Tag: tools

Entries for tag "tools", ordered from most recent. Entry count: 74.

Warning! Some information on this page is older than 5 years now. I keep it for reference, but it probably doesn't reflect my current knowledge and beliefs.

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# JustSendIt Prototype

Thu
07
Oct 2010

It's not a new idea for me, but last weekend it made me angry again that I couldn't send a file from my laptop to my desktop PC over my home local network. It may seem strange and it's really shocking to me because transferring data is the most fundamental thing we do when using any kind of network. But at the same time I don't know about any program that would simply allow me to send a file to a destination machine without being overly sophisticated or causing some strange technical problems. Here are solutions I've considered:

Network Neighbourhood - most natural way of passing files between Windows computers. I tried to share some folder on my laptop to access it from my PC and it didn't work, despite machines could contact each other via hostname or IP. Same happened when I shared a folder on my desktop and tried to enter it from my laptop. Well, we all know that this service often stop working randomly... Disabling Windows Firewall on both machines didn't help either.

FTP - I have FileZilla FTP server installed on both machines and I know it's quite good software, but that day I couldn't make it work. I could logon to the server from remote machine, but not to transfer any file. I tried different settings on client side like Passive Mode etc., but it changed nothing. I don't like the idea of using FTP to transfer files anyway, because why do I have to install the server, setup user accounts etc. when I just want to transfer a file? Besides, FTP protocol is known for causing technical problems because it opens separate connections on different ports to transfer data.

Other possibilities to send a file over a network are:

So finally I've used an USB flash memory stick to copy this file :P But after this, I've recalled my old idea about a simple program to transfer files over a network called JustSendIt [PL]. Then I decided to code a quick prototype of such program in C# and here it is: JustSendIt Prototype. It requires .NET Framework 4.0 to work.


If you have some computers at home or at work that you transfer files between or if you want to a file to your friend over the Internet, you are sure one of the computers have public IP or is set as DMZ so the other can connect to it, the way to send a file is:

  1. Run JustSendIt Prototype on both machines.
  2. On the receiving machine, go to Receive tab and press Load button to see your computer name and IP address..
  3. On the sending machine, go to Send tab, click Browse button to select a file to be sent, as well as enter the name or IP of the destination computer.
  4. On receiving machine, press the big Receive! buton to start waiting for incoming connections.
  5. On sending machine, press the big Send! button to connect to the second machine.
  6. On the receiving machine, a dialog pops-up to as user about the directory where to save the incoming file.
  7. After confirming this dialog, the file is transferred until finished.

I hope some day I'll find enough motivation to polish and finish this program :)

Comments | #networking #tools #windows Share

# Technology for Data Processing

Mon
04
Oct 2010

When doing some engineering work on a computer, no matter if gamedev or any other field, there is sometimes a need to process or visualize some tabular data, especially numbers, e.g. statistics about performance or something gathered during program execution. What technology is best for this purpose? At the moment I know about following solutions:

Spreadsheet software, like Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc. They can import CSV files and draw great variety of plots, but for more advanced data processing it would be useful to have something more like a programming language.

At the other end of the spectrum, we can write normal C++ or C# programs to do the work. It can be hard though as we have to code everything on our own, including data structures, loading files and drawing plots. It would be nice to use some higher-level, scripting language with rich standard library, built-in data structures and the like.

Any scripting language can do this. For example, PHP (which I know the best) can be used as a normal scripting language, not only in connection with a web server. All in all, its name means "PHP Hypertext Prerocessor", because it's suited for processing strings and text files.

A technology designed specially for the purpose of crunching numbers is Matlab and its free alternative - Scilab. It provides its own programming language with convenient built-in data types like matrix and is also able to draw plots.

Python is something in between - a normal scripting language with weird but nice syntax and a language-level support for operations like array slicing and complex numbers. It looks like many scientists and engineers use it for computation and data analysis, because there are Python libraries designed for this, like Numpy and Scipy.

There is also The R Project metioned at the Nick Darnells' Blog. It looks like another environment with its own, different programming language, designed especially for statistical computing. It can also load data from files and draw plots.

And finally, some tasks can be accomplished in environments that allow playing around with computer graphics, like EvalDraw (with its own, C-like simple programming language) or Processing (with a language based on Java).

So there are many possibilities in this subject. I've played a bit with all of them at some time, but obviously learning chosen one thoroughly would require much time and effort. So maybe you can help me decide? Which solution would you recommend? Personally I feel a little more convinced to Python, because it is a general purpose language that I can use in different fields too, like coding Blender plugins.

