Monday, August 07, 2006


HDTV Screen Sizes

Our current TV is getting on a bit, so I was looking at HDTV sets last weekend with my wife. The first thing we realised is that HDTVs with the same diagonal size as our current TV look a lot smaller. The reason is the different aspect ratio. Because they are wider, HDTV sets exagerate the effect of their horizontal dimension on the diagonal size, which is the figure usualy used to indicate the size of a screen.

If you want your new Widescreen TV to have the same vertical size as your existing TV, it's diagonal size has to be 23% larger than the diagonal size of your current 4:3 ratio set. Note that this applies to most computer monitors as well.

This means that if you have an older 36" set, any HDTV sets with diagonal sizes less than about 43" will have a shorter screen size than your current set. People moving from a 36" older TV to a 36" HDTV are likely to be disapointed with the size of screen they get. If you have a 17" computer monitor, you'll idealy want to get at least a 21" widescreen display.

The saem principle applies to screen area as well, although it's not quite so bad. A widescreen set needs to have a diagonal size 12.5% larger than that of an old-style TV in order to have the same screen area. Of course HDTVs are higher resolution, so even a smaller HDTV set will have more pixels on the screen and a sharper image even if it is smaller.

N.B. This post updated!


paralellised software development for games

Tim Sweeney of Epic Games (God of War) has put up a presentation The Next Mainstream Programming Language, making extensive use of examples from developing God of War. Key problems he addresses include extending class libraries, eliminating common bugs and introducing higher level code constructs such as list comprehensions. He also gives code snippets showing how he'd like to see these problems solved, with some examples using Haskell.

The presentation is easy to read and very enjoyable - much more so than typical presentation material from conferences, which tend to be very difficult to interpret without the verbal presentation to give context. Highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in game programming, or programming in general.

As a Python fan, a lot of the language constructs he favoured seemed familiar, though I'm not saying that python would be suitable for the kind of very performance critical code he's talking about (and yes I know Python is used in several commercial games for high-level scripting).

Thursday, December 04, 2003


Tungsten E Freeware & Resources

This is a great little device. I picked one up duty free on a business trip to Croatia for £145 in Dixons, which was even better than the Amazon price at the time.

I've had the Palm for about a month now. I think these devices have just hit the right price performance ratio to make them worthwhile. Previously they seemed overpriced for a gadget that's really just an electronic filofax - nice if you can afford it but actualy just a geek/fashion thing. Now they're turning into very capable little general purpose computing devices.

The Tungsten E comes with 32MB RAM and a 144 MHz processor. That's fast enough to never seem slow, and enough memory to store a considerable number of documents, images, utilities and so on. Most document readers and creators use compressed formats, and SD memory cards are fairly affordable.

Here are the free applications and services I use regularly:

This is an offline document reader for palm e-books (DOC format) and it's own compressed file format. You need a Windows (or Java) desktop utility, which spiders web sites, downloading copies of their contents and converting the HTML into plucker format, with working links within the doc. You can then browse the 'plucked' content at your leisure. I use this for tutorials, reference material, etc.

There's also Jpluck, which can also pluck RSS feeds!
All Hail Plucker by Chris DiBona -- Plucker is an offline reader...think Avantgo without the annoyances.

This is a commercial service that's similar to Plucker. You subscribe to 'channels' which are automatically updated when you sync the Palm. You can make Plucker do this too, to pluck say BBC News or whatever. It's free for up to 2MB of content, beyond that you have to pay.

This place is full of mediocre to good Palm apps. Some of my favourites are...

A freeware diagram drawing tool. It couldn't be easier to use, to create a box you just draw a box on the screen, and it turns it into a neat little squared-off box. You can change the box style, put text notes in the boxes and link the boxes by just drawing a line between edges - all nice and neat. It does just what you want, and no more.

VDI Image Viewer
The main web site is This is a simple zooming and panning image file viewer - ideal for downloaded map images. It's a windows app that installs the Palm client for you and converts image files. Unfortunately the images aren't compressed (maybe a little), and you can't store the files on a memory card. Still, it's very useful.

Space Trader
This is an Elite clone, but without the 3D space combat. Instead it uses a very simplistic combat method, the main meat of the game is trading between worlds and pursuing missions. A nice little game.

Palm Wars
There are several games with this name. This one is a rewrite of an old BBC game. It's a bit like RISK, but on a network style map of nodes and links. I play it far too much.

These are my favourite apps. I've also looked into free software development options and web sites. I'll try and write up some of what I've learned in the near future. Meanwhile, if you've got any Palm resources or info to share, please drop me a line.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003


It Begins. .

So Blogging is the big Web Phenomenon these days? Anyone can get in on the act, so why not me?

The again, does this mean I'm committing myself to being funny, entertaining, informative or all of the above - without getting paid for it! Oh well, at least I've still got a paying job, unlike some people.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?