A new arrival

Well, at 7:07 on the 5th January, Samuel David Qua entered this world.

Sam

All in all, he is a chilled out little chap (so far), except when getting a nappy changed which he really dislikes, plus little boys are much more tricky that little girls when carrying out that task (just think hosepipe let loose!). So far, http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/valium/ he’s managed to pee on the Paediatrician, me, his eye, and numerous sleep suits – and this is only day 1!

But despite that he is brilliant and fortunately Elin really likes having a little baby brother – even though he doesn’t do anything yet except take up Mummy & Daddy’s time and attention.

Merry Christmas!

Well, I finally managed another update BEFORE the end of the year. Lots of things have been happening since the last update – but we’re just awaiting the arrival of our 2nd baby (due at any time!).

Needless to say the past few months have been seriously hectic what with my wife nesting in a big way (and decorating the entire house on my own has been great fun!), having to get part of the lounge ceiling fixed after the shower leaked and came through (fortunately before we decorated that room), and other fun stuff.

Needless to say its been a busy time.

I’m currently porting GLDominos over to Linux – yeah – back to OpenGL but still in .Net – using the Tao Framework (so I’m hoping http://www.eta-i.org/cialis.html that it will also just work on Windows too). Its coming along very nicely and working well – just the sound to get working really. But I’ve a load of other things I fancy adding (rockets, swings, etc).

I also tried a port over to Python (again using OpenGL), and whilst I did get the engine up and running it was just too slow (that is probably partly to do with my lousy Python skills – just started learning it – but I really think that its not suitable).

Also, I now have my own domain name – this site can also be reached from http://www.andyqua.co.uk (finally)

Linux Part 2

Well, Feisty has just been released and after a demo of Beryl from a friend on mine at work (which does look very nice I have to say), I thought I’d give it another go.

Apologies for the long post but this turned into a real-time attempt to document my Linux setup.

Downloaded the ISO (and thumbs up to Pipex who even on the day of release let me download it in around 30 mins) booted up the live DVS, and kicked off the install.

The install is dead easy, only had to select keyboard, language and timezone and rest just happened – OK, now we hit the real-time point as its just installed and just doing the first reboot…….

OK, after restarting and a nasty 20 seconds where nothing seemed to happen, all booted up fine, into desktop and all looks good initially.

Now going to try to get 3D desktop working. Clicking Desktop Effects – Enable causes the screen to go white and thats it, causing me to have to hit CRL-ALT-Backspace to kill the Window Manager (thank god I know that combination!) and the nre-login.

However, that may be because of my ATI Radeon http://buytramadolbest.com 9800 Pro card, so about to install the restricted driver support and see what happens….
Damn think won’t let me enable the ATI driver! No idea why as the checkbox just doesn’t enable. Arrgh. OK, let em download the Catalyst 7.4 Linux driver and give that a whirl (if of couse I can get it onto the linux box)….

Realise that I am an idiot and haven’t plugged in the network cable (after plugging it into my laptop), plug it in, get the message that we’re connected, try to re-install the restricted driver. Still no joy so decide to reboot.

Reeboot was fairly speedy. but damn thing still won’t let me enable ATI restricted driver!

Have to install manually :(. This required installing vsftpd and configuring that to copy the driver from my main pc to the linux one (nice and easy).

Ati driver installed OK but made sweet FA difference except allowed me to select the restricted driver which installed and required a reboot (just like Windows!). X came up fine but no 3D accelleration! Getting annoyed now.

At this point its 00:30 and I’m getting hassled to go to bed. Will continue tomorrow.

Linux – Don’t get me started!

Well, I read about the new Beta of Ubuntu (Feisty) being released a couple of days ago and decided to have a play and see how it looked. At this point, a little background…

I ‘ve been using Linux on and off (mainly off) for years – pretty much since I bought a (just release) Linux Unleased book which came with Slackware (1.0 I think but can’t remember – I also bought the 2nd edition because it had a newer version and this was when downloading a 600Mb CD was totally unthinkable!), and have tried pretty much most of the major (and some minor) distros including Suse, Mandrake, RedHat, DSL, and many other. Its a great operating system for playing around with. I also use RedHat at work (our website which I support/develop for and maintain – not on my own I hasten to add – runs on it). So I have a reasonable amount of experience.

However, I have only ever got everything in my system working completely once (and that was with Damn Small Linux when I was playing around in preparation to trying to get it running of a USB drive – which failed spectacularly). I have no idea why – its not like I have any weird and wonderful kit (well, OK, way back when I was using modems I could never get my winmodem installed but then they just weren’t supported then).

