Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

h1

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

December 24, 2009

I wish all readers a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

With my wife in hospital, this will be for us the worst Xmas ever. We’ll be praying for better days.

h1

The Adventures of a Notes Developer In The World Of ColdFusion II – Configuration

February 6, 2009

Last week I started this small saga and after a busy week with little chance to blog, it’s time to proceed onwards.

Despite the poor IDE (more on that later) Notes Developers have it easy when they start: A Notes client installation includes the Designer client as they’re linked together. After doing any development, we can simply preview it on the client or even on a web browser, which all OSs include. This doesn’t seem to be as simple on the ColdFusion world: to develop, you need a client and a server, and get them to work together.

Now, I’m not certain if Adobe’s Dreamweaver makes this easier, as our company doesn’t use it (and it’s a bit pricey for me to have it at home), but the solution we’re currently using needs appropriate placing of a few puzzle pieces together.

One of the ways of developing in ColdFusion is by using Eclipse. Notes Developers who are already deep in the ND8 world are surely more familiar with it than I am and, if still living in the world of ND7 or ND6 (or God forbid R5), gives the chance of trying this pretty and highly flexible IDE.

Eclipse works with several programming languages with the usage of plugins. Yes, there is one for Lotusscript too, but that’s a bit beyond the point of this blog post. There is indeed one for ColdFusion (http://www.cfeclipse.org/) so after having this one added to Eclipse, you should be ready to go on the IDE side.

Now, when you finish your development, you’ll need a server to test your changes against. I was recommended ColdFusion Developer Edition which can be downloaded from Adobe and is free as long as, if I’m not mistaken, configured for single server only – asks you for a serial otherwise.

After properly configured (and I’m afraid I can only be of minimal help here as I was much handheld through this part of the process), you should be ready to go! Biggest point to note is that your ColdFusion local server should be running on port 8500 so make sure when testing via your browser or browser view within Eclipse, that you point to said port. Example: http://localhost:8500/index.cfm . Also note that your cfm files should be on the wwwroot folder of your ColdFusion installation, normally something like D:/ColdFusion/wwwroot/index.cfm

As a side note, we use Subversion as source control and it seems to integrate wonderfully with Eclipse – but I won’t go through it here, at least not yet.

So we have everything ready to start, but what about the ColdFusion code itself? That will be the topic of the next blog post in this series.

h1

Give Paul Mooney a birthday present!

September 1, 2008

Paul Mooney, one the the great guys behind ILUG, had the brilliant idea to ask for a birthday present in the form, shape and color of a charity donation.

Whether you, just like me, owe Paul a lot for his efforts and dedication through the years or even if you don’t know him at all… please consider visiting his blog and donating money on his name.

h1

Book review – “Noonshade” by James Barclay (The Chronicles of the Raven vol. 2)

July 12, 2008

Noonshade is the second book on The Chronicles of the Raven trilogy. It continues the adventures of The Raven, a band of mercenaries pulled to a higher role in saving the land of Balaia.

This book continues exactly where Dawnthief left off: after defeating the evil from the first book, the heroes inadvertently open a dimension rip between their dimension and one occupied by dragons. Our heroes find themselves needing to close said rip while still having to worry about the remaining armies of Wesmen, who lost their power but are not fully defeated.

The adventures this time still occur mostly in Balaia but there’s a significant part of it regarding different dimensions. One is inhabited by Dragons, a place that our heroes visit, and another by Demons, who strike a deal with one of the magic colleges in exchange for protection. This gives a new… well… dimension to the story.

As with the first book, important characters will unexpectedly find their deaths in this book. Not knowing what will happen to the main characters is something I personally like in fantasy books – it’s a shame James Barclay dropped this theme in the 3rd book of the series.

The interpersonal interaction in this book is richer than in book one, even though it sometimes turns into “bickering” between a few of the Raven members – although nothing compared to a few dialogues in the Wheel of Time books. It’s nevertheless nice to see the conflicting personalities of the mercenaries.

As a conclusion, I recommend this book as well and I think it’s the best of the trilogy, but I will eventually review the third and last book as well.

h1

Book review – “The Blade Itself” by Joe Abercrombie

June 11, 2008

I’ve finished this one some time ago and even started a review before that got lost, so I’m coming back to it.

The Blade Itself is the first book on The First Law trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie. I have read the entire trilogy already and so it might make it hard to review this book independently, but I’ll give it my best shot.

This series has a fairly basic fantasy setting: there are no orcs or elves or similar, and even magic is scarcely used. There is the mention of demons and a fighting race called Shanka, but both barely show up in this book.

Unlike most fantasy books, there isn’t off the start a clear definition of the threat presented by the “bad guys”. The book begins by following the paths of a few of the main characters, who are eventually brought together by Wizard to go on a conquest to, according to him, save The Union, which is the kingdom where most of the action of this book occurs.

