February 2006 - Posts

Running.... its supposed to be good for you

As I've mentioned before I've been doing some running over the past 12 months. On Saturday I paid my $80 to run my 1st full 26.2 mile marathon Sunday May 7th in Vancouver, Canada. Yes you have to pay for these things and they get more and more expensive the longer the race. Surprisingly, I'm not too worried about the race. I've been training consistently, I have a good coach who makes sure I do enough without killing myself and I'm probably in better shape now than any time in my adult life. However the last couple of weeks have opened my eyes to the dangers of running.

2 weekends ago at mile 2 of an 11 mile run we ran up a hill, its not a steep hill but its just over a mile long and we ran up it faster than I have run before. At the top I felt fine, 200m later at the crosswalk I felt fine. 20 seconds later I was ready to pass out/puke or both. Fortunately there was a place to sit and get my head down low and a store nearby for water. After the water I took it easy for the next 6 miles and was recovered enough to actually finish pretty strong. The conclusion was that my cold and cold remedies had me more dehydrated than I normally am.

Then yesterday we set out on another 11 miler - felt great all the way through then suddenly with 1 mile to go I tripped over nothing and went, as we say in England, *** over tit! Right in front of several people on the trail. I managed to absorb some of the impact with my hands but not all of it and my knee and shoulder took the rest before my head finally stopped me. Thankfully the head impact was tiny however my knee and shoulder look like I came off a motorbike.

Given the escalation of my injuries I fully expect to cough up a lung or get a hernia next week... watch this space.

Vista 5308 and VPC no luck this time...

Well sad to say that Vista 5308 and virtual PC don't get along. Setup crashes when it asks you for the product key. I'm pretty sure that its not supported so I'm not expecting much in the way of support.

So last night I built a dual boot. I don't like windows messing with dual boot so I used BootMagic instead. The only way to do this is to turn off boot magic (since it won't allow you to have a non bootable partition in the list), hide the primary partition and make the empty one visible. [Interesting side note partition magic always tells me that my second primary partition is not bootable because its past the 1024 cylinder boundary but I have never had any problem booting from it!]. Then you reboot. This is always a little worrying because now you have no obvious way of getting back into your real primary partition. Boot from the Vista DVD and allow the install to happen. Very smooth, nice graphics and I think exactly 2 questions to answer. When I returned it was all setup. Then I have to boot from the partition magic boot discs to switch over the primary partition, and finally turn boot magic back on and tell it about the new vista partition. Oh, one final annoying thing, full partition magic is quite happy to operate on my USB external drive but Partition Magic DOS version  just hangs. So I have to power that down when I want to boot into partition magic...

My first impression is that this beta seems more speedy than the last one. I pointed the picture viewer at my 5000+ digital pictures and I am in love already - is thumbnailed them and allows me to view them by date and switch around and its very fast. And this is just plain thumbnails. I didn't get much chance to play with any other stuff but it didn't crash in the half hour I messed with everything.

Next up installing Visual Studio and Direct3D10.... and watching the programs run in refrast..... Nvidia/ATI when can I have a card ?

Direct3D10, Vista CTP and Virtual PC

I've been meaning to find time to try out some Direct3D10 stuff but there are a few limitations at the moment.

  1. DIrect3D 10 only runs on Vista CTP
  2. There are no Direct3D capable cards anywhere to be found - in fact there is only one rumor that I have even heard

Last time I tried to install Vista I went through 3 kind of hell getting my partition magic multi boot to work with the new fangled Vista multi boot. I found that my nice new removable drive that I purchased for vista isn't supported as a bootable drive and then, the rub it in my face, I found the Dec CTP really not very stable on my setup.

Today CTP build 5308 came out for those of us on the beta test (I'm sure it will be up on MSDN subscriber downloads soon) so I'm going to give it another shot. Since there is no hardware support yet I figure why not run the whole thing in software. So I'm going to use VPC. VirtualPC guy has a post on getting vista to run in VPC. Its a little annoying that the ISO image is 2,780.79 MB which means VPC won't boot from it, but that's pretty simple to fix with ImgBurn and a blank DVD. The download it currently at 32 % and says 2:44 minutes left. However its said between 2:30 and 2:45 for the last 40 minutes so I'm a little suspect of the math.

