Toppler Updated to Universal Binary

I’ve updated Toppler to a universal binary, using the same source tree as the previous 1.1.1-1 version. This, unfortunately, requires it to be run under 10.4.x. If you’re still running 10.2.x or 10.3.x, you can still download the previous PPC version (works great under Rosetta as well) from the same page, just under the main download link.

One quick thing to note – if you have any high score files left over from a PPC->Intel conversion, these won’t read properly with this version. The high-score code is very endian dependent, and I didn’t update it to properly handle all cases. No biggie, but if you see some strange high scores in there, get rid of your /Users//.toppler directory.

I’m getting ready to post new binaries for Fillets and Freedroid as well, so stay tuned.

Update: One more update to 1.1.3-4 to include some language fixes and new levels. Check the toppler page for details.

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New Toppler Version 1.1.1

Toppler Icon Yet another version of Tower Toppler, version 1.1.1 was releases by Andreas Röver. This comes quickly on the heels of the 1.1.0 version. The main changes are:

  • Included Pasis 2 Towers
  • New Finnish translation
  • Updated French Translation

I’ve updated the OS X packages on my Toppler page. Worth a download for the new level set!

Thanks Andreas!

Update, December 24, 2004: The issue with Toppler not running on 10.2.8 systems has been fixed. It was due to a missing function in the 10.2 C libs. The new version is 1.1.1-1

New Toppler Version 1.1.0

Toppler Icon Andreas Röver has released a new version of the Tower Toppler source code, 1.1.0. The basic changes are:

  • Joystick support (though I have no way of testing this…)
  • In the level designer, elevators can now be made to pass doors
  • There was a condition where the little green guy could get stuck
  • A Windows bug with a strange .dll was fixed (not that this affects you Mac users)

I’ve updated the OS X packages on my Toppler page, though this update for Mac users probably isn’t that big a deal.

Thanks Andreas!

Benoit Mandelbrot Interview in New Scientist

This article from the New Scientist print edition has a small interview with Benoit Mandelbrot. If you don’t know who he is, you need to turn in your Geek Credential card at the door, please. A small excerpt:

Q: Even though most people view it as a beautiful image and ignore the underlying mathematics?

A: That’s right. Yet there is nothing more to this than a simple iterative formula. It is so simple that most children can program their home computers to produce the Mandelbrot set.

I thought that this was pretty funny. When I first got my hands on a C compiler for my lowly Commodore 64, one of the first things I did was to try and build a program to display the Mandelbrot Set. Previously I had taken his book, The Fractal Geometry of Nature out of the library (I later purchased a copy.) I wanted to write some software to generate the set, but my meagre computing resources limited my language selection (let’s see – assembly or BASIC…)

I even wrote a letter to Mr. Mandelbrot on a sheet of notebook paper asking what language he used to write in (among other questions.) He replied, and I still have the letter in my files. It contained a signed hand written note saying he used FORTRAN as his language of choice, and he included some photocopied sheets giving some implementation details and hints. I was 13 at the time, and I was in heaven. Yes, other people may have written letters to pop stars. I wrote to a mathematician working at IBM’s research labs.

But I eventually found a C compiler (Abacus C) and began writing, translating the formulas found in the book into what was, looking back on it, poorly crafted C code. The result? After some debugging and letting my little program run for nine hours, I had a simple monochrome 320×200 representation of the Mandelbrot set on my screen, red on black. Later revisions added the color gradients you see on so many versions of the set, though I was limited here to four colors and this halved the horizontal resolution. I even was able to add a simple zoom function. But with nine hours between selections, I didn’t go very deep.

A few years later I got my first PC, and one of the first things I did was buy Borland’s Turbo C and move over my Mandelbrot program. Somehow, it wasn’t quite the same. I could watch in real time the whole set being generated on the screen. Many more colors available. Zoom was even practical and useful. Just didn’t have the feeling of anticipation that the 1Mhz C64 generated as you watched, pixel by pixel, the set being drawn.

Ah, yes, the good old days.

sed One Liners

Here is a great little page that gives a whole pile of small sed scripts for all kinds of random tasks. This is a great quick reference for all those who don’t use sed enough to remember it’s arcane syntax.

If you don’t know what sed is, feel free to ignore this.

Tower Toppler for OS X

Some of you may remember many hours wasted spent playing a game on C64 or similar called Tower Toppler, aka, Nebulous. Well, for some time now, Andreas Röver has had a port of this game available as free software. I’ve in turn ported this to OS X for everyone’s enjoyment. You can download the .dmg file from here.