Comments | #math #languages #tools Share

# Sunday in Warsaw - a Time-Lapse Video

Sun
03
Oct 2010

I've made my first time-lapse video today. This is a technique in which you capture an image every several seconds, merge these images into a video and the result looks like the time is moving very fast. Here it is:

To make it, I used my webcam connected to my laptop (because USB cable was to short to connect it to my desktop PC :) Of course a special program had to be used to utilize webcam this way, taking snapshot to a JPEG file every several seconds. The program I used is booru WebCam 2.0. It does a good job and it's free, opposite to many others tools of its kind. The result of this program working for several hours was 805 MB of files named like "image-4887.jpg". I had to use another program to convert them to a video.

This can be done with powerful and free VirtualDub. It's not so obvious how to do it though, because there is no "Import images" command in the menu. Instead, one have to know that it's enough to issue a standard File / Open video file command and open first image with it. VirtualDub automatically recognizes subsequent images as video frames. Now the only thing that remained was to set Video / Frame Rate, Audio / Audio from other file, setup filters (resize in my case), video codec and encode final video with File / Export as AVI.

Comments | #video #tools Share

# HLSL syntax highlighting for jEdit

Sat
01
May 2010

Some time ago I've created a syntax highlighting mode of HLSL language (the shader language of DirectX) for jEdit - my favourite text editor. It is now included in the official jEdit distribution. But it wasn't updated for a long time, since Shader Model 2. Now I've created a new version that supports all the features of new DirectX shaders and effects up to these from DirectX 11 (Shader Model 5), including ones from the upcoming June 2010 version.

So if you don't use jEdit, just keep in mind that there is probably no other text editor (which I would know about) with a coloring scheme for shader language. (I know AMD RenderMonkey and NVIDIA Fx Composer do that, but these are big shader IDE-s, not just text editors.) And if you do, here is how to install it. Download the file:

hlsl.xml

Place it in your jEdit's "modes" subdirectory, e.g.: "C:\Program Files (x86)\jEdit 4.3.1\modes" and replace the existing one. That's all. You can double-click on the right part of the status bar in jEdit to open the Buffer Options window and select Edit mode = "hlsl".

But it's better to associate this coloring scheme with some file extensions. To do that, open file: "C:\Program Files (x86)\jEdit 4.3.1\modes\catalog", comment out the "javafx" mode as it owns the "fx" file extension by defalt:

<!--<MODE NAME="javafx"    FILE="javafx.xml"
        FILE_NAME_GLOB="*.fx" />-->

Then find and alter the entry about "hlsl" mode to associate it with whatever file extension you use for your shaders, like the example:

<MODE NAME="hlsl"    FILE="hlsl.xml"
        FILE_NAME_GLOB="*.{fx,hlsl}" />

If you edit this file inside jEdit, you don't even have to restart it - new rules are applied automatically.

You may ask why not just use the C++ coloring scheme for shader code? Of course you can do it, the syntax is similar because all the tokens, like strings, numbers and identifiers look the same way. But my coloring schemes give separate colors for language elements such as: semantics (like c:COLOR0), component indexing (like v.xyzz), atomic types (like float), object types (like Texture2D or RWStructuredBuffer) and intrinsic functions (like sin, cos, InterlockedCompareExchange).

Kolorowanie składni HLSL

Comments | #tools #rendering #directx Share

# My Impressions about SQLite

Tue
20
Apr 2010

SQLite is a very strange library. It's a database engine that can store lots of data in a relational database and exposes API based on SQL language. On the other hand though, it's not a huge application that has to be installed in the system, work in the background and you have to connect to it via network interface, like MySQL or PostreSQL do. It's actually a lightweight library written in C that can be linked with your program and uses specified file as the database. It's fascinating that such a small library (there is even a preprocessed source version as a single 3.75 megabyte C file!) supports much of the SQL language.

The API of the SQLite library is similar to any other SQL-based database access API for any programming language. I've played with it a bit and here is my small sample code:

#include <sqlite3.h>

int main()
{
  sqlite3 *db;
  sqlite3_open_v2("D:\\tmp\\test.db", &db,
    SQLITE_OPEN_READWRITE | SQLITE_OPEN_CREATE, NULL);

  sqlite3_exec(db, "begin", NULL, NULL, NULL);
  
  sqlite3_stmt *stmt;
  sqlite3_prepare_v2(db, "insert into table1 (id) values (?)",
    -1, &stmt, NULL);

  for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
  {
    sqlite3_reset(stmt);
    sqlite3_bind_int(stmt, 1, i);
    sqlite3_step(stmt);
  }

  sqlite3_exec(db, "commit", NULL, NULL, NULL);

  sqlite3_finalize(stmt);

  sqlite3_close(db);
}

It's hard for me to think of any application for such a strange library. It offers too much when you just want to design your file format and too few if you need a fully-featured database, like for a web server. So why did I decide to get to know this library? It's all because of an interesting gamedev tool called Echo Chamber. It's a free data mining program that can visualize data from SQLite database files as many different kinds of plots, even 3D ones. So when you integrate logging some numeric data from your engine into an SQLite database you can easily do performance analysis with it.

