foobar

Dark Souls: strange ingame x-rays located

Saturday, November 5th, 2011 | Games, Tech-savvy | No Comments

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Spelling quirk: one vs. two “l”

Friday, October 21st, 2011 | Language, Quirks | 4 Comments

I always do the same spelling mistakes. I cannot spell “interesting” or its German equivalent. In German it’s “interessant” – and I tend to mix up the double “s” – sometimes I write double “r” instead – I guess because I think it’s an aggregation of “inter” and “resse”. Makes no sense at all, but confuses me so hard that even in English – where there is no problem whatsoever with “interesting” – I tend to foobar this word from time to time. (… but I can spell beautiful despite some New Zealand folks I talked to 🙂 )

There is one thing that puzzles me on a regular basis. Let’s call it the “l”-case. I never figured out when to use one or two “l”s. There may be a rule, but how come these words are written as they are:

stateful vs. beautiful vs. awful vs. full
or
until vs till

Why do you describe something that is aware of its state (so full of state) as stateful? Why something that is full of beauty as beautiful??

One more term that does not fit directly is “already”. Hmm, “already” vs … well, not “allready”, but still – already looks like an aggregation of “all” and “ready”. I could try to Google the origin of this – maybe there is even an easy explanation or mnemonic trick. Yet, I guess it could be a tedious thing to look up. Ah, grammar …

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Game frustration. How did that ever happen?

Thursday, November 25th, 2010 | Games, Reviews | 2 Comments

Are you a gamer, too? Did you ever freak out because some part of a game was too hard to conquer? That’s pretty much normal in my opinion and it’s a good thing, a game should be challenging to some degree after all.

But then there are the games that are unfittingly hard. Or do not go along with the rest of the gameplay and plainly annoy you. Scenes that make you think WTF? Have the developers ever played this part themselves? Games that make you stop playing, maybe after hitting a hole in the wall throwing away your controller in frustration or barking at your partner. This is what I would call game frustration that should never happen. But it does. Here are a few of my game frustrations:

God of War – Rotating blade pillars

Let me recite Sean Gandert’s Review of GoW:

Ultimately, only one section of God of War seems sloppily executed and tends to slow down for players, even upon multiple replays. During Kratos’ short sojourn in the underworld, he eventually finds himself face to face with spinning pillars lined with rotating blades. Your goal is simply to climb to the top of these pillars, which wouldn’t be frustrating if not for the fact that not only does a single touch from a blade knock you back to the beginning (leaving you quite battered to boot), the pillars are also really tall. It’s a tedious affair that not only feels irrelevant to the rest of the game—even by the most lenient use of the term, it doesn’t begin to qualify as a puzzle—but which also truly adds nothing to the game experience.

Most noteworthy of all is that in a game which emphasizes the importance of speed and spectacle, this particular section requires a great deal of patience and repetition. The 15-20 minutes most people spend here in this section aren’t actually that much, but when the average time for most rooms in the game is two minutes or fewer, it brings the game’s otherwise exceptional pacing to a halt. Unsurprisingly, it was also the only section of the entire game that wasn’t playtested. With the recent re-release of the game on PS3, it was even commemorated with the only gold trophy awarded for a specific challenge, since going past these spiked columns without being hit really is on par with beating the game in under five hours.

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Red Dead Redemption: the flying case

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 | Games, Tech-savvy | 4 Comments

I’ve seen a lot of glitches in games, the usual clipping stuff or being stuck somewhere in the ground/wall. Just yesterday I was out for a little horse riding when I heard a stage coach driver screaming for help. As I was busy hunting a rattlesnake I left the stage coach for the pursuers … or so I thought. Finishing my snake business I jogged back to the road finding a lone case flying in mid air.

After enjoying this phenomenon for a few minutes I realized the stage coach still waited for me to be rescued. So I did what I had to do and shot the attackers. Oddly enough, despite being grateful for that none of the passengers was looking for a missing case … :mrgreen:

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mercurial ssh clone foobar

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 | Tech-savvy | 4 Comments


// WTF? is this a RTFM problem? use -v on the first try to get a hint how I managed to solve this… AFAIK http clones use the “standard” single slash notation 😕

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Windows 7 ClearType WTF?

