August 29, 2007

Twenty-one Hours To Go...

In 21 hours, I'm fairly certain that I'm going to start humming that Ramone's classic, "I Wanna Be Sedated."

I'll be on a small padded table under searingly bright lights while men better educated than myself crack into my face and restructure portions of the inside of my skull.

I'll come to about four hours later and then understand the true meaning of pain about six hours after that when I start screaming incoherently about daggers against the inside of my eyelids and realizing that my face is more swollen than Tom Cruise's ego.

Over the following several days, as my body begins to return to a state similar to what it was before its violation, I'll be home. No work. No code. No worries.

If there are any problems, I'll provide my wife with my usernames and passwords so that she can inform the appropriate people. Hopefully, we'll speak again shortly.

August 27, 2007

Pre-Knife Jitters

I spent most of the weekend working on various projects to try to keep myself calm, given the pending knife to the nose Thursday morning.

I managed to get up so that it can start getting crawled (hopefully, I'll have per-game comments working soon and have it so that it looks less like a domain parking page and more like a valuable Vista resource). I managed to polish off a lot of design for stuff at the office. I managed to get my ass kicked at "BioShock" on hard after sailing through it on medium. My book proposal has been passed back to the publisher after making modifications based on their recommendations.

Of course, all that does is temporarily push the fact that I'm about to have my face cut open to the back of my mind. The doctor's been paid off, but the surgical center still hasn't run my insurance and I'm getting nervous that I may not have enough to cover it.

68 hours to go.

August 26, 2007

Bikini Waxing Monkeys?

There are times when I fear the Internet...

This is one of those times. Prelaunch

Some of you may have noticed a lot of Vista gaming "tips & tricks" lately. Well, they've quickly become the most searched for pages on this site.

Because of that, I'm "prelaunching" today.

Right now, there are only a few games listed, but I'm keying them in as quickly as I can. I'm starting with the titles that have problems and workarounds, and I'll start working on patches later this week. Hopefully I can have it at 100% before my surgery on Thursday morning.

(Update: Thirty-six games up now, several minor bugfixes, slightly better CSS. Still working on getting the ENTER button hooked up to submitting search.)

August 25, 2007

Perspective on Games and Protection

I'm a gamer.

I play games on my PC. I play games on my Xbox 360. I play games on my PlayStation 2. I play games on my GameCube. I play games on my BlackBerry. I play board games, card games, word games...I play games.

I've been playing games now for thirty years.

I remember going to arcades as a kid...and even managing one as an adult. I remember writing games on my old Timex Sinclair 1000, then moving on to the Atari 800XL after my membrane keyboard bit it. I remember getting so pissed off when the hard sector copy protection on a game caused head knocking on my ancient floppy drive.

I remember when games started shipping with license agreements. They confused me. "I bought the damn game...who are they to tell me what I can or can't do with it?"

I see the same comments all over the place nowadays. I've been there.

I still get pissed at protection that affects how your system functions (like StarForce). Hell, StarForce pushed me past the edge in the past. I'd like to point out a quote from that post back in 2005...
I would rather lose a sale due to piracy then lose all future sales due to an experience like this. A sale lost to piracy can lead to future sales if the game is good enough. A customer lost due to poor experience will never come back.
Yes, that's right. I said that. The poster child against piracy. Of course, sixteen months later the pirates were eating my lunch, but that's another story.

I guess I'm just seeing another death spiral. I remember the backlash against hard sector protection at the user group that I used to go to back in the 80's. I saw the piracy going on all around me and back then, I kept quiet...even when I shouldn't have.

PC gamers are calling bullshit on the copy protection. Game developers are calling bullshit on the piracy. With all of this bullshit going back and forth, the consoles are walking through relatively unscathed. On a console, you don't need to worry about the number of simultaneous have one and it's on the disk. You don't need to worry about CD keys, protection damaging your drive, driver issues, etc.

Developers are moving to consoles because of the lack of piracy and the relative ease of development (lack of config problems due to locked hardware, static performance profiles, etc.). Gamers are moving to consoles because there are no just play the game.

But PC games are just beginning to see the beginning of the depths of protection, and you need look no further than business software to see where it's going. After all, a PC is at its very nature a business machine. Admittedly, games have driven the development of PC's, driven the performance needs, driven the overall focus of the industry, but in the end your PC was still designed for Excel and Word.

