Dec 2006

Email Disclaimers

You know those frigging stupid 20-line disclaimers that lots of corporates and law-talking guys1 type insist on putting at the end of their emails? I wonder how much bandwidth would be saved if there was a simple link to a disclaimer policy on a Web server instead of attaching it to the end of every single stupid email. Not that I advocate such disclaimer monstrosities—quite the opposite—but if you’re going to do it, at least be as considerate as possible. I had 7 messages total >200k the other day because it was (1) HTML email, (2) top-posted and quoted the entire previous email, and (3) consisted of 98% email disclaimer and 2% content.

I understand the argument that bandwidth and storage is a technological constraint and that we shouldn’t bitch about archiving 200k because we have 500GB desktop hard disk drives these days, but there’s waste, and then there’s waste.

End rant. Back to happy coding land and preparing slides for! (You are going, right! If not, why not?)

1 Note to law-talking guys: I don’t have a beef with you, I have a beef with your people.

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Merry Christmas!

It’s been an introspective journey this year. But at least I have a new web site! Woo baby!

Here’s a public thank you to all my family and friends for always being so supportive, and all my workmates at Rising Sun Research and Rising Sun Pictures for a wonderful working environment and teaching me a ton about software development (as well as contributing so much to some awesome movies).

2007 is looking good already. See some of you kids at in January! (You are going, right? If not, why not?)

Merry Christmas everyone, and have a safe, relaxing and happy end-of-year holidays to bring in 2007!


John Romero on Apple and NeXT

John Romero celebrates the ten-year anniversary of when Apple bought over NeXT:

We were building fat binaries of the tools for all 3 processors in the office - one .app file that had code for all 3 processors in it and executed the right code depending on which machine you ran it on. All our data was stored on a Novell 3.11 server and we constantly used the NeXTSTEP Novell gateway object to transparently copy our files to and from the server as if it was a local NTFS drive. This was back in 1993!

Indeed: even the most modern Windows and Linux development environments today still feel far inferior to the NeXT platforms in many ways. I’m thankful that the superb technology from NeXT lives on to this day: when anyone argues that the object-oriented paradigm has failed, Cocoa is living proof that it can work, and deliver an order-of-magnitude improvement in development productivity. It’s humbling to think that most of the libraries and frameworks that Mac OS X developers take for grated today existed a dozen years ago, before even Windows 95 was around. If you’re not convinced, watch Steve Jobs’s demo of NeXTSTEP version 3 running on a 50MHz cube — in 1991. Windows Presentation Foundation, Glade/GTK+ and Qt Designer look like stone-age tools compared to what NeXT had fifteen years ago.


Bigger Fontsies!

I’ve updated the blog part of my Web site to use standard-size fonts now rather than small ones; you should too (if you’re not doing it already, of course). I’d been meaning to do this for a while, but someone emailed me and specifically requested it. The rest of the site will be updated soon.


Goodbye, World

Yeah. So the other day, I walk into my local AppleCentre to buy myself a nice new STM bag. Of course, since I’m there pretty much every third hour of the day…

  • Me: “Can I have myself an André discount at all?”
  • Manager: “Hmmm… well, normally I would, but I can’t do that today. How about I throw in a free copy of World of Warcraft? Yes, that sounds like an excellent idea…”

Nooooooooooooooooooooo! Tom, I officially hate you. Do you know how long I’ve been trying to avoid playing this frigtard game? Goodbye sunshine, it’s been nice knowing you. If I don’t reply to any emails from now on, I’m either dead, or I’m playing this bloody MMORPG that I’ve been avoiding so successfully up until now. Bye all!


Steven Seagal

My dad’s been on a Steven Seagal action movie rampage, recently. How many friggin’ movies has this guy made, you think? A half-dozen? A dozen? Nope, thirty-two. And they’re all exactly the damn same, although some of them have hilarious titles (such as Today You Die, Half Past Dead and Out for a Kill) with equally hilarious taglines (“Whoever set him up is definitely going down”).

Please add Steven Seagal to the list of heroes who I want to be when I grow up. Life just can’t be that bad when you keep starring in action movies with hot Asian chicks in half of them.


