"Like every writer, he measured the virtues of other writers by their performance, and asked that they measure him by what he conjectured or planned."

-- From "The Secret Miracle", J. L. Borges

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Favourite Things

Downshifting V8s and opposite locking.
Gun oil and tyre smoke, Grindhouse flick shocking.
Femme fatales,
Bullet time,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Monday, 11 May 2009


"Barrichello may quit over Button", says the headline.

When did Formula One drivers morph from swash-buckling playboys into sulky school boys?  Man-up, for fuck's sake.  You should be snorting coke off a stripper's back in Monte Carlo not whingeing to a reporter.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

First Flight

I've been experimenting with Microsoft's game programming framework, XNA. It didn't really kick off until I found the free physics library, JigLibX.

JigLibX is brilliant and makes a lot of very difficult things very easy.  I still need to get my head around 3D matrices, though, before some things will make any sense.

Here is where I am so far, though.  The first seven seconds are pre-flight checks, BTW.

It's like Orville Wright and Igor Sikorsky were right here in the room, isn't it?

Next steps:-
  1. Implement a chase view so it's easier to control.  Control inputs are a bit ham-fisted at the moment and the current IdiotWithAHandyCam viewpoint makes it tricky to tweak.
  2. Animate the rotor.
  3. Write the rest of the game.  (It will be like Defender, but in 3D, with flocking, stampeding critters and mutants for Jonny.)
  4. Bung it on XBox Live.
  5. Wait for the cheques from Microsoft to give the postman a hernia.
I knocked the chopper model up in Wings3D.  If you're interested, here's a shot of it in Wing3D with its wires on:-

If you're not interested, here's two more:-

Saturday, 13 September 2008

PovRay Organic Structures

I had the idea a while ago to use the Conway's Life algorithm as a cheap way of generating some interesting looking 3D structures.

Conway's Game of Life is usually played out on a two dimensional grid upon which gliders, puffers and all manner of weird and wonderful "organisms" burst spotaneously into life and wriggle in strange attractive ways.

If you draw each successive generation at increasing altitudes, though, effectively mapping time to the third dimension, some interesting structures result.

By using some of Povray's party tricks, like blobs and layered textures, I can generate all kinds of weird and wonderful structures from alien landscapes to fields of cacti.

The blobs hide a lot of what is going on there and, looking at that image, it is impossible to see the link with Conway's Life at all, so here is exactly the same structure with more traditional boxes and much simpler texturing.  The lighting sucks.  Sorry.

With more appropriate textures, there are some cool sci-fi cityscapes to be found.

Early days, but encouraging stuff.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Of Feeds, Mashups and Podcasts

After publishing the unofficial Lazlow News RSS feed, I've added a couple more feeds in a similar vein. Here is the complete list:-

Chicken Grease

My favourite writer-on-the-web, StavrosTheWonderChicken, is back on the blog after a hiatus of something like way-too-long.

"I have operated on a few simple principles for more than two decades now, with good success.

First, do no harm. Or as little as possible.
Second, do not suffer fools or Bad People. They will rob you of your life.
Third, make choices with an eye to minimize future regret. In other words, imagine you were on your deathbed looking back - live your life to make that old bastard as peaceful as possible about dying.
Fourth, learn and wander. We may or may not be hairless monkeys, but there is wisdom out there. It may be an evil world, but there is beauty. Find it.

There is no meaning -- in anything -- but what our minds create. To search for meaning is to make the same mistake as those who search for happiness : both meaning and happiness are mental constructs superimposed by your mind on top of the actual conditions of your life. Seeking them in externals will drive you mad if you're smart, or guarantee you failure if you're persistent."
If that isn't a manifesto for every pre-mid-life-crisis-philosophical-assassin-poet out there then, gods damn it, I don't know what is.

Peace, love and chicken grease

Monday, 23 June 2008

Double-click definitions

A colleague recently pointed me to a neat little feature of the New York Times website. When reading an NYT article online, double click on any word in the body text and the site will pop up a window showing the glossary entry/definition for that word.

When you look to see how this is achieved, it's actually blindingly simple and, with a little monkey grease and Google's define: operator, possible to get it working on pretty much any other website.

If you want to have a go (and you have Greasemonkey installed) you can find the script here.

It's a bit quick-and-dirty, and might not play nice with your popup blocker but have a dabble and let me know what you think.

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