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08 October 99
I guess The Journal is due for an update, huh? :-) I hadn't realized how long it had been since I updated it last till Peter Walker e-mailed me to find out whether I was OK. The thing is, I've been pretty busy since I last updated the page but most of it hasn't even had anything to do with coding <g> I guess I'll first update you on the coding and then those of you not interested in the other stuff can go on to wherever you are going to :-)
On the coding side, I have quite a few loose ends actually <g> If you are starting out in Win32 coding a place that you have got to visit is CodeGuru. I was over there prowling around their forums and code sections last week when I found the original code on which the LiteStep BitmaptoRegion and the transparency stuff was based on (actually, it is more or less an exact copy <g>). As I had said that I'd try to use my own graphics routines and as this was publicly available source, I decided not to reinvent the wheel but grab the source from CodeGuru direct :-) I also found a couple of improvements to the transparency code that I intend to try out when I get around to updating the graphics API in my shell. And if you are interested in coding tips and tricks, another site to add to your bookmarks is CodePile. They are just starting out but well worth checking out ...
Then, I also found a link at CodeGuru to a graphics decoding library that converts images from many formats including JPG, TIF and PNG to bitmap so that you can do your normal image manipulation stuff. Unfortunately, the code is MFC based but as the source was freely available, I decided to take that and convert it to pure Win32 so that I can use that in my shell to provide multi-image format compatibility seamlessly. I have been working on the code off and on but haven't even gotten around to compiling stage yet but now you know another feature you can expect from the shell - whenever it finally gets released <vbg>
As for the shell itself, I did do some testing and debugging last Friday but ran into one of the problems I hate most, window creation failing or window class registration failing. I've run into this problem a few times over the years and while the MS knowledgebase articles say this is due to insufficient memory, I do have enough memory and I still don't know what is wrong. I can't even remember how I got rid of the problem the last few times I had it (I must remember to write this stuff down <g>). I had the problem with both the systray module and with the console window and as I hate that error so much I gave up last week to do some other stuff and still haven't gotten back to it yet ...
Now comes the other stuff I did :-) I finally managed to get WinLinux downloaded and installed it on my machine. Though it took me about two or three days of agonizing to download it, it took only about 20 minutes to get it installed and up and running with KDE, woohoo! The installer was very, very easy - it ran from Windows, identified all my devices and copied the necessary file. One word of warning though, if you install WinLinux, it puts a desktop shortcut to start WinLinux. Don't use that, as usually it results in memory lockups. Instead, boot to a clean DOS prompt by pressing Shift+F5 at the Win9x bootmenu and then change to the \Linux directory (that's where it installs) and type in "WinLinux" and hit ENTER and you are on your way!
I quite like the fact that it boots you straight into a graphical desktop and have been messing around a bit with WinLinux as I'd like to try a different windows manager - Enlightenment specifically. Unfortunately, I'm quite a Linux newbie and can't figure out even the basic stuff yet <vbg> For instance, all these hidden configuration files are throwing me for a loop - guess it's time to get one of those Idiot's ... books, huh? :-) Another problem I'm having is the fact that I have one of those cheapo winmodems which work only under Windows :-( So, I'm going to have to buy a good modem before I can spend most of my time under Linux <g> Hmm ... if I'm going to be using Linux so much, why do I need Windows? <vbg>
I've also noticed this big debate going on about MS's assertions about how NT 4.0 is better than Linux and all the counter arguments posed by the Linux camp (here and here). While I am not even a Linux novice yet, I am really, really impressed by the really great and responsive GUI that they can provide with something like KDE on a machine which has only about 32MB of RAM. Now if NT can do that reliably, I'd say that NT rules ... but we all know that it can't :-) Do I detect me turning into a rabid Linux user? <g> I might be except for the fact that I'd miss my favourite games ... but we'll see ...
Hmm ... what else did I do? Oh yeah, I bought two games last weekend! Both are pretty old - "Magic: The Gathering" from Microprose and Sierra's "Leisure Larry 7: Love for Sail" - now before anybody starts snickering and start talking about "playing with one hand" <g>, let me tell you that I've played all the Larry games from the original on EGA with those blocky graphics to the LL6 but for some reason never got around to playing LL7. Then I saw it on the shelves for just $10 and thought, hey what the heck and bought it :-) And that reminds me that I still haven't got "Monkey Island 3" either ...
Anyway, I played LL7 most of the weekend and tried out "Magic" but hated the fact that there was no Internet play. Then I learnt that they had an add-on called the ManaLink at which was supposed to add Internet play and downloaded it (the whole 65MB - and on a dialup connection too <g>) but haven't had much time to do anything else with it.
Last Sunday I read on Chris Pirillo's LockerGnome that he'd tried "Pandora's Box" from Microsoft and that he'd liked it. He had a link to the demo and I decided to give it a whirl and it was good! I played the demo till I completed it but was left panting for more :-) Microsoft does come out with some pretty good games - "Age of Empires" comes immediately to mind though of course the stuff is actually done by somebody else <g>
I was so taken with "Pandora's Box" that I went looking for it on the Net and would you believe it? I found it for less than $20 with free shipping **here**! I don't know whether they ship outside the US though ... I ordered it online and had the box in my hands yesterday. Installed it and played it till about 11 o'clock at night and had to drag myself to bed because I kept on having the urge "to play just one more game" :-) I'm telling you, it's a great game if you love puzzles!
Well ... that about brings everything up-to date. I probably won't get a chance to do much this weekend as there is a wedding that I have to attend. But I do need to get the kinks sorted out in the shell and get it out for beta testing ... I also have to complete a web site for a friend of mine and she's been waiting for it for a while ... don't you just hate life sometimes? :-)