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Philip Kendall
21 January 2010 @ 11:04 am
Donating in aid of Haiti just because you're going to get free stuff is the wrong reason for donating. But... if you were going to donate something anyway, and you're an RPG fan, you could do lots worse than DriveThruRPG's offer.

About the only thing to note is that DriveThruRPG are requesting you don't actually download everything now as otherwise their servers fall over. Also note there's no time limit on the downloads.
 
 
Philip Kendall
25 November 2009 @ 02:17 pm
One thing which is obvious to anyone that works in the tech industry (and probably most people that don't as well) is that it's not well populated with women. However, anyone taking a casual look at the team photo (three-quarters of the way down the page) for Assassin's Creed II will notice the large proportion of women there. On the other hand, anyone taking a closer look will note that the entirety of the crowd beyond about 4 rows back is exclusively male...
 
 
Philip Kendall
17 November 2009 @ 02:27 pm
Despite its appearance, this post isn't really about American football.

On Sunday night, the Indianapolis Colts played the New England Patriots in the NFL. It was a close game, and the result was apparently significantly influenced by one decision from Bill Belichick, the Patriots head coach. Towards the end of the game, he had one of two choices: a low risk tactic or a high risk one (I suspect people either know what those choices were or don't care, so I won't go into them here). One thing the statistical community built up around American football have been saying for the past few years now is that teams are too risk averse: ie they would do better if they used higher risk tactics more than they currently do.

What happened in this case was that Belichick went for the high risk tactic, and it failed: the Colts went on to win the game. This decision has been pretty much universally panned by the media, despite the fact that the stats community are saying the decision didn't actually make that much difference. Of course, the media (and fan) reaction goes a long way to explaining why NFL coaches are more risk-averse than they "should" be, but I still find in surprising that there's such hostility to a decision which by the best objective measures we have wasn't obviously wrong, especially after Moneyball. But that may be because I'm a stathead.
 
 
Philip Kendall
17 November 2009 @ 11:14 am
My work is disposing of:
  • 2 Sun Ultra 5s
  • 3 Sun Netra T1s
  • 1 Sun Netra X1
The Ultra 5s and the T1s are believed to work last time we turned them on (3 years ago), but the X1 didn't. Collect from Toft during office hours.


 
 
Philip Kendall
23 October 2009 @ 01:31 pm
If you haven't heard that that Nick Griffin was on Question Time last night, you're either living under a rock or aren't in the UK (if so, Google will give you some sort of clue what happened). What happened was pretty predictable: it turned into a "bash Nick Griffin" session. This isn't a bad thing in any way, and as is fairly normal for him, Mr Griffin was largely ineffective in dealing with it, and apparently surprised by it. I don't know if this is because he's actually so stupid as to not expect it, or if he's just trying to get as much publicity out of this as he can. To me, it just makes him look like a whinger, but I'm not his target audience.

Thus a question... it was fairly safe for the mainstream parties to appear with Mr Griffin as he almost certainly wasn't going to put on a decent show. Would they have done something different if Mr Griffin were actually a top class debater?
 
 
 
Philip Kendall
11 October 2009 @ 03:35 pm
  • Karen went on a hen weekend at the start of May.
  • Karen and I went to the Algarve at the end of May.
 
 
Philip Kendall
04 October 2009 @ 03:16 pm
 Karen and I went to Munich in January.
Tags: ,
 
 
 
Philip Kendall
29 September 2009 @ 08:16 am
A quick update on the JSSpeccyZX Gamer front:
  • Mr Boesch has "decided" to remove ZX Gamer from the App Store "to avoid more malicious incriminations and senseless discussions", saying "Apple itself has nothing to do with this decision". While that may be strictly true, it's a case of jumping before it was pushed, as there was already a complaint from me working its way through Apple and I know at least one of the copyright holders of the games Mr Boesch was including in the package had contacted him as well. He's still trying to deny it's a rip-off though.
  • Mr Boesch is preparing to release "version 1.2" of his app, which he has claimed is "completely rewritten". Needless to say, I'll be keeping more than a close eye on this when/if it does appear.
  • Matt Westcott has updated JSSpeccy to give it a nice iPhone/iPod Touch interface and speed boost. No-one sane is going to claim it's really any good, but it's a) better than ZX Gamer, b) legal and c) free.
  • I'm still working on asserting my GPL rights with regards to ZX Gamer. Not too hopeful of anything happening, but you never know.
 
 
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed
 
 
Philip Kendall
27 September 2009 @ 11:26 pm
The Spectrum fans amongst you may be aware that there is now a Spectrum emulator, called ZX Gamer by Roger Boesch, available for the iPhone. There's one important thing about this emulator, and that is that it sucks. It doesn't just suck a little bit. In fact, it manages to suck so much that it actually runs slower than a real Spectrum (3.5 MHz) on my 3GS (600 MHz). Everyone else who's had the misfortune to download this app agrees, as it's currently got 13 ratings on the App Store, each of which gives it just one star.

Now, there's basically no way you can manage to write an emulator which runs that slowly, unless you write it in a completely inappropriate language. One completely inappropriate language to write a Spectrum emulator in would be JavaScript. However, Matt Westcott is a bit of a nutter (in an entirely good way) and in fact has done just that, calling it JSSpeccy.

Now this starts to get interesting... the three games distributed with ZX Gamer (Batty, Cyclone and Exolon) are three of the example games Matt put up for the JSSpeccy demo. Also, Mr Boesch contacted Matt to ask him some details about JSSpeccy's Z80 core implementation. What's now particularly interesting is that ZXGamer runs at exactly the same speed as JSSpeccy (which happily runs on the iPhone), taking just over 30 seconds to flip from the controls screen to the high score table on Batty. This could all be coincidence, and Mr Boesch has publicly stated that ZXGamer is not based on JSSpeccy. So that's alright then.

However, I'm well known to be a sucker for punishment, so I paid for and downloaded this sucky software, and after backing up my iPhone had a little snoop around the backup directory. I quickly found a couple of files...

$ cat 6573fa774785883cf41752388d5fa9d4b7d1a482.mdinfo
[ binary junk ]AppDomain-com.rogerboesch.zxgame[ more binary junk ]
 
For the uninitiated, that says that the file 6573... contains data relating to the application name "zxgame.rogerboesch.com". The .mdinfo file contains the metadata, while the actual file data is in...
 
$ head 6573fa774785883cf41752388d5fa9d4b7d1a482.mddata
function sign_extend(v) {
  return v < 128 ? v : v-256;
}
 
function z80_do_opcodes()
{
 
  while(tstates < event_next_event ) {
 
    var opcode;
 
Now, let's take a look at the JSSpeccy source....
 
function sign_extend(v) {
  return v < 128 ? v : v-256;
}
function z80_do_opcodes()
{
  while(tstates < event_next_event ) {
    var opcode;

Wow! Mr Boesch has managed to completely independently come up with his own Z80 core implementation which looks exactly like JSSpeccy's. What are the chances of that happening?

Disclaimer: JSSpeccy is basically a translation of Fuse's Z80 core (which was written by me) into JavaScript. What this does mean is the JSSpeccy is GPL code, and therefore so it would appear is ZXGamer. Where should we go from here?

 
 
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed