What's New - January 2004
January 31, 2004: Just enough time left his month to catch you up on a few program enhancements made in the past week or two.
Reaction Times is a program that measures viewer reaction times by flashing a target on the screen and measuring time until a key press or mouse click is received. A professor at a Norwegian university is using the program for student projects in a first year psychology course. He pointed out that I had used commas as field separators in the statistics file that are created. Since many (some, most, all?) Europeans counties use commas as decimal points, the files became very hard to decipher. The program now allows user a choice of field delimiter. I believe that there are actually Windows system values for comma and decimal point which would handle the problem more elegantly, but i was too lazy to look it up.
Peg Solitaire now has a "Custom" board type where user can define their own hole and peg configurations. Viewer Philippe had requested this change and his problem board is now the default Custom board type. I have not successfully found a single peg remaining solution yet for that board, but he believes that there is one. I added additional solution definition criteria so that the Autosolve mode can now report "solved' when 4, 3, or 2 pegs remain.
Circle Covering Points is a program that solves the problem of finding the smallest circle which encloses a given set of points. My original version used a set of points defined by user clicks on the image. A British company recently inquired about adding the ability to input a user defined set of real numbers as the points to be covered. That change has been implemented and posted. The application, by the way, is in determining the minimal hazardous area when the points being covered are the landing coordinates of some sort of military armament.
Finally, Big Combos has been reposted with a change to allow up to 10,000 combinations to be displayed, up from 1,000. Viewer Graham needed to see all 1820 combinations of 4 items selected from 16.. I wish I had found out why.
My programs to read and chart data from the PC Interface for the Lacrosse Technologies WS-2010 (WS2010) weather station are now working. I probably will not post the code because of the small potential audience - but I'll be happy to send it on anyone with this weather station who is interested..
January 25, 2004: I bought a weather station (LaCrosse Technologies WS-2010) for my wife for Christmas. Of course I had to get the PC Interface as well. The software that came with it sucks (still trying to sort out software vs. hardware problems) so I have been working on a program to read data from the interface over the serial port and produce a file compatible with the file built by LaCrosse software. The logic requires adjusting time stamps for local time zone so I wrote today's program, TimeZoneDemo, and posted it today over in Delphi Techniques. It extracts and displays what Windows knows about our time zone settings.
BTW, LaCrosse's support has been non-existent but perhaps they will get on the ball one of these days. Currently my version reads the PC Interface information much better than theirs, but I may be just working around a hardware problem. More on that story (and serial port processing) in the future.
January 18, 2004: Recuperation continues. Thanks for all the "get well" messages this week. Main symptom now seems to be "dyspnea" ("shortness of breath on exertion" - serious illness will at least increase your vocabulary). I can work at the computer for an hour or so per day now, so I'm doing some simple programming to check for brain damage.
Here is a Text Search program requested by a viewer who has ambitions to make a bible search application. The program searches a specified text file for a specified word or string. Options include "whole words only" and "case sensitive". Results are displayed with search string matches highlighted. Perhaps a starter for someone with more specialized search requirements.
January 14, 2004: Well, what a month! As some of you know, I've been under the weather the past few weeks. Short version of the story: sprained back, immobilized, blood clots in legs, pulmonary embolism (clot moved to lungs), hospital week, blood thinner, fluid accumulation, ongoing recuperation. One day I was age 65 feeling 45 and a few days later - age 65 feeling 85. Since the fatality rate of PE is about 15%, I'm happy to be here at all. Whether and how much permanent damage was done remains to be seen.
The moral - do not take your health for granted! Take seriously that stuff about frequent breaks while driving and hourly walks during air flights. We all tend to feel immortal until we find out otherwise.
Sometime this month, I did manage to respond to one of the many backlogged viewer requests. Here is a High Scores class object and test program. The idea is to use the an instance of the class to keep track of top scorers in games that you program.
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