This week is one of those times. Working in a corporati0n you are exposed to sales teams, marketing departments and customer support on a far too regular basis. These people are usually in direct communication with your customers and in every case they have had the word ‘No’ surgically removed from the speech centers of their brains.
So when a customer asks sales why “Feature X” isn’t in the product the first thing they do is say “Next release”. Now the Agile development methodology of Feature Driven Development should come into play. Requirements come from customers and stake holders, development makes frequent builds available to ensure it meets everyones idea of what is needed. But no, sales will email it around to people and scream about how they are going to lose a $1,000,000 sale because the product is rubbish and development should have known the customer would want this.
So we end up with Panic Driven Development.
Support are working with a customer, their role is to keep the customer happy and to get the system up and running. Sometimes they run into bugs, this is inevitable with all software. In this case we should be moving into a Bug fix process, perhaps even Test Driven Development. But no the support engineer will email every manager he can find, using panic words like “disaster”, “ticking time bomb” and “catastrophic failure” with the goal of inducing enough hysteric in the management that they will feel the need to rush a fix out.
So we end up with Panic Driven Development.
PDD is the worst way of developing a product. It leads to 3 critical failures. Lack of requirements gathering, lack of development time, lack of testing time. As a developer it is possible to try to mitigate this, frequent iterations to give QA more time with the product, frequent demos and sending design and prototypes to stake holders. But this is only ever mitigation, this doesn’t turn this into a controlled project. Panic is used purely as a tool to make your demands seem more important.
In this last project I have had both of these problems in thrown at me and my team in buckets. Right down to the “ticking time bomb” issue which generated a 100+ email chain which had management convinced that core functionality was 100% broken and unavailable. Time taken to calm down managers and explain that this was infact a customer environment issue was taken out of the limited development time available and caused constant distraction.
One day a project will go smoothly without people inducing panic to get their own way, one day i’ll finish a project without being stressed and exhausted.
Long ago conventional wisdom held that we couldn’t have SSL on all websites because it placed too much load on on the server. Maybe when we were running websites on on ancient machines this was true. But now a modern machine comes in with many GiB of memory and masses of processing power (my last server at work came in with 192GiB RAM and 8×3.06Ghz CPU cores) . So conventional wisdom no longer applies.
So why doesn’t everyone use SSL everywhere? I’m going to suggest 2 reasons
I’ll start with the first one as that probably will piss off most people, Ignorance doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It means you’ve never had to set up SSL before and you’ve never had to deal with Certificate Authorities before. So simply put you don’t know what you’re doing. This is easily fixed. 5 minutes with Google and I’m sure you can find a guide for setting up a simple self signed SSL key on your server. Whilst this doesn’t give users trust in your site it does mean that you are at least encrypted end to end.
The bit that stops most people taking things a step further and getting a certificate authenticated by a known Certificate Authority (CA) is the cost. Well this isn’t an excuse anymore companies like StartSSL offers free Class 1 SSL certificates and a fully validated Class 2 certificate is stupidly cheap. Though you’d only really need a Class 2 certificate if you were implementing something that absolutely required proving your identity (i.e anything to do with money)
Finally Shared Servers, people want a website, but they have no idea how to run a server so they turn to a hosting company to look after it for them. Sadly this means they will probably only have the most basic of server configurations and won’t allow you to configure your own SSL certificates. With things like this its best to check with the hosting company, they may support it or they may not. Luckily for me I have a VPS so can edit the web server config to suit myself!
Whilst SSL doesn’t magically make you invulnerable to security risks or prying GCHQ/NSA eyes. It does mean that you are at least making things a lot harder for anyone that is eavesdropping on the traffic from your website.
I’ve recently switched this site to using HTTPS, I was in the category of ignorant but found it surprisingly simple to setup. There was a little trial and error, but with guides from a couple of websites it figured out what i needed to do in under an hour. Everything seems to be working well! Now i just have to go through the blog and update all the links to other pages and resources within this domain to use HTTPS instead… mainly because the little yellow warning next to the SSL icon in Firefox is driving my OCD nuts.
Want to set it up on your own server? Here is a list of guides and resources I used to set things up here and a version of my website configuration with a few path’s removed.
Some time ago my friend told me about Sandman, as he gets very excited about many things I pretty much ignored him.
Whilst browsing through ForbiddenPlanet I came across an omnibus edition of the Sandman comics, having just got a pay rise at work I decided to treat myself to something nice. At the time the cover was a plain white thing whilst they were waiting for the publishers to come back with the the final design. I pre-ordered it then put it to the back of my mind expecting something like my copy of Watchmen to be delivered at a later date.
