Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We're Moving

To anyone who might be following this blog:
Since the time that I started this blog over a year and a half ago I have had the opportunity to start my own web design business. It only makes sense at this point that this blog gets merged with the website for my business. This blog has therefore been migrated to its new home at Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unity is Now Free!

Do you want to program games in 3D? There is no better (and easier!) program than Unity. The problem until now has been the $100 price tag. That has changed now, however, as the indie version of Unity is now free! There is still a more expensive "Pro" version, but the indie version is a great tool in its own right. You can read the press release here, or just go download Unity!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Virii - The Game

Every month a website called the Experimental Gameplay Project issues a challenge to create a game based on a theme in seven days or less. This month's theme is "numbers" and I decided that I would submit an entry. Here is some more information about the game as I posted on the Experimental Gameplay website:

Okay, I have an entry. As much as anything this was an opportunity to learn how to do Object Oriented Programming in Lua and also to actually finish a game for once (yes, I do have that awful habit of starting something and not completing it).

Computers, at the most basic level, run on a code of 1s and 0s, known as binary code. Several virii (aka viruses) have attacked your computer by changing some of these 1s and 0s into… 2s! Use the + and – keys to add or subtract from any number on your screen, but be warned: every time you change a number the virus will attempt to spread. Surround a virus with either all 1s or all 0s and it will be neutralized. Press ‘r’ on your keyboard to reset the puzzle.

The game is made available as a love file and requires the LOVE “game engine” to run. You can download it at:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Smooth, round edges in The Gimp

For a website I am working on I wanted to have some nice looking round edges. The gimp has a built in way to make round edges when selecting a rectangle. Simply check the "Rounded Corners" option and you're set. I did this and then used the Edit -> Stroke Selection action to draw my edges. The problem was that I only wanted a 1px border and, even with antialising on, it looked rather ugly. The corners are less than perfect and I want a nice, professional, smooth look for the site I am designing. I couldn't find any good way to make my corners any smoother when using a google search, so I had to come up with my own method.

1. Use the rectangle selection tool to select the area where you want your border.

2. From the menu: Select -> Rounded Rectangle. I rounded mine by 30%.

3. From the menu: Select -> Feather. Enter a low number. For my rectangle I chose to feather by 2px.

4. Fill your rectangle with your desired border color.

5. From the menu: Select -> Feather. This time feather your selection by 0 pixels.

6. Fill your rectangle with your desired fill color (white in my case).

7. You're done!

Doesn't this one look so much nicer?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Web Browsers

Only a couple of blog posts ago I was talking about the curse of IE6. I think I should officially declare it the worst browser ever made. Its a HUGE pain for a web developer. The WC3, however, tells us that 15% of web surfers still use it. Ugh. On the plus side you should also realize that if you ever need to change something on your site specifically for IE6 (you probably will), than you can use:
<!--[if IE 6]> (Put this before your IE6 specific html)

<![endif]--> (Put this after your IE6 specific html)

Alternatively, you could also use:
<!--[if ! IE 6]> to make IE6 ignore certain parts of your html.

While we're on the topic, if you want a good laugh head over to Yes, this is a joke; the site was opened on April 1.

And finally, some exciting news. A developer build of Google Chrome has been released for Linux and Mac OS X!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

After E3

Everyone seems to be making a big deal out of the Project Natal announcement by Microsoft at E3. Sure its cool, but I think Sony's new motion controller for PS3 is even cooler. Check it out!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Curse of IE

There is no question in my mind that Firefox is a vastly superior web browser to Internet Explorer. That may sound like a conceited fan-boy statement, but it really isn't. I'm not saying Firefox is the best (I'm waiting for a Linux version of Google Chrome). Its just that, as a web developer, I can't stand the way IE continually ignores internet standards when displaying web pages. My pages will look amazing in every other browser - but alas! I will go to check them in IE and inevitably something is not displaying properly. I realize, however, that the majority of internet surfers use IE and so, much to my chagrin, I must make it look pretty in IE as well. What's more annoying is the fact that, since IE is so closely connected to the Windows OS, I can only have one version of IE installed at a time. Yet, my statistics tell me that there are still as many people using IE 6 as there are using IE 7 or 8. And pages display vastly different in each version. This is why I wrote this post. Today I discovered the Internet Explorer Collection. Someone has put together stand-alone builds of every version of IE from 1.0 to 8.0. Now I can test my pages in every version of IE that I need to! Oh, this is a bitter-sweet day. As a result, today I used IE 8 for the first time. And guess what? My page displayed properly! I was shocked. And amazed. And thrilled. Unfortunately I also got an illegal opperation as soon as I tried to open a new tab. Oh well, nothing is perfect :p. Its hard to tell if this is a problem with the browser itself or if it is just an unfortunate side-effect of making a stand-alone version.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Love, Time Travel, and a Lost Garden

