Archived news items from June 1999
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.
Well, tomorrow is my birthday. The good news (for you, my faithful readers) is that my parents gave me money instead of a specific gift (I guess I sort of faked them out by talking for about a month about how I planned to get a video card for my birthday and which one I wanted, and then changing my mind the very day my parents has shopped for one and were just about to order it). So, all the things on my list are still available! Hurry today! ;)
Otherwise, there's still not much going on. Running errands and sleeping late. My life is pretty non-exciting at the moment (which is good; it makes up for the intensity of the school year).
I downloaded and watched Troops from TheForce.net. TROOPS is an excellent and funny short film (ten minutes) spoofing the once-popular show Cops by following a squadron of Storm Troopers stationed on Tatooine around the time of the original Star Wars. It's twenty-seven megs and requires Quicktime 3 or higher, but is very much worth the download. Production quality is quite high.
Just got back from finally seeing Star Wars Episode I. My two sentence review and then I'm going to sleep: Jar-Jar was quite obviously a marketing tool and considerably weakened the plot. Once they got to Tatooine, the movie was actually pretty decent.
Been reading some good stuff lately which has challenged me to examine a lot about my personality and how I relate to others. I've learned a lot about myself in the past couple of days. I think I've mentioned it before, but Larry Crabb's Inside Out is excellent and I'd recommend any Christian read it. But only if you want to be serious in your relationship about God and discover why real, deep change often eludes us.
In my CD player right now: The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, the Black Crowes' second album. I don't think I realized what an excellent album this is. It's by far their best. If you're into Southern rock with a great blues groove, there's no excuse to not own this album. I think I could listen to Black Moon Creeping (track 7) a dozen times a day.
Not much else going on except sleeping later and more organization and cleaning at school. AcaDec summer sessions start this Friday, though I wonder if we're going to have materials.
I did in fact get to Mars Music yesterday, where I got to look at some guitars. Not satisfied by that little taste, I went with a friend down to San Antonio to visit Hermes. Do not be fooled by the difference in web pages: Hermes has as good a selection or better, and the prices on the guitars I looked at were much better. For example, a guitar that sold for around $750 at Mars was merely $530 at Hermes. And had newer strings on it, so it sounded nicer. ;)
So at the moment I'm in love with a Washburn guitar I found at both places which has a lot of bells and whistles I've been looking for and has a great sound to boot. Of course, I made the mistake of visiting Washburn's web site, where I got to see the models a step-up from the J28, which have some even cooler bells and whistles (and carry a substantially higher price tab, of course). Anyway, it's possible that Hermes might carry the more expensive guitars, and considering their aggressive pricing on other items, I might be able to snag one of the really high-end ones for $900. I guess we'll see once I actually have any money.
Other than that, not much else has gone on the past few days. I played a harmonica solo in a song at church this morning, which is the first time I've done that in public since high school. (And then, it was a blues song for a blues crowd, so it was quite a different animal.) It went really well and was a pleasant change.
For those who are interested, I've put my wish list online. I think I'm going to try to go today to a music store where I can play a bunch of different guitars. I now know the features I want in my next guitar and the price range I'm looking at, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and play with the things to see how I like the various brands that seem to all meet my criteria.
Been a slow and lazy week. I've been spending a lot of time reading and some time at school just cleaning out cabinets and such. Throwing lots of stuff away.
In one of the cabinets, I found several (okay, four) copies of Kernighan and Ritchie's The C Programming Language, probably one of the most widely-read books in hackerdom. Now I can read about the One True Bracing Style from those that started it all.
Not much else going on; I haven't worked on the Transposer program any. Next step is to have it keep track of a song's original key; which can be restored at any time. Then a couple of interface changes and then I'll begin hacking in all the other features I've wanted which will make it much more than just a transposing utility.
I did get to see Austin Powers 2, which was quite good. I recommend it to anyone who liked the original. It was perhaps even better than the original in parts.
Not much else to say. The reading continues.