Sunday, March 28th, 2010 | IDE, Misc, Tech-savvy | 2 Comments

I recently had to switch to Windoze 7. I am not the kind of guy who likes migrating to new OSs – the biggest challenge was the switch from an all tuned Win98 SE to Windows XP almost a decade ago. Well, times change, and I don’t have to be on a first name basis with every file on my system partition any more. Things should just run, stable, fast and smart (oh, it does all that by itself?). Something that Linux Mint does for me every time I need a free OS for a random project (HTPC, friend’s netbook, arcade emulation machine, you name it). Windows 7 has been a great piece of software so far, it’s as fast as XP, has a good look and feel and does smart things like getting drivers from M$ so I don’t have to dl them from third party websites (btw: Dell, I pretty much hate you for your “support” section… it’s such a mess!).

All right, back to topic. I want to share some experience I gathered with Microsoft ClearType technology. This is a short description taken from Wikipedia:

ClearType is a trademark for Microsoft‘s implementation of subpixel rendering technology. ClearType attempts to improve the appearance of text on certain types of computer display screens by sacrificing color fidelity for additional intensity variation. This trade-off is asserted to work well on LCD flat panel monitors.

With ClearType enabled I have the constant feeling that my display has a focus problem. I’m really into pixels 😉 and I want to see ’em, not some blurry optimized mud. I understand the need for soft-focused cutting/editing using image manipulation software like Photoshop or Gimp, but fonts should be plain (black) pixels on plain (white) background. This is just my opinion, others may like the new style better.  I also agree that ClearType makes sense on a certain display size / resolution / dpi ratio, say a 20″ full-hd display with 120 DPI could be a good choice for subpixel rendering. I prefer the old style ratios like 20″ 1680×1050 75 DPI or 24″ full-hd 75 DPI.

Anyway, here are some examples of bad “optimization” and how I got rid of them, well, almost.

The first program that hurt my eyes was the eclipse IDE. Being a software developer I work with the eclipse workbench on a daily basis. What I did was copy my eclipse workspaces from my old XP box to the new machine. (Something I really like about development tools (eclipse, Java, MySQL, JBoss, …) – they don’t have to be installed, just unzip/copy ’em and you are ready to go. )

I launched eclipse and something felt different. I blinked my eyes. Still, something odd was displayed on my screen. I thought “OMG, ClearType”, so I disabled this feature as I did every time before I ever came across it (mostly Internet Explorer). The font rendering in the text editor was fine now, but suddenly the explorer tree looked horrible. See for yourself (click to enlarge, browse the enlarged pictures to see the difference):

I was stuck with either a nice representation of the explorer tree or a feel good editor. This sucked big time! But I found a solution to this problem, which included the enabling of the ClearType feature. Yikes! After fiddling with eclipse’s font settings I found the bugger! “Courier New” (the font I had used for source code for years) is getting rendered blurry, “Courier” doesn’t (@see font dialogue on the right hand side).

Switching from “Courier New” to “Courier” solved the rendering issue, but I did not like the line-height of “Courier”, the code seemed to be squeezed together, but this is another issue 🙂

The rendering “bug” was found and “Courier New” is history to me – today I use “Segoe UI” and I am pretty fond of the font. (Plz forgive me for that bad joke, it was just too tempting… 🙂 )

Conclusion: What I find annoying about the font rendering settings is the fact, that you cannot choose between an old sk00l font rendering style and the new ClearType way, meaning 1:1 pixels vs. subpixel rendering. You can only choose between bad (ClearType on) and worse (ClearType off) font rendering using Windows 7. While I am typing this my eyes really feel stressed reading on my Win7 machine and it’s always a pleasure to go back to my private ole WinXP desktop. *Sigh* It seems to me M$ foobared the non-ClearType rendering that bad you just have to use ClearType. So they can say: “Look, it all looks better with ClearType”. Yeah, right!

But M$ does not have to dictate how fonts are getting rendered. Software can give you the opportunity to choose the font rendering style. Read on for a good example on how a piece of software lets you choose how fonts are displayed.

Another tool I use on a regular basis is PuTTY. Again, “Courier New” used to be my weapon of choice for shells and as soon as I started using PuTTY on Windows 7 with ClearType enabled my eyes were screaming “Focus! Fooocus!” – I opened the font preferences dialogue and found some pretty interesting settings.

PuTTY gives you the opportunity to choose a font “quality” from Antialiased, Non-Antialiased, ClearType and Default. Default is enabled by, well yes, default, which is ClearType on systems that have ClearType enabled. I simply chose Non-Antialiased and all my font problems were solved. I can stick to “Courier New” with a proper line-heigt (in contrast to “Courier”) and crisp font rendering. Finully! Now I just have to wait for other tool developers to offer similar options to end users or the world falling into subpixel rendering apathy. Either way, until 200+DPI displays are released to the open public I will miss the good ole “a pixel is just a pixel” days and try to eliminate bad display “optimization”.

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