Sunday, October 19, 2008

The portable game framework

Ever since I had seen GCompris, a children activity application, I always wanted to add modules that caters to the need of getting my son to learn while he plays games. GCompris supports a python interface for rapid board development. But one quip that I had was, GCompris is a Linux only application (though they have a commercial win32 port). Now, if I can find a framework that works both on the Linux as well as the windows platform, it would make great sense. Gcompris as of now only will restrict schools to the Linux OS (which is good, but most schools would probably be using Windows and getting them to change would prove difficult) would be good.

An alternative framework would be Java with it's great 2D API (no fancy 3D here to confuse the kids). Others would by SDL with C/C++ or pygame (which I read has performance issues on the windows front. Read childsplay). A new contender that I noticed was the Mono framework which sports a 2D API identical to the DotNet framework.

My immediate course of action would be to write a few python modules based on GCompris and see if I would be migrate it to another framewor later as GCompris currently has the framework where as mine is still vapoware. Plus, it also has good i18n capabilities with a library of digitized voice samples where a build-from-scratch approach would require a lot of work.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

WiFi atlast

After numerous hours of tweaking, I resolved the problem with my WG311v3 NetGear PCI card. The problem? The router was too far away!

Now that I am online using my Linux box, here are a few screen-shots of my desktop!

The next time your supported WiFi card acts up, you know what to do...

For those inquisitive lot, I am currently using the XP drivers with ndiswrapper.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Look around you...

Most people think that they need to be at the right place and at the right time to get a great picture. I say, all it takes is patience and the ability to see differently. While exploring the place nearby, here is what I managed to click, all within a radius of 10 meters from the front door...

For more, visit my picasa page.

Friday, October 03, 2008


One of my favorite ploy to those who newly joined my previous company was to give them a command line application and ask them to find out how it worked. This magic command line tool happens to guess your gender if you give your name.

char lastc = argv[1][strlen(argv[1])-1];

printf("%s is a %s\n", argv[1], (lastc == 'a' || lastc == 'i') ? "She" : "He");

Basically, it checks to see if your name ends with an 'a' or an 'i' and if it does, assumes that the person is a lady. Chances are, 95% of most Indian names fall into this category and this simple app seems to do magic.

Most were able to (after a few tries) guess the grand algorithm, but a few poor souls could not, which eventually leads to step number 2.

Step #2 is, as they were unable to decipher the algorithm, I said that I will provide with two separate command line apps called whoisshe and whoishe. I also mentioned that as I had not done the validation part properly, to please provide only men's name to whoishe and a ladies name to whoisshe. If they provide the wrong name, the results could be wrong as well. The code for whoisshe is as follows:

printf("%s is a she\n", argv[1]);

And appropriately modified for whoishe.

The aim is to see how long our new joinee continues to test these tools... Wicked!

Hardy Heron - Linux getting better!

A few months back, I had requested Canonical to dispatch me (they still do it for free!) a CD of Ubuntu Linux 8.04 LTS (hardy heron). I was still running an older version of the same distro for quite some time and this was an opportunity to change. I had installed the newer OS and these are a few observations:
  • Display is much better, with my ancient VIA chip-set getting recognized with 3D acceleration too. Now, I can play most of the 3D games (tuxkart, supertux, billards GL) and a few non 3D games (chromium) in full glory.
  • Wireless is still a problem. My netgear wireless adapter was able to recognize my ADSL router among the other routers in range in my neighborhood, but fails to connect frequently. But once connected, they blaze through at 200kbps. I have not been able to see this kind of speed on a windows machine though...
  • Audio CDs are mounted properly. This happened to be a problem with 7.04 when only data CDs were recognized.
  • Video / audio codecs are easier to download from the main application installer.
I happened to find more applications available on the Linux platform, especially for kids compared to windows. TuxPaint, TuxMath, celestica, GCompris are some must haves. And my son's current favorite is Pingus (a lemmings clone where you deal with penguins instead).

Of couse, you have the standard suite of tools for regular work (open office), CD burning, browsing (FireFox), e-mail (Evolution) and all this happened to work well on my 4 year old Athlon with 384 megs of RAM!

Keep watching... I'll post in a few screen-shots.