Files uploaded but webpage coming

Hi guys. Wow. I’m really getting slammed by the SVEN worm/virus/whatever. About 20% of my emails, 40+, are infected with it in whatever attachment they decide to send me. I’m sure you guys are experiencing the same. Even with MSBlaster, ILoveU and the various other buggies out there, I’ve never been hit this hard. Either my ISP is not blocking this stuff or it’s really out there.

Anyways, have a couple of new submissions for the website so that’s a good thing. The files (downloads and textures) are all uploaded but between spam, worms, regular email and whatever I can muster up for sleep I haven’t put together the downloads page yet. I’ll try to get to it later tonight as I have time now. I also need to look into the Blogger archives page as it’s fun to go back and look at the posts from years past. Hopefully things will settle out in the next couple of weeks and my updates to you can be ones around software updates rather than site ones. Cheers!

Isabel the mighty

As Isabel pounds the east coast, I’m pounding the computer here to try to catch up on icky IT work for that thing I call a day job. Got up at 3AM and worked til 5PM, slept til 9PM now heading back into the office (12AM) to get something ready for tommorow morning at 9AM. Nothing like a whirlwind schedule for me so no time in the past bit to work on the site. After a much needed rest Friday night I’ll be online getting the tools uploaded. If only there was a pill I could take to bypass this sleep thing, it’s so inconvenient! Catch ya guys later.

How blue got it’s groove back

Greetings submarine fans. Back again and going strong. At least (so far) I haven’t dreaded firing up my compiler and staring at Sims code. When you’re away from something (sex not included) you get a feeling that when you get back to it you’ll just hate it and never get back into that groove. Like work after a long vacation.

Two things I wanted to mention today was the “re-release” of all the tools here and some new work being done. First up though is to get everything back online again so you can download it if you missed it. I won’t have time between now and when that happens (or don’t want to delay things) to do any updates. The updates however will come in two phases. First is a refresher update which will bring all the tools up to sync with the latest expansion pack. For future releases I’ll make sure I set aside time before the release of an expansion pack to update everything so you’ll always have tools that match the current expansion pack. Second will be a feature update which will feature the software updates mentioned yesterday and start working the wishlist. I can’t stress enough the feedback mechanism here like the forums. If you have any ideas, desires, wants, etc. please post them. I’ll step up my activity in the forums and do what I can to be around when you need me but please keep the conversations alive.

No new entries (I have 1 so far) yet in the “Do Bil’s work for him and recieve nothing but simple praise” contest, but it’s still early. One comment that was made was the simplicity of the site as it is. It was a quick thing based on a blogger template but yes, it’s pretty clear and clean. Maybe that’s how it will play out. Works for Jakob Neilsen.

As for the site, the new commenting system seems to be working well. It’s simple and effective and provides you an outlet to rant and rave about life, the universe, and everything (although keeping to the context of the post would be nice too). I have to thank the guys at blogspeak for their technology. There are several things at the site here that rely on other peoples systems (Blogger for these posts, EZBoard for the forums, etc.) so I’m always hesitant about using external technology. You never know when things are going to shut down and go packing, leaving you in the empty zone. So I have to be picky about what I use and don’t use as my main goal with the site is to keep it up and running for you guys (and provide me with my soapbox to scream about the latest issues).

You know, reading over this dribble some may complain all I’m doing is making lots of more empty promises and justifying my existance to the world. For you, feel free to go somewhere else. For everyone else, I’m back and here to stay and will deliver the goods. Just give an old man some time to get the Sims code machine completely fired up again (the hampsters have been sleeping so they’re not used to all this work).

Lots to tell, lots to say, lots of space to do so

As I’m sitting here listing to old 60s TV show tunes (yes, someone has to do it so might as well be me) I can’t help think of the creative efforts that went into something that seems so superficial. If you were an accomplished musician in the 60s and asked to put together music for a theme song for a TV show what would you think? That your career just took a nosedive into the crapper or that some 30 odd years from now your music would be the focus of entire showcase albums being listended to by eccentric programmers that write tools for games. Who would have thunk it?

