Freeways (cpatain games)

Sep. 24th, 2017 09:36 am
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
https://captaingames.itch.io/freeways

Yesterday andrew ducker's links got me addicted to this little game. Each level is a screen with some roads coming in and some going out, and you need to join them up so the traffic can flow freely. Some connections need high traffic and need direct connections. Sometimes there's small or medium levels of traffic but lots of connections.

It's really cute how the separate screens join together to make a city with coast and mountains and houses and industrial areas. When you do all the levels in the initial 3x3 grid it expands to 5x5, then 7x7. And maybe further, I don't know.

I don't really understand the score, it clearly correlates with how good the network is, but I don't know exactly what contributes to it.

It makes some real-world motorway engineering make more sense. There's lots of situations where roundabouts work really well. Sometimes there's a couple of really busy routes which need direct connections, but then everything else just needs to be connected *at all* so you can use normal cross-roads with no flyovers at all.

Some things are bizarre. Who designed this city so SOME roads drive on the left and some on the right?

A few of the screens have a menu item to open an aerial picture of a real-world junction with similar connections and see if you came to the same sort of solution. One was a diamond interchange, with a moderate traffic road crossing a high traffic road. Another was two low-traffic roads crossing, in the middle of some fields somewhere.

There doesn't seem to be an "undo" button, am I missing something? That's realistic for working with concrete, but with the interface so clunky it would be really nice.

Edit: Also, there's a directory called save but I can't find any option to save which disinclines me to play again. Anyone know where it's hidden?

I won another Crawl Sprint game!

Sep. 23rd, 2017 03:55 pm
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
[personal profile] hilarita
Cut for boringness for many people. But I won a Line Sprint, pretty vanilla Minotaur Fighter of Uskayaw
Read more... )

New Forest otters!

Sep. 22nd, 2017 07:51 pm
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
[personal profile] hilarita
And some other things that aren't otters. But mostly, otters.

Before going to the Lib Dem party conference, Drswirly and I went to stay in Christchurch, because of its proximity to the New Forest Wildlife Centre, which has a lot of otters. Did I mention the otters?
I found Christchurch a bit stultifying, and the kind of place I don't at all feel at home in, because it's quite clear that I'm not really their type of person. Christchurch was the kind of place that had a UKIP office prominently on one of the main streets. (It's now shut, which is definitely an improvement, but Christchurch was definitely a UKIP heartland.) It was next to a curry house, which I found mildly pleasing, though I'm not so sure the curry house owners would have agreed. We went to otters first, and then later wandered round the town. (I haven't posted pictures of the town; it's not that interesting. There's a mildly interesting bit of castle, and a mildly interesting Norman church (in places), but it's not really a particularly notable example of the genre. I may upload some bits to wikimedia commons, if I can be arsed to manage their categorisation system.)

I'm going to put a cut in, because there are a lot of otters.
Read more... )
For those people who didn't wade through the pictures of mustelidae, you should at least look at:
a gif of a contact-juggling otter!

and a short video of a giant otter squacking on command.
hilarita: casting my stoat (stoat)
[personal profile] hilarita
...as a member of the Lib Dems.

tl;dr - Conference is a pretty excellent place, provided that, unlike me, you have more social skills than a dead hermit.

Quite a lot of Conference is for the srs activist and/or candidate for some kind of political office. There is a fuckton of training, if that's your sort of thing.

However, they've also put quite a lot of effort into general activities, and activities for newbies. Sadly, some of those activities clashed with Important Brexitty debates (which was a bit of a problem this year, because of the number of new people who'd joined specifically because we're one of the less fuckwitted parties over Brexit*). Also, some of these were in the evening, by which time my energy had buggered off somewhere and was having a little lie down. 8/10, would work better for those people who aren't snooze stoats.

They're also encouraging of having new people speak at Conference, which was extremely good. They were very keen to put new members to good use. I found the info on how to fill in Speaker's Cards and so on very useful. 9/10 (I'm docking one point because I'd dearly love there to be a web form, not a pdf or a piece of paper.)

The debates were generally very well run - there's a clear protocol, and people follow it. Most of the motions seemed well-chosen; I'm grateful for those people who've blogged about the process involved with choosing motions and amendments - it really helped me to work out what was going on. 9/10

OK, you get some points for having a Conference app. But you lose several points for the navigation system. Sorry. 5/10, must try harder.

And I'm incredibly glad that I got to take part in Lib Dem policy making, because, as a member, I got a vote! I could turn up, and vote on motions! It's almost like it's a democracy or something! 10/10

So - good Conference. I'm not sure I'll go again, because I'm almost totally incapable of spontaneously talking to people (I can respond when people come up to me, but this is generally insufficient for these kinds of events). Also, just being around so many people (lovely though the people were that I spoke to) was very draining. I've spent most of the past 48hrs on the sofa, with the Internet and computer games (and my partner). Fortunately, this Conference was at a time when I could roll it into my annual leave, so I have time to recover. It didn't really help that Bournemouth and my asthma don't mix well, especially with a hotel on East Cliff. I'd prefer flatter cities for Conference.

