XNA Game Development

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Well, I’m back trying to make my XNA game again. It feels like forever ago, when XNA was just in beta and I was messing around with it. And it feels like even more forever ago, that I was working in C++ trying to get my game finished.

Today, I don’t get much free time to devote to my hobby of game development. So I’ve got to make the most of the time that I can spend. Between work and life, I do squeeze in a few hours, but I’ve yet to finish a game.

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User interface design for an ad-hoc database query form

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That’s a mouth full to say and even harder to explain.

It feels like that as long as I’ve been doing web development, the most important and complicated item of the web projects has been making an ad-hoc query form that is flexible and user-friendly enough for end-users, but provide them with everything they want to do (or everything think they want to do).

It is easy to design a form that allows users to query specific fields of the database, but it’s oftentimes harder to give users more options and keep the complexity low enough that they don’t end up writing complicated SQL syntax.

The problem lies in when users want to change the query form from a simple SQL statement into a more complex statement by using logical operators (AND, OR, NOT, etc.).

My examples below will use three (3) database fields: CarModel (varchar), CarColor (varchar), and HasGPS (bit/boolean). These database fields are for readability and are not intended to be implemented as such.

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Here’s a few thoughts, links, and gripes that I’ve had while doing my taxes this year.

America is a land of taxation that was founded to avoid taxation.  ~Laurence J. Peter


I’ve never understood why stock brokers don’t include the purchase date and cost basis on the 1099-B forms. Every year, I need to go back through my transaction list to determine exactly when I purchase a stock in order to determine short/long gain/losses. What’s even worse, is when I purchase more stock and one transaction might be short and another transaction might be long terms.

A fine is a tax for doing something wrong.  A tax is a fine for doing something right.

Claim your property taxes

I have an impound account for my home loan. I know this isn’t the best way of managing your money (since you don’t earn interest on the money throughout the year). However, it is the easiest and I don’t need to worry about writing two large checks at the end (Nov) and beginning (Jan) of each year.

Just in case you forget how much you are paying in property tax, you can view your bill online.

  • San Diego Property Tax
    Retrieve and review your property tax bill including an itemized assessments, fees, bonds, etc.

People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can’t live within its income.  ~Robert Half

Claim your CA VLF

I can’t remember, but I think I received my tax statement for my CA VLF last year after I filed. Luckily, there’s an online form from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) that you can use to calculate how much you paid last year.


Mouse in a maze programming challenge

Nick Gravelyn has posted a programming challenge for beginner programmers. While I’m certain that I don’t qualify for it, I went ahead and submitted my solution.

He presents the classic Mouse in a maze challenge. Instead of finding the way out off the maze, this time the mouse needs to find the cheese in the maze. He provides the abstract Mouse class that submitter should use as their base class.

It’s been a while since I’ve done this homework project challenge, so I took a crack at it to work on my logic skills and see how good my memory was from those Introduction to C++ courses.

I used a Stack to keep track of my trail so I can backtrack and a copy of the maze to mark which cells I had visited, so I don’t revisit cells. I also implemented a shortcut using Nick’s IsMouseByCheese function. So if the mouse is near the cheese, then it will only move 1 square away in all directions looking for the cheese. Otherwise, the mouse might be within 1 square of the cheese/goal, but keep going right by it.

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Developers are Clone Troopers and Project Managers are … Storm Troopers

Max Pool of {CodeSqueeze} writes an interesting article titled “Why Managers Are Like Clumsy Storm Troopers“.

Anytime software development or project management can be related to Star Wars themes, it makes the inner-geek in me want to spread the news…

… developers are like Clone Troopers. They are quick, disciplined, and deadly in their specialty.

Managers are elite forces in their own galaxy (far, far away); however, when they attempt to reenter the development trenches they look like the clumsy 2nd generation Storm Troopers.

When managers spend to much time in the meeting room (aptly named Death Star Room), developers turn into much weaker forms of their previous self.

For those who aren’t aptly versed in Star Wars. The Clone Troopers were the military troops in Star Wars episode 1, 2,  and 3 (the new movies). The ones that fought alongside Anakin and Yoda and were great at shooting and killing stuff. These were the clones produced in Star Wars episode 1 by cloning Jango Fett.

The Storm Troopers are the later military forces found in Star Wars episode 4, 5, and 6 (the old movies). These are the Storm Troopers that Luke Skywalker fought against and they were really awful at shooting and killing anything.

(via Arjan’s World)

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