Fast-forward a few weeks and the behemoth to the right turns up. 2.5″ thick and weighing a ton this is not a book it is a tome! This thing is seriously impressive. At £65 its not exactly cheap, but you do get every penny’s worth of it. 37 issues of Sandman (roughly half of the whole run) .
The contents are exactly the same as the comics, as you’d expect. The only variation is that it doesn’t have individual cover pages for each issue. There is, instead, some funky artwork between each issue where the covers would have been.
I shall now return to sitting patiently by the front door waiting for volume 2 to arrive.
At work this week I’ve been working on a new Web based UI and we needed to provide an upload file element in one of the pages. Each browser implements the <input type=”file” /> element differently, the only thing they all manage in to do is make it look ugly.
So in an effort to make things look nice i went in search of a work around that would work on all modern browsers (Screw IE6) My first attempt involved using a click event on the button to fire off the trigger event on the file input. This worked great in Firefox and Chrome but IE considered it a security risk. Which i think is fair. So I went in search of an alternative and came up with something quite simple and elegant.
You can then apply styles to uploadbutton/file so that they can replicate the button and file name fields of a standard file input.
How it works – Quite simple really, by making the button (using the type field) do nothing the standard HTML behaviour of <label> takes over and fires an event on the file input. We can then use an onchange event attached to the file input to populate the contents of the div.uploadfile so the user can see what file they have selected.
Finaly; FUCK YOU WORDPRESS… why make it so hard to enter pre-formatted code as HTML?
Somewhere in the mid 80s I was given a computer. I put aside my comics and started to play with this strange device. A quarter of century on I’m still doing it… only I’m being paid for it now. I am a Geek.
What is a Geek?
“sideshow freak,” 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck “a fool, dupe, simpleton” (1510s), apparently from Low Ger. By c.1983, used in teenager slang in reference to peers who lacked social graces but were obsessed with new technology and computers (e.g. the Anthony Michael Hall character in 1984’s “Sixteen Candles”).
I’ve never worked in a sideshow so I guess that makes me obsessed and socially awkward.
So why lately has it become popular to append the word Geek to any pass time? I understand that the rise of technology in the world has meant that what was once the domain of Geeks is now accessible to nearly everyone. But this alone does not a Geek make. I keep seeing ‘infographics’, i.e pictorial representations of information for people that are too dumb to read, that list different types of Geek. Guess what, they’re all wrong. None of them have a clue on what it really means to be a genuine geek.
Apple Geek – You’ve got a Mac Book, Mac Book Pro, iPhone, iPad and AppleTV. Congratulations you’re not a Geek you are a victim of marketing. Apple is as much about technology as Prada is, it’s a fucking fashion accessory However, if you have the above but have taken them apart or modified them to break out of Apple’s walled garden then you may well be a real geek, though this is nothing to do with Apple.
Girl Geek/Gamer – Guess what if you call yourself this you’re not! You know what genuine Girl Geeks/Gamer’s call themselves? Yes thats right Geek or Gamer. If you feel the need to specify your gender then you’re just attention seeking and need to fuck off. This doesn’t mean that girls can’t get their geek on, it just means there is a group that seeks attention and tries to cash in on the rise of the geeks.
<Hobby> Geek – This covers so many things, Star Wars Geek, Coffee Geek, Photography Geek, etc. Just because you do something in your spare time doesn’t suddenly make you a geek. A geek lives and breathes it’s hobby. The people that are getting referred to here merely like something
Ok so we know what a geek isn’t, but what is a geek?
Personally I think that a geek is defined by 2 personality traits Intelligence and Obsession.
Lets start with Obsession, this is probably the core of a geek. Lets explain this with an example. You go to the cinema and watch a movie, The Avengers, Watchmen, Batman Begins or 300. Next day at work you talk about it over lunch. There the story ends. But not for the geek, a genuine geek would go out and buy the Watchmen graphic novel and everything else by Alan Moore (should probably own it already!) then find a message board and discuss it for the next few years. The same applies for games, science, literature, comics, TV and anything else. The Geek has a passion to learn everything about what they love.
A follow on from the obsession is intelligence, the constant study of our obsessions leads to alot of knowledge building up over time. I’ve never met a stupid geek, it doesn’t mean we’re better than others just that we through our very nature study and learn more. If you’ve ever read Stranger in a Strange Land you’ll be familiar with the term ‘grok‘, complete and total understanding of an idea, a subject or a person. This is what a geek seeks to achieve.
