Arien vs. The World

Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

I can’t remember how, but I came across the DreamBuildPlay Challenge website a couple of weeks ago. I had seen XNA last year and while it looked interesting, I had no real motivation to use it, so I moved on and forgot about it.

This time it was no different, there was no motivation to learn. But, suddenly there was… I couldn’t wait to get back home and start working on it.

No, it didn’t cross my mind that I could participate in the Challenge, hehe. What changed, then? I just thought to myself: “What if I *had* the skills & experience to participate? What kind of game would I build?”. And those simple questions made my mind go wild and enter in one of these brainstorming trances I have so often. And I came up with some nice game ideas, if I can say so myself!

I’ve been toying around with the framework for these last two weeks and I must say it’s easy to learn the basics and there are some good guides around. The documentation is also excellent. I managed to create silly sprites (actually the hardest part was finding some decent graphics, heh) that move around, walk, grow, fade… Keyboard and mouse input is easy to handle too. From here on it gets complicated, but I’m not going to rush it. First, I want to gather all the ideas I had and define small steps to create something nice, bit by bit.

I still have no interest on participating in the Challenge. I know my current knowledge of XNA is close to zero and any attempts would end in frustration (maybe I can in a year or two… or three). But! I have now a reason to learn and to refresh my C# skills on the process (I had been looking for an excuse for some time). Plus I’m chasing one of my childhood dreams: game development!

DNA pattern

DNA pattern

My friends Katrin and Jens made some time ago a website that featured pictures of our chromosomes DNA. And how would they manage to make pictures of them, you might ask? Well, as you might know (if you don’t, click links above), our DNA is composed of molecules called bases, that are disposed into a certain sequence. This disposition is what makes us human. Anyway, imagine assigning one color to each one of these bases and then print the sequence. Yes, that’s how they made it. And it looks pretty, doesn’t it?

But they went a step further now! What about turning these images into audio? Easier said than done, but nonetheless, they did it again. Their website started broadcasting this week,  starting from Chromosome 1, and was even featured in Slashdot. They calculate it will take 23 years and half to broadcast the entire human genome sequence. You don’t have to listen all the way, don’t worry, but if you are interested in knowing more about yourself and the fine piece of work you (we) are, tune in!

When I started studying for the MySQL Certification Exam I thought the first chapters of the book would be rather boring. But at least that didn’t happen with chapter 5, which talks about data types. I have probably been lazy on reading the documentation of the last versions of MySQL (or all versions in general), but I did learn a lot in this chapter.

For example, I thought the VARCHAR type could only hold up to 255 characters on MySQL. And welllllllll… That was true until the version 5.0.3, which allowed VARCHAR to hold up to 65.535 characters. That’s quite a huge leap, and I really wasn’t aware of it, pfff. I usually take TEXT as the field type when I have something that might be bigger than 255 characters, but from now on, VARCHAR it is!

Also, I saw that DATETIME fields take a lot of space compared to the other temporal types… It’s cheaper to store DATE and TIME separatedly, heh. Oh well, that’s another mistake I won’t make again.

I also learned a bit more about collations and differences between them (binary or non-binary, case (in)sensitive, etc). I always kind of wondered why we were using this and not that collation but wasn’t curious enough to look for the answer or ask about it. Now I know, and the book explanation is great.

But it wasn’t all about new things for me. Fortunately I could recognize most of the things I read on this chapter, so I didn’t feel like a complete ignorant :P. For example, I knew a great deal about the SET type, since I’ve used it before, and how it differs from ENUM fields. One funny thing that someone mentioned when we were checking our exam answers today was, that ENUM fields can hold so many members that it would be easy to add the names of all the towns in Spain into one of these. There was a general LOL about it, but after that session I was looking up some VARCHAR vs CHAR debate information and found this post on the MySQL Performance Blog. Turns out his idea isn’t really that crazy (performance-wise, at least).

Talking about VARCHAR vs CHAR, I was also successfully able to explain why CHAR might be better in some cases than VARCHAR (even if it takes more space). This wasn’t explained in this chapter and I found it weird, but I’m glad we got to talk about it, generated a nice debate for the peeps remaining in the class (some had left already) and nice conclusions.

Ah well, from this chapter I’ve learned and shared my knowledge and I’ve had quite some fun reading it. And I definately won’t let all these little pearls go to waste. From now on, I’m going to be more careful when I create new tables. The next step will be to learn to create better queries (or maybe find out that the ones I write are already super efficient… but that’s wishful thinking :P).

I hope the rest of the book is as interesting or more. This was about the best thing that happened today at work and I want it to stay fun and challenging!

I like reading blogs, although I don’t really enjoy the “show off stuff to others” direction that many have taken, feels kind of dull to see the same method everywhere. But I must admit there are some useful and entertaining blogs out there. And when I come across something interesting, I find myself thinking, “I wish I had a blog to share this awesome thing”. Sigh.

Writing a blog, uff… I have had this account for so long I can’t even remember. But I kind of refused to join the masses of blogs used to forward other’s posts (with little own original content), just like I refuse to forward Powerpoint spam mails whenever I receive one. But with time I’ve come to the conclusion that blogs aren’t evil and the world is too cool to remain silent about it. Hence the post title.

I don’t really expect anyone to read this blog, since it won’t have anything special. Just my thoughts about totally random stuff that I like. But if you land here for whatever the reason, welcome! I’m Arien, this is my blog and I hope you have a nice time around here :)


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