Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I miss glögg and lussebullar

For any potential non-Swedes out there (haha, as if anybody would ever read this blog except I...), glögg is like glühwein and lussebullar are saffron scented sweet wheat buns in honor of Lucifer. Or the Italian saint Lucia, but since very few really knows why we celebrate just her or actually believe in the tales of boiling oil and near decapitation, what difference does it make? It's just an excuse to indulge in alcohol and sugar for which Lucifer is a more honest front figure.

The DAC+Amp combo did not make much of a difference unless I cranked the volume knob. Sweet loud music without any painful treble, although I mostly listen at moderate levels so I can think and do something. So glad I bought that new sound gear, I wouldn't dare go back to my older pair by now. I have of course glanced at STAX SR009 and Audeze LCD-3 with the proper gear, but... Need a wealthy career first, or a winning lottery ticket.

Thought about getting a manual razor for so long and every time I passed by the shaving section in the shop, I recalled I still hadn't investigated which of Gillette and Wilkinson is the better choice, or why some people keep using old school shiny heavy stainless steel razors. So after half a week of research, I ordered a heavy duty Merkur long handle safety razor, razor sharp razors, a badger brush to brush badgers, a shaving soap and after shave and have enjoyed shaving like a man for a almost a week. Great fun, the first initial shaves were kinda crappy though and I now have a reliable method of limited blood letting.

I had a quick look-around in my old code backups and found a directory called "attic". In there, I found an engine demo with physics, an editor written with my own rather capable GUI, a shader code generator, scene transform hierarchies and more. Currently trying to update that. Updated the code coverage in the beginning of the month, most importantly I finally made the move to parse preprocessed source instead which simplifies _a lot_ of things. Decision condition still not implemented.

Trying to play around a lot more on the guitar rather than going for "safe runs". Adding in some chord notes, experimenting with weird chord shapes that sound interesting etc. Learn to play that thing "properly" you say? Musicians who did became chameleons and that must be the most boring career ever. I play to explore, not to chase. Plucked a couple of strings yesterday morning, I need to find more time to play...

There are two DVD boxes on my to-buy list as of now: The Wire and Deadwood. Magnificent stuff. Waiting and hoping for The Wire to come out on BD. Where are the games to pair up with these? :(

Woah, this is the next to last entry for this year. Christmas is closing in. 11-11-11, 11:11:11 has passed by. id released another game. Where are the screenshots of my graphics programming? I need to do something. And this is exactly why I write this blog!

EDIT: Every now and then, I pass by some old posts to correct various offences of the English language and in eventful times, I may even feel compelled to add something extra. This time, I need to vent about Skyrim, which is rather wonderful and better than I expected. It does not disappoint w.r.t. the declining complexity and intricacies that stories or relations between characters or groups of characters may offer that is apparent in near all works of fiction nowadays and the dragon fights are just silly (both I did expect), but other than that, it is a very enjoyable experience. Darker and more "mature" than Oblivion. Finally the beast races are alternatives for the player character, they looked hilarious in Oblivion. Actually, beast races are hilarious overall, but I may try one of them this time (a sneaky, murderous Khajit maybe, they'ra all like that).

The landscapes sometimes are really beautiful, they do remind me of meadows and fields in the autumn forests in mid-southern Sweden. This weekend, I was running in the mountains (too many mountains and too few trees, but we all know why...) with my hardly levelled dual wielding Nord lady (get it? :p ) when a thunderstorm came over me. DAC+Amp combo with bass boost ON, D2000 headphones and the immersive thunder mod... Oh boi, no speaker rig <  $2000 could ever deliver that much sound experience straight in your face. Gang of bandits tried to rip me off right there, showed them what women from the north are all about. And why I'm so scared of them :p Oh right, how can you run around with no arm protection in snow storms? I don't mind a little cold but that is impressive.

I've tried out a bunch of mods and in my opinion the only ones worth going for are the minor ones such as the 3rd person dual wield anim (if you dual wield of course), the QD interface, realistic ragdoll, improved road signs etc. Maybe the improved water textures, but otherwise, I think Bethesda did a really good job with the graphics and most mods for this are pretty useless for now (hi rex textures are texely but not very pretty and the shader mods do less than your monitor does). Gonna keep an eye out, TES fans are gonna pump up over the coming years.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dark after work

Clocks were reset to their proper setting and suddenly I have to bike home in darkness. Until the snow arrives. Can't wait.

Mr analysis says zero asymmetry :/ This is only for the second run with the cleaned up DAQ and shoddy beam, need to clean up the data from the first run with the crappy plots, see what that gives.

