March 2006

Finished Eternal Darkness and exercise

Earlier I blogged about the great Nintendo Gamecube game Eternal Darkness. I am happy to say I finished it! I didn't get the uber sword so it was a lot harder at the end - took me three days.

Sixth day of exercising and 7th day waking up at 7:00am (didn't exercise on Sunday). Today is the first day where after I was done I didn't feel like collapsing so I think it might be getting a
bit easier.

My arms and legs feel a lot better too (though still sore) since I moved to the 20 pound weights.

More exercise

Well I did weights again today but went down to 20 pounds from 30. I still felt the warm burning sensation in my muscles so I am sure I am still getting benefit. Yesterday I could have sworn I pulled a muscle and I wouldn't be able to do weights for quite some time but I woke up this morning feeling fine. So my body is telling me: "Three days between weights" which is fine.

Papa Murphy's doesn't like me…

My wife got a pizza from Papa Murphy's yesterday. We have eaten about five pizza's from them so far but this most recent one, something was different.

Within 10 minutes of finishing my last slice I had terrible stomach cramps. Within 30 minutes I was in the bathroom where I was for the next 20 or so hours every 20 to 30 minutes.


It was not pretty.


What really sucked was I was working most of the time on a con call which last some seven hours.


There I was in the bathroom, ear piece in and phone muted, wishing I could roll-up into a little ball and sleep.


Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger or so they say. Since I am now stronger I have the strength to never eat Papa Murphy's again.


Oh, you may be wondering why my wife didn't get sick - we always get half Canadian Bacon + Pineapple and half Pepperoni. I ate the Pepperoni half.

Exercise day three…ouch

Well I did weights today. I did two sets of 10 at 30 pounds doing about nine different arm and leg maneuvers. I am sooo out of shape. I am also in a lot of discomfort. It didn't help that I worked 17 hours yesterday and didn't get home until 12:30am either. I know if I can keep this up for another 30 days it will get easier.

Second day of exercising

Well we got up again this morning at 7:00am. Whew I am tired. Yesterday I did 30 minutes on an elliptical and according to the distance meter I went about two miles. Today I did 30 minutes on a treadmill and according to its distance meter I did 1.6 miles. I am not sure either machine is properly calibrated because the time on the treadmill felt a lot longer and harder. I was only able to jog/run for about 11 of the 30 minutes before I started to feel searing pain in my legs and decided to do a fast walk.

I think on the weekends I will do weights. I am not entirely sure I am working out the most efficiently since I am sort of making it up as a go but I am afraid to do anything official as I would probably get trapped by the fitness industryHappy


We also have a gym right next to our house so if after a few months (I am being very optimistic I can keep this up) I could get some time with a personal trainer.

Life change? I hope so

My wife and I decided last night that we had to get in shape and resolved to get up every morning at 7:00am and exercise for at least 30 minutes. Well today is the first day. I know logically this is the right thing to do. I am almost 33 and I don't think I could run a mile flat outSad When the alarm went off I couldn't believe I was considering sleeping in! I didn't though.

Why is doing the "right" thing so hard?


There is a TV in the exercise room (which our condo is right next to - talk about no excuses - I am right next door!) and I got to watch a morning news program for the first time in about 18 months because that is when we gave up watching TV.


Ugh. I couldn't believe the crap that counts as news today. A full 15 minutes devoted to someone who got voted
off of American Idol. After that there was 5 minutes of commercials then a story about a Coyote in Central Park NY. This is news? No wonder Americans are ignorant.

Eternal Darkness and other great horror games

If you like H.P. Lovecraft you have got to play Eternal Darkness for the Nintendo Gamecube. It is in the bargain bin now and I picked up my copy for ~$15. A very creepy game with a unique spell system. I am about 11 hours into the game I have three chapters left.

First/Third person horror games are few and far between. The last great one for the PC was
Clive Barker's Undying. It seems these types of games are mostly the fair of consoles.

You can't mention horror game without talking about the Silent Hill series - of which I think
Silent Hill 2 was the best. Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill 4 seem all to eager too gross you out and lost the spooky atmosphere.

Gamecube has another great one in
Resident Evil 4 which recently won Gamespot's 2005 Game of the Year.

I am also very excited for
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth to be released at the end of the month. This is supposed a very hard game. For instance if you want to know how much ammunition you have left you actually have to unload the gun and check - can't wait!

Python web programming

I starting playing with web.py today to see how easy it would be to make a simple web app.

I followed the tutorial and everything was going well until it all stopped working. Took me about 20 minutes to figure out was wrong. Can you see it?


urls = (

'/', 'view'
'/add','add'
)

No? Look again:


urls = (

'/', 'view',
'/add','add'
)

That's right I was missing a comma. Did the program complain? No. What was the output on the web browser: "not found".


I wasn't impressed. I hate when stuff like that happens. I will still play with web.py because it is so simple but I will be much more careful in the future.


