Drone registration

Have you registered your drone? It turns out you actually register yourself as a drone owner – rather than your individual drones. You get a single, 10-digit, UAS Certificate Number that you can put on all your drones.

It costs a hefty $5 unless you register before the 20th, in which case you save $5! o_O

Happy new year

To the random individual still tuned in, a happy new year to you.

I’m still at Facebook, no evidence of it being the evil empire folks want to believe it is. Rather, a collection of folks who worry about the same things you do, who care about privacy not least because their mom is on Facebook too.

I’ve been playing Crypt of the Necrodancer, Faster than Light (which I didn’t play when it was hot and new) and a lot of Kerbal Space Program.

I’m starting to feel I’m done with KSP now, though; I can launch to orbit, even recover small payloads from orbit with a recovery ship, I’ve built a (crappy) station.

I squeezed some extra longevity out of the game with mods including MechJeb (an autopilot, so I could focus on building rather than flying, because I just find the flying part tedious key-holding). But I haven’t flown a rover, built a base on another planet, manned mission to Duna etc.

It may be because I don’t feel “free” to experiment with stuff before I launch it into space. I’ve built rovers and driven around KSC with them but I’ve no clue how I would get it into space and drop it anywhere useful. (It doesn’t help that stock fairings are broken in 1.0.5 and turn any rocket into Tippy McSplodey).

Development-wise, nothing exciting to report at the moment. I’m building up a hankering to get my teeth into C++14 and ++17 properly, but I’m lacking a good project to work on and a good description of what the changes are to actually rustle up a project.

Talking with the new team at CRS/Playnet, I’m filled with a lot of confidence. I think the clean break is going to prove good for the guys, they’re clearing away the dead bodies that the old team — self included — were stumbling around. I’m really looking forward to them having a successful 1.35 launch. We left them a lot of landmines, so … be gentle on them.

Yes, Klesh

Enough? :)

Why not to buy the Surface.

I’m writing this on my Surface 3, I’ve found it amazingly robust, rugged, adaptable and insanely portable. I’m relatively excited about the Surface 4.

One thing will keep me from upgrading, a foot MS have chosen to keep firmly in the laptop ballpark:

No USB charging.

I’m not faulting the inclusion of a custom charger connector, but the lack of a way to feed the device power via it’s USB port or a USB-to-charger cable.

It’s precisely because the device is so adaptable and handy that this becomes an issue. USB ports are everywhere these days. But for power, the Surface is utterly reliant on the custom charger brick.

Star Citizen development: Training.

(I’ve been writing this over the last week or so, and I’m no editor so apologies if it’s a little jagged)

I got into the take-off training in Star Citizen. It made the hairs stand up on my neck and arms.

Let’s put the first card on the table: It’s alpha or pre-alpha or something. Early development.

Ok – the experience should be gauged accordingly.

Quadcopters

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With the availability of cheap quads with cameras, and a desire to get out of the house a little more often, I finally have enough justifications to explore my lifelong interest in RC flight.

I’m going to post my experiences and thoughts based on the Hubsan X4, Blade 180qx and the Syma X5SW – that’s the order I got them in.

In particular, this has been torturous for me. There’s so many sites with bits of information and there seems to be a language/cultural barrier resulting from the majority of products being made in China, and the majority of available products being the same devices poorly rebranded (one display unit I saw was boxed as something but the device was literally just the X5C).

4 billion stars

Elite Dangerous has 4 billion+ stars. Cool concept, and as a programmer I can see how the tech behind that would be neat to develop. But I sort of feel there should have been a meeting where a designer stood up and slammed his fist onto the table and said “NO! That’s stupid”. “Cool” does not automatically translate into “fun”; “cool” is a few degrees from “cold”.

Hiatus

So the tag line of my blog was always “gamer turned dev”, referring to my becoming a game dev.

Well, that’s no-longer true. I’d been considering some really exciting opportunities from MMO- and just-plain-online- game developers but ultimately I had a left-of-field offer that was just too interesting.

When most people hear where I’ve chosen to place my hat for the next few years, they’re confused. “Isn’t it just a website”.

There’s a hell of a lot of infrastructure behind the scenes to make Facebook seem like “just a website” to people. I’ve hired on to the Production Engineering team, a group of engineers within FB that some people make sound like the engineering equivalent of a marine corpsman and others liken to just plain marines.

It’s also a fairly close analogy with the sorts of roles I had working for ISPs 93-03.

My passion for gaming and my passion for connecting people online come from the same moment – when my fourth-grade class was made to play a single-player “settlers” type game in groups of 5 on an Apple Lisa and I was appointed “secretary” (the one operating the keyboard) for my group. I joking refer to this as my “1979 Multi-Player Experience”.

Samsung UN65HU9000F “2nd day” review

We just bought ourselves Samsung’s 65 inch, Ultra High Def 4k 120hz Smart TV… Ooer.

This is a stunning piece of hardware. We picked the variant with the “one connect” external box. You plug everything into that rather than the TV itself. This has all kinds of advantages.

The display is HUGE. It really is a little bit of a home-theater experience. There are some fantastic presets for picture settings and some clever nuances like three settings for auto-levelling sound (off, standard and night).

For our first night of viewing we broke out an eclectic series of tests.

We plugged in the Xbox one and threw in a Pacific Rim bluray; we threw in a DVD of old 40s, black and white, Sherlock Homes, Heaven Can Wait on DVD and finally Rio on Blu Ray.

Then to streaming, Amazon Instant Video (AIV): The “One Connect” box that comes with our particular model has build in apps, so we tried AIV on both the Xbox and the TV.

I wrapped up the night with a short session of Thief on the Xbone.

Tonight I tried watching a few more shows using solely the TV – some HD YouTube videos, “The Pacific” on AIV and Falling Skies S04E01 on AIV on the TV and on the Xbox.

Massive flop

A “massively online game” is a game with a large enough population that there will be some requirement to distribute processing work and some form of shared, persistent state that is going to make distribution non-trivial.

WWIIOL is a big empty PvP sandbox with a shared world-state and a single, shared, resource (supply of equipment). Elite Dangerous is technically just a multi-player, map-based shoe box (star systems are sharded dynamically) but it has a single, shared, supply economy… Both are “massively” by the technical definition.

People have been making “massively” games, then, since 1988 (AirWarrior) at least. Many of the same problems have persisted across the development process since. But it seems that, today, there are still people stepping over that threshold in denial and breaking themselves in the process.

There are two main ways you can flop across the finish line, whether you’re a new startup or an established and successful developer…