Monday, January 30, 2006


Work: Unrecognized attribute 'xmlns'

Once I got the project compiling, I still couldn't get the asmx file loading. There was an error in the xml parsing. The message I got was:
Unrecognized attribute 'xmlns'
Some more Googling turn up this site, which nicely told me that my problem was I had IIS set to use ASP.NET version 1.1.4322. By setting it to version 2.0.50727, he asmx file loaded correctly.


Work: allowDefinition='MachineToApplication'

In trying to get the webservice working with Visual Studio 2005, I encountered this error message:
It is an error to use a section registered as allowDefinition='MachineToApplication' beyond application level. This error can be caused by a virtual directory not being configured as an application in IIS
naturally I assumed that the problem was with my IIS Virtual Directory. But everything seemed fine there, and tinkering around with the settings didn't help.

Eventually I found this post on one of the MSDN blogs (thanks Rob!). Turns out Visual Studio 2005 was actually looking at the web.config file in the backup directory that the "Upgrade Solution" wizard made. By removing the directory, the solution complied.


Random: Image Thumbnail

Like this picture? I did. I found it while looking around deviantArt the other week while looking for a new background image (well, actually a bigger version of it). Today I was cleaning up my desktop, and so moved the file somewhere more suitable. I like to use the thumbnail view for my picture folders, so I was a bit surprised by the thumbnail of the image:

I'm assuming this is the pre-photoshop version. My guess was that the thumbnail was generated before the photoshopping, but didn't get updated. Interestingly enough, when I reduced the original image size to post it here, the thumbnail still didn't change.


Just Seen: Brokeback Mountain

Stars: 4.5/5

I'm sure everyone's heard about Brokeback Mountain. It's the "gay cowboy" movie. The one that's been banded in Utah and places. Well, we went to see it on Friday night.

Even though it was my suggestion to see it, I was a little unsure if I'd enjoy it. I didn't really feel like a "beautiful romantic story", but I felt like risking it more than I felt like seeing Narnia. Fortunately, I made the right choice.

The story is about two guys who meet in 1963 while they're looking after a herd of sheep on and around Brokeback Mountain. The become friends, and then something more. After their work finishes, they both go their separate ways, only to come back together years later. I couldn't see how the story would end without one (or both) of them dying - it just didn't seem to be possible. Without saying what happened in the end, I will say I was very pleased with it.

The movie was directed by Ang Lee, who did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. To me, Lee is a master of pacing and visual presentation, and Brokeback Mountain is just as good as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The landscape shots were amazing, and while the story wasn't fast, it was never boring. I was also really impressed with how all the characters seemed to age thoughout the movie. Very well done.

Probably the best indication of how good it was, the entire car trip home about every second thing we said was "that was a really good movie".

Sunday, January 29, 2006


(Haven't) Just Played: Auto Assault

I signed myself up for the public beta of Auto Assault, which is the new MMORPG from the guys who do City of Heros/Villains and a few others. It's basically Mad Max - you have a car, strap some weapons to it, and blow stuff up. In other words, it looked fantastic.

The client was somewhere in the order of 3gig, and obviously had to be downloaded. So I started the process going sometime on Wednesday or Thursday night. The beta started around Saturday morning our time, so the plan was to have everything ready to go so I could try it out whenever I got the chance over the weekend.

Unfortunately, things didn't really work out properly. When I tried to launch the game, the application crashed. So I ran the handy "check files" app, and discovered that one of the files (naturally the biggest one - 250mbs) was corrupt. So it started to re-download it. When that finished, the same thing happened.

So in other words, my computer has spent the weekend downloading the same file with the occasional break to try and start a corrupted application. I did all the natural and obvious things, except for uninstalling and starting over again - by the time I'd started considering that, it was too late anyway. I maybe could have found some help on the forums, but I couldn't really be bothered wasting my time - if I had a free moment, I wanted to do something fun, not bother with broken software. I found myself pining for World of Warcraft, where the patch downloading just works (I know this is an unfair comparison - WoW is almost two years more mature).

I did send them an email though, so hopefully they'll be able to fix my problem for the release version:

I was very keen to try Auto Assault - it looked like it would be lots of fun. Unfortunately, I've reached the end of my weekend (I'm located in Australia), and I haven't had the chance to play.

