Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Advantage: command line

I had started on a lengthy post about work, workload, and how the GUI tool user was at a disadvantage vs. the CLI operator. This is the same post, but edited for brevity (if only because a stray key stroke closed the tab I was composing the original post in).

Word problem:
Using CVS, perform the following tasks: checkout the production release branch of the web module to a directory in your local workspace named PROD_REL. Checkout the trunk of the web module to a local directory named HEAD. Both checkouts should maintain the module's default layout.

At the command line, I had both tasks running as fast as the source code management server could dump the request on the office wires to my desktop, before the GUI user had one task completed...okay, this wasn't an empirical test with myself and another user, it was me documenting some of our work processes in our wiki: first at the command line, then taking screen shots of the process using TortoiseCVS.

Still, advantage: command line.

Answer, command line:
$ cvs co -N -d PROD_REL -rPROD_REL web
$ cvs co -N -d HEAD web

Answer, TortoiseCVS...
Right-click, CVS Checkout, dialog, pick options, tab, dialog, pick options, tab, dialog, pick options, OK. Repeat.

At the command line, my fingers never left the keys. And with some fancy job control, I could have two processes working for me. The GUI just didn't provide me the control of the command line, and in fact, just masks the command line itself. Additionally, my hands went to the mouse for several options that were never necessary on the command line with the right switches.

All said, I think that knowing the command line for tools like CVS makes a better pragmatic developer when put in a GUI-only environment. This is why I have our new hire reading Pragmatic Version Control with CVS by Hunt and Thomas. Then given the GUI tools, he will instinctively understand what needs to be selected in the dialogs, because he will understand what is expected on the command line.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:22 PM in nerdery

Saturday, 24 March 2007

TMNT Movie Review

Somewhere out on the internet, folks are dissing the new TMNT movie with 2½ stars. I’m going to buck the trend and give it 3 solid stars.

It’s no secret in this house that I love the TMNT. Not the Saturday morning “cowabunga” TMNT of the 80s, but the mutant ninja turtles of the Eastman and Laird comic: a darker and violent TMNT.

The Saturday morning TMNT was nothing more than TMNT-in-name-only; albeit The Cartoon Network shows a TMNT that is closer to the story of the comic so gets a pass from this reviewer.

The new CG TMNT movie in theaters now is something of a hybrid: extremely light on the Saturday morning TMNT (“Cowabunga” is on their beatup VW van, I think) and heavy on a post-Shredder story line. Generally, the story is well done, provides a backdrop for inner TMNT tensions, and a foundation for sequels.

Visually, the movie is stunning. The humans have a refined look that borrows heavily from The Incredibles (and the girls, as I told my wife, might be a bit too sexy for a children’s movie; April O’Neil is hot...yeah I said it, a cartoon chick is hot). The turtles look much like the live action movie turtles, but better. Yet clearly a star of the film that will get no discussion anywhere other than here is “the city.” The city is fantastically animated and it feels like the early Eastman and Laird TMNT comics. The rooftops are wonderfully detailed in the way that E&L were so good at doing on the pages of the comic.

I went with my 4 y.o. daughter that has been talking about “Daddy’s movie” for weeks. She was glued to the story. While some 4 y.o. children might find the imagery scary (the monsters are not short on fangs, claws, fur, and roars), my daughter has been raised on a rich diet of movies crossing many genres. She enjoyed it very much, sitting still for longer than she has in other films we have taken her to. I can say that if you have a son or daughter that can separate fantasy and reality pretty well, this is not too bad. For comparison: Monster House is far heavier on the scary imagery than this TMNT film.

Go see this movie if you are a TMNT fan. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:53 PM in 0xDECAF

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


I was catching up on my reading over at I Waste The Budda With My Crossbow and his recent posts about game cities dusted of some memories about some of my favorite game cities:

Yeah, the Dr. don’t like Shadowrun, or at least as cyberpunk goes. Yet I always enjoyed the rich climes offered by Fasa back in the day. I especially enjoyed the Jeff Laubenstein artwork.

