27 April 2007

SimCity 4 Rush Hour, Universal patch

April 2007 -- SimCity 4 Rush Hour. With Rush Hour, I was responsible for creating the Universal build of the existing PowerPC game so that users could see performance improvements when running on the Intel Macs. The patch we just released is a beta build as there might be a few lingering visual anomalies under certain graphics cards.

24 April 2007

Podcasts, iPod Shuffle, and airplanes

For my flights to and from Jackson this past weekend, I decided to listen to a few podcast episodes on my iPod Shuffle. When podcasts first became available on iTunes, I tried out a few and didn't really like any of them. I prefer written blog posts to the audio podcasts because I can skim through them at my own speed. Recently I had read posts from other commuters who said how great the podcasts were for passing time to and from work. As I have begun learning Cocoa and working on an application using it in my spare time, I downloaded several episodes of Late Night Cocoa to my iPod.

This worked great except for a few issues. First and foremost, the Shuffle isn't designed for playing podcasts. The lack of a display hurts several aspects. You can't tell how far into the episode you are so you don't know how many minutes are remaining. You also can't take a break, listen to something else, and then easily return to the spot where you left off. There was one particular episode about memory management which was over an hour long and quite boring (sorry Uli), yet I still wanted to listen to all of it because it was somewhat beneficial and I was able to jot down a few good notes from it. Without a display, it is also tougher to find a particular track to listen to if you completely fill up the iPod. Before my trip, I downloaded about five podcast episodes and made sure they were first on my playlist and then added some music tracks after them. I just made sure the iPod wasn't in shuffle mode until I was finished listening to the podcasts. Another problem I had was really more of an issue with the iPod's earbuds. They don't block out any external noise. The longest legs of my flights were aboard a very noisy Embraer jet and the only way I could actually hear my iPod was to cup my hands over my ears. This quickly became awkward and I just gave up listening while in that airplane.

Aside from all that, I have enjoyed the Late Night Cocoa series and hopefully it won't be too long before I announce the availability of my first Cocoa application.

16 April 2007

Pending webhost switch

That's it. I am fed up with my current webhosting provider phpwebhosting.com. I am currently looking for another company to host my domain. Within the last month, my POP e-mail server has been down four times (March 27, April 7, 13, and 16). Each time I have to send in a support request for them to fix it. While they have been pretty quick about resolving the problem, it is disconcerting to me that the problem continues to come back.

Hopefully I can find a new provider with the services I want tonight. When I do make the switch, I imagine that some e-mails to me might get bounced back, but hopefully that won't happen to anyone not sending me spam.

Updated: Fixed a minor typo.

13 April 2007

Comcast denies my messages to Mom

It has happened again. Comcast suddenly started blocking all of my e-mails to my mother who has a Comcast e-mail address. This has happened once before and they were pretty quick about removing the block, but it is discouraging that I am having to deal with this again. How many more times will they block it in the future? Comcast's FAQ about this issue says:
Our filters have determined that email from your mail server has been sent in patterns which are characteristic of spam.
I am positive there isn't any spam coming from my Mac, but that really isn't the issue here. The actual blocked IP address is the server which hosts iwankerl.com and I don't really have much control over that (aside from finding another hosting company). The IP address is shared with other domain names so I suspect that maybe some other customer of phpwebhosting.com is the one sending spam and causing me grief.

11 April 2007


Carrie is a pretty avid bowler and plays in a league every Monday. Over the past couple of years her average has kept rising and just the other week she had a 299 game, one pin shy of perfect! I was quite impressed.

I have never been a good bowler and am very inconsistent with my scores. Hopefully that is about to change. This morning I ordered my first bowling ball online so that I can improve my game. The site I got it from offered free UPS ground shipping which seemed odd for a 16 pound package. I was originally quoted that it could take up to a week, but I just checked the tracking number and it is scheduled to arrive on Thursday. That's a nice surprise. It was shipped from Houston which makes sense because I was charged sales tax. Anyway, I will still need to get the ball drilled and purchase some shoes. After that, hopefully I will see some improvements and consistency in my scores.

09 April 2007

Easter snow

I spent Easter with Carrie's parents up around Copperas Cove and it was a sight I've never seen before in Central Texas. They got 2 ½-3 inches of snow! Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so I can't share any visual pictures with you. As we drove up from Austin Saturday afternoon, the rain and sleet changed to snow flurries once we exited I-35 for Highway 195. A little further along, the snow flakes were huge clumps at least an inch in diameter. The dogs loved the snow and ran around in it for a long time. While the snow did stick, this abnormally cold April front didn't stay for long and most of the snow had melted by Sunday evening. Next weekend's weather looks to be much warmer and I'm thankful for that as Carrie and I are going camping at McKinney Falls then.

04 April 2007

The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff

It has already been said that Aspyr will be releasing a lot of Sims products this year. The first one that I have had a hand in getting out the door is The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff Pack. My colleague David has done most of the recent Mac Sims development work, but now I am shifting over to work more with him on this particular franchise. With this release, I helped with some "behind the scenes" items. We switched over to using Xcode to create the application bundles rather than relying on CodeWarrior's package tab. I much prefer how Xcode works in this regard because with build configurations, you don't have to duplicate the packaging layout for the debug and release targets which is required with CodeWarror (at least it is with the version we're using). Xcode has a lot of cool and practical functionality (project search field, build configurations, distributed builds, etc.), yet I still go back to CodeWarrior when I want to perform source code searches, file comparisons (although my brother Josef has something in the works to take its place), and syntax coloring/class browser information. Anyway, with Family Fun Stuff, all of this Xcode work has allowed us to make the Body Shop auxillary app a Universal Binary so that it runs natively on the Intel chip Macs.

01 April 2007


Looks like the April Fool's joke is on me. Last night my voice went out and I can barely talk. Whispering is usually ok, but it's not pretty when I try and talk normally. I suppose this is a case of laryngitis, which I'm not sure that I've ever had before. My throat was a little sore beginning on Friday night but never got to be too bad. Instead of staying home last night, I went out to a couple of bars downtown and gradually my voice became more and more hoarse before it eventually crapped out. Although I was looking forward to another Texas Rollergirls bout tonight, I am going to skip the loud environment where no one would be able to hear me by just whispering.