Look at PC gaming today. We have master servers authenticating our games, license authentication to install and launch, media-based protection is acting as a dongle in a CD tray, hardware fingerprinting, CD keys...the business side has been there and when it comes to license enforcement, they're leading the way.

To be honest, they really have to. All software, games included, are sold as licenses. You do not own the software you buy. Even free software like Linux is made available to you under a license. Licenses have varying levels of freedom attached to them, but the fact that we are only acquiring licenses to the software cannot be discounted. (If it could, would sites like this exist?)

If we were truly buying the software, we could copy it all that we wanted and pass it out to our friends. We could disassemble it, distribute modified versions of it, and so on. Some software encourages redistribution, but most do not. Games fall in that bucket.

Most license terms aren't enforced. Game rentals are specifically forbidden by the license agreements of pretty much every console game released over the last decade, but game rentals thrive. "Hot Coffee" was discovered because modification was pretty much encouraged on the side as it kept interest in the product. But license enforcement is starting to ramp up and you're starting to see the first effects of it.

"SiN Episodes" and "BioShock" caught a lot of flack for trying to enforce license constraints on an offline game, and while they may have been among the first, they'll be far from the last...and it's going to become more and more harsh as time goes on.

The only thing that could really correct this would be a radical redesign of PC's, essentially integrating license enforcement into the platform in a seamless manner like on the consoles or the iPod...essentially making the enforcement a seamless part of the experience as opposed to the hacked-up, piecemeal approach that we currently have.

But until that day, I'll go where these is less hassle or where the hassle makes it worth my while. I bought "BioShock" on the 360 because I can kick back on my couch and enter Rapture in a relaxed manner. I'm going to buy "The Orange Box" over Steam because even though having to connect to Steam may be a little bit of a hassle, the ability to reinstall my entire Steam library after a system format with a couple of mouse clicks and an overnight download makes me very happy.

Now I'm not defending the license terms that we get hit with. I still believe in the first sale doctrine. You should be able to lend, rent, etc., any licensed software that you have. But I do support the right of the company that issued the license to ensure that if you do lend or rent your software that you aren't using it while it is out of your possession.

If those rights can't coexist at some level, then there is no marketplace...and that is what will kill PC gaming.

August 24, 2007

The Who Down In Gameville

All of this BioShock hubbub on the net brought out the Seuss in me. Apologies for the length, and for the meter being off in some sections.

The Who down in Gameville love to play
Video games all the night and all day.
They play them with meals,
They play them on wheels,
They play them online,
They play them all fine.

The gamers defend their systems with glee,
Some on PC, others on 360.
A straggling few have a PS3,
But their numbers are too small
To matter, you see.

The 360 gamers had plenty of games
But the means to control them were all the same.
No keyboard, no mouse would enter the fray;
With joystick, it was deemed, all games will play.

The PC gamers had games out the nose
And many could be played with a rubber hose.
Though hardware and drivers made compat pure shit
The gamers could play the game as they saw fit.

The 360 was capable of finishing the war
That Master Chief started this year less four;
But the PC gamers didn't really feel sore
Because they felt their computers could do so much more.

A few undesirables in either camp
Would pirate the games with their digital stamp,
But the PC suffered from warez much more often
That the 360 suffered in its small red-ringed coffin.

The makers of games saw the pirating void
The 360 protection automatically deployed.
It was too hard for most people to pirate and mod,
Unlike the PC where DRM's a fraud.

The makers of games kept selling to both
But the revenue figures weren't giving them hope
So they decided to turn PC games on their ear
And put in some roadblocks for casual pirates to fear.

They put in some code to check for the disk,
Figuring that would reduce their risk,
And for a while, the sales were in tune,
Until one day in the middle of June
When a fellow who went by the name of Woon
Etched into the code his Eldritch rune
And with that act of modification
The pirate people resumed their duplication.

The makers of games saw this,
And they were not pleased.
So they tried it again,
This time with product keys.
The crackers struck with the greatest of ease,
Bringing the simple code to its knees,
And copying again was as simple as a breeze.

While the battle to reduce bad copies commenced,
The good PC gamers were left on the fence.
While 360 gamers played games left and right,
Their PC shelf experienced a blight.
The PC got ports; even then, just a few.
Several had more bugs than a case of the flu,
So the PC gamers decided on just what to do.

