2014-07-13 13:37 - General
Visiting my mom for the weekend, and caught this visitor outside.
As the video says, I spent this evening putting together a simple, successful, experiment in voice-controlled clocks. In the pursuit of the perfect alarm clock, I'm looking for something I don't have to squint at nor fumble with in the night (or lazy morning). I've got a ways to go before it's a usable alarm clock, but I was amazed to start and get this far in just one evening!
Today I dusted off my barely existing Windows programming skills. I've been using Drax for a while to add titles and chapters to MP4 video files. It's a nice little tool, but I wished for a few features it didn't have: the .MP4 extension in the open dialog (rather than just .M4V), drag-and-drop to open files, and remembering the window position across launches.
As expected, it took some doing. It was open source, which makes changing it possible. But it uses features that don't come in the legitimately free Express version of Visual Studio, so I had to go for a demo install of the full version. Then I had to do a fair bit of cobbling things together. They depend on libmp4v2 but don't include it. The mp4v2 tarball is apparently missing critical files, so I had to grab them from source control. And tweak lots of little build settings, as both projects were designed with/for earlier Visual Studio versions.
Once I got it building and running, things were surprisingly easy from there, overall. I got all three of those features mentioned added start to finish today, without much of any experience to go on. Thank you Internet, both for having so much data at my fingertips, plus for answering my one question (which that data wasn't enough for) quite quickly.
The installer was one of the things that doesn't work in newer Visual Studio versions anymore, so I can't give you that. But you can grab a zip file of the drax executable, with my new features added.
2014-04-08 23:58 - General
Some short while back, I discovered Singularity Chess. A chess variant where the board has been warped by a singularity (i.e. black hole), thus all of the "squares" are actually rounded, causing moves to be warped around curves where they would normally move in straight lines.
It seemed interesting, but I couldn't try it out for myself effectively. I couldn't find anything to download online to make it easier. So I decided to make one. I grabbed the first image of the board, then rotated and perspective corrected it to be a more perfect shot from directly above. (I assumed the four visible corners were originally rectangular for this step.) Then I started measuring the dimensions of the image I produced.
The result is the SVG image singularity-chess-v1.xml. It looks just like the beautiful wooden board from the original post, but it should be cheap and easy to print out, to try the game with a lower barrier to entry. It is intended to fit onto 11x17" paper, but letter (8.5x11") would work in a pinch, if you have small pieces.
2014-03-07 20:26 - General
I made some peanut butter brownies. Yum. Place smells great. Now I just have to wait for them to cool down!
2014-02-19 22:53 - Gaming
I got Gran Turismo 6 for Xmas, and have been playing it since, about seven weeks. I just got the last of 573 stars (first place in all of the career mode races). And I've done most (but certainly not all) of the optional mission races. Either way, I think it's time to call this game done. Phew. Some of those stars were tough to get, especially the last two dozen.
2014-01-30 16:37 - General
I just found a scientific Vocabulary Test online. I scored 79% (detected 86% of actual words, failed on 7% of non-words). Which is "a high level for a native speaker".
2014-01-04 12:54 - Tech
I swear I looked into this a few years ago, and decided not to. But I did again recently. Most USB storage devices are used with FAT32, which is unpleasant for a variety of reasons. I found one page with a great summary of why both FAT32 is awful and UDF is better. It's from this year, and new to me. I also found another page with more technical detail and a complicated Perl script to do the formatting, with some tricks to improve interoperability. It's older. I probably saw it before.
I think this boils down to the fact that Windows XP cannot write to UDF. Back the last time I looked into this, I figure I cared about that too much to switch. Nowadays though I interact mostly with Windows 7, plus some Mac and Linux. I've tried it out, and so far it is absolutely the case that it "just works" and very pleasantly. I have a couple 2GB thumb drives and a 1TB external disk both formatted to UDF now, and they're working quite well across all three platforms.