The book itself doesn’t include any map of the main land or kingdom, so some times it’s hard to understand what is going on from a geographic point of view. There is a central main kingdom (The Union), on the north we have a cold and icy land called Northlands, and in the south an old Empire, defeated by The Union in previous wars, called Gurkhul.

The Union is, as the name somehow implies, an association of smaller kingdoms brought together by a ruler from the past. The present ruler is a weaker and older man and so throughout the book we witness the different games of power manipulation, helped and endorsed by institutions like The Inquisition or Trading Guilds. This brings an interesting dimension of intrigue throughout the story, not to mention it is often not clear who is actually “pulling the strings” in quite a few situations.

From a magic point of view, the book mentions only the main Wizard of the story, Bayaz The Great. Throughout the books Bayaz will talk about his other fellow wizards (some of which will actually appear in the 2nd and 3rd books) and about the Master Maker, a character Bayaz defeated who is opposed to magic but created wondrous mechanical inventions – including the Shanka race. This gives the books a very (extremely) slightly touch of a steampunk setting.

Bayaz, an apparently peace-appeasing wizard, is but one of the main characters but not the main one. We have Logen “Ninefingers”, a barbarian dangerous to enemies and friends; Jezal Dan Luthar, a soldier whose main concerns in life are drinking and finding pretty women; Ferro Malijin, a vengeful fighter from the south with an unhealthy keenness for killing Gurkish, and last but not least, Sand Dan Glokta, formerly hero of war, captured and tortured and crippled by the Gurkish, returned to his homeland to become a bitter Inquisitor.

As much as the story itself is very good, it’s on the unusual characters the book’s strengths really show: these “heroes” are very akin to the anti-heroes depicted on Stephen Donaldson’s books. The author himself studied psychology and it shows in particular on the reflections of life present and past done by Inquisitor Glokta.

Mind you, even though I am praising the excellently depicted characters, the story itself has enough twists and turns to keep fantasy fans happy. Maybe it’s not as evident in this first book, but it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems, in particular who is “good” and who is “evil”.

I therefore unconditionally recommend this book and this trilogy to any fantasy fan. 🙂 I sure hope the author continues creating such great quality books.

h1

Boardgame review – Return of the Heroes

May 9, 2008

First thing you notice when you open the Return of the Heroes box is the nice amount of good quality materials, almost worth in itself the 20 eur for the game. Colored cubes for skills, glass counters for life points, nicely drawn characters and map pieces… and a huge amount of chits. We’ll get to that later.

Return of the Heroes is famous for one thing – it has the most confusing rules ever written. Fortunately there’s an online condensed/improved version that should be downloaded and followed.

Setting up the game is possibly what I like the least in this game. Even though I have organized everything in ziplocks, it is still a chore to get everything up and running – and gets worse during the game. The board game can be set up from the start from a predefined order, randomly or during the gameplay also randomly, which is a nice feature.
So many components, so little time
I won’t go into much detail in the game mechanics, but basically the heroes have to gain experience by doing quests or killing monsters, until they’re powerful enough to face the Nameless One – bad guy of the game, whose identity can also, as a game option, be displayed in the end. These monsters and quests come from the small chits that are on the board since the beginning or added each turn. Now it starts getting confusing because some chits have to go in a bag, others are then mixed into that bag, and then some are removed from the game and others go back into the bag and… arghhhh. Let’s grab that ruleset again. And again. Oh we’re now playing it different from last time. *sigh*

Eventually the Nameless One chit also comes into play and players can assault his castle. Now, it seems to me, from our plays, that invariably the players try to improve their “best” skill, until they have it at maximum and then they try to have a go at the bad guy. There’s no real variation from this type of play. The game doesn’t include rules for treachery or for incentive for the players to diversify their character skillset.
Cleric\'s character sheet
One last thing I personally didn’t enjoy, was the fact that I was looking forward to something closer to HeroQuest, in which the heroes advance in skills/equipment and they get to keep it to the next, usually radically different, adventure. Maybe the disappointment of finding a much more linear and oversimplified game has some influence on my negative critique.
\
As a conclusion, the game itself is repetitive and confusing, although fun for a few go’s. Maybe I haven’t yet understood the rules correctly – but I don’t intend to go through them a 6th time. Perhaps someone could use the great material included and make a totally new set of rules?

Final score: 6/10

h1

Just for fun…

April 11, 2008

I just got reminded from Steve McDonagh‘s blog of this “Album Cover” game. The rules are simple:

1. Go to the Wikipedia random article page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random . The title of the article is your band name.

2. Go to the very last quote on random quotations www.quotationspage.com/random.php3 . The last four words of the last quote are your album title.

3. Go to Flickr’s “interesting photos from the last seven days” page www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/ . The third picture on the page is your album cover.

4. Add them together and you’re done. 🙂 Voila, here’s mine: