Category Archives: English

Ships in Widelands

A ship sailing from a port transporting stonesYesterday, ships were finally added to Widelands! Strictly speaking the ships have been in since build 16 was released, but now they even do something. Eager to test them out I took a look at the latest version, I edited the allowed buildings of Atlanteans and used the editor to set up a quick map with a small lake. I built a port on both sides of it, and then a ship which sailed between them, transporting wares and workers. Transportation was easy to set up by adjusting priority in the ports which worked just like a regular warehouse. The advantage of course is that with ships you can transport resources across the map as long as there is a port on both sides.

Personally, I’m really happy to finally get to play with ships. Those familiar with Widelands will know that it is similar to the older Settlers-games. And while Settlers II introduced ships, I have to admit I have only ever played demo versions of it. Ships, of course, were one of the promised features which was only included in the fullversion. They did include teaser screenshots and descriptions of how the ships worked though, and in some way I have been waiting more than 10 years to get the ships sailing back and forth on my screen.

And I think it looks awesome. At the present no scenarios or maps are built around ships since they have not been available and even now they are not enabled by default. However, I think that in time this can offer some significant changes to the gameplay. I look forward to how expeditions, colonies and dealing with territories split across the map works out.

For those who are impatient and want to try it out for themselves, grab the latest development build or compile the latest version yourself. (Beware that changes happen rapidly in the development versions and are not guaranteed to be free of bugs or issues.) For the rest, seafaring will be included in build 17 (unless something unexpected happens) which is due to be released some time next year. I look forward to it.

Collection of links #1

This is a collection of some various, interesting things I have stumbled across lately which doesn’t really justify a separate post each.

Someone made a Creative Commons licensed book about the architecture of open source applications. Since the code is open and freely available, this makes it possible to discuss how it is constructed and how the choices made in development affected the end result. Among the programs covered are Eclipse, Mercurial, CMake and Battle for Wesnoth. I read some parts of it, and it looks like they are already working on volume 2.

If you know what a Möbius strip looks like, you should check it out this short little story about a girl living in Möbius world. Actually, it is brilliant, so you should probably go see it anyway.

“Achieving your childhood dreams” is the name of a presentation I watched a long time ago (last fall or something), which is a really inspiring talk by Randy Pausch. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The talk is his chosen topic for what they referred to as a “last lecture”, which essentially means if you were given one last lecture to hold, what would you talk about? The twist here is that he had recently been diagnosed with cancer and informed he had maximum six months left. He also gave an interesting lecture on time managment. They have both been posted on YouTube by Carnegie Mellon.

Also on YouTube is the TV-series Pioneer One. It is an interesting approach because they are funded by donations and make the episodes freely available from their website. So far they have released four episodes, with two more coming soon. It is hard to say something about the plot without spoiling too much, but it is a sci-fi series.

And Ubuntu recently released alpha 2 of their upcoming Oneiric Ocelot release. Check here if you want to take it for a test spin, or here to see the expected release schedule. Since it is still under development, I recommend not using your day to day machine, but rather test it in a virtual machine or something in case something breaks.

Speaking of Ubuntu, you may have noticed the main colors used are orange and aubergine. If you have wondered exactly which colors are used, these two friendly owls (?) will let you know.

That’s it for now…

Towers of Midnight

The second to last book in the “Wheel of Time”-series was recently released. I knew it was due to be released sometime in November this year, so I was delighted when I discovered it is already out. The book is entitled “Towers of Midnight” and is the second part of book twelve in the series. Dragonmount (possibly the largest WoT-community online) has some more information. (Rather spoiler-free, unless you consider the text on the back of the book a spoiler).

Since Robert Jordan passed away in 2007, Brandon Sanderson have been wrapping up the last book, which was split into three. The first part was released last year, the second was just released (see above) and I assume the third and final part is due next year.

While I was initially somewhat skeptic to another author picking up Jordan’s notes and plan for the finale, Sanderson seem to have done a great job so far. The previous, “The Gathering Storm”, which was the first Sanderson co-authored fitted in with the rest of the series nicely.

Oh, and for those who gave up on the Wheel of Time because it started to drag out. Well, “The Gathering Storm” put it back on track, even resolving some plot threads going back to the earliest books. So while I to some degree understand the complaints some people had with some of the later books, it seems to have been sorted out now.

One thing I’m really looking forward too, is that it seems the characters will finally be exploring the Tower of Ghenji, which has always sounded like an interesting location. I look forward to picking up this soon.

Learning to type

At some point I figured I should learn touch typing. Most of the stuff I write happens through a keyboard, whether it is code, assignments or blog posts or something completly different. So since I type a lot, I might as well learn how to do it properly, and hopefully increase my typing speed while I’m at it. Anyways, turns out there are a bunch of programs that help you learn/train touch typing. I tried a few but settled with using KTouch for a couple of reasons:

*It provides small sets of words (or letter combinations in the earlier stages) so that you get some practise with each letter before moving on to the next one. Later exercises then combines new letters with the ones you already know.

*Unlike a few others I check it displays a keyboard on screen, indicating which finger you should use to type the current letter. It also shows the colored map for which letter is associated to which finger at all times.

* It can graph your progress, including letters-per-minute, and words-per-minute.

* It shows you how many errors (misspellings) you have done, and list which letters you need to work on more.

*It was already in the Ubuntu/Debian repositories, so all I had to do in order to install it was to open the Software Center and search for it.

When stars version numbers align

Like most browser developers, Opera posts recent development builds of their browser. Earlier today I noticed they had released a new snapshot, and one of the changes was to update the version number of Presto (the rendering engine) to 2.6.35.

Now, as some of you may know, 2.6.35 is also the latest stable version of the Linux kernel. While it’s probably just a coincidence, I thought it was nice to spot a familiar number.

Compiling your own kernel

While it may sound complicated, compiling your own Linux kernel is actually pretty easy. All you need to do is follow the proper instructions like this. Actually, if you’ve managed to set up an Arch box, compiling the kernel should be no problem.

Basically you download the latest kernel, unpack it, configure it (using some really nice menu with all options available), compile it and change a few lines so that grub (or your favorite bootloader) is able to find it. Apart from some initial problems where I had forgotten to copy over some new files, it was pretty straight-forward. I was really happy seeing the computer go from selecting my newly compiled kernel at boot-up, to booting without errors and presenting me with a login prompt at the end. All in all it was a fun thing to do, not as hard as I expected, and I may have earned some geek cred in the process.

I’m still amazed at how easy it was compared to what I expected. Especially I was surprised that it was way easier than compiling Firefox, which I struggled with for quite a while before I got something that didn’t fail to build.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog. With any luck I will be writing stuff here, mainly related to programming, music, books or whatever I’m interested in at the moment. In additions I will most likely set up a section with some projects I work on or have done in the past. That’s the plan anyway. Stay tuned for more…