George Birbilis, one of our J# MVP's, just sent me a note to show his completed port of JAWAS to J#. You can download it here (it requires J# 2.0): http://www.mech.upatras.gr/~robgroup/agents/multi-agent/. This is a cool example of how J# can be used to port a Java application to the .NET Framework. George has completed several such projects in the past, such as his TurtleTracks port (which will be familiar if you've used LOGO).
JAWAS = Java Artificial World and Agent Societies. I haven't used it before, but there are .WMV files on George's site - looks pretty cool.
This week's college football matchup? MSN Search, ranked #2 in most polls, against the #1 ranked Google. I wanted to see what types of results you get on each search engine if you're searching for football games like I am (since my Gators are playing the LSU Tigers today).
And the results...?
MSN Search: 1Google: 0
I have to say that the underdog MSN Search has beat Google hands-down here. Both search engines provide relevant links, but MSN Search goes a step further and gives me the real-time score of today's game, UF's record, conference standing, AP rank, and more! Nice job, MSN Search! I use MSN Search exclusively now and I love watching it get better and better each and every week. It's great to see some really healthy competition in the search engine space since it spurs both Microsoft and Google on to truly innovate and keep leap-frogging each other - the real winners of course are the billions of end-users worldwide who will benefit from these improvements for a long time to come.
Here's the MSN Search query: (as you can see, my Gators need to step it up a bit... <g>)
Kent built this cool "blog flair" you can use to show the latest Coding4Fun articles on your blog, Web page, email signature, etc. You can pick from some slightly different designs as well. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/coding4fun/spreadtheword/Default.aspx to get the HTML for your favorite design. Kent also tells us that he's going to write an article describe how he built this blog flair using ASP.NET so that you can build your own for your favorite RSS feed. Stay tuned...
Check out C-Jump. This is kind of like Chutes and Ladders - except that instead of Ladders, you have While loops, and instead of Chutes you have Goto's. I wish we had this stuff when I was a kid! It would be great to see a C# or Visual Basic version of this as well. Maybe Sesame Street could do a version where Oscar the Grouch is the Garbage Collector? <g>
Also, speaking of teaching kids to program, don't miss the Kid's Programming Language article on Coding4Fun.
Thanks to John Salerno for sending the original C-Jump Wired Magazine article link to us at Coding4Fun.
This week I'm at TechEd Australia delivering some presentations. But whenever I'm not working I've been back in my hotel room watching CNN and whatever coverage I can about the terrible state of New Orleans and the neighboring areas. I am originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida, so I grew up watching hurricanes come and go. It's a way of life, just like Californians deal with earthquakes and fires, or the Pacific rim deals with tsunamis and typhoons. But nothing could have prepared me, or any of the residents of the affected areas, for what has happened.
I've been feeling incredibly saddened and helpless for the people in this area. Every day the situation seems to worsen more and more. From the initial hurricane damage to the levees failing and flooding the city to civil unrest - what's next? As I've explained to some of my Australian counterparts this week, this is the part of the United States where the term 'southern hospitality' hails from. Prior to this week anybody in that region would be proud to give you the shirts off their backs, or welcome you into their home for some home cookin'. I've taken countless trips to this area. I have great memories of going to New Orleans and pigging out on crawfish. My friends and I used to take road trips through the area on the way to football games. But the best part wasn't the football games. The best part was the road trip itself: driving through the South and visiting out of the way diners, meeting the nice people along the way, and staying at old plantation-style hotels. Just this past fall we took such a trip - I can't imagine what the areas we ate and slept at must look like now.
It's impossible for me to watch the coverage and not want to reach out and try to help. I resolved that even though I'm on the other side of the world this week, I would find a way to do something. So yesterday during my TechEd session I used my captive audience to make a plea for help on behalf of the region. But rather than just asking, I wanted to put some skin in the game and also make it fun to donate. My talk was all about Coding4Fun, so I wanted to keep a fun element. I had about 6 demonstrations relying on all sorts of hardware devices - everything from X-10 to LEGO Mindstorms. I knew the talk was going to be fun, but I also knew there was a very high risk of something crashing. <g> So I resolved that for every demo which crashed, I would donate $50 to the Red Cross. Microsoft has a donation matching policy, so that would mean $100 for the Red Cross for every demo that crashed. I then encouraged the audience members to donate $5 for every demo they liked. There were about 300 people in the room, so if everybody gave just $5 for one demo that would be $1500 for the people of New Orleans and the neighboring regions.
So how did my talk go? Well eventually I got all of the demos to work, but there were some hiccups which I'll gladly count as crashes. As a result of my talk yesterday that means $100 + Microsoft match = $200. Hopefully the audience liked my demos and chooses to donate something as well. :-)
I share this story since I think it highlights just one creative way we can make giving a fun and painless part of our daily routines. Just like any disaster of this magnitude, the people of this area are going to need a LOT of help - not just today, but in the coming months and years. Their homes, their posessions, and their means of income - from casinos to oil to tourism - is completely lost for the time being. Many of these people have nothing. Just as the world came together to help the victims of last year's tsunami, we need to come together and help these people now. I'll continue to look for ways to make giving a fun and creative part of my daily routine. If you have ideas for how to make giving a daily part of people's everyday routines, please consider posting them to my blog. Thanks for reading.
Chris Williams has written another great article based on his Heroic Adventure! role playing game. This one is about giving your creatures (non-player characters, monsters, animals, etc.) an artificial intelligence engine to make them appear lifelike during the game. He goes into an amazing level of detail regarding the various factors and traits you'll want to consider tracking. Check it out: http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=400031&rl=1. Thanks, Chris!
**UPDATED 1/13/06: FIXED URL WITH NEW LINK FROM ALAN.
A while back I posted about a J# version of Peter Walser's original IDX3D engine. I recently received an email from Alan Simes reporting that he had done another port, this time to 100% C#. Check it out here. The screenshot below is one I created using Alan's port, and I must say it's VERY responsive even on my laptop. It spins around quite nicely which is both a testament to Peter Walser and to Alan. It's really neat watching these things evolve from one generation to another via ports and such. :-)
Another cool part about this is that Alan built it using the beta of Visual C# 2005, so if you wanted to compile this for yourself and you don't have Visual Studio you can download Visual C# Express edition from here.
Check out the latest Visual Studio / SQL Server marketing video/interactive presentation - there's not much "tech" here but the videos are actually pretty amusing. www.escapeyesterworld.com
And if you're interested in creating your own "Mystery Science Theater-Style videos" it looks like you can buy a lot of this old school B-movie footage for use in your own projects. Thanks to Richard Burte for this link:http://www.buyoutfootage.com/pages/titles/pd_sr_001.html