I started downloading the client almost as soon as the instruction email came through. I have a 512Kbit/sec ADSL connection with a 20gig limit, so the client size didn't worry me too much. I started it running, and just walked away. Unfortunately I ran out of harddrive space around the 85% mark. So I deleted a few gigs worth of stuff, and resumed the download.

When it finally finished, I attempted to launch the client, but it died before it had finished loading. I read the instructions, so then patched the client, reset my machine, patched again and then ran the checksum. It discovered that ofe of the files (full-maps.glm_0. was corrupted, so started to re-download it.

This pattern repeated itself for the rest of the weekend - everything would finish downloading, the client would crash, the checksums wouldn't match so I'd have to start downloading again. So after more than 72 hours and half my download limit reached, I'm forced to give up.

Unfortunately this has left me not really wanting to risk dealing with Auto Assault again - or at least risk paying money for a game that I won't be able to play. But hopefully I've given you enough information to correct the problem, and hopefully others had more luck with the game.
EDIT: Hmmm. I just got an auto-generated email back from the support address basically telling me that I'm spam. It thinks I'm spam because my email address isn't linked to an account, but if I'm not spam, then I can sign up for an account. It only takes about a minute, and I only have to do it once! I figure they must mean "once more", because I've already singed up for an account - they even sent me a confirmation message after I activated it to the same address.

WoW is looking better and better...

Friday, January 27, 2006


Random: Russell Crowe's Band is Shit

Ah, Australia Day. How can you describe it to someone from another country? It's the one day of the year where we all openly say how much we love our country, cover ourselves in the flag and do all that stuff we normally pay the Americans out for doing all the time. Except since it's Australia, while we're doing it, we do it all as if we're actually taking the piss.

"Oh, check out my Australian flag thongs! Oz as mate!"

Wow I love my country - even on the one day when you're allowed to care, you can't care too much.

So anyway, we went to the Australia Day Live! Concert on Australia Day eve. The line up was impressive (that's "impressive" with a fair amount of scorn by the way). Actually that's a little unfair. There was some decent performances - Bob Downe was great at hamming it up as usual (surly I'm not the only one who keeps thinking he's really Lorne from Angel?); Thirsty Merc weren't too bad; Joel What's-His-Name and the Modern Day Poets were clearly very talented and even though beatboxing isn't really my thing, were pretty fun to watch; Lior was as good as I expected.

I felt a bit sorry for the guy who was hosting (who's name I cannot remember). He'd done all the talking since about 5pm, and then just as it gets to 8:30pm when the television coverage was meant to start, Gretel Killeen takes over. But it wasn't like she was then hosting. No, this guy still had to deal with the audience whenever there was an ad break (which was quite often). So basically he did 6 hours of work, but wouldn't have even got a second of TV time (oh, and it's not like Gretel cared about talking to the crowd when she wasn't on air - the one time he tried to call her up she couldn't get away fast enough). Seriously, it's time to go Gretel...

I do have two favourite moments from the night though. The first was just after Andrew G did a spot from the top of a cheery picker hanging over the crowd. After the TV had finished with him, I saw him turn around, pull out his own camera and take a couple of shots. I'm always a sucker for those moments when you realise "famous people" do actually get excited by the cool stuff they get to do.

My other favourite moment was the grand finale. We got to hear Russell Crowe's band "perform" (much like the "impressive" from before, take the "perform" with a mountain of salt). As the title of this post says, they were terrible. Well, that's not quite true - the band seemed alright, but Russell's singing was something to behold. I cheered every time he had a "rock hair" moment (well, I did for a while, but there were so many I got bored). Karina's comment was "do you think he can hear the piano player?". The whole thing really did seem like he was starring in a movie about a rock star, and this was the bit at the end where you finally get to see them perform - the actor's bad, but you can imagine that the character is good. Unfortunately it wasn't a movie.

But still, there are many ordinary to terrible bands out there. And I'm certain that if any of them had the money and influence to position themselves like Russell Crowe's band, they all would.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Hackathon: Revisiting

While I haven't really had much of a chance to re-visit the results of my hackathon, I have been thinking about it a bit lately. So I figured it would be a good idea to make a list of the things I wanted to add in the near future.
Feel free to add more suggestions!


Random: Game Design

I found this really interesting. It sounds like a pretty sweet job - play your shinny new computer game every day until it can beat you.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Quiz: Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in?

