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06/14/13

Permalink 12:34:00 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 1877 words   English (CA)
Categories: Reviews, Games

Defiance: The Game

(I'll see if I can work at getting some screen captures in here, because it needs some dang screen captures! :) )

I got to be a minor fan of the Defiance TV show in the first couple of episodes because of some of the characters and twists they threw in, but I'm woefully behind; we switched PVRs and are stuck trying to find a time to hook up the old one just to watch some older leftovers.

I will admit that I only tried the game because of being slightly partial to the show and it being a free weekend to try. I had every intention of just letting it go when the free weekend was up... but I didn't.

It's just a lot of fun, despite not being particularly ground-breaking. It's like someone came along and just decided to make sure there was some good solid world-building backstory, and then just write a game that they would really like.

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08/05/12

Permalink 03:09:00 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 591 words   English (CA)
Categories: Distractions, Journal

Elle Grand Prix 2012 Beauty Products

I enter all kinds of contests. As a Canadian, my two favourite sites for contest listings are Contest Canada with its good listings and amusing taglines, and Contestgirl, with some good tools to keep track of contests.

My wins are fairly sparse, but one recent surprise was winning the "Elle Grand Prix 2012 Beauty Product Contest". Products competed for Best Of titles, and the prize here was the best of and runners-up in quite a few categories. We opened up the box and found all manner of cleansers, makeup, moisturizers, hand products, shampoo and other hair products - some of which we found out definitely cost a pretty penny off the shelf!

No shaving products or anything, but hey, Dena can't use all that moisturizer herself, so here are our thoughts on some of these products so far:

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04/17/12

Permalink 01:13:00 am, by Ritchie Annand Email , 3195 words   English (CA)
Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

Creationist on a Thread: Part I

This article in TechnicianOnline stirred up a lot of controversy. You could follow the Facebook responses to that for days and hardly come to the end of it.

Where I chose to chime in was where someone had rebuffed that original author, a creationist popped up to oppose them, and folks started piling on. The conversation gets rather long, but it's a fascinating study in how just about every creationist argument can get pulled out of the sack in sequence. My favourite bit: agreeing to disagree, then proceeding to get a dig in! Enjoy.

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03/08/12

Permalink 12:02:02 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 217 words   English (CA)
Categories: Programming

JavaScript Script Tags Violate Normal Tag Rules

You know how you can - for just about every HTML tag - combine the start and end tags, XML-style, into just one node?

For example, you need not go <img src="mypig.jpg"></img> - you can simply go <img src="mypig.jpg"/>.

It turns out that this is not the case for <script> tags at all, at least not without special treatment.

I had a fairly simple page to which I was trying to add a JavaScript include, a snippet of which went like this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="../js/dialogs.js" />
<script type="text/javascript">
function initPage() {
.. rest of function ..

Then, later on in the page, I tell the body to run initPage when it loads:

<body onload="initPage()" ...

When I showed the web page, I got the error:

SCRIPT5007: The value of the property 'initPage' is null or undefined, not a Function object

How could that possibly be?

As it turned out, that JavaScript inclusion did not seem to consider the script block finished... or something. Everything worked again when I changed that line to this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="../js/dialogs.js" ></script>

Now there's a twist. Apparently, this is the case when the web page gets sent back with the 'normal' HTTP header Content-Type: text/html. If it is sent back with application/xhtml+xml instead, then the start and end script tags no longer have to be broken up. See here.

03/03/12

Permalink 04:49:51 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 1832 words   English (CA)
Categories: Journal, Thoughts, People

Parenthood, Part II

One thing I would recommend in particular for the little one is a bassinet right by the side of your bed, particularly if mom is breastfeeding. The baby is going to be wanting to feed about every two hours for a period of about two months, and during this period, it is really good to be able to roll over, pluck the baby out, feed the baby and be half-asleep at the time. There really is something a little more refreshing about not having to fully wake up for things.