I play a lot of computer games. Most of those games require a serial number. I am going to us web.py to make a small web app to store all of my serial numbers. Seems like a good test and more complicated than the tutorials "todo list".

Look and Feel change

Well I decided I wasn't entirely happy with my hacked up default theme. I wanted a wider theme so when I wrote code examples they wouldn't run into the sidebar. I found a theme called Anarchy and hacked it up. I like simple designs and few graphics make it load very fast.

Finished Harry Potter series

Well I just recently finished the whole Harry Potter series and now am actually excited for book seven to be released. I can't wait to see how J.K. Rowling wraps it all up.

Speaking of Rowling her site is one of the worst I have ever seen. Flash only sites are a horrible blight upon the internet and should be outlawed. She does have a text-only version but even that is ugly - white and yellow on black. Normally if I mention a site I would link to it but I can't bear to put anybody kind enough to read my blog through that kind of pain.

Perl labels

I learned about Perl labels and thought I would pass it on. Basically a label names a block of code descriptively. They are usually uppercase. You can use next, redo and last within a labeled block. On the surface this doesn't seem that useful until you start talking about loops within loops.

Take the following bit of code with out labels:

while ( $somecondition ) {
# do some work
for my $iterator (1..10) {
# do some more work
}
}

Let's say you want to use
next in the for loop to control the while loop. There isn't way to do that here. You would have to come up with some other logic to handle that. Using labels its very easy:

WHILE:
while ( $somecondition ) {
# do some work
FOR:
for my $iterator (1..10) {
# do some more work
next WHILE;
}
}
Of course the above is a meaningless example but you get the idea.

X-Files and Art Bell

I just got the first disc of the first season of the X-Files today from Netflix. I used to love the show and it holds up pretty well. It's strange to see Scully pouring over microfiche and not searching the Internet. Before this show came out I was a huge Art Bell fan and into all the conspiracy theories. I remember people calling into Art Bell talking about flying black triangles and then a few weeks later seeing it featured in an episode - exciting!

I finally grew out of all that around 1995 when I started my computer career. It's funny how some people never grow out of it.

Python debugging and emacs

I am normally a vim user but am looking at emacs again. One of the features that emacs has that I love is how it does interactive debugging.
First thing to do is to have the python debugger in your path and called 'pdb'. On my Ubuntu system that would be:

cd ~/bin
ln -s /usr/lib/python2.4/pdb.py pdb

Now edit your favorite python script with emacs and start the debugger:

M-x pdb
pdb

emacs screenshot

Whatever happened to selling computer games?

I went down to Electronics Boutique, er EBX, er EB Games today looking for some computer games - you remember those right?

Well I was shocked when I walked in and saw every single wall covered with console games. I remember back when at least two walls were devoted to PC games.


Near the back of the store on a four sided vertical shelf was the PC games. Terrible selection and only the newest games out right now.


What has happened? I wish I knew. I can only guess the console games have better profit margins.


There was a Best Buy across the street and decided to check it out against my gut feeling to run in terror (I had a really bad experience there last year and swore never to return). I cautiously approached the PC game section and it was filled with lots of games - new ones, old ones, classics, etc...


A sad day indeed with Best Buy has a better selection of PC games than EB Games. I now have no reason to ever go there again since I have a Game Crazy across the street from where I live.

Python == Perl when it comes to regex's

A friend of mine is learning python and commented how he thought it was a better programming language but perl's regex's were better and so was better suited to scripting. I had to set him straight so I wrote a simple script in perl and python to parse telephone numbers.

Sample data:

(206) 329-1173
206.329.1173
206-329-1173
206 329-1173
329-1173
3291173

Python:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import sys,re
phonenumber = re.compile("\(?(\d{0,3})\)?[\.\-\s]?(\d{3})[\.\-\s]?(\d{4})")
for line in sys.stdin:
matches = re.match(phonenumber, line)
areacode = matches.group(1)
prefix = matches.group(2)
extension = matches.group(3)
if areacode == "":
print "Prefix = " + prefix + " Extension = " + extension
else:
print "Area code = " + areacode + " Prefix = " + prefix
print " Extension = " + extension

Perl:

#!/usr/bin/env perl

use warnings;
use strict;

while (<>) {
my ($areacode, $prefix, $extension) =
( $_ =~ /\(?(\d{0,3})\)?[\.\-\s]?(\d{3})[\.\-\s]?(\d{4})/ );
if ($areacode eq "") {
print "Prefix = $prefix Extension = $extension\n";
}
else {
print "Area code = $areacode Prefix = $prefix "
print "Extension = $extension\n";
}
}

Both scripts produce the same output:

Area code = 206 Prefix = 329 Extension = 1173
Area code = 206 Prefix = 329 Extension = 1173
Area code = 206 Prefix = 329 Extension = 1173
Area code = 206 Prefix = 329 Extension = 1173
Prefix = 329 Extension = 1173
Prefix = 329 Extension = 1173

Both scripts uses the
exact same regex. Python is just as powerful as Perl for regular expressions.

