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Fri, Dec 14 2001

Before I forget (I had a lot to write about yesterday and so forgot :p), I did solve the problem with capturing screenshots with alpha-transparent images :-) After I made my post a couple of days ago (and after I'd already written to the author of the screen capture component and complained <g>), I realized that this particular component was being distributed with the source and so that I could probably do something about it myself. So I did some digging into the source and the Win32 API and realized that it was something very simple. Most screen capture code uses the BitBlt API call to actually do the screen capture and since Win2K (when MS introduced the ability to create alpha blended images ...) there has been a new constant that could be used with the BitBlt call to capture layered windows and I am assuming that not many people are using this new constant since a) they are not aware of it b) they are aware of it but aren't too sure what it does since the MSDN documentation is kinda sketchy or c) they didn't realize that they needed to use this constant to capture alpha-transparent images. Anyway, once I fixed the code to use the new CAPTUREBLT constant, Bandit worked great and KuhnDog is happy :-)

One of my users has mentioned the fact that my e-mail address on this page is not correct, several times on various forums. Today I received an e-mail which justifies me not having a valid e-mail address and making people work to send me an e-mail :p I get this e-mail from something calling itself the LinkExchange saying that they saw my Clint Eastwood tribute page and that if I added a link to their site and let them know, that they'll add a link to mine - yeah, right! If you follow the link, you'll notice that it is just one of my older posts where I simply mention Clint Eastwood with regards to a movie that I'd seen. So these people were obviously using some sort of a trawling app to look for all pages with the words Clint Eastwood on them and then simply filtered anything that looked like an e-mail on that page and sent mail to all those people - I hate that!! Of course, I thought I was safe since my e-mail address is coded with AT and DOT but now I went back and took a look and realized that I'd missed my address in one place, drat! So now I've fixed that as well ... so there :p

I played "Azurik: Rise of Perathia" some more yesterday and while I still like the game, I have a few complaints as well :p OK, make it one complaint - I really hate the lack of a save-anywhere facility! There are certain points in the game where you can't find a save point at all and have to back-track a really long way to get to one and since the particular point that I'm talking about also has a really difficult area to get through, it sucks if you get through the area, don't have the game saved and then get killed - as happened to me! Oh yeah, another thing I hate is monster behaviour - again in the same area, there is this particularly high ledge where a monster is and where the monster is when you climb a ladder to get to the ledge seems to be random but if the monster is close to the point where you climb up, it will never move away even if you climb down - it will remain close to the ladder and knock you down as soon as you try to climb up again. Hate that :p Other than that, the game is interesting and lots of fun :-
posted at 07:08:57 AM  link  comment

Thu, Dec 13 2001

Ok, the latest in the resignation saga? :p I've been told that my review was sent to HR (Human Resources :p) some time last week and that I should get it within a week and that my boss's boss will ensure that this does not happen in the future and that reviews for everybody will be done in a timely manner. We came out of the meeting with the agreement that I would stay but now I realize that it is basically back to the same old thing :p I have to wait for the review and of course, a week can turn into two and two to four and so on and everybody has a perfect excuse - it's the holiday season <g> So I've decided to wait out my two week's period of notice and see how things go and if I do receive my review, I also want to see how much it is for and then make a final decision as to what I'm going to do ... Don't you hate it when you have to make decisions and live in indecision? :p

I'm working from home again today since my car is in the body shop and they tell me that they are waiting for parts! They are the ones who wanted me to bring my car in and I would think that they'd get the necessary parts before they asked me to come in but no, that's not the way it works! Of course, I did get a rental (this was on Monday BTW) but when I call my insurance company about the rental coverage, they tell me that they will be paying only $10 (whereas the rental costs $25) per day and that they will not pay out if it was for an unduly long time period - meaning that if it took more than the estimated two days. Since the car has already been in the body shop for three days, I've decided to return the rental car and save myself some money. Of course, people tell me that the insurance company is "obligated" to pay for 30 days of rental coverage but I'll still end up paying more 3/5 of the cost and if the insurance company refuses to pay, what the heck am I going to do? Take them to court? Such is life ...

Speaking of life and the general frustration with service organizations, I was waiting for quite a long time for my copy of "Azurik: Rise of Perathia" from but finally gave up :p I wrote to them day before yesterday and at least their customer service is good because I heard back from them within a couple of hours - they said that they were sorry that I hadn't received my order yet and that they would refund me the money and that I could let them know if I did ever receive the order. I waited another day till yesterday and since there was still no game, I went to the local KMart and bought a copy. I played the game last evening and it was pretty good! It's not really up to the standard of "Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee" but the graphics are OK (though not superlative like in Munch :p) and the gameplay so far has been interesting. One thing I find irritating though is the fact that you cannot save anywhere in the game and the fact that you can have only one save game - so you can't have several save games at different points in case you want to start a bit further back in the game. I guess it makes sense given that you can go back and forth all over the world in the game and so there might not be anything you might miss and can't get back to - at least I haven't had a situation like that so far.