"Our platform of choice is wounded right now
Because makers of games hold their too-sacred cow
Of keeping their games legit,
But unfortunately for us,
They're giving us shit.
The bugs, the crashes, the gamepad controls,
The 4:3 graphics, the sad online trolls.
We'll hold out for games that make us complete,
Only then will we go and suckle the teat."

A new game came out that would fit the bill,
And the PC excitement betrayed their thrill.
The screenshots filled their hearts with such glee
For it looked just as good as it did on 360.
The water effects were astoundingly good
And did you hear the sounds of bullets on wood?
The enemy AI was really a treat
And the game would take many hours to beat.
The PC gamers were also excited to see
It designed for 16:9 instead of 4:3.

Gamers of all kinds went out on day one
To pick up their copies and have them some fun,
But one of the PC'ers decided to see
What the game looked like in old 4:3,
And what he saw he decided to abhor:
People in 4:3 could see just a teensy bit more.

While the 360 gamers were exploring Rapture,
The PC gamers were starting to capture
The fury of others at what they perceived
As attempts to trick them, make them deceived!

The 360's plasmids were making them cautious
While the PC gamers claimed to be nauseous.
The 360's were hacking and splicing with glee
While the PC gamers were chanting "FOV!"

While the 360 gamers were after old Ryan,
A wee PC gamer, who we'll call Brian,
Discovered the PC version didn't want
Him installing his game wherever he'd want
And if he installed too many copies at a single time
He'd have to call for permission (albeit on the dev's dime).

The devs explained that you could install it twice
Compared to the 360's once, now wasn't that nice?
But the PC gamers grew incensed, they say.
"Can't install how we want? Then we won't pay."

The 360 gamers were saving the Sisters
While the PC gamers were making new blisters
Typing out hate mail to community relations
Typically reserved for some Third Reich nations.

The makers of games attempted to appease,
Saying "Five installs now, and soon FOV!"
But the PC gamers said, "Too little, too late,"
While 360 gamers learned Andrew Ryan's fate.

The 360 gamers took a rest and paused their games
Since the plot twist made them question their aims.
They went to the forums to discuss the game
But found that they had been covered in flame.
They looked at their copies, the same FOV,
The same behavior in 4:3.
Only one copy in use, just like on PC.
They saw the debate and thought it quite lame
And then they unpaused and continued their game.

As the 360 gamers completed their quest,
The PC gamers thought they were the best
For getting their way was what mattered now;
The game had become secondary to their sacred cow.

In the end, PC gamers got what they wanted
But the game left their shelf space curiously haunted.
The uproar scared other devs away
As they asked, "Why didn't they just play
The game as designed? It's the game that they needed.
It wasn't these petty demands to be heeded.
The 360 gamers played all day long,
They shuddered when the Sister sang her eerie song.
They loved the game, it's easy to see;
They didn't whine, bitch and moan like those with PC's.
We pour our hearts into these games that we make,
But seeing the toll these arguments take
Really do encourage us to flee...
To hell with PC, we'll build for 360."

Now that you have read my sad tale,
Of PC gamers chasing their white whale,
Can you see why elitism made it to be
Just too much trouble to build for PC?
The PC market's feeling the cruch,
For Blizzard's "WoW" has been eating their lunch
And they're fairly certain about this small hunch
That pirated games delivered the sucker punch.

But pleasing PC gamers is no small feat
And elitism raises the bar they must meet
So the makers of games still love the PC....
As a tool to make games for the 360.

(Edit: Fixed typo. [Wrote this thing on a BlackBerry...])

August 20, 2007

HOWTO: Find Controls In Wizard Navigation Steps

If you use ASP.NET's Wizard control, chances are that you've needed to get ahold of one or more of the controls in the navigation area using FindControl() but have been unable to.

The reason is that when ASP.NET adds the navigation area controls to the wizard control, it adds a prefix onto the control name.

To find the control, add the appropriate prefix to the control name:
If your control is in...Use...

For example, if you want to find a button named "FinishButton" in the finish navigation step, you'd use a line of code like this...