You scored as Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix). You can change the world around you. You have a strong will and a high technical aptitude. Now if only Agent Smith would quit beating up your friends.

Coming on December 1, 2005:

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? The Sequel

Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)


SG-1 (from Stargate)


Moya (from Farscape)


Enterprise D (from Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)


Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)


Serenity (from Firefly)


Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)


Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? v1.0
created with

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Random: Broken Brain

I saw this headline without any kind of context, and my brain just refused to correctly parse it. It kept doing the Google thing of "Do you mean...".

I read a lot of different headlines before I was able to actually read it properly (I had to take a look at the article before the words started to make sense).

Davenport overcomes dogged Sprem

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Just Seen: Negadon, the Monster From Mars


Very cool. It's an independent, 25min long film. There are three trailers which are all in Japanese, but there is an english version of the site. I'm guessing it's about some alien that comes from Mars and starts stomping Tokyo. But it's a bit hard to tell. What really impressed me is that it's not actually a 60s or 70s crappy Japanese monster movie. It's a beautifully done CGI movie that just looks like it was made in the 70s.

I wish I could do art that good.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Computers: New Stuff

My new keyboard and mouse arrived today! Harris Tech only delivered it one working day (Monday rather than Friday) later then they promised (which was only another working day later then they originally told me). As I mentioned, it's a Logitech X-700. It's very nice, and I like it lots. Plus, it's got media controls that work!


Just Played: EVE-Online

A little while ago I tracked down a 14-day free trail of EVE-Online, and on Saturday I finally got around to activating it.

EVE is another MMORPG - like World of Warcraft, it's a game where you sign up to play a character in a persistent universe with anyone else on the Internet who feels like playing. The biggest difference between EVE and World of Warcraft is that EVE is set in space. You play a pilot. Armed with your ship, you can fly around the hundreds of thousands of planets, moons and stations. You can make money from mining, building, trading or piracy. Visually, EVE is stunning. Warcraft looks nice, but is reasonably "cartoony". EVE just looks stunning. When I first saw the demo movies, I was surprised to learn that they weren't cutscenes, but rather actually in-game recordings.

The game-play is quite different from WoW. For starters, the interface is a lot more complex. WoW pretty much just drops you into the world, where as EVE takes you through a detailed tutorial which took me most of the weekend (mostly because I would play for a little bit, and then have to do something else for a while). The other main difference is that EVE seems to be much slower to play. Traveling from one location to another is a matter of setting your route, turning the autopilot on, and doing something else. This meant that I could be busy doing chores or having a shower or reading my book or something while my ship was heading to somewhere far away. Progressing skills is also something of a time-sink - rather than just spending money or experience points, each skill takes a certain amount of time to progress (hours or days). Fortunately, these progress even when you're not playing. It took me a little while to realize that the best approach when I was about to log out was to start learning something that I would still be learning when I next logged in (if you finish learning a skill, you don't learn anything until you pick the next one to learn).

It remains to be seen if this "slowness" is just the tutorial and me still learning what to do, or if the game is actually like that. While it was certainly fun, I don't think I'd really want to pay $20 a month to read a book while my ship flies through space. A friend who was also trying the free trial ended up deleting his account halfway through because it was just too slow for him.

So far I'm certainly enjoying the game. I've finished the tutorial, I've bought myself a better ship, so now all I have to do is start making some money.

Friday, January 13, 2006



Wow. Stilly got to meet the guys who pull the strings of the android Phillip K. Dick? That's very cool (although not quite as cool as if he'd actually met the Philip K. Dick android itself - the Mythbusters got to). I demand more details Mikal!

Of course, I discovered you can download a large portion of the source code, so I'm going to check that out this weekend. And then I'll build my own robotic dead author!


Friday the 13th

I guess I don't really have much of a choice by to post a link to Articulate today.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Harris Tech: Not The Best Way to Run a Business

I decided to get myself a new keyboard and mouse yesterday. While this was certainly tempting, in the end I settled on this. It's not my model of choice - I'm really happy with the one I'm using at work, but I have used the X-700, and it's fairly nice.

Since Harris Tech were having a special to get rid of their stock, I decided I'd get one through them. I went through the whole online order procedure, and everything was looking good. About 15mins later I got a phone call from Harris Tech's customer support telling me that no payment details had been recorded - somewhere along the way apparently they online order system decided to just ignore my credit card details.

