Below are the five most recent posts in my weblog. You can also see a chronological list of all posts, dating back to 2003.
This week I released version 2.0 of Wad Compiler, a lazy functional programming language and IDE for the construction of Doom maps.
Version 2.0 is the first version in about four years and adds a fair number of features, most notably the ability to compose textures in your code and a basic command-line interface.
This year, Sarah and I spent two weeks off the coast of Dubrovnik, on Koločep island. We'd never been to Croatia before, and I was a little nervous that if there wasn't much to do on the island, we wouldn't be able to get elsewhere particularly easily. I needn't have worried: We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. It might even be my favourite holiday so far.
We did travel around a bit: twice to Dubrovnik's old town and once to a botanical gardens in Trsteno but there was also loads to see on the island itself. One of our favourite trips was simply to a cave on the opposite side of the island known as a "blue cave" because you looked like a Smurf on the inside. We had to jump into the sea from the boat and swim into and out of the cave before continuing on our trip.
Simply puttering about on the boat, either around the island or to Trsteno was a great experience in itself. Our guide Sammi was very friendly, the weather was great and swimming around or just enjoying the sun on the back of the boat was enough for me to want to check property prices out there.
On Koločep island is a little restaurant called Villa Ruza. We managed to eat there twice during our stay. I think it is considered to be one of the top ten restaurants in Croatia. It's one of the best places I've ever eaten in my life. In terms of price, it was about half that of restaurants in Dubrovnik itself.
Dubrovnik itself was, quite predictably, much busier than Koločep. It is a stunningly attractive old town. On our second visit we took a tour. There are a variety of different themed tours that you can take, including Game Of Thrones sight-seeing tours, and there were Game Of Thrones tat shops all over the place. We opted for A Story About The War. One thing we love to do when visiting foreign places is to get an idea of what life is like for people there, and this war was not all that long ago - I can remember the news coverage from the time. We were the only two people on that particular tour, so we had a fairly tailored experience. I wish I could remember our guide's name. She was the same age as us and grew up as a child in the city when it was under siege. Her personal story included details about where her family stayed; what life was like for kids growing up at the time; how people got supplies; which areas were badly affected and much more.
It was a very heartfelt tour and gave us an intimate and personal portrait of what life was like for people there at a time that most tour operators tend to prefer to ignore. This was exactly what we were looking for. Sarah and I were both a little teary at the end!
We tried to do things a little different on this holiday. Normally we keep ourselves to ourselves and don't socialise much with other guests. We also rarely do trips and excursions, preferring to sort things out for ourselves. This time we made an effort to be more sociable and I'm glad we did because we met some really nice people. The trips we did were great fun and on the last day I blew through most of the rest of our currency by hiring a jet ski for half an hour. Those things are FUN. Top speed on the one I was using was 57 land mph. Every muscle in my body was screaming for a few days afterwards!
Often on a two-week holiday we reach a point around 10 days where we've pretty much had enough. This time around I could have stayed for twice as long.
My previous blog posts about deterministic Doom proved very popular.
The reason I was messing around with Doom's RNG was I was studying how early versions of Doom performed random pitch-shifting of sound effects, a feature that was removed early on in Doom's history. By fixing the random number table and replacing the game's sound effects with a sine wave, one second long and tuned to middle-c, I was able to determine the upper and lower bounds of the pitch shift.
Once I knew that, I was able to write some patches to re-implement pitch shifting in Chocolate Doom, which I'm pleased to say have been accepted. The patches have also made their way into the related projects Crispy Doom and Doom Retro.
I'm pleased with the final result. It's the most significant bit of C code I've ever released publically, as well as my biggest Doom hack and the first time I've ever done any audio manipulation in code. There was a load of other notes and bits of code that I produced in the process. I've put them together on a page here: More than you ever wanted to know about pitch-shifting.
Earlier in the year I treated myself to a new camera. It's been many years since I bought one, which was a perfectly serviceable Panasonic FS-15 compact, to replace my lost-or-stolen Panasonic TZ3, which I loved. The FS-15 didn't have a "wow" factor and with the advent of smartphones and fantastic smartphone cameras, it rarely left a drawer at home.
Last year I upgraded my mobile from an iPhone to a Motorola Moto G, which is a great phone in many respects, but has a really poor camera. I was given a very generous gift voucher when I left my last job and so had the perfect excuse to buy a dedicated camera.
I'd been very tempted by a Panasonic CSC camera ever since I read this review of the GF1 years ago, and the GM1 was high on my list, but there were a lot of compromises: no EVF... In the end I picked up a Sony RX 100 Mark 3 which had the right balance of compromises for me.
I haven't posted a lot of photos to this site in the past but I hope to do so in future. I've got to make some alterations to the software first.
Post-script: Craig Mod, who wrote that GF1 review, wrote another interesting essay a few years later: Cameras, Goodbye, where he discusses whether smartphone cameras are displacing even the top end of the Camera market.
My first computer was an Amiga A500, and my brother and I spent a fair chunk of our childhoods creating things with it. These things are locked away on 3.5" floppy disks, but they were also lost a long time ago.
A few weeks ago my dad found them in a box in his loft, so a disk-reading project is now on the horizon! Step one is to catalogue what we've got, which I've done here. Step two is to check which, if any, of these are not already in circulation amongst archivists. Thanks to Matthew Garrett for pointing me at the Software Preservation Society, which is a good first place to check.
When we get to the reading step, there are quite a few approaches I could take. Which one to use depends to some extent on which disks we need to read, and whether they employ any custom sector layout or other copy protection schemes. I think the easiest method using equipment I already have is probably Amiga Explorer and a null-modem cable, as this approach will work on an A500 with Workbench 1.3.
There are a variety of hardware tools and projects for reading Amiga floppies on a PC, but the most interesting one to me is DiscFerret, which is open hardware and software.
Older posts are available on the all posts page.