Prototyping a world… or an application… or …

Yeah you probably know that: You got the idea, you start the coding and you stop at that same point you stopped last time because you run out of talent. It’s that art thing you’re not into. I for myself have to admit that I cannot draw. Well to be precise I can draw technically but nobody every recognized what I was drawing so I suppose …

Well to make a point: Someone who can actually draw took a heart and created what a person like me wanted for years: A proper tile set for prototyping.

The author wants to tell us this:

“The PlanetCute set attempts to wiggle past many of those problems.

  • Building blocks, not tilesets: Instead of having complex tilesets, each block stacks nicely with pretty much any other block. If you can understand Legos, you can understand how to put together these graphics. These tiles should be useful to children, not just uber-elite game gods.
  • Standardized format: All the graphics are uniform sized PNGs. The graphics will also work in almost any graphics engine out there that can do 2D sprites. Once you get your offsets right once, you never have to change them again.
  • Source files included: If you do need to make changes, I’ve included the source files. If you really need to change a color, go for it. If you need a big gem, just scale up the original. Everything is a vector so you’ll alway end up with clean results.”

And yet it does look very very good:

You can grab them and:

“The next time you make a prototype, use these graphics. If you can reduce the time you spend on futzing with graphics from 40% to 5%, you can put more time into those fun game mechanics you’ve been dreaming about. The magic is that your graphics will now look good enough to get you through the first 15 seconds of your demo. Your friend will perk up and stay engaged long enough to give you feedback all the wonderful work that you’ve put into your prototype.”

To complete this article: They are available as pixel graphics and Silverlight/Expression compatible .design files…hurray!

Source: http://lostgarden.com/2007/05/dancs-miraculously-flexible-game.html

if I’ll ever need a multi-track audio tool again…

This post is more of a reminder for myself. ;-) I need to remember that obviously great multi-track audio application that just became available.

“Ardour is a digital audio workstation. You can use it to record, edit and mix multi-track audio. You can produce your own CDs, mix video soundtracks, or just experiment with new ideas about music and sound.

Ardour capabilities include: multichannel recording, non-destructive editing with unlimited undo/redo, full automation support, a powerful mixer, unlimited tracks/busses/plugins, timecode synchronization, and hardware control from surfaces like the Mackie Control Universal. If you’ve been looking for a tool similar to ProTools, Nuendo, Pyramix, or Sequoia, you might have found it.

Above all, Ardour strives to meet the needs of professional users. This means implementing all the “hard stuff” that other DAWs ( even some leading commercial apps ) handle incorrectly or not at all. Ardour has a completely flexible “anything to anywhere” routing system, and will allow as many physical I/O ports as your system allows. Ardour supports a wide range of audio-for-video features such as video-synced playback and pullup/pulldown sample rates. You will also find powerful features such as “persistent undo”, multi-language support, and destructive track punching modes that aren’t available on other platforms.”

Source: http://www.ardour.org/

lazy leopard

Oh damn. So Apple said that Leopard – the next iteration of OS X – is coming in October instead of spring. I planned buying a macbook early this year but now I have to wait … Damn! I wanted to reorganize my hardware…

To make one thing clear: I do not buy a macbook because of OS X. I am buying it because it also runs Windows. Diversity is a good thing. I currently already own a PowerPC mac just because I wanted to see what all the fuss is about two years ago.

Happy Birthday FeM!

FeM e.V. – which translates into “Forschungsgemeinschaft elektronische Medien e.V.” which then translates into “research community for electronic media” – is now officially 10 years old. Happy Birthday!

And to celebrate this birthday there will be some great events:

25.04., 2100h: iSTUFF – FeM Geburtstagssendung (Public Viewing im BC-Club – entrance free!!!)

26.04., 2100h: hfc Sondervorführung – “12 Monkeys” (Helmholtz-Hörsaal – entrance free!!!)

28.04., entrance 1930h – starts 2000h: Spezial Chillout Lounge (Mensa der TU Ilmenau – entrance free!!!)

Source: FeM e.V. blog

where do you get old versions of your tools when you need them?

Well I always wanted to have something like that: An archive for old versions of software. Comes in very handy. Did you know that an old version of Winamp only takes 0.5mbytes of your memory to do the job?