Alternately, if you are set up for it, get a chair comfy enough to sleep in with wide, soft arms on it for the nursery. This is great for later, but may also be necessary if one parent is not taking any or much parental leave and needs sleep to be able to function at work.

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02/28/12

Permalink 08:57:11 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 441 words   English (CA)
Categories: Common Sense, Spamming

Scammers: The Nerve!

Hey, there are scammers out there! If you got taken by one, then you're obviously someone we want to talk to:

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12/16/11

Permalink 04:06:42 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 236 words   English (CA)
Categories: Programming

Running Out Of Memory Without Using Much Memory In C#

Few things are more dreadful for an application than a recurring "out of memory" error.

You ask for memory graphs for the past hours or days and scan them... and you don't find anything untoward. Now, you're really confused.

One thing about the memory management in .NET - you do not actually have to be using all the memory to get a System.OutOfMemoryException.

We had a server application blowing up with just around 1 Gb of memory used, when we have seen much more than that with load testing with no issues.

In our particular case, the culprit was AppDomains. We create them to safely host external libraries written for .NET. AppDomains are finalized, and it seemed reasonable - based on that and the fact that they do not figure prominently in memory tools - to let .NET take care of them as they go out of scope.

The out of memory exceptions were happening inside CreateDomain almost exclusively. This might be due to the memory being "reserved" somehow, or it could just be that CreateDomain looks for some other resource - or space on a list for a resource - that the .NET runtime can no longer provide.

We cannot easily tell which, since the error occurs inside nCreateDomain. It's a [MethodImpl(MethodImplOptions.InternalCall)] - meaning part of the CLR itself.

So, we used AppDomain.Unload(...) with those application domains when the sessions ended, and the out of memory issue - fingers crossed - has seemingly disappeared.

11/29/11

Permalink 03:15:39 am, by Ritchie Annand Email , 815 words   English (CA)
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Internet, People

Offense-Taking In The Skeptical Community

I've had it - I've just had it.

The skeptical community has always had its ups and downs, but of late, many corners of the skeptical community have turned taking offense into an art form.

One phrase that is often lauded by skeptics, including me, is "nobody has the right not to be offended". It is at the heart of fighting things like blasphemy laws and cutting at peoples' sacred cows and superstitions.

Now, this is not to say you cannot rip into people for dumb, ignorant or vicious crap. If you blame rape victims or dehumanize any group through racist slurs or violent fantasies, you deserve to get your gonads ripped off. Skeptics' responses vary from high road to Road Warrior.

...but these days, in some of the most brazen displays of claiming "the right not to be offended", the reactions even to things read in to what people say is completely hair-trigger and not only sidetracks everyone into taking sides for and against whoever is reacting, it puts people even more on edge in what appears to be some sort of cycle.

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11/21/11

Permalink 04:25:47 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 1068 words   English (CA)
Categories: Internet, Spamming

A Slight Twist on the 419 Scam

You know those lovely scam e-mails promising you some great portion of millions of dollars from some dying or dismissed general or administrator if only you would help get it out of the country... just by providing one more payment for this and that?

Here's their "amusing" twist on it all - hey, I'm calling to tell you that whole thing was a scam and I'm just trying to prevent you from being arrested for it so won't you send $98 to this private attorney for paperwork?

Man alive, I think Nigeria's biggest export is balls.

Message below the fold:

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09/07/11

Permalink 03:04:44 am, by Ritchie Annand Email , 736 words   English (CA)
Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

Niles Eldredge Out Of Context

Creationists love "gotcha" quotes. In a world view where scientists are all party to one great conspiracy, these are signs of cracks in the great façade.

These quotes bounce all over the internet, mindlessly copy-pasted.

There is a catch, though. These "gotcha" quotes are taken from the middle of something else. One might be left to wonder, "why is a top-notch scientist saying these things?"

The problem, of course, is context. "But these are their exact words" is piss-poor defense when it misrepresents what the person being quoted is saying.

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08/27/11

Permalink 01:00:58 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 1285 words   English (CA)
Categories: Journal, Thoughts, People

Parenthood, Part I

I didn't know what it was going to be like; not really.

