Reviving this Blog

It dawned on me today that I have this blog space after Microsoft decided to close out their “live spaces” and transferred everything here.  It would be a shame to let it go wasted.  So I have decided to revive this blog and start posting things, meaningful things, on topics such as software development and photography.


why TF2 has the upper hand over FF

Team Fortress 2 definitely has the upper hand over Fortress Forever.  You can tell by simply counting the number of servers running for each game: 3000 vs 40.
Coming from TFC, and before had my hands on TF2, I was a bit dubious about the changes Valve made to TF2, especially the lack of grenades in the game.  Spamming with grenades is officially an annoying "newbie" thing to do in TFC, but we have all done that because it is FUN!
TF2 also changed the artistic style from a realistic environment to a "cartoonish" environment and caused more doubts to be casted over its success. (For crying out loud, people even complain when the gamma level is set too high in the upcoming Diablo III game).
But all my doubts disappeared as soon as I started playing TF2.  There is really no need for grenades – just like the developers at Valve explained, without grenades, each player tends to focus more on what they are supposed to be doing with their specialized skills.  The "cartoonish" style makes each class more lively, and gives each one a unique personality – the muffed calls from pyros, the weird affection between the heavy and his gun, the somewhat vulgar but definitely hallarious taunt from the demo – all added special touches to the already addictive game play. 
Fortress Forever, on the other hand, lacks all this.  My first impression of FF was that "wow this game is soooo frigging quiet!"  You can run for miles in FF without hearing anything.  zzzzz… … … The character animation definitely needs more work – the movement of the models looks too robotic.  The worst and most annoying part is the mechanical voice of the announcer.  BLUE. TEAM. CAPTURED. FLAG.  YOUR. FLAG. IS. STOLEN.  Automated customer service phone systems don’t even do this anymore, why would FF go this route?
FF boasts a "realistic" environment as one of its selling point, but I find everything rather "artificial", far from being "realistic".  TF2 on the other hand, looks more realistic with barnyards and train yards.
Therefore, TF2 is definitely superior as of now.

a few notes on vista

finally got the machine to the way I wanted.  just want to jog down a few quick notes on vista ultimate.
  Open command window here is now built in.  The secret is to right-click while holding down the "shift" key, so it will show up in the context menu.
  Symbolic links. this is probably something a linux user has long been waiting for.  although it is said symbolic links had been present in NTFS for quite a while, there hadn’t been any user commands for making them.  But now, you can always use mklink to create a symbolic link (or even a hard link, if you desire).  This allows me to alleviate some burdens off from the C partition – software such as Windows Live Mail doesn’t allow a user to choose where to install the program or where to save the mail files.  By using symlinks, I can create a directory on a bigger partition (D:\ for example), and then symlink it from C:\
  However, it is tricky sometimes because a dos command doesn’t have administrative previliges, so the trick is to create a shortcut to cmd.exe, open the window under "RunAs administrators", and then the shell will have all the administrative powers you need to symlink.
  procedures for symlinking Windows Live Mail to a different partition
  – Create a folder on D:\ (or any other partition that is big enough), let’s name it  Johns_Email
  – Copy everything from  C:\Users\John\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\  to D:\Johns_Email
  – Rename Windows Live Mail folder on C:\ partition to something else, such as __Windows_Live_Mail
  – Open cmd.exe using administrative previliges
  – cd c:\Users\John\AppData\Local\Microsoft
  – mklink /d "Windows Live Mail" "D:\Johns_Email"
  – Run Windows Live Mail application and make sure it works
  – Delete C:\Users\John\AppData\Local\Microsoft\__Windows_Live_Mail
  Many applications do not work, including Nero Burning Rom prior to version 8.  And it is a good opportunity for money-hunger companies to abandon earlier versions of their app, and force consumers to buy their latest "vista-compatible" version.  Shame on them.
   The old tweakUI and powertoys are also among the missing ones.
  There seems to be a glitch (or limitation?) with copying.  It seems the filename + path cannot exceed 260 characters.  To get around this, use a compression application such as WinRAR, to compress the data you want to copy, and then uncompress it to the destination.  Do not use Windows’ built-in zipping tool, because it suffers the same fate as copying.
   It is annoying that virtually everything you do will trigger the permission dialog box to pop up.
   Aero seems to be focusing too much on its "wow" effects, but missed the fundamental functionalities.  No matter how good your desktop looks, the screen size is still limited, and what users want is a simple Virtual Desktop to extend the screen property.
   File Sharing using the wizard is confusing (for me, at least), and I still went back to the old XP/2000 way (less secure??)
   Another thing keeps me wondering is the login screen.  There seems to be no way to remove the welcome screen for logging in. While it is okay for a home user because the list of user accounts will be small, how can it be used for a large institute with thousands of users?
   Bye FDisk.  Hello DiskPart. (seems to be present in XP as well, but honestly I didn’t know that)


Certain compasses (especially military issued) use MILS instead of degrees.  They have the advantage of ease at estimating object distance/size.
There are 6400 mil dots per circle. Why 6400? For several reasons.  Using a bit of high-school trigonometry, we can get the following equation
2pi * 1000 / 6400 ~= 1.0
in other words, two objects 1km away separated by two mil dots are about 1 meter apart.
Coincidentally, it is much easier to divide a circle (or anything) into factors of 2 than other numbers.  With 6400 marks, we can divide the circle by 2 for 6 times, so that each slice of the pie is 1/64 of the circle. Then it will be relatively easy to cut 100 marks along the edge of that tiny pie.
on a compass with smaller dial (such as a hand-held lensatic compass), only 320 dots can fit, therefore
2pi * 1000 / 320 ~= 20
which means if two objects 1km away are separated by two dots, they are 20 meters apart.