Dwarfsoft [GPA]

Author Archive

Forays into XNA – First Impressions

by on Mar.02, 2009, under Game Development

I have started thinking about my possible development opportunities, and have decided that in order to document from 0-100mph I should start with a framework that I have never used, and a language which I have rarely used, in order to give me insight into the newbie mind. By starting from scratch I feel that the articles will cover some of those smaller aspects that we usually quickly learn and forget about. Coming from another language will allow me to document the differences from what I was expecting to what is presented and why this is so.

So, the installation of the XNA Game Studio 3.0 has completed, as has the installation of Visual C# 2008 Express Edition. The first place I was sent to was the XNA Creators Club Online. I set up my profile there, although this wasn’t really necessary.

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Ini File Handler for VBScript

by on Feb.27, 2009, under Scripting, Work

I was recently working on an issue to do with managing .ini files in VBScript. I know what you are all going to say now: Why would you use an INI file when the registry is available for use?! Well, there is one instance that you may wish to use another form of configuration or information passing. In this instance we have an initiation of the Ghost Store method for the System Volume. To achieve a store on the system volume we require the PC to be rebooted and it then boots up into a BartPE environment to run the Ghost Store, and perform a few custom tasks. Therefore, the System Volumes Registry is not present (or requires mounting then reading, which has proven somewhat unreliable for me in the past).

So, the reason it came to developing the Ini file handler class is due to the need to provide some more controlled smarts into the store/restore system. Clusters, such as the one I work within, can be more proactive in their maintenance, and therefore require more advanced features than the corporate stock-standard release is likely to contain. As such the area in which I work is constantly involved in working towards a very automated maintenance process. My skills, lying within scripting, programming, and automation in particular, come in handy in this regard. I regularly disassemble the corporate releases to ensure that they will not break when released out into the wild of our corporate machines.

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Microgames

by on Feb.26, 2009, under Authoring, Game Development

It seems that the idea of microgames and progressive development is a little in vogue at the moment. Andrew Russell, a long time friend and colleague from the early GameDev.Net and Tiberia days, has embarked on a game development project where he is seeking to develop a game every two weeks, and produce reusable components of each to ease into the development of the next. The Origin of Sketchable explains in a little more detail how he is attempting to achieve this. Strangely enough, he is already in a race against Trapper Zoid who is working on a project called The Lab.

As it turns out, this is an idea I was contemplating starting as well. My release intervals would have to be significantly longer, however, as I am incapable of committing a lot of time due to my hectic schedule of Work and Wife. The idea I was considering was to do with the book mentioned in the last post. By developing games and documenting the entire process from start to finish, it would help aspiring young developers understand the trials and tribulations of making even the simplest of games, and how much can be learned and applied to future developments. There are a few concepts I am looking forward to exploring, such as some advanced scripting in games, as I have been re-reading the Dragon Book gleaning a lot of things about language design that could be useful, as well as my general scripting experience in a variety of languages.

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Becoming a Published Author

by on Feb.25, 2009, under Book Reviews, Novell, Scripting, Work

Beginning Game Programming: A GameDev.Net Collection

Beginning Game Programming: A GameDev.Net Collection

Well, as some of you may know, I was involved in writing a series of articles that started back in 2001 and continued until 2004 on some simple programming concepts using C++. An Introduction to Pointers, Structures and Linked Lists has now made a home for itself inside the new GameDev.Net book; Beginning Game Programming: A GameDev.Net Collection. This book is a collection of edited articles that have been posted to GameDev.Net over a period of years.

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Modem Reboot

by on Feb.17, 2009, under Home, Scripting

I have found myself having a very strange modem “freeze” issues. When traffic gets too high the modem WAN port freezes up. The LAN interface and DHCP server stay up, however the modem doesn’t even attempt to authenticate with the ISP. This lead me to learn a few different things in order to fix my issue. I used this code as a basis.

URLGetAuth Function
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Manipulating CSV Files – Part 1

by on Sep.09, 2008, under Certification, LDAP, Novell, Politics, Scripting, Study, Training, Work

Before I jump in to the fun that is the Scripting that I have been wading through this past week, I thought I’d let all of those who may care that I finally have some kind of certification. I passed Microsoft exams 70-291 and 70-284. So I am now the proud holder of a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator Messaging Specialist certification (MCSA Messaging). Now I am concentrating on the final three exams so that I can get my MCSE.

After a rather hectic week of scripting a solution and then distributing it under an excessively short deadline, I have been asked to provide stats on the result of forcing this solution out to clients. The solution that I had to develop keeps tabs on a System Volume Image of PCs, and ensures that this Image never gets out of date too far. Currently I am not forcing a Store every restart, as the planned solution was to do, but I do inform the client that their current Image is out of date and ask them if they want to do a Store now. If they click on Yes then their PC is rebooted and the Store is done (providing that one of many flaws in the current Store process do not interrupt the process). (continue reading…)

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Return to GetVolumeNumber

by on Sep.02, 2008, under Novell, Politics, Scripting, Study, Training, Work

Since my last post I came to the realisation that I really didn’t like the way that the Diskpart box popped up on screen during the function call, so I did what I said I should have done and created the function the other way. This also cleans up the text files after completion, which is something the previous function didn’t do.

For completeness I also made the function a little more generic, so it takes the Volume Label as the Variable, and falls back to “IMAGE” if none was passed.

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MSI Installer Limitations

by on Aug.28, 2008, under Novell, Scripting, Study, Work

I have spent the last few days creating a few MSI packages and fixing some pre-existing MSI packages. One issue that I found with working on an MSI that installs files to a Hidden partition is that InstallShield has very little in the way of control over partitions, mountpoints and the like. This was not really an issue, as I am using a SOE and can Mount Volumes through VBScript.

The one issue that we had with mounting this specific Volume is that if a USB Drive or a Virtual CD/DVD drive is installed on the machine, it modifies the volume numbering scheme. The volume we were previously attempting to mount was Volume 3. This became Volume 4 in the even that another drive was connected, or a higher number depending on how the USB drive was partitioned.

Not a grand issue, but one that was overlooked by the Corporate boys when they released one of their imaging tools (the hidden volume is the Image volume). I modified their install script to use a bit more smarts when attempting to find the volume it needs. (continue reading…)

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MCSA Study

by on Aug.17, 2008, under Certification, Study, Training, Work

I haven’t updated you all for a while, but in that time I have completed Microsoft exam 70-290. This ended up being quite a lot simpler than I had originally anticipated. I am currently studying for two more exams. 70-291, which is Microsoft Windows 2003 Networking, and 70-284, which is Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 configuration. I have been attempting the practice exams and reading the MSPress books, and am relatively confident.

I have scheduled both of these exams for the same day, which will make the day a very long one. If I manage to pass both then that will give me MCSA: Messaging Specialist status. I can then focus on the remaining 3 exams to get my full MCSE certification.

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Changing Roles

by on Jun.30, 2008, under Novell, Politics, Scripting, Work

Interesting moves happening at work. Today I moved into a Networks role. Originally it was intended that I be doing 80% Servers and 20% Networks due to the solid input I have provided within the Server team to date. This has now been changed to 80% Networks and 20% Servers. The guy who I am filling in for didn’t like the idea of his role being technically abandonned, and I agree with him. There will definitely be some Server Action from my end anyway, because I have a keen interest in running with a few ideas.

Trav and I have approached the Server team with an idea on distributing apps more effectively, relying mainly on network addresses of the PCs to correctly locate an application server. This brings up a few logistical hurdles. (continue reading…)

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