May 19th, 2003


This is what I do when I'm feeling lazy.

Around Saturday afternoon, I was feeling frustrated with myself for not getting anything done so far during the weekend. I resolved to get something done on Sunday, but that was easily as lazy as Saturday. Although I will now make a list that sounds semi-busy to make myself feel better:

Friday night:

I've still got several bags of yard waste I need to take to the compost place. I went to to find directions to the location, and discover that Mapblast has been taken over (see my Friday post for related ranting). In frustration with this, I decide that the appropriate way to act out is to download tools to write PalmPilot software. (If that causal connection actually makes sense to you, you might need help, too.) So I begin updating my Cygnus installation on my 'serious' machine. While I'm doing that, I realize that I know where the compost place is, and it's quite a bit closer to my house than I expected.

When everything was up and running, I got a version of XTank running, as I also mentioned in another post. One problem, though; the AI in the game uses a multithreading, um, hack. That's a little too strong, though. It's a cooperative multithreading environment, and it seems to have worked on the somewhat underpowered machines of the mid to late eighties. Now, we'd just let the operating system handle the threads, I imagine. I'm tempted to rewrite the AI to use a simpler mordern approach.

Saturday Morning:

I was inspired by Good Eats to make a cheesecake, and I decided that this might be a good thing to bring to the party I was going to Saturday night. Working backwards, I figured that I would have to get the groceries around 9am and still have time to make the cheesecake and let it cool in time for the party.

But before I did that, I knew that I could kill a few hours, and I had just found a C program that would calculate a couple of digits of pi without explicitly doing all of the earlier digits. I know that your eyes just glazed over - who gets excited about calculating digits of pi out of order? Yeah, probably not a lot of people. But it's an example of a problem that can be distributed out to a compute farm properly. Other examples include rendering images or movies and I guess looking for extraterrestrial life. I'm kind of fascinated with turning my home network into a larger computing unit, and calculating digits of pi is a good background task for the compute farm; each computer can work on a small stripe of digits by itself and check in its results when its done, and then grab a new stripe and keep going.

Anyway, so I fiddled around with the C program, fixed a few problems with it (dare I say 'bugs'? Differences between my needs and what the program provided), and wrote a little Python shell script to go around it. The results are here. Last I checked, I had calculated twice as many digits as you see there, I just need to copy the results up to the webserver. Or rearrange the shell script to FTP the results automatically.

So, I shopped, mixed, and baked. I think that I must not be mixing the batter properly, because the last few cheesecakes that I've made have not had the height that I think that they should have. Still tasty, just not what I have in my mind's eye. Gotta watch the episode again.

Saturday Afternoon:

Then I screwed around with making a PDF of the first several thousand digits of pi. I think there could be something aesthetic that could be done with numbers as a medium. Turns out, nothing really exciting has grabbed me yet.

I decide to give up on the cheesecake for this party. More for me.

Saturday Night:

The party. I know 2 people there. I'm feeling a strong rush of introversion. I don't really want to talk with people I don't know, and the conversations I overhear only reinforce this. I'm the wet blanket of the party. I excuse myself around 11. People are having fun, that's good.


A little bit of reading, a little bit of cleaning, a little bit of exercise, a little bit of napping. I poke at XTank some more. I download a bunch of old games from my college computer system.

In the evening, I dust off some manuals that I haven't used in ages, and I embark on a project that might just tie in a bunch of previous projects. Alternately, it could starve those projects of time, which wouldn't help any.

I've been thinking about writing a book about writing computer games in your spare time. Last night, I crossed the threshold of putting a few words down on the computer that might make it into the book. Mostly, though, I just created the skeleton of the book; the table of contents, several of the chapters, a few subsections. I wrote perhaps 4 pages of text, but counting all of the headings and related overhead, the printout came to 26 pages. It looks a little cheesy when I print it out on my inkjet printer, but it's got potential.

Just another lazy weekend.