Saturday, September 29, 2007


I got the CD with the SKD I ordered earlier this week and spent a while browsing it. This is a valuable reference and has the kind of documentation I need: I could figure out what I need to know about Windows Programming from here. Actually writing programs to do something is going to take a little bit longer, because I need to study and try out some of the basic functions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Figuring it out

I took another look at the couple of Windows tutoral web sites I've found, looking specifically for graphics information, and I found some stuff I half-recognize, but not the specific things I was looking for. I also looked at the header file in my compiler, and found among the definitions technical information on what parameters go in various definitions, but (obviously) no summary of what those parameters do or what they are for, or which functions do which.

I did another search for an older version of the Microsoft Platform SDK that has documentation on those functions. Microsoft has a link to a company that still has CDs containing earlier versions that I might be able for only the cost of shipping, (The current oldest one they offer themselves requires at least Windows 2000) . We'll see whether its useful.
In the meantime, I'm using the same compiler I used in school, but it had a number of visual components I could drag and drop onto a form. (I've never liked the drag-and-drop style of programming), and I couldn't find those components. So I went digging through the help files, and after a bunch of trial and error, found how to tell my compiler to use them, so I'm a bit happier about that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Programming Study

With my recently revived interest in Computer programming, I'm about ready to pick up where I left off about 5 years ago. I had taken a Windows Programming course in 1999 and didn't make it all the way through. I kept my textbook (Petzold's Windows Programming, 5th edition)began a review a couple of years later when I was living in Nebraska, (The date on my last program is September 2002). I got somewhat sidetracked and didn't get as far as I would like.

Now that my interest in the project has revived, I'm stuck without my Windows bible, which is still in Nebraska. I tried to find a copy of the Windows Platform SDK that has documentation for all the functions, but since Microsoft has gone to Windows 2000 and Vista, they're no longer making the old SDK available, so no help there. I tried locating copies of Petzold in the local libraries: No, on the public library, no on the closest University libraries. I tried locating people locally who do programming. One has left the programming field and is in Law School, and he may or may not still have a copy, and may or may not let me know if he finds it next Sunday. No on the next closest library: The nearest place that seems to is Pittsburgh, 50 miles away from me, which is rather inconvenient if I want to keep it as a reference. I tried looking on eBay to see if I could pick up second hand copy for minimun price, no luck there. Next try, Success! I can get a used copy for a reasonable price. I just have to wait a week and a half.

In the meantime, just as in writing, if you want to lern how to program, you have to sit down and practice, on a daily basis. So, I sat down and looked up pieces of all the code I have in dusty computer prograns, and came up with three versions of a basic Windows Program. I've now figured out (again) how to do one of the most basic things a program should do: Print a message on the screen. There is still a lot more I want to learn how to do, but until I can get some documentation, it's going to be very slow going. I've never quite figured out the mechanics of doing graphics in any version of programming languages I've studied: I hope to break that barrier.

In the meantime, I've been refining some of my ideas on how to do some basic physics programming: moving particles around in a space, so I've made a little progress toward one of the applications I've had in mind for a while.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Prehistoric anthropology

For a while I have been working mostly on the science end of the knowledge base, but it's all been routine and not terribly interesting. I decided to to back and take another at the topd-down approach I had been using.

This time, i've started with prehistory and made some connections with geological and biological history, which most noticeably overlap with prehistory. Since I don't have any specific people from prehistory, I'm working on connecting the basics of anthropology to it. This appars to be a reasonably promising approach.
In the process of applying anthropology to prehistory, I have been doing a little work on connecting areas of anthropology to the physical and natural sciences. Since the more detailed levelds of anthropology so far consist mostly of vague, general, armwaving, there isn't much more progress or real content to report just now.

I was feeling a bit bored and too tired to work on the KB the other day, so I looked up an old computer game I used to play way back when: Dungeon Master. It's been placed on a web site and I can run it in the DOS window (of Win 98).

That, in turn, has somewhat rekindled my interest in computer programming, so I've also dusted off the urls for a couple of web sites that offer tutorials on Windows API programming in C and C++, and with my trusty old Borland C++ 5.0, I've begun trying once again to understand how a basic Windows program works. I have the basic idea, but the details are something else again.

I want to give another try at doing (or emulating) elementary science with my programs, so there is some vague connection between these ideas.