I blog about anything I find interesting, and since I have a lot of varied interests, my blog entries are kind of all over the place. You can browse my tags to sort them by topic and see which ones I frequently write about, or the archive has a complete history of my posts, dating back to 2008!
Besides my blog, I have pages for my creative projects, which are linked to on the navigation bar.
I write a lot about Linux and Android, Minecraft, and I like to rant about stuff. Generally anything that makes me curious. Also check out my Bookmarks for all sorts of cool websites about various topics I'm interested in.
When we're talking about "Linux" the operating system, we really mean one of the thousands of Linux distributions that exist out there. Linux itself is just the kernel -- the lowest level part of the operating system that deals with hardware, drivers, process and memory management. A distribution is all the stuff on top: the software, the desktop environments and so on.
Most Linux distributions can be called "GNU/Linux" because they include the Linux
kernel and a suite of software tools from the GNU
project. These are mostly command-line programs like
less as well as
deeper system components like the GNU C Library
(glibc) which is used by basically every program on the system.
People will often tell you: it doesn't really matter, all these distributions
are running more-or-less the same software and the biggest differences between
them is their package manager and
what format their software is shipped in. On Fedora you might
dnf install firefox
dnf update thunderbird whereas on Debian you would
apt install firefox
or on Alpine you'll
apk add firefox. Just learn
the set of commands for your distro of choice and you're good. Software on
Fedora-like distros come in .rpm packages, Debian-likes come in .deb, but mainly
you'll install software through the official repositories of your distro.
But there's more differences between the distros that they don't tell you about:
Docker is a commonly used tool in modern software development to deploy applications to web servers in a consistent, reproducible manner. It's been described as basically a "light-weight virtual machine" and it makes use of a Linux kernel feature known as containers.
How does it work?
In this post I'll try and briefly sum up what Linux containers do and what problem they solve for developers.
This blog post is non-technical: I won't be showing docker commands or any such details, there is plenty of better documentation on the Internet for that, but instead a high level overview of how we got here and what containers do for us today.
The Pinephone is "an open source smart phone supported by all major Linux phone projects." I'd been keeping my eye on these things for a few years now and finally got the Pinephone in my hands earlier this week to try it out.
The idea with devices like this (as well as the Librem 5 phone) is that it's a smartphone that runs standard mainline GNU/Linux software instead of Android. This means root passwords (or sudo), SSH servers, full admin control of the device, and ability to run all the familiar Linux software that you get on a desktop PC, server, or Raspberry Pi type of device.
Importantly this means no Google Play Services or built-in spyware and the user is in control of their device. More privacy, but not necessarily more security.
See also: I'm maintaining a Linux on Phones page on my site's wiki to collect notes, config tweaks, software I found that works and so on.
Here is another alpha release of the videogame I've been working on, codenamed Project: Doodle.
It's a drawing-based maze game where you can design your own levels freehand and play it as a 2D platformer game.
This release brings Sound Effects and Menus to the game.
Mac users: let me know if the performance is horrible or if sound effects aren't working. I only tested the game briefly in a virtual machine that I use to build the game, and it only ran at ~30 FPS and my VM had no audio drivers. Press the F3 key to open the debug menu and see the frames per second.
I'm looking for a way to solve the following scenario using Rivescript and Python. The chatbot has no answer to a question, in this case it asks the user for the correct answer and records it in the rivescript file.
Do you have an idea? Does it even work in Rivescript?
Best wishes Oliver
This can be done with a little bit of creativity. Self-learning bots aren't an officially supported feature in RiveScript, but you can get something to work using object macros that write new replies out to
.rive files to grow the bot's brain over time.
RiveScript Playground example you can test in your web browser: https://play.rivescript.com/s/0r4ZYvklR9
The basic ideas are:
+ when i say * you say *allows the user to teach the bot a new reply.
rs.set_uservar(username, "origMessage", message)
when i say * you say *trigger re-parses the user's message to get the original punctuation and formatting they used.
learned.rivefile and also calls
stream()to load the new reply for immediate use by the bot "right now."
origMessage variable: if the program did not set the variable, the learned reply is just somewhat limited to only include simple text with very few punctuation symbols preserved.
I've played the everloving heck out of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch. Played through the game to 100% completion (not always with the Korok Seeds) on Normal and Master Mode, and played dozens of "challenge runs" where I self-impose various restrictions to make the game more interesting.
Things like: "no activating towers, no armor upgrades, no korok seeds, etc." -- lots of variations you can find online. Eventually, I decided to try playing the game on my PC using the "CEMU" emulator of the WiiU. There's a whole modding community out there, but I wanted to keep the game relatively vanilla but just play around with some of the game's built-in features and apply some "light" cheat codes, such as removing weapon durability or giving infinite stamina.
Anyway, I made a couple of modded save game files for the CEMU emulator for Breath of the Wild which can give you a kind of "New Game++" and changes a few things around.
