Archive for August, 2005

Self-portrait: VERY Grumpy

Although it wasn’t what I was originally grumpy about in this picture, it appears that intepid was just briefly pwned by someone. The front page was replaced with the words

A1TS OWNZ J00! by: v0lks

for about half an hour. I’ll be interested to know how they gained access– the words “internet cafe” spring to mind…

Later…

It looks like it was done using a well known XML-RPC exploit, common in older blogging systems, which gives people the ability to inject arbitrary code.

So there’s another good reason to upgrade to WordPress 1.5.

Upgradiance

Intepid, still running on a tweaked WordPress 1.2.1, is badly in need of an upgrade. I’ve been putting it off for ages because of some minor extensions to the database, which I added for better stats per post and the option of marking comments private. I’ve now removed the extra stats data and incorporated the private marker into one of the standard fields, so will shortly be ready to make the jump to WordPress 1.5.2. Click here to see the current test install [running off a temporary copy of the database, so don't link to anything or leave comments there].

Incidentally, if you’re using a database to host your blog, I highly recommend doing an export now and again, just so you’ve got your own personal backup should anything go horribly wrong. Currently a complete backup of the intepid database compresses neatly to a 425K gzipped file.

In other fantastically interesting upgrade news, I have finally joined the 21C by purchasing my very own copy of Microsoft VisualC++.Net 2003, leaping forward in technology by about 5 years from my current development environment. Up until now pretty much all of my development has been done using VisualC++6.0, which came out in 1998 [or earlier], so I think it may be about time for me to move on…

Of course, Visual Studio 2005 is about to come out, so I’ll be outdated again soon enough…

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UPDATE: Turns out there’s a slight issue regarding optimization when you buy VisualC++.Net Standard [the only available edition], which you can read more about in this post on jujublog

Things I like: TAL

Who loves ya baby?Despite the fact that I am not even slightly American, This American Life [hosted by Ira Glass, pictured] is the one radio show which I will go out of my way to listen to. Since I first encountered it two years ago, I’ve heard almost every episode, as have a few other people I know (we get it via the website). I love regular contributors Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris (although lately they seem to have moved on to other things) and I think I have a slight crush on [occasional contributor and very hard to find] Starlee Kine.

Live from Orcland

Like that pun isn′t getting old by now ;) [writing from Auckland, New Zealand]

Have been in NZ past few days, and this is the first time I′ve actually gotten online since I came here. Two days without internet feels like having my arms cut off [except for the excruciating pain and loss of blood of course].

There are old volcanos right in the city here! I went up and stood of the crater rim of Mt Eden– amazing! I wanted to go down into the crater, but there were signs everywhere saying “keep out” and another guy was already down there spelling out words in rocks.

At internet cafe now, which is not really my preferred access point, so I might sign off now…

UPDATE: Back in Sydney now, looking at my paltry collection of generic scenery snapshots. Ah well. Here’s a shot looking across that crater I mentioned:

An interesting week

Ok, one more post about web stats, then I’ll find something else to talk about. [As a person who spends so much time online, I can't help assuming that other people are curious about this stuff too]

According to my server logs, total Drivey downloads now stand somewhere around the 75,000 mark, although a unknown percentage of those may have failed because of the aforementioned cache problem. Since Sunday all downloads are coming off my own sites again, so I can see for a fact that the newer version (0.15) has been downloaded 2,500 times, which is still pretty impressive for only a few days. It seems to be holding steady now at around 25 per hour.

Intepid saw a huge spike as well, which tailed off rather more quickly, as you can see from this graph representing visits over the past 7 x 24 hours, peaking around 950 in the fourth hour of slashdotting.

The total visitor count for the period was an unprecedented [for me, obviously] 8,600! It’s now back down around 110 visits per day– obviously an enormous drop but still well above pre-slashdot levels. I’m just wondering if I can keep it above 100… Maybe if I try writing about something more interesting than server stats ;)

Sunday Drivey (0.15)

I’ve been making my way through through the [figurative] pile of mail I’ve received over the last few days, answering questions where possible. Apart from a lot of very nice comments about the look and feel, I note that a few people are interested in the tech [how the curves and shapes are handled] and many more are interested in the source [uh oh]. I will try to post more on both of these subjects in the near future.

The sheer number of downloads means I’m also finding out about a few issues with the demo, like that it doesn’t run well (or at all in some cases) on systems with multiple monitors, and that many people are getting a weird behaviour where the car simply drives in a tight circle.

And yes, it’s pretty clear that a lot of people want it as a screensaver ;)

So I’ve posted an updated demo (0.15) at drivey.com, which fixes a few issues, has saveable color & map configuration and behaves quite well as a screensaver [just rename the EXE to SCR– Thanks to the people who pointed this out!] although it doesn’t quit unless you hit ESC or Alt+F4, so it’s not that well behaved ;) ¹

Note that by default this demo will now drive on the right side of the road, which should please a few of my North American visitors (fear not Rest-of-the-World, this is now a switchable option).

Also note that I have chucked the Coral cache for drivey.com, since it seems to be totally screwing up with Internet Explorer especially, resulting in broken images and even broken or missing downloads! If you tried the demo and got a “Not valid Win32 application” error, it’s probable that you were a victim of this flakiness. Which is a bloody shame, since I really, really love the idea of the Coral CDN. If you try again now and you should be able to download it fine.

