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January-March 2000 (oldest-to-newest)
Okay, I'm a loser. Let's get that out in the open. It
was just a couple months ago when I stated my virtues of
updating the page on a regular basis. And here it has been
over a month since the last update. Infinite apologies.
Of course I have no progress to report. I get constant
urges to work on Decaying Orbit, but have so far not done
so. Someday soon hopefully.
On the game playing front, I beat Wipeout 3 pretty
quickly. I don't know what some of the reviews were
saying about it being difficult. I found it much easier
than Wipeout 64. Other games I've gotten recently include
Um Jammer Lammy (got it cheap!), and a couple retro arcade
packs. Time Pilot is one of my all time faves so the
Konami pack was scooped up quick. The disc has like 8-10
games too. Not like those crummy 5 game Namco discs.
On the Nintendo front, Rocket: Robot on Wheels is
rather fun. There aren't any other N64 games coming out
soon that I desire (unless I can find DK64 cheap without
having to pay for the RAM expansion a second time). Of
course the Zelda expansion will be top of the list when it
arrives. My fiancee wouldn't let me live if I didn't get
that one - she's on her 3rd go at Z:OOT having beaten it
On the PC I got Ultima, but am waiting for a new
computer before I dive in. For Christmas I got Halflife
Opposing Force and Sim Theme Park.
The *really* cool thing is that we just got DSL
installed at our apartment. Downloads happen even faster
than at work. Hope I don't get swept up in some online
gaming thing :)
I'm finally diving in and upgrading my system. I've
been on the fence about this for some time, but a couple
things pushed me over. One was that I installed Win98 on
my fiancee's computer in an effort to get our home network
working (so we could share our DSL line). The ethernet
card just wasn't configuring properly on her system so I
decided to do a clean install of Windows. In the process
I upgraded her from Win95 to Win98SE. While using her
system, I got frustrated with it at times since it is so
horribly slow. She has my old Pentium 100MHz.
So instead of her getting a new system, I'm upgrading
mine and giving her my current one. She doesn't need that
much power after all. Also, it's good for her since she
gets my old one for free rather than paying for a new
system. Granted once we're married that whole money
division thing will be a moot point, but she's in school
now and every bit helps.
Of course, another thing that prompted me to getting a
new system was that I'm starting to feel the pinch of
obselesence. My PII-300 is a bit sluggish with new games
and will only get worse.
My new system will be a PIII 500E which I intend to
overclock the hell out of. I'm hoping to be able to hit
700MHz, but I'll be happy with 600-650. All I'm buying
right now are the CPU, main board, and SDRAM. I'll save
the graphics card upgrade for later until the whole
GeForce/Voodoo4&5 thing shakes out. If I can find a second
Voodoo2 I might SLI my current setup, but only if it's
cheap. It *will* be nice to get an AGP all-in-one video
card, though, since I currently have a Matrox Mystique for
2D and the Voodoo2 for 3D. They eat up a PCI slot
I need to bitch about something now. What the hell is
wrong with companies selling SDRAM for cheap and then
charging $20 for shipping. Come on! The memory module
itself is puny and shouldn't take much packaging. The
actual shipping cost should be small since most of the
companies are based in California like me. Talk about a
major rip off. And it seems they *all* do the same thing!
Luckily I found this site called
Computer Memory. Their base price was more than other
sites, but they gave me FREE SHIPPING. And BONUS, they're
based in Colorado so I didn't have to pay California sales
tax either. I just want to give a big middle finger to
1st Choice Memory, AccessMicro, Computer
Craft, Accubyte, and all the other sites that
tried to screw me on the shipping cost.
On the Decaying Orbit front I've done some more work on
my TimPak compression utility. It is very usable right
now, although I haven't done extensive testing. My main
goal was to compress that required OPSM title screen down
(in the event we're fortunate enough to get on another
cover disc). That single screen by itself is 225kb which
is a lot of RAM to sacrifice for a screen you see only
once. I was already hitting RAM limitations and that just
compounded the problem. After running it through TimPak,
the same screen is only 110kb - over 50% savings. By
comparison, WinZip can compress the image down to 60kb
which bums me out a bit. I can spend more time
optimizing my compression later if I need to.
Once I get this integrated in the code, my next order
of business will be to create a memory manager so I can
reuse as much RAM as possible. You see, after loading
the sound samples from main RAM to the SPU, the copy
that's in RAM is essentially wasted space. I plan to
reclaim that space for my program's variables and
Ooooh yeah! I received the last item for my new system
on Friday. Unfortunately I didn't have much free time this
weekend to put it together. I got my finacee set up with
my old system since she's more critical than I, being in
school and all.