Pictured: the Great Plateau Tower is still buried in the ground, and I have the Bow of Light, Tunic of the Wild and the Motorcycle Rune at the start of a "New Game++"
As I've been working on my videogame (codenamed Project: Doodle), I created a few Go libraries that I'm releasing as open source software that can be used to create other, unrelated applications (other games, other kinds of graphical programs, etc.)
These libraries are still in "early development" (meaning I may change their API around a bit as I refactor and add new features) but they are generally stable and I'm good about documenting changes in the code, if you wanna play around with these and aren't afraid of occasional breakages.
This is just a quick blog post letting people know about these libraries. I'll probably post again when these libraries reach a stable "1.0" state, where their API won't change and they'll have a degree of stability guaranteed to them.
I'm generally using GitHub as a mirror for these libraries and will accept issues and pull requests filed on GitHub (I wouldn't expect or want anybody to sign up an account on my local Gitea instance).
I decided early on for my game that I would be using libSDL for my game's graphics, audio, controller inputs and so on -- at least to start out with. I didn't want my game to rely on SDL though: I needed the flexibility to swap it out for OpenGL or Vulkan or Metal or any other back-end driver as needed to expand my game to future platforms.
So I created go/render as a "rendering engine library" for 2D graphics in Go. It presents an API interface for drawing pixels to the screen which can be implemented by various back-end "drivers" that do the real work.
Currently it supports SDL2 for desktop applications (Linux, macOS and Windows) as well as a WebAssembly driver that uses the HTML Canvas API. (I have a build of my game to WebAssembly, but WASM performance is not great yet.) Examples are included in the git repo for both desktop and WASM applications.
My game also required a UI toolkit for easily adding buttons, panels, windows and basic user interface controls to the game.
There were a handful of options I could've gone with: desktop UI toolkits like Gtk+ or Qt could've wrapped around my SDL surface and provided menu bars and button toolbars, but I wanted to minimize my inclusion of C or C++ libraries with my Go application. I was fortunate that go-sdl2 provided clear documentation how to cross-compile my program for Windows, and I didn't wanna push my luck bringing in yet more C libraries that might've made my game harder to ship. This also ruled out some potential SDL2-based C libraries for UI controls as well.
So I created my own UI toolkit in Go, and it uses my
go/render library as its
graphics back-end: meaning my UI toolkit can work for SDL2 desktop applications
and as WebAssembly applets.
It currently supports widgets such as Labels, Buttons, Checkboxes, Tooltips and (virtual) Windows (with title bars that can be dragged around and closed). The Frame widget allows easy arrangement of child widgets using Tk-style Pack and Place controls.
Future planned widgets include: menus and menu bars, tabbed frames, text input boxes, scrollbars and sliders (in roughly that order).
The newest library implements a simple audio engine for playing music and sound effects. My game needed these, and doesn't have any fancy requirements yet, so this library provides the basics for loading music (.mp3 and .ogg) and sounds (.wav) and playing, pausing and stopping them.
Currently it only supports the SDL2 (Mixer) driver. This module is independent
go/render and you can mix and match (or not) that library.
Future planned features include: adding WebAssembly support (Web Audio API), maybe branch out to other back-end drivers as needed.
Here is another alpha release of the game I've been working on, codenamed Project: Doodle.
Doodle is a "drawing-based maze game" where you can draw your own levels freehand and then play them as a 2D platformer game. You can drag premade "doodads" such as buttons, doors and keys into your level to add some interaction to it.
The game comes with the "doodad.exe" command-line program which helps in creating custom doodads; it's the tool I used to create the default ones that come with the game.
The game is free to download in its alpha versioned form.
Note: the program isn't signed yet for Windows and Mac so you may need to click through some warning dialogs. This is an early alpha release and I'll get the signatures sorted out eventually in future releases.
Mac users: let me know if the performance is okay. I only tested running it in the QEMU virtual machine I built it in, and it got < 30 frames per second there (hit F3 key in-game to see the FPS). Linux binaries and Windows (in Wine) ran at full 60 FPS for me.
In case you happen to clip out of bounds in the game and fall to the bottom of the map, press the Enter key to open the in-game developer console and type in cheats like these:
import antigravityturns off gravity for the player character; arrow keys freely move you in any direction.
ghost modeturns off collision detection for the player, allowing you to pass through walls, floors and solid doodads.
The README.md contains more.
Note that this primarily focused on the back-end side of things, and won't cover all the craziness that has evolved in the front-end space (leading up to React.js, Vue, Webpack, and so on). Plenty has been said elsewhere on the Internet about the evolution of front-end development.
I first started writing websites when I was twelve years old back around the year 1999. HTML 4.0 was a brand new specification and the common back-end languages at the time were Perl, PHP, Coldfusion and Apache Server Side Includes.
A couple of years ago I started the progress of slowly de-googling my life: lessening my reliance on Google services, moving my data to my own servers and limiting what data Google can collect about me going forward as well as deleting the data they already have.
In this blog post I'll talk about the Google services I used to use and the solutions I found for replacing them. The full list of Google services I used to use and have found alternatives for include:
Also check out some of my personal notes I've been taking as I went: