Sunday, February 5, 2012

Alive and Well

I got an email recently from a fan who was worried because I hadn't posted anything about Solitaire Till Dawn for a while. I did warn y'all that it would take some time! And that's still true, unfortunately. But I am still working on it.

I haven't posted because I got stalled for a while. Part of that was just the holidays: traveling, visiting family, and doing Christmas stuff. Part of it was the sad loss of our old and well-loved family cat Freddy, and the subsequent addition of a young mom-cat and two kittens to our household. The new kitties are all sweeties, but they kind of turned the place upside-down for a while.

But the biggest delay was that I got stuck on a nasty bug, something I had to fix before I could move on. There was no progress to report: I've spent the last two or three weeks banging my forehead against my monitor, trying to figure out what was causing the bug and how to fix it. I finally nailed it today, or so I hope. Without going into mind-numbing detail, I'll just say that it was a multi-threading concurrency problem triggered by an intermittent race condition.

That sort of thing can be very difficult to track down, for two reasons. First, it's not trivially repeatable: it depends on subtle timing issues, and you might work the program for quite a while before seeing it happen. It's like that funny noise your car makes whenever you drive it, but never when it's in the shop. And that's why I had to say "I hope" above. I played hours of solitaire today after installing my fix and didn't see the bug again. So I think I got it, but it's still possible that it's just being coy and will re-surface later on.

The second reason it's difficult is that this is a class of problem that a friend of mine calls a "Heisenbug", because any attempt to debug it can make it change behavior or vanish altogether (only to reappear when you stop debugging, of course). But I have to admit that in this case, my problem was the opposite: nothing I tried seemed to affect the bug, until today.

But I got it. (I think.) And that means that I've now tested all the games alphabetically up through Manx. So that's progress, right?


Ade Fowler said...

Thanks Rick. Commiserations for Freddy; like you say, he was a member of your family so a very sad loss.
Keep up the good work. Really can't wait to play STDX.

SteveH said...

Must say I'm glad you don't charge by the hour : )


Unknown said...

Is it possible, Rick, that you could, say, release the versions you have working now to registered users? You have an update process in place - so assuming that part is working, you'd get some of us off your back for awhile at least. Also, I for one, would be willing to pay a bit extra to register the "new" version that works on Lion, knowing up front that it doesn't have all the games in place yet...

Laura said...

Thanks for the update. And for your continued diligence (despite frustrations) in making things perfect. When you get to S I'll start getting my hopes up again. I truly miss your version of Spider and want to beat my record streak of 74 wins. I've been using another Mac Spider version and it's just not as much fun. Good luck with things - and enjoy those kitties.

tala1947 said...

Fortunately, I still have one computer on Snow Leopard, so I am not having withdrawal pains! Keep on keeping on!!! I have been playing Solitaire with you since almost the beginning. Can't imagine not having it any more.