I had been thinking about upgrading my sound equipment and looked through the multitude of headsets out there, which of course are mainly targeted at gamers. (And airport personnel.) Treble bumps for clear "reproduction" of foot-steps coming up from behind, extra sturdy construction for whenever you rip the headset off your noggin' and throw it to the floor boards in frustration (as you do), style (since nobody wants to look like an idiot when they get owned, oh the irony) and on it goes. Being a bit of a "proper nerd", I prefer comfort and sound _qualiteh_ to be able to indulge myself in proper music, so I stopped looking at silly gamer gear and started browsing audiophile forums (first geekhack and now head-fi). I am still just a student so in the end I settled for the Denon AH-D2000 which is currently 200 EUR at, and there's also a FIIO E10 DAC+amp combo somewhere in the french postal service heading my way. Incredibly comfortable headphones and they sound really good even without the amp, but I did see pretty early on what the recessed mids were all about. Nothing an eq can't fix for my as of yet under-developed audio hypersensitivity. Can't really recommend them as I haven't tested much else worth mentioning. Good sound and very, very comfortable, still not very expensive.

Decided to give "pure" nickel strings a go on my guitar, waiting for those as well (Pyramid, why not go for the best while you're at it, eh?). Tucked in a glass and a brass slide too, I love the thick roar and smooth vibrato of sliding.

Rewrote my C++ parser for the code coverage from a crude variable driven state machine to a scope based state machine. There are pros and cons to both, but in the long run, having a simple set of rules for specific sections of code will make the code easier to delve into after not having looked at it for a few weeks which is how I roll when I go developing stuff.

Battlefield 3 has been released, but I bought Scratches on sale at GOG instead. BF3 looks nicer (the metro in the beta was really pretty), but Scratches is sooo much more interesting. Yep, proper nerd, not a poser :D

Friday, 14 October 2011

Another late post

I have a few good reasons for this this delay...

First of all, we got beam! 8Li was a bit problematic with the HRS, but we got 27Na. Small problem is that it decays to 27Mg which in turn decays to 27Al, so we got two broad beta spectra to separate. Oh, fun-fun. Lots of practical problems all over the place, I even pulled a 26h shift just because I'm a bit insane.

I was outside Bratislava this week, on a GEANT4 school/workshop. Took a cab from my apt to the Cointrin airport in Geneva, flew to Vienna, took a bus to Bratislava, recognized a Ph.D. on her way to the same school who had visited ISOLDE not long ago and we had lunch in the city, grabbed a cab to the institute in Bratislava, met a fellow Swede there, took a bus to Casta Papiernicka and had fun for a few days. Then I had to do most of that backwards again, but I walked through Vienna with a small group of people from the school. Impressive city.

Hardly any time at all for the C++ coverage program or any hobby programming at all to be honest.

Tried GHS Boomers yet again, and they seem a bit pingy. Nice overall otherwise though, let's see in a few days.

Parents are coming tomorrow to visit for a week, maybe we'll try something in the cookbooks.

EDIT: So, Steve Jobs died. Saw it in all the papers. Too bad.
A few days later, I heard by accident that Dennis Ritchie died. Didn't see that in any paper. What's wrong with this world?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back to testing shenanigans

Work consists mainly of details and writing things at the moment while waiting for the beam time... Started cleaning up around the setup too.

Got interested in testing again and decided to read up on code coverage. Interesting stuff, even wrote my own source code instrumentation injector (after having tried the rather spartan gcov) and tried it on the urxvt code (not the best C++ out there, but everything must pass). So far, it only does statement coverage, but extracting conditionals should not be too hard since they are already identified and the move to checking for MC/DC doesn't seem insurmountable. The parser is mainly "empirically" for now, I should probably write a parser based on the latest C++ grammar specs.

Ordered a bunch of old style french cookbooks yesterday, gonna be fun trying out some proper french food. Only got one more year down here...

Finally got around to start learning the solos for Comfortably Numb without tabs. Like most good pieces of music, they're not very complicated but require a lotta love.

That's all I have to offer this time around... I blame boring work-related things.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Very occupied

It seems I "forgot" my pre-July post, but I have my reasons that I like to think of as being good enough. The day after I returned from a two week long trip to Sweden (I joined the bachelor party and was the best man at my friend's wedding and I attended NCNP2011), I spent 3 weeks working ~9-22 in a workshop. I had never done any kind of metal work before these weeks, but now I know a bit about milling, drilling and "lathing" iron, steel and anticorodal, plus how to shape old crappy drill bits by hand. 5 years university physics for machining metal!

Alas, haven't had the chance to indulge in a lot of recreational activities. I took two days off Thu-Fri last week which was nice, I finally had enough time to even feel like cleaning my apartment! Fired up Mass Effect again, in a desperate attempt to like it. I got almost twice as far as last time, I just had to throw it away after that. Largest botchup in gaming history ever, it could have been sooo grandiose...

