TWIFcomp: Programming Languages

61 games, 18 languages. Just under 8k of code.

Here’s how the programming languages were distributed. A good day for Inform 7, but not a bad showing for URQ and other languages dedicated to CYOA. Also, unix scripting languages and shell tools were well-represented.

Histogram showing number of games per language
Number of Games per Programming Language

Of course, this isn’t very scientific. A lot of the games blended languages or used an interpreter or helper file from another language.  The languages could be group differently, i.e., the two BASIC dialects could be merged, and I6 + I7 could count as the Informs, or I6 + I7 + ZIL as the Z-machines. Also, since people could put in up to three games, having three ChoiceScript, for instance, is more likely to mean that one person put in three games, than that ChoiceScript is roughly as popular as Perl across the board.

It is still interesting, though, to see what tools people reach for under “extreme” programming constraints.

A few minutes of fun

I stumbled upon a fun little web toy written in Java. You can create particles of various substances and they are released into a gravitational well that pulls them towards the center of the display. The substances interact in various ways, and you can sit back and watch the simuation run. For instance, you can drop some salt on the screen, and then add water and watch the salt melt. Dropping “seeds” will cause plants to grow, but add a touch of fire and the plants will burn away. By combining the substances, you can achieve effects which take a couple minutes to come into equilibrium.

This game doesn’t tell a story, and I’m not entirely sure what the objective is, but I enjoyed poking at it for what I thought was a few minutes, but was probably more like half and hour.

Kinkos needs competition

I don’t understand how Kinko’s pricing is competitive, when printers, color and otherwise have become commodities. The only time I’d normally set foot in a Kinko’s would be if I was very short on time and had a catastrophic technology failure, i.e, if I were at a convention or in an airport on the way to a meeting. Then, they would deserve a premium. However, today I was working from home and needed to print some items, including color copies. Due to snow insanity (see previous posts) anything governmentish is closed, so no library option. I wandered over to Kinkos, stuck a throw-away usb in their hopefully sanitized machine, and printed my stuff.

I’ll just let the prices speak for themselves. This is in addition to per-minute charges that are completely out of line with cybercafé costs for the rest of the world:

  • single page b/w: $0.49
  • double-sided b/w: $0.98
  • single page color: $0.99
  • double-sided color: 1.98

I realize that the cost is in the consumables and that heavy duty cycle means fast depreciation of the equipment, but let’s be honest here. The printers they have are nice, but not really that high-end. The paper is very light weight, and the print saturation wasn’t all that great for the price. I’m sure I’m also paying for the need to lock-down everything watertight against the assault of a thousand monkeys working on their Shakespearean plays, but still.

I think Kinkos has a good niche, and it makes sense to have centers that produce hardcopy or high volume output, but I would love to see some competition. The obvious place to look would be the big-box office supply stores (Paper Cutter, Office Max, Office Depot). The difficulty: they would need semi-competent staff to run the front end of the copy counter.

Okay, that’s my grumpiness for today. Back on your heads.

FCPS needs to suck it up

The Fairfax County Virginia Public School system is completely out of its mind. Snow has that effect in Virginia.

We just heard that school’s been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday (after Friday and Monday off). Sure, a snow day, maybe two, is reasonable for a half meter of snow, but come on. They already took a bunch of questionable snow days right before Christmas vacation. How are working parents supposed to buffer all of the extra days at home? We don’t have these days off, and we can’t necessarily work from home on such short notice.

The make-up days are now going to eat into pre-planned holidays, change travel plans, etc. I strongly suggest that the school system write off the half-days previously allocated for teacher training, grading, and parent conferences. I’m perfectly willing to do parent conferences by teleconference; the other activities can be done outside of teaching hours.

While I’m generally sympathetic towards teachers who, in general, have difficult and under-compensated jobs, and towards the school system that is collapsing under loss of revenue due to devaluation of real-estate, I’d like the FCPS to suck it up a little.