While I didn't put it all together, I did get my new
system set up in a bare-bones environment - meaning, only
the video card and hard disk. I first tried it at the
rated spec of 500MHz to make sure it worked. Then I
decided to go for the gusto and cranked it up to 750MHz.
And what do you know it works! I may encounter problems
once I start adding components back in, but at least I
know my CPU and RAM are capable of going at 150MHz FSB.
I was worried about the RAM since I only got generic PC133
I'll post again once I get the whole thing working.
It makes me wonder, however, how far I could actually push
this thing. Right now I'm limited by the motherboard.
The highest FSB setting it allows is 150MHz. Who knows if
it could go higher? I'm sure the RAM couldn't go much
faster than 150MHz though.
A funny thing happened while setting up my finacee with
my old PII-300 system. After transfering her stuff to the
new motherboard, Windows 98 found the driver for the video
card just fine. Since the card is from my Pentium 100, I
was concerned that it would be too outdated to function in
the new setup. I was happy that Windows 98 had a driver
for it, but was dismayed because there were numerous visual
artifacts - the icons were messed up, scroll bars looked
weird, etc. So I went to STB's web site and looked for
their latest drivers. The ones I found were dated from
1996 so I didn't have much confidence that they'd be better
than the Windows 98 ones, which were dated 1999. I'll be
darned, though, they worked like a charm! It's funny how
drivers from '96 can be better than ones from '99.
It seems my jubilation was a bit premature. My new
motherboard has been giving me no end of problems. It
won't even install Windows 98SE without an error! On a
freshly formatted hard drive even! After reading
discussions on the web I've come to understand that others
are having the same problems. It sounds like a design
flaw in the VA6.
So I'm probably going to say bye-bye to the Abit VA6
and try out a Soyo motherboard (I forget the model number).
This delays things a bit, but I should have the replacement
by next week. One nice thing is the Soyo has a higher
maximum FSB setting (155MHz vs. 150 for the Abit). So I
could theoretically get my processor up to 775MHz.
Before that, however, I'm going to try applying a BIOS
update to the Abit. If that works I guess I'll keep it.
It's a shame since Abit has always meant high quality to me.
They've tarnished their image...
I received the new Soyo motherboard on Friday and got
my computer up soon thereafter. My Voodoo2 was giving me
problems (even so much as to need to reinstall Windows).
I figured out my problems went away if I used the 3dfx
reference drivers rather than ones from my
I'm still having little quirks like if I try to do too
much while Windows is in that
booted-but-not-quite-done-booting state it sometimes lock
up. Hopefully I can sort that out.
Right now I'm running at 700MHz. I got a corrupted
registry when running at 750MHz, but I'm not sure if it's
due to the clock speed or just general Windows crapiness.
After things are stable for a while (and after I've backed
up everything) I'll try slowly increasing the clock to see
if the problem resurfaces.
Last week I also bought a sound card and speakers for
my PC at work (why it didn't come with them is beyond me).
I got the Turtle Beach Montego II for $60 and let me tell
you this card rocks! I had always imagined 3d audio to be
some gimmick that didn't work well enough to make a
difference. I am a changed man after running through
their A3D demos! It's simply amazing how they can make
the sound appear all around you. The up/down placement
isn't as great, but that's okay. For $60 I'm tempted to
replace my old Soundblaster 64 ISA card at home.
I've been playing Rocket: Robot on
Wheels for N64 pretty consistently. I'd label it as
an "average" platformer. It's fun and all, but I would
prefer to have spent my money elsewhere. I can still sell
it after I'm done with it.
I could have sworn there was more to write, but I
can't think of anything at the moment...
I made some changes to the
section to bring both Dave's and my own sections up to
Not much else to report at the moment.
Is this game great or what? Crazy
Taxi has occupied most of my free time since I got
it. I haven't even had a chance to play the umteen
million PC games I have.
I was bummed to hear that OPSM will no longer feature
Yaroze games on their cover discs. That really takes the
wind out of my sails (not like I was programming that much
On the other hand, while making the drive back from LA
to the bay area (well okay my fiancee was driving) I had a
revelation about a game idea. I think this one will be
really good, and not too difficult to implement either.
It's a puzzle game, which is usually not hard to program.
It has tremendous multi-player potential too.
I'm leaning towards making it for NUON since I have
access to a developer's kit at work. I'll let you know how
More staff changes as I remembered to include my compact flash card
reader, webcam, and DSL line to my PC setup. Plus, I broke
down and bought a Montego II for my home PC, just to make
sure my PC at work isn't better.