I am currently writing "producing" code rather than "academic" code for FoF, there's been a few screenshots and movies the last week. Pondering about the project layout while waiting for discussions with the other team members. There are a bunch of huge stray art files in the repo which I want to strip away, working on that already.

Why don't the Japanese build guitar amps as good as Fujigen guitars? When I'm back in Gothenburg, I _will_ get an amp one way or another. I have also started following a new rule which is really taxing, but forces me to think very differently while playing: no shredding. No exceptions.

That's it for now, I will have to write up another post in less than two weeks, gotta leave some material until then!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Advance on all fronts

Not much really happened last month, by which I mean a lot of things happened, but I don't know how to present it all. I'll do my best not to bore whoever reads this. Got a bit busy so this post is a few days too late even.

The foil device has arrived! It has been installed for testing, the stepper motor driving is working (somewhat), details are slowly being wrapped up. Lots of things to get running still, the setup must be aligned etc. At least there's a clear idea and material to work with. The uncertain aspects are mostly some remaining manufacturing.

I changed gear just as I was about to pack my lightmaps, which was a little unfortunate. I was really interested in trying out some unorthodox, stochastic packing algos. Instead, I turned my eye to lower level problems like networking and other "basic" problems.

On to a review of Portal 2 (possibly spoilers, but I will try to keep them discrete):
I played through co-op with my brother rather quickly (5 hrs or so), we were both disappointed in the short campaign and easy puzzles. Co-op is supposed to be extra hard since there are two brains available to solve things. Some puzzles even relied on breaking conservation of momentum between portals. Sure, it's a game, it's supposed to be fun, but it's pushing the word "science" in your face every 10 seconds so you think they'd do it right. In fact, after the co-op campaign, I was regretting buying it this early. Aesthetically, it was very nice, but the concept of the game was thrown away. Puzzle game that was too short and too simple, disaster combo. That was until I played through the single player campaign.
Many puzzles in SP are much more interesting and some of the later level designs are wonderful. The majority of other reviewers seem to complain about how the pacing suffers in the second half of the game, that's when I thought the puzzling really started to shine. The first and last parts are so incredibly artificial and forced upon you (here's a test chamber, here's a test chamber, here's a test chamber...), whereas "down in the deep", you almost feel like you're exploring (it's all linear still of course). Loved the feeling of the vast undergrounds, although I was never really happy about how big it all was. It was mentioned somewhere in the game that "some scientist" or whatever had bought an old salt mine to explain it a bit, but those caves were HUGE. Also, when I played it through, I never thought about how the white gel was made out of ground moon rock which is mentioned in passing during the game. One thing, which was made obvious you had to do by the developers, made a lot of sense when I thought back on that. Fun detail.

This is not completely relevant, but I wanna say it anyway: Why are robots with human traits, which is pretty much completely detached from robots in reality, hailed as excellent actors and the writing praised along with that seemingly because they are tightly integrated? Glados, Wall-E and co. How can they even be considered to compete in the same top tier as HAL? Good writing creates entities like the city of Baltimore in The Wire, or the troubled group of small village people in the Deer Hunter. Excellent actors find their place in the story like Vito Corleone (that's kinda low hanging fruit, but failing to appreciate what Brando did there is simply not tolerable :p ). Not cute puppies with an expressive eye and eyelid or a supposedly evil computer (we already have them). The voice work was very nice, but the voice acting? No way, critical reviewers wanting to commend voice acting better get their sh!t together.

Anyway, really good game, co-op is really lackluster but the sp campaign is really, really good. I think it ended up being worth 45 EUR in the end.

This post is short, it will probably grow larger...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Summer is almost here

Geneva currently has what I would consider ideal weather conditions for me. Not too hot, not too cold (10-15 degrees Celsius) and the sun is shining from a blue sky. If only it could always be this perfect...

Another month gone by. Without any foil hardware. It's not funny, it's not frustrating, it doesn't make me angry. It's just the way things are. The transport has been initiated afaik, so maybe it will be here next week.

Working on light mapper, coding things I've thought about so many times before but never have implemented. Next step is to orient the charts and pack them in textures. I haven't thought about size problems yet, but it'll creep up on me sooner or later. I have not thought much on the real time indirect lighting, I will first try a high quality offline baker and see what can be done for incremental updates. I want that, otherwise I could just bake in a 3d modeler.