What a great setting: post-thermonuclear war Poland. The game: Twilight 2000. What a great game to play too. My first character generator in BASIC on a Trash-80.

In some ways the The defining 1st edition source book for me and my love for all things Warhammer FRP. Great map! Guilds, taverns, cults, intrigue, oh, and an underground city of sentient rats.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:49 PM in d10

Friday, 16 March 2007

Barbie dolls

I have a daughter in love with Barbies.

Barbie movies in particular, of which my wife and I have seen multiple times (of course). As an aside to this post is that in watching these movies, I have seen the evolution of the CGI: from basement-render-farm to near-Hollywood quality in the most recent, Magic of the Rainbow.

But I wanted to say, I took notice of some peculiar and mature features of the doll characters vs. movie characters of Fairytopia. In the movies, the slender, busty fairies wear one-piece tops, no exposed navel, longer skirts and modest makeup. Yet, the doll versions of said characters lack this modesty…exposed navel, very low mini-mini skirts, heavy makeup, and no, that’s right, no molded underwear.

Now, you're asking “Are you looking up the skirts of Barbie dolls you perv?” As any father of a Barbie-loving daughter will tell you, Barbie dolls are more often naked than clothed. It doesn’t take long before you begin to take note that most Barbie’s have molded underwear. And a departure from this is not a studied observation, just an observation.

So what is the mixed messaging here? Or is it just that movies still have folks reviewing content for age appropriateness more closely (even content that doesn’t go through the rating system) than the production and design of the action figures? Or, even still, is my idea of age appropriateness “old fashion,” and the hooker-esque look of dolls today are the new modesty? I hope not.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:21 PM in Bohemian Breakfast

Monday, 12 March 2007

YUI madness

I love the YUI libraries.

My coworker and I have been introducing it at work for one thing and another. And I have been using it on projects in the moonlight, as they might say.

So when I stumbled on a bug in the new DataTable component (in beta), I was glad to submit a defect report and patch. The problem:

The YAHOO.widget.Column.formatDate function used date.getMonth() unmodified. Meaning that passed a date formatted string, i.e., "March 11, 2007", date.getMonth() returns "2" for "March". The API documentation for ECMAScript, or JavaScript, states that getMonth will return a number between 0 (January) and 11 (December).

Date strings passed to the DataTable Column would result in formatted dates that were nonsensical ("00/01/2000") or a month off.

The bug, and patch files, are available at the YUI SourceForge site.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:49 PM in experimental madness

Saturday, 10 March 2007

It is a game

The Evil DM has a bit of a politically correct rant about a game supplement for Spirit of the Century (SotC). I don’t know anything about SotC, so I’m going to leave any research as an exercise for the reader, but I gather it is a game in the vain of 1930s pulp fiction, a la The Rocketeer. About the supplement for SotC, the Evil DM says:

By creating a supplement of this nature, it seems that the publishers are saying:
Attention ladies and people of color. you now have your own supplement. so if your character is a Wong or a Gomez please convert your PC to comply with this new “special” supplement we have made for all of you.

I can’t believe that the Evil DM is buying what he’s selling. The Evil DM would have me almost consider that somehow the publishers of SotC seek to market this supplement only to minorities that have been historically segregated; the caucasian player need not bother reading the supplement, because, well, he/she wouldn’t get it. Where’s my game show buzzer? I think the Evil DM got this all wrong.

Instead, I argue that roleplaying is one of the finest forms of imaginative play for the young or young at heart. Many life lessons can be played out in sessions. If a GM of SotC were to offer this supplement to PCs as a way to round out a game world, or provide historical backstory, I say: Kudos! The game that this GM is running is going to be much more fun, and I might learn something about what it is to be segregated at the same time.

