Tomer Gabel's annoying spot on the 'net RSS 2.0
# Tuesday, 05 July 2005
Senthil Kumar found out another interesting bit of C# trivia: apparently C# does not do compile-time type safetly checks for interface casts! C# is usually very strict in the kind of stuff it allows you to do (unless you use objects all the time, in which case you deserve to die anyway). This has to be one of the very few cases I've found C++ (as a language) to be superiour to C# - I prefer simplicity and strictness, and while C# certainly provides the former, C++ evidently provides better compile-time checks.
Tuesday, 05 July 2005 21:08:07 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Development
# Monday, 04 July 2005
Update: We need to be able to plan food quantities etc., so it's imperative that we know who/how many are coming. If you haven't already, please send in confirmation (preferably along with contact information for yourself and sceners you know). Also, we still haven't been able to get a hold of a video projector, so if you can help let us know!

After the flash success of June's IGDA/demo-scene gathering, we've decided to, er, implement our own: a proper demo-scene gathering, complete with BBQ, showing of new as well as old demos, and whatever the hell else we feel like doing! So, without further ado:

When?

Thursday, July 28th 2005 at 20:00, give or take. Being late only means you get to spend less time here :-)

Where?

The psuedo-demoparty will be held on the lawn outside Monfort Software's building in Kibbutz Sa'ar. The kibbutz is located just north of Nahariya and here's how to get here:
  • Driving here is easy, though I suggest you use eMap or Walla Maps for reference: basically just get to Acco junction (the northest section of road 4), proceed north to Nahariya junction, proceed north still until you're just north of Nahariya - there'll be a "Sa'ar" signpost where you turn right to enter the kibbutz. Immediately after the gate turn left and you'll arrive at a fork; take the right road, proceed until you see a basketball court on your right. Turn right immediately after it, right again - we're the second building (the one with the parking lot). If you have any trouble or need more detailed instructions get in touch.
  • Take a train or bus to Nahariya (the central bus station is located 50 meters from the train station); take bus number 3, 24, 27 or any number of other busses and just ask the driver to drop you off near Sa'ar. It's an 8-minute walk from the bus station.

What?

Well we hope most of the oldsk00l demosceners in Israel will show up, but obviously aspiring Israeli sceners and visiting sceners from abroad are welcome too! Just get in touch and let us know you're coming so we can have enough food and drink ready.

The main event is a big-ass BBQ for everyone, cold drinks and beer: this is a mostly social gathering. However we will have a retromachine available to play classic demos (P166, 64mb, Tseng E6000/ATi Rage II, SB AWE64 Gold + GUS GF1 1mb) as well as a copy of the MindCandy demo DVD; we'll probably have a decent machine to run newer demos on as well. If anyone intends to make a demo, go for it - it'll definitely be shown!

Other than that, just let us know what you think is good. There are terrific beaches minutes away from the partyplace; we can have classic cola-drinking, diskette/disc/hard-drive tossing competitions etc. If you have any ideas let us know!

How can I help?

We have most of the basics (including food, audio system, demo machine and general organization covered). We could really use your help in the following areas:
  • We are in need of a projector. Do you have, or know someone who has, a projector we can have on loan for a couple of days?
  • Help us spread the word! Send us any contact information you have for past and present Israeli sceners, and forward the invite to sceners you have contact with.
  • We're collecting Israeli scene media: pictures, videos, productions and any other relevant material. All that stuff will be inserted into an Israeli demo-scene wiki, so if you have anything make sure to send it out way!
  • Good ideas are absolutely welcome!
If any of this applies to you, make sure to get in touch as soon as possible!

Sponsorship

The event is hosted and sponsored by Monfort Software Ltd., which is where us organizers work; consider this a shameless plug: we're looking for great programmers to join our team! Want to work in a dynamic environment with a bunch of other demosceners? Want to work on realtime 3D engines, .NET applications ranging from enterprise systems to compilers to a huge variety of software products? Come have a look. I did. :-)

Get in touch

You can contact us in one of many ways. Being the primary contact you can just use my contact page, or call me directly (0x209E1F5A). If needs be feel free to contact Scroll Lock (0x207994A4, 0x1F38899A). Can't read hex?