Didn't think on it much, but there will be quite a few new interesting games this year: Battlefield 3, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Mass Effect 3, Rage, TES5 Skyrim. Slightly off this list are Diablo 3 (eta 2012?), DNF (meh), Max Payne 3 (hmm). Trouble is they all go for mass markets: the combat in BF3 looks like more of the same mind numbing kneading, DXHR looks horrible and stupid compared to the oh so wonderful original for its time, ME has always botched a wonderful premise with a crap action game (slow deep story and interactive action sequences don't mix!), Rage is an id game (gorgeous, but boring) and Oblivion was so close but ended up being stupid (I was the master thief, assassin, magician, warrior and whatever else in the world eventually). Where is the new tight Raven Shield, difficult Ghost Recon, funny and superdiverse NOLF, evil Diablo 2, zany clicky adventure games, Oblivion like a Sim X game where things don't go according to plan...

Side-note: Grim Dawn. I have higher hopes for that than for Diablo 3. Looks properly evil and gritty.

Game development articles online are really depressing too. It's either about making games for the mass market including marketing and business, Minecraft (nice game, but enough already!), portable games for people on the run or the private life of a game artist. It's all facades, games aren't serious anymore. Most people would say it's the other way around, like how AAA titles turn around sooo much money, rivaling Hollywood and they should strive to become art to prove Ebert wrong or whatever. But then it's a business and the hunt for something irrelevant. Games have become a channel. Where are _the games_? Games created by one visionary eccentric designer who can actually write a fair amount of code going "I wanna do this". Not a medium forced on a computer or console, but a computer or console showing you.

Lost Eden may have been bad, but the world is an insta-pull compared to what you see today.

This is why I will never give up programming :)

End of vent.

Monday, 28 February 2011


The big thing this time is that my interest for real time approximate radiosity has received a major boost, mostly due to seeing Geomerics at work in BF3. A few days ago, DiCE released a video showcasing very short snippets from inside the game apparently and it looks really nice. I read up quickly on the current status of real time global illumination methods and started up my own gears upstairs and I have one idea I'd like to try out. It should require relatively little preprocessing and not only allow dynamic lights and objects to receive radiosity, but to actually affect it as well. Imagine a big sci fi ship descending into a dock with radiosity working that scene. Bold ideas, no demo ;) FreeGLUT and hard code to the rescue.

Still waiting for the foils hardware...

I have played way too little guitar lately. I want a proper amp and cabinet alt. combo, a Marshall plexi 1959 or 1987 or a Fender Deluxe... Dunno how often I would power it up though, considering how careful I am with not disturbing my neighbours.

Been playing a fair bit of Titan Quest on weekend evenings with my brother, pretty fun. Act IV sure is one major step up in difficulty compared to the rest, love it. That one double headed dog boss was a pain though, went relatively quickly once my brother and I set up a dirty quick swap strategy and tickled it to death. Anyway, I really like the potential in combining so many masteries, but some masteries feel too similar. Piercing and poison are crazy powerful too, whereas red hot burning pieces of stone are like flies coughing at you. TQ bosses are too easy. Some funny balancing issues, otherwise a really neat game.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Overall progress

It seems like the tilting foils device is nearing completion! A few details left, some repairs and modification on the implantation chamber and then hopefully it will be tested in the experimental hall. Found a break in the analysis, trying to work out some statistics mismatches in two programs.

I have been slacking off with TDD lately, I tend to write a lot of implementation before tests, mostly because it's really hard to write tests for something like a "splitter widget". A lot of fail safes fall into invariance testing anyway. Maybe all I have to do is to write destruction tests for all those widgets. Also, memcpy() in an assignment operator or a copy constructor, bad idea, learnt the hard way. There's a reason why classes with pointers should define their own mentioned pair... Smart pointers are really nice, esp. unique_ptr for widgets. Had to write a custom container for grabbing and focusing which may be a little dangerous, better keep that in mind.

My brother has bought a Realforce, I am really excited about his thoughts on it. Hopefully he will have it today. I have gotten a slightly scary desire lately, to open up my Filco and reduce the activation force. Very intrusive manoeuvre, but the keys are not as light as they could be. I shall wait until I have tried a Realforce, to see whether I want to keep the Realforce or if I can go postal on my Filco.

"Cliffs of Dover" is way too overrated, Eric Johnson has so much more to give. "Trademark" is all I have to say.

I have started training Colemak seriously, I exercise every day. My muscle memory has pretty high momentum, however, so it's going pretty slow. It feels great, QWERTY is probably as inefficient as layouts can go (probably not really... EDIT(2011-10-25): carpalx has found the most ineffective layout by stochastic methods, if you're interested.More on carpalx in the next blog entry!).

Another recent idea I've had is to improve my "dreaming", or dream recall to be more precise. Paying more attention to your dreams apparently improves your chances (or even control) of lucid dreaming, something that has intrigued me for several years.