Sunday, 01:30 pm, 17 July 2005

I accidentally put the log's page on the Simulation page. Result? Probably about 500+ Noble Ape users found Barbalet's Log for the first time. Rather strange.

The thing that always strikes me about this is how difficult it is to get actual user feedback. For example, v0.667b of the Simulation was released where only a single ape moved. It missed my screening because I was using a single Ape test file to get the Simulation to work at reasonable speed with my old Mac laptop. Part of the quick release cycle is that these kind of basic bugs slip out.

What strikes me is that no one gets in contact. Thousands download each new release of the Simulation. It used to be the case that between 1,500 and a staggering 4,000 downloaded the Simulation on the first day of its release. These numbers come from 2003 with about three or four main feed download sites. Also these releases were put up at 6-9am EST on a weekday to get the wave of initial boot-ups over the US. This would add a huge number of downloads.

Now things are a lot slower.

I'm averaging about 800 to 1,000 over the first three days of the release. I can attribute a lot of this to the time that I am releasing - around 2pm EST on a Saturday or Sunday. Also the Windows version of the Simulation isn't getting the downloads I would like to see. There should be at least double the number of Windows users downloading the Simulation vs Mac. In contrast, less than ten percent are Windows users.

This indicates that the Simulation must have a dedicated user base on Mac. That the numbers are actually because people want to download it. Why can't I track these users?

Good afternoon.

Saturday, 11:40 am, 16 July 2005

Saturday is very quickly becoming the Noble Ape Simulation update day. For a few versions when I was living in the UK I would do the updates on Saturday. It's nice to releasing frequently. The download site comments are improving each version. I suspect the downloading public now *gets* the Noble Ape Simulation. An education of a few years, but still worth the process.

Version 0.670 went live less than an hour ago. I've put an update request on for both the Mac and the Windows version.

The past week has been punctuated with working through the Apple troop brain changes. There is a lot of code that - if I felt more in the right mind to deal with it - I probably would have knocked into shape faster. The Altivec and SSE code is quite alien in C terms. It is really the most simple ASM->C parsed functions.

It makes me wonder why compilers can't optimise for Altivec/SSE. Writing the specific code seems to go against the C language ethos. In any case, I suspect my final code will link the Altivec and SSE code through a series of similar macros. One set of unreadable code that is neatly parsed through macro form.

Enough on the code nerd stuff.

I spent a really nice evening at Nick Tompkin's place last night together with about 12-20 members of;

Very nice group of men. Had a long introductory chat with Larry Harala.

I must confess living in Las Vegas has been a bit like being dropped in the middle of a desert. But the LVGC has made the landing a little easier.

Good afternoon.

Sunday, 03:10 pm, 10 July 2005

I'd like to start the entry with a little blast from Barbalet Log's past (circa 9 December 2003).

This is an amusing story. I sent Dave Kerr an email today. Dave Kerr is the creator of AIPlanet. Dave and I exchanged emails a couple of months back and earlier too. But I sent him an email today on art assets.

... email removed for brevity...

About eight hours on, didn't have a response and thought, this guy has his number on the internet. I can drop him a line. Let's take the WeFunk attitude - calling people you email can be informative. Edifying.

So my wife is in the other room. I call this fellow. He doesn't have a clue who I am. It takes me a good two minutes to explain how he knows me. Who I am. He doesn't get it after two explanations. Finally I resort to saying;

AIPlanet... Noble Ape... AIPlanet... Noble Ape...

By which time, my wife is laughing hysterically in the other room. So finally the accent wears off and he says,

'You're the guy from Noble Ape!!!'

So we chat for about five minutes. Good chat. But I realised cold calling people you email. Not a good idea. My wife enjoyed it though.

What ever happened to Dave Kerr?

I was on SourceForge today trying to get a new developer or two to work on the Simulation. I haven't been on SourceForge solidly for about two years. I can't stand the b*st*rds to be honest. Their donation scheme was the final straw. But I thought I would go back on there. Update the Noble Ape Simulation from version 0.664 (it was a very good year) to 0.669. My eyes wandered and I found AIPlanet. Looked through the forum posts and found one from Dave himself.

This is Dave Kerr's new site;

In addition to the open source recruiting I have been tracking the downloads and the comments on the Noble Ape Simulation. Having put explicitly in the documentation that I don't track comments left about the Simulation, I do read them occasionally through a general release cycle.

I notice that the hecklers have tired of sending nonsense comments about the Simulation. The remaining responses tend to be tongue in cheek but generally very edifying. I've been thinking quite a bit about the next direction of the Simulation. Musing about it less online than I might of six months ago.

I contacted Apple's Nathan Slingerland and Sanjay Patel about the CHUD toolkit version of the Simulation when they move over to INTEL. The Simulation has advanced quite a bit from Apple's codedrop. So many questions. So little time.

