Monthly Archives: February 2009

Google Tries To Make Microsoft Completely Irrelevant

Google Gears was Google’s last attempt to make progress towards putting much more sophisticated applications into the browser. It gave the browser a local cache to hold files (HTML, CSS, images, etc.) and a database to soup up the client side capabilities of JavaScript code. With it you can make an offline version of your web application that can work without the Internet being available. Then they built on that by shipping their own browser (Chrome) which compiles JavaScript code to make more complicated applications feasible. Oh, and they made sure that Google Gears comes bundled with Chrome too.

That’s a start at being able to make more sophisticated web applications in an operating system independent way, but their latest move is more than a shot across Microsoft’s bow, it’s more of broadside volley of cannon fire aimed directly at them.

They’ve come up with a plugin architecture called Native Client. With it you can run code at nearly native speeds within a browser because most of the code is actually running right on the chip. No emulators, no virtual machines or interpreters (ala. Java, JavaScript, and Flash), just raw code running hell bent for leather with some code around it that checks it before running it to make sure it can’t do bad things and some other code the monitors it all the time it is running. To demonstrate they’ve ported Quake to Native Client as well as some other high performance applications and they’ve started asking people to test it on various operating systems and browsers. In fact they’ve even gone so far as to offer bounties people can earn for figuring out any way to exploit the system (i.e. to let people download something that should be safe but because of a Native Client flaw it can infect or damage their system in some way).

Once they’ve got the kinks ironed out, I’m willing to bet money you’ll be seeing this bundled with a future version of Chrome.

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Dollhouse

Hi. My name is John. I used to not belong to the cult of Joss Whedon, then I saw Buffy.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an unlikely title and was based on a movie that I had actually seen and it was only OK. So forgive me that everybody praising it didn’t get me to watch it while it was still on. But then Firefly got the same kind of praise and so did the movie Serenity (based on Firefly). Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was the latest Whedon thing and was much loved last year. But even before Dr. Horrible came out, I had already decided that I should give Buffy another shot. Maybe it would be good. Surely it had to be better than Smallville, which appeared to be composed of beautiful people and the same two or three plots recycled over and over again for seven seasons.
Buffy wasn’t just good, it was some of the best TV I’ve had the pleasure to see in the last couple of decades. Whedon does great dialog and great characters and is very good at changing the world around them. The characters themselves don’t live in stasis either. They grow, they change, they get older, they learn from their mistakes. From just about any dimension you want to approach it, it’s good story telling.
That’s why I’m here to tell you that you have a show you need to watch. It’s called Dollhouse and it’s his new show on Fox. There are 13 episodes in this season and we want to see all of them aired and have it picked up for next season. Fox stuck it on Fridays at eight which is a horrible timeslot. But you don’t care, we’ve got Hulu, Tivo, and iTunes to fix that.
This one is the pilot, it’s a little rough around the edges. That’s OK, wait until you see the second one. It’s very good indeed and is starting to show what we can expect:
http://www.hulu.com/embed/WqbSmVMzUO6zrQJ9ob9zUQ
http://www.hulu.com/embed/Bqh7agfCOvPqJUQDIVkjjA
OK, now you’ve watched them both and you’re interested. You think, I’ll have to watch that next one. Do that. Set your Tivo or watch it live. Buy it from iTunes or steal it off the freaking Internet if that’s how you roll. But tell other people about it. Get them to watch. Then we’re all happier.

Phusion Passenger Fund Raiser

I use Passenger to drive my Ruby on Rails projects I run at home on my Mac. I used to use Mongrel as my server, in fact that’s what LOL runs on today. But I’ve had such good experiences with Passenger that I’m planning to switch LOL to it as well as using it for Big Villain when it’s ready.

Phusion is holding a fund raiser prior to releasing the next version of Passenger and trying to raise $14K. Given the amount of work it represents and the level of importance that it is rising to as a server in the Rails world, I think that if you do Ruby on Rails development you should give at minimum a few dollars to support its continued development. I made my contribution and I’ve both Twittered and blogged about the fund raiser as well and I hope you will too.

Big Villain Gets Its Own Blog

I’m not going to post any more game development or Big Villain news on my personal blog anymore. I’ve got a new one devoted only to that subject at http://www.madgameslab.com. Since I’m doing a little work on the game every day or every other day I’m already up to five or six entries on the blog. If you have any interest in my game or in PBBG development in general, go check it out!

Wellington

Best Photo I Ever Took Of Wellington

We had to say goodbye today to somebody who had been a family member since shortly after Alan was born. Since we had to put him to sleep because cancer was killing him, I felt like telling the story of how Wellington came to be my cat.

My then mother-in-law Mia Martin had come to visit the apartment my ex-wife and I were in at the time. Corina opened the door to let her in and before we knew what had happened a gangly little American Shorthair kitten raced through the door. I was leaning back on the sofa with my legs out in front of me and he went straight up my legs and my torso until he stood on my chest nose to nose with me. He sniffed my face thoroughly and purred very very loudly. In fact, that was the distinguishing characteristic for Wellington in those days, his purr. You could hear it from ten feet away and although I don’t think he was quite as loud at 15 as he was at four months, he still managed a pretty loud purr last week.

Mia told us that he was just hanging around outside the door of our apartment and she had thought maybe we knew who he was. We didn’t know and when we asked around no-one ever admitted to being missing one kitten, so he became ours (well, mine really). It was always easy to remember how old he was, the vet said he was approximately four months old and Alan had just turned four months old.

Wellington-Sink Wellington

I’ll save you details of his death other than to say that he didn’t suffer, he just decided it was time to die and we put him to sleep before he did start suffering.

Wellington, we love you.