Cityscape 2 – The Rebirth

December 12th, 2014

Pretty sure no-one is reading this by now, but…

Many years ago, started a project documenting my implementation of a night-time cityscape, “inspired” by another project that did more-or-less exactly the same. The other posts in the series are in the same category as this post, if you fancy reading them.

The original project was implemented in C# using XNA – a great set of libraries that simplified working with DirectX considerably. Of course, Microsoft being Microsoft, they lost interest in XNA and it’s basically defunct now (last I checked it was part of the Phone SDK, but I don’t think it’s under active development any more) – the upshot being that the original project is now tricky-to-impossible to get building.

So, as part of down-tools week at work, I’ve started updating it – this time round I’m using SharpDX, a C#/.NET wrapper around DirectX. It’s basically a thin layer on top of DirectX, offering none of the convenience tools of XNA*, but I figured how bad could it be? I used to write DirectX 8 code in C++… Anyway, I’ve not been blogging this one so much, but a couple of days in and I’ve got buildings, fogging and – hopefully – a slightly cleaner codebase than last time.

Screenshot of development as at 12/12/14

You can grab the code from github – it should build in Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition – it requires DirectX 11, so you’ll need an up-to-date Windows 7, or Windows 8/8.1. For Windows 8.1, you might also need to install the DirectX 11.0 DLLs (the web installer will do that) as it only comes with 11.2 by default, and SharpDX is built against 11.0.

* actually, not entirely true, it turns out, but the way I’m using it precludes use of all the toolkit stuff that basically re-implements XNA


July 10th, 2012

I played a festival*! This was my set!

Redstock Set by cawhitworth

You! Me! Dancing!



* OK, it was our work summer party

Cityscape 2012!

July 5th, 2012

Hey, I’ve been really busy on my Cityscape renderer thing and it’s looking really good now! It almost looks exactly like a photo of New York at night from the top of the Rockefeller center!

(ok, yes, it’s New York, but I’m sort of surprised just how much like my programmatic cityscape it does look; I’m almost inspired enough to go back and do some more work on it. Almost…)

But I don’t want to be a Methodist.

September 27th, 2011

[Prologue: I wrote this very much off the top of my head, although the ideas in it have been bubbling around for a while. It’s quite rambling, and yet in places, quite blunt. I’m aware people will be reading this from the church we parted ways with a while back and some of what I say might sound harsh or hurtful to them. I really hope none of my criticisms of the evangelicalism in this post are taken on that personal a level – whilst I’m sure many will disagree with my points here, I don’t wish to be seen as criticising any of the people whom we love so very dearly at that church. This is as much about my journey and issues as it is with what I may rightly or wrongly perceive is wrong with the modern evangelical church.]

So, a few years ago on this here blog, I wrote a series of posts about where my journey of faith was going. I wibbled on about postmodernism and linguistics and post-Evangelicalism and contextualisation and liberal politics and social conscience and that sort of thing. I never really reached any proper conclusions, partially because I didn’t (and still don’t) think that conclusions are necessarily a helpful thing to reach (there are absolutely no absolutes, obviously) and partially because real life kind of got in the way, in between getting married, moving to Cambridge, starting a new job, buying a house, fitting a kitchen, losing a job, getting a new job and all the rest, philosophising (and blogwriting in general) sort of fell by the wayside.

Well, actually. That’s not quite the whole truth, either. There’s another reason. We found a church that I actually liked. It was a lovely, fairly young little congregation, with quite a free-thinking, open approach to faith and community, whilst retaining a (reasonably) orthodox set of core beliefs. It encompassed people from a whole spectrum of theological perspective, from the traditional con/evo right up to, well, people a bit like me. We didn’t always agree, sometimes things didn’t always go right, but there was a freedom to make those mistakes and to disagree and to talk things through, and that was hugely refreshing to me.

Sadly, however, things changed, and without wanting to go into detail, the church started sailing in a different direction to us, and after much thought and heartache, we parted company.

So, Naomi and I found ourselves once again churchless and unsure of our next step, and I found myself in the position of being back to trying to work out exactly what this whole journey was about again and what on earth being a post-modern post-evangelical social-liberal fluffy handwavey rough-around-the-edges fringe Christian actually meant, anyway. We kind of had the summer off (apart from Greenbelt, which is the one encouraging fixture in my annual calendar, in that it helps me realise that at least I’m not alone in this whole thing) but Naomi insisted that we needed to start going to church again soon and started saying things about community and family and I kind of found it hard to disagree on that front, at least.

