Monthly Archives: December 2006

Phoenix Wright, My Chance To Be Perry Mason

I bought Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for Rockelle’s birthday thinking that she liked both games on the Nintendo DS Lite (esp. Animal Crossing) and she liked shows about lawyers (esp. Boston Legal). Add to that the fact that it’s one of the highest rated games for the DS and I thought I had a sure thing. I swear I didn’t buy it because I thought I would like it.
Unfortunately, it’s all about logic and figuring out that the witness just made a statement that contradicts some piece of evidence in a perhaps subtle way and it was a recipe for a game she didn’t like. Meanwhile, she continues to play complex puzzle games that would make me tear my hair out, so go figure. Anyway, when I saw it, I realized that it was my childhood ambition come true. When I was a little kid I watched Perry Mason like it was my job. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said lawyer. Years passed though, and I discovered that many lawyers weren’t exactly like Perry Mason. On the show Perry could not only free the innocent, he could investigate the crime and elicit a witness stand confession from the actual murderer. But in Phoenix Wright, you get to do exactly that! You get to question witnesses, raise objections, do some investigation, free the innocent, and even trap the real murderer in his or her web of lies.
The original version in Japan had four cases but when it was brought over to the US it was moved from an older version of the Gameboy to the DS. I guess they felt they had to have at least one case which used the touch screen and other capabilities of the DS so they added one new case. It’s definitely the weakest of the bunch though. They were caught up in gadget fever so they made sure you could spray Luminol spray to find blood, sprinkle powder and blow it off to find fingerprints, and even watch and rewind video to look for clues. Suddenly you’re Phoenix Wright: Crime Scene Investigator in the last case! Oh well, even though you kind of drown in evidence and the last case is overly complicated, the game would be fun even if all you got was the first four cases.
If you want to join in the fun, you can click here to buy Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney from Amazon.com and I receive tiny kickback from them. They also have the soon to be released sequel, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All available for pre-order.
If you find yourself getting stuck on one of the cases, be sure to consult the spoiler free walkthrough on this page for some help.

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How To: Overcome Being Regular Expression Challenged

I had never really learned regular expressions. Oh sure, I could use * and ? as well as the next guy, but throw [0-9]+ at me and I had no idea what it meant. That is, until the last year or so. Regular expressions can be very helpful in pattern matching against file names or user input and I dislike having gaps in the overall toolset of things I’m comfortable using.
So I set out to correct it. I’m still pretty ham-handed when it comes to typing in a regular expressions and I end up having to consult cheatsheets in order to remember the syntax to do a lot of things, but I discovered online tools and websites that helped me overcome the gap in my knowledge. Here are my favorites:

  • txt2re: headache relief for programmers – This lets you input a piece of text you want to match against using a regular expression and it displays different expressions you could use depending upon which parts you want to match against. It can give you a quick start on matching even if you aren’t yet very regex savvy.
  • RegEx: online regular expression testing – This is the other handy part of the equation. Here you can input several items of sample text and a regular expression you wish to test. Hit the test button and it will show you which test text matched, what parts were matched, etc. It’s somewhat Java oriented but might be as useful for any language with fairly standard regex syntax. I’ve found it very helpful for iterative development of complicated regular expressions.
  • Regular Expression Library – A library of already crafted regular expressions (with various levels of complexity and robustness) to validate things like email addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Regular Expression Tutorial – A tutorial capable of teaching you enough to be dangerous in a fairly short time. Good info and it’s not intimidating.

Wil Wheaton Reviews Star Trek: TNG

I have no idea if Wil Wheaton is paid to do his blog at TV Squad. If not, we should take up a collection to make sure he continues. In each entry he takes an episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation (on which he appeared as Wesley Crusher) and does an episode “recap” with commentary.
I won’t claim that every paragraph is comedy gold, but every one of them is worth reading and there are usually multiple times in every one where I actually laugh out loud. Even if you aren’t particularly a fan of the show, and I certainly wasn’t of the first two years, this is worth reading.