Who's coming?

The following sceners have confirmed their attendance: Scroll-Lock, Crunch, MMX, Thalja, Jonny (YOE); Kombat, Rage (Immortals); Dark Spirit (TTOM); Civax (Moon Hunters); Borzom, Sticky Baboon (Tatoo); Holograph, Protopad, Vandal (Pulse, BSP); Nyarlothotep (Kult); Silvatar, Diffuse (Flood); Fizz, TheMage, Mutant, Blutz. Nyc Kid (Moon Hunters) will probably be there as well.

Thinking of coming? Let us know!

Monday, 04 July 2005 15:14:14 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Demos
Been busy doing absolutely nothing of value over the last few days including, but not limited, to: going to the kinneret for a Saturday afternoon, watching Batman Begins (seperate post on that later), finishing Half Life 2 again (review coming up), going to a pub, watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit and almost finishing King Rat (will probably blog a bit on that at a later date too).

I also blogged practically nothing interesting/useful for the past couple of weeks, so here's a collection of stuff I have in my "context" file (sort of a geek's to-do list):

  • Apparently I've managed to thoroughly miss the whole Annoying Thing revolution; I've always known the source to be DengDeng but apparently it's evolved and is now officially out of control. Here's an interesting read.
  • If you have any inclination towards industrial and/or goth music, check out In Strict Confidence. Of particular note are Zauberschloss and Engelsstaub (in German) and the terrific Love Will Never Be The Same (English). I've also given good listening time to Massive Attack's Mezzanine. On the web radio front I still listen to a lot of Nectarine radio.
  • RMS has another thought-provoking artlce about software patents. RMS's usually extremist opnions aside, I'm finding what I see around me less and less to my taste, and as a software developer for a relatively small company I occasionally feel the results of software patents on my flesh, and it scares me. Patents are a necessary evil, but leglislators must be extremely careful in maintaining the balance between protecting innovators and stiffling innovation. I'll probably write a proper post about this soon.
  • Get your own, before they run out!
  • Ever had trouble remembering what a toilet in a particular computer game looks like? This site should alleviate your concerns.
  • These are really cool. Too bad they probably sound like crap.
  • Ho-lee shit.
  • Evidently the Israeli customs office does not believe in free software (Hebrew only). Fortunately the story ends happily.
And here are some development-related tidbits:
  • A couple of interesting articles on the BCL team blog: this one elaborates on which language features cannot be expressed using CodeDOM (including .NET 2.0), and this one explains why parsers aren't included with CodeDOM (which would've saved me a hell of a lot of time on the C# to java source-level compiler I wrote a few months ago).
  • BCL team's libcheck is an immensely useful tool if your team provides public APIs to other teams or customers (via Roy Osherove's ISerializable).
  • Balanced matching with regular expressions: apparently the .NET regex implementation allows you to create "stack"-style expressions (so you can parse, for example, mathematical expressions with parentheses, C-style comments etc.). The syntax is somewhat convoluted and tricky to use though (via Roy Osherove's ISerializable).
  • I've been asked how to create windows services in .NET on numerous occasions; it is, in fact, incredibly easy. Enter another great post from the BCL team, which will hopefully save me some hours of repeating the same explanations. Thanks, Dave!
  • These seem like incredibly useful tools, though (seeing that my development focus has changed over the last few months) I haven't yet been able to try out: ComTrace hooks the COM system calls and gives you a filtered view, which is definitely handy for debugging COM issues. Conversely, the PINVOKE.NET add-in is a front-end for the PINVOKE.NET wiki - a respository for unmanaged API P/Invoke signatures and best practices.
  • I always thought overhyped, powerful language features can be dangerous in the hands of the uninspired, but this is just ridiculous (thanks, Kuperstein).
Monday, 04 July 2005 13:28:56 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Development | Personal
# Thursday, 30 June 2005
If you ever find the need to contact me, here are a few options (prioritized, first is best):
  • Send me an e-mail - make sure to change the at/dot text to the appropriate characters
  • MSN Messenger alias tomer at tomergabel dot com (same comment applies)
  • Leave me a comment on this blogpost
Thursday, 30 June 2005 16:59:14 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Personal
dasBlog's been behaving oddly today. First I find that I have an empty category (that is, a category with a blank name). Turns out that dasBlog caches the categories from its content XML files, but has no category deletion/rename tool (this tool can only rename categories and is not part of the project itself). I had to download the files, look up the offending category manually (another would-be bug: the category list in the XML was personal;music;" - note the trailing semicolon) and fix it, then touch the config file to get the site to reload and recache the categories. If I find the time I'll add this to the source.

