Writing Games in .NET?

I’ve been writing a lot of little ‘snippet’ blogs lately.  So much has been happening, that I don’t have enough time to tie everything together.  Here’s another one.  Here’s a great tip on programming game loops by Rick Hoskinson.  Why is this interesting?  Because he points out some really cool techniques for working with Window forms.  Plus, he thows in a tip or two on working directly with a .dll.  Cool stuff.

John DeLorean passed away

Wow, John DeLorean died today.  I didn’t realize that he had invented the original Pontiac GTO.  My friend in college had one.  Imagine seeing a black DeLorean (yes, it WAS stainless steel, it was black, and it was VERY rare) driving down the University of Tennessee’s main drag with the door OPEN with two geeky college guys hanging out…  We nearly caused several accidents from people trying to get a look.  Oddly enough, my friend’s name was John…

Rest in Peace, John…

‘Robots’, Ho-hum…

I have to say that I agree with my friend Rick about ‘Robots’.  I had to drag some friends to go see it.  They thought it so bad that I may have lost those friends!  (just kidding).  Actually, I think it made a LITTLE more sense than Rick did, as I sorta understood the Briteny Spears scene.  (Don’t ask… )  It seemed like all the really funny parts were shown in the trailer.  I just hope Star Wars isn’t like that, great trailer, terrible movie…

I just realized I haven’t blogged about designing!

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t actually talked about program designing yet.  That changes now. 

We were designing a way to store deleted items concurrently with active records in a single table.  The first thought/implementation was to tack an IsDeleted flag onto the table in question. (a la the dBase/FoxPro solution).  There turned out to be one little problem with the flag solution.  There’s no way to store a unique index that would include the IsDeleted flag.  Well, you COULD, but you would only be able to store one deleted record.

After some thought, we figured out that a better way to implement this problem is to use a Generation key for records.  If we use a unique index, we tack a number on to the end of the row to allow for keeping a history.

Hmmm, this brings up more issues… Gotta think about this.  The generation is ONLY necessary for tables that have unique indexes.

Latest goodies from VMWare

I’ve previously blogged about VMWare.  This is truly becoming a required piece of software for a developer.  One of the main problems with both VMWare and VirtualPC has been the inability to ‘grow’ the hard drives.  Once you had set a maximum hard drive size, you could never expand it.  You could SHRINK it, but no expanding.

Well, it seems like VMWare has changed that!  The latest release RC3 of VMWare 5 has a utility to expand the hard drives

Way to go VMWare!

More gloom and doom…

Arrgh, it seems my favorite line lately has become, ‘the light at the end of the tunnel was attached to a train’.  Previously, everything had gone downhill, but I at least my job was enjoyable.  Well, even that’s losing high marks.  I had a ‘wonderful’ person throw me under the bus today.  The stupid thing was that it was for be positive and trying to map out my future.  Sheesh…  Some people just like to stick knives in other people for fun.  Bah…  No wonder I don’t keep many close friends.

It’s time for guitar players to grow up…

I had an odd revelation this weekend.  There has been an ongoing debate about guitar amp modeling effects processors vs. real guitar amplifiers.  What hit me was that IT DOESN’T MATTER.  Here’s why:

Guitarist are facing the same thing that keyboard/piano players started to face in the 60’s (and STILL face).  It’s HARD to carry around a grand piano.  Some electronic geniuses have built modules that FEEL and SOUND very close to a grand piano, but a piano player will ALWAYS know the difference.  I think the same thing is happening for guitar players.  Tube amps are the best sounding amps in the world.  Unfortunately, to sound good, they have to be loud.  Also, they change their sound constantly.  One day an amp will sound good, the next, horrible (and no settings have changed!).  Digital modeling sort of solves the problem by doing the same thing that the keyboard and sound module did for piano.  The player has a similar interface (keys or strings), but has a different ‘feel’ and ‘sound’.  Fortunately for keyboard players, they’ve had a LONG time for people to integrate synths with playing.  Us guitar players have really only had a good 10-15 years, and we haven’t totally embraced it yet.  You can tell by the arguing on various message boards that ‘the POD sounds BETTER than the Mesa’ or ‘My Marshall kills that GT-6’.  Just look at how many piano modules there are out there, and you can see where this is going…

Personally, I have a wonderful tube amp that NOTHING sounds like, and a GT-8 that I LOVE for convience and a great sound.

Guitar players, we now have new tools, it’s now time to learn & accept them!

The odd

Well, with the car in the shop, I have a rental.  It’s the most unusual rental I’ve ever gotten.  I’m driving around in a brand new Cadillac SRX.  I don’t like SUV’s at all, but this one is VERY nice.  Cadillac is one of those companies that has become a modern phoenix.  They’ve realized that their target audience is going away, and that they need to aim at a new generation.  Gone are front wheel drive land-yachts, replaced with american-euro styling high performance cars.  You’ve got to give a LOT of credit to whomever allowed the CTS-V to be built.  Who’d thunk that they’d take and stick a Z06 engine and transmission in a middle-range sedan?  M5 watch out!