Evil Hat Production’s Rob Donoghue get’s it, responding to the Evil DM:

I'm just going to state that this is going to be a game supplement, not a screed or tract or big-s-Statement. We’re not in this to enlighten anyone, we’re in it because we think there’s some good play to be had in it. (emphasis mine)

And are we to pretend that racism never existed in the forms that the SotC supplement possibly offers? Are we expected to deny that the very games we play now do not provide story elements for racism? To do so, is to delude oneself. Maybe it’s not called racism, but we’re all adults, or mature teens at least, how hard is it to figure out?

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay provides racist elements for the Empire, I cite the Ear Tax for example. As a GM I will play racist elements with no compunction. In my last session of WFRP, I played a NPC with an outright distaste for elves, turning his nose at the offer of assistance from the elven PC. And again, a second time in the same session with a handout that stated in fine print: Elves and Halflings need not apply.

Is this the same kind of racism that the SotC supplement offers? Probably. Or is the Evil DM bothered because it is “too real”? Please! spare me. While the Evil DM would have me believe that his players are enlightened, “...well aware of [racism’s] existance [sic]” in pulp fiction, and by deciding to “have fun” minus offensive, or politically incorrect game elements, the real world becomes, in some small way, a better place. Believe me, it doesn’t.

I frankly would laugh outright at a player, or GM, that called me racist for in-game play. My players, and GMs, are expected to make a distinction between in-game play and reality, otherwise they, or I, don’t return. Hell, if everything I did as a PC in a game world had any bearing on reality I wouldn’t be the person I am today; especially having taken “the pledge” in Greg Costikyan’s Price of Freedom RPG.

I’ll let the reader figure that out. Think of it is a riddle.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:29 PM in d10

GM Jargon

I'm hoping Martin over at Treasure Tables takes his glossary of GM Terms, 2.0, and codifies it somehow…with a wiki, or other user-editable format.

Some of the terms missed in the comments, though possibly on some other format, or maybe a bit dating (of me, if noone else):

Monty Hall (DM||Campaign)
A campaign- or DM-style of play where treasures exceeds action or XP advances characters too quickly. From the gameshow Let’s Make A Deal and its host, Monty Hall.

Rules Lawyer
A GM or player well versed in every rule, be they from core and/or supplement rulebooks, that [the rules] are always “on the table” in adjudicating game play. May result in an Emergency Break [sic]

Posted by caffeinated at 9:14 AM in d10

Thursday, 8 March 2007

A non-gaming entry! Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik on Instapudit.com

Almost a month old, but I just got my new iPod (after dropping my other one in the sink).

Catching up on my Glenn and Helen Show, I just listened to their interview with John Ondrasik. Ondrasik clearly is well informed and no dummy. He understands that debate today is too black-and-white, with no discussion.

Ondrasik’s work at What Kind of World Do You Want? is a great idea for the budding, outspoken, and creative soul, left, right, or middle. A YouTube-esque site with purpose.

If you haven’t listened to it, take some time out of your day and listen. Really excellent work.

I also downloaded a backlog of Ask A Ninja! and Onion Radio News.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:43 PM in kaffehaus

Sunday, 4 March 2007


It seems that this originally mixed topic blog has become all gaming of late. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but I really do have many more interests than just gaming.

But today is GM Day, “March Fo(u)rth,” and all that jazz. And I’m GM’ing today; it’s all apropos I guess.

But I coined a term over at Treasure Tables and wanted it recorded for posterity...in case I need to demand royalties for its use. If O’Reilly can trademark $web2$, then damnit, I want M*A*G*E, or Mobile Auxiliary Game Equipment. That’s right, if you need a way, other than having a backpack, some paper, dice, and pencils, to take your game on the road, be it to another player’s house or a LGS, then you may have a need for a MAGE box/bin/roller/van/truck.

Before anyone starts re-purposing office rollers, suitcases, rubber bins, trunks, truck bed caps, vans, or cargo containers as “MAGE-ready”, or as a “MAGE”, I want the world to know that was my idea. ;)

Posted by caffeinated at 1:14 PM in kaffehaus