The second issue is that my "contact me" entry has disappeared from the blog entirely, and somehow the links were replaced with links to another entry. *scratches head* Guess I'll have to rewrite that post...

Thursday, 30 June 2005 16:55:16 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Personal
The vector engine saga continues!

One of the features required by the host application is for the vector engine to create a snapshot of the viewport at a given size. The current API implementation returns an HBITMAP for use by the client app and uses GDI (through MFC) for rendering the viewport. This in itself was OK, but since the viewport size is declared by the host application and the background for the vector engine is usually a bitmap the rendering engine copies the bitmap onto the viewpoint via GDI, which means the bitmap gets rescaled by GDI. This is a big nono because GDI rescaling is both horribly slow and looks like crap (na?ve rescaling, no nearest-neighbor or bicubic).

Bottom line, I had to rewrite the background rendering to utilize DirectDraw; luckily I've already done this for the actual rendering routines in the engine, and the snapshot generation uses that code. I just had to create a DirectDraw off-screen surface, render to its DC instead of the current compatible DC created from the screen surface, create a bitmap from the off-screen surface and return it.

It took very little time to write the rendering code (particularly after finding a couple of tutorials), but the copied bitmap wouldn't save properly; the resulting BMP file had a black rectangle instead of the rendered image, and when I tried to copy the bitmap to the clipboard I couldn't display it (got a "can't copy data from clipboard" error message from mspaint, and clipbrd wouldn't display anything). It took an additional several hours of beating around the proverbial GDI bush to find a solution, and I still can't figure out why it works:

  1. Create a DirectDraw surface
  2. Render image
  3. Create a compatible DC for the surface (bmpDC)
  4. Create a compatible bitmap for the surface
  5. Select the compatible bitmap into bmpDC
  6. Blit the surface DC onto bmpDC
  7. Here comes the cinch: call ::GetDIBits to fill a BITMAPINFO structure, then to get the bitmap bits (note: make sure to negate the bitmap height, or you'll get an inverted bitmap)
  8. Delete the original bitmap
  9. Recreate the bitmap using ::CreateBitmap with the info from the previous step
  10. Clean up
  11. Return the newly created bitmap

What really baffles me is that what I'm doing is effectively creating a device-dependant bitmap (DDB) out of the previously created compatible DDB. If that is the case, why is the newly created bitmap functional (that is, I can save from it and copy it to the clipboard properly)? Why was the original bitmap behavior different? And why, when I tried to ::CreateDIBitmap instead, I consistently got an error where the documentation specifically states the only possibly error is an invalid parameter (there were none that I could find)?

I'm completely baffled by this; the solution outlined above is (aside from being ugly) not supposed to work. Has anyone any idea?

Thursday, 30 June 2005 15:40:49 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Development
Here's part of a spam mail:
Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

And I say, what the hell?

Update (July 25th): after noticing a referral to this entry from Google with the search term "gouranga spam" I figured I might as well find out what this thing's all about. A little more searching revealed the following:

Gauranga (Gouranga) was a nickname of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a monk in India who 500 years ago founded the branch of Hinduism that during the 20th century was brought to the west by ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as the "Hare Krishna" sect).

The one recollection I had upon reading this bizarre mail was that, in the original Grand Theft Auto, if you ran over all members of the occasional groups of monks prowling the strings, you'd get a massive bonus with the word "Gouranga!!!" superimposed on the screen. Apparently I wasn't the only one to notice this, as the fact is featured prominently on wikipedia. At least now I know what the hell gouranga means!

Thursday, 30 June 2005 08:36:15 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Personal
# Sunday, 26 June 2005
Lev (my friend from Eilat) hopped back north for a visit, which was perfect timing to go to the Hot Fur CD release concert in the Koltura club in Tel-Aviv. And let me tell you, it was the absolute bomb!