Believe it or not, Geeks are surprisingly social creatures. The obsession part of our nature drives us to find like minded people to talk to. The intelligence aspect forces us to share what we’ve learned, this may make us seem aloof or arrogant but don’t make the mistake that we are. As knowledge is learned so should it be shared.
I’m not alone, others have noticed this as well. In the last year I’ve started seeing articles on this subject pop up in the media.
A question got asked at work today, can we get less to highlight syntax like we get in vim? This is a good question, because less is quite ugly and reading 1000s of lines of source code in monchrome is painful! I went googling and came across this GNU project.
You’ll need the source-highlight package, either via your package manager or download the source and build it. Mac owners i think you’ll have to build it from source, i didn’t see a package for it. This may even work in Cygwin though i’ve not tried it yet. Once installed add the following to your ~/.bashrc.
Ok this is one of the first films I’ve been to see at the cinema in ages. A combination of stupid ticket prices and this idiotic obsession with 3D has put me off. But here we have the 3rd film in one of the best comic book to movie translations I’ve seen in a very long time and it was in good old 2D (Thank you Chris Nolan!) so I couldn’t resist.
So to recap the story so far. Bruce sees his folks die in Batman Begins, goes off the rails and travels around the world training eventually ending up training with the League of Shadows and Ra’s al Ghul. Home to Gotham he develops his affinity for pointy ears and capes before having to stop evil plot #1 from his mentor Ra’s and The Scarecrow. Result one ‘dead’ Ra’s and Scarecrow gibbering like a loon in Arkham. Onwards to the second film, one crazy clown prince of crime is attacking people in Gotham in his efforts to create anarchy Joker disfigures and mentally destroys Harvey Dent creating Two Face. After Two Face goes on a killing spree and attempts to kill of Gordon’s family he is beaten and killed. Rather than lose a hero in Dent, Batman takes the blame for the deaths.
Here be spoilers read on at your own discretion…
So we pick up the story 8 years later, Batman has vanished and considered a villain. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and somewhere along the line picked up a bad leg. Jim Gordon is Commisioner of the GCPD and organised crime is at an all time low.
Naturally, a happy cheerful city is no setting for a Batman movie. Where is the pain? Where is the suffering?
Oh here he is, enter Bane. Now in the comics Bane was raised in a prison and then subjected to a serum called Venom which gave him his superhuman strength. This has always been his weakness, the dependence on this Venom, Batman has always cut of his supply then ‘tire’ him out burning through the serum till he was weak again. But in this movie they felt the need to change him. Sure he was still brought up in the tough pit prison as the comics but gone is the Venom. Instead he has a mask that controls the pain he suffers from a severe beating in the prison. WTF is that all about? However that said, Tom Hardy played a great bad guy violent, sociopathic but, unlike the Joker, he’s in control and has a goal. The attacks on the stock exchange and football pitch were a very obvious political statement against Finance and the Sports Entertainment industries.
I’ve always loved the relationship between Batman and Catwoman, the romance across the dividing line of the law. In Batman Returns they sort of touched on it but lets face it it was all about Michelle Pfeiffer in skin tight leather. I have never really loved the assorted Catwomen in the preceeding films, only Julie Newmar was good, but Anne Hathaway nailed this. Her performance (I resisted the pun!) was superb and the script she was given worked beautifully! I am so pleased they didn’t feel the need to delve deeply into her back story, her main motivation was a desire for a clean slate (and to peak under Batman’s cape). My only complaint was there wasn’t more of her in the film.
Miranda/Talia al Ghul… here we have one of the biggest problems in the film. In the comics the daughter of Ra’s is a sexy, strong business woman who has trained as an assassin. She is the mother of Bruce Wayne’s son Damien. All of this seems to be missing from the movie version of Talia. In TDKR she is quite a frumpy boring character quite reliant on Bane as muscle and Bruce for the business aid. Maybe if I saw the film again I’d get more out of the character but for me she felt weak. I think Batman killing Ra’s in the first film ruined the story between the 2 characters. From a comic geek’s perspective the second they mentioned “Ra’s al Ghul’s child escaping from the pit” I knew it had to be Talia despite the strong hints that Bane was Ra’s child. It only left who she was supposed to be as a mystery, I simply didn’t associate the rather bland Miranda with sexy assassin Talia.
The Future, so we see Batman gone. One by one the main characters are shown discovering that Batman still lives. Bruce enjoying a quiet life with Selina Kyle. Blake is handed the keys to the Batcave and revealed as “Robin”.
