List of things off the top of my head that I want to do:

  • write a book. already had a non-fiction book published, but I’d love to have an interesting an compelling original fiction idea to write about. I’m working on a second non-fiction book at the moment.
  • master a martial art. I have a green belt in Bujinkan Taijutsu (ninja stuff, to the layman), but that’s from ten years ago – found a Genbukan teacher only a few days ago so I’ll be starting that up soon (again, ninja stuff).
  • learn maths. A lot of the stuff I do involves guessing numbers or measuring. it’d be nice to be able to come up with formulas to generate optimal solutions.
  • learn electronics. what /is/ electricity? what’s the difference between voltage and amperage? who knows… I’d like to.
  • create a robot gardener. not just a remote-control lawn-mower. one that knows what to cut, what to destroy, that can prune bushes, till the earth, basically everything that a real gardener does.
  • rejuvenate, or download to a computer, whichever is possible first. science fiction, eh? you wait and see…
  • create an instrument. I’m just finishing off a clavichord at the moment. when that’s done, I think I’ll build another one, based on all the things I learned from the first. followed by a spinet, a harpsichord, a dulcimer, and who knows what else.
  • learn to play an instrument. I’m going for grades 2 and 3 in September for piano. I can play guitar pretty well, but would love to find a classical teacher.
  • write a computer game. I have an idea, based on Dungeon Keeper, for a massively multiplayer game. maybe I’ll do it through facebook…
  • write programs to:
    • take a photo of a sudoku puzzle and solve it. already wrote the solver.
    • take a photo of some sheet music and play it.
    • show some sheet music on screen, compare to what you’re playing on a MIDI keyboard, and mark your effort.
    • input all the songs you can play on guitar/keyboard. based on the lists of thousands of people, rate all these songs by difficulty, to let you know what you should be able to learn next.
    • input a job and your location. have other people near you auction themselves to do the job for you. or vice versa: input your location, and find all jobs within walking distance to you where you can do an odd job for some extra cash (nearly there:
    • takes a photo and recognises objects in it (partly done)
    • based on above, but can also be corrected and will learn from the corrections (also partly done)
  • stop being damned depressed all the time.

There’s probably a load of other stuff, but that’s all I’ve got at the moment!

scramble solver

A few days ago I wrote a WordDrop solver. Today, I’ve amended that code to produce a Scramble solver.

here it is (code) – what I do is to have that page open, and the Scramble game open, in two windows side-by side. Then start a new game, type the letters into the top input box. That’ll fill in the grid. For “qu”, type “q” in the input box and correct it in the grid. Then click “do it” and cheat your way to a high score.

Also discovered a small bug in my binary search algorithm 😉 I’ve fixed it in this new script but couldn’t be bothered with the last one – I’m done with that.

cheating at worddrop

Yesterday, I cheated at WordDrop, which is a Facebook game. I already had the highest score of my own network of friends, so I feel okay about this. But now that I’ve cheated, the game’s no fun any more!

WordDrop is a game where an 11×8 grid of letters is shown, and you build up words from that grid, where each letter should be linked to the one before it, with longer words getting higher scores.

I wrote a little script which basically plays the game itself, and comes up with the longest words possible.

My current score on the game is more than 500,000, and that was for a single 10-letter word. The second word the program came up with was “reselected”, which was not in the WordDrop dictionary. I just stuck with the first word and submitted that. With one word, I got a score that was about 8 times higher than my previous high score.

my script, and all files – don’t worry about the .php file – I just wrote a small scripty bit to print out the table – just download the HTML and JavaScript if you want your own copy.

running Thief in Wine


WOOT! Finally got Thief: The Dark Project running in Linux

One of the reasons I finally removed my Windows partition was that it had become absolutely useless to me.

The only reasons I’ve used Windows at all in the last few years are to play games or to test something in IE. Absolutely nothing else. And these days, most of the games I like to play simply do not work on Windows anymore. Vista, for example, refused to play Thief 2, and I haven’t been able to play Thief 1 since XP. For IE, I have another machine in the office in work, so there’s absolutely no reason for me to run Windows.

So anyway, I removed the partition with the reasoning that if Windows can’t play the games, and Wine can, then Wine is better. Ironic, really.

Thief is one of those game series that is just so brilliant that you need to buy it a few times, because you keep lending your copy to someone else and forgetting exactly who (and they like it so much they simply “forget” to give it back). Dungeon Keeper is another brilliant series like that.

Thief finally works in Wine 1.1.12, which was freshly released via Yum on the Fedora network just today. This is great news! The game did not work in Wine 1.1.11, when I tested last week. This week it’s perfect.

I fired up my previously failing installation, and after a few changes, was able to get it running.

Christos, in the bug tracker, says he re-installed the game and codecs to get it working. I didn’t have to reinstall anything. The only changes I had to make are:

  • use winecfg to change the emulation to Win98, and the graphics to use a virtual desktop. My laptop is widescreen, and Thief starts in 640×480 mode – for some stupid reason, chops off the bottom of the screen when you request 640×480, and makes it 640×400. This makes Thief unplayable, so you need to use a virtual desktop.
  • write a small script to run the game in single-CPU mode – I created a file bin/thief containing this:
    cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Games/Thief/
    schedtool -a 0x2 -e wine THIEF.EXE

That was it – when I run thief from the console I get to play the game in full glory. It’s even better than the first time because this time my machine vastly beats the minimum requirements!