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Friday, November 01, 2002

Hope everyone had a fun and scary Halloween!

I've basically finished the Multi-Boot Rebooter, I think. I'll just call it MBR for short. And no, I didn't intentionally steal that acronym, for those of you who know what I'm talking about. ;) Anyway, I added some safeguards to the program to hopefully not screw up the boot.ini file if something goes wrong. And had to add the check for it to exit if it couldn't actually find the file. I tried to lower the amount of memory it takes (currently about 1.5 megs), but everything I tried ended up the same. It doesn't need all that memory for what little it does, but that's what happens when you compile with MSVC++. It's a handy little app though none the less, I use it, so maybe someone else will find it useful as well. I'll put a page up for it sometime.

You'd think Microsoft would have made an edit control to allow you to change the background text color for individual characters. I thought about making my own IRC client for fun, but I think most of the effort would be involved in making my own control just to display the output. I've messed with the IRC protocol for a while now, so doing that part of it would be fairly easy. I wonder how easy it'd be to use an HTML control instead to display the output...





Monday, October 28, 2002

Despite a headache and a grouchy stomach, I actually got some work done today. You should be proud! Not only did I basically finish the little taskbar app to reboot into different OS's, but I threw in the Ogg Vorbis support for Electris, and it worked without crashing on the first try (well, until I exited, but I added one line to fix that). I haven't tweaked and gotten the bugs out of either, but at least it's there.

I won't release the Multi-boot Rebooter (probably the name I'll give it) until I'm happy that it won't kill someone's boot.ini file for some odd reason. It's spiffy and handy though. I've actually used it already. I'll tweak with it some more tomorrow, then think about throwing it up on the site.

As for Electris v1.2, that depends on how much of a programming mood I stay in. There's still some tweaking to do to the music, since I have to dig out the old streaming .wav file based stuff. So far it only plays and stops, so I want to control the volume and such (like when you go from the title screen to the game for example, like it does in v1.1 with the wav support). I'll also make it so you can throw in your own .Ogg files and it'll play those. Wanna know the first song I had it play? Britney's "Cinderella". Feel free to laugh, or drool, whichever you prefer.

Anyway, I'll have the extended Electris music in there tomorrow. I was just using Britney as a test, since I already had the .Ogg file from when I was testing the Ogg player I whipped up a while back when I wrote the C++ Class for it (allowing me to use much simpler functions to control the music, such as Load, Play, Stop, etc). I mentioned that on here back when I made it.

I ate way too much for supper.




Friday, October 25, 2002

Ya know, one of the problems with dual booting, is basically the whole booting part. Since I dual boot Win98 and XP, and need both for different reasons, I find myself jumping between them often. Sometimes though I'd like to just let the machine shut down and reboot into the other OS while I go get a snack or something. Problem is, if I get up while it's shutting down, it'll just reboot into the same OS again. I made a simple little batch file to swap the boot.ini files to go between the two, but I've decided to write a little system tray app that will do it quickly. Since I'm back in the programming mood, keep an eye out for it anytime now.

I thought I'd write more than this, but it's chow time, so I'll blab more later.

*poof*




Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Wow I haven't updated this in days. I've really run outa steam lately. I haven't really programmed, or done much writing. Maybe some character and story development for DOZ. Other than that, just tv and such.

I've just looked at all this stuff so much the last few months that I guess I'm tired of messing with it for now. Don't worry, I'll get back on track soon enough. It's not the first time this has happened. Certainly won't be the last. I don't want to come up with total crap by forcing myself to work on anything. Don't worry about that either though.. I'm prolly too lazy to force myself to do it. ;)

I'm in way too much of a Power Rangers mood lately. I've found out a lot I never knew. I had no clue the show had been running in Japan since 1975. I'd love to see some episodes from the 15 series that never came to America. I can prolly order dubs or subtitles somewhere.

One way or another, I'm going to make my damn laptop work. I paid $50 for it on Ebay, and got less than 2 days use out of it before it died. It would have cost me like another $20 just to send it back, and prolly $20 more for him to send another one (since he had a few). So I said screw it, and kept it. He was nice enough to send $10 though to make up for it. Some of the resistors and capacitors are burnt out near the power supply connection, so tinkering around with them and bypassing some make the power come on, and I've managed to get the screen to power up at times, but never any post codes or text. If I manage to find a system board for it, I'll order that. It's just an old 486, but that's fine for writing on.

