CotAB: Installer now on Google Code

I have just uploaded the first installer for my Curse of the Azure Bonds .net port on the Google Code project download page.

The installer needs work:

  • Add a UI
  • Ask where to install
  • Fix the update functionality (so I can release updates)
  • Add shortcut
  • Check for and install the 2.0 .Net framework

What it does do, is drop all the required resource files to Program Files/Curse of the Azure Bonds. You will need the 2.0 .Net framework. You will also want to run main.exe

Any issues, let me know, or post them to the issue list

I remember why I hate InstallShield

I’m back to getting the Installer ready for our pending release. In fact I’m the critical path at the moment. Yet I’m having convulsions with how the Install process works.

For so long I’ve wanted to use WiX to build MSI installers, and thus have been spending vast time reading how to do the more trickier tasks (more than xcopy) and yet I find not all is perfect in MSI land either. Surprise!

As far as my product goes, WiX/MSI will solve my problems. I love the declarative nature, thus giving you powerful roll-back functionality, but from the correct management of prerequisite it seems woefully shortcoming.

Where-as my InstallShield install-script installer, feels dirty as it’s so procedural, and thus I have to hand roll all the un-install, minor/major upgrade paths by hand, but can do what I like when I please.

But the real issues with InstallShield is that is crashes my machine when I’m not even using it! via it’s stupid agent.exe program, that goes 100% CPU (dual core machine so not a complete killer) and makes explorer run like a dog. And this service they are trying to sell as a value add-on, yet it ruins my development machine, hmm no thanks.

Or maybe it’s the licensing. I have both IS 12 and the newer IS 2008, but have chosen to stick with 12 as 2008 has a Vista like phone home silliness. I want to have it installed on our build machine, so all production builds are done in a clean location, and can be run by anybody from the dev team, but once a year have it on my machine also, while I’m tweaking the project. Yet that’s not going to work with the newer version.

So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The Black Swan

Michaela bought me The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for Christmas. The Black Swan - Cover
It was a perspective changing book. I loved it.  Buy it, read it, now!  I’ll wait…..

Right, so now we are in the same head space, wasn’t it just great!  Just like it’s back cover says, The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

I loved the concept that it only takes 1 black swan to prove that All Swans are White is wrong, yet you can never prove it’s correct.  I loved how he expands this idea to show how most people’s concept of risk management is really sticking your head in the sand and hoping for the best.  As they do not manage the risks (the impacts) but use tiny probabilities to feel happy that it won’t happen (short term thinking and looking out for the quarterly/yearly bonus).

Another section that strike me quite personally, was how we cannot forward project.  One example he uses, is that when thinking about buying a new car you get excited about how grand it will be, yet you fail to remember feeling that way about your current car, and you fail to project the loss of that feeling going forward.  So tying that to me, as a software developer. When you get someone else’s code, and the first things you say is what were they thinking, where’s the documentation, it’s all spaghetti.

Yet I fail to see how my grand vision of perfect code, done correctly, will be compromised due to time constraints, or prioritised by business value add. Or how there will be bugs in other sub-systems, needing ugly work around code. I’ll be rushed off my feat, and thus not document it, ever, and when asked to, I’ll ask documents (which will ages quickly) or bug fix, and you know what will win. And that’s how it is, because of the scale of software we are developing, and how we are part of a bigger company, thus need to be profitable and resources are limited (as the really should be). So I give myself all the credit of plans, and saying it’s alright to shortcut here, I’ll fix it later, but all my predecessors were muppets, that had no vision, and wrote unreadable code!

So my current mental track is to try forgive others, as I hope to be forgiven myself.

I enjoyed this book enough, that as I was reading it, I was already looking forward to reading it again, as I couldn’t recall all the things that made me go – da, now you point it out!, but it sure happened a lot.  Michaela got tired of me excitedly recalling (poorly) the book to her!

Wikipedia’s The Black Swan page is quite a good summary.

Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming – Finished!

I’ve finished reading Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Study in Common Lisp. On the whole, the book was a slog (bought it 4 months ago), just like its name. A top quality slog, but reading large chunks of Lisp while not taking the time to enter each program and getting a feel for how it “works” was hard.

The historic perspective and evolutions of early AI programming was fantastic. I loved the section on natural grammar/parsing, and the impact of how you store your ” model data” impacting how you can process the input, made a lot of sense. Before reading that section, I had spent a few nights grappling with how I wanted to parse text, and how I’d store my knowledge and I was getting mentally caught up in the chicken – egg of it all, so it seemed very timely after that to read how it was really tricky (Chapter 14 – Knowledge Representation and Reasoning).

Now that I have read the book, and gotten an overall comprehension of what it covers, I look forward to using it as a reference for learn Lisp and for fundamentals of AI development.

One of my takes one the whole Lisp front, is that it is really nice the idea of not having to have every thing strongly typed up front. Seeing how solutions organically evolve is quite a strong argument for dynamic languages. I also really liked how functional composition stacks blocks of doing together to make a greater whole.

Practical MythTV

I’ve been reading Practical MythTV over the last few weeks, and it hasn’t helped my longing for PVR system.

Alan at work has a very nice front-end/back-end setup which I would love to duplicate, and this book certainly has been giving me idea’s about how to go about it.

My main goal is beyond classic DVR functionality (record and time-slip playback), is to be able to watch the odd MP4 style download also. Thus a $500 DVR is not the exact fit. I also want something silent in the living room, so it can run 24×7. Much like the Squeezebox but for video also.

So back to the book. Flipped through large parts, as I got the point, but still the details of how to configure the parts of the system seemed detailed enough that I’d borrow the book again to have with me as a guide. Not sure I’d buy the book however.

So really the book was to fuel the fire of desire, and it worked. Now I just need to budget it all up, and get the wife acceptance factor on my side of the debate.