Multi-Threaded Program Visualization

(Click for bigger picture.)

This strange looking picture is a trace of a multi-threaded program. This is just a screenshot - in the real display program you could mouse over the interesting bits and see a call stack at that point in time for a particular thread.

I have all the code to do multi-threaded traces. I wrote it over two years ago. I didn't like the way the visualization part was going and I gave up on it. I think it needs to be done in 3D to have the most utility.

I placed the code that writes out the trace into the public domain but then I never posted it. I guess I should do that. I would love it if someone was inspired to work on the visualization part. The trace files can be quite huge as every single function entry and exit is traced. The idea is to turn it on for a frame or two while your game runs and then look for hotspots. I was visiting a local game company before I took my current job and I integrated it into their code. They had a demo coming up the next day and there was an unexplained hiccup in it. After looking at a simple HTML dump of the function timings one of the engineers sort-of slapped himself on the head and said, "Duh!", and ran off and fixed the demo so there was no more hiccup.

I really should get around to packing up a zip file and posting it on my web site ...

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Routine layoffs at EA

GameDaily BIZ: EA 'Restructuring' Confirmed:
'This was a small and somewhat routine event for this time of year when many of our titles are finished and being shipped,' said a statement by EA. 'The action included small numbers of people across studio, publishing and corporate divisions.'

This has to be one of the dumbest press statements I have ever seen.

It's good to know that EA has routine layoffs every year around Christmas time.

I'm sure that's a great recruiting tool.


Warming Oops

FOXNews.com - Junk Science: Hey Al Gore, We Want a Refund! - Opinion:
A British judge ruled on the eve of Al Gore co-winning the Nobel Peace Prize that students forced to watch 'An Inconvenient Truth' must be warned of the film’s factual errors. But would there be any science at all left in Gore’s 'truth' if these errors and their progeny were excised?

Read the entire article for a breakdown of all the scenes (a lot of them!) that the judge says must be excised before the film can be used in schools.

(Well, they didn't give him the Nobel Scientific Accuracy Prize, eh?)


Rod Miller Banana Mix (mp3)

I spent around thirty years going to Disneyland to listen to Rod Miller play the piano.

When I was 16 years old, I took my tape recorder to Disneyland and recorded on cheap cassette tapes. A few years ago I recorded three days of his playing onto MiniDisc (it sounds a lot better).

I've always wondered if there was a pitch shift caused by my old cassette recorder. I was never sure that it recorded and played back at the same speed!

I finally answered that question last night when I compared two versions of "Yes, We Have no Bananas" played 28 years apart.

The 1976 version is on the left and the 2004 version is on the right. They weren't played at the same speed so you'll hear them drift together and then apart with an echoing kind of sound. The clip is only 15 seconds long.

And the answer is ... my old cassettes are in tune! Or at least close enough.


© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Epcot 25

Epcot opened 25 years ago (October 1st). I was 23. A friend of mine was an Imagineer on the project. Shortly after Epcot opened I flew out and stayed with him for a week. He had a trailer at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. He worked a lot so I had tons of time to myself. I got into everything free, thanks to him.

One day he drove me into Epcot through the back gate. Since he is an Imagineer and he has a good "show sense", he took a certain route he had worked out where we went up over a rise (there aren't any hills around) and he had carefully timed the music on his cassette tape recorder to match. So my first experience of Epcot was coming over this rise with Disney music playing and World Showcase laid out before me.

25 years ago is a long time ago, and I can't remember some details. I know I had some kind of backstage tour of Journey Through Imagination. I think it was partially open. I've been saddened at how the ride has been torn apart and reconstructed and made cheaper over the years. I suspect the original version cost too much to run - it was pretty clever.

I love Epcot even though it is overall pretty boring. It's hard to justify the cost of spending much time there. If I lived in the area and had an annual park hopper I would go to Epcot a lot. As it is, when I travel from Washington State, I spend just a day there - and maybe some extra time in the evening for the fireworks.

Of course, I loved Progress City and the vision for a whole new city with all new cool tech. It might have been built if Walt Disney's charisma had carried the day, but he passed away. I have to hand it to the Imagineers that turned it into a Disney park. That had to be really hard to do. But the original vision was bigger than the remaining Disney Corporation could handle without Walt.

Someday I want to rent a condo in Celebration for a month and pretend I'm living in Epcot.

Irvine, CA, has a lot in common with the original vision of Epcot. The president of the Irvine company was a board member at Disney. Irvine is a planned community. UC Irvine, in a sense, is at the center, with a beautiful park, and then the various parts of the University extending out, hub-style. I lived in Irvine a long time and I went to UCI for 10 years. That was sort of like living in Epcot.

Now I live in Washington State where they can't plan their way out of a paper bag. But at least the water we need falls out of the sky. That's a good thing.

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.



I love this bridge/overpass/architecture in Seattle and I've taken lots of pictures of it:

I've always wanted to go up there but I didn't know how!

At PAX the exposition was in the North Hall. I walked over to the North Hall, back to the main area, over to the North Hall, back to the main area, and the fifth time across the bridge I realized I was actually walking across the very place I had wanted to visit! Yes, I am slow on the uptake. Well, to tell the truth Will Wheaten was there, and I was distracted by that. (Heh, not really.)

Here's a shot from the South Hall:

and from inside:

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Downtown Disney (California) Monorail Station

Downtown Disney Monorail Station - Night. (Click for larger pix.)

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Downtown Disney (California) Fountains - Night

Downtown Disney Fountains - Night. (Click for larger pix - I use these as Windows desktop wallpapers a lot.)

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Netflix Instant Viewing

I've tried this on five computers and it works on two of them. It's awesome when it works - I have the cheapo $5.95 Netflix plan which means I get almost six hours of free instant viewing time in a month. That's almost enough to watch an entire season of a half-hour comedy show - because each 1/2 hour show is really about 22 minutes. That's almost eighteen episodes a month. I've been working my way through "The Office".

At this very moment I am on the phone with tech support at Netflix. Well, actually I've been listening to pleasant elevator music for the past 1/2 hour. The phone support doesn't give you any queue information at all - how late 90's is that? I'll be hanging up soon.

Of course, I've tried all the online remedies that I could find. Plus, since I designed and programmed the DirectSong site, I know all about how Windows Media works. I've deleted the usual folders and what-not and it still doesn't work.

Maybe I'll try it on some more computers.

This reminds me of my second most favorite Microsoft joke.

Three guys go on a camping trip. On the way down the mountain their Jeep (yes, it was a Jeep brand vehicle) skids around a corner and almost falls down a ravine!

The hardware guy opens the hood and starts to examine the engine to figure out what went wrong.

The marketing guy starts working out talking points about how exciting the accident was.

The software guy says, "Say, why don't we take the Jeep back up to the top of the mountain, drive down, and see if it happens again?"

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.