Button finishButton = Wizard1.FindControl("FinishNavigationTemplateContainerID$FinishButton") as Button;

At this point, you'll be able to use all of the normal properties of the button, like this snippet to disable the finish button after it has been clicked:

string script = String.Format("window.setTimeout(function(){{{0}.disabled = true;}},10);", finishButton.ClientID);
finishButton.OnClientClick = script;

August 18, 2007

August 17, 2007

Service Notice

Just a may see one or more posts briefly pop up here and then vanish this weekend.

I'm going to be testing some automated processes associated with a new project, as well as seeding a new domain.

Do not be alarmed.

August 16, 2007


I'm homesick.

I know that sounds funny given how much there is about my home state that I dislike, but I am definitely homesick.

I miss my family. I miss my friends. I even miss my house.

Down here, I spend so much time working that I really don't have much of a chance to go meet anyone. During my two years at Ritual, I wasn't able to get out to do anything because of the constant workload. Even with my time here being reasonable per day, the longer commute has killed my time during weekdays and I've just been feeling spent during the weekends.

I guess the uncertainty of the last year has finally gotten to me. Where will I be next year? In five years? When (or if) I retire? I've got a fairly solid idea about where I'll be next year...[deleted due to NDA and ongoing negotiations]. But after that, the future is vague.

Well...I hope that 0x21 is going to be a good year.

August 15, 2007

WORKAROUND: The Controls collection cannot be modified because the control contains code blocks (i.e. <% ... %>).


ASP.NET 2.0: You are trying to add a control to a page where you are using code blocks (<% ... %> or <%= ... %>). When you do, an exception is thrown with the message "The Controls collection cannot be modified because the control contains code blocks (i.e. <% ... %>)."


The easiest workaround is to drop a PlaceHolder control where you want to add your new controls, then add the control to the placeholder instead of to the page directly. This works in the body as well as headers.

Because we use master pages and only add controls to the header in two locations, I dropped a PlaceHolder control in my header called "HeaderAddIns" and I call a helper function to add literals to my header as necessary...
public static void AddControlToHeader(Page p, Control c)
PlaceHolder ph = p.Header.FindControl("HeaderAddIns") as PlaceHolder;
if (ph != null) ph.Controls.Add(c);

For other workarounds, check out this article on Rick Strahl's blog.

August 14, 2007

Collision Of Mail And Blog

At any one time, I tend to have between five and ten unfinished blog entries in the queue that I'm trying to polish off. When I get one to what I feel is a completed state, you get to get an entry in the 500-700 word range. Ones that are over 1,000 words tend to get split into multiple entries.

I mention this because I got an E-mail today that touches on three pending posts, so I'm going over my posts, trying to see if there are any angles that I missed so that I can properly reply to it.

The really funny part is that two of the posts I'm working on that need to be involved in my answer partially refute some previous posts I've made.

When talking in public, I tend to take a very absolute stand on a topic even though the reality is a bit more grey. The reason I take a harsh stand is that while it may be untenable, it does tend to bring out more debate. It's easier to fight with a stationary target. Once the majority of the debate is out and about and the battle lines are drawn, that's when the shades of grey start getting filled in...where you give to coexist with your fellow man.

However, when I'm dealing with people who contact me privately for information, I skip the polarizing stand and try to shoot for the exact information that they're looking for...white, black or grey.

That's where the trick is coming right now...looking at the absolute, finding the reality, and trying to reconcile the two.

Pre-Op Plunder

The bills for my upcoming surgery are starting to come in.

After insurance, my doctor is going to be charging me a little over $450. I'm still waiting on what the surgical center charge will be or the anasthesiologist will charge. I'm guessing that my total out of pocket is going to be around $900.


I should be able to handle the doctor out of my next check, but it'll be tight to handle the surgical center and anasthesiologist out of the check after.

August 13, 2007

XNA 2.0: Microsoft Getting It

XNA Game Studio 2.0 announced. Runs in all versions of Visual Studio, usability enhancements, networking, and more.

Want to use Microsoft Game Studios content in your game for personal use (aka placeholder art)? Go ahead, just follow the license.

Want some extra code for that $99 annual membership fee? Get the Ship Game (looks a bit like XNA Descent.)

Expect more information later on The Z-Buffer and XNA Creators Club Online.

Looks like they're finally getting where the difficulties in community-generated content lie.

Game QA Bill of Responsibilities RFC

Late last year, I posted what I saw as the Games Quality Assurance Bill of Rights.

