Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The timeline so far

Hello!

This time I would like to compare the originally-set timeline in my DUNE proposal to the actual results. We’re just over the first half of the project, and the actual work seems to already deviate from the initial plan. The most important change, as per the mentors’ suggestion, is that I focused more on the local part, and ensuring it really works, than a central remote website.

Here is the original plan, accompanied by my notes.

Week 1 [June 17 – June 23]: During the first week, I plan to finalize a short list of test programs (benchmarks). Additional ones could by added any time, but I would like to have a basic list before starting other work. I will write a basic script that only compiles and run these programs, while measuring their time and memory consumption. — Done

Week 2-3 [June 24 – July 7]: I will spend most of these two weeks in Cambridge attending a summer school on the physics of liquid crystals. Any coding time will be severely limited, but I will at least finish the database specification for storing the results, and actually store them. — Done

Week 4-5 [July 8 – July 21]: Add more detailed measurements to the test running script. Big-O measurements with automatically varying problem sizes, multi-thread vs. single-thread comparison, trying different compilers, etc. It may be necessary to write a special utility program for this in something other than shell scripts (Python or C++) for cross-platform compatibility, in which case I will. — Done. The whole thing is written in Python. The program stores problem size, the compiler and its flags, etc.

Week 6 [July 22 -July 28]: Finalize the testing and measuring part of the project. If any time remains, which I think it will, I will start working on a visualization website, and the client-website communication protocol. — Done, but differently. The visualization happens on the client-side, with graphs and all.

Mid-term evaluation [July 29]: At this time, as a milestone, I will have completed the part of running the test programs, measuring their performance in several ways, and allowing for automatic comparisons of problem sizes and compilers. — Partly done. Automatic changing of compilers is not supported, as this is very program-specific.

Weeks 7-8 [July 30 – August 11]: Backend for the dashboard website. Database structure to match records from testing environment, module for statistics and exporting data to charts, correctly receiving data from testers. — Not done. Visualization is done on the client side, with automatic HTML generation.

Weeks 9-10 [August 12 – August 25]: Frontent for the dashboard website. If matching visual style with the Wiki is desired, I will use that, otherwise either Twitter Bootstrap or ZURB Foundation, depending on preference. More important that website style are visualizations with charts, using one of the widely available libraries such as Highcharts. — Todo, although using Bootstrap and DyGraphs instead of Highcharts.

Weeks 11-12 [August 26 – September 8]: Add more advanced features to the website. Identifying and removing outliers, finding long-term trends, alerts for sudden performance drops, exporting data, etc. There could still be something missing from the last four weeks, which I will complete here. If not, I will start writing documentation.

Week 13 [September 9 – September 16]: Everything should work by now, so I will write extensive documentation for both running tests and the website. For projects with more than one developer I tend to document code as I write, but there will have to be user documentation as well.

Suggested pencil-down date [September 16] milestone: Everything specified in this project works. It is possible to run all benchmarks with a single command, upload the results to a central website, and look at the results there. By repeating the procedure, one can see the averages and deviations, as well as trends and comparisons between different setups.

In essence, I haven’t started writing a website yet, and instead paid more attention to the client side. Both visualizations and basic statistics, although not mentioned in the proposal, are now done locally on the developers’ machines.

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Moving (virtually)

With the new year, I decided once again to have a personal website, because I like the freedom that comes with it. The recent release of Drupal helped the decision, so I bought a domain name, got a decent free host, and built a site.

It is located at http://noughmad.eu. There’s not much content there right now, but I’m populating it with my current projects. Soon there will also be news about them there. Of course I’m also going to update my Planet feed, so you won’t miss out on anything.

Announcing Knights 2.0

Since the days of KDE 3, the software compilation has lacked a chess board. So I decided to have little learning experience and written a new one with the KDE 4 libraries. It was initially named KChess, but was renamed to Knights with permission from the original author. It also used the old theme.

Features

Currently, there are quite few. The program supports a hotseat mode of two humans against each other, and playing against a XBoard-capable computer engine, such as GNUChess.

The board is nicely animated using the new Qt animation classes.

It supports changing themes, and the Tux theme is also included.

Bugs

None.

Plans for future

There are still important features missing. Internet play support comes to mind, as well as clocks. I do not plan to add any game analysis functionality into it, but anyone else is welcome to do it.

How to get it

It is available in a tarbal from Kde-Apps.org, or the latest development version from them Git repository on Gitorious. Anyone interested in development, contact me either by mail on directly on Gitorious.

Share and enjoy!

More free strategy games – Globulation

Globulation2

Apart from its globby graphics, this game has one important aspect done differently. Real-time strategies tend to give more importance to tactics and so-called micromanagement. This can ruin the fun of the game, as a lot of time and attention to detail is needed in order to succede on higher difficulty levels or against human players. Globulation avoids it completely by simply not giving you the possibilty to control your units individually. You can tell how many workers you want at this building, or where should your warriors hold the line, and anything is then done automagically.

Although the no tedious work principle is good, I dislike the lack of diversity in this game. There are anly eight types of buildings and three types of units in the game. There is no possible research apart from building upgrades, which makes long games somewhat less exciting.

The game can be played online either on LAN or on a dedicated internet server. I’m not yet versed enough in it to try multiplayer, so I can’t judge the experience.

There is also a campaign mode, but currently the only available campaign is the (very good) tutorial. Maybe after the final version (it’s now in Beta 4) is released, there will be work on that. The game has a built-in scripting framework for scenarios and campaigns with a lot of customization possible, so I believe there could be some interesting campaigns designed.

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