I got a chance to go home to see my folks and my little brother, so I've been out of town since Thursday. I would blame this for the lack of updates, but I can update from there almost as easily as I can from here, so basically it was just laziness.
The good news is that I got to see my little brother's band Frail play for the first time, and they were very good. The concert/worship service was very glorifying to God, and that would have been enough even if they didn't sound great.
Also, the car drove well all the way up there and back (over 300 miles round trip), so I feel pretty safe driving it for a while.
Anyway, I'm back, and probably about to go see Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Apologies to anyone from the UK who's reading this: I'm told that "shag" is really quite a dirty word over there.
Oh, and my car's working again. I'm going to pick it up shortly.
Quick update: my HTML error was called to my attention by one of my more observant students (thanks Eric), who also pointed out that the Transposer, as distributed, was missing a DLL. This turns out to be not truly because of a missing DLL, but because I forgot to link it statically. This has been fixed, and I got the icon displaying, though it appears I've done the colors wrong somehow. Unfortunately the file size is a lot bigger now (but still pretty small).
Here's the working version of the Chord Transposer (151K).
Took the DOS chord transposer utility and hammered it into a GUI using Builder. Integrating the lex-generated lexical analyzer with a typical C++ builder project was non-trivial, though it could have been much worse. I continue to be amazed at how simple it is to throw together a nice interface using Builder.
Latest version is on the Hurricane Router right now (14k). Don't expect major usability, and I can't get the icons to display properly, but it works. Be forewarned that saving doesn't prompt you if you try to overwrite an existing file, though it's supposed to. Does the transposition about as quickly as you'd ever want, too.
Still no vehicle. Grrr...
Latest kitten playtoy is the bathmat.
Well, this marks the end of my first full week without a car. Though there are some things Americans are probably better off without (daytime TV, for example), reliable transportation is not one of them.
Hope to have the car back tomorrow; the mechanic is having to wait on parts, or it would have been done on Friday. I have been getting more exercise this week walking everywhere. Or more accurately, I haven't been getting out much.
Spent the last couple of days playing through the original Nintendo classic Final Fantasy, using massive cheats to make things a little more interesting. But it turns out that twice through the entire game in as many days is enough; I've had absolutely no desire to play it today.
Today the bug bit me and I started work on a program I've been wanting for a long time. Probably few people other than worship leaders have a need to print out chord sheets for songs, transpose them among different keys, and search by tempo/key/focus on a regular basis, but I certainly do. So this evening I hammered out a program to transpose a song from/to any key, given an ASCII chord sheet. Just a simple DOS-based, command-line utility, but now that the core code is done, I can begin the larger project in C++ Builder and just paste what I have in the appropriate place.
The neat thing is rather than waste brain cells trying to figure out how to tell the difference between chords and text in a file, I actually just wrote a lexical analyzer in lex, something I haven't done since college and have never done out of personal desire (the others were for assignments). It's as easy as I remembered. I'm also quite glad that the standard GNU binutils have been ported over to DOS along with djgpp, including lex and yacc.
I suspect that only a small percentage of my readership will actually know what all that means, but what the heck. I want you to keep visiting anyway.
Been watching my kittens play with a broken guitar string and a cardboard box for half an hour. Remind me to never spend money on cat toys.
Got a call from the repair folks today. The timing belt broke, which would explain the fact that it just quit going. After some discussion, I told them to fix it The Right Way, which means it'll cost a bit more, but it'll run a lot nicer and be less likely to break again anytime soon.
Hopefully it'll be finished by the end of the day tomorrow or maybe early Friday. Fortunately for me I'm within walking distance of a good-sized grocery store and church, and don't really have anything else to do right now, so it couldn't have come at a better time.
In fact, I even had some extra money on my paycheck this month which will enable me to pay cash for this.... God's sense of timing is impeccable. (Get it? Timing?)
Still no word on the status of the car, except that it's presumably at the repair shop now being looked at.
Since I was pretty much grounded yesterday, I spent the day cleaning up and organizing some large piles of papers that have been taunting me for over a year now.
archive index (for dates back to August 1998)
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