pphaneuf: (I Like Beer)
Uh, there was a traffic jam on my small street today when I left for work?!? Complete with no less than two city buses, trying to work around the cranes and other construction equipment currently cluttering the street... Weird.

Oh, man, I've been meaning to post for exactly two weeks, yet didn't. I did this thing where I thought about hypothetical posts that I'd be writing while on the metro and biking, then forgot to actually post it.

It helps that there has been a fair deal of biking going on, beginning with what I called the Weekend of Doomed Awesomeness for a bit (if only in my head). This started by going to Mutek's Nocturne 3 with [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe on the Friday. Then, went to the Mondial de la bière with [livejournal.com profile] azrhey in the afternoon, after which [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe joined us to go to Mutek's Nocturne 4. How to follow this best? Sunday, I showed up at [livejournal.com profile] cpirate's place almost in time (9am-ish, after going to bed at 5am!) for, you know, a little Tour de l'Île (with [livejournal.com profile] scjody as well), after which we stopped for well-deserved poutine at La Banquise (and a coffee, so I could stay conscious). Then (the same day!), [livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I met with [livejournal.com profile] rezendi for a quick pint before catching Le Salaire de la peur at Cinéma du Parc. In case I might have survived, [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe invited me to see She Wants Revenge for my birthday (got me brownies too, woot!), on the Monday evening (we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] fuzzyilla too, ahoy!).

While I thought Nocturne 3 was quite excellent (Millimetrik and Modeselektor were awesome, Kid Koala very good, although I've seen better sets from him, and the other bands were quite fun too), Nocturne 4 let me a little bit down. Most of the bands didn't "click" with me much, and the whole programme was running late, which combined with the act I wanted to see most (Deadbeat, was excellent!) played last, made for leaving the place extremely late. Still, it was nice too, I just wish I could have slept in the next day!

I'll have to agree with [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe, She Wants Revenge was good, but they'd have to put out a killer album for me to go to their next show. Some of their opening bands were really wacky and not all that good either, including a "punk" band that sounded like Avril Lavigne on speed.

So after that, I, uh, didn't do much for the two last weeks, as you might have guessed. I did bike to work a lot (for which there was tremendously good weather!), played with my own early birthday gift to myself (a new top-end 24" iMac, Core 2 Duo 3.06 GHz and GeForce 8800 GS, smokin'!) and coded (mostly on Quadra, more than 20 commits just this weekend!). There was a visit from [livejournal.com profile] musicdieu and [livejournal.com profile] cpirate, watching of Euro Cup games, and Munchkins.

[livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I went out on the city last Saturday, was quite nice, and I got myself a nice watch (Danish design and titanium? sign me up!). We ended up going to the cinema and watching You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Yes, I know, I know, but it's actually pretty funny, mostly due to the weird cultural references (fizzy bubbles and hummus, baby!), and was saved because I have a small idea of what's going on in that culture, and would probably have been even funnier if I was actually part of it. I don't really expect it to do well, although there's a fair share of stuff that a lot of North American would find funny (silly fight scenes, sexual jokes), but I laughed really hard at the hacky sack, fish and hummus jokes, myself.

On a closing note, I've had a weird email recently from OkCupid (which I do find entertaining, for various reasons). I often get the "come back to our site so you can see and click ads" emails, but this one was different, telling me that there was one particular user I should message where there was some sort of category 5 crazy outlier match. Apparently, the love of my life is in New York state, which is too bad, because I'm not, ha! It then showed the usual "you might be interested in those people" bunch of people, but as opposed to the usual, this morning it was a bunch of my friends, so, well, I guess it sorts of works? I do like my friends, they're nice and everything. :-P

Packed!

May. 26th, 2008 05:05 pm
pphaneuf: (Default)
Ok, so after going to Festival Kinetik last week (where I nearly snapped my neck ogling!), I booked up this weekend pretty solid: going to Mutek Nocturne 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday), the Beer Fest on Saturday, the Tour de l'île on Sunday and She Wants Revenge on Monday. It will be both intense and awesome, I think!

Gifted myself with an iMac 24" this weekend (the big one with the GeForce!), ostensibly for my birthday, and managed to play some Battlefield 2142, for, uh, "testing". The testing is pretty conclusive, and it's quite awesome. And, oh, so silent, yet so powerful! I will also be looking forward faster compiling on my old laptop through Xgrid.

I've also come up with a design in my head for doing zero-overdraw overlapping windows with support for alpha transparency. I'm dreaming of a "Quadra HD", and while I don't really know what it'd look like, I know that according to historical figures for development speed, we should release that around 2012 or so! I also got a "pre-opened" gamepad last week, which will allow for adding support for it in Quadra, which has been requested since more or less forever. That could be here as soon as 2009! ;-)

Old Fogeys

Apr. 25th, 2008 12:21 pm
pphaneuf: (Default)
I've become a member of Communauto last week, and combined with getting my bike back, means that I'm at what is going to be my peak mobility for the next little while.