Anyway, that's it for now. Ta ta.




Monday, October 07, 2002

This has nothing to do with anything on this site really, but since I have nothing else to ramble about, I thought this was just as good as anything else. ^_^

Those of you that know me might know I've had a big thing for Power Rangers for years now. It started from taping it for my younger brother and watching it while he did, until eventually I was hooked. There's been times my interest dropped... during the Lost Galaxy series, for example. I stopped watching at some point until the next series, and missed the last several episodes in the process. Which I now regret, because I later saw some of the reruns, and some cool things happened. Such as the return of some of the In Space rangers for a couple episodes or so. I might never see the other episodes I missed. I saw the final few episodes though, so I know how it all began and ended, the filler episodes weren't entirely important. Other than those though, I think I've seen every single episode. Pathetic, eh? hehe.

My point is, I think I saw the coolest episode of the entire run of the show this last Saturday. To celebrate 10 years of Power Rangers (here in the US at least), they had a special episode.. bringing back 10 of the previous red rangers. That's basically all of them, even though Rocky took over the original red ranger powers, so he should have been on there. But what can ya do. The only one they didn't get the original actor for was the alien ranger from Aquitar. I wasn't fond of that whole "Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers" period anyway, with the real rangers being children and having to find the zeo crystals to return to normal. So in all, you had Jason as the classic Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Tommy as the Zeo Ranger, TJ as the Turbo Ranger, Andros as the Space Ranger, Leo as the Galaxy Ranger, Carter as the Lightspeed Ranger, Wes as the Time Force Ranger, Eric as the Quantum Ranger, and Cole as the Wild Force Ranger. I can't remember the Alien Ranger's name, cause it was weird. But he never morphed, cause he arrived in his suit already (since they didn't get the original guy to do the part I guess).

Not only did they bring back all those classic people (which was awesome to see if you've been a fan of the show as long as me), but they also brought back the classic Alpha 5 (with that good'ol original voice). And since the Astro Megaship was destroyed near the end of the Lost Galaxy series, they got a new one.. the Astro Megaship Marc II. Which of course looked identical to the original since I'm sure they used the exact same model. Other things related to classic episodes were the fact that the bad guys were remnants of the Machine Empire, from back during the Zeo series. They wanted to seek vengence for King Mondo's destruction back then. And to do so, they were diggin up Serpenterra, supposedly strongest "zord" ever made, which could possibly destroy Earth. This belonged to Lord Zed back in the day, and it would only run for very short time periods due to the massive amount of power it required. So Zed and Rita never did much destruction with it. But these new guys put some fancy power core in. This is why these 10 rangers were called, to put a stop to it. Another thing to note, was that the voices of three of these evil generals were none other than those of Kai, Katherine, and Zack, who were also previous rangers. You can't really tell cause they alter them to sound mean, but if you listen carefully you can hear traces of their voices. Kai was the blue ranger during Lost Galaxy, Katherine was the pink ranger during multiple series(replacing the original Kimberly), and Zack was the original black ranger.

There was also a brief appearance from Bulk and Skull at the beginning. Despite the comedy in the classic episodes being pretty silly, the fact that it was there kind of defined Power Rangers at the time. And Bulk and Skull really added to that. When they started phasing them out during In Space, and eventually dumping them after Lost Galaxy, the shows lost a lot of quality. They started making everything so "serious". The comedy was never as good, because they tried to base a lot of it on real life situations. Once the In Space series started, the rangers were away from Earth most of the time, so they couldn't focus on Bulk and Skull, Ernie, the school, the juice bar, or Angel Grove even. And the ranger actors were never as good as the originals. In Space was the last series where I thought they still managed to have a decent cast. After that, they replaced ever single ranger with each new series, and continued this practice ever since (getting all new weapons, zords, and bad guys in the process). They never have enough time to have any good character development. It's sort of there, but not like originally. Such as when Kimberly fell for Tommy and they became an item. Or when Billy stopped being quite such a nerd and became a much better fighter (and was the veteran in the group eventually, and the last of the originals to be there). All of those things happened over a period of time. None of this happens now. It's always a "moral of the story" type of deal only. Then they throw everything out and start over. I'm not saying it's all bad now, though. But it could be better.

