Sunday, December 23, 2001

I've begun speaking to my father and his brothers, to extend the "family history" that his youngest brother began in 1993. (When complete, the history will probably make an appearance on this site.) I once thought I should be a newspaperman; interviewing my uncles makes it apparent that it's a lot harder than one would guess. One has to draw out the information one wants or needs, without giving the interviewee the impression that he's being grilled. And, I've been interviewed for the papers several times; each time I've been disappointed with the article as it appeared. (This has also been true when I've written the article--damn editors.) I wonder now if most of the response I get will be about how I missed the inclusion of some of the (admittedly entertaining) stories I heard. In any case, here's a note to aspiring newspapermen: It's harder than it looks.

---In tweaking this site I've had to learn a fair bit of HTML. I've been pleasantly surprised--HTML, qua HTML, is easy. It's the fancy stuff that one does with tools outside of HTML that makes it hard. I don't need XML or SSI or the others I've read about for this site, at least yet, but I've got another project cooking that requires me to learn Java. I'm not complaining, it's a volunteer project, but the learning curve for Java is a whole lot higher. I've downloaded 75MB of crap so far, which is no small cheese over a dialup connexion (to which I've been limited for the last six months). I don't expect to be able to go through what I've downloaded for a few days yet, but I fully expect to find that (a) I didn't need to download most of it and (b) I need to download a bunch of other stuff.

All of this, and the language itself I don't expect to pose a significant problem. It's object-oriented ... not a big deal in itself; I introduced myself to that when playing with Inform a few months ago. The API concept is new, but from what I've read so far it seems just a fancy way to access the libraries.

I've been rather surprised this year that by being out of programming even on a hobbyist level for, hmm, ten years or so, I've become something of a dinosaur. Oh well; it's just another area of my life in which I'm old-fashioned. As a so-called spaghetti-code programmer from way back, I'll actually agree that object-oriented languages make thinking about projects a bit easier. For my project (a Java version of the board game Supremacy, ca 1990), I was conceiving of the board in spaghetti-code terms as a giant array, or group of arrays, but thinking about the board and its territories as objects makes conceptualizing the game a lot easier.

There will likely be more forthcoming about Supremacy; perhaps posting occasional progress reports will encourage me to keep plugging away at the game. (In case you were going to ask: I'll seek permission before making any attempt at commercial use of the game. That point, if it comes, is far off.)