Journal

Much of the old blog's contents consists of timeless articles, that are now scattered throughout the various thematic sections; however, some blog posts were highly time-dependent, and were preserved as such. A separate page for posts made from 2011 to 2015 was considered, and rejected: old posts belong with the new. Mind the five-year gap.


Create new post in category: AssortedProgrammingUpdates


2023-01-25 Programming

So, what is it with programmers relying on shared libraries for the longest time, despite notorious problems? Modern languages created this century all use static linking by default, and people love them for it, because software distribution is a (largely unsolved) problem.

Don't get me wrong, shared libraries have their place, for things like:

  • plugins and foreign function interfaces;
  • basic operating system services like user interfaces (think curses).

(By the way: a standard user interface package is the #1 requested feature in any programming language that doesn't have one. Developers, get a clue already.)

But otherwise? Fixing a bug in many apps at once doesn't happen. What happens instead is DLL hell. Memory savings? Arguably, though it doesn't seem to help in most operating systems, and then you have Electron-based apps. Reusing libraries? People almost always do that by linking against them, and for that you need the development version anyway.

Magical solutions make you lose sight of desired outcomes. Watch out.

0 Comments on this page

2023-01-14 Assorted

Hey, everyone. It's a new year, and I'm back after all. Amazing what difference one friend can make. Not much more happened in late December, apart from a nice write-up about the (now completed) DOS Game Jam. Other links went directly to various parts of the main website, because reasons; I should get better at pointing them out, but it's kinda hard with a large set of static pages.

Then came January, when yet another corporation has been trying to kill its golden goose. Because why should we have nice things in late-stage capitalism?

You've guessed it, this is about the D&D licensing debacle. A story in links:

Followed by two announcements in quick succession:

At which point I grew tired and stopped tracking the headlines. Look: this has long ceased being about money. Corporations by now have more money than they'd ever know what to do with. This has been all about control for decades now.

Let's get that into our heads already, for our own sake and the world's.

0 Comments on this page

2022-12-14 Assorted

Hey, folks. The year's last link roundup is late today, not that anyone is going to notice. It's also thin on the ground, so let me stuff it with a few extra links. For one thing, I have a fan! And a friend recommended a (new to me) tutorial for isometric tile art. In other news, we have:

Last but not least, Nathalie Lawhead is busy again writing about The open-source no-code world of GDevelop. As she adds, "if you miss browser Flash games, this is keeping that dream alive!" I don't have the patience for these huge, complex tools with endless interactive tutorials anymore, but it's amazing that they exist. It's not easy, enabling everyone to make games.

That said: my last... many link roundups have gone completely unnoticed everywhere I posted about them, so there might not be another one come 2023. The site, of course, remain up and I'll keep thinking of ways to improve it. If anyone is out there at all, thanks for reading, and happy holidays, whatever you celebrate in December. Be well.

0 Comments on this page

2022-11-14 Assorted

The weather just turned towards early winter, and news are still slow, but there's enough for a monthly link roundup. In mid-October, as the Wall Street Journal revealed, Company Documents Show Meta’s Flagship Metaverse Falling Short. Then there are two write-ups about freeing games from racism and colonialism:

Still on the subject of attitudes towards games, we get a plea to Stop Remaking Good Games And Start Remaking Games That Could Have Been Good. As the tagline says: "It doesn't make sense to remake games that are already classics when there are so many games with potential that deserve a second chance." And last but not least, Nathalie Lawhead takes advantage of the newest feature in itch.io to write about Video game blogging at the end of the world (and recommend some games while at it).

Which is good, but also all I have for November. See you towards Christmas.

0 Comments on this page

2022-10-14 Assorted

It's been a slow news autumn, and that suits me just fine.

Let me start with a headline left over from last month: a roundup (in French) about new interactive fiction authoring tools. And while we're looking backwards, another from three years ago of The Best Command-Line-Only Video Games. There's even one I didn't know about!

Coming back to the present, there's a good opinion piece about Doom & Game Preservation. I wrote about this issue before, or rather about portability, and came to the opposite conclusion. Still a good counterpoint. Some notes over on Tumblr.

Last but not least, a delightful write-up titled How I play D&D with my kids, which as usual is always worth a read for people making computer games. And still in the tabletop department, someone put together a site to track Physical Game Jams on itch.io, which strikes me as a worthwhile endeavor.

But this is it for now. See you next month or so.

0 Comments on this page

2022-09-07 Assorted

Hey, folks. Turns out I just barely missed a link for posting last month's roundup too early:

No comment. Let's look instead at more positive news from the rest of August:

Last but not least, September opens with Défis fantastiques : 40 ans d’aventures dont vous êtes le héros: a French language story about the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, which as it turns out still gets reprints, and spiritual successors. So enjoy, and see you in October.

0 Comments on this page

2022-08-28 Updates

It's been a while since the last update, and fans probably want to know what's happening around here. There are three big items this month:

  • started work on a web port of Tipsy Turtle, and promptly set it aside, but will pick it up again before too long, promise!
  • resumed getting rid of tags, and moved more articles to the main site — a slow process, but it's getting there;
  • last but not least, added some more old links to the archive section.

Otherwise it's still relatively slow because summer, but at this pace there's probably going to be a link roundup on time mid-September, so see you then!

0 Comments on this page

2022-08-07 Assorted

0 Comments on this page

2022-07-22 Programming

If you happen to be in the market for a version control system, may I recommend Fossil?

Why Fossil: imagine having your own little GitHub running locally, out of a 7-megabyte executable, with no other files to worry about. Well, except for the repos, and each repo is also a single file starting from 220KB. You get all the usual goodies, including forums and chat if you share with other people. But even while working alone, bug tracking and a project wiki can help. Besides, the browser interface is so convenient when it comes to seeing changes from version to version and such.

Why not Git: everyone uses Git today. That's just wrong. Git is made for projects with millions of lines of code and thousands of contributors. You know, like the Linux kernel. Is your project even remotely comparable? Besides, Git is infamously arcane and unforgiving. It can and will delete all your work if you make a tiny mistake. Pro tip: people make mistakes. It's how we can learn and adapt. Any design that ignores this simple fact of life is fundamentally broken.

Fossil has its quirks too. Think twice before doing a commit, because you can't back out of it. (You can, however, yeet it to a hidden branch named "bloopers" or some such.) And binary files are managed separately, outside of the regular revision workflow. On the plus side, it has niceties like tracking all your (local) repos, changing tags after the fact or showing you a heat map of recent changes to a file. Once you get its philosophy, that will open new doors.

You can work without a safety net (I did, for years). You can use Bazaar, another fine VCS. Fossil is different. And a change is welcome these days.

0 Comments on this page

2022-07-14 Assorted

It's peak vacation season in the northern hemisphere. The world of games slowed down after last time, but picked up again in time for another monthly roundup.

To begin with: belatedly (but this is big enough), David Ahl places all his classic computing publications into the Public Domain. Also in the way of game history:

Yep, it turns out there are tabletop RPGs literally as old as Frankenstein.

That's damn cool! Now for the complete opposite, some tales from the crypt... o:

Funny how anything related to crypto seems to involve art theft. See you next time.

0 Comments on this page

More...