Pat's Log
Sun, 30 Oct 2005

Celestia + GTK + WindowsXP = Pure Crackery
20051030 To end the month with a bit of a bang, I set my project for today (well, yesterday, I guess) to port Celestia's GTK+ UI to native Windows. After all, both GAIM and The Gimp have done it, and I knew that GTK's OpenGL widget, gtkglext, has been ported, though I didn't know how well it worked.

After a half day of messing around with trying to make it work under MinGW32 (after a full day of getting all the GTK+ libraries to work correctly), I decided that the Unix Makefiles were just far too centered around X and Mesa to be useful for this test. Instead, I decided to give Microsoft Visual Studio .NET a try, with the GladeWin32 libraries and development headers. These were very easy to install. Compiling even vanilla Windows Celestia proved a little more tricky.

Changing the Makefiles to work with the GTK files was pretty much the other half of the day. The code itself only needed a one function change (that will work under Linux as well), one define (which will be fixed in the Makefile eventually), a couple of locales lines temporarily commented out, and a dummy WinMain() that just calls main(). I even left the Win32 resources compiling in, giving me the pretty icon built into the binary. The biggest addition looks like this:

int APIENTRY WinMain(HINSTANCE hInstance, HINSTANCE hPrevInstance, LPSTR lpCmdLine, int nCmdShow) { return main(__argc, __argv); }

Considering that there was some talk in the past of unifying some of Celestia's GUIs, GTK might be a viable option. By this time next year, this same trick should work on MacOS, which would cover all of the platforms. There is also no reason why this GTK Celestia can't reuse the existing Windows Registry functions for settings. I thought that there might be some limitations to the OpenGL capabilities, but all of my card's shaders are recognized and the rendering is surprisingly fast, with no apparent FPS penalty.

GTK+ has come a long way.

[] | posted @ 04:50 | link
Mon, 24 Oct 2005

The History of Star Trek Stages
20051023 After exactly six months of hard work, I am launching the site devoted to what is my largest non-academic research project ever. Having started on April 23rd, it is pure coincidence that the work is done today, exactly half of a year later.

The site is devoted to the history of the Paramount Studios stages as they concern Star Trek. The series of shows have occupied the soundstages on the Hollywood lot for many, many years. For the first time in many years, no stage of the lot is occupied by Trek. Still, there is a rich history behind so many of the stages. It's neat having the plans, seeing how shots are planned, sets reused, etc.

The site has been added to the Filmography section of my page. It looks like crap in IE, though try as I might, I couldn't fix it. IE is just too damned broken. Instead, when I detect IE used on the main page, I put up a big red DIV-box informing them their browser is broken and to get FireFox (it looks great in Opera and kHTML-browsers as well). But, unlike the numerous IE-only sites out there, I don't actually restrict any content based on their browser.

Working on this site has been a good experience. It makes me realize just how many books on the subject I own. Being able to write about them was surprisingly easy. I really enjoy set planning and design.

[] | posted @ 03:32 | link
Sun, 23 Oct 2005

20051022 After a few years of molding, damaging, casting, sanding, researching, and painting, I finally finished my communicator badge replica. This is the one they've been using on Star Trek since 1994 with the movie Generations. The project started as an exercise in resin casting skills, based on a commbadge toy I acquired years ago. This one is painted just like the ones on the show, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. Goes well with the phaser. I wrote a page about it in the Models section of my site. Maybe now I can get back to models in a scale other than 1-to-1?

Today was spent sleeping and working on the car. The driver-side constant velocity joint's rubber boot decided to disintigrate and I got a replacement part earlier this week. However, undoing rusty bolts in and around the wheel wells always takes time. In the end, I got everything out of the way and am stuck trying to get the end of the transaxle out of the transmission. A mechanic is coming by Monday morning and hopefully he can get it out, if I can't get it done myself tomorrow.

[] | posted @ 03:42 | link
Sat, 22 Oct 2005

A Whole Week
20051021 This week just flew right by. I spent some time considering why I take the time to attach a photo to most entries here. Is it for a lack of online album? To show off? Sometimes. In the end, I came to the conclusion that it's usually because it helps reflect on the subject of the photograph and write around it. Without the context of the photograph, entries would just probably be a plain summary of who-what-where-when-how. The image adds a theme. And so...

After a week of high wind and rain, yesterday was mild, had a remarkable sunset. It also happened to be my turn to take Luna out for a walk. We went to the pond, where there were literally a hundred geese off in the distance, going about their evening business. I like how the silhouette turned out, with light streaming through the fur. The fall colours have come and gone very quickly due to the wind and rain.

Also, last night I took on another project. It's a rather large PHP project. Seeing as I expect it will take about 100 hours, it's questionable whether it is the right decision. I am, after all, just getting settled into the forty hour work week. The real motivation is keeping my skills alive. Without university, keeping current with things beyond work is tricky. The question then becomes: what skills is it worth maintaining?

