Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More gloom...

Today follows the recent miserable trend with a problem being reported in something I wrote a couple of years ago, so once more I'm dragged off what I'm supposed to be working on and have to screw about setting up a different project, because my old tools don't run well under Vista (thanks Bill) I have to port various old sources into my new development tools, which means I have to update the new assembler to add support for a long-forgotten pseudo-op I added to work around an Atmel fiasco where a batch of their damned AVR processors failed to read constants from memory reliably when operated at anything more than room-temperature, then I had to chase a problem uncovered while I was adding that, then having sorted out the original problem I had to update the product website, add a new version of the product to various configuration tools and programmers...

It was well after 8pm before I left work and all of the day spent dealing with some problem I didn't even know existed yesterday.

And tomorrow, guess what - I've got to stop everything and start working on a different design which also needs to be done right now.

You can probably tell from the shitty writing style that I'm so tired I can't really think straight. Not having fun here...

Monday, September 28, 2009


I use this (slightly modified) Roger Dean wallpaper as a desktop background, well, a reduced brightness version of it at any rate. Yesterday James, my five year old son wandered in and noticed it...

"Dad! Can we go there when I grow up? I want to go there!"

"Sorry, James, it's just a picture. Someone drew it."

His face feel. "Awww" he said and started sniffling. It was as if I'd cancelled christmas... There's something heart-breaking about the disappointments suffered by children.

Later it struck me that (barring disasters) there's a good chance he will get to go there, or at least to places every bit as imaginary, through virtual reality.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Gah, he's driving like a pillock so I have acted to ensure Button wins this year drivers championship.

How? I hear you ask. Well, 'twas easy - I placed a bet on Barichello to win it... At the moment one of the web betting sites have a promotional deal where your first bet is essentially free, and the odds against him were something like 6 to 1, so taking a free punt on him seemed like a good deal to me. I'd like Button to win but if Barichello beats him I win £130 or so, which would go some way to moderating my indifference - disappointment, I meant.

Now, I just need someone to nobble Red Bull...

Friday, September 25, 2009


Scribblenauts is a game for the Nintendo DS and it's the first game in a long time that has impressed me. If you've got an NDS I strongly suggest you download the rom, play it and then buy the bloody thing, as I will be doing - they deserve it. It's superb.

What? Describe it? Well, basically it's a platform style game where you have to solve problems but the amazing feature is that you can write the name of just about any object you can think of into the game and have it appear.

The guys at work failed to fox it, they suggested "table" and it understands tables. They suggest "brick" and it understands bricks. I tried "osmium" expecting nothing, but it understands osmium. It knows it's dense. "Elephant" doesn't phase it, nor does "Bazooka"...

I was showing it to Sarah, on a level where there is a tree that needs to be cut down. "What would you suggest?" I asked her. "Axe" was the obvious response, so I write "axe" and one appears. I give it to the waiting lumberjack and lo, the tree was cut down. No great surprises there I hear you think.

"Suggest some other objects" I say - "Sunglasses" she replies. The game duly produced sunglasses, which the player's character then wears

"Go on, think of something awkward" I suggest. There is a pause.

"Ball gown" says Sarah. Ha! She's got it - it can't possibly... But it does. I write ball gown, and a ball gown appears. We give it to the lumberjack, who is definately not impressed and who then grumps mightily... clearly not a fan of Monty Python.

I then play about a bit. I write "atom bomb" and blow the entire level up. I write "time machine" and (glurk!) one appears and whisks me off into the past, where there are dinosaurs.

Ha! I think, and write "meteor"... One duly appears, and wipes out the dinosaurs...

At this point Psi phones and I wax lyrical at him. "Think of something!"

"Kumquat!" He says. Guess what? It knows about kumquats.

Later on I found there's a level where you have to shift a cow out of the road without harming it. I'd already found that "UFO" is recognised and gives you a flying saucer you can fly about in, so naturally... yes... you can hover over the cow and have the flying saucer pull it up. I like the way their minds work...

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I've been finding it harder and harder to motivate myself of late and the reason, well, one reason anyway, is that I'm working on an upgrade to someone else's design and the original is such complete and utter garbage that every time I have to refer to it I want to throw the whole project in the bin and walk away.

It has a large software component - far larger than it needs to be - which appears to have been written by a beginner as their first ever software project. Unfortunately he wasn't a beginner and it wasn't his first project. Be that as it may, this piece of crap is, without doubt, the worst piece of programming I've seen in over thirty years. It is shockingly poor, a combination of just about every bad practice known to programming merged together in an orgy of sustained idiocy. None of it, and I mean none of it, shows any sign of competence whatsoever... Programmers will get an idea of what I mean when I say that the C source, all in one file, is about seven and a half thousand lines long, and that six and a half thousand lines of it is all in the main() routine. It's not that it needs to be, it's just that the author doesn't appear to grasp the idea of abstracting out common code into subroutines (whatever they're called these days)... Oh, he does know about them - he even has a couple. I'd tell you what they do, but then you'd have to kill yourselves in despair...

Oh, to hell with it. I'm depressed :(

Later: And as much as I hate it, I'm sure the bastard thing hates me even more. Wasted a lot of hours tonight trying (and failing) to figure out why I couldn't readback some ADC values, which it now appears is some sort of obscure board fault and not a problem in my FPGA design... That's the story of this project, I take one step forward and then several steps backwards with every session. Not one single fucking part of it has worked without a struggle. Every deadline has come and gone while I struggle with some obscure piece of stupidity and I'm heartily sick of it now.


Monday, September 21, 2009


I must put on record that I was being unfair to Herve today.

I accused him of being the flying dutchman of the laptop world, forever doomed to spend his time running Windows 95 - but he quickly corrected me - he actually runs Windows 98 SE and is proud of it...

You know, I'm not entirely sure that using Windows 98, even the second editon, accurately portrays the dynamic, thrusting and forward-thinking aspects of Design Design as a high-technology design company. Bet he still uses lead in his solder...

[Furtively crem returns to the assembler source for an FPGA processor he's tweaking. It is clearly a variation on a Z80...]


I've been watching the original Swedish "Wallander" TV series recently, having been a fan of the books for a while, and I was depressed to find out that the actress who played Linda Wallander (and played her well) killed herself a couple of years ago. Strange that I felt so bereft at the loss of someone I'd never have met or had any contact with whatsoever...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Halls of the Things in HD

There are some talented people in the world, and some of them are mad. One such is a guy called Andy Stewart who (completely of his own volition) has written a version of Halls of the Things in C# and released it on an unsuspecting world... It's so faithful to the orignal that I took it upon myself to appoint him the fourth evil lord in honour of this evil deed; I'm sure Neil and Martin would approve.

He has created a web-page for this allowing it to be downloaded :

A thing of beauty is a joy forever; but those bastards are dynamite...

[For some bizarre reason the comment option doesn't always appear on this posting. If you want to comment, click on the title and then it does. Weird...]