I'd like to be more involved with LD policy making, but preferably from my sofa, where I don't have to go anywhere and pretend that I can pass for a reasonably sociable human being.

* We're still being rather incoherent, split, and downright confused about how to present our extremely strong support for the EU, because every so often people whinge But The Will Of The Peeeeople... We're managing to clear the low bar set by the Conservatives and Labour, but frankly, toddlers can step over that bar nine times out of ten.

Bike light design

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:12 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
For a while I had the impression my back bike light remembered whether it was on or not when you removed and replaced the battery. And I wondered how that worked. A push-button that moved a physical toggle between three positions seemed implausible. But so did some tiny bit of persistent memory. My best guess is that there was a capacitor which held charge for a short time.

Now, I think I was completely wrong. I think that when you put the battery in, it *always* comes on. I just assumed that it would usually be off and didn't actually check that was true. So I got the impression it was lit *sometimes* on battery-connect, and connected that to the state it had before the battery was removed.

Wow, it's really easy to manufacture evidence for something even when you think you're avoiding that.

Presumably the "power on lit" is so that loose connections don't turn it off. OTOH, that would mean if it has a loose connection when it's being carried about, it might come on and drain the battery. Or maybe no-one thought about it and this just happened to be the case. Or maybe there's a regulation? I don't know.

Book stoats

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:37 pm
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
[personal profile] hilarita
Apparently, when on holiday with less internet, I read books.

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee (2017)
The second in the series. Once again, really, really horrific things are happening (mostly off-screen). Our main character from the first novel isn't our POV - we see them through others' eyes. It does quite a good job of misdirecting us, doing some very interesting plotting and politics and stuff. I don't think it's quite as good as its predecessor, but it's a pretty damn good book

All Systems Red, Martha Wells (2017. Novella)
Our protagonist is called "Murderbot"! It's great. Main story of conspiracies, survival, with a side order of AIs, augmented humans and personhood. Murderbot is a fantastic character to get to know.

The Last Good Man, Linda Nagata (2017)
Near-future thriller, looking at the way robots and drones are taking over military operations. Also, usual military morality stuff (when is shooting the shit out of things and/or people justified? what should you do when your people are captured by The Enemy (TM)). It's a pretty good example of the genre, if you like that kind of thing (which I do).

The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden (2017)
Set in South Africa. Proper SFF (with robots, AIs, and demigods coming to fuck your shit up). Comes with a mild caution that I can't comment on how sensitively the relevant cultural stuff with the demigods was handled - the (non-South African) author mentions sensitivity readers, so I'm going to guess it's not terrible :) . I found it very striking, quite gory, and I do look forward to seeing other stuff by them, though possibly not just before bedtime.

Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (2017)
I think this was probably the best of the things I read while away (the charms of the Murderbot not aside). It contains aliens, big business, exploitation, probability, and some fantastic world-building. Complex, full of compelling detail, and I don't want to spoil the plot, because bits of it are really interesting.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss (2017)
This is quite a good novel of the "let's stick Sherlock Holmes into anything set in the late 19th century" genre. It also draws on the early SF novels of that century, with the first character we meet being Dr Jekyll's daughter. It's generally fun, aware of its genre, but - pedants beware - there are 21st-century colloquialisms in the asides in the writing and Americanisms in the speech of 19th century Londoners. Including Sherlock Holmes. This means I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, because it's just Wrong.

I'm also very nearly through a re-read of Ann Leckie's Ancillary series (what would Fleet Captain Breq do?), and am looking forward to Leckie's new novel later this year.

English usage

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:24 pm
damerell: NetHack. (Default)
[personal profile] damerell
Note: food eaten between supper and breakfast is incorrectly referred to as a midnight snack. The correct term is "dark lunch".

My Who Do You Think You Are? moment

Sep. 17th, 2017 04:25 pm
sparrowsion: (home page portrait)
[personal profile] sparrowsion
Or, Who The F*** Are You? as we call it. Specifically, Lisa Hammond and "why her paternal grandfather Harry Hammond never spoke about his experiences in World War II". Well, my paternal grandfather never spoke about his experiences in World War II either, but at least we knew he'd been taken POW in Italy and was ultimately liberated by the Americans, so I was curious to hear this story.

Turns Hammond too had been taken prisoner in Italy, and almost certainly was suffering from PTSD as a result of his experiences in the POW & labour camps. And the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (which [personal profile] 1ngi takes for her genealogical research) had some hints for chasing up similar stories.

So, well, I had to do that. And this is what I learned.