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1. Also, where you would normally see a little preview running in your screen saver preferences dialog, nothing will happen. It should still work when activated though. I’m using it as a screensaver for the first time myself, and find it surprisingly well behaved, especially liking the fact that it doesn’t quit when you hit the arrow keys to steer it.

Aftermath

Some stats, for those who might be interested:


visitors to drivey.com over last 24 hours

  • Approximately 110,000 visitors, of which 80,000 are recorded as Slashdot referrals.
  • More than 65,000 drivey demo downloads so far. Peaked at about 4000/hr, now fallen to about 350/hr.
  • More than 23GB bandwidth was eaten up amazingly quickly across all three sites I had control over [a mirror of the 325KB demo consumed 7GB in less than three hours]. To alleviate this burden, front pages were reduced in size, and all non-text resources on both intepid and drivey are currently being mirrored/cached by Coral CDN, a fantastically useful service. Redirection is being handled using mod_rewrite, so even a direct link to the drivey executable [as appears on slashdot– which is indeed rather cheeky] should work fine without demolishing my site.
  • Through links on drivey.com and from slashdot comments, more than 7200 additional visitors arrived at intepid.com [hello!]. The drivey screencast was hit about 2000 times [yikes!], although because of the mirror I can’t actually see how many people downloaded more than the first few seconds.

Funnily enough, before I received the tipoff that I’d been linked, I was anticipating writing a short entry about Drivey 0.13 reaching 1000 downloads. It had taken several days, even with a helpful link from www.downloadsquad.com

PS: thanks to everyone for being incredibly friendly and supportive of this funny little project of mine :) I’ve received about 200 feedback emails [mostly very positive], so there’s lots of reading for me to catch up with! Apologies if you are expecting a reply, it may take me a while…

Slashdotted!

Drivey has been slashdotted, and intepid is being hit hard as well, so video download (and pretty much everything else) are currently not available, sorry!

The server(s) seem to be weathering the storm just fine… except for the fact that I’ve just about hit my bandwidth allocation for the entire month for both intepid.com and drivey.com. Ouch. So I’ve been clicking back and forth madly cutting back bandwidth where possible, and moving the main executable to a mirror site [which will probably run out pretty soon too].

– 3 hours later –

Wow… I think I’ve got everything battened down to the point where I might be able to go to bed soon [it is 1:46AM] and not wake up tomorrow to horrible overblown server bandwidth problems. Apart from a temporary failure [my hosting company changed permissions and sent me a warning, but in a pretty reasonable fashion] I think everything has stayed up pretty well. To take the load off my servers, I’m taking advantage of the fabulous Coral cache [which I only found out about about 2 hours ago].

Seriously, these numbers are amazing! I will digest them over the next few days and post a breakdown here. I never really grasped how dramatic the slashdot effect could be…

– 1 hour later –

Gah… I’m so tired! I’m still not 100% sure the Coral cache is working properly… I notice that IE doesn’t always seem to like the link… my eyes… just have to download log files to make sure I haven’t burned myself…

– meanwhile, the next day –

Yay, I survived! Bandwidth did exceed quota on drivey.com, but that was only because I didn’t act fast enough to shift the load to the aforementioned Coral cache. I’m using the same approach to bring intepid.com back up now, with all content back online [I think]. I may still creep over my quota here too [whoops! just did] but the overage charges are not that scary, so I’m willing to pay the little bit extra.

Omazing Unicycle Girl

You know, I could have sworn I’d already posted this clip, but since the word ‛unicycle′ doesn’t appear anywhere on this blog, I guess I never did. I’m not sure where it first originated, but it was found years ago by fellow unicyclist Richard, who added the amazingly appropriate soundtrack.

NB: Richard’s brilliant yet simple method for selecting a soundtrack came down to searching his music library for a song which was as close as possible to the length of the clip, and the result is uncannily effective!

[sorry about the low res... would love to find a cleaner source]

DCPP

Whenever I post new screens from the ne’er to be released DriveyC++, you know it’s because I’m avoiding something unbelievably important…¹

Technically there’s not much new happening here, except that I’m tweaking the road building script to support a more modular approach using “brushes”, which means roads can be mixed and matched– no more going in an endless circle!

And I still have no idea how I’m going to do hills [that can be driven over, as opposed to the dark mound things visible in the shot above].

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1. I fear that structured procrastination may be my only hope.

Feeling just fine

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UPDATE: how to solve (my solution animated)

Drivey 0.13

Surprise! Although this version doesn’t really do a whole lot more than the last version [which was posted more than nine months ago– Holy crap!], maybe some people will like the way it looks and feels. I’ve been sitting on it for months without really adding anything, so I figure I may as well post it.

It features rudimentary collision detection and primitive sound, in the form of procedurally generated road and engine noise [very muted, not loud and nasty], and you can sort of steer it, even while it’s in auto mode. Check the available keys/options by pressing F1 when you run it.

The default map is still the “industrial” roadscape, with slight additions such as [stylized] wire fencing as well as a couple of far-off details and white bits for streetlights. And it is still orange [by default]. Apologies to the people who are sick of orange. Personally, I like orange, but then I am also red-green color blind.

The “city” road is much improved in this version, with buildings laid out in a randomized grid– it feels much more like taking an expressway through a city. As you can see, it’s still blue. Everyone likes blue, surely…?

You can download the demo at drivey.com

PS: This really is the last version I plan to release until I find the time [where does all my frikkin time go? Damn this internet!] to do some serious work on the C++ version.