Mon May 26 2003 14:13:
This is more a VH1 Behind the Music type thing than a proper HotEA entry, but this history of the Commander Keen series of games is very comprehensive, and has lots of quotes and reminiscences by the authors.
Mon May 26 2003 16:29 Mother Of All Software Roundups:
This is going to be a huge roundup. Beware! I'm not even all the way caught up on the links I've been keeping, but I'm going to hang out with Sumana in a bit. Also a big Game Roundup following close on this entry's heels.
- BashDB is a debugger for the Bash shell.
- The Apache DoS Evasive Maneuvers Module has a cool Star Trek-ish name and also throttles requests that look to be part of a DoS attack. That same page has a Baysean anti-spam filter for download (what doesn't, these days?).
- ht://Check is a link checker that exposes its data store as a database so that you can do crazy things like make a list of all the links on your entire site. Inexplicably, its logo is Tux the penguin wearing a Harpo Marx wig. LinkChecker is a link checker written in Python which can output to SQL, so it sort of has the same functionality. I don't know which is better because my link checker steel cage is in the shop. Time for another patented Leonard's Prejudices Smackdown! I don't like Harpo much, so I say Python beats C++, and the title goes to LinkChecker.
- DBMonster puts loads of random data in a database for stress testing purposes. Rawr!
- I don't know why I didn't mention Spyce in my Python Template System Roundup; I knew about it, and it seems to work on Python 1.5 and it has a BSD-compatible license. It does templates with real embedded Python, and it has a cute logo.
- WebTK lets you pretend that a web interface is just a GUI interface with a very limited widget set and incredibly slow response time. Pretty cool.
- mod_design is a simple templating system in an Apache module.
- maxq is a really cool tool for doing functional testing of Web applications. A Tigris project.
Special Emacs Insert
Hey there, Emacs fans. Here are some Emacs packages and resources.
- When geek buzzwords collide, you get Emacs Wiki. Also check out EmacsWiki.org for an actual Emacs Wiki with lots of resources.
- EMacro provides a wealth of helpful Emacs macros. So does tiny-tools.
And now back to our show.
- I love maps! And Jim Richardson (no relation) has written a program that interfaces with the US Census' TIGER map server.
- FindBugs is like PyChecker (Google: "Did you mean paycheck?") for Java. Includes academic paper! Academic paper includes funny Shakesperean-sounding section title "Wait Not In Loop", and gossipy footnote "Sun's Hotspot Server VM really does perform this transformation."; also introduced me to the phrase "bug patterns".
- dbtoyfs lets you mount a relational database as a filesystem and browse its data in XML format.
- The Zero Install System, starring Zero Mostel. It's like Java WebStart, but it's not Java-specific. The FAQ sounds like the author is pretty pissed-off at people who won't recognize that TZIS just automates what people do with software anyway.
- cvsdelta provides a number of useful summarizing and project manipulation tools for CVS, tools which should be in CVS in the first place.
- My live-and-let-live philosophy prevents me from making snarky blanket statements like "'Biological applications' and 'PHP' are not phrases I'd ever anticipated encountering in the same sentence." but I'm going to sort of gesture meaningfully and reproachfully towards BioPHP. I must admit that their biology class diagram is awesome, though.
Special Meta Insert
Today we have two applications which put a thing in another thing of the same type. These were the days of the Special Meta Insert, when nested things ran arbitrarily free. Come back with us now to that lawless time--hey, my Palm Pilot!
- Do you crave the great taste of a window manager, in a regular X application? Try framer.
- Old Segfault stories come to life with the JarJar Classloader. It lets you include a prepackaged JAR file (like a library) in your application's JAR file, so you can just distribute one file.
And now back to our show again.
- WebLog is a Python library for parsing webserver logfiles. It's like the Perl script I hacked up a long time ago, but understandable.
- Beanshell is a scripting interface to Java objects, like Jython without the Python syntax. (Found via Kalyp, which will soon be reviewed in a Game Roundup).
- I love it! The Java Curses Library gives you a way to write text-based windowed applications in Java. (Also found via Kalyp).
- BFilter is a web proxy that gets rid of popup and banner ads. "But Mozilla already does that!", you say. True, but does Mozilla get rid of web bugs that you can't see? "Probably," you say, "since such web bugs are liable to be served from a server that also serves banner ads, which are blocked." But does Mozilla get rid of Flash ads? "It effectively does," you say, "if you install the Null Flash Plugin." But what if there were a server which served both banner ads, which you wanted to block, and non-banner graphics which you wanted to see? Mozilla's ad blocker would block all those graphics. "That seems pretty unlikely," you say, but your will is wavering. "Anyway, a proxy is easier to hack to do other things than Mozilla would be," I say. "Checkmate!" You see, we were playing chess the whole time! Each of your responses corresponded to a chess move, but you had no knowledge of this, which allowed me to beat you! I hate playing dirty with the narrative like this, but you see, I'm not terribly good at chess.