Anyway, my only complaint about this episode was how it ended. And for anyone who hasn't seen it yet (since it was scheduled to air on the 12th at 8:30am, though came on Saturday at noon as well), you shouldn't read what I'm about to say, unless you want me to spoil it. But Serpenterra was supposed to be the strongest zord ever, capable of destroying the rangers, and even the Earth. Well, they screwed that up good. First of all, Serpenterra is a dark green. Despite being the correct color while they were digging up him, once they switched to the CGI model when they took off in it, it was a shiny kind of silverish-green color. Just barely green. And it looked too thin. The squeaking noises were cool, though. But when Cole hopped on his fancy motorcycle, flew into space, then RIGHT THROUGH THE BLAST that Serpenterra shot at him, he managed to avoid dying, fly inside the thing's mouth, destroy it, and fly out the back as the huge explosion ripped the sky. While the whole time, 9 rangers stood down there on the moon, just watching and cheering. How stupid was that?? They never called a zord. They didn't have to work together. The newbie just managed to avoid death and destroy the ultimate weapon somehow. The problem here was that they rushed it. It should have been two episodes. The whole second episode should have involved fighting this mammoth, possibly losing some of their older zords in the process. It could have been so awesome, had they only tried. But overall, the episode is still the best I've seen.

The reason it's still the best, is because of the well-choreographed fighting scenes. The first fight involved them all in human form (well aside from the alien and Lost Galaxy rangers, they hadn't arrived yet), fighting mass quantities of Cogs. This part was awesome, since every one of these rangers were good fighters. Even though Carter only used a blaster during his particular scene. But they focused on each one of them individually as they fought, filled with plenty of jumping, punching, swinging, kicking, and whacking. The fight then moved outside onto the moon's surface, where they did the big long morphing sequence, followed by a huge pyrotechnics explosion behind them (typical for such a situation, but always impressive). The fight among the rangers and the 5 generals then ensued, two rangers per general. This is when the special effects extravaganza began. Not only did the effects and music work well, but the excellently choreographed martial arts scenes shined through again. There were scenes, such as when Carter and Andros were charging at their armed opponent, where they were doing the greatest sideways flips and leaps I have ever seen, avoiding large explosions from his big-ass gun, shooting back the whole while, until they were face to face with the guy, at which time they kicked his ass of course. And blasted him off the cliff for good measure. I also thought the Matrix-esque jump kick Tommy did on his opponent was cool (which also destroyed the guy).

So like I said, overall, it was the best episode I've ever seen. And I've pretty much seen them all, so I should know. It's a shame that Power Rangers isn't what it used to be, but with an episode like this once in a while, it makes up for it.

Woo I rambled quite a bit on that subject. hehe. If you've never watched Power Rangers before and might be interested in what I'm talking about, watch on ABC next Saturday morning at 8:30 (Eastern) for the repeat, and let me know what you think.




Friday, October 04, 2002

I've pulled myself out of the spiraling doom of programming, and have come to realize, that I need to be working on the things I've already started, instead of trying to make new ones. See, I told you before about this horrible, horrible thing. You start working on something... realize you can do something else that might be cooler... then another thing that's cooler.. and then before you know it, you're spending all your time making something way more complicated than you ever intentionally planned! The ORIGINAL plan was to complete Electris until I felt it was a polished game, and also continue work on my 2d, yes 2d, version of Defenders of Zentax. I planned, and originally started, a 2d game engine that used Direct3d to do rotations and scaling. That's what got me started on making actual 3d stuff. So enough of that. I already backed up what I had, then ripped out all the 3d crap I had been doing the past few weeks. So now it's back to the basic 2d rotating/scaling engine taking advantage of Direct3d hardware, like I planned to do in the first place!