Used Communauto a couple of days later to go to a Quadra hackfest at Rémi's, with [livejournal.com profile] slajoie as well. I've had a surge of interest in Quadra, but it is a delicate thing to do: we need to release a new stable version before we can hack on the "next generation" version, and while we're getting very close now, there is definitely a momentum thing that can be lost just too easily. And now the kind of things left are packaging related, which isn't the most exciting (so help us out, [livejournal.com profile] dgryski!). We've got interesting ideas for future development, but we can't really do any of this for now, since it would make merging from the stable release very annoying (and it already isn't too wonderful at times)...

Getting my bike back meant going to work on bike, and that is ridiculously quick, on the order of six to seven minutes. That's faster than the metro, by a lot (that's only a bit more than the average waiting time, and I don't have to walk to Lionel-Groulx). In my opinion, that's not even good exercise, I hardly have time to break a sweat even if I go fast, so I might end up taking detours on good days (the Lachine Canal bike path is nearby).

Related to Quadra, I've been looking at SDL (which the next version of Quadra uses instead of its internal platform) and SDL_net. It's funny how game developers are so conservative sometimes! I don't know much about 3D games, but in 2D, people seem to develop more or less like they did on DOS more than 10 years ago, which was very limited back then, due to DOS not having much of a driver model. Because of that, since anything more than page flipping and waiting for the vertical retrace (using polling PIO, of course) is specific to every video chipset. A game wanting to use accelerated blits had to basically have its own internal driver model, and when a card was not supported, either the game would look bad (because it would use a software fallback), or would not work at all. In light of that, most games just assumed a basic VGA card (the "Super" part is made of vendor-specific extensions), using 320x200 in 256 colors (like Doom), or 640x480 in 16 colors (ever used Windows' "safe mode"?), with maybe a few extra extensions that were extremely common and mostly the same.

Then, DirectX appeared and all the fancy accelerations became available to games (window systems like X11 and Windows had their own driver model, but could afford to, being bigger projects than most games, and were pretty much the sole users of the accelerations, so they existed). What happened? Game developers kept going pretty much the same way. Some tests by Rémi back then found that using the video memory to video memory color key accelerated blits (with DirectDraw), getting hundreds of frames per second, where the software equivalent could barely pull thirty frames per second on the same machine. About an order of magnitude faster! You'd think game developers would be all over this, but no, they weren't. They were set in their ways, had their own libraries that did it the crappy way, and didn't bother, overall. The biggest user of 2D color keyed blitting is probably something like the Windows desktop icons.

Then, 3D acceleration appeared, and they just didn't have the choice. The thing is, this hardware still isn't completely pervasive, and especially for the target audience of a game like Quadra, who like nice little games and won't have big nVidia monsters in their machines, so using the 3D hardware for that kind of game would leave them in the dust. Nowadays, DirectDraw has been obsoleted and is now a compatibility wrapper on top of Direct3D, so oddly enough, we're back to 2D games having to avoid the acceleration.

Thankfully, in the meantime, the main CPUs and memory became much faster, so you can do pretty cool stuff all in software, but it's kind of a shame, I see all of this CPU being wasted. Think about it: Quadra pulls in at about 70% CPU usage on my 1.5 GHz laptop, so one could think it would "need" about 1 GHz to run adequately, right? Except it worked at just about full frame rate (its engine is bound at 100 frames per second) on my old 100 MHz 486DX! Something weird happened in between...

Game developers seem to be used to blocking APIs and polling so much, it spills over in SDL_net, which uses its sockets in blocking mode, and where one could easily lock up a server remotely by doing something silly like hooking up a debugger to one of the client and pausing it. Maybe unplugging the Ethernet cable would do it too, for a minute or two, until the connection timed out. How awful...
pphaneuf: (Oatmeal)
When run on Quadra, Valgrind tells me the following:

More than 100000 total errors detected. I'm not reporting any more. Final error counts will be inaccurate. Go fix your program!

Sir! Yes! Sir!

Update: Thank goodness, it's now down to a number I can count on my fingers.

Help wanted

Nov. 2nd, 2006 06:24 pm
pphaneuf: (Default)
I'm currently hacking on Quadra. More specifically, I'm porting it to SDL, which is allowing me to port the game to Mac OS X, which is all rather awesome.

Except for one tiny detail. Compare the icon of Quadra with, say, the icon of a typical Mac OS X application:



Um, yeah...

So, I was wondering, dear lazyweb, if someone could help me out and create an icon for Quadra? I'd plan on using it on multiple platforms, such as Windows and the various Linux desktops, so I figure that if I had a 128x128 PNG file (with alpha channel), I'd probably be able to convert this to the various respective icon formats. The "Quadra" at the top was a bad idea, I'd just envision a few stylized tetrominos on a transparent background. Feel free to give it a try and send me your submission by email (which you can find in my profile).

Thanks in advance!

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