This morning the folks across the street were have landscape grading done. The machinery noise was just loud enough to distract and annoy me, so I walked down to our community clubhouse to shoot some pool.
I'm not a good pool player. I'm barely good enough to beat myself, and even that sometimes takes a while. The pool room was empty, so there was no one but me to be astonished at my ineptitude, but I still managed to raise my own eyebrows now and then.
It's not that I don't understand the physics. I had exposure to optics in high school, and knew when I first looked at a pool table that the same basic principles apply: angle of incidence equals angle of reflection, yadda, yadda. I understood how spin affects trajectory, and quickly realized that where the cue ball ends up is every bit as important as sinking the ball you are aiming at - sometimes even more important. I'm not short-limbed, either, so seldom need to resort to a bridge. No, the fact is that I just don't have any plausible reason to be as hopelessly bad as I am.
As I can't depend upon the pool room always being empty, I decided to search on-line to see what might be available to help me improve. I found that there are numerous books and videos available, some even free. That didn't surprise me, but I was surprised to find computer pool simulation games. Somehow I never thought of playing pool on my computer.
I quickly found two, one for Mac (Pool Shark 3D) and one for Linux (
(link dead, sorry)
The Mac install install was simple: download a .dmg, open it, drag the folder to Applications. The only unexpected thing was that it launched iTunes when I started it - it wants to play background music by default. I shut that off instantly (yes, I really *am* a cranky old guy). Other than that, playing was obvious. You can adjust the strength of your shot and where you hit the cue ball (for spin). There's a "helper" you can turn on the shows the path of your cue ball, so there really is no excuse for missing shots (if you can think of a good excuse, please post it: I still need one).
The Linux wasn't so easy. The RPM install failed, complaining of missing
libGLcore.so.1. According to
rpmfind.net/ linux/RPM/sourceforge/f /fr/freespace/libGLcore-0.1 -1mdd.i586.html
(link dead, sorry)
Many contributors have nvidia GL installed on their system. RPMs built on such a system will require libGLcore.so.1 which is part of nvidia's driver package. You only need this rpm if you either don't have an nvidia card or didn't install nvidia via rpms. This RPM does NOT contain any files. It only makes a PROVIDES libGLcore.so.1 entry in the rpm database so that rpms that were built against nvidia GL will at least install. Whether they actually run is a wholly different question. My advice is to complain to the packager explaining that rpms should not be built against nvidia GL or that two versions should be provided (nvidia vs Mesa).
Unfortunately this type of nonsense is typical of Linux development. It's not Linux's fault, of course, just poor practice by the developers. I went looking for something else, but had difficulty with too many unrelated matches. I finally settled on trying GTKPool, a two dimensional simulation (do you *really* need 3D for pool?).
This rpm had dependencies, but the Fedora package manager resolved them and it installed easily. In one respect, this is more "natural" than the Mac game: you control the strength of your shot by how far you "draw back" the cue stick. However, I found it a little more difficult to adjust the angle - the Mac was much smoother and controllable. I'd like to use that as an excuse for still missing shots, but I screwed up just as many with the Mac game, so that's out.
Oh, well. I'm not a pool player, real or simulated.
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