Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I hate! well I love to hate...

Ok so I see I am not alone in my inverted love affair with Oracle or should that be !love Oracle? Here is a forum setup for very childish reasons http://www.thedailywtf.com/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=17 , but it's good to be childish sometimes. So if you have only !love for Oracle then check it out.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Aliens and emissions

Still working on the part 2 of the gaming review and I want to finish the game entirely before I write it so hopefully this weekend everything will be done. I just wanted to post and say that all the bullshit surrounding emissions testing, is just that, bullshit. I took my hotrod in and had it e-tested and it passed with flying colours. So fuck the insurance companies and their year over year record profits.

Hammer, nails, and programming

Ever been slapping some code together for some half ass company and they throw some stupid spec your way that just makes no sense what so ever? How did you deal with it? Did ya re-invent the wheel? or perhaps have a bout of genius and come up with a l33t hax to solve the problem? I follow a blog called the dailyWTF.com, and on there people post stupid shit programmers do to get the work done. Now I know for a fact that every programmer good or bad has some hacked up mess that they wrote at one point in time. If that code were to be posted in a public place I'm sure the original programmers would rather contemplate suicide then admit they actually wrote it. However some things just really make you say WHAT THE FUCK!!!?? For example this posting here is a really good example and it definitely sets the bar pretty damn high. For the non-programmers out there, the example shown is so bad that, it would have resulted in immediate firing had it even been proposed at the places I have worked. Some of the funny stuff on the dailyWTF is not necessarily the posted code snippets but is the people posting comments defending this shit. Part of the reason I like the site as much as I do is they don't directly come out and tell you what is wrong with the code they simply leave the WTF as an excercise for the reader.

Unfortunately my life as a programmer I inherihit my fare share of WTFs. As a matter of fact, I was asked to finish a small Visual Basic application that was offshored to India but was brought back here when the team in India simply couldn't make it work and couldn't get it done. This isn't a rant about how bad Indian programmers are, as matter of fact there are brilliant Indian programmers, just like there are brilliant programmers from every nationality. Its a rant about how the customer or the person asking to have the software developed influences the overall quality of the finished product. For example the person who "designed" and championed this small VB project was very dollar oriented, and had some ill conceived notion of what software costs to make and what is involved in the software development process. As a result, I'm sure the team in India was chosen simply because they were the cheapest this person could find. Because they were the cheapest, their expierence level was abysmal. I have a love hate relationship with Visual Basic, as a professional programmer I love it because I can rattle off programs extremely quick and I have a pleasant expierence while using it. I rarely struggle to get it to do what I want it to do. I also hate it because it is so easy to use and learn, because anyone can learn it, anyone shouldn't learn it. (Fortunetely Visual Basic's days are numbered and the RAD world has moved on to .NET and C#, aside from maintenance of exsiting programs I haven't started a VB project in nearly 4 years.)

Just because you understand the constructs of a laguage or tool doesn't mean you should have a career in the programming trade. To be a good programmer in my books doesn't mean you remember syntax or know the latest compiler tricks, you have to be a good problem solver. Any programmer through their coding, creates more problems then they solve is not a programmer.

Back to my inherited VB app, it is a prime example of a little knowledge is dangerous. The programmers on this project created more bad code then I wish to comment on. But they are not entirely to blame, the person asking for this program knows nothing about software or software development so that person cannot validate their work and hold a critical eye to what is being developed leaving the developers free reign on making bad decision after bad decision. This person also has a terrible time expressing his ideas of how the program should work, which does nothing but create more confusion for a team that is already struggling with the basics of development.

I watched a show on HGTV last night called Holmes on Homes, its about a professional (construction) contractor who gets called in to assess and fix problems created by other contractors on home renovation projects. Apparently on last nights show, it was about its worse it's been (that's what I gather from the comments, I have never seen this show before). I couldn't help but see the parallels between what this guy was doing and what I do with software. I also couldn't help but hold the home owners accountable for what happened to them. The home owners seemed like smart, friendly people however they were too trusting and didn't take the time to learn anything about home renovations. Because they kept themselves blissfully ignorant there were major attrocities being committed on their house right beneath their noses and they couldn't do anything about it. Think of it this way, once the drywall and paint is on the wall, who's really going to see or care about the engineering and construction hidden behind the drywall? It's the same with software, if the software does what it is suppose to do, who cares what the engineering and construction is behind? That is the problem entirely, as demostrated on the show last night, all of the cut corners and mistakes that were covered over by the dry wall were apparent to a professional and lead to major problems with the house. In a matter of six months mold had formed on the walls because of too much trapped moisture, all of the electrical was not done to code and was a fire waiting to happen, and the whole new additon would have rotted out within 10 years because of poor ventilation. Poor software contstruction leads to many problems, for example maintenance costs, many times a program gets written but written poorly so the next time changes are needed the whole program gets re-wrtten. Poor programming also leads to consistent failures and major security risks.