Next-Generation PC Games for 2007

I know that the Wii is all the rage right now (rightly so, too!), but some of the more “traditional” games that are coming out next year still look nothing short of stunning.

Sample the HD trailers of:

  • Mass Effect (developed by BioWare). The immersion resulting from the new dialog system just looks incredible. Having just finished Neverwinter Nights 2, I reinstalled Neverwinter Nights 1 again to see how it stacks up. It is amazing just how much more immersion the full-screen style cutscenes provides vs the NWN1-style textbox-in-upper-left-corner. (The fullscreen cutscenes being the same deal as those in Knights of the Old Republic I and II). Mass Effect raises the bar again with its immersive dialog system: it looks like it’s going to absolutely blow everything out of the water when it comes to character interaction in games.

    The tactical squad-based combat looks pretty cool, too: it looks like BioWare are taking some of the tactical aspects of D&D-style combats over to an FPS game. (No, really, D&D does have some tactical combat. Putting Mages In the Back and Fighters At The Front takes lots of brains, I tell you.)

  • BioShock (developed by Irrational: the X06 and Developer Walkthrough HD trailers are both great, although be warned that both of them really are mature content). Man oh man, Irrational were spot-on when they claimed that BioShock will be the spiritual successor to System Shock 2. It’s clearly Shock 2-influenced to the nth degree: the splicers in BioShock highly resemble the deadly Cyborg Assassins in Shock 2, for example. However, BioShock looks even more disturbing than its predecessor, more moralistic, and scary as all hell. Having mere monkeys and protocol droids scaring the crap out of you in Shock 2 was bad enough, but with Big Daddies running around in BioShock, I wonder if I’ll actually be able to play this game at night at all. The water effects, 1950s influence and mature target audience make for an atmosphere that will leave even Shock 2 for dead.

With Jade Empire PC, Command & Conquer 3, and Unreal Tournament 2007 coming out next year, 2007 is looking like a pretty tasty gaming year indeed for those of us who are stubbornly staying off console games.


Partitions, Logical Volumes, Filesystems...

In the last month, I’ve had to dick around with (Linux) fdisk, gparted, lvm, mke2fs, tune2fs, the menagerie of RAID tools, and (Mac OS X) gpt, fdisk, pdisk, asr, diskutil and hdiutil.

I, for one, truly welcome our new ZFS overlords.



I’m not too sure that I can go much farther
I’m really not sure things are even getting better
I’m so tired of the me that has to disagree
I’m so tired of the me that’s in control
I woke up to see the…

Sun shining all around me
How could it shine down on me?
You think that it would notice that I can’t take any more
Had to ask myself,
… what’s it really for?

Everything I tried to do, it didn’t matter
Now I might be better off just rolling over
‘cos you know I try so hard but couldn’t change a thing
And it hurts so much I might as well let go
I can’t really take the…

Sun shining all around me
Why would it shine down on me?
You think that it would notice that I no longer believe
Can’t help telling myself
… it don’t mean a thing.

I woke up to see the…

Sun shining all around me
How could it shine down on me?
Sun shining all its beauty
Why would it shine down on me?
You think that it would notice that I can’t take any more
Just had to ask myself,
… what’s it really for?

—Yoko Kanno and Emily Curtis, What’s It For

Trust in love to save, baby. Bring on 2007!


Parallels Desktop adds Boot Camp, native window support

Build 3036 of Parallels Desktop has been announced for all you Linux-on-Mac and Windows-on-Mac fans, and it comes with two very cool new features:

  • You can use your Windows XP Boot Camp partition directly in Parallels. No more disk-space-killing installs of Windows XP as a Parallels disk image alongside Boot Camp! This will save me a good 8GB or so of disk space, which is badly needed on a laptop. A side-effect of this is that it should speed up Parallels’s I/O performance, since it now uses a raw block device for its virtual disk access rather than simply using a large file on a partition.
  • Coherency: Shows Windows applications as if they were Mac ones. I’m guessing that Parallels can overtake Windows’s window manager and somehow displays the window as a native Aqua one. There are some pretty cool screenshots of this feature around.

There’s a ton of other cool new features as well. Delicious!