Because of some news that I'm hoping I can announce in the next ninety days (NDA's and negotiations always take time and precedence), I'm trying to draft a companion piece: The Games Quality Assurance Bill of Responsibilities.

I want to come up with a list of ten things that are pretty much necessities for a tester. I want something that can essentially be tied to a job description that says, "At a minimum, you are responsible for this." However, this is something that I don't think I can do alone.

So this is an open call for people who are currently working in games QA. What should an entry-level tester be responsible for? What responsibilities are shared between all levels of quality assurance?

August 11, 2007

NOTE: Dark Messiah of Might and Magic Crashes On Exit in Vista

If you are playing "Dark Messiah of Might and Magic" on Vista, the game will crash when you quit, but only when you quit.

You may receive this pop-up after play as well, but at least at the moment, there are no ill effects from the crash.

Crash caused by Half-Life 2 Game Engine

Debugging Frustration

Current status of USEMP:
Could not load library client

Frustrated. Taking a brief break. Will attack it later when I can see straight.

(Edit: To top it all off, Blogger locked up while updating my blog so I have to update and republish an entry to fix it.)

August 10, 2007

Diabetic No More?

I got my lab results back for my most recent blood test. Some very interesting notes were scrawled on it by my doctor.

My fasting glucose level was 136. I'm one of those people who bottom out overnight, so I'm just happy to be under 150. He thought it was a little high in his notes, and then he went to the next page.

Hemoglobin A1c was 5.7. Fasting insulin was 17.2. Normal.

He doesn't think I have diabetes.


August 9, 2007

FIX: Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War Won't Install On Vista

(Note: These instructions are for "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Platinum Edition" and "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Game of the Year Edition." Modify as appropriate for the version you are trying to install.)

Open a Command Prompt window by typing Windows-R, then typing "cmd" and pressing ENTER.

Type in the following command all on one line (where CD drive is the drive letter of your DVD drive):

msiexec /qb /i [cddrive]:\dowsetup\dawnofwar.msi TARGETDIR="C:\Games\THQ\DoW"

Okay the UAC prompt. Let it install.

Open the Registry Editor by typing Windows-R, then typing "regedit" and pressing ENTER.

Okay the UAC prompt.


Right-click on the "CDKEY" key and pick "Modify." Enter your CD key (including dashes). Hit "OK."

Right-click on the "CDKEY_WXP" key and pick "Modify." Enter your Winter Assault CD key (including dashes). Hit "OK."

Right-click on "InstallLocation" and pick "Modify." Enter the target directory from the above step. Hit "OK."

Close the Registry Editor and Command Window.

Open Explorer, browse to your DVD drive into the DCSetup folder.

Run setup.exe to install the Dark Crusade.

The "Trick" To ESRB Ratings

I was talking with a few people last night about violence in video games, and the topic of the ESRB rating system came up, specifically wondering about games like "Grand Theft Auto III" and "Manhunt 2." Since I've been through a few rating cycles, I was able to add a bit of clarity to the situation.

The ESRB doesn't care about the quality of your content when it comes to violence. You could have blocky 3D models getting blown to bits and you'll get the same rating as high quality 3D models getting blown to bits. If you're going for an obviously cartoonish quality, you may get cartoon violence instead, but it's all counted as equal in their eyes. Violence against those who cannot defend themselves is considered particularly heinous.

The mitigating factor in rating violence is the consequences of the player's actions. Does anything bad happen to the player when they act in a violent fashion? Do the police come after them ala "GTA3?" Do they get a different ending ala "Silent Hill?" Does their game immediately end ala "Rainbow Six?"

I think that's the reason that the "Grand Theft Auto" series was rated "M" but "Manhunt 2" was rated "AO." In the "GTA" series, when you do something uncivilized, the police start after you and you are essentially running until you are either forgotten, arrested or killed. The world reacts to your behavior in a negative way. In "Manhunt 2," you were encouraged to kill viciously, without remorse and without penalty aside from getting killed first.

So the trick is that if you want to get a particularly vicious game made, make sure that there consequences to your actions. If there is a demonstratable downside to a player's actions, it makes it easier to justify your content.

