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<February 2005>
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Chris's Random Ramblings

Fri, 25 Feb 2005 - Hackfest Competition Open

Details about the Linux.conf.au 2005 hackfest competition are now available on the LCA website.

Source code is available here and includes a simple text based client as well as a very dumb sample AI.

Wed, 23 Feb 2005 - Spellcast

I've been pretty busy working on the codebase for the linux.conf.au 2005 Hackfest. Pipe has been attempting to help, mainly by walking over or sitting on the keyboard. Apparently my laptop keyboard is the comfiest place in the house to rest for a kitten. Am attempting to train him to sit against my leg so I can still type fairly easily.

This year's Hackfest, much like last year's competition will be based around a multiplayer network game. When we were at uni, Rusty and I spent too much time playing a game called Spellcast. It was written for Unix machines running X windows, and unfortunately relies on being able to put X windows on other people's displays. This is harder to organise to do across the internet these days, and doesn't really scale well.

As I mentioned before there will be two separate parts to the competition. The first, like last year, will be to write an AI, this time to play Spellcast. The second will be to write a GUI interface for humans to play against the AI's or observe other people playing. So for the last few weeks in my spare time I've been writing the client library and server which will control the game.

I think I now have enough up and running for potential entrants to start writing their programs - at least my little test AI can play a short, very simple game. Hopefully I will be able to put the source code up in the next couple of days. The server does not use any of the older Spellcast program (longish story), but it would probably still be useful to play the original as the aim is to have the game work in the same way.

Other useful references:

Fri, 18 Feb 2005 - Pipe Arrives

Pipe arrived at 1pm this afternoon. Even after the 1 hour flight he seemed quite happy but even happier to see us. We took him home where Gizzy was visiting to welcome him to his new home. Gizzy hissed a little bit at him, but after not too long, Pipe was climbing on top of Gizzy, and Gizzy gave his tail a bit of a lick.

During the afternoon and evening, Pipe ate some dry food, some chicken kitten food and drank some special kitten milk. He miaowed quite a bit afterwards and it was pretty clear he wanted to use the kitty litter tray but didn't. He was getting rather distressed so Kelly went out to buy some different kitty litter that the breeder recommended, but that didn't work either. Finally we realised that the kitty litter was too near his food and moved it further away. He immediately went to use it, looking very relieved. Given he hadn't used the litter for about 12 hours he did a marvellous job for a little kitten. Looking very much happier, he then started exploring a lot more and jumping and playing around the house.

He even started surfing the internet.

Sat, 12 Feb 2005 - Named Pipe #2

On Thursday we went down to Melbourne to attend a wedding of one of Kelly's cousins, and took the opportunity to visit the kitten I have bought . Pipe was in a room with his brothers and sisters, and we were able to play with all of them a bit. Pipe was the friendliest and very cute. We also got to see his mum and dad. He arrives on this week so hopefully I'll be able to work from home for a day or two to get him settled in.

Spent Saturday driving back from Melbourne with Kelly and her parents, but will hopefully spend most of tommorow working on the Linux.conf.au hackfest code. Am running a little behind schedule in releasing the details on the competition. But I think I only need a couple of days solid work on the codebase to get it into a state where people can begin programming against it.

Tue, 08 Feb 2005 - Australian War Memorial Bike Rack

Whilst there is a lot of car parking at the Australian War Memorial, the bike rack is rather hard to find (probably only meant for employees), and it also tends to fill up. One enterprising individual managed to find something fairly solid to lock his bike to.

Not only is it secured to something that is not going to move without the aid of a crane, but I hear you also get a tour of some of the private areas of the museum if you lock your bike up there.