As I write this, I have an almost 4-year-old and a 1-and-a-half-year-old. I'll describe the journey and my present thoughts.

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06/14/11

Permalink 12:13:49 am, by Ritchie Annand Email , 237 words   English (CA)
Categories: Internet

"A Device Attached To The System Is Not Working"

When trying to remote in to your machine, there are few things more aggravating than having it lead you through the motions, only to have a giant "A device attached to the system is not functioning" with a giant OK button.

You don't get to argue with it or even just find out the answer to the burning question: "Which $*#^@ing device do you mean??"

I have had this happen a couple of times, usually at the most inconvenient time possible, like when I have a presentation queued up on my desktop to show to people on the projection screen in the meeting room.

This time, I experimented, and I found something that worked. It was not what I expected at all.

The Remote Desktop Connection window has an Options >> button, one that I have never needed to look at. In this case, I decided - in desperation - to look at it.

Under the Local Resources tab, there are things like Remote computer sound and Local devices and resources.

In my case, I unchecked the Clipboard resource then clicked Connect, and it let me connect just fine.

(What? If the clipboard is malfunctioning, you won't let me see anything?)

If you are having this issue, it might be something similar. Uncheck devices, including ones that might be checked under the More... button in the Local devices and resources section of Local Resources, and success may greet you too.

06/07/11

Permalink 02:10:40 am, by Ritchie Annand Email , 737 words   English (CA)
Categories: Distractions

First Trip On Transit

No heavy duty topic today. This is about taking my 3-year-old for his first transit trip of more than one stop.

He's been on a bus before, but always for a single stop, back in the days when his growth outpaced my parental muscle development.

This time, to make up for upsetting his schedule, I picked him up from our old daycare lady and asked him if he would like to ride the bus. "Yes," he said. "What colour is the bus?" he chatted to himself. "Lellow!" He could say 'yellow', but 'lellow' stuck.

"No, that's a school bus. We're not going to school. We are going on the city bus."

Even though I had scheduled us pretty well, the wait for the bus with a 3-year-old is often interminable!

Full story »

03/10/11

Permalink 01:41:56 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 102 words   English (CA)
Categories: Programming

Converting TDateTimes to System.DateTimes and back

It's not straight-up obvious how to convert the Borland and Microsoft formats back and forth in code, but it does end up being pretty easy.

TDateTimes are in "OA" format, which is OLE/COM-compatible. The functions that convert back and forth to the OLE format work just fine for TDateTimes as well.

MSDate := DateTime.FromOADate(BorlandDate);
BorlandDate := MSDate.ToOADate();

The syntax is nigh identical on the C# side apart from the assignment operator (= instead of :=).

Note that if the TDateTime arrives as an object in C# somewhere, you can simply cast it as a double; you do not need to cast it specifically as a TDateTime.

Permalink 11:41:25 am, by Ritchie Annand Email , 185 words   English (CA)
Categories: Programming

E2328 Linker error while emitting metadata

There are few things more fun than topping off a righteously sweaty code refactoring session with a particularly rare and un-to-underdocumented linker error.

I ran into this in CodeGear RAD Studio 2007 on the Delphi for .NET side. It was different than the small handful of problems I saw other people run into, and since I managed to track it down to a particular line, I thought I would share it.

My encounter with this linker error happened when using a named constant set, e.g.

const
FIELD_BLOB_TYPES : set of MyFieldType = [mftBinary, mftGraphic, mftDiagram, mftAttachments]

The code that caused the explosion simply used the type:

if Attribute.ValueType in FIELD_BLOB_TYPES then
...

Replacing it with the full set fixed the issue:

if Attribute.ValueType in [mftBinary, mftGraphic, mftDiagram, mftAttachments] then
...

Note that using this code construct is no guarantee that this linker issue will happen - I actually use this construct in other parts of my code with no problem - but if you do run into this weird linker error, this may be the straw that is breaking the camel's back.

Hopefully, I can save someone out there from the frustration.

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