One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983
My first computer program was written on optical cards in the late 70's. I was 11 years old, and our maths teacher showed us how to write simple basic programs.
We'd write them out by hand, work out the ascii code in binary for each character of the program line, then using a soft pencil would painstakingly fill in the 'holes' for the binary code of each character on an optical card. One card for each line of program.
These cards were sent off to a university to be batch-processed on their mainframe. If you were lucky you got your output a week later with vaguely sensible results. In my case I think I only got a print-out back saying 'syntax error'.
Virgin Media UK Begins Throttling P2P Traffic
I've been with Virgin Media (formerly Blueyonder) for years. When it was Blueyonder it was without doubt the best internet you could get. Since the merger and branding it's gone steadily downhill.
A couple of years ago my connection started slowing down at peak times, becoming essentially unusable with packet loss and high erratic pings due to oversubscription, Virgin are generally very slow to sort these issues out, as it costs a lot of money to upgrade the UBRs for increased bandwidth. I had to complain to the Internet Service Providers Association to get the problem sorted, and got put in contact with Virgin's CEO's office, who finally got the problem fixed for me. I found out that as my area has a large student population they were torrenting 24/7 on the uncapped 50mbit service, which was causing problems for everyone in my area.
Now it's Virgin's fault for oversubscribing, but it's also some users fault for acting like gluttons at all-you-can-eat restaurants who grab every piece of pizza that appears and leaving crumbs for everyone else.
Fast forward two years, and after a recent upgrade to 20mbit I find the same issues AGAIN. The area is oversubscribed so online gaming in the evening is impossible due to the terrible pings and packet loss. Support confirm the oversubscription, and say the problem's not due to be fixed for THREE MONTHS.
I'd leave Virgin if I could but the fastest ADSL in my area is 2mbit.
Why Creators Should Never Read Their Forums
I participated in a community forum for a game series I worked on for many years. As a member of the game dev team I was able to give insight and information to the community, and help with tech support and problem solving.
I helped build it into the central place on the net for info about our games, and in doing so we garnered a reputation for excellent customer support, and I had a great time interacting with the very people who played the games I worked on, and made some good friends.
You do have to filter what the community are saying - a lot of it is contradictory, and of course your most loyal fans are by definition the most core players, so they'll often request features which could make the games less appealing to less core game players.
I'm now working for a different company and I'm not involved in community building anymore, and to tell you the truth, I really miss it.
I believe that that direct interaction between a developer and their customers is a good thing, and can build a loyal community who will help promote your games. That sort of good will is priceless.
UK Courts Rule Nintendo DS R4 Cards Illegal
I worked on a DS game and it was massively pirated, so much so that it failed to meet its sales expectations which meant that a sales bonus I was hoping for didn't materialise. It was leaked as soon as it entered the supply chain and was downloaded thousands of times before it even reached the store shelves. The game reviewed very well, so you can't blame the lack of sales on a poor quality game.
This was all made possible by widespread use of R4 style carts, which are used not just by what we would call hardcore pirates, but by ordinary families who don't even consider the harm they're doing to developers. For example, a couple of Christmasses ago I visited a family friend and they asked me what I was working on. I mentioned a DS game, and they said 'We gave our kids DS's for Christmas and their uncle gave them these R4 carts where they can download the games for free!" I wasn't pleased to say the least.
Death Grip Tested On iPhone Competitors
If Apple had put the antenna gap on the bottom rather than the side of the phone it'd have made this problem far less easy to trigger accidentally.
Where Are the Joysticks For Retro Gaming?
It's not bad, but it can't handle rapid joystick waggling. Try playing Wizball on a C64 emulator and waggle the stick to activate a power-up. It doesn't work half the time.
Leaked MS Presentation Shows App Store Plans For Windows 8
Take a look at Microsofts answer to Steam - Games For Windows Live. You might say it's their prototype of an app store for windows, and it's appalling.
The UI is clunkly and slow, it has no resume on downloads - if your download stops you have to download the entire game again, it has hidden activation limits that aren't disclosed to the user, and the in-game client makes games run slower and more unstable.