Anyway, I’d read a number of good things about the new Ubuntu so downloaded the ISO, whizzed it onto a CD and gave it a whirl on an old machine (well, a 2.8Ghz P4 with a ATI Radeon 9800Pro, Onboard sound and a Netgear network card – nothing fancy).

The install went well, I like the timezone selector, keyboard and langauge selections were spot on and then it did its stuff, rebooted and straight into Gnome. Good One I thought. then it popped up a box saying that system updates were needed – fine – go ahead and install them I said – installed no problem, and then said I needed to restart which I did. Bad Move – loaded the kernel and then just hung. Rebooted into safe mode (just like normal but with console messages) and it said something about device hdc (my cdrom) being confused and that device hda had missed an interrupt timer!

WTF does that mean?

After trying a number of things I gave up in a huff and went to bed.

The next day I reinstalled and again it all went smoothly, and again prompted me to update the system, http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/ambien/ this time I payed a little more attention to what was being updated and then noticed that a kernel upgrade was being applied. Sure enough, after the restart, it hung again, however selecting the previous kernel (its clever enough to take a backup although getting isn’t totally easy as you have about 2 seconds to press escape on booting to take you into the grub menu to select the old kernel) worked a treat and then it booted up fine.

Now I couldn’t face rebuilding the latest kernel at this point so I just updated grub to always load the prior kernel.

I then installed the ATI driver no problems.

Then I decided to have a look at the new Xgl server and compiz (the Linux version of the Vista 3D desktop). This caused me to enter a total world of pain which resulted in a) uninitialsed X sessions starting, b) Gnome refusing to load the composting component, c) having to go through the safe terminal to reset a number of settings by hand, and d) just generally getting frustrated after following numerous instructions on the web – none of which quite worked.

Anyway, after about 4/5 hours I’d had enough removed all my start scripts and then reloaded Gnome only to discover that all my window decerations (the window title bar, the close icons, etc) had vanished. This then took another 1/2 hour to figure out why and required me to remove all my previously downloaded Xgl/compiz packages to fix!

So time spent – 1 1/2 days elapsed.

Oh yeah, my soundcard wasn’t working either but no idea why and couldn’t face looking into that at this point.

Now, compare this with my main PC when I installed Vista (with much newer kit)- it took 25 minutes to install, ALL my hardware was detected and worked straight off the bat (OK, OpenGL didn’t work but that was due to the ATI drivers not supporting OpenGL at that point and they now do), and so far (touch wood) I have had no problems at all.

One final thing, to add, after the above, I came across a page (Here) that shows you how to install Ubunto on a Pendrive and thought I’d have a go and see how it ran on my main PC. That was another Bad Bad move (although I did get it working – mostly – just wouldn’t write anything back to the pendrive which was a totaly sod after updating 160meg worth of packages).

So all these reports I read about Linux finally being ready for the desktop – Is it hell.

Terrain

I love terrain. I mean I really love generated terrain. I have no idea why – I’ve always been interested in it since I saw Outrun in the arcades (waaaay back) with its undulating roads. This was quite a novelty for me as all the computer generated roads up until then had been flat (pitstop, pitstop II, etc – and itf you have no idea what I’m on about then either you are too young or you never owned a C64).

Anyway, I remember seeing Zarch on an Archimedes at when I was at school (it was brand new and was the pride of our Computer Studies class – we only had BBC’s then!) and being blown away.

Anyway, every since then I have been into terrain and have implemented loads of versions (brute force, ROAM based, etc) in C, C++, Java, C# using Windows API, OpenGL, DirectX and now XNA.

Anyway, I have a WIP version http://imagineear.com/pharmacy/ almost ready for first release of my Zarch-inspired terrain engine.

Theres a couple of screenshots at the end..

Features so far:
Patch-work looking (not smooth)
Can be randomly generated or loaded from heightmap
Terrain endlessly repeats – by this I mean that you can move the camera forwards infinately and the terrain wraps round.
Terrain split up into patches (only patches that fall into visible frustrum are rendered – pretty much)
Screenshots can be taken (press the space bar)

Its currently Windows only BUT the Windows only part is the screenshot stuff which could be removed if you want 360 support. (Note – I don’t have – and don’t plan on getting a 360 for the forseeable future – so don’t really care about 360 development.)

An early beta will be available shortly (maybe with source code if any interest).

Anyway, some screenshots:

Looking down from up high
Looking down from up high

Looking across the landscape
Looking across the landscape

Looking across the landscape (with patch lines)
Looking across the landscape (with patch lines)