No big drama - I decided that I could just go and pick the keyboard up, and pay for it then (saving myself $13 delivery). This morning I rocked up to Harris Tech in Fyshwick, only to be confronted by confusion. Somehow they'd either misplaced my keyboard, or sold it to someone else. But not to worry, since they had some in Sydney that they could ship down.

Although I have to wait an extra day, they'll deliver it to me for free. Fair enough.

As I was leaving, I made the comment that I hadn't paid yet. The store guy was very grateful, because he'd just assumed that it had been all paid for already. I could have quiet easily walked away with a free keyboard and mouse, which Harris Tech delivered to me, all for free, with the Harris Tech people thinking I'd been a very nice and understanding customer...


RSS Cleanup

I've decided the time has come to do some cleaning up of my RSS feeds. Among other things, I'll finally get around to moving StillHQ and The Moving Finger out of "Work Blogs" and into "Interesting People".

It also means I'm on the hunt for some more interesting blogs. Suggestions welcomed...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Amazon: Arrived!

As I've said before, the second best thing about ordering online is the shipping times. They are always pessimistic (the best thing being the stuff when it arrives). It's two days before the earliest arrival date, and my first Amazon package has appeared.


So what did I get? Well, inside was a cheap US print (if you're not sure what I mean, take a look at some of the books in those "3 for $5!" bins outside a newsagent, and then compare to a normal priced book in a proper bookstore) version of Cryptonomicon, and a very nice, almost Co-Op Bookshop quality, copy of Less Than Zero.

I'm still a bit confused as to why Amazon felt it was smarter to send two packages just so I'd get some stuff a bit quicker, but oh well. It just means I get extra presents from Amazon!

Monday, January 09, 2006


Work: Ahhhh!

My first day back, and I'm quietly going nuts. It's not because I still need to be on holidays. It's not because I've forgotten everything I'm meant to be doing. It's much simpler then that.

I'm pretty sure it's because I can't listen to any music. Let me explain.

Most sets of headphones tend to hurt ears after a short while (not as in "the music is too loud", but as in "my ears don't bend that way!"), so I tend to just use the little earplug things that almost everyone seems to detest. Unfortunately, if I plug them into my computer, I have to virtually sit under the desk to have them in my ears since the cord is so short. To deal with this, I picked up a longer cord. Unfortunately, I decided to take it home of my holidays, and forgot to bring it back.

So no music for me until tomorrow. Crap.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


World of Warcraft: The End

So I decided to cancel my World of Warcraft subscription. My account was about to kick over for another month, so it seemed like the right time to do it.

Why did I decide to cancel my subscription? Well there were a few reasons, but mostly so I'd have enough spare time to play PQ!

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Hackathon: 6pm

Coffee: 3

I started to write this at about 4pm, which was roughly 24hours. But I got distracted, so I did another two hours work instead. My dinner should be arriving fresh from the coast in about an hour or so, so that will probably be a good place to stop.

This has actually been a lot of fun. I'm really glad I did it. It's been quite a while since I've done an all nighter, and even long since it was for something other than a drunken night out. I desperately need to listen to some different music - Pandora repeated herself *a lot* during the night, and it turns out that my iTunes collection at home is quite borked - I'm missing most of my music, but I seem to have two or three copies of pretty much every song that is on this computer. And apparently I'm not able to walk downstairs and get any of my CDs.

I've been pleased with my effort. Despite coming very close a few hours ago, I haven't had to throw everything out and start again. While I haven't written anything very amazing, I was able to get the parts I'd planned carefully in my head working the way I wanted. I think with a few weeks of effort, I might be able to turn this into some almost reasonable.

I think I'll sleep well tonight.


Hackathon: 1pm

Coffee: 3

I'm in the process of adding locks to doors. I've also added the beginnings of an equipment system. None of them do anything yet, but it does look kind of pretty.

I decided to redesign how the rooms are generated, and so I've ended up with something much simpler. Instead of having to list all of the points, you now just need specify the top left corner of the room, and it's width and height. I decided not to worry about non-rectangular rooms, since it's pretty easy to duplicate one using multiple rooms and doors.

Moving the various people around the map is still throwing up quirks. I have a feeling I'll have to scrap the whole system and redo it, but I think I'll put that off for the moment.

