Hixie's Natural Log

2003-05-19 01:41 UTC Weekend update (of firebirds, wide screens, and generals)

Saw the GwieF/Kamakaze/Xiven crew again this weekend, as we attended another BUNCS LAN party. It was a cool LAN, we played a bunch of games. I even got some positive scores in Urban Terror 2, a great Quake III Arena total conversion.

On Friday I bought a copy of Command and Conquer: Generals, a pretty nice real time strategy game, although missing some of the interface features I want from an RTS (I've never seen one that does everything I want, although Red Alert 2 and Total Annihilation came close). For various technical reasons, I can't use my CD drive at the moment. Which meant that to install Generals I had to make images of the two CDs (thanks GwieF), mount them using a virtual CD driver, install the game, patch it manually, then use a no-CD crack! Software authentication is a pain in the neck. I'm not aware of any game whose protection hasn't been cracked, and meanwhile legitimate customers like me are being forced to resort to reverse engineering (by proxy, in this case) to play software for which we have full licenses.

I also bought the Diablo II expansion pack, since for some reason the aforementioned people have started playing Diablo II again and to play with them I need the expansion. I wonder how long it'll take before I get bored of it again. When I last played it, back in 2001, I got bored after about a month. Once you've completed the plot, the game turns into pretty tedious point and click, point and click, press alt, point and click.

In other news, I hear, through the grapevine, that sky|one will be switching to full widescreen broadcast in the coming months, following the lead of all BBC channels, ITV1 and ITV2, Channel 4, E4, and Channel 5. This is great news! It'll be too late for any of the new (and final) Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes, but hopefully they'll broadcast Stargate SG-1 season 7 in widescreen (as well as all the daily SG-1 repeats!). I'm still amazed at how few US shows are filmed in 16:9 ratio. Literally everything from soaps to weather reports to adverts to late night soft-core porn is filmed in 16:9 here in the UK.

The whole digital TV mess is very similar to the problems the Web has with new standards — for example, only one Web browser supports MNG at the moment, so authors are unlikely to use it... but because few authors use it, there is no incentive for UAs to implement it (and indeed, it is possible that even Mozilla will drop support for MNG soon). The solution, of course, is for authors to start using MNG, and other new standards, regardless of the level of support, thus forcing UAs to implement the features in order to render the Web correctly. Unfortunately, few people are willing to make their sites less than pixel-perfect in old (yet still widely used) browsers like WinIE6.

While I'm rambling on, I'll just quickly mention that another grapevine I sometimes listen to suggests that there may soon be a Firebird™ release. Personally I am eagerly awaiting for the first Firebird™ release with the Advanced User (<link> toolbar and alternate stylesheet support) and Web Developer (DOM inspector, JavaScript debugger) add-on packs, since they're the last features that are keeping me using the current Mozilla Seamonkey builds.

Finally, a word to the person who hit my CV from a Google query for "best practices for writing test cases": what you probably want is the CSS2.1 Test Case Authoring Guidelines

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