I really really hate it. Every time I try to do anything USEFUL with it, like try out an idea in a new branch and then merge the bits of that branch that worked out back to my main line, it barfs all over me with totally crap-ass error messages that nobody could ever, EVER understand.
Also, despite their claims to the contrary in the documentation, svn will happily shit all over your working copy when a switch fails. So much for atomic operations.
I’ve had it. I’m switching to Mercurial.
When I walked out of the garage this morning, and felt the cool, dry air around me, I knew that fall was finally here. The sun was just coming up, and everything around me was still and quiet. Mornings like this make me want to spend the whole day outside. The quiet makes me remember how blessed I am to no longer live in a miserable apartment in the city.
The paper shredders are here today, and they park their truck right outside my office window. Now, I don’t mind that they’ve parked their truck in a way that obscures my view nearly as much as I mind the rumble and noise that accompanies said truck.
Woe is me.
We needed offsite backup at the dayjob, and after some research, I went with rsync.net.
Their support is above and beyond what I expected. I had a small problem with their payment form, and they responded very quickly to my email and even set up the account anyway while they worked on the payment issue.
These guys get it and are great to work with. They also provide very easy and secure access in several ways including ssh,ftp and dav. Ssh means you can do some really cool things.
For example, using the magic of FUSE, I’ve set up an encrypted filesystem over sshfs. Performance is surprisingly good, and I can use rsync via the local mount point while still having the benefits of encryption.
If you need offsite backup, you really should check these guys out.
I’ve noticed that I’m becoming much more critical of writing. In the last few years, books that I thought were brilliantly written have lost some of their lustre and are now only mediocre. Books I’d loved and re-read dozens of times are now nearly unreadable. I used to like almost everything I read. Now, I find some books embarrassingly bad, and just can’t finish them. I’m not sure if I’m getting a better grip on what makes writing good, or if I’m just becoming grumpy and cynical.
One thing that I keep seeing is “Proper Noun Syndrome.” It may have been Ken Levine of Irrational Games (he was at Looking Glass at the time, I think) who coined that phrase in an essay about writing for the once great game mag Computer Games Strategy Plus. I may have misquoted it, because Google can’t find it, but the essay was a brilliant rant about the lack of quality writing in games.
Anyway, you may not know it by that phrase, but you probably know the problem, which I will now demonstrate with a delightful demonstrative example.
One thousand years ago, when King Jerrious Billswag the Thirteenth still ruled over the Kingdom of Gigglesgensenton, there was a terrible calamity known as The Terrible Calamity. Igglewing the evil Dark Templar Demon King stole the mysterious Obelisk of Right Triangles and started the destruction of the Well of Eternal Power that the god of the wells, Puddlejumper, had left to protect the people of Omgwtf.
In the rant that I’ve attributed to Mr. Levine in my memory, he mentioned how tired he was of seeing things like this. I’m sure you can think of at least one game that has an introduction cut-scene with almost real looking CG people and a deep voice-over providing a Proper Name Syndrome filled narration. (He had another rant about cut-scenes, by the way. Ken Levine is smart.) It didn’t bug me as much then, but now anything that reads like that bores me in just a few paragraphs.
I want to read about the events in more detail. I want to know why they happened, not just that they happened. I want to understand the reasons behind the character’s decisions. I don’t want to read pages filled with lists of summarized deeds.
I find it even more annoying when I read a long detailed world history of summarized events, filled with facts that were either made up by an in-game historian, or were channeled right from the minds of the game developers to the page. Well, that part isn’t annoying. The part that is annoying is the part, pages in, where I find something like this: “Somehow, the terrible thingamabob was stolen from the all powerful god by Bill the Terrible.” Somehow? What a cop out. Surely the in-game historian or channellee (channelized?) would know the details behind a turning point event like this.
Perhaps the writers were trying to fill in backstory after the fact. They have this event (a “wouldn’t it be cool if?” event) to which they are welded, and then they need a sequel a few years later, so they get someone (maybe even a Famous Author) to fill in some story before it and, on getting to the event, discover it doesn’t really fit so well with what they planned for the backstory and the sequel. So it happens Somehow. This really rips me out of the story.
First, it has to make sense to keep me in the story. How did Bill get this powerful item away from an all powerful god? Why did it exist in the first place? Second, instead of just saying “somehow,” wouldn’t the story of this daring theft make for a more interesting story than paragraphs of Names doing deeds?
The reason for this rant? I read something recently written and published by a very large and successful company full of both of these problems. And what is really interesting is that the story is good enough that it was still readable. I can only imagine how good it would be if it was reworked.
For some reason, I’ve been feeling the urge to give World of Warcraft another try. As I still have the game installed on the Windows PC, it tempts me from time to time.
I’ve quit twice after playing a short time each instance. I just couldn’t get into it. But with Jerry Pournelle mentioning it all the time, and that damned icon on the gaming machine, it is just so tempting.
Oh well. It only costs 15 dollars to see if anything has changed that will capture my fancy. Now that I’ve finished justifying it to myself, I guess I’ll reactivate my account.
Oh and by the way, did I mention I got a nice new MacBook? I was offered one for a price I couldn’t refuse. I guess I’ll be sending back the Dell that replaced my iBook for a few days. It wasn’t a bad machine, but I sure missed OS X.