Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ten Things I Hate About Visual Studio 7.1

1.) When I try to attach to and debug an already running process, it often mysteriously crashes.

2.) It occasionally just starts ignoring all breakpoints, for no apparent reason, and the only way I have found to fix the problem is to restart Visual Studio.

3.) If you place a breakpoint in one file, and just happen to have another file with the same name, it often triggers the breakpoint on the other file, instead of the one you requested.

4.) Sometimes, it decides that it can't write out a new binary file, because the old one was in use. However, the only thing that was using it was Visual Studio, and the only way to fix this is to restart Visual Studio.

5.) Updating your project/solution files from your version control system while Visual Studio is still open sometimes results in the updates not actually happening correctly.

6.) It makes terrible use of screen real estate. Why can't I look at two source files side-by side?

7.) It habitually forgets the working directory for projects.

8.) Searching the source code in one solution, it might find a string I'm looking for in five minutes. If I'm lucky.

9.) It constantly reports that it has successfully built N projects where N is the total number of projects in your solution. Yet, when you go to run an executable associated with one of the minor projects, it tells you some of the files have changed, and they need to be rebuilt. Why couldn't it have told the truth, the first time?

10.) Whenever it feels the least bit busy with anything, the user interface becomes completely unresponsive. Whatever I'm trying to do is probably more important than whatever it's cogitating about, but it doesn't care. Heck, I might be trying to CANCEL whatever it's doing, but well, that's just too bad.

What are your pet peeves?

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lack of Perspective

In Australia, any 15-year-old can buy games where they beat people up, shoot people, violate all manner of road laws, sell drugs, and heaven knows what else, but graffiti -- that's the scourge of civilization:

Australia First to Ban Graffiti Game

Now, this may come as a shock to some of the folks in the US who have quietly assumed that all the graffiti in their cities was the work of certain ethnic minorities prevalent in North America, but I can assure you that there is a hell of a lot of graffiti in Australia. It is, indeed, a problem here. I see graffiti in neighbourhoods I would never expect to see it in -- neighbourhoods where one would otherwise feel completely safe walking at night.

I'm from Washington, DC. I remember Cool "Disco" Dan. I remember Surrender Dorothy. We always had graffiti around us. My elementary school had to sandblast it off. Nonetheless, I'll tell you, there's a lot of graffiti here in Sydney. I'm simply shocked at the amount of graffiti on the trains, sometimes. No, I'm not just shocked. I'm angry. I feel bad for the poor shopkeepers who have to stay late to repaint their walls. Nobody is paying them for that. They'd rather be home with their kids. I want to grab the kids that mark up the trains, and yell at them, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU IDIOT? NONE OF US CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID, MEANINGLESS BULLSHIT TAG."

But in spite of all this, I can't, for a moment, see any reason to ban a graffiti game. It doesn't make any sense that you can buy games where you kill people, but not games where you spray graffiti. Why is spraying virtual graffiti more harmful than killing virtual people? I'd honestly rather taggers were inside, playing video games, than outside, scribbling incoherent, pointless nonsense on my front gate.

Really, there are three separate issues that trouble me, with respect to this:

1.) There is a double standard between movies and games. If this were a movie, rather than a game, it would not have been banned.

2.) The reaction to this game has been wildly out of proportion with its danger. Playing this game will not make anyone a graffiti artist any more than playing hours of "The Movies" has made me into a movie mogul.

3.) Australia desperately needs an R18+ rating for games. They have historically had to deny classification to numerous games, because they have no equivalent to the ESRB M and AO ratings. It's not possible to sell a game in Australia, if it is deemed inappropriate for fifteen-year-olds to play. This is not only bad because it causes some games to be effectively banned, but also because there are games available to all fifteen year olds that were originally designed with mature audiences in mind (since the alternative would have been banning them). The lack of an R18+ rating really isn't helping or protecting anybody.