“Sometimes upgrading to a newer version can be a good thing. Other times, your computer may not be compatible with the new version, the new version is bloated, or all the options you liked are no longer available. OldVersion.com has been supplying the online community with old versions of various programs since 2001. The service is utilized by thousands of users every day and has been featured in newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television.”

Source: http://www.oldversion.com

Beyond the Red Line: Battlestar Galactica game

There’s a free fan made Battlestar Galactica game available…

“Beyond the Red Line is a stand-alone total conversion for the award-winning Freespace 2 released by Volition and Interplay for the PC. It is based on the popular new tv-show Battlestar Galactica. No, not the one from the 70s.”

It’s free and available for Windows, OS X and Linux.

Source: http://www.game-warden.com/bsg/

great calc for OSX

If you need one, take a look at this one:

“A free, full-featured, graphically laid out, high-precision, scientific calculator for Mac OS X 10.4 and greater. Full source-code is included with the distribution.
Ideal if you need to enter large expressions or have accurate precision. “Data” drawers allow an easy way to generate statistical data, linear regression and gaussian elimination. The extensive support of complex numbers and hexadecimal numbers is also a significant benefit for anyone who has to work with this type of data.”

Source: http://home.swiftdsl.com.au/~mattg/

in game advertising

Hmm… Once upon a time there was a guy with an idea. The idea simply breaks down to this:

“Sell full price games to people and get an extra revenue out of in-game advertising.”

So here we are: I just found pacific city in crackdown literally plastered with Dodge advertising. Once day it was Dell… if you’re playing in the UK you’ll probably get army ads… how sick is that.

The first game that got this kind of in-game advertising was Testdrive Unlimited. The advertising was only available in the US of A and when you bought the game there it wasn’t full-price but $20 less than a full price title – because of that in-game ads. As an european player you didn’t see any ads and you had to pay the full price.

To be clear: I don’t think in-game advertising sucks. I just think that if you’re gaining revenue from in-game advertising you should share it with the players who actually bought the game. (e.g. lower the game price).

In the case of crackdown there’s no lower price. And that sucks.

glowing … ehm … fluorescent fish

Okay now it’s getting strange.

Where do GloFish® fluorescent zebra fish come from?
GloFish® fluorescent zebra fish were originally bred to help detect environmental pollutants. By adding a natural fluorescence gene to the fish, scientists hope to one day quickly and easily determine when our waterways are contaminated. The first step in developing these pollution detecting fish was to create fish that would be fluorescent all the time. It was only recently that scientists realized the public’s interest in sharing the benefits of this research. We call this the GloFish® fluorescent fish.”

It looks like this:

Thankfully they don’t actually glow in the dark. But how sad is this: Just because we can do something does that mean we should? Ethical discussions aside – where do you think that comes from? You’re right. The same country that proudly writes “artificially flavoured” onto the soda cans…

Source: http://www.glofish.com/

YAPS progress (tuxbox, xmltv, xml settings, new gui)

So here we are back again with an progress update on the YAPS project. First of all take a look at the gorgeous new looks (thanks to Dominik):

Currently Dominik is working on the layout. He did the switch to the YAML framework and is working on the integration of new features like the advanced recording options:

Since one of the most anticipated feature was the configurability of YAPS we moved the binary configuration files to a XML based configuration structure. That’s right: you can now configure your YAPS using XML files.

In the course of XML integration several other things came up. For example a better settop box integration. For that matter we are trying to make YAPS tuxbox compatible. That means you can use any Tuxbox/Enigma/Neutrino streaming client to access a YAPS server. That means: Onscreen Display on Xbox Media Center, EPG is possible now on every compatible client (and there are some).

This, when ready, will look something like this (without the debugging information at the top):

And since EPG will be possible we started to integrate XMLtv into YAPS. XMLtv is a free tool that brings several data grabbers with it. It simply creates an XML file in which the EPG information is stored… great tool and a how-to will be available soon.

So the data structures are already in YAPS and now we’re starting to integrate it into the GUI and internal methods. Here’s what the scheme looks like in eye-candy mode:

As usual you can grab the daily build here: http://www.slow-backward.de/YAPS_daily_build.zip or just build one yourself using the great MSBuild tools and a daily sourcecode snapshot. I wrote about that here and you can get the subversion access here.