In the past Batman has gone missing and has been replaced by Dick Grayson (aka Robin) for a short time. So perhaps this is Chris Nolan’s attempt at bridging movies. Allow Joseph Gordon-Levitt to come in as an interim Batman then bring someone new in to fill Christian Bale’s cape or maybe they’ll push him into a role as Nightwing which is what Robin became when he wanted to get out of Batmans shadow.
It certainly left options for the next Director and cast to take something further on.
I may sound like I’m complaining about the film but I did enjoy it. It is a good film to finish a trilogy and anyone that didn’t grow up reading the comics like me will probably not notice all these pretty trivial things that bug me about the film.
This is one of those films I added to my LoveFilm list on the grounds that I have loved Audrey Tautou since I saw Amélie.
So the basic story line focuses on Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) an illegal immigrant from Nigeria living in London. Working as a taxi driver in the day and on the desk of a hotel at night we gets exposed to the seedier side of London life. What little time he does stop working is spent sleeping on the sofa of Senay (Tautou) another immigrant who is working (illegaly) as a maid at the hotel he works at.
Trying to avoid giving too much away I can say he is a quiet and reserved man, a Doctor in is homeland. He has a desire to leave his old life behind but can’t resist helping others. This is inevitably exploited by people, mainly immigrants that can’t go to official Doctors. This desire to help and the exploitation that comes with it opens him up to some shady dealings at the hotel he works at.
So enough about the story what about the film? The film effectively shows the desperation of the people that come to live in England hoping for a better life or simply to get away. Its well written, acted and directed. It’s quite dark and gritty which adds to the realism or the film. This film is a triller, a love story and a political statement. Whilst it is a work of fiction it does give you pause for thought as to what really goes on in the out of sight places with those that don’t really exist.
There is a quote that stood out for me, quite near the end.
The Doctor: How come I’ve never seen you people before? Okwe: Because we are the people you do not see. We are the ones who drive your cabs. We clean your rooms and suck your cocks.
It struck me for the humour, political statement and the serious context in which it is delivered. One final thing that really impressed me was the choice not to go for the fairy tale ending, its very bittersweet, nobody walks away with clean hands and this works very well with the darkness of the rest of the film. Kudos to the writer and director for having the balls to go for this ending instead.
Usually with these things I’d leave a video to a trailer of the film but I don’t feel that this is the kind of film that can be summed up in 2 minutes. So here instead is a music video by Charlie Winston featuring Audrey Tautou!
I may be a little late watching this film but it finally popped up on my list at LoveFilm and I sat through it last night.
With it being about 3 years old at this point I have heard a little about it and knew roughly where it was heading. David Frost meets Richard Nixon for some interviews after the Watergate affair cost him the Presidency. Considering the historic significance of this event and the existence of the interviews you would expect that this film would be a pretty accurate representation of events. But the interviews seemed to be almost sidelined in favour of a story about a bumbling oaf of a talk show host struggling to fund , it jumps from interviews 1,2… final interview. The first 2 interviews were supposed to set the scene of Nixon dominating the interview with long winded, rambling answers and attempts to unnerve Frost. But that just never came across. If it wasn’t for the supporting cast saying that we would never have got it.
In the end it felt like Nixon wanted to give Frost the shocker interview at the end. The late night call, the over emotional response that didn’t match anything else he’d done. It didn’t feel like Frost had actually pulled off a major coup in getting this confession out of him. Maybe I was expecting more of a political battle between them, but this just felt like a damp rag and an attempt to humanise Richard Nixon.
On the plus side, I think both of the main actors did a great job. They were just let down with a weak script for such a big subject.
As a final thought… the biggest crime that Nixon ever commited was giving the media the idea of affixing the word “gate” to any kind of scandle no matter how trivial!
I’ve played games for over 10 years, and I’m reaching the disturbing conclusion that gaming is simply on its way out.
Gamers used to demand perfect control. We mocked and criticized games that didn’t have tight, precision gameplay.
Look at supposedly AAA games like Diablo 3. Best case scenario, you have a constant 200ms ping and an additional 50ms of latency from your monitor and input devices. The hitboxes take up half the screen, so you can’t dodge anything. Projectiles that were nowhere near you hit you. It plays horribly. If you look around, you can’t even find games that have good gameplay anymore.
I watched the gameplay videos from E3 2012. All I saw were Uncharted clones full of dumb quicktime events and scripted scenes. There’s no gameplay here. What happened to real games that you actually had precision control over?
In terms of stories in games, they’ve only got worse. We’re enduring laughably constructed stories full of plot holes and bad dialog (Mass Effect 3 and Diablo 3). They’re worse than they were in the late 90s and early 21st century. We’ve taken a step backward in pretty much every aspect of games other than graphics.