So, looking for a new church: the thing is, I’m done with  modern evangelicalism. I mean, seriously now. I mean it properly, this time. I’ve been calling myself post-evangelical for years now, but always within the context of still attending an evangelical church and attempting to work within it. I’ve feel like I’ve given it more than enough fair chances, but eventually the reductionist approach to faith, narrow idea of what a Christian and what Christianity actually is, literal approach to scripture, confusion of conservative socio-political ideas with theology and constant wretched urgency ground me down and right now I just want nothing to do with the whole thing. I’m exhausted. I need some space to breathe.

Oh, it’s all such a bloody cliché. Young(ish) western middle-class Christian gets fed up with Evangelicalism, spends time staring at own navel, eventually goes off and joins a traditional church in which he can sit and listen to short but thoughtful sermons that aren’t all about reaching for the prize or taking our faith to the next level, sing traditional hymns and not have to be on another bloody mission team or sit through another interminable 4-hour prayer meeting wondering whether everyone else is really as into this as they seem or if they’re all thinking about work or DIY or Voronoi diagrams or Westfall Questlines too. I don’t want to be a cliché. Not wanting to be a cliché is so part of being this particular cliché. My journey is my own, goddamnit, get your own set of faith issues.

So, yeah, looking for a new church: Naomi can’t be doing with Anglicanism. Not quite sure why, just doesn’t seem her bag. I Don’t Do Calvinism, so that’s the Baptists out the window. In our village, that kinda leaves the Methodists. Now, all things considered, I quite like the Methodists. First church I ever properly really attended was a Methodist church (although then, and even more so now, it was a Methodist church that was pretty indistinguishable from any other modern evangelical place so I’m not sure if it really counts) and I still hold a soft spot for them – their website talks about “openness” a lot, and they support Greenbelt, and they do that nice congregationalist thing rather than being a top-down hierarchy of Bishops and Archbishops and Priests and Rectors and Deans and Canons and Second Curates-in-law Twice Removed.

But am I a Methodist? If I’m completely honest, I’m not much more of a fan of Arminius’ Five Articles than I am of Calvin’s Five Points. I quite like some of Charles’ hymns, but I’m pretty sure John and I wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on so many things. I quite like gin, for starters. I’m not entirely sure my pro-LGBTQ opinions are going to find a entirely comfortable home there. And I’m fairly sure Mr Wesley was pretty hot on the idea of saving souls, even if he did talk good guns about a social gospel, too…

Oh, I don’t know. I’m rambling a long way from the path I originally set off on now; the central thesis for this post was supposed to be a resigned acceptance of the fact that we now seem, more-or-less by accident, to be the youngest people (by about 30 years) at our local Methodist church and the fact that I feel kind of surprised that, at the very least, I’m not filled with a vague sense of uneasy dread about leaving the house every Sunday at the moment, and that the preaching is very good on account of how it’s on the same circuit as Wesley House and that. But in attempting to get my thoughts down on paper (metaphorically), it still turns out to be a whole bunch more complicated than that. You know, just for a change. I guess it’s kind of tricky to be looking for something when you’re not even sure what it is you’re looking for, or if you’ll even be sure if you find it. God, I sound like Bono.

So, I guess – congratulations if you’ve made it this far. I’ve been terribly self-indulgent and I guess I’m a bit sorry for wasting your time if you read all this hoping for some kind of blinding revelation or something at the end of it all. That’s not coming – although I guess that’s also sort of the point I’m trying and failing to make about my own story here too (I’d claim this was an intentional clever literary device, but no; I’ve sort of stumbled into that, too). Things move on. Sometimes, they don’t have a satisfactory ending.

Supporting local

July 3rd, 2011

So, this week, it’s Histon Feast Week. A Feast Week is a thing they have in Cambridgeshire villages that’s a bit like a week-long village fete. There’s a parade, and a funfair and… well, apparently, there’s a bunch of other stuff, but I can’t find out what it is.

See, the organisers of the feast don’t publish details of the week’s programme online. They do this deliberately, so you’ll go and buy a programme. They’re available from “most local retailers” for £2. That’s fine, they want us to support the feast and it helps fund it. That’s good. Except, by “local retailer”, they mean all the actual small local village shops, not the Tesco Express or Co-op or any of those kinds of things. Again, I understand – they want local people to support local shops and not national or multinational chains. That’s also good. The problem is, these local shops are the kind that are open from 9am until 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. I work from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. I can’t buy a programme from a local shop because they’re not actually open when I’m in the village.