One thing that I do notice however is that the XBox games seem considerably easier than console games - I've never been into action games because I just don't have the skill and coordination necessary. Either I have improved vastly in the last few years (which I don't think is possible <g>) or the games are easier on the XBox - and I like that! I've played first Munch's Oddysee and now Azurik and both of them are basically action games but I've enjoyed both pretty much, whereas I played "Dark Cloud" on the PS2, found it to be an action adventure and hated it because it just was too hard. I guess die-hard gamers might disagree with me about easy games being good but my vote is (once again :p) for the XBox!
posted at 06:13:28 AM  link  comment

Wed, Dec 12 2001

Handed in my resignation yesterday and my boss was very cool about it but there seems to be something really wrong there because the manager of a different department wanted to talk to me about me leaving and he tells me that his department has no problems with reviews at all! My boss had been saying that the delays in reviews was not because of her and that the reviews went from her immediately but they got delayed in processing whereas this guy was telling me that the most any of his people's reviews got delayed was a month and that was usually because of him ... Something definitely doesn't smell right ... He also asked me whether I'd like to join his department but I feel kinda awkward about doing something like that at this stage, particularly because I know that internally it would turn into something like "OK, first finish the current project and then maybe you can switch if you want to" kind of thing ... Anyway, I don't believe in taking a step back once I've taken a step forward - so for good or bad, I'm done with my company and the only thing to think of is what happens next ...

KuhnDog reminded me a couple of days back about a curious problem that he'd had with Bandit - the yet unreleased screen capture app that I coded for him just before I left for Sri Lanka on vacation - Bandit handles normal screen captures and the FTPing of the captured image and a thumbnail to a server fine but it seems to have a problem with alpha-transparent windows/images because they don't appear on the screen capture at all! I had been meaning to write to the author of the screen capture component that I was using, about this problem but had forgotten :p I finally wrote to him today and he wrote back saying that nobody else had complained about this particular problem (of course, not many people habitually use alpha-blended screen components - especially since this is a feature only available in Win2k up <g>) and so I decided to try it out myself. I downloaded Glass2k, made one of my desktop windows 90% transparent and took a screenshot with Bandit and guess what? The window that was transparent was completely absent from the screenshot! So I decided to take a screenshot with AcdSee 4.0 and even that came up with a blank (of course, AcdSee might be coded in Delphi as well and might be using a similar component to do the screen capture ..) I then did a Print Screen and pasted into PhotoShop and that did show the screen as it should appear - so I guess some things work but not all ... I sent all the info to the author of the screen capture component and am now waiting to see what he says ...

News flash :-) My boss's boss came and wanted a meeting with me just now and he tells me that the review situation is not as my boss had portrayed :p He tells me that the company doesn't want to lose me and that he will personally guarantee that my review will get done fast and that it will never happen again in the future. I'm sorta holding back to see what actually happens but I might stay on ... or maybe not ... damn, why do things need to get so complicated? :p
posted at 07:55:13 AM  link  comment

Tue, Dec 11 2001

I worked from home yesterday since I had to attend to a few things - these should actually have been done on Friday when I had the day off but sometimes service organizations seem to forget what customer service is all about ... My local cable company - Charter Communications - was supposed to send over a technician on Friday since I'd signed up for broadband access with them (yes, they've finally got broadband in my area - or seemed to ... but more on that by and by ...) I'd been signed up by one of their door-to-door salesmen and the guy assured me that one of their techs would be over on Friday to do the installation. So I stayed home (even though I had an appointment with my insurance agent) since they were supposed to arrive between 1:00pm and 5:00pm hoping that they'd arrive soon, get their job done and that I'd be able to go get my insurance stuff done. Four o' clock rolls around and no people, so I call the Charter office and am told that they are supposed to be there and would get there soon - I wait another hour and still nothing! So I call Charter again and they say that I am not even in the system and so that's why nobody showed up! Huh? You mean to tell me that they didn't even check the first time that I called or that I somehow mysteriously disappeared from the system between my first and second calls? They tell me that nothing more can be done today ...

So I called Charter on Saturday and actually got somebody who was helpful. She told me that I wasn't in the system either but did put me in to the system and set up another appointment for yesterday. So I end up staying home yesterday. The techs did arrive this time and they set everything up and sit down to do the final stuff ... no connection! So they draw a line directly from the tap and check, still no connection!! Turns out that Charter does not have access in my area set up yet. Huh? Why the heck were they selling me a package if they didn't have broadband set up in my area? I have no idea!! The upshot was that they left the cable modem and stuff at my place, told me that I wouldn't be billed till service was there (which I'm not too sure about - considering all that's gone on so far, I'm expecting them to bill me next month ...) and that they'd call me. Estimate for when I'd have access? No idea! Ah, it's great to have such impeccable service!

Finally, I'm handing in my resignation today :p I talked to my boss (as I mentioned last week) but nothing seems to have come out of it. They are either: a) waiting to see if I was bluffing b) she didn't tell her boss what I said because it was told in an "unofficial" capacity or c) don't really care and want to get as much work out of me as possible before I quit. Personally I think it's a combination of (a) and (c) because they have a big project on hand at the moment that the "bosses" want done fast and if I do leave now, they're going to be left with only one developer - and a month to complete a project that was originally estimated to be three months. Ah well, it's their worry, not mine :-
posted at 07:40:22 AM  link  comment

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