My grandfather was with the 2nd Battalion of the North Staffs during the Battle of Anzio. Anzio, if you've not heard of it before, was probably the biggest Allied cock-up of the war. From the small, personal perspective, the 2nd North Staffs were at the forefront and lost 323 men capturing a ridge which they were unable to hold because their ammunition supply was exhausted.

"Unable to hold" means many were taken prisoner. I don't know how many, but I'm guessing from the list which includes my grandfather's name that it was at least 50. That would be about half the battalion taken out in one day.

I don't know what happened to my grandfather in the immediate aftermath—that's going to take a lot more digging to try and find records. But I do know that he wound up in Altengrabow along with 60,000 other POWs. And that leads to the one piece of information I'd had passed down which is missing from these accounts: at the end, the Commandandt, having arranged for the Americans to evacuate the camp, took his own men and departed the scene.

I'm sure my grandfather was traumatised by his experiences in the camps, just as Harry Hammond was. But more traumatic, I feel, would have been that day on the Italian coast when so many of his comrades fell.
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
Removing code is good! But everywhere I've worked has had a "pile of makefiles" build system, which have invariably had problems when you remove a file, because the .d files are still hanging around, and make chokes on a source file because it doesn't have the headers it needed last time, even though they're actually not necessary to actually build the file.

And it's a matter of culture whether it's "when you check out code, you often need to make clean or make undepend somewhere to get it to compile" or "when you check in code, you need to find a workaround to make it build cleanly even if you've removed files".

Do people with more recent build tools than "make" avoid this problem?

However, after thinking it through carefully I eventually decided on one of the ways to makefiles cope with this correctly.

The trick

You still do "-include $(OBJ_FILES:%.c=%.d)" or equivalent.

But when you produce a .d file with gcc (usually as a side effect of producing a .o file via -MMD), add an extra line at the end of the recipe, a perl script which edits the .d file in-place and replaces each "filename.o: header1.h header2.h..." with "filename.o $(wildcard: header1.h header2.h...)"

That way, if any dependency has *changed* a rebuild is forced as normal. But only dependencies that actually exist become dependencies within the makefile. (Deleting a header file doesn't trigger a rebuild, but it doesn't with the old system either since the .o file already exists.)

I can share the exact script if anyone wants to see.

Yuletide nominations

Sep. 14th, 2017 10:40 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I nominated for Yuletide. After lots of "how could I possibly choose", I decided that I might as well pick three works I liked and thought would make good fic, and not feel like I had to pick the BEST three. I can probably dredge up more obscure things I loved, and would really love to see fic from, but I find it hard to bring to mind things I've not thought of for ages.

There's lots of things I love, things like webcomics and webfiction which might deserve attention. I eventually chose three I thought would make good stories.

Elements (experiments in character design), the tarot-like cards showing a character for each chemical element. They're just so pretty, each looks like it tells a story. I was sad the physical cards seemed to be sold out and never for sale. They were nominated two years ago, and I was sad to see not last year.

And two webcomics, Leftover Soup (from Tailsteak, the author of the awesome 1/0, ooh, maybe I should submit that instead), and YAFGC (Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, like Oglaf, very not safe for work, but sort of in a surprisingly wholesome way).

Did other people manage to nominate things?

I am also basking in the disconcertingly competent assumption that, I expect to be able to, just get a story done, without a whole lot of putting it off. I'm not at all used to signing up to something with a deadline and not assuming I'll panic but it's worth it!

I looked at my notes from last year for "what might I be interested in nominating next year". It was mostly the same sorts of things. Although one was, "Steven Universe, if it doesn't exceed the limit of number of works", I guess that must have happened now :) Although I find it really hard to predict. I went to look up Vorkosigan, the universe I was surprised was still eligible when I wrote for it two years ago, and it looks like there's more than a 1000 fics on ao3 from before that, am I misremembering how eligibility/search works?

Book stoats

Sep. 10th, 2017 02:45 pm
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
[personal profile] hilarita
Plastic Smile, S L Huang (Russell's Attic Series) (pub 2016)
I do like this series. Why wouldn't I like something where maths is your superpower (provided, of course, you don't have to do any original thinking!). It gives us more info on Cas' past, and some neat techno-babble programming and engineering.

Cold Welcome, Elizabeth Moon (Vatta's Peace)
This is the first in the Vatta's Peace series, following on from Vatta's War. If you enjoyed Vatta's War, then you'll find many more of the same sort of politics and violence. This one also has elements of a top-notch survival thriller, so if like me you really enjoyed reading accounts of people doing reckless things in Antarctica, this is a good book.

Brute Force, K B Spangler
Cyborgs. In a deeply creepy US. I'm finding this hard to read, because it has US 'sovereign citizens' in it, and other things that are far-right-adjacent in America. After Charlottesville, I just want to go and hide in a cupboard, and not go near America until it's got its head out of its arse. So, good book, really not helping right now.