Wednesday, December 28

A walk on the snow

Today I went for a walk, there is snow everywhere! I decided to check the Augarten park close to my flat in the 2nd district of the city, Leopoldstat. Points of interest are:
  • The Augarten porcelain manufacturer
  • Two of the Viennese Flaktürme: enormous anti-air defense towers from reinforced concrete, built by the german army during the 2nd World War. There are six in total around Vienna. They remained after the war because of the hight costs of their demolition.
I also took pictures of my street again, to show how different the city looks now:

Hoy me fuí a dar un paseo, aprovechando que la ciudad está completamente nevada. Decidí acercarme al parque Augarten que está junto a mi casa, en Leopoldstat, el distrito nº2 de la ciudad. Puntos de interés:

  • El fabricante de porcelana Augarten.
  • Dos de las Flaktürme: enormes moles de cemento reforzado, construídas como defensas anti-aire por el ejército alemán durante la segunda guerra mundial. Hay seis torres en total a lo largo de la ciudad. Se dejaron en pie tras la guerra, debido a los altos costes de la demolición.
De nuevo tomé fotos de mi calle, para poder mostrar como cambia Viena en sólo dos meses:

October vs December in Obere Donaustrasse
The siemens-nixdorf bridge
The tram
The "Gefechtsturm" in Augarten
The "Leitturm" in Augarten
The park is completely covered by the snow
The Augarten porcelain manufacturerDogs playing in the park.. cute!

Monday, December 26

Eurodinner, Snowboarding, Christmas

Two weeks ago the Buddy Network of the TU Wien organized an "Eurodinner": a big dinner/party where everyone had to bring a typical dish from his country. As expected, the spanish food was the most popular amongst the erasmus students ;-).

Last week I went to the Semmering Stuhleck skiing resort, which is about 100km from Vienna. It had been two years since I snowboarded for the last time, but fortunately I could start riding again quite easily. The weather was quite good and we enjoyed a wonderful day in the mountain.

Last, I wish everybody merry christmas(it's late, I know). Some friends complained that I never upload pictures of myself in the blog, so here are some recent pictures:

Hace un par de semanas el Buddy Network de la TU Wien organizó la "Eurodinner": una gran cena/fiesta donde cada persona tenia que llevar un plato típico de su país. No fué ninguna sorpresa que la mesa con la comida española fuese una de las más populares entre los estudiantes erasmus.

La semana pasada fuí a la estación de esquí Semmering Stuhleck a 100km de Viena. Aunque hacia dos años que no practicaba snowboard, no tuve demasiados problemas para poder 'surfear' de nuevo :-). El tiempo acompañó y tuvimos un dia redondo en la montaña.

Por último, me gustaria desear felices fiestas a todo el mundo(aunque llego algo tarde). Algunos amigos me han comentado que nunca aparezco en las fotos que cuelgo, así que esta vez he incluído algunas fotos mías recientes:


Introducing the spanish dishes at the Eurodinner

Jordi, Iván and I
The Stuhleck skiing resort
Playing the Nintendo DS with Giorgo and his brother Alex

Thursday, December 22

Free GBA programming e-book

Here you can download a free e-book in PDF format called "Programming the Nintendo Gameboy Advance", by Jonathan S. Harbour. It was not released in book stores due to legal problems with Nintendo.

From the author:

"A physical CD-ROM will be available for order for the 2nd Edition shortly, containing both the e-book, source code, utilities, and compiler tools! Until then, I am still accepting orders for the sources via email.[...]

The source code files, project files, graphics files, and sound files have been packaged into a single archive file, available for $16 (US)--to help compensate for the time I put into converting the book to electronic format--and I'm currently going on 140 hours just working on the PDFs, with about 100 hours of work put into the 2nd Edition."

Thanks to ZXS of the Stratos forums for the tip!

Talking about free e-books: if you want to learn Python, give this book(Dive Into Python) a download. Kudos to Ethernet for the link.

Sunday, December 18

Architectural differences between PowerPC and x86

Here are some interesting bits of information I recently found while checking some documentation about the transition from Mac OS X/PowerPc to x86:

  • The x86 C-language calling convention specifies that arguments to functions are passed on the stack. The PowerPC ABI specifies that arguments to functions are passed in registers. Also, x86 has far fewer registers, so many local variables use the stack for their storage. Thus, programming errors,or other operations that access past the end of a local variable array or otherwise incorrectly manipulate values on the stack may be more likely to crash applications on x86 systems than on PowerPC.

  • A long double is 16 bytes on both architectures, but only 80 bits are significant in long double data types on Intel-based Macintosh computers. (damn legacy x87 fpu!)

  • An integer divide-by-zero operation is fatal on an x86 system but the operation continues on a PowerPC system, where it returns zero.
These last two differences are specially interesting when planning to port software from OS X/PowerPC to x86, since they could cause unexpected results and bugs in the new Intel Macs.