Anyways, things are moving forward at the blue house here even though it doesn’t look like much of a change since the weekend. The site still lacks most content but I’m hoping to get everything back online by the end of the week for download. So where are we going now is the big question on your minds now.

As for the site, I’m hoping to get some entries from you on a site design. So far nothing and the topic has spawned a somewhat large and out of control thread in the newsgroups aguing the merits of HTML vs PHP vs ASP vs CSS (not that they’re competing technologies) and how nobody can seem to put together anything simple these days without having to resort to some server technology. So we’ll see where things go but it looks like it’s the simple life for awhile. No matter. It’s not the wrapping that makes you come back to this place, it’s what’s inside. Right? You can also try out the new commenting system here and add your pithy observations to my posts. Rude and obscene comments will be deleted and your IP will be blocked so play nice with the other children.

So besides the fact that we’re missing the soft, chewy center here right now what is going on with the blue portion of my life. As I said, things will come back and in full swing. There are a few initiatives that I need to get going here now. First (and foremost) is to get all the tools updated to support the latest expansion pack (and perhaps future ones). I’ve externalized most of the necessary smarts of the programs to all look at a single XML file to get it’s quirky expansion pack info so hopefully when the next one comes out (Making Magic) it’ll be a simple download of an extra file and you’ll be up and running with all the new goodies. There are some other externalizations that are happening as well.

Since blue started going pro last year, I did a little re-architecture to the system. All of the programs (more or less) use the same bits and bytes of logic to read, write, and navigate through IFF, FAR and other Sims files. One thing that I started to do (but never saw to the end) was to build an SDK (Software Development Kit) for blueprint. This was to allow 3rd party authors to be able to write plug-ins to the system. blueprint is heading that way as everything that makes up the program is now split out into itty bitty pieces. These pieces are now in large, managable chunks and with the remainder of the work I need to do, can be consumed by other apps. In other words, I’m exposing the functionality of blueprint to other apps like ObjectCloner, SimExplorer, etc. but in doing so it means that they can also be exposed to anyone else interested in writing add-ons for The Sims. This will do two nice things. First, all of my apps will shrink down as most of the functionality is broken out into a series of DLL files. Once you’ve downloaded the core files, you just download the individual apps and everyone reuses the core files. Second, with an extra stub library anyone can write an application to read and use these files (any programming language that can read a DLL file and they’ll be bindings for various languages I’ll provide). This will accelerate (and ease) on the updates to the programs here and hopefully open up some more tools as I’m not that good to write everything. There’s also an auto-update feature that I built for blueprintPro that will be going into all tools so you can stay up to date with everything if you’re connected to the internet.

So in a nutshell first the site will go back online this week with the existing content that we already have. Hopefully by the end of the month or the first few weeks in October I’ll have done the updates to all the other apps to make them more modular and updated for the latest expansion pack. Expect a flurry of updates to come and downloads to fill up your hard drives. I’m also taking what new functionality I can from my big wishlist and incorporating the main features people have been asking for. If you’re looking for something in particular, please post it in the forums so there’s a record of it and I can prioritize it.

Yes, you heard me right. There are some dates in this message. Even though I’ve been on siesta for the past few months, I do have a day job and have honed my skills in software development using some XP (eXtreme Programming) techniques to make my software development process (yes, even one person can have a process) more agile. This will deliver more frequent updates of working software and each release will have a series of automated tests to ensure quality. Most of this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans for some people. They just want software that does stuff. I just like to deliver quality with my work as it’s something that people use everyday and needs to be there when you need it.