- Codestriker is a CGI for doing collaborative code review. It basically lets you annotate proposed and actual diffs. I deem Codestriker the champion of this Software Roundup, and as per newly initialized tradition I will write a poem about it.
"That patch is no good, you old bore!"
--Thus I kick off another flame war.
Me to comment and browse
But your code is as bad as before.
Mon May 26 2003 16:33 Game Roundup Is A Powerful Deceiver:
- Wolf Pacman is the Pacman clone that makes you realize that Pacman is just a Rocks 'n' Diamonds-like game. It does this by removing features that distinguish Pacman from Rocks 'n' Diamonds, like compact boards and enemies that chase you. One new feature in this game is that you can't stop. I can't stop! You bounce off walls like a Breakout ball. I'm pretty sure this is intentional. In the default theme, you are Tux the penguin, and the ghosts are little bitmaps of Bill Gates from xbill. (Incidentally, did you know there is a new xbill? Me neither. It still uses the Athena widget set, which was always my favorite thing about it.)
- Molecule Man is a maze game in which your character moves way too slow, but the graphics are great, quirky and cartoonish. Plus, the documentation is hilarious. "The multi-perspective 3d maze is hiding the very life pills that can bring you salvation... In this cruel world extra time can be bought - with cash!" You need to download some weird Borland developer libraries to run it, which control the frame of the game but not much about the actual game, such that the toolbar be all walkin' down the street like "La di da, I'm Windows XP", whereas the game window itself be all walkin' down the street like "I be kickin' it with the EGA old school," and what's up with that? Tip your waitresses!
- Speaking of isometric views, Pyplace is an isometrics library for use with pygame. It makes me want to write a game in which overbearingly superior beings of pure light visit old Roman ruins and dispense hokey cosmic wisdom despite there being no one there. I'm not sure how the gameplay would go.
- Speaking of pygame, pygsear has some very simple pygame games and demos to use as starting points.
- Stop me before I segue again! Stone's Throw is an Arkanoid clone in Java. "Why write yet another Arkanoid clone?", asks the author. This one has a physics engine that models the universe in which you and I live. But where's the escapism if the game is just like reality? Already as it is I throw a ball at disappearing bricks all day!
- Any Door Is Closed simulates the game you always wanted to play as a kid, where you divided people into two teams and you tried to lock each other into the rooms of an enormous house. This never worked in real life because there weren't enough kids, there weren't enough rooms in the house, the rooms weren't interconnected enough, the doors were openable from the inside, or there were present pesky grownups or safety inspectors who prohibited you from playing. ADIC gets rid of all of these problems.
- Onyx Ring has a good general-purpose Inform library (a supplement to the standard library) and an Inform guide. From Onyx Ring I also found Platypus, a replacement for the Inform standard library.
- SCAM is a sprite collision library. It's been discontinued, but the webpage is worth a visit due to the author's great design sensibilities; check out the logo, and the "happy face insanity" benchmark screenshot.
- In the misty shadowlands on the edge of the space of all games, lives the space of all puzzles. Now, Raymond Hettinger Productions brings you a puzzle-solving framework so generic they said it could not accurately represent puzzle state! But it can! Get it now! Includes representations of "boring jug filling puzzle" and "boring rowboat puzzle". A great example of my philosophy that computers should automate tasks humans (ie. me) find boring.
- Feuerkraft could be the top-view drive-around-in-a-tank-and-blow-things-up game you've been waiting for. "You can only drive
around in this demo and destroy a few buildings," says the README, but what else would you want to do? Perhaps if there were some way of destroying vehicles as well, such as other tanks, or airplanes on an airstrip. Or if it used XML somehow. Yes, yes, XML.
- Kalyp is a Roguelike written in Java. In this game, "[G]enerated items can be cursed" (be still, my heart!), but the great thing is that it's the first Roguelike I know about that has unit tests!
- Vertigo is a great Java applet game where you, a blob, inhabit a void full of blue tiles which you must paint purple as stars whiz past you like in Star Trek: The Motion Screensaver. The slightest false move, and you plummet into the void. Includes two-player deathmatch mode. Includes single-player deathmatch mode, in fact. Great gameplay, great mix of puzzle solving and reflex action, greatest bottomless pits in the history of gaming. I can't say enough good about this game, and it wins the coveted Palm d'Rassemblement De Jeu for this episode of Game Roundup. It also gets a poem (I honestly don't know if I'm going to keep doing this, but it's a good gimmick.):
An reddish and amorphous blob
Had the world's most dangerous job
"Meet our tile-painting needs
At superluminous speeds?
You're hired, reddish amorphous blob!"
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