Here's another screen shot.


Hackathon: 9am

Coffee: 3

Well the sun came up. I'm still plodding along, although I'm finding I've very easily distracted. As an example, I clicked the "make a new post" button over an hour ago, but didn't actually write anything.

I've started adding interesting items to the maps. At the moment the only one that does anything are terminals. You can use them to a tap into the security cameras and see where all the guards are.

The controls are very clunky at the moment - you can tell your one agent to "Proceed", which means he'll go through the nearest door, or "Access Terminal". I'm struggling to think of a better way to control the agents.

I guess I should put up another screen shot.


Hackathon: 4:30am

Coffee: 3

Just over half way through. I've managed to convince the guards to move through the doors now. They potter around aimlessly until they hear a noise, and then come running. For a while they would occasionally get to a door and just stand there being confused, but I fixed that.

The do still occasionally dive across a room at an amazing speed. I'm not quite sure why, but I suspect it's got something to do with the very confusing doorway code I wrote a few hours ago.

I think I'm going to start adding some of the more interesting things, like "alarms" and "security cameras" soon.

Here's a screen shot:
It's partly crappy because when I converted it to a jpeg it screwed up a bit, but mostly because I'm not great at making things pretty. But the red blob does pulse, and it looks kind of cool!

If anyone's interested, the map format is fairly simple. The definition for the "Engine" room is
Room:Engine|20,20 20,50 80,50 80,20|60,6,60,19|
The first lot of numbers are the co-ordinates of the room, and the second lot are the co-ordinates of any doors (rooms can have more than one door obviously). Currently you can also define people (guards, etc), but that's it.

I think I've busted through that "gee I'm tired wall" and I'm safely in the slightly crazy, hyper stage. It's probably a good thing there's no one to talk to.


Hackfest: 12:45am

Coffee: 1.5

The dog took herself to bed in disgust about 15mins ago, and I decided that was a good point to get another coffee and something more to eat. Other then tidying some things up and improving the way I deal with a few things, I haven't make much progress since the last update.

The stupid guard just doesn't want to use the door. He walks across the room, goes past the door and then just stands in the corner like some naughty child. I'm pretty sure my "are you standing near a door?" algorithm is borked.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Hackfest: 11pm

Coffee: 1

7 hours in, and I'm still at it. I'd post some screen shots, but they didn't come out too well, and I can't really be bothered spending the time to make them look nice. Maybe later.

So I guess the obvious question is "what am I writing?". I've had a few different ideas bouncing around my head lately, but in the end I settled on something that I mostly stole from the brilliant people at Introversion. The idea is to make the player the guy in movies like Mission: Impossible who guides his team through a mission from the safety of the hi-tech van parked outside. You've got access to floor plans, can hack into the security cameras, and can control a host of remote gadgets.

It seemed like something a bit different, so it might be fun to play.

So far I've written code to read in details of a floorplan from a text file and display it for the player. The thing I like about my design at the moment is that the floor plan can be as complex or as simple as I want, it doesn't make a difference to the code. It also means that's it's pretty simple to have multiple maps ("mission"). I've also got little flashing blips happening to represents guards and members of the player's team.

Since a "room" is represented as just a series of points (so you can have strange shaped rooms), I've had an interesting time coming up with a way to determine if where a person is moving is actually inside their current room or not. It's an easy problem to deal with for a simple, four sided room, but I think I'll need to think a bit about how to deal with more complex rooms.

Oh, and for some reason a couple of hours ago Pandora decided to play Delta Goodrem for me.


Hackfest: The Beginning

Coffee: 0

Partly inspired by Gordon's idea/discovery of the hackfest (which I'm too lazy to bother digging up a link too), and partly by the National Writing Month, I decided to go on a bit of a creative bender. The rules are simple - I've shut myself in my study, armed with only my computer and the Internet, and we'll see what I come out with in 24 hours.

So why am I doing this? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is, I thought it sounded like a fun idea. Second, I'm curious how much I'll be able to do in 24 hours. And, of course, I'm interested to see how long I can last - it's probably not the best way to start 24 hours of coding at 4pm after driving up from the coast, but that's the time I've got!

I'm planning on doing blog updates every 4 or 6 hours, so I guess I'll post again around dinner time!

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