Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Going to Guatemala

Since completing my degree course I immediately started working full time hours. It's been non-stop over the last three years but for the next two weeks at least, I'm finally going to be taking a well deserved break. In a few hours my girlfriend and I will be flying out to Guatemala. We're going to be making a stop in Amsterdam then on to Panama before finally arriving in Guatemala.


We're going to be staying in Antigua for the duration of the trip. Flights and accommodation all paid for courtesy of TREK Study. We would've liked to stay longer but I recently accepted an offer for a new job at a software company so we're a little limited on time. On my return I expect to be pretty busy finding my feet in the new position for a while so it'll be good take this time to relax.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sprite Sheets Made Easy

Using a few well-placed images on a web page can do a lot for the user experience. During the development of a website, the amount of images being used can really add up, causing multiple server requests when a page is loaded. To combat this problem sprite-sheets can be used so that all of the images that are used in the website layout can be combined into one file which then only requires a single server request and can be cached in the browser.

CSS is used to position the sprite-sheet in such a way that the user sees only the desired sprite. Creating a sprite-sheet can be done manually but there are plenty of free online-tools available to use. Today while I came across one such site called; Css-sprit.es. Simply upload the images you need a sprite sheet of and click generate. This has been really helpful for me. I had a folder of various 32 x 32 px browser icons that have now been combined into a single image. Using this tool for combining related icons and other web page graphics I'll be able to reduce the number of requests being made to my server.

Friday, May 28, 2010

New TLD for my blog

I've busy rebuilding my server today. At the same time I decided to rearrange my domains. My blog used to be available through the samael.eu domain but I've decided to use samael.me.uk as it makes more sense to have information about myself on this type of TLD (Top Level Domain).

The process of reinstalling Wordpress and importing my old posts was not without complications. Due to the machines rebuild the directory structure is different from what it used to be. On top of this was the fact that I was changing the domain and a few other settings from what was used previously.

In order to get the blog working I downloaded the most recent version of Wordpress and did a fresh install. I had an SQL dump of the old database and a backup of the old files. The 'wp-content' folder needed copied over from its backup location as well.

At first I tried to use the entire database of the old blog but even after I had edited all the fields I could find relating to the old directory path and domain the site would not load. I reverted back to the database setup of the fresh installation and carefully populated the fields within the new MySQL tables. For the most part wp_options did not require many changes but most of the others could be cleared and then have the old entries inserted into them.

The final task was to edit some of the old posts that kinked to images. Wordpress uses the full URL path when linking to content within the wp-content folder so the domain needed to be changed to the new one. There may still be a few small issues left to iron out so please contact me if you find something that does not work correctly.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Dropbox for Linux

I've recently found the joys using Dropbox.com. Their client software is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are pre-compiled installers for Fedora, Debian & Ubuntu, otherwise the source is available to be compiled for your distro of choice. Once installed you can easily add files to an online storage space that starts from 2 GB in size.

As with other freemium business models, this level of service is provided for free in the hope that some users will opt to pay for additional storage space. It's a great service.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Marble Desktop Globe

Today I came across an Open Source project called Marble. It's an alternative to Google Earth that is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. Marble is part of the KDE Education Project and is available under the GNU LGPL (Lesser General Public License).

It's an amazing piece of software with a multitude of features. It even has map data for Mars & Venus. It's available through the standard Ubuntu repositories so give it a blast:
sudo apt-get install marble

Monday, February 22, 2010

Windows Browser Selection

Due to the antitrust suit against Microsoft an update has been deployed to prompt the user to select which web browser they wish to use. On first glance it seems to just provide options for the most common browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer, however scrolling to the right reveals that there are in fact twelve options to choose. The selection is actually quite interesting.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Day Of The Tentacle on Ubuntu using ScummVM

When I was in my early teens Lucas Arts released a brilliant point and click adventure game called Day Of The Tentacle. I played the disk-based version of this game on my older brothers 286 PC (which was old even back then). Today, thanks to ScummVM, I've been able to play it again under Ubuntu Linux.

There are other classic games that can run on ScummVM including The Secret Of Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Broken Sword, and many others.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Re-makes of 2 classic isometric games

Last night I took some time out to install Head Over Heels on my Ubuntu Laptop. This version, available from Retrospec, was programmed by Tomaz Kac, with a Linux port being done by J P Morris. I noticed that the last post was 6 years ago, which explains why I was unable to run the Windows version on Vista 64-bit.

I decided to send an email or two to see if the source code is available and after a little research I managed to find a few posts regarding Tomaz Kac now working on an updated version of Oceans 1986 Batman game.

On visiting the site a news post that must have been done just days ago explains that Tomaz Kac and David Vassart have agreed to part ways however there is a demo available for Windows. It seems that David is keen to continue the project but a programmer is needed. I'm hoping that he'll turn it into an open source project so that development will continue.