The good…

I has been a good week, aside from the car accident.  I sold my GT-6, and replaced it with a Boss GT-8.  For all you guitar players out there, the GT-8 is UNBELIEVABLE!  Also, I had a wonderful dinner with a friend of mine that I used to work with.  Work has been productive, there’s a new Star Wars trailer out, and Robots opened today.  I know what MY weekend plans are going to be.

The bad…

I was on my way to meet a friend of mine that I used to work with, and a lady ran into the side of my car.  Scratched the car up from the middle of the passenger side door to the end of the car.  Fortunately, I was calm, called the police, and everything was taken care of in 30 minutes… Grrr, just as you think that you get a handle on things.  At least this time when I called my insurance provider, Progressive, things got handled a lot easier.  They have a good body shop on their list that I was able to use.  Plus, they set me up with a NICE rental car.  More about that later…

Tried On-demand music today…

I finally bought my first song off of MSN Music today.  Why MSN instead of iTunes?  Couple of reasons.

First, I don’t like being locked into having to use only one manufacturer’s device.  I’m not a huge fan of the iPod.  I think it’s got a great market share, cool advertising, and is hip, but it doesn’t have the features that I want.

Second, the quality of the recording.  Apple’s music is encoded at 128 kbs.  MSN Music is encoded at 160 kbs.  Most people cannot hear the difference between 128 kbs & CD.  Unfortunately for me, I transcribe music.  One of the tricks of learning music is to play it back at various speeds.  To be able to slow music down and still be useable for transcribing, the overtones that are removed from lossy compression are needed.  Higher bit rate are required.

Finally, I don’t think my transcription program, Transcribe!, supports the DRM’d AAC format.  Since that’s THE BEST transcribing program I’ve used, that limits my choices.

Now, WHY did I do it?  Well, this is a working musician’s dream.  When I used to audition for cover bands, they would usually have a set list of 40-50 songs by almost as many different artists.  That would require buying 40-50 CDs just to get all of the songs.  Now, I love to play, but $500+ just to work with a band is a little bit over the top.  Now, I can just download the songs that I need, and create CDs to listen to the music, and it only would cost $50… Beautiful!

Talking about RSS News Reader Auditions

Rob Caron has RSS News Reader Auditions going.  I’m going to be going through this list myself. 

The following is a list of criteria that *I’M* looking for in a blogreaderis:

  1. IT DOESN"T LOSE POSTS!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. It doesn’t suck up all my available memory
  3. It has a REASONABLE turn of speed with large collections
  4. News paper style of reading headlines
  5. Comments are displayed.

Hopefully ONE of those blog readers meets those criteria.

Sad state of the music industry

So much for staying apolitical.  Recent a RUMOR has been spread around that the Music Industry wants to raise prices on the music downloads.  Can these guys shoot themselves in the foot any more?  First, they didn’t even want to SELL music online.  ‘Online Music will hurt CD sales’.  Ummm, at 1.5 MILLION songs a DAY downloaded @ $1.00 a song, doesn’t that mean that someone is making $1.5 MILLION dollars a DAY?  That’s a ridiculus amount of money.  If they don’t sell it, people are still going to try to find it (and pay NO ONE).  Now, we have PROOF that people want to buy music online. 

Second, the quality of the records that are sold is LOWER than a CD.  All of the Online services compress the music.  NO ONE is selling in a Lossless format.  I find it ironic that it costs MORE to buy a lower quality digital recording than it does to buy a CD.  Now the industry wants to charge even more for a download?

Finally, the costs of distributing music online is unbelievably cheaper.  No printing, no media, no graphics, no shipping, no store space, no annoying employees, no overstock, no store…  Ummm, shouldn’t cutting out ALL of these middlemen save at least a LITTLE bit of money?

There used to be a LOT of costs associated with creating music.  Professional studios were hideously expensive in both equipment and personnel.  Materials and distribution were outrageous, and there always was a balancing act of producing too much for the market.  These have now been addressed.  With music hardware and software advancing by leaps and bounds, and the price dropping every year, a full feature studio has become cheaper than buying a car.  With electronic distribution, all of the ‘waste’ that the Record company had to pay for is gone.  Now, it’s fairly easy to make a pro sounding recording. 

I am a musician.  I create music for fun and enjoyment.  If my friends want to hear my music, I gladly hand them a CD.  I’ve never agreed with the ‘music should be free’ concept of peer-2-peer sharing.  It takes a lifetime to become a talented artist.  People that devote their life to creating music SHOULD be compensated.  Unfortunately, the Artists do not get the money, the record companies do.

Maybe it is time to ditch the system…

Check out this new service if you want to discover new music legally…

Going to try to live in Windows XP 64

With RC2 being as stable as it is, and all of my devices have Windows 64 bit drivers available, I am officially making Win64 my default booting partition.  So far I haven’t run into any issues other than installing a program that should have added a menu to the right click menu, but for some reason doesn’t show.  It’s a great zip program called IzArc.  Let’s see if I can last through the weekend.  Gotta start installing some of my music programs.