So watch this space for the exciting adventures of running prerelease D3D10 on prerelease Vista on (I assume) an unsupported platform (VPC) with the VPC additions 'borrowed' from Virtual Server 2005!

Where's ZMan

 

Yes things have been a little quiet in here lately - no particular reason other than I don't want to be one of those bloggers that gives you a blow by blow of their days toilet habits simply because they have nothing else to post.

So whats been happening since January's post?

First I should answer my "fan mail" from Sushovan, no I didn't write my 1st video game yet and that is a big disappointment to me. There's a couple of things to talk about here which are probably very relevant to the blog.

  1. I knew that being a manager and an architect for a few years would have a detrimental affect on my coding skills but I had no clue how much. Though I didn't write much code in my last few jobs at Microsoft I was reviewing and reading a lot of code so you convince yourself that you really can still do this stuff. I figured 2-3 months into my year would pretty much restore any abilities I had lost. I was about 3 months out! Its not that I've become one of those noobs you see on the forums, in fact my algorithm, design, debugging and those skills feel as good as ever. No the problem is that those folk at Microsoft have changed the playing field. The last serious 8 hours a day coding I did was just at .Net 1.0 was appearing and from that point on the hours per day I coded dropped off. I've read thousands of lines of code since then so I thought I knew it all. But its very different doing it yourself than critiquing other peoples already written code. I would get into a programming groove for a couple of hours then need to look something up in MSDN - and that would finish me for the day. There is so much stuff to take in, the searching is appalling most of the time and the code samples are not always helpful. With my ego bruised I would turn to Oprah and Dr Phil to fill the new void in my life :-)
  2. #1 is demoralising and when I get demoralised I tend to slack off. Read this (from Rev) - that's me on a bad day!

So 6 months (I took July and August off so I'm counting from September 1st) into this 'experiment' I am finally feeling like I have the MAD SKILLZZZZZ that I expected to have 3 months ago.

Which leads very nicely to some new things that are happening. I've mentioned some side projects that I've been working on. Well the one from that screen shot is almost finished. I think the person paying the bills is happy with the work. Hopefully I will be able to post a finished screenshot on TheZBuffer soon. I ended up doing a lot more API design work than rendering code. The required rendering is very simplistic and certainly not any kind of state of the art game graphics. But its something for the resume/CV.

Then 2 weeks ago someone from Microsoft let me know about a developer support job for C# and Managed DirectX. I went for a chat with the hiring manager and the job sounded right up my street. But I'm really enjoying doing my own thing and having the freedom so after a tough few days of thinking I decided not to interview for the position. Financially I don't *have* to make that decision for 6 more months and if I *have* to go back to corporate life I would rather do it knowing I had spent my full year having fun. Additionally since it looks like Microsoft are putting extra resources into Managed DirectX I am guessing this means more jobs, not less in the future. Sure its a gamble but so is quitting a well paid job!

A week later and it turns out to be a good decision. I get another email from a company asking if I would be interested in a contract to do some Managed DirectX and C# work for them. This time its solid development (i.e the same as I would be doing here at home for free), its game related and its very exciting stuff. Plus the short term nature means I still can do my own thing. Nothing is signed and sealed yet but its looking like I will start on Monday 27th. I'm won't be allowed to blog any of my work which is a shame. Sorry to be all secretive, but that's the way a lot of work goes. Just to tease you though as a result of the conversation I have been working my way through Learn Flash in 24 hours! Speculate as much as you like - I can't confirm or deny anything.

Then this week I got a call from a different guy at Microsoft who knows of my Coding4Fun articles and he wants to talk about a very short term gig to do with hobby game developers.

So things are really starting to take off here. If you don't see me around on IM or in IRC for the next month or so you will know why. I should be able to keep The ZBuffer updated but won't have much time for anything else.

One thing I suspect people will ask is how I find/get the jobs. Well everything I mentioned on this page as come about as a direct result of running The ZBuffer, being an MVP (i.e. being seen in the forums) and getting the column on MSDN. So if you want this kind of thing to happen to you I suggest you get out there and make yourself known. Reputation helps a lot.

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