Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nerds Can Make Anything Dirty

An innocent question about web cam's quickly turned into a hilarious discussion about broadcasting "Dev Porn". From Dependency Injection to Inversion of Control, from the Command Pattern to the Observer Pattern, from Unit Tests to Agile Practices, we pretty much mined the depths of indecency while speaking only in development terms.

Good times.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


This is ostensibly a code-related blog, but there are other nerdly things that I'm totally geeked about right now. Don't worry, I'll get back to boring subjects like Exchange Requests soon enough, but this week I'm focusing on video games.

Armageddon Empires
Armageddon Empires is a PC game that plays more like a board game combined with a card game. Bill Harris has given it a lot of love, and I have to echo his opinions, this is a really fun game. To top it all off the creator even writes a very interesting blog about game development and other things, check it out.

NHL '08
I've only played the demo on the Xbox 360, but what a game! The demo only allows for you to play 1 period, and you must always use the same teams (Anaheim and Ottawa), yet my brother and I played it for about 3 hours straight the other night. We then followed that up with another night of playing with some more of my friends. From what I can tell, this is the best sports game ever. Seriously, check out this review. Now I just need to petition EA to bring it to the Wii, or petition the wife to bring the 360 to me.

Guitar Hero
I finally got a chance to play one of these games over the summer, and while I had an inkling it would be fun, I didn't realize just how much I would enjoy it. Guitar Hero II is perhaps the best game I've ever played. Yes, as psyched as I am about NHL '08, I'm even more psyched about Guitar Hero III. And no petition's necessary on this one, it hits the Wii at the end of October like all good games should.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Exchange Requests

I was reading a few of the responses to Jeremy Miller's attempt to answer hard questions about Agile development, and came across this post from Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz. I really like the idea (and terminology) of "exchange requests", it seems like a reasonable tactic to manage a project, as well as something that you could actually sell a client on up front.

Monday, September 3, 2007

DVD Power Burner Burned Me Alright

Friday was "Beta Day" for me and my co-workers, as we were to ship out the Beta release of our current project. Things actually went pretty well as we wrote up documentation and ran through some final tests. No lions had lept from the undergrowth to block our way, and we were actually cracking jokes and having a good time as we approached the finish line.

The final act is always to burn a few DVD's containing a VPC sandbox for the users to play in and ship them out. Zipping and Ripping the DVD's always takes some time, and as usual we were fast approaching the 4:30 drop-off deadline for our local courier. In an effort to speed things up 3 of us decided to each burn 1 copy of the DVD (rather than have 1 guy burn 3 copies, which is how it usually goes down). This seemed great and we all grabbed the files from the network share and loaded our nicely labeled Beta disks into our drives.

This is when the Mogwai officially became Gremlins, at least for me. I don't do a lot of CD or DVD burning, and so I discovered that I had not bothered to install any DVD burning software the last time I "refreshed" Windows XP. Still, I thought, XP has some basic burning capabilities; I should be good. Wrong. For some reason, XP didn't think I had a burner (likely missing drivers or whatnot).

Anyways, I was not to be dissuaded. I quickly hit and searched. I came across "DVD Power Burner", which the editors had given 5 stars. I quickly began the download, although I noticed that the user rating was 1.5 stars. I decided to check the comments, and on the first page of comments all I saw were the same "1 star" responses with what looked like the same comment: "DVD Power Burner". I was in a rush, so I wrote it off as some disgruntled spammer and carried on.

But wait! Look at this page and check it out for yourself. Obviously, I'm an idiot. I have no idea how I missed the giant blue text of each review, but I did. And boy (or girl), did I pay for it.

Sure enough, as each of the posters warned (especially topper2), this is not a 5-star product. Upon installing, I was told I needed to reboot. I did so, and then went to run the program. It was at this point that a dialog came up saying something to the effect of (paraphrasing) "A program has modified user32.dll, Windows has moved it for your safety". The app then crashed.

This struck me as not being good, but I figured "hey, Windows figured this out, its moved stuff for my safety, I'm probably ok. Let's just uninstall this thing and get something else". Well, after uninstalling I was asked to reboot again, and that was the last time I ever saw my desktop alive.

Yep, my system was borked. And how! I could not boot Windows; no safe mode, no "last known good configuration", nothing. Clearly I was not going to be much help in burning the Beta DVD's at this point, so I sought some opinions on how to at least recover my files and went home.

Recovery option 1: Use BartPE
Umm, I'm not even sure what this thing is (the guys at work gave it to me), but apparently it is some kind of utility for recovering systems that seems to be built in some way on the XP kernel. I loaded it, and it looked like something a Warez team had released. Anyways, I went through every single menu and option, and nothing presented me with any sort of view into my data. Goodbye Bart.

Recovery option 2: Do a "system repair" from an XP boot disk
This did not work. After waiting for 10 minutes while Windows loaded 8 trillion files, I was presented with the repair option. I selected it, only to be told that, as Windows understood it, my computer had no hard drive. I yelled "yes I do!" but it wouldn't listen. On to option 3.

Recovery option 3: Reinstall windows
Again, no dice. I was told that I could reinstall the OS without wiping my data files (although I'd lose all my installed programs, etc). This sounded ok, at this point all I wanted to do was recover the stuff off my "Data" partition and start fresh anyways. However, again after 10 minutes of waiting, Windows told me I had no hard drive. More yelling by me, and again Windows held firm. Uppity little OS. Anyways, on to option 4.

Recovery option 4: Run a Linux Live CD, mount the data partition, use Samba to share it out, and then copy the data from my home computer (another XP machine).
Thankfully I have an Ubuntu Live CD kicking around, since I have Ubuntu installed on one of my home machines (much to my wife's chagrin). I think I'll save the gory details of this for another post, but after a couple hours I finally had my data copying onto my home XP computer. Thank you Linux!!

Thus the great System Recovery Saga of 2007 was over. Sort of. I had my files, but I was still in need of a working OS on my laptop. The XP install still didn't think I had a hard drive, so it was not an option. Apple still won't let heathens like me install Tiger or Liger or whatever its called on a non-Mac system, so it was out. And as thankful as I am to Linux for recovering my files, I'm a long way away from being savvy enough with it to use it as my main work OS. This left me with one place to go: Vista.

As I began the Vista install and progressed far enough to be sure that, yes, it knew I had a hard drive, a small part of me died inside. I've spent the last 6 months hating on Vista, and I think for good reason. It is bloated and buggy, and in my estimation it is basically the new "Windows ME". But it has won (by default) a second chance on my system, and a small part of me hopes that things work out better between us this time around.

Just don't tell Jeremy I said that.