Comments | #tools #libraries #sql Share

# SVN in My Windows Made Me Angry

Thu
11
Feb 2010

Today I had an unpleasant adventure with SVN. Although I'm now going to use Mercurial (with TortoiseHG client) for my home projects, as this whole distributed revision control systems looks quite promising, I wanted to checkout some SVN repository and it turned out to be much bigger problem than I expected.

The obvious solution is to install and use TortoiseSVN - great shell extension for Windows. Unfortunately it doesn't work in my 64-bit Windows 7. Setup succeeds, but then no new items appear in context menus for directories. I tried to install both 64-bit and 32-bit versions, two times, with restarting my computer. Nothing helped. I tried to disable read-only attribute for TortoiseSVN directory, give full permission to this directory for all users, maually run TSVNCache.exe (because it doesn't start automatically) and nothing helped. I also ensured shell extensions are successfully installed by using ShellExView. Google knows this problems, but not the solution.

So then I installed RapidSVN - a normal Windows SVN client. Such application seems even nicer for me than shell extension. But then another obstacle appeared: opening repository in RapidSVN failed with error message: rapidsvn Error: Error while updating filelist (Can't create tunnel: The system cannot find the file specified. ). I though: Fuuuu! After issues with new Windows version here come Linux-like issues with some command-line or config driven, small and independent programs that never smoothly work together. I knew it was probably because the repository I wanted to checkout have an URL starting with svn+ssh:// so the SVN client probably needs to create an SSH tunnel.

After some searching in Google I found a solution. I needed to download PuTTY package and set special environmental variable to point to the plink.exe program that, according to Google, work as SSH tunnel. This variable is named "SVN_SSH" and its value must be like "E:\\PuTTY\\plink.exe" - without quotes, but with these double backslashes! Here I was sure it had to come from the Linux/Unix world, noone other would come up with something like this :P

It seemed to work so I was a step further, but still I couldn't access the SVN repository. This time when checking out, an empty console appeared and freezed so the RapidSVN didn't go any further. I wanted to try some "easy" solution so I installed another windowed client - Qsvn, as well as console SVN client - SilkSVN, but it seemed to recognize and run this SSH tunnel and finally freeze in same situation. So after another Googling I've found this post, opened configuration file "C:\Users\MY_LOGIN\Application Data\Subversion\config" and inserted this line into it:

ssh = E:/PuTTY/plink.exe -l REPOSITORY_LOGIN -pw REPOSITORY_PASSWORD

It finally worked and I could access the repository, but it took me so much time that it made me really angry. I hope I'll live to see the day when there will be no such stupid problems with software. Meanwhile, now you can understand why do I always *very* carefully handle all errors in my code (check returned values, throw exceptions, write logs) - to always know exactly what, when, where and why went wrong, so no annoying things can happen like "context menu items don't show up and I don't know why" or "empty console window opens and freezes".

Comments | #svn #windows #software #tools #version control Share

# Properties of Pascal Triangle

Thu
12
Nov 2009

Pascal Triangle is a mathematical object that looks like triangle with numbers arranged the way like bricks in the wall. Each next row has one more number, ones on both sides and every inner number is the sum of two numbers above it. It can span infinitely.

Despite simple algorithm this triangle has some interesting properties. First, if you draw only odd numbers, you get a fractal - Sierpinski Triangle.

Second, graph of numbers in each row resembles Gaussian distribution function. The lower row you take from the triangle (containing more numbers), the more precise graph you get.

I've made these images with Octave - a free Matlab alternative. I like it and I think concepts behind this Matlab programming language can be quite useful for doing computations, but doing graphics is painfully slow. Whole seconds to draw several dozens of texts or rectangles? WTF?!

Comments | #fractals #math #tools Share

# Unreal Engine for Free

Sun
08
Nov 2009

This week the news of the week was the release of the famous, probably world's best game engine free to download and uncommercial use. I'm talking about Unreal Engine in form of UDK - Unreal Development Kit.

At first glance it looks like a small revolution, but when you download (562 MB) and install (1.25 GB) the package, you will see it's actually not an SDK at all. There is no source code or even headers and libraries to code your own game in C++ using this engine. It's just the game editor and the only thing you can do besides graphics and level design is scripting gameplay mechanics in UnrealScript. Just like Game Maker, only more advanced ;)

Nevertheless I think it's important news and the editor is worth seeing. All in all Unreal Engine is a great technology used by countless commercial game developers. I've started reading UnrealScript Reference and I'm amazed by concepts of this language like object states, latent code or replication. Now I feel like making a game with the Unreal Engine, but as I'm neither good artist nor good level designer, soon I will probably go back to my own C++ code, just knowing how a good game engine should look like.

Comments | #engine #tools Share

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