Even today, at the parade – where most of the village was out watching and joining in with the celebrations and having a jolly fun old time, no-one was selling programmes. None of the local shops were open. Of course, Tesco and Co-op were, and they were doing a roaring trade selling ice creams and sweets and fizzy drinks to people. But not programmes, because they’re not allowed to. Genius.

I am not Zach Braff

September 28th, 2010

So, on Saturday night, I was at a party in South London, and then I was not at a party, and I was in Kings Cross station, and I had missed my last train back to Cambridge. The guy in the information booth was being singularly unhelpful, and suggested that the best way back to Cambridge now would be to walk. Yeah, so thanks for that.

There was a couple of other people around who’d also missed the train – a well to do looking couple in long, expensive looking overcoats who wanted absolutely nothing to do with the increasingly wild-eyed and panicked looking young man on the platform trying to persuade them to share a cab back to Cambridge; and a girl who was slightly younger than me, with short choppy hair, a nose stud, quirky dress sense and a curiously relaxed demeanour about the whole thing; she looked like she’d be the sort of person who probably had most of Belle and Sebastian’s back catalogue, and would probably be played by Natalie Portman in the film adaptation of the night’s events.

Now, if I was Zach Braff, and this was an indie movie, she would absolutely have been the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the piece; we’d have sat on the platform until 5am or whatever time the trains started running again in the morning and talked about meaningless and meaningful things all night and I’d have discovered secrets about myself and about the world I live in that I never thought about before and I’d be set on alight with a great new passion for the wonders of life. There’d have been a great soundtrack, probably featuring lots of Canadian indie bands, most of whom had traded members with Broken Social Scene or the Arcade Fire at some point, and we’d have got up to crazy-but-heartwarming hijinks like eating ice cream at 3am or writing life-affirming messages on slips of paper for commuters to find in the morning or something.

However, I’m not Zach Braff; I’m a married 31-year-old with anxiety issues and a fairly serious inability to deal with any situation that might be deemed anything more than slightly-to-moderately inconvenient, in the grand scheme of things. So what actually happened was that I stood about flustering and floundering like a crazy person whilst she looked on, smoking her rollup, wearing a look somewhere between amusement, pity and weariness at my total inability to take control and responsibility for my life, or at least make a bloody decision about what it was that I was going to do about getting home or otherwise. I mean, she tried to help – breaking things down rationally, making sensible suggestions about the likelihood of actually getting back tonight, that kind of thing – but my brain, by this point was in full on stressed overload and I was broadly incapable of expressing anything other than an externalised inner monologue of panic and fatigue and how much my wife was going to kill me for this in the morning.

And, so, in the end, I did the gentlemanly thing and abandoned her on the platform to wait for the 4am bus to Peterborough, and I went into the nearest big-chain travel hotel thing, who told me the nearest spare room was a £35 taxi ride away, and I took it. Gladly. Sorry, manic pixie dream girl, I hope you got home okay in the end.

USB is confusing

September 20th, 2010

So, everything in USB is named from the perspective of the host. You have endpoints, which define logical pipes down which data can flow. There are IN endpoints, which means that data flowing down them goes “IN” the host, and “OUT” endpoints, which means that data flowing down them is going “OUT” of the host.

So, if you’re building a USB device, you basically need to remember that “IN” actually means out (from the perspective of the device) and vice versa.

Also, if you’re writing a USB device simulation, and you’ve got a function called “OnReadTransfer”, this means that the host is making a request to read data from you. Which means that you, as a device have to write data. Down your IN endpoint. Obviously.


September 17th, 2010

Can everyone else on the internet stop writing stuff for a bit so I don’t spend all my time reading it and have some brainspace to write something myself for once? That would be lovely, thanks.

I have a cold…

September 6th, 2010

…so apparently, that means I write jazz/hip-hop/improv things:

Jazz hip hop improv thing by cawhitworth

It’s very rough and ready, and there’s wrong notes and duff timings aplenty, but the piano part was recorded in one take along with pressing the buttons to bring the various backing parts in and out, and it’s totally unedited and the whole thing only took about an hour to put together, on and off, so you’ll have to forgive me for that.

I’m gonna live forever…

June 19th, 2010

So, this is the product of this afternoon’s noodlings, and at the expense of only 15 manliness points (it would only have been 5: I’m supposed to be at a stag do but I’m ill, so instead of driving gokarts and drinking unhealthy amounts of beer, I’m remaking showtunes for my wife’s school assemblies)

Fame by cawhitworth