I built a computer this year (i5 2300k with a 560GTX), and frankly, it feels like a complete waste of money. The best use I can think of for it is playing Metroid Prime in Dolphin at 2560×1600. I’m really beginning to believe that gaming is over. It’s just one disappointment after another. All I see are attempts at getting non-gamers to play games and nickel and diming people with greedy, trashy schemes like DLC, micro-transactions, and stuff like the RMAH.
It’s sad. I think it’s time to get another hobby.™
First, I’m going to be depressed that someone that has only been playing for 10 years considers himself a “veteran” I started out some time in the mid 80s with various Space Invader and Asteroids clones and have played things constantly since then. I’ve gone through PC and Console gaming a like
So I wanted to add my thoughts but the Battle.net forums are a horrible spammy place where reasonable thought rarely exists hence this post.
I grew up in the golden age of gaming (there’s that rose tint) of the early 90s. At that time gaming was a very underground thing that only the Geeks were involved in all the normal kids were exposing themselves to sunlight and exercise. But this was fine, because it was Geeks writing games for other Geeks to play as a hobby. Today its a multi billion dollar industry, that rivals Hollywood for the amount of cash that is raked in. Star Wars: The Old Republic is estimated to have cost $200 million to develop, thats closing in on Avatar territory in terms of budget (though it has less CGI 😛 ), but guess what the game sucked. Business hasn’t worked out that throwing money it projects doesn’t suddenly make them great. So here’s the headline Gaming isn’t dead. In recent years it has lost its way due to the control being placed in the hands of publishers and their teams of accountants and marketing but its a long way from being dead.
If I look back there were great games across all the years I’ve been playing but its these last 2-3 years where troubling patterns are coming out. Games coming out half finished and DLC being released as the game launches, quality being dropped in favour of enabling shiny
So what is wrong in the industry? Because I like lists, i’ll start with one and go into detail later.
DLC & Micro Transactions.
Buggy & Rushed releases.
Ok so here’s some detail.
Rushed & Buggy Releases… As publishers put more pressure on developers to release on their schedules to fit in with marketing and budgets you get games coming out with less QA time and horrendous releases. Final Fantasy 14, Age of Conan and to a degree Diablo3 have all had very public failings at launch. Each game (especially the first 2) were pushed out before they were ready. Taking the time to finish and polish a game makes for a much better reception. I won’t claim that old games were bug free, but I don’t think I ever had major problems with any game in the past.
Consoles… they brought gaming to the masses with their cheap hardware and simplicity. But with the limited input you can supply on a controller games have been simplified more and more. If you want a prime example of this go look at Skyrim and Mass Effect 2 & 3. The interfaces are simple and restrictive once you start playing the PC versions. We need consoles to die off or for a separation of PC and console games.
EA… the bane of the gaming world. A publisher that has pushed annual revisions of sports titles, working its developers to the bone and pushing shitty DRM and the abortion that is Origin on to us. Yes they are a business and yes they want to make money, but it is being done at the expense of originality and quality. With the likes of Steam and independent development studios EA is becoming less relevant in this world and its coming back to how we were 15-20 years ago.
Digital Rights Management… in the ongoing war against their customers games developers have been adding more and more oppressive DRM. “Always On” systems for single player games or installing unremovable virus-like software like SecuROM only serve to hinder the legitimate users. Pirated copies circumvent the DRM making it easier for the illegal versions to play. This subject is one I especially hate. When I see indie developers releasing their games without DRM and doing so successfully I have to question the paranoia of the big publishers.
DLC & Micro payments… any time we get extra little bits to pay for in a game it means we’ve not purchased the full game to start with. This isn’t expansions to games, this is the addition of a new costume or a new item in game through offline purchases. This doesn’t add anything to the game, its all vanity and trivial items that do nothing except give more money to publishers. I don’t object to a solid expansion pack or a sequel but this buying little bits of crap has to stop.
Ok lets counter this with whats good in the world of games!
Indie development is on the rise. Maybe a new golden age is on the way?
Games have come out of the basement.
Steam making it easy to buy and install games.
Good games are being made. Look at Skyrim, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Batman Arkham Asylum, Alice or Starcraft 2.
There is a future for gaming, it needs to sort things out first. We have all these problems, what industry doesn’t? But it doesn’t mean that gaming is dead. It needs to evolve it needs to get back in control of its own work. After its fun and carefree childhood, welcome to gamings teenage years!
I’ll leave you with a little nostalgia! One of my favourite games (played on the Amiga 1200) from the 90s.