"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Alice 3 (beta) on the EEEPC

To be a programmer might result a satisfying activity but hardly it can be defined “fun”. One can work for months to a project with no better reward than an error free log file. I'm not complaining of my job but I understand what makes it sometimes unpopular among students. Alice is an educational development environment that tries to make programming less boring to students by providing an easy way of writing programs that interact with a 3D game-like environment.

What's new in version 3

The key points in Alice are the easy user interface that let you program only by drag-and-drop operation, the availability of many easy methods to manipulate the 3D environment and a rich library of 3D objects and characters ready to be used in programs. In particular Alice version 3 provides an object library enriched by a subset of Electronics Arts™ SIMS 2™ characters.
Among the many improvements of Alice 3 the one that triggered my interest was the availability of a plug-in to import Alice projects in NetBeans, this makes easy using Java to interact with Alice 3D world.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Happy blogbirth-day!

Blog-birthday, blog-versary how do you prefer to call it? Anyway one year is already passed from my very first post. I could bore you with a long post full of anecdotes from the past, considerations about the present and good proposals for the future … but you know this is not my style. So many thanks to all the blog visitors and readers and, in particular, to a friend who, one year ago, convinced me to start blogging. Please come in and have your (virtual) slice of cake!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Converting videos to AMV format using Linux

Many cheap, “made in China”, MP3 players also have video playing capabilities. In spite of the low display quality these devices can be used to view in a satisfying way many low quality videos like for example Youtube videos.
Unfortunately the video format used, identified by the AMV or by the MTV extension, is out of common video format standards because specifically studied to be suitable to very low-end hardware. In addition conversion software provided with the players is Windows-only (and often a little buggy).
I recently discovered how to use Linux to convert videos to AMV video format. (It's a recent discover only to me since the project is dated 2007)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Random text generation with Polygen

I've already been talking about random text generation showing some simple database technique in my early posts. I'm now going to talk about Polygen: a simple Linux program that can be programmed to produce virtually random text of any complexity desired.


Polygen is installed on Ubuntu simply by apt-get command:
sudo atp-get install polygen, polygen-data
once installed it can be easly tested calling it with one of the example grammars as parameter. For example:
polygen /usr/share/polygen/eng/genius.grm

it should write a random answer text like this
How can I do for receiving a RW space bar from Photoshop NT?

You neither should mount the modem to the desktop, nor have to click a ROM virus to the DVD driver but from Office and from the control tools inside Internet Explorer 2000 you neither can ever unmount a printer, nor can load the wordprocessor for pinging a display on a BIOS display.