August 8, 2007

The Anti-Disney

Blind Ferret Entertainment is throwing together a feature-length animated film based on their comic strip "Looking For Group," which is loosely based off of the Horde side of "World of Warcraft." (Hoping I can have the time to reactivate my account later this year.)

If you've ever wanted to see what "Part of your World" would be like if it was sung by a homicidal undead maniac, here's your chance.

August 6, 2007

I'm in ur OS bypassin ur UAC

Forgive the LOLCat speak, but I felt it appropriate.

The new Steam update came out today, and from the Settings dialog you can opt into the Steam Community beta. (My page is located here.)

If you're running Vista, the Steam Service gets installed as part of the update. As far as I can tell, the service exists solely for the purposes of bypassing UAC so that Valve can write into the Program Files folder at will.

Gee, wouldn't it have been easier just to code to the Windows development guidelines in the first place? My only real problem with Steam is that it replaces one set of guidelines for another, completely incompatible set of guidelines.


The View From Hell

The onsite launch went okay for the e-Commerce stuff, aside from the alternate currencies not being available due to the credit card processor not being ready in time and a couple of issues with address verification.

We're trying to lock down the return pathway for the next deliverable portion, and you know that you're in for a good time when you've covered half of a whiteboard with functions and proofs to ensure that you're doing your work right.

Little things like:
If (ReturnTotal > LineItemTotal - LineItemShipped)
WorkflowIterations = (Shipped - PreviouslyReturnedShippedLineItems) -
((LineItemTotal - ReturnedLineItems) - UnprocessedReturnedLineItems)
Else WorkflowIterations = 0
...can become really nasty when you're trying to construct a SQL view due to the subqueries involved in any one of the terms in question.

Side note: I deleted two posts made over the weekend. This blog has had enough drama associated with it over the last year...although at the request of some Shackers, expect to see some more angry dev posts in the near future.

Will Kurtz strike while the panda is hot?

I know that Scott Kurtz is in the middle of his San Diego Comic-Con storyline, but I'd be surprised if he doesn't take at least a brief break for a panda attack after this story.

(Update 8/8: No break, but he managed to get around to it via Fark.)

August 4, 2007

The Disposable QA Manager

Over the last decade, I've been trying to track a lot of trends, both from personal experience and from information provided to me by other people in the industry. For the most part, the trends have been mixed.

On the downside, there is a lower ratio of full-time QA engineers per project to artists and programmers. The ratio of tester weeks to production weeks is also fairly low (1:12 to 1:25 depending on the company). On the upside, both of these ratios are starting to go up slowly for the first time in nearly six years.

However, there is one trend which I doubt can be easily reversed and at least over the last decade has remained fairly constant. The first QA manager in any studio/group has an 85% chance of being terminated or transferred within the first three years...and this isn't just in games.

The reasons are fairly straightforward. When internal test is first introduced to any organization, they are generally tasked with introducing not only the concept of testers to an unfamiliar staff, but all of the trappings associated with testers (more detailed checkin E-mails, test specs and approvals, bug databases and bug workflows, etc.). In short, they become a change agent.

Going off of the employee stages chart in the linked Wikipedia article, it takes eighteen months to three years to get a group of employees who are just getting introduced to QA processes up to the end of stage 2: anger and resistance. Because the degree of anger and resistance is generally proportional to the magnitude of the changes, this inevitably leads to a conflict or confrontation between the QA manager and the rest of the development team. Without significant buy-in from management and the testers, this often leads to the QA manager being gone within 18-36 months, either via transfer to another position/set of responsibilities or via termination.

If a second QA manager is brought in immediately that continues the same path as the original QA manager, the transition into stage 3 (acceptance and adaptation) becomes very smooth. Differences in approach or a delay in the reintroduction of QA processes can lead to a regression and additional delay to the end of stage 3.

What can you do to prepare for these problems and try to avoid the disposable QA manager problem?
  1. If you are planning on introducing internal QA for the first time, be prepared for at least three bumpy years.
  2. If you are part of a larger company, make sure that whoever you bring in would have a place to go besides your group.
  3. If you are part of a smaller company, try to hire your QA manager locally or find a quality-minded individual who is currently respected by your team to fill the position.
  4. Expect some friction and's an unavoidable part of the process.
  5. Look for the warning signs of stage 2: increased rejection of QA initiatives, massively reduced approval of QA as a whole, depression and an air of futility coming from QA.
  6. Have upper management present a united front in support of the QA processes and initiatives, and specifically the QA manager.
  7. Have patience.