So to sum up, if you are having problems with someone you have hired to work for you or you are not satisfied with the quality of the finished work, chances are good you may just be to blame.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Review: Half Life 2 - Part I

Yes you read the title right, I am going to be reviewing the recently released PC video game Half Life 2 in a couple of parts. Why the parts? I haven't finished the game yet and I want to get people out there who may be considering dropping roughly $70 of their hard earned money on this title the facts about this game before they waste their money. Hmmm you say, "sounds like you are a little biased?", well like all humans yes I am biased. I spent $70 on what has to be the worst case of corporate greed that I have ever witnessed. Not to mention with the release of this title, fair use isn't simply set back a few notches, it is bitch slapped, knocked to the floor, its teeth kicked repeatedly, so much so that they come flying out its ass, then its head is chopped off and Valve (the company) shits a very satisfying shit down its throat. But I digress, I will discuss the Steam part of the equation later on. I want to point out that I never once liked the original Half Life, contrary to what you might have read it is not the best game for the PC nor is it the best game ever as some ass kissing gaming rags may have you believe. Whenever I sat down to play Half Life (the original) I was always bored and bored silly, mainly because there was a story element that kind of peaked my interest then a huge long gap of running around trying to figure out silly jumping games and trivial puzzles. So much time passed between story elements that you really couldn't care less about the story and wanted to beat the shit of the developers of this game. "If I have to jump on one more box to jump on a ladder I'm going to book a plane ticket...". It was a pointless rehash of many games that came before it with a little and I mean a little story added in (Remember wolfenstein 3d, running around to find a switch to open a door to run through?) . But this isn't a review about the original half life, I just wanted to mention my experience with it to let you know, I wasn't expecting a great deal from the sequel. And I have to admit I have always felt there was something wrong with me for not liking the original, many of my friends always raved about how good it was, every gaming web site or magazine always gave it postive reviews and remarks, yet for some reason things they would say were great about it made the game boring to me.

Where to start, well lets start with the positive, ummmm, the graphics look, well, they look like graphics, a little better them some other games, but nothing I have seen in this game has made me want to play with my nipples in grand satisfaction.

Well now that the positive is out of the way, lets discuss the rest.

Gameplay - Now like I said I'm not finished playing through this game, and quite frankly I can't tell if I'm 10% or 90% complete, there is no indication of overall progress. However this game is billed as a story driven first person shooter, great, I love first person shooters, and if they have a story even better! Ok so, you start out with no weapons and no real idea of what you are suppose to do. You're introduced to characters and objects very slowly and the game progresses very slow as well. So the game basically plays out, get an object, get to next the objective, etc. So not so bad so far right? Well, the devils in the details, one of the great selling points of this game is the "physics" engine, things have weight, things, float, things break, etc. Whippee, many games have had this for a really long time, one from my childhood comes to mind, lunar lander. So in the game the physics are suppose to enhance the play and using your creative grade 4 mechanics skills to figure out the trivial puzzles that have been left for you. The bad part here is that everything they want you to interact with you can and everything they don't want you to interact with you can't, so it makes it pretty easy to figure out what you need to do. Instead of having a system where there are multiple solutions to any given problem, with each solution having its own pros and cons, you are stuck trying to find the one solution and path the designers wanted you to follow. that's fine I guess but nothing new or ground breaking here, for example in one scene you need to open a dam so you can drive a boat through, but when you get there, wouldn't you know it the controls to the dam are broken, darn, so what to do?? well turns out there just happens to be a crane right there with a load of wood tied up conveniently like a pendulum, and oh my, there's some exploding barrels that just happening to be sitting right where the pendulum is tied off! What fucking city, real or otherwise has so many fucking exploding barrels just lying around? Those aren't puzzles they are insults to your intellegence. If perhaps the controls to the dam were not broken and the crane was there and i could choose to break the dam or open it, then it would be fun to bust it down instead of just opening it. But that is how all of the puzzles so far in the game play out, if you need to weigh something down on a lever there is always cinder blocks or washing machines conviently left around for you to pick up and use for weights, so the game is always stacked in your favour. Even when fighting the dumb ass AI, there is always health near, wherever the enemy appear, you will always win against them, they couldn't outsmart a garden hoe. So far I have yet to go back and retry anything, I have been able to run through everything and the lowest my health has gotten to is 43%, and this is on the hardest setting. And I know for a fact that I'm a shitty gamer.