Whew. You’ll probably notice that I’ll babble on for some time with these posts. Sorry but I don’t have a readers digest version so you can either tune me out or try to skip through the noise to get to what’s important to you. I’ve been blamed in the past for not keeping people informed so I’m rectifying that and hopefully involving you in the software creation process as much as I can. After all, the tools are for you so they need to be what you want, not what I want.

Hey, we’re alive (in a way)

Well, sort of. Limping and hobbling back into the world on what was a much needed R&R; from this thing I call The Sims. So here it is (what there is of it), the new site. Cool new URL and lots of stuff to come. As with any moving in period, everything is in boxes and just waiting to be put out on display for you to oggle over, snatch for your own collection and generally consume my precious bandwidth.

For those that have been wondering where did the old TSR site go, join the club. I was never informed it vanished so just one day the URL stopped worked. Since I wasn’t posting to it, I didn’t notice nor did anyone flip me an email saying so. Oh well. Anyways, I have to thank the guys at TSR for the fantastic work in hosting us and all that jazz. TSR was our 5th home? Something like that. As I’ve said in the past, hopefully we’ll stay put here for awhile. As you can see, things are pretty barren at the moment but much like the east coast blackout, everything will eventually come back online running at full steam by the end of the week.

So to commemorate the relaunch of that thing I do, I’m reaching out to you peoples (or yous people depending on how many are reading this). The house is pretty plain and simple here but it’s always nice to have something snazzy to show off to your friends. Seeing that I have the attention span of a newt, I’m going to ask everyone and anyone to show off your design skills. Put together a site design that rivals those of your friends and family and knock my socks off. Something that would do my laundry, impregnate and/or feed my cat, and make people like me. You design the look of the site and in return I’ll hand over complete and utter bragging rights (plus links to your site and whatnot). Yes, lazy Bil kicks in and wants someone else to do the work for a change. Anyways, if you’re interested email me with a URL to what you’re proposing or zip up the pages and send them to me.

Before you break out your crayons, a few simple rules for getting your name in lights:

  • All entries must be postmarked by September 26th, 2003 (winners will be judged on the weekend and the new design will launch on the 29th)
  • Whatever design you like but please make it original and something from your head, not somebody elses
  • Keep it light and fluffy to reduce bandwidth calories but innovative and interesting to keep people here for more than a nano-second
  • The design will also be used on the Forums to maintain consistency so keep that in mind
  • Please don’t tie it to any technology like PHP, ASP, etc. HTML, CSS and Javascript is fine though.
  • Don’t worry about how the news postings get onto the page and such, but use this page as a sample (or just make stuff up)
  • Links to other pages will be added but will generally follow the same format as previous site designs (programs, contact, etc.). You know, the usual stuff that websites have

Above all, have fun! I’ll be back on my regular daily grovel with news of what’s happening here and things to come.

Fade to blue

Hey guys,

Just back from filling for Britney on tour (man it’s so hard to shake your boobs AND sing at the same time, I have a hard enough time just walking and chewing gum at the same time. Thank god for popstar stunt doubles!).

Anyways, this site will be completed this weekend chock full of the good ol’ junk I’ve produced for The Sims and commitments to a couple of gaps that I see a need to fill immediately, as well as the usual diatribe with what goes on in a developers head updated daily for your urinal pleasure.

I’ve heard rumors (and they’re just that) that EA is requiring people to ask permission or some such nonsense to build 3rd party utilities. Well, until I get a cease and decist letter (and you’ll be the first to hear about that if it ever happened) from a reputable and authorized source at EA/Maxis then I’m just going to keep on Simming. That’s just plain silly. I can understand how some 3rd party utilties can cause havoc with the game but that’s the price they paid for not releasing proper information on how things work to everyone. If they did, developers could write utilities against a spec much like they do for other games. EA just needs to wake up and smell the community burning and stop trying to control everything.

Thanks (and I REALLY do mean that!) to EVERYONE who emailed me and let me know how things were and their support. It’s you that makes my life in the Sim world a pleasurable thing.

See you in about 48 hours!