We arrived a little early (the show was supposed to start at 22:00 with the doors open at 21:00), the place was still nearly deserted and a Frank Zappa concert played in the background. We went out to grab a bite to eat, and when we came back people were starting to pile up. I don't really have much of an idea how many people were present when the show actually started (half an hour late...) but it was probably 150-200 as the place is supposed to be able to hold 400 people and it wasn't horribly packed.

Audience at large (you can thank Ilya Konstantinov for the pictures)

Hot Fur started by playing their new music video for "Adventure In Space", which was hilarious and got everyone riled up and ready for the concert; they immediately proceeded with "The Letter Vav" and over the next 1.75 hours proceeded to play most of their bread-and-butter repertoiré, including (but not limited) to "Sabres 15003", "I Won't Give Up" and (I think) "Tomatoes". Now what's really great about Hot Fur concerts is that they do not only make and play great music, but they also know how to put on a great show:

Between (and often during) musical segments guys related to the band would put on bizarre costumes and indulge in what must be the greatest fun the world: acting really stupid in front of hundreds of people who appreciate stupidity. I particularly liked this character (the main character in the "Adventures In Space" video), who for lack of a better name I like to call The Dude:

The Dude makes many appearances during the show...

... like this one

Among diverse distractions the band kept throwing roses at the audience, and I finally found myself looking thus:

Roses are red, violets are blue...

And eventually broke down altogether:

... I love Hot Fur, and so should you

At the end of the show, we finally managed to get our hands on our preordered Hot Fur CDs (which we've been eagerly awaiting for for the past year). Besides the great music us preorderers were delighted to find our names in the "thank you" section of the CD...

Hot Fur'll be appearing in Koltura again on July 27th (I think). Don't miss it.

Sunday, 26 June 2005 13:25:34 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Music | Personal
# Thursday, 23 June 2005

Three of my colleagues here at Monfort are Israeli demo-scene alumni (specifically, Borzom / Tatoo, Scroll-Lock and Crunch / YOE). We got word of an IGDA Israeli Chapter meeting that was going to take place in a day, where demo-sceners are expected to attend (Civax / Moonhunters is the IGDA organizer in Israel), so we quickly rang up everyone we still have contact with (the last scene event in Israel was in 2000...), took a car and went there.

It was great! More than great, it was absolutely brilliant. Fewer sceners attended than I expected/hoped, but the ones that did come were pretty much the core of the Israeli scene to begin with. Borzom, Scroll-Lock and I arrived in the Leo Blooms Irish pub in Tel-Aviv a little after 19:00 to meet up with Kombat / Immortals and Jonny / YOE who were already there, and were shortly joined by Civax and One / Moonhunters, Crunch / YOE and after a little while Protopad / BSP (my brother Mickey), Dark Spirit / TTOM, Hex / ULC^Tatoo and Rage / Immortals.

The Gang
From left to right: Jonny, Crunch, Borzom, Scroll-Lock, Holograph (myself), Civax and Kombat in the bottom

Over the course of about five hours we sat around, drank and ate all sorts of shit and had loads of fun talking to people none of us have seen in years. The results were sometimes disturbing:

What. the. fuck.

All in all, it was an absolute blast, and I'm now planning a demoscene get-together (which will hopefully include a BBQ and demos displayed constantly on a projector) sometime towards the end of July. If you're a demoscener and have any inclination to attend, get in touch...

Update: Oran put up pictures from the event on his Giant Mitzy site. You can download them here.

Thursday, 23 June 2005 16:26:16 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Demos | Personal
# Monday, 20 June 2005
Doom 3 owns.

I also got around for an hour or so of Resurrection of Evil; unfortunately I was left less than satisfied. The Grabber weapon is more useful than Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun, but also far less interesting or cool. The physics engine is adequate, but nothing like HL2's Havoc engine, which also detracts from the weapon's cool factor; the whole thing just basically feels like a ripoff of HL2 (which is something id Software should not feel compelled to do). I'll give it a fresh attempt tomorrow.

Finally, of note is the Classic Doom 3 project, which is sort of a must-have for any Doom fan.

Monday, 20 June 2005 23:18:10 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Gaming
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