driven JSP developement and it involved the following steps.

  1. Install TomCat (web server)
  2. Install the Java SDK
  3. Configure TomCat to use the Java SDK installed
  4. Install MySQL
  5. Install a MySQL management GUI
  6. Mount the DB file to MySQL
  7. Pray the setup works properly

Then I thought about what a student would go through if he was trying to do ASP.Net 2.0 developement, naturally as a student the enviroment of choice would obviously be Visual Web Developer Express. So... what steps are required to get a developement enviroment ready for a DB Driven ASP.Net 2.0 website?

  1. Install Visual Web Developer Express with the SQL Server 2005 option checked.

Hmmm... maybe I should have listed the download as a step as well! ;)

But that's the truth about it, VWD is just a very good integrated enviroment for web developement. It uses a self contained web server to host the site for debuging hence you don't need to worry about setting up IIS virtual directories and what not, the only setting you need to do to get the server up and running would probably be your firewall complaining about the hosting process... ONCE.. and that's it, web setup done! If you can even call it a setup.

Then for the DB side, all you need to do is to dump the SQL Database MDF file in the APP_DATA folder and your code can access it, cause SQL2k5Express will load the DB in proc, so you don't have to worry about how to mount the DB in your SQL server.

And, not only is this good for the student. For the lecturer to get the students project up and running so they can be marked all the lecturer needs to do is to copy the solution and all it's files and open it in their copy of VWD. And not muck around mounting DBs, setting up web shares etc. etc. It's a win win situation.

As I was explaning all this to my wife, she interjects and says that has nothing to do with ease of developement. But I remind her that with less trouble and hassle setting up the enviroment, it means that student has more time developing their application so it is an important factor!

Of course I can't compare JSP features to ASP.Net 2.0 since I'm pretty clueless about what are the features in JSP. But ASP.Net 2.0 just gives you so much, a lot of base functions are already included in the .Net framework freeing the programmer up to make the application the programmer wants and not having to worry about getting the plumbing done.


Friday, 25 August 2006 00:21:59 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 24 August 2006

Windows Live Writer huh? Hey.. you know what this is actually pretty cool and convinient. Heck, maybe it'll make me want to post more!

Yes.. I think I should like this very very much. Let's try a picture!

So how did that come out? Good?

Let's see how this goes!


Thursday, 24 August 2006 14:43:16 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 20 August 2006

I was back in Melaka for the weekend, usually when driving around Melaka I constantly have to ask my wife where to go, where to turn. I just can't seem to remember roads when I'm driving. But this time was different, this time I brought along my GPS unit and loaded the Melaka map into my phone. And boy did it work out well, literally got to everywhere I need to go without ever asking my wife for directions, so she could just sit back and relax for most of the way.

The user created maps at www.malsingmaps.com work really well for the most part but every now and then some weird turning directions pop out and you just need to be wary about situations like that. And the routes I chosen didn't have any complicated turnings or junctions, compared to in KL where I took a few wrong turns cause they were just too close together and well... it was confusing..


Sunday, 20 August 2006 20:52:03 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 17 August 2006

Someone tried to break into my house through the back again a few nights ago, those bastards!!! I'm wiring up a motion activated spotlight and a couple of cameras to monitor the back alleys now.

Bastards! I hate it when they endanger my sense of security!


Thursday, 17 August 2006 13:51:08 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |