Monthly Archives: May 2001

JBoss/QUB

There’s a new release of JBoss out. JBoss 2.2.2 has various bug fixes and you can download a version that is integrated with the new Tomcat 3.2.2 release.
What is QUB? QUB is a universal boardgame engine that lets you put the pieces and board for any game into it and it manages all the graphics and helps you play a game on the computer. While it currently has no real-time network support (no playing Ogre in a half hour against an old friend half way across the country at lunch), it is suitable for play-by-mail gameplay now. Since it’s an open source project it is also likely to get somebody interested enough to try and add that network support.
The bad news? I’ll let the developers tell you that one:
QUB is written under Linux, but it uses very little Unix-specific code. It should be possible to get it compiling under Win32, if we can get our hands on a Qt Win32 lib to link against. If you would be interested in doing this… (hint, hint).
That’s a word I love to hear, “possible”. WoW! You mean I can try and hack your code into working on Windows! Or the Mac! And do it again for Solaris! And god-knows-what else! Bestill my heart. Or better yet, drop the language with no support for the net, no cross platform capabilities, no built in UI functions at all and move to Java, or even Perl or Python for goodness sake. At least then it will come to my platform without my having to sweat over it first. Personally, I would love to have this program but I really want it to be a one-click install with automatic updates whenever new versions come out. Do we know any languages that have that?

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Dominion Rules 2.0

Dominion Rules 2.0
Once upon a time I did an interview with these guys for GameDev.net. They have a set of rules for fantasy role-playing that they give away for free. It has gone through multiple revisions and they continue to improve it steadily by working with another group to add illustrations and expanding the coverage of their rules. They just released the 2.0 version of their rules. If you are interested in role-playing games or you are looking for a core ruleset to build an online RPG then you might look no further than this.

Some Interest in HotSheet

Well, apparently there are some people interested in HotSheet. It managed to hit the 90% activity level today on SourceForge which makes it the 169th most active project (as measured by downloads, clicks, etc.). That’s gratifying. Now as a friend of mine observed when I explained the project to him today, the software “isn’t exactly rocket science.” No, it’s not rocket science :), but it is a good start toward something that will gather news and make it available in helpful ways.
SourceForge responded to my bug report about problems with posting a new file by posting it for me, but my bug report stands. I hope that means that they are still intending to address the underlying problems I had with posting the file in the first place and they aren’t just doing a band-aid fix to alleviate one particular instance of a wider problem in the file release system. Note: This may sound like looking a gift horse in the mouth. It is not. SourceForge is neat, it’s free, and it’s very very helpful. I just look forward to the day when they’ve squashed a few more of their bugs and they aren’t modifying the software quite as much on an active system. It is easier to develop software that isn’t always perfectly stable if the platform you are doing development on is stable.

HotSheet Bug Fix Release

Various bug fixes and corrections to HotSheet based on user feedback:

  1. The instructions for running HotSheet from the command line (mainly intended for developers working on the code) have quotes around the classpaths. This works better on Mac OS X and retains compatability with Windows. (Thanks to: Aaron Swartz)
  2. A confusing error message that was issued whenever the channel list isn’t found (like the first time you run) has been replaced with something that is actually informative. (Thanks to: Aaron Swartz)
  3. Double clicking on a news item wasn’t working everywhere. I changed the program to use the Java Web Start function to load a browser and display a page when the program is run under Web Start. It will still fall back to the old system when run from the command line though. One small downside is that the Web Start function always opens a new browser to display a given URL, it would be great if they had a flag that let you choose which you wanted but Sun doesn’t provide it. (Thanks to: Richard Katz)

As always, anyone who installed the program via Java Web Start will be automatically upgraded to the new version. Source will be available momentarily on SourceForge as HotSheet 0.51 Alpha.

HotSheet 0.5 Source Released

Friday was very busy. I am pleased to announce that the source code to HotSheet 0.5 Alpha is available on SourceForge! Last time I checked three people had downloaded it already. Maybe nobody will do anything with it but I can always hope. For my part I’m going to keep adding to it periodically to improve what it can do until it reaches the level of commercial programs like Novobot and Headline Viewer.

JDK 1.4 beta 1

Whoa Nelly! Hot on the heels of their 1.3.1 release Sun has released a beta of the Java Development Kit v1.4!!
There are a whole variety of diverse improvements promised in 1.4 including support for mousewheels, improved speed in offscreen rendering, speed improvements, and lots lots more. I’m definitely keen to try it out.

Java Web Start 1.0.1/Batik 1.0

There are just not enough hours in a day to do all the stuff I want to do. Anyway, to the updates:

  • Java Web Start 1.0.1 is out and it seems faster and has a variety of bug fixes and improvements. One thing to note however is that after installing it HotSheet would not run from the shortcuts it had placed on my desktop and main menu. I had to click on the link on the HotSheet project page and it downloaded, installed, and ran it just fine then. Perhaps installing it dumps the cache of existing applications you already have but it doesn’t get rid of shortcuts you may already have. Anyway, it works great now and starts up quicker too.
  • Want to do nifty vector type graphics from within a Java program but don’t feel like mastering Java 2D in order to do it? Well, one option would be to output a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format file describing the graphics, like a complicated graph for example, and then using Batik 1.0 to render the SVG file. Apache comes through once again with excellent Java technology that you can put to real use in real programs. If you are keen to try it out, use your newly installed copy of Java Web Start and click on the demo link on the Batik website. You can do a one button install of a demonstration of the Batik engine from the page and try it out.

HotSheet/E3

I’ve done work in two areas toward release of the source for HotSheet:

  1. Started writing the developer documents.
  2. Finished a second demonstration application that uses the RSS libraries in HotSheet. The demonstration applications plus the developer docs should be enough for people to get started building new applications using the source.

Last night however I spent a couple of hours watching and fast-forwarding through about six hours of TechTV’s coverage of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). E3 is where lots of game stuff happens every year and this year is a bumper crop of news about what is happening in the console arena.
I watched about a half hour of the Microsoft press conference to unveil the Xbox. It has truly gorgeous graphics and it makes me salivate at the prospect of someday having something like a GeForce 3 (an nVidia graphics chip used in the Xbox) for my PC someday. You can buy one currently but all the boards based on the chipset are in the $500(US) range and that’s way too high for me. It’s just a matter of time before they come down to a level where I can afford one though.
But graphics alone do not make a console successful and the games that I saw demonstrated for the Xbox left me cold. There was another game in the Oddworld series and although it was pretty and smooth, it didn’t thrill me. The first person shooter Halo had numerous framerate stutters during their demonstration. Maybe all that will be ironed out by the release but they are under tremendous time pressure to make sure that title is ready for the Xbox launch date on November 8th.
Aside from announcing the launch date and showing off various titles that will be available on the shipdate Microsoft was also announcing their price point of $299(US). That’s not a big surprise as that’s exactly what a Playstation 2 costs with similar features. Nintendo’s GameCube will probably be under $200(US) and they will ship November 5th but because of its hardware will not be able to play DVDs as both the Xbox and Playstation 2 can.
For me the big surprise of the day was watching the Nintendo press conference and expecting very little going in but coming away impressed with the games I saw on the platform. Luigi’s Mansion actually looks like a lot of fun. Super Smash Brothers was fun on the Nintendo 64 and an updated version of it will likely be fun too. Perhaps I would have been equally impressed by what I saw from Microsoft if I had had the low expectations I had when I started watching Nintendo’s.
Last entry of the day: Adobe Acrobat for the Palm OS (beta)