I've been tinkering around with LÖVE some more and I'm impressed by how easy it is to get a simple 2D game running. My problem now is that I don't know what game to make. As a kid I was always coming up with ideas for the latest and greatest game. Now that I can actually make them, I can't seem to recall any of these ideas. I think I'm going to make some sort of game where you manage planets and go out into space exploring new ones. Since this is mostly just for test purposes anyway I'm not to worried if the game play is sub par. In the meantime I'll be trying to think of game ideas (feel free to comment on this post if you have recommendations!). I'll try to post the completed game here when I'm finished.

On a similar note I just got Buried in Time running on my Ubunutu laptop using SheepShaver. For those who never played any of the games in the Journeyman Project trilogy, Buried in Time was the second instalment in the series. It's probably one of the best games I've ever played despite being over 10 years old. The focus is on solving puzzles and exploring new worlds (via time travel). If I ever make a major video game I think I'd like to make something in the same genre. Also, if I were reading this blog right now I'd probably go over to ebay and buy a copy. I've seen Buried in Time on there for as little as $0.99.

One last thing. I'm pretty sure I discovered the greatest blog ever last night: Lost Garden. It contains free graphics and tons of articles about making computer games. I highly recommend that you go check it out!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Upgrading Ubuntu

The newest version of Ubuntu, 9.04 or Jaunty Jackalope, was released last Friday. Since I was still running 8.04 I decided it was time to update my system. Not a ton of new features in Jaunty, but I'm looking forward to the better support for multiple monitors and I've recently started noticing that some developers are no longer making their software for Hardy. I didn't want to do clean install if I didn't have to so I just did an upgrade. Here's how:

1. Backup important files. I use SpiderOak for 2GB of free, automatic backup.
2. Goto System -> Administration -> Software Sources. Click the "Updates" tab. Change the "Show new distribution releases:" from "Long term support releases only" to "Normal releases".
3. Run System -> Administration -> Update Manager. Click "Updgrade". Follow the instructions from here on in.

Note that if you want to upgrade from a version older than 8.10 to 9.04 you wont be able to do it all at once. You have to updgrade in steps. So I had to updgrade from 8.04 to 8.10 and then from 8.10 to 9.04. Everything worked fine and I'm very happy with Jaunty so far. The only issue I encountered is that my wireless internet had problems under 8.10. These problems dissapeared once I upgraded to 9.04.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Love?

I finished my last exam for the year yesterday and so today I was ready to get programming again. I had thought I would probably play around with pyglet for a while, but as I was exploring the various options I ran into something called LÖVE. From the LÖVE website:

What is LÖVE?
LÖVE is a 2D game engine in which games can be made by using Lua scripts. Actually, it's more like a framework or library, but "engine" sells much better. So we lie.

What makes LÖVE different?
LÖVE aims to be as easy to use as possible, but without the use of any graphical "game maker". It has been compared with PyGame, but for Lua, and (hopefully) with a better distribution scheme.

So I've spent the better part of the day in LÖVE and I must say its been a rather enjoyable experience. It seems to have some very nice libraries to get game development done very quickly and the tutorials on the website have been very useful. Go to for more info and to download. While you're at it check out Geany as a great option for a Lua IDE.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Web Fonts

One of the sites that I am editing right now is very heavily based on fonts. I need to have the right fonts in the right places or my client wont be happy. But I find fonts to be such a pain. Which fonts are 'web safe'? What happens if a user doesn't have the right font installed? As I was coding the site I ran across a great article entitled "The Myth Of ‘Web-Safe’ Fonts". It's worth a read for anyone interested in making sure that fonts display properly on their pages. Most interesting was the discussion of the five 'font family stacks' and the three types of fonts that a browser can fall back to if the proper font isn't installed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Promoting A Blog

Interested in promoting your blog? Submit it to which is a site that scrolls through a list of recently updated blogs. I just added my site to see what kind of traffic it will actually bring.