Happy birthday to me! I turned 27
It's been crazy at work lately. The cool thing is I
really like what I'm doing. Plus I finally got myself
hooked up to work at home. The modem was just terrible
for this, but with the DSL it's smooth as can be.
Okay, I've been playing too much Crazy
Taxi lately. Despite it's indisputable goodness, I
do have a few beefs with the game that keep it from being
||The controls are too sensitive when trying to weave in
and out of traffic. It's great to make those hairpin
turns, but when just cruising along the freeway, trying to
split lanes can be downright frustrating. Nothing like
accidentally smacking into the end of a truck to stop a
||Spinning out when gunning it and turning from a
standstill. Is it just me or does this serve no purpose
other than to piss you off? It wouldn't be so bad except
it can take quite a few seconds to get yourself out of the
||I'm sure there was a third item, but I can't remember
I need to retract one of my gripes about
which I posted last time. Once I learned how to do the
Crazy Dash correctly (thanks Bob!) that whole fishtailing
thing became a moot point. In fact, it turned from a bad
to a good since it's sometimes useful to get your cab in
the drop-off zone when you just missed it. I've completed
all the Crazy Box minigames except the last one. I would
have gotten that one done, but it was late and I went to
Game Developers Conference was in some ways better than
last year, and in some ways worse. Aside from t-shirts
there wasn't too much in the way of cool freebies. Two
notable exceptions were the Intel extenable phone cord and
the free game when you signed up at EA's employment booth
(got Alpha Centauri woo!). By far the best freebie was
snagged by Bob Shand, who I met up with on Saturday. He
scored a free copy of Windows 2000 Professional from the
Microsoft booth. Bugger :)
I haven't mentioned this before, but I've been taking
Tae Kwon Do for almost 3 1/2 years now. Well, this Friday
& Saturday it all comes to a head when I test for my black
belt. Training has been pretty rigorous these past couple
weeks, but I think I'm ready for it. Or rather, as ready
as I can be. Naturally just because I get my black belt
doesn't mean I'll stop training, but at least I can slack
off for a while until I test for my second degree.
That is partially why life has been so hectic lately.
Combined with a busy work schedule I haven't had time for
much else. What little free time I do have is spent
playing the games I have. Incidentally I finally did
finish the Crazy Box mode in Crazy
Taxi. It opens up a secret vehicle - a bike. It's
kinda neat to play, but if I thought the normal taxis were
too touchy, the bicycle is even more so.
With Crazy Taxi "complete" I
finally went back and played some others that were on the
back burner. I finished Um Jammer
Lammy finally. Of course, finishing it with Lammy
just opens up the Parappa levels so there's still more to
do. Also, I'm finishing up Rocket Robot
on Wheels. I'll probably sell that one back once
The black belt test was just too incredible to put into
words. I'm confident I passed, but I won't know for sure
for another week or two. The highlight was definitely when
I broke a brick. It was quite daunting to look at, but
didn't turn out to be too difficult. Here's a pic of the
brick. I put a ruler next to it and highlighted the 1 and
2-inch marks to give you an idea how thick it was. Click
to see a larger version.
The test was very long. It started Friday evening with
the written test. This was basically rote memorization of
some "life skills". The rest of the evening was spent
having fun getting to know some of the instructors and just
getting our energy level up for the following day.
Saturday morning was the actual test. The adults tested
at 7:30am while the kids were at 9:30am. There were no
surprises during the test - it was basically everything
we've learned up until that point. At the end we attempted
to break three boards with three different kicks (front,
round, and back). We only had one chance at each and I'm
happy to say I broke all three. My foot paid the price
though as the ball of my foot became swolen. Even now I
limp around because of it.
After the test was the show at 5pm (well, it didn't
really start until quarter to 6 which kind of pissed me
off). This was open to anyone willing to buy a ticket and
was the main event for parents and friends to watch. That
was a lot of fun as the energy level from all the
candidates was so high. The end of the show was the brick
breaking I mentioned above.
After the show at 10pm we changed into sweats and went
to the track for some conditioning. Lots of running,
situps, pushups, and whatever else they wanted to make us
do. They were just trying to get us to quit. It was tough
as hell (I'll be sore for a couple days), but it was over
before I knew it. Remember my foot I hurt earlier in the
day? I didn't even feel it during the conditioning. The
energy level was again very high. The test officially
ended around midnight.
That's it. I think I passed but, again, I won't get my
actual results for a bit. It is possible to pass and yet
need to retest in certain areas. I'm hoping that won't be
necessary for me. Either way though it was an incredible
experience and I look forward to the test for my 2nd degree
in a couple years.
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© 1999-2007 Scott Cartier