Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Computers and board games

Yesterday morning Laetitia's computer died. It failed to load a stack of drivers, including for the trackpad and USB ports, which made working out what was wrong painful (no mouse). In the end we booted into Linux off a CD to copy off what had been changed since her most recent backup, then reinstalled from the “Recovery” DVDs. I really wonder about that term; somehow “recovery” has come to mean “wipe the slate clean and start again”.

Over the weekend I also did some programming. It was good fun to get back into “the zone”. I used Microsoft's Visual C#, their new(ish, in programming language terms) language based loosely on C++. I'm actually impressed: already knowing C++, C# made it quite easy to build a functional and usable GUI-based tool. Indeed, contrary to what I expected before I started, the hardest part was not the GUI at all, but rather the all-pairs-shortest-paths algorithm, for which I had to go back to one of my old programming textbooks.

What I created was a ticket generator for one of our favourite board games, Ticket to Ride: Europe. I was so impressed with the “1910” expansion for the USA board that I wanted to do something similar for the Europe board. And besides, playing with the same set of tickets every time gets predictable, and personally I prefer more variety.

So now I can print off a new set of tickets for every game. I get to choose a standard game, a “Big Cities” game or a “Mega-Game” (you'll understand those terms if you have the 1910 expansion), for the Europe board. Yippee!


spacekate said...

Your ticket generator sounds v cool Ian!! Great idea, wish we could play a few games right now :)

Anonymous said...

My friend, you know I faithfully read all of your posts. Having not ever played that particular board game, I think it's safe to say I understood the first sentence. "Laetitia's computer died..." After that, it gets a bit fuzzy! :) Ruth

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Ian! Way to go with getting back into the programming...I know what it's like to revisit an old haunt like that...it's like putting on a pair of well-worn, comfy sneakers:). And I love your ticket generator idea! I think my bro, Vladimir (also a IT guy) will get a kick out of that blog (he also is the one who owns Settlers Catan)...I'll have to send it to him;). God bless! David