The Spammers Beat Technorati

How can you tell when the spam linkers have finally beaten your blog rating engine?
I'm #1?
When their spam-masking links back to this site make this small corner of the blogosphere the number one blog on Technorati.

Update: Yes, I know that it's a bug on the details pages and that Engadget is the number one blog...but you've got to admit, this is one Hell of a bug.

August 3, 2007

PDC 07 Delayed

If you've been impatiently waiting until October 2 for PDC'll have to wait a little bit longer.

FIX: McAfee VirusScan Update Breaks Websites, JavaScript

If a recent update to McAfee VirusScan made using the Internet nearly impossible because of broken JavaScript and navigating McAfee's support web site completely impossible, go to this page:
This page will allow you to bypass the problematic module in VirusScan so you can get to the McAfee uninstaller and links to get the latest non-broken version of VirusScan.

August 2, 2007

August Update

I saw my wife and granddaughter off this morning. It was a sad parting, but I'm hoping to see Kait this winter sometime and Yvonne will be back on the ninth. She'll sleep until the eleventh, but she'll be back on the ninth.

Now that work has slowed down, I've been able to go back and dive back into USEMP. I'm trying like Hell to get it to the point where it's a stable alpha. The alpha is already four months late, and every day the community for it dies a little more.

My column in "PC Gamer" has reignited interest in me from various parts of the industry. I've got a few interesting opportunities in my lap right now. The biggest downside is that if I take any of them, any direct involvement with USEMP has to end immediately.

I've also got my surgery on August 30, which means I'm going to be out of commission until about September 5.

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately on the bus to and from work. (I used to take my laptop back and forth, but every time I'd launch anything, I'd get some dude saying, "Is that a laptop?" in Bill Engvall's "dorkfish" voice and then I'd get nothing done for the next half hour.) Orson Scott Card's "Empire" was amazingly well done and while a bit conspiratorial, it did a good job of coming across as plausible and that's the scary part. John Grisham's "The King of Torts" was a great read for the first 75%, but fell apart during the last 25% as he tried to tie up all of his loose ends.

August 1, 2007

The Last Night

Kait and her grandpa (Me)Tonight was my last night with my granddaughter Kait. Yvonne is taking her back to Utah tomorrow morning and she won't be back until the ninth.

I didn't get to spend a lot of time with her because of our crunch period at work. I'm hoping I can get up to Utah later this year to spend some real time with her.

On the upside, we were able to spend some quality time together. We went on several walks and talked about a lot of the things that mattered to her. She was kind of sad that she wasn't able to see Squirrel at Ritual while she was down here, but she understood why. She's growing into a normal pre-teen as her relationships at school and her phone etiquette have shown. She's improving at playing a regular guitar but I can still kick her ass at "Guitar Hero II."

It's kind of a sad commentary on the type of job that I get where it doesn't matter where I'm working, I always end up in crunch mode when my granddaughter is around. Last year when I was at Ritual, she was at least able to come down and spend a little time with me at the office while I was busy fighting off pirate assholes asking for tech support. This year, even my weekends were spent trying to finish up the site for a Montreal launch just to be undercut by the underwriters and this last weekend was spent being the at-home support structure for eighty people in a country I've never been to.

At least I'll be able to see them both off in the morning before going into work, and hopefully we'll get to see each other again this holiday season.

August McAfee VirusScan Update Disables All JavaScript

This has been a fun morning. Woke up sick, went back to bed, woke up later and had a McAfee popup saying that a new update was available and my system had to reboot. Clicked the button to allow it to reboot, and when my system came up, the first symptom that something was amiss was my sidebar gadgets weren't working...even after another reboot.

Vista gadgets broken

No JavaScript would execute in Internet Explorer either, even if I went to "Manage Add-ons" and disabled the JavaScript proxy. I went to try to get Firefox, but since the "Get Firefox" button is JavaScript, I had no link to get the file.

I went to McAfee's website to try to get help, but since every single step of their site uses JavaScript in some fashion or another, I was completely stuck.

I uninstalled McAfee VirusScan, and now my system is working fine...but I'm not reinstalling it until we find out what the Hell went wrong with this update.