Pacing in the game is horrible, remember how I said it was suppose to be a first person shooter? Well I'm nearly 3.5 hours into the game and there has been little to no gun play. Most of the game so far has been riding on some floating air bike that looks like a piece of shit thrown together by a losing team on the junk yard wars. Yet it is completely indestructable, it takes small arms fire, hits land mines, gets shot with rockets and just keeps on fucking going at a pace that anyone who owns a ford tempo would understand. If the part where you rode on this thing was maybe two minutes long or maybe even 5 minutes long, but it went fast or say did something rather memorable like fire ninjas at the attack helicopter that dogs you most of the time, it would add something to the game. However you are riding on this thing for nearly an hour straight with small stops to throw some lever or "figure" out to put some barrels under a ramp so you can jump over some obstacle. After every corner you keep thinking it should be ending soon, nope you just keep going and going and going, kind of like the racing scene in Star Wars movie episode 1, or like the war scene in the final Matrix. But alas you reach your destination, humans and perhaps another nugget of the story await you, but guess what? They strap a piece of shit machine gun on your piece of shit air bike thingy and send you back out immediately to drive it for another fucking hour!!!!.

Anyways that's it for today, I will sum up my points in part two and in part three I'll try to understand why the magazines are rating this thing so high when there so many other better games out there getting little to no attention at all.

Friday, November 12, 2004

all that frustrates...

What a frustrating fucking week. I have to get my damn car e-tested, and its pissing me off because I am one the few who are brave enough to swap their engine for another. So I wents to the etest website and they have a faq and in there they claim that if you have an engine swap, in order to get your car etested you have to get your car classified as a hot rod. Well the first thing that pops to mind is not every engine swap out there is going to make your car into a hot rod. Some people downgrade their engines, others put more fuel effecient engines in their cars. So what is the hot rod classification going to do to insurance pricing?? Personally the way the insurance companies are currently analy fisting me up to their elbows I'm not sure if I'll feel the difference if they stop using lube or not. The saving grace with insurance companies is that most of the people who work for them and especially the actuators don't know the first thing about cars. I called up my rep before the swap and asked what I would have to do from an insurance point of view if I wanted to do the swap and they said "ooh, umm, ya, you're getting an engine swap eh? hmm ya that sounds like its really going to hurt(you)!" all said with a very devilish laugh. They then asked me what size engine I was going to swap to, and I proudly said "2.2 litres" to which they replied "2.2 what? I have no clue what you just said, is it an eight cylinder or a six?" To which I replied " hell no, those are for guys with small dicks, it's a four cylinder!", after a long pause i got "I didn't know they made four cynlinders anymore?" What the fuck planet does this person live on??? Please take your head out of your ass and look around for once. Needless to say they really couldn't give me any solid answers except for "Well since it's not an eight cylinder it really isn't much of a performance upgrade so I can't really see it causing a difference in your insurance premium." Too bad my model car with that engine in it can smoke Mustang GTs and can give a Corvette a run for its money. But that's a story for another day.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Just fucking read it.

Over the years I have told many people about the virtues of a book called Ender's game written by Orson Scott Card. Some have taken my advice and read it and agreed with what I had to say but others simply replied "I don't read" What the fuck kind of response is that? You don't read? Is reading a little to high brow for you? Anyways some totally ingored what I had to say, but once someone else mentioned to them that they should read Ender's game, they were all over it like white on rice. So far no one that I have talked to that has read the book has disliked the book and in turn has recommended the book to other people. So have you read it? No? Then what the fuck are you waiting for? I just re-read it for the first time in 10 years and it took me a whole of four and half hours to read, so you can't tell me you don't have the time. You can't say you can't afford it either, your local library has plenty of them in heavy rotation and the paper back costs about 5 or 6 bucks, so get off your fat ass and go read it. Anyways I'm sick of recommending it so this should be the last time. Oh and by the way, Ender's Game is the first book in a four part series of books, the second book in the series is called speaker for the dead, it's a great book as well but is a different story then the first, it still shows how fucked up the human race is although I don't think that was the intention. The third book in the series was medicore and the forth book in the series was fucking horrible, I think a little too much of Card's religion and religous beliefs crept into that one. For me any religion is too much. Card I think got woken up to the fact that he ended the original story and world from the original book a little too quickly and has gone back and released a new(er) trilogy of stories. The first is called Ender's Shadow which is a parallel book to Ender's Game and follows the story of Bean. I'm going to be reading that one tonight so I have no opinion on it at the moment but it should be good if it captures the original spirit of the first. There is also a book after that which I believe is also a parallel book to Ender's game but follows the life of Peter, Ender's brother. So from one book of less then 200 pages that was written close to 27 years ago it has spawned at least 6 other novels. I also hear they are going to be making a hollywood version of Ender's Game, so take my advice and read the fucking book and don't see the movie, it will suck like all hollywood shit does.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?