We appreciate every single user feedback we get. If you got an idea, if you want to have a feature in YAPS or anything else. Don’t hesitate and contact us.

Oh. One last note: the current source might not compile with mono. We did not abandon the mono support so I’ll keep everyone updated on that issue.

Here’s the detailed changelog:

20.03.2007

  • added XMLtv scheme and data structures

19.03.2007

  • added Tuxbox data structures for future use
  • added Tuxbox /xml/ handling path to http server
  • added CanAccessTuxbox to Authentification handling

18.03.2007

  • fixed some bugs in the recording table
  • changed all templates to make use of the skin-setting

17.03.2007

  • changed the layout based on YAML (www.yaml.de)
  • changed the default design
  • fixed some layout bugs, everything should be conform to W3C standards now
  • changed some minor issues in footer and help section
  • added new options for add recording form

15.03.2007

  • changed the settings data structures do actually do something
  • changed the multicast processor to use the multicast prefix stored in settings
  • you define the prefix like this: “239.255.2.” – YAPS now adds the last number which is the channel number (23 for example) and then the port number 50 + channel number = 5023
    this leads to the multicast adress 239.255.2.23:5023

14.03.2007

  • changed copyright notice
  • removed binary SaveSettings() functionality
  • added new setting element to Recording Data structure (createdby)
  • extended authentification data structures and HTTPAuthProcessor code to allow mapping of
  • usernames to ip adresses
  • added Authentification XML settings file
  • added new capability “CanDeleteOwnRecordings”
  • changed capabilty “CanDeleteRecordings” to “CanDeleteAllRecordings”
  • changed RemoveRecording/RemoveRecordingFile/Deleterecording behavious according to the new capabilities
  • added “CreatedBy” handling to the AddRecording HTTP Server method
  • added “%createdby%” Template Keyword for Recording-Listings

12.03.2007

  • added XML based configuration files (replacing the old binary ones)
  • changed the logfile behaviour so that when YAPS is restarted everything is appended to the logfile instead of overwritten
  • authed another client
  • fixed a bug that leads to the corruption of the xml files…

11.03.2007

  • there’s a remaining bug in the html encoding –> leads to corrupted letters in browser
  • added some todos

11.02.2007

  • fixed an encoding bug in the http server that caused firefox and other browsers to corrupt the html

Source 1: http://www.schrankmonster.de/SearchView.aspx?q=yaps
Source 2: http://www.yaml.de/
Source 3: http://wiki.godofgta.de/Ehttp_api_doku
Source 4: http://www.dbox2.info/
Source 5: http://www.tuxbox.org/
Source 6: http://xmltv.org/wiki/
Source 7: http://www.slow-backward.de/YAPS_daily_build.zip
Source 8: http://www.slow-backward.de/YAPS_daily_source.zip

Attention: no VLAN settings with Intel Network Interface Cards

When you’re using Windows Server 2003 R2 64bit Edition with SP2/IE7 you will most likely not be able to access the advanced settings of an Intel Network Interface card (Teaming, VLAN settings). Instead you get the simple dialog:

Damn it. I don’t have a solution for this right now and it does corrupt my plan using one of the servers for VLAN games….

Anyone reading this got a solution how to get the VLAN settings tabs back?

private space mission (the one with 20 megapixels…)

It just seems like make is going to get some interesting pictures tomorrow:

“We’re using weather balloons to go up to approximately 100k feet armed with 4 cameras… 20 megapixels of camera! We’ll be taking shots every 7 seconds for two hours and measuring the temperature with the Make: controller and thermistors!

It took 16 people working on this, countless cases of mountain dew, lots of take-out food, and a lot of sleepless nights, and we intend to fly Sunday!

Cloud cover, snow, and mechanical failure may postpone the launch, but we’re ready to give it our best shot this weekend.

In this Make: Video Podcast, you’ll learn all the details of how to put a weather balloon up into space! The weather balloon will make it up to about 100,000 feet. That’s almost 20 miles up and more than twice the height of being in an airplane. It’s high enough that the sky is black and you can see the curvature of the earth.”

So be sure to check back if you’re interested.