December 16th, 2003


brilliant. just brilliant.

So we got a new bug - one spell doesn't work properly. Like, it's broken. Horribly, horribly, broken. Broken to the point that it would be obvious to anyone who used it for more than an hour, but not if you used it for just a minute or two.

And we got it now - incredibly late in the build process.

Why so late?

Because our testers didn't test it.

You see, it's a pretty lousy spell - it's one of those spells that's either too powerful to be balanced, or too sucky to use. We chose the latter. So, because it was a bad spell, the testers didn't test with it.

Um, guys - this is your JOB. You're SUPPOSED to test everything, even if it's not fun. That's why we're paying you. Understand?

Apparently, the only reason it got found was someone left a different project to join ours. And they gave him a high-level character to join a game in progress, and he saw the spell, and tried it out, because he didn't know it sucked. And it broke.

Note to self: when running game company, hire own testers.

mp3 vs cd

It always makes me chuckle when people say "128kbps mp3 sounds just like CD!" Er, no. It doesn't. It's not actually very close either. If I've got a CD of something that I've heard several times, it's actually quite painful to listen to the mp3 version . . . in fact, it's often pretty painful to listen to it anyway. (I mean this literally. My ears start hurting. No kidding.)

I've been listening to the Evanescence album in mp3 for a while, and wishing I had the CD. I finally broke down and got the CD new (couldn't find it used.) Yep. Sounds *far* better, and my ears are so much happier.

I didn't recognize this track when it started - it had a piano track in it. Where'd that piano come from? Sure wasn't in the mp3 . . .

(Note: I'm serious about audio. Maybe not as serious as some people, but we're still not looking at $5 headphones or stock speakers. YMMV.)

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I wish there was a keyboard out there with an extra meta key - a "user" key, designed for user-specific key combos. One that other programs weren't allowed to redefine except with user permission. (As if that was possible to enforce, but hey :P)
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I've noticed my approach to a lot of CS and programming has changed.

The thing I wonder is no longer "can I do it?". The question is now "is it possible?". If it's possible, I can do it. It might take me a while, and I might have to learn a lot in the process, and I might not produce as elegant of a result as someone who's expert in the field. But if it's possible, I can do it.

Now I spend my time looking at things I'm not sure are possible, or improving my approach to things that I can do badly. But when someone says "Could you write a MUD?", for example, I say "Yeah. Of course I could write a MUD." despite the fact that I haven't actually planned out how I'd do it. I don't need to - I know I can.

Now, when someone asks "can you speed up this database significantly?" . . . well, that's a bit trickier. I don't know if it's possible. As soon as I prove it's possible, I'll know how to do it. Same thing with "can you write an algorithm to do ____?" - often I can write one that will return valid results without even thinking about it, but writing one that returns *good* results is another thing entirely. Often that comes down to heuristics.

I'm still learning about heuristics. I'm not very good at them.

But if it's a well-defined problem, and it's solvable, I can solve it. The instant I can describe how to do it - or read someone else's understandable description - I can code it.

I guess it's the point where the code is no longer the important thing - the code is just the tool. The interesting parts, now, are what you can *make* with the tools.

subject of the day: useless comparisons

Every few months we get someone coming into #c++ who seems to expect us all to have Microsoft certs, Cisco certs, and so on and so forth. The theory apparently being that you need to be certified to be good. Most of us in the channel have few, if any, of those.

For some reason this offends people. (Actually, I know exactly why it offends them - it's the miracle of cognitive dissonance.)

They spend hours explaining to us that we could be making thousands of dollars more if we took a test that said we knew stuff. They never give us any tangible benefits that a cert would give us - merely tell us, over and over, that we'd make more money.

Eventually, they inevitably end up saying something like this:

"I just got out of college with a Master's in CS and a bunch of certifications. If I didn't have those, I wouldn't be able to get nearly as high-paying of a job!"

So - who can spot the flaw in the comparison?

Here's the problem - they're comparing it to a version of themselves that apparently did nothing but goof off for the past (how many years does it take to get a master's? six? seven?) six years. If they wanted a *real* comparison, they'd have to compare to someone who went into the workforce six years ago, in a relatively uninteresting job, and worked their way up.

They'd also have to compare to someone with the exact same amount of motivation.

I finally got fed up with this latest one and explained this to him. His response? "Well, I don't know how to compare that, so it's not important!"

Uh-huh. Sorry, dude. Just because you don't understand how to compare things doesn't mean you're right.

Still, it's an interesting comparison. I wish I knew how to actually get a result for it.