I just typed the following line and it made me giggle:

emerge -fu world

[] | posted @ 03:47 | link
Sat, 15 Oct 2005

Lousy Day
I had a lousy day today. Most of it was caused by how yesterday's events played out. I had gotten a KDE mailing list eMail forwarded to me at work, written by an attendee from their kamp to Gnome Summit. It was thoroughly negative. I mentioned it in the Gnome IRC channel and people didn't know what I was talking about, so I let people in on what was in it. Only later did I discover that it was from a very private KDE mailing list, without public subscriptions or archives. This morning I was "approached" by one of the KDE people demanding I tell them who leaked the information or have that person mail them an apology. That obviously placed me in a very tough situation, given the company structure. The eMail does not even contain any sensitive information, just a misguided summary of the events plus a few comments.

I acted in anger yesterday; anger that the guy I was talking to over beer and who seemed to be content with the Summit could write such things. This anger overcame my normally careful judgment to check the source of the eMail. This entire business left me a little shaky. I am upset.

Later I got my first pay cheque. I wish I had a third-person recording of my expression. My eyes must have widened beyond their normal limits when I read the line "Tax: 480.91". Yikes! I'm not used to seeing that kind of number there!

In more positive news, I got full Gnome Bugzilla access yesterday. This lets me close, reassign, and do everything else with bugs. I immediately set out to close bugs in f-spot and Muine. I'm also motivated to write patches to fix several bugs I've noticed.

[] | posted @ 03:58 | link
Wed, 12 Oct 2005

Gnome Summit 2005
20051011 Rather than spending Thanksgiving with family, I once again went off to Boston for the Gnome Summit at MIT.

The drive south was terrible, with heavy rain the entire way. In Vermont and New Hampshire, there was fresh pavement that was very slick and was not properly designed for drainage. Going over 80 km/h, the car would hydroplane immediately. It took over nine hours to get there. At one point I noticed my small finger was numb: clenching the steering wheel strongly had cut off the blood past my engineering ring. I was very fortunate with one thing: I had applied Rain-X to the windshield for the first time ever the week before leaving. I hardly used my wipers at all -- that stuff is amazing.

The first day of the summit revealed a much larger crowd than what I expected; perhaps twice as many as last year. It seems as though the other half showed up from Europe. Nevertheless, the day was a little slow for me. I left in the afternoon to do some planned shopping. I hoped it would take an hour or so, but with Boston being the way it is, it took almost three hours. But I got my paint.

On the second and third days I was much more involved, but I never got to any serious hacking. I was simply too tired after the busy first week of work. I had some excellent discussions. I would like to get involved with f-spot and the bug squad. Talking with Larry Ewing, f-spot's author, was motivating. I met Jeff Waugh for the first time and he's quite a character. The rest of the Boston crew were great, as usual.

In general, this year had less groundbreaking new technological ideas. From my point of view, the conference was largely about testing, usability, and visual appearance. Of particular interest to me were the BetterDesktop and Tango Project talks. Both focused on the thought to user experience that other open-source projects lack. The optimization presentations were also amazing -- a tool like Sun's dtrace could go very, very far on Linux. I also got to play with a Nokia 770 PDA. What can I say?: "Very cool" comes to mind. The screen on that thing simply blows the highly-acclaimed PSP's screen away.

The drive back was uneventful, though I realized soon after leaving Boston that I took zero photos during the event. So, I took a photo of that one-and-only metric sign in Vermont, since I keep talking about it.

Luna turns two today! Woof!

[] | posted @ 03:38 | link
Thu, 06 Oct 2005

Presentations and Life
20051005 I presented Gnome 2.12 and Celestia at the OCLUG meeting last night. Both of the presentations went really well. In fact, I don't recall any OCLUG meeting with a reponse as positive as the one I got. The turnout was good: I estimate 30-40 people. The Gnome 2.12 presentation ended up being almost twice as long as I had planned: people kept on asking questions, including some surprisingly good ones. The Celestia presentation was very well received, with lots of "oohs" and "ahs". I did the presentation in the order of simplest to most complex features, starting with just browsing Earth, then moving around the solar system, then going out really far, then constellations and labels, then an increase in resolution and zooming in to within a very near distance of spacecraft. At first, I left it just in the opening view while giving an overview, and I got the impression that people thought it was just a spherical Google Maps. But people really seemed to like it once I started moving things. I spent a total of 80 minutes talking.

Work is going well, I am really getting into the nine-to-five schedule. Despite the fact that this week is insanely busy both in and out of work, I am enjoying it.

Over the last few days I have been doing heavy planning for going to the Boston Gnome Summit this weekend. I found a hotel at a decent price just 30 minutes from MIT. Should be fun!

[] | posted @ 03:45 | link
Mon, 03 Oct 2005

Phaser Complete
20051002 It is October already. Amazing.

Tomorrow I will begin my full-time employment at Xandros. That means having to get up at a decent time and getting back into a routine. It is the "getting up at a decent time" part that will cause problems.

For my last day of freedom, I decided I must finish the phaser. After all, it's been over nine months since I bought it for myself for doing well first semester last year. Also, the days are getting shorter and less suitable for spray painting. On the subject of spray paint, this weekend I had to redo the paint three times because it did not look good. However, time and perseverance paid off, and now I have a near-perfect prop. I added it to the models section of my site,

I caught a bit of The 4400 while channel-flipping on a Simpsons commercial break. It caught my attention because it was filmed at UBC, in the area of the Rose Gardens and Chan Centre, just like BSG. All of these Vancouver locations catch my attention (ding!). I vote that the Canadian movie industry move to Ottawa for new locations.

[] | posted @ 02:41 | link

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