Regular Stuff…

Been kind of an interesting two weeks. I’ve been committing a lot of time towards my backup application. Fortunately it works very well but I decided that comma delimited files are too primitive for configuration settings and take too much code to work with or to add on to. So I’m converting to XML. I haven’t used XML much except as data storage and that’s pretty easy to do. Saving configuration settings to it seems harder. Apparently a lot of it still has to be coded yourself if you want any sort of custom data to be stored. Fortunately it is easy to add stuff to in the future. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure that out, because it should make the other features I want to add to the program easier in the long run.

I also think I’m going to have to change the actual working code to C++ or C# in the near future. VB is great, easy to use and you can write things pretty quickly with it but it makes Object Oriented stuff a little more complicated then it already is. It’s also too tempting to write inefficient code with it. Of course if Java has some of the same features as the stuff included with the .NET framework I may convert totally to that in the future. Basically an ‘in house’ compression algorithm is all I really need. I don’t really want to get licencing for PKZIP (which is the best compression utility out there in my opinion) unless I absolutely have to.

Right now the alpha has the following features in case anyone is interested:

  • Automatic CD AND DVD burning capability. Uses the NeroCMD utility. Requires Nero 6 or Nero 7.
  • Scheduled Automatic Backups. Uses Windows scheduled tasks to work instead of residing in memory and eating up resources.
  • Scripted backup jobs. You can build a ‘job’ and configure what files you want it to back up and whether you want them compressed or not. Then you can just tell it to run that one over and over again. Works with the scheduled tasks feature.
  • Compression. You can compress your files to save space on the CD/DVD. This is good but doesn’t work on all files. It will actually make most picture files bigger. Best for database files, text, and programs right now. I might add some kind of third party compression capability later.

It will have the following features after the beta gets tested:

  • Network Backups. If you have a network it will be able to back up your important files on any computer on your network with a shared folder. I’ll probably limit the number backup folders on each workstation though, MSSQL database backups can get real big real fast and fill up hard drives.
  • Automatic “JumpDrive” Support. You’ll be able to put a specific memory stick in your USB port and it will automatically execute a job or set of jobs and backup your files to it.
  • Automatic File Searches. Mostly a feature for home users, back up your My Documents folders, and it’ll search in common places for Pictures, Documents, Financial Files, Video and Music. Save you some time figuring out what to backup if you store everything in your My Documents Folder.
  • Saved Game Backup. This is something I’m excited about personally. It should be able to look in your game directories for saved game files and back those up. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of information on different games and where they store saved game information and add ‘templates’ for them. If this program is ever used by the public, maybe developers will provide that information themselves. Otherwise it’ll probably be a community effort.
  • Upload Your Backups. You will be able to upload your backups to a remote file server, or a website, or even another computer connected to the internet.
  • Remote Backups. I’d like to add P2P capability to the program so that you can request your backup files remotely and download them. This would off course, like the JumpDrive support require the program or part of it to be resident in memory though. Could split the download/upload burden accross multiple machines real easy though.

I’ve been playing Medieval II: Total War lately. Beat a campaign with the Holy Roman Empire with minimal cheating. That was pretty cool. I’m now playing as the Egyptians. Of course there are a few bugs in the game, and some annoyances that are supposed to be fixed in the first patch for the game. The patch of course was supposed to be release Friday the 15th but apparently was not. Hopefully they’ll deploy it before the 22nd though or at least tell us what the hold up is. Of course it’s a british game developer using a japanese distribution company so who knows what weirdness that causes.

The game is pretty much a clone of Rome: Total War though, actually it’s a clone of the expansion more then anything. That kind of bugs me because I paid $50 for the limited edition and they pretty much could have just released it as an expansion to Rome as far as I can tell. It does have some new features, but honestly it plays pretty much exactly like Rome.

My brother bought a PS2 a couple weeks back. That’s been pretty entertaining. At least for him, I have little desire to play it much. He got Mortal Kombat: Armageddon yesterday though so at least now we have multiplayer. I thought about getting my own memory card and controller for it though so I could play it when he’s not here, or with him when he is. We also need a GameShark terribly bad I think. I’m not 100% sure how a GameShark for the PS2 would work but I know it makes Final Fantasy games a lot neater to play.

I’m working on reading through Eragon as well. We went to see the movie Saturday. I have mixed feelings over it. For one the book isn’t as great as some people claim. It’s pretty obvious it was written by a teenager, and not the genius everyone tries to make Paolini out to be. It’s pretty blatant about all but plagiarizing other works. Eragon itself reads almost exactly like Robert Jordan’s “Eye of the World”. The first book in the Wheel of Time series. Of course that book in turn has a lot in common with “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkein. I see a strong tendency towards that. Of course, I’d know, I did the exact same thing in one of my own self indulgent stories, but I haven’t let anyone read that one except my mother.

I mean come on a character called a “Shade” is introduced right off the bat. The guy then travels with a Storyteller who is more then what he seems to a River Town fleeing from orc variations. Has anyone seem this before?

The movie was extraordinarily well executed I thought, except for the beginning, which was utter crap and not entirely necessary. It did not follow the book at all though, and I’m only in the first hundred pages of the book and I could already tell they butchered it pretty bad. The mixed feelings part though is where it gets kind of complex.

You see as far as I can tell the people who wrote the movie, had better writing skills then the author of the book. So honestly it is better written, and the actors were pretty great. I mean Jeremy Irons, you can’t do a whole lot better, except they should quit killing him in movies. In my opinion they could have come up with a more original movie that was not based on a book and probably done a lot better.

Honestly though this Inheritance series of books is all pretty much utter crap written by a guy with only average talent and hyped up way more then it should be. I actually have to force myself to read it and unsurprisingly I’m not the only person that feels this way.

-Aaron

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