Tuesday, September 28, 22:33 CDT
Everything in ~/bbearnes should be back to normal.

Finally finished a sort-of review of Ender's Shadow.

Finished The Three Musketeers yesterday. Great stuff. High action, drama, great characters, and (what I didn't expect) really *funny*. Conveying the absurdities of subject matter like this without destroying everything else has to be tough, and it's pulled off beautifully here. I'm definitely going to have to read more by Alexandre Dumas. Oh, and if anyone still doubts that handheld devices and PDA's work for reading long written works, I'm up to around a thousand pages worth of material so far. (Most of it courtesy of Memoware.)

I've been wanting to play some Interactive Fiction lately.

(What, you ask, is Interactive Fiction? Well, it could mean a lot of things, but it's generally applied to what used to be called text adventures. Games in which you read descriptions of locations and objects, and interact with the game world by using various text commands. Back in the day, companies like Infocom thrived on creating text adventures that're still remembered as classics, and which have exerted a huge influence on gaming as a whole. Waaaay back in the day, there was Adventure, which is probably one of the 3 or 4 games that could be credited with starting it all. IF has a long, rich history, and despite popular misconceptions, it's still very much alive today. If this sounds even the least bit interesting, there're a ton of cool resources out there. For example, About.com has a nice section on IF, rec.games.int-fiction is a wonderful newsgroup from all I hear, and the Maze of twisty Web pages, all alike has more stuff than you can shake a stick at (I'm not even going to go into why you'd be shaking a stick to begin with).)

I'd seen mentions of using Palm devices to play IF, which sounded like it'd be worth a try, so I grabbed a few games and downloaded Pilot Frotz.

Entering text with Graffiti is quite a bit slower than typing, but a couple of shortcut menus and the ability to use a word already on screen by tapping it with the stylus help considerably. There are a ton of Z-Machine games out there, including the original Zork, and I think I'll take this as an opportunity to play all those classics I missed the first time around.

I've wanted to write some IF, or maybe do something more along the lines of a MUD, for quite a while now. I've made a few false starts, messed around with stuff like AGT and TADS a little... At one point I even got as far as the general outlines of a sort of MUD with a mouse based interface and modem play, in QBasic. Not exactly a project with much of a chance, even if I *had* known what I was doing. Still, who knows... Maybe one of these days, I'll actually do something. Right.

Once I got ahold of a MacOS CD, installing LinuxPPC proved to be fairly easy. So far, I'm quite impressed, although I keep running into small reminders of why I like Debian so much (LinuxPPC is based on Red Hat).

There's a ton of cool software with the installation, and the graphical login manager has a particularly nice feature in letting you select your window manager / desktop environment for a session. Especially nice since I installed both GNOME and KDE, which reminds me...

Having finally tried both of the free software desktop environments, I'm impressed by both, and kind of disgusted at the amount of needless argument and animosity surrounding them. We've actually arrived at the stage where a free operating system can run a free desktop that's as flashy, functional, and full featured as any mainstream desktop OS. For the people still saying it'll never happen, it already has. Sure, there's still progress to be made in a lot of areas, but look around you... Things are lookin' *good*.

I've been giving some thought to interfaces and usability lately, what with learning Unix/Linux, using a PalmOS device, and watching the general cluelessness with which a lot of people seem to interact with computers. I should write something up, even if it would just be rehashing other people's ideas.

Well, that's about it for the moment. Back to attempting a daily update schedule.

p1k3 / 1999 / 9 / 28
tags: topics/reading