Good afternoon.

Wednesday, 09:50 am, 06 July 2005


It seems somewhat ironic that my first Las Vegas show would be a Beatles tribute act.

Longer readers of the Log will remember our trip to Liverpool just under a year ago.

Tom and friend next to the Cavern Club in Liverpool, circa July 2004

Having been to Liverpool and having lived close to Blackburn Lancashire and all the other associated references, I was preparing myself for something that was quite surreal. Half way through the show they asked if anyone from Liverpool was in the audience. I looked at Michele and she said - 'We are not from Liverpool!'

I do miss that part of the world though. I did feel like it was home for the three and a half years I lived there.

The greatest impact Liverpool had on me was how totally underfunded it was and what a total state of disrepair it was in. I wasn't sure if there was no civic pride or no money or both. I suspect underfunding was the real problem. The locals said that Liverpool was in a state of regeneration. That the Liverpool I saw was the best Liverpool had ever been and that really drew home why the Beatles played the way they did. Liverpool was a place you would want to play hard to get away from.

But still to have a close sense of what Liverpool was. It was a mecca journey for us and one trip I am glad we did. Similar to Nottingham in some way.

About three quarters of the way through, the Lennon impersonator played Imagine. This also was another point where I had to catch myself from calling something out. The last years of Lennon, for me, is a summary of how in one part Lennon's stubborn nature wanted to fight to live in New York. At the same time how the US hosts, through fundamentalist Christian dogma, created Chapman. As a child, traveling around the UK by train when Lennon was killed I always thought, 'If he had been in York and not New York, he would have been okay.'

On some level, I have always attributed Lennon's death with the US. So the impersonator started a long narrative where he was the impersonator rather than Lennon. How Lennon had come to the US for freedom and how he had died so terribly. I guess the idea that the UK wasn't free seemed a little strange to me. But I sat on my hands. This experience was through the lens of an American audience. This would be my life from now on. Living through the lens of an American audience.

In general I thought it was a great show. Lots of their earlier work. Not a lot of Lennon's work. One Ringo and a George. But a good introduction to Las Vegas shows.

Good morning.

Monday, 09:30 am, 04 July 2005

Tom Barbalet (left - Las Vegas Camo) and Brian C. Wiles
at Las Vegas Airport (the flashing lights start early),
3 July 2005

I'm sure Freud or What Not To Wear would have something to say about the photo. But look how I blend in with the slot machines. I could just be a head in space.

Good morning.

Friday, 03:40 pm, 01 July 2005

So after the 0.668 fall out, what new features for the Noble Ape Simulation 0.669?

Testing Code

  • Load a variable file containing four apes and associated landscape,

  • Check movement over a two day cycle,

  • Report delta changes through checking the apes against test deltas,

  • Similarly the land information - time, weather etc,

  • Output deltas accordingly, and,

  • Provide a CRC/HASH on the output and identify differences from previous runs.

    Atomised Graphics

  • Delink the window specific code from the graphics specific code,

  • Introduce multiple windowing,

  • Autonomous Ocelot code, and perhaps,

  • Rescaling Ocelot?

    The more I think about it, the Simulation would be advantaged by frequent releases rather than more features per release. So if I divided the version with 0.669 getting the testing code changes and 0.670 getting the graphics changes, that makes more sense. In terms of actual user functionality, the testing code will highlight a series of bugs that can either be solved in 0.669 or prioritised over the next two or three releases.

    The aim in short is to have 0.669 on line and cooking sometime next week.

    Other Plans For Next Week...

    I'm developing a pile of stuff to hit eBay with next week. The apartment isn't getting any bigger and I want to be able to get out my Fred Reeds in the near future. Part of this may actually involve selling some Fred Reeds... for the first time in recorded history. But we'll see how it goes. The eBay mentality seems to be about putting up a volume of stuff and watching most of it clear. I don't know how low I can go on some of the stuff, but most will be classic Tom budget clearance items.

    For Sunday and Monday, I'll have my friend Brian C. Wiles in town. The first guest we have had in Vegas. Just a short visit, but it will be good to catch up with Brian again. I haven't seen Brian since 2001, although recently it seems not a day goes by without a call.

    What is the Noble Ape development?

    Doing two rapid releases - one covert, one just downright needed - in a short period of time reminds me why I develop Noble Ape. I was talking with my old Cali friend, Craig '' Wilson/Ubik, last night about the evolution of Noble Ape over the past three years. The links with Apple and the general development.

    As a body of work, I'm generally pleased with it. There are areas that need to be pushed. Clearly a number of bugs have crept in through the scripting. But in general, I couldn't want a better project to be investing my spare time towards. Moving the development from the place it is currently to something that is considerably more - this is the next challenge.

    Good afternoon.

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