Where are all the emacs books?

So I decided to give emacs another try. I say another because in 2004 I used it for about 3 months before deciding to go back to vim. So I went to Barnes & Noble at the University Village shopping center tonight and they didn't have a single book! When I got home I went to Amazon.com (I work there by the way) and searched for 'emacs'. Three titles came up that were relatively new and in print. Three. The greatest editor ever and there are only three books? Eclipse hasn't been out that long and there are entire bookshelves dedicated to it so what is the deal? I don't know but it might be related to lisp. Lisp is supposedly the greatest programming language available but good luck finding more than one or two books on the topic and those will probably be academic texts.

Maybe the emperor doesn't have any clothes on. Maybe I am reading all these blogs from
Paul Graham and Steve Yegge and am convincing myself that the whole world is using emacs and lisp except me.

I will am still going to give emacs another go but I won't expect it to solve all my problems this time around and maybe I will enjoy it all the more.

New Python website is sexy

Well it looks like python.org has finally entered the realms of web 2.0. Nice colors, css templates, and new round jelly looking logo. Is this a reaction to Guido's recent post regarding better marketing or had they planned this for quite some time? (my guess is its been in the works for a while).

Currently Python is my language of choice but after reading all of Steve Yegge's old
blog entries I am second guessing myself and thinking I shouldn't drop Ruby totally.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Well you might have noticed my book list on the right and see that I am reading the whole Harry Potter series back to back. I just recently finished Goblet of Fire and the movie came out today and was anxious to see it.

My first impression was that it was a Cliff notes version of the book. They cut so much out that it felt like the movie was on fast forward. I think it was better than the Prisoner of Azkaban though.


Lets see some of the things they left out (there are more but here are the highlights):

  • Riddle family murders

  • Bertha Jorkin

  • Potter at the Dursleys

  • Mr. Weasley "flooing" to pick up Potter and confronting Mr. Dursley

  • Winky the house elf

  • Percy Weasley (Weatherby)

  • Ludo Bagman

  • Fred and George's bet

  • Team Mascots

  • Who won the Quidditch World Cup game

  • Ministry of Magic protecting World Cup

  • Potter, Weasley, Malfoy's in box seats

  • Death Eaters attacking muggles

  • Weighing of the Wands

  • Potter resisting Imperio Curse

  • Bagman and the Goblins

  • S.P.E.W. and the House-Elf Liberation Front

  • Return of Dobby

  • Return of Sirius

  • The giant spider in the maze

  • Explanation of Priori Incantatem

  • Potter giving the Triwizard Cup winnings to Fred and George

  • Rita Skeeter being able to turn into a bug

David Gilmour is better than ever

It's safe to say I am a big David Gilmour fan. I love Pink Floyd and whenever I would talk to someone else who liked them as well they were always surprised I didn't like Roger Waters more. Perhaps this is too strong - I like him just fine but I don't think he was the "heart" of Floyd as some fan boys and he himself thinks. I distinctly remember getting into a fight with someone over this a few years ago. We were discussing the relative merits of Gilmour and Waters when finally he said something to the affect "Well without Waters you wouldn't have songs like Comfortably Numb!" when I told him Gilmour wrote the music for it he thought I was lying. What attracts me to Floyd and Gilmour is the music. The lyrics are nice tooHappy But don't get me wrong, I am not bashing Waters. I loved Radio K.A.O.S and The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. But Gilmour's On an Island and About Face are better!

Now I have a blog too!

Well this is the first entry of my new blog. I thought "Hey everyone else has one - why not me?". Well not exactly. Actually another blog entry persuaded me to blog. Steve Yegge used to work at Amazon.com, where I work now. While I recognized the name I didn't really know him. I didn't even know he wrote a blog until I saw it linked off of reddit.com the other day. I was hooked. After spending most of Sunday night reading through his blog I came across his entry titled You Should Write Blogs and it convinced me to start one of my own.

So I did some googling and decided on
WordPress. I had previously setup MediaWiki so I already had a mySQL installation. I had it up and running in about 20 minutes and was impressed - not only did it look good but is a cinch to administrate.

I then had to convert my
old site to WordPress. I still have a lot to learn but I got it up and running in about two hours, which included modifying the default template. My old site had a javascript calculator I wrote which doesn't work correctly as a WordPress "page" so I will probably work on that next.

Speaking of modifying the default template, how do you like my header? I got it from a program called
RapidWeaver which I bought and used for about a month before deciding that it wasn't powerful enough. Thankfully since I own a license I don't feel bad about ripping out one image and some CSS from one of their templates.

One other thing...I am eagerly waiting for midnight when
David Gilmour's new solo album, On an Island, is released on iTunes.

Well I guess this is enough for now...stay tuned!