Monday, June 28, 2021

Interactive Stories

Over the years I've made a number of interactive stories for my website. I love interactive stories, the various changing plot threads really make the story more alive than a passive book drawing the reader further into the story. This also makes the story far more entertaining when re-read as sometimes the plot can change drastically.

I keep the plot layout similar to the style of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books in that the story is divided into pages even if the reader is unaware of that fact. This means the reader can simply bookmark their place in their web browser and continue where they left off at another date, this also avoids the need for web cookies.

The problem with this approach however is the difficulty in converting the stories into an ebook format such as for the Amazon Kindle for example. While it's certainly possible the overall layout doesn't feel the same to me as it would otherwise look on a website. It's more than about the text on the screen, it's also about the background style and the overall feel of the website. Conventional stories don't rely too much upon such things however so simple text on the screen is adequate.

The point of this blog entry is simply to say that my interactive stories will always be available for free on my website even though they are far more difficult and time consuming to write.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Artistic Programming

It's been a long time since I've actually programmed a computer and I've realised how much I miss it. Technically speaking I program regularly due to creating so many websites but those for the most part are visually created and it's not very often I delve into program code.

While programming is pretty much a science there's a lot of art than goes into it too. To convert a task into multiple small steps, converting a problem into a sequence of commands, to complete that said task is an art form in itself. Two programmers for example could write programs that perform identical tasks yet the way they in which solve them could be vastly different. Then there is style to think about. Should the program be designed to run as fast a possible? Should it occupy as little amount of memory as possible? Should it be neat and easily readable? Should all the variables be structured for possible future updates? There's a lot to think about before the program is planned.

I was one of those programmers who pretty much specialised in BASIC. There were lots of variations to BASIC some vastly different that others but my favourite was SamBASIC, albeit that only applied to one computer, or a Windows PC if running an emulator. I also dabbled with Assembly language, C++, Pascal and Fortran. I always liked to keep ahead on the latest programming languages as well as the older ones. The only one that I've failed to get a grip of is C# unfortunately.

Computer programming is one of those odd professions where it's more about the personality of the user rather than their academic prowess that makes them a good programmer, patience being the main virtue. There have been incidences where people have been master programmers without realising only to discover their talent later in life. The story of a vicar comes to mind who created databases as well as a secretary who made printer drivers. In fact I think computer programming should be routinely taught in schools to discover if anyone has such prowess and to also teach people how complex programming actually is.

Programs can often appear vastly complicated, resembling long chemical formulas in some instances, but while complex as a whole each step is simple instruction. I have fond memories of sitting down in front of a computer and imagining all the program variables moving around inside my head resulting in a simple side scrolling video game. I get  a warm fuzzy feeling when seeing a computer program listed upon the monitor but I don't get that feeling with visually created programming such as using a web editor.

Sir Clive Sinclair

Sir Clive Sinclair died recently so I thought I'd say some things about him, not about him personally but how he influenced my life in c...