If you like this kind of topic, I highly recommend you the reading of the following articles by Ars Technica:

The Pentium 4 and the G4e: an Architectural Comparison: Part I
The Pentium 4 and the G4e: an Architectural Comparison: Part II

PowerPC, we will miss you on the desktop :-(

Monday, December 12

Trip to Salzburg

Salzburg is the fourth biggest city in Austria, with a population of only 150,000 inhabitants. Known as the place where Mozart was born and raised, his house of birth and residence are popular tourist attractions, although I found them pretty boring. The only one I really liked was the Rupertinum museum of modern art.

The city has really nice christmas decorations during december, resulting in a very special atmosphere. However, it was so cold I thought I was leaving my ba*** there.

As usual, some pictures from the trip:

Salzburgo es la cuarta ciudad más grande de Austria, con una población de tan solo 150,000 habitantes. Es conocida por ser el lugar de nacimiento y residencia de Mozart. La casa donde nació y vivió son lugares malamente llamados "museos", bastante populares entre los turistas. En cambio, me gustó bastante el museo Rupertinum de arte moderno.

La ciudad está especialmente adornada en navidad, creando una atmósfera especial, pero que no evita pasar un frío de coj**** .

Como viene siendo normal, aquí os dejo algunas fotos del viaje:

Overview of the city
Inside the fortressA modern building, interesting for its architectureIce-skatingOne of the many Advent-marketsFancy a "McPunsch"?Un pringao(al final no cogió la pelota)Squirrel on a tree

Monday, December 5

Im Dezember

The "Weihnachtsmärkte", or "christmas markets" are very popular in Vienna during december. There you can buy presents and try typical drinks like "Punsch" and "Glühwein". Some pictures:

Los mercados de navidad son muy populares en Viena durante esta época del año. En ellos se pueden comprar regalos y tomar bebidas típicas como el "Punsch" y el "Glühwein". Algunas fotos:

Schönbrunner Weihnachtsmarkt




Rathaus weinachtsmarkt
Kärtnerstraße(not a market, but a famous street)

Tuesday, November 29

The industry is in for a gaming crash

Just as I finished posting my last entry about the Xbox 360, I found a very interesting article at The Inquirer about the state of the game industry. I think it is a good read, and I mostly agree with the author. Here is a quote of the end of the article:

Nada más terminar de colgar la última entrada sobre la Xbox 360, llegué a un interesante artículo en The Inquirer sobre el estado de la industria de videojuegos. Me parece una lectura interesante, y coincido con el autor en la mayoría de los puntos. Aquí hay un fragmento del final:

(...)
So, you have the same situation that you did in the past, swathes of high priced boredom. Mediocrity with no way of picking the good from the bad. Anything that could help you has been co-opted, and you have to throw darts with $60 attached to each one.

Sadly, the gaming industry is in a self-imposed death spiral. Everyone is putting on a brave face, touting the latest v6 of a game that came out before most of it's audience was born. What was a fun hobby full of creative geniuses and their mad art has become a grey corporate parking lot. (...)

Rather than take a step back, they are addicted to marketing plans and money men. It will kill them, and in a few years, good will arise from the ashes. It happened with arcades, it happened with the first wave of consoles, and is about to happen again. It is high time someone flushed the toilet that the games industry has become, it will do us all a world of good.

Monday, November 28

Testing the Xbox 360

Today I visited the Xbox Experience in MAK Vienna. From 24th November to 4th December, allows visitors to test the new Xbox 360 for free. There is also a contest for rock bands: the 12 finalist groups will be playing during the week, with the big final scheduled for 2th December.

There were about 100 consoles, all connected to Samsung HD LCD's. I played most of the games, but could not try Perfect Dark Zero, because the 10 kids playing deathmatch would not leave their seats :P.

Some impressions about the console:

- I like the design. It's bigger than I expected.
- The gamepads are ok, nothing revolutionary but comfortable.
- The high-definition TV's really make a difference. I, for one, would not buy a next-gen console before owning one of those LCD screens.

About the games:

  • Project Gotham Racing 3: Nice graphics.
  • Kameo: Not a bad game.. cool graphics, but I didn't like the main character design at all.
  • King Kong: The atmosphere is quite good, but still I didn't find the game fun.
  • NFS Most Wanted: Good graphics, easy control. Now you can refill your nitro-gauge ala Burnout. Just one more NFS from EA.
  • Amped: I found the graphics below average.
  • Call of Duty 2: A big deception. The same scripted, predictable, gameplay of former titles like COD or MOH:AA. In my opinion, visuals are not next-gen neither. Innovation please!
  • Ninety Nine Nights: Technically impressive, and my favourite so far. It was the same demo presented in the TGS2005.

There were other sport games I didn't bother to try(soccer, basket). These are just my impressions, so just take them with a bit of salt.

Now, some pictures:



10 Xbox 360 linked together to play Perfect Dark Zero in deathmatch mode

The concert hall