Lately, I’ve been checking out a brower-based game called “OGame”. It’s a space-based 4x game, and I was curious about what they were doing. Being a browser-based game, there’s not much in the way of flashy graphics, but they use some nice 2d images to inspire the imagination of the player. (I had to laugh a little at the flashy video they put on the front-page of their website, which shows a fast-paced battle scene in space. The scene has absolutely nothing to do with the game, except, perhaps to inspire the imagination of the player. In fact, space battles are automatically handled and you don’t see any visual representations of the fight.)

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Amazon Prime and Amazon Video on Demand: Too good to be true

A few months ago, Amazon announced that they were giving Amazon Prime customers access to their Video On Demand. I’m not an Amazon Prime member, but I order quite a bit from Amazon. For $80/year, I thought that sounded like a pretty good deal, since I was interested in some of the stuff they had – like Mad Men and some of their movies. I finally went to Amazon today and discovered that only a subset of the Video on Demand is free to Amazon Prime members. More specifically, of the 44,485 Video on Demand items, only 2,386 of them are free for Amazon Prime members. That works out to about 5% of Amazon’s catalog, and it included none of the videos I was interested in watching.

I should’ve known it was too good to be true.

10 Centuries of European History

My only criticism of this video is that it should play faster, and should show the year somewhere. If this is ten centuries, then the years should correspond to roughly:

1000 AD – 1100 AD = 0:00 – 0:32
1100 AD – 1200 AD = 0:32 – 1:05
1200 AD – 1300 AD = 1:05 – 1:37
1300 AD – 1400 AD = 1:37 – 2:10
1400 AD – 1500 AD = 2:10 – 2:42
1500 AD – 1600 AD = 2:42 – 3:15
1600 AD – 1700 AD = 3:15 – 3:37
1700 AD – 1800 AD = 3:37 – 4:20
1800 AD – 1900 AD = 4:20 – 4:52
1900 AD – 2000 AD = 4:52 – 5:22


A friend of mine suggested bringing the game to XBox arcade. Probably not a bad idea, though I’d have to think about the use of typing in the game. Also, XBox doesn’t support OpenGL. Fortunately, none of the EoS graphics code is particularly complex. It’s too bad that technologies don’t work better cross-platform. OpenGL runs everywhere except on the XBox (where Microsoft prefers it’s own DirectX technology). EoS uses MFC, which only runs on Windows. A friend of mine does a lot of work in Flash, which runs everywhere – except the iPhone and iPad. It’s never fun to write secondary code to get applications ported to other platforms.

Another Good Reason To Do Off-Site Backups

Over the weekend, there was a tornado scare in downtown Denver. It was forming about four or five blocks from where I live. (I live near the capitol, which is clearly visible below the funnel cloud in the first video.) Fortunately, it dissipated without touching down.

I was actually more concerned about the idea of losing software (which is years of work), than losing my home to a tornado. Makes me glad I do off-site backups.

Stallman and his followers

Wow. This isn’t a fictional story – it’s a real email conversation.

Richard Stallman (2005-04-23, Link):
Stefan, can you work on that [change to Emacs]?

Stefan Monnier (2005-04-25, Link):
I just got a baby girl and am kind of swamped.

Richard Stallman (2005-04-26, Link):
I am sorry to hear it. Unless someone else can figure these things out, I guess the release has to wait until you have time.

Nick Roberts (2005-04-26, Link):
Congratulations, Stefan! I suggest that you spend any spare time with your daughter as she will grow up before you know it. Emacs, on the other hand, will still be around after she has left home.

Richard Stallman (2005-04-27, Link):
It doesn’t take special talents to reproduce–even plants can do it. On the other hand, contributing to a program like Emacs takes real skill. That is really something to be proud of.

It helps more people, too.

Original Source: Edward O’Connor’s blog, Links listed above.

Even more bizarrely, a number of Stallman fans comment on the thread to defend him and his disregard for anyone or anything other than Emacs. It’s odd how some people view everything Stallman says with religious reverence. On a similar note, I saw this the other day while looking around at open-source video editing software:

Richard M. Stallman has said, more than once, that the one justifiable reason to use proprietary software is that there is no free software equivalent available. I’m afraid that this is the case in the video editing world — and will be for a long time to come. Video editing is an incredibly complex computer task. (Source)

How strange – as if this guy has to get permission from Stallman before he decides what software to use.

A Little Bit Of Knowledge…

When writing software, I usually try to make the software simple enough that my parents could use it. My parents are really bad with computers, so it’s a good rule of thumb for making it easy enough for everyone.

Today, I got a call from my dad. He was having trouble with his computer, so he called up HP tech support. The guy told him that the easiest way to fix the problem was (dum da dum dumb) – to reformat his hard drive and reinstall the OS. I actually think the tech support guy couldn’t figure out what settings to change to fix the problem, but knew it “should work” on a brand-new computer.

I had setup my parents with a backup drive a few years ago, so my dad told the guy that he had a hard-drive backup. What my dad didn’t know, however, is that the backup drive was setup to work with his old computer, and the backup system was not installed on his new computer that he bought over a year ago. (I would’ve fixed this myself, but my parents live across the country, and I haven’t been there in years.) So, my dad dutifully deleted his hard-drive, and then called me to find out how to restore his data from the backup-drive. Proving that a little bit of knowledge can be a very dangerous thing. Ironically, he wouldn’t have deleted his hard drive and lost his data if I hadn’t installed the backup system in the first place.

I think I need to buy him a rebit drive.


I got a postcard in the mail today telling me that I’ve been picked for a Nielsen survey. The thing is – I don’t own a TV. I have to wonder if that’s becoming more common. Afterall, if you want to watch TV, you can stream it off of the internet, anyway. I’ll be curious to know if they have a “streamed off the internet” section. Probably not.

Under Construction

I’m messing around with designing this section of the website. It’s very much in-transition; I’m still adding features, messing with site design, and so on. What do I plan on talking about on this blog? Games (ideas, reviews of other games), Game Development (the business, the tools, etc), Copyright and DRM, games and the media/public, cool images/videos, and random game-related stuff. I have another blog related to my game, Empires of Steel. In the past, I used it as a general purpose blog (including talking about things like game-related violence statistics). In the future, I’m going to try to keep that blog focused on Empires-of-Steel-related stuff.