Steam by comparison is light years ahead.
Boeing Releases Details On New Crew Capsule
Apollo was designed to go to the moon - trips of ten days or more, and needed to carry all the consumables and equipment needed for the trip. The new capsule is designed for short duration flights to the space station, so presumably it won't need to carry lots of supplies and equipment, hence more space for crew.
When PC Ports of Console Games Go Wrong
Being left handed I was dismayed when I found out you couldn't re-bind the arrow keys in Dead Space. Why do developers do this? if you can re-bind one key you should be able to rebind them all.
Luckily a clever guy called Kenny managed to hack the binary control file and allow you to use the arrow keys for movement.
Virgin Promises 100Mbps Connections To UK Homes
I was going to upgrade to 50mb but I was told it would make no difference because there simply isn't enough upstream bandwidth to cope in my area.
Virgin should pull their finger out and upgrade my UBR, it's mainly their fault, but it's also at least partly the fault of those on 50mb who are overly excessive in their use of upstream bandwidth, which is mainly caused by constant torrenting.
I'm fully aware that you've paid for a service you expect to be able to use it to the full, but so do I, and even though my connection is capped I had no chance of even reaching the cap due to the extreme packet loss caused by other users and Virgin's failure to upgrade the system to cope.
Virgin will not be able to deliver 100mb speeds without massive upgrades. Since they can't even upgrade my area to cope with the existing traffic then I have no hope they can do that for 100mb except in a very few areas.
Virgin Promises 100Mbps Connections To UK Homes
I have serious doubts that Virgin will be able to deliver 100mb reliably, as they can't even deliver 10mb in many areas.
I'm on Virgin 10mb and a few weeks ago my connection was constantly unusable due to 50mb users orrenting 24/7 (The upstream bandwidth was over-utilised on my UBR). That's mainly Virgin over-selling the bandwidth, but it's also due to selfish users acting as though they're eating all the pizza at an all-you-can-eat buffet, while the other customers are left fight over the left-overs. I'm not in favour of traffic shaping or bandwith caps, but surely there has to be some form of fair use for customers?
It doesn't help that Virgin won't be upgrading my network to cope with the demand for another FOUR months! Luckily I managed to get my connection off the 50mb network and back onto the 10mb network which isn't as bad.
I'd have left Virgin by now if I could get good ADSL in my area, but I can't, so I'm stuck with them.
Avoiding a Digital Dark Age
I used to be a c64 artist back in the 80's and I've still got my artwork from that era. Most have been converted to modern file formats, but I still have some in the original Koala Painter format as well - That's files 24 years old. I also have some print-outs of basic programs from a few years before that.
I did lose some of my artwork over the years, but I managed to get nearly all of it back (bar a couple of my really early pictures) via the internet from various C64 archives or from individual users sending me files. In one case someone sent me one of my pictures I'd totally forgotten about. So archiving digital digital data in a usable format may be a concern, but without the internet I'd never have been able to retrieve my lost work.
Old-School Coding Techniques You May Not Miss
The first computer program I ever wrote was when I was at school in 1977 in mathematics class. It was a BASIC program to print out a list of numbers, and had to be transcribed onto the equivalent of punched cards, except the 'holes' weren't punched out. Instead you used a soft pencil to colour in the 'holes' to match the binary ascii code of each character in your line of code. There was one card per line of code, each with a max 80 characters that you could encode on them.
These cards were sent off to a university somewhere, and the resulting print-outs would be sent back a week or so later. Unfortunately my program didn't work. If I had got a printout back it'd probably have said 'SYNTAX ERROR'.
As I was a school-kid at the time I didn't really realise exactly what I was doing, but looking back now it's pretty cool to have at least attempted to write a computer program on such an ancient input device. Shows how far we've come since I was a kid.
Ubisoft Testing PC Prince of Persia Without DRM
POP doesn't appeal to me, so I won't be buying it even without DRM. If they made Far Cry 2 DRM free, I'd buy it, as I boycotted that due to the install limits.
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