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SIGBOVIK 2021 and other things of April (30 Apr at 18:25)
Yeah! Several newsy things from April. First up is my SIGBOVIK project, published on the first of the month (that's right, at Tom 7 Radar you can find out about the newest Tom 7 Projects a mere 29 days after they are announced in other venues!). This year's conference was virtual again, although they mercifully allowed for both audio and video in the submissions. From me the main artifacts are the 24 minute video Uppestcase and Lowestcase Letters and the 18-page paper of the same name. The project site also has some additional downloads. I'll let them speak for themselves! For SIGBOVIK, the presentations were limited to 5 minutes, so there's a highly truncated/ruined version of the video (not recommended unless for some weird reason you gotta catch 'em all) and a "double-blind" Q&A afterwards in the SIGBOVIK 2021 recording. There are some other good parts in there from friends and strangers; I especially liked Jim's "Dada" presentation (29m05s mark).

As usual I was feeling fairly sick of the project as I completed it, so it's nice encouragement that upon completion, it seems that others were not yet sick of the project and were willing to spend 24 minutes on it. It's not like the video is a viral hit at 73k views, but it was nice that it found an enthusiastic audience, and I definitely feel like it was successful. I've come to realize that I get a much bigger kick out of a viewership who is smart and "gets" the technical stuff and strange form of humor more than I do from simply making the numbers go up. Hopefully I can keep up the mood/momentum and finish a few more nearly-complete projects soon.

Speaking of momentum, I got my second vaccine shot, again driving to a Rite-Aid in a tiny town in Ohio for it. Possibly inspired by these two driving day trips but probably more a directly a consequence of cabin fever from staying at home for a year, I ended up buying a car! I've owned a car before (for example Van 7 and Van 7 2) but always a crappy car that was nearly dead, like for example before I donated Van 7 2 to NPR it could only be entered or exited through the back sliding door, and when the car was on it would always and forever play the one CD that was stuck in the CD player at slightly-too-loud volume because the CD player's faceplate was malfunctioning, which at least would cover up (for the unwise passengers and driver) the various scraping, shimmying, and structural unsoundness sounds that the van would make whenever it moved. Among other things. This time I got something that I thought would be fun to drive (we will pretty much only use this thing irregularly for trips or for picking up things at the hardware store that are a bit too large to carry home running, but nonetheless not too big to fit in the actually quite tiny back seat/trunk) and got a Mini Cooper convertible that looks like this:

Vanity license plate idea: POOPERS
Vanity license plate idea: POOPERS


Actually that lens angle makes it look bigger than it is. It is a tiny, silly car. And it is more fun to drive than the minivan indeed. We'll see whether it ultimately ends up being a foolish idea, but it should at least let us see family and do some safe outdoor activities as we try to mentally survive through the extended coda of the pandemic.

You know what else was annoying? A few weekends ago I tried rebooting the server that hosts various of my websites including this very blog, and it just failed to come back (dashboard just says like "ERROR" with no diagnostics) and none of the standard things gave me any information about what was wrong. Emergency console gives some internal error. Backup images wouldn't load either. I spent an hour+ on the phone with Rackspace support, who finally concluded the server was "just too old" to turn on. I had been upgrading the OS in place for many years, so this was a pretty annoying outcome (like they could have warned me at some point that the container image or whatever was going to fail to come back?). I never particularly liked Rackspace anyway (they bought the hosting company that I had started with), so I used the "opportunity" to switch to DigitalOcean, which is probably faster and a better deal and their website is certainly way better. So, it was a weekend down the drain, but spacebar.org has a new exoskeleton now. I think that I've gotten everything restored, but partly because some people have nicely sent me bug reports (e.g. muddle was behaving as though no boards had any words, because it couldn't find the dictionary file). So if you see anything amiss, please do lemme know.

I also took the "opportunity" of struggling to get my decades of legacy software running on a new system again to rewrite some of the guts of Escape to separate the UI from the server components a bit more. Now there is a subset of the game that can easily be compiled as standalone standard C++ (e.g. for the server-side components) without needing SDL, which is nice. The main thing I need to do with that before doing another release is to make it compile again for Mac OS and for the new ARM chips, which is somewhat daunting, but I left it in a reasonable state for the next time I have such energy, at least.

Current programming project is something between a game and an overly-complicated technology demo; we'll see how it goes!
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jrr (107.4.33.65) – 04.30.21 22:53:09
Is the latest source for Escape publicly available? All I see is an old tarball and a broken link to "sourceforge" ( http://tom7misc.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/tom7misc/trunk/escapex/ )

If you put it on GitHub a benevolent stranger might do the ARM port for you ;)
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Max (71.235.76.168) – 05.02.21 17:24:25
What was the one CD?
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Tom 7 (74.109.237.238) – 05.02.21 23:25:04
It is still on sourceforge, but they are always changin' their URLs around:
https://sourceforge.net/p/tom7misc/svn/HEAD/tree/trunk/escapex/
One of the main obstacles to releasing again on mac is that I don't have a suitable computer to compile with! But if you have ideas or minimally-invasive (e.g. I would really like to be able to compile with free tools from a makefile) portability improvements, lemme know!

Max: Fortunately it was a mix CD! I wish it had been something more poetic.
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Tom 2 (74.64.245.65) – 05.04.21 06:50:55
I tell ya, I was extremely enthusiastic to watch those 24 minutes. As a caʒ lover of both machine learning and typography, it felt like it was just for me.
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jrr (107.4.33.65) – 05.08.21 02:26:45
I do have ideas!

I butchered your makefile but got all three platforms building on GitHub:

https://github.com/jrr/tom7misc/pull/4

I'm not sure using another source control system and host qualifies as minimally-invasive, but it's one way to get Mac builds at least. Also I learned that GitHub has an automagic SVN import that slurps up all the history, so FWIW if you ever do decide to migrate it won't be hard.
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Otto (68.231.184.29) – 05.09.21 18:02:04
That is a sexy mini cooper!
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axel (121.200.6.47) – 05.19.21 09:03:20
Heads up: new season of Search Party is out.

Also I made a very stupid website you might like: www.bestbytest.net
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