Between work on Electris and DOZ, I'm also going to try and continue writing the actual story to DOZ. Not the storyline of the game... I'm talking the actual story. It's something that's been floating in my head for years, constantly changing and expanding. I just never feel like writing it out. Maybe one day I'll finish the story, which will probably be the size of a book by then. I have tons of little subplots, characters, and the like, all mixed up in the crazy mess I call a brain. Kind of like a little universe. Which was basically why I planned to make more than just the DOZ game I'm working on, such as an RPG in the future (which was what the original BBS door game was going to be when finished). And a few other types of game concepts I've come up with recently. Though the current space-fighting DOZ will have RPG elements to it as well.

Maybe I'll start posting chapters to the story as I write them?

Anyway, that's enough rambling for now. Just for the record.. I took a personality disorder test online earlier. lol. Don't worry, it said I wasn't crazy. Most of the results were "low" actually, meaning good, which were a bit surprising, considering the other people I know that took it had a lot of mediums and highs. Guess I'm the sane one. ;)




Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Haven't done a whole lot of programming lately. My head has hurt on and off, and my stomach was acting weird. But I did work on loading meshes from .X files, from scratch, in DirectX7. It's just so boring to write all that stuff, I just never want to work on it, especially when I'm not feeling great. So far I can load a mesh, but only simple ones. And I can't load materials (basically colors) for them yet either. I'll do it all eventually. When that's finished, maybe I'll start getting some real work done. Stuff like this tempts me to just use DirectX8, which will do all this for me (and with which I started a very basic 3d engine to learn how it all worked originally), but I want the support of older hardware, so I'm trying to stay in DX7.

Lately I've been reading up on hardware hacks and stuff. Not for computers though. Or at least, not PC's. Stuff for my Avigo organizer(which I've also tinkered around programming for lately), and the Cidco Mailstation I got my hands on. It's a cool little thing... nice keyboard, easy to read screen, good battery life. Certain models(like the one I have) let you use any pop3 mail provider instead of paying for their email service... though people have found ways to do the same on the other models. You can't read email bigger than 8k though. While that's fine for just talking, a lot of junk I get is bigger, and I could't read it to see what it was before I dump it. The account I was using to play with it though is riddled with spam, so it didn't matter. And I can't use my main Juno account with it, so it won't really serve any important purpose to me in regards to email. Though you could use it to type in various stuff... notes, a journal, etc, then just email it to yourself so you'd have it on your PC. There are also ways to rig it to talk directly to your PC, and setup your own little mail server to send/receive stuff for it, without needing a real email account. But somehow it's possibe to replace the software the thing uses. I would love to have a CP/M port on the thing. Or even just simple text web browsing.. or an IRC client. The modem built into it would give you lots of possibilities. And it uses a Z80 processor. People that know what I'm talking about realize that it means the thing could do plenty. It's just a matter of being able to change the OS. But I can't find out any info, other than the printer port on it is possibly used also to write to the flash memory in it at the factory. I have no rs-422 to rs-232 converter though, so there's no way for me to tinker with it. Surely there are ways to do it through one of it's special MIME email commands... Anyone out there know anything I don't?

The other project I've wanted to try, is making this old Tivo work. The hard drive died, and I don't have a 20 gig replacement for it. And if I did happen to have a 20 gig drive laying around, it would be in my computer right now! I have a backup file of the hard drive for the particular model I have, so I thought I could restore it to a smaller drive. But nope.. even though the backup file is a little over 100 megs, it requires the full 20 gig drive to restore to. Because of all the partition information sizes and stuff I guess. But, I was wondering, since it just uses a PowerPC processor (like a Mac), and runs on Linux, if I could just put the Linux kernel(the standard PPC one, or the one you can download from Tivo) and basic apps on a smaller drive, and run it that way. It has a serial port, so even if I couldn't output to the screen, I could run a null modem connection to it. It's gotta be possible somehow or another. But since everyone else out there actually replaces the drives in theirs, nobody has tried I don't guess. I'm just tired of it sitting here being dead.

Well it's a lot later than I planned, so I'm gonna go to bed. If anyone has any ideas or knows what I might possibly be able to do with either of those things (and where I could get more detailed info on how to make, or get, an OS replacement for Avigo), then I'd love to hear from ya.