i don’t hate you.

A friend recently told me he thought I was upset with him because I “defriended” him on Facebook. Remembering similar drama that came with LiveJournal’s friend system, I wanted to post this picture:

FB login screenshotI deactivated my Facebook account a few years ago. (I needed to cut down distractions in my life and focus on being productive; it’s not a slam on the service at all.)

About a year ago, much to my surprise, someone hacked back into that account from an iPhone somewhere in California and spammed the former list of “friends.” When that happened, I recovered my password, logged back in and filed a formal account deletion with Facebook. I then did the same with my old LiveJournal account.

So no, friends, I didn’t “defriend” you, don’t worry :)

how NOT to publish a game

A game I tried out at PAX East 2012, Orion: Dino Beatdown, was just released. While the game felt fairly unpolished on the convention floor, I felt it might be a good (and hopefully cheap!) time-waster for my small group of friendson release  – the way we used to take 30 minutes for a few rounds of CounterStrike:Source or Left 4 Dead.

My friend bought the game at release and confirmed my worst fears: it’s buggier than any other initial release he’s seen, including the venerable ArmA series. Other games recently have been released with some bad bugs, but nothing compares to this massive list, provided by my friend LeeT on IRC:

  • When you run it the first time it does the usual install redist 3rd party stuff. However, the game does not wait for that to finish and launches anyway.
  • It only randomly saves any key bindings, audio or video options.
  • 80% of the time, it never even populates the server list.
  • When it does populate the server list, it will often misreport servers as being full.
  • The server list has clickable headings (map, pop, ping time etc) but doesn’t sort.
  • Refresh button on the server list does nothing.
  • If you join a full server (or server it thinks it’s full) it will show you a dialog saying it’s full with 2 buttons (OK and Close) that do the same thing.
  • The server list has scroll bars that don’t adjust dynamically to the size of the list, so it’s always the same ‘length’
  • On the off chance that it will let you try to join a server, it will usually crash.
  • Assuming you get IN to the game:
  • Lots of crashes to desktop, at random.
  • Sound effects randomly cut out entirely
  • There are 3 classes, but if you select auto-select, it will always set you to assault
  • Balance is off: Wave 1 will be a breeze, wave 2 is like 50 T-rexes.
  • The maps are huge, but the waves are fast and intense so there’s no reason to move from base.
  • In the base, there are objects (equipment stations, etc.) that you can walk right through – no collision.
  • Part of the mechanic is each base has its own generators (out in the open?) and the dinos try to eat them. However, only the raptors will attack them.
  • Dinos clilp halfway into buildings when they’re trying to eat you (and if you’re too close, yes they will attack you, through the wall, and vice versa)
  • Sometimes the hordes of T-rexes etc, will suddenly just wander off for a while (they eventually come back). Bored, I guess?
  • The flying dinos (Pterodactyl things, but they look different) occasionally fly backwards, hover, etc.
  • Vehicles can climb trees
  • AI pathing is beyond broken.
  • The raptors usually jump when they attack you; for hilarity, stand at the edge of a base door opening and watch them try to jump through it
  • If you die, you go into spectator mode and everything is at a 1960s Batman 45 degree angle.
  • When dinos die, they make a human ‘uhh’ sound
  • You’re also supposed to re0spawn at the next wave but that doesn’t work either
  • And the truly ugly:
  • It shipped with parts of the Unreal SDK that are not supposed to be redistributed (MakeISO, “ExampleGame.exe”, etc)
  • If you think that’s bad, it shipped with Maya and Max tool scripts too!
  • Bits of artwork assets (for dinos, equipment and achivements) were allegedly stolen from deviantart and other games. (N.B. They’re supposedly being replaced in today’s “miracle patch.”)

The official Spiral Game Studios explanation for all of this is “a game directory name was changed resulting in some links and connectivity breaking.” No comment.

the story of a cat

I keep forgetting to post this story from February 2009.

My friends and I were on a small trip to central Italy (Umbria). We were staying in a small villa in the middle of nowhere, by ourselves, and making day trips to various nearby towns to explore whatever they had to offer.

One bright day, we were wandering the sloped streets of Spoleto on a Saturday when we happened across a cute cat outside of an art/framing shop:

The cutest little cat...

She pranced back and forth, demanding attention. Each of us in turn gave her a scritch, which she accepted proudly before moving down the line to the next person.

During this action, we attracted the notice of the shop owner, who had been sorting his collection lazily. I looked up and noticed he was looking at us petting the kitty, realizing it was either his, or one he at least looked after regularly.

He put down his framed poster, smiled the largest smile I’d seen that trip (and there had been many!) and shouted two words through the panes of glass at us to our endless amusement:

“Prima donna!”

Prim Donna!Wish I had a better picture, but what a facial shape and markings! Good memories.

happy friends pet clinic

Apparently Microsoft thinks you want to install Windows XP Mode just so you can run the Happy Friends Pet Clinic application. (I bet it’s written in Microsoft Access 2.0.)

Microsoft Windows XP mode running the Happy Friends Pet Clinit application.

Microsoft Windows XP mode running the Happy Friends Pet Clinit application.

P.S. How can this be the ONLY hit on google for “happy friends pet clinic”? Seriously?

how to fix couchdb in debian testing

Debian bug 644545 has been resolved in unstable (sid), finally. Debian couchdb is now in working order with package version 1.1.1-2. Thank you Laszlo!

As of 2012-03-30, the package has hit squeeze / testing. If you’re running this release, you don’t need to do anything special – just apt-get update; apt-get install couchdb

Previous pinning instructions below for posterity:

Continue reading

leased texbooks

Daily, I continue to refer to physical textbooks (and books) printed anywhere from 2 to 100 years ago. I barely can access digital content I wrote less than 10 years ago due to format rot, vintage software and hardware dependencies, licensing problems, and more. (In other words, nothing the cloud can help with today.)

I kept hoping that enough SF novels, films or stories depicting a bleak future controlled by the wealthy, the shrewd or the lucky would make it into the mainstream to prevent it from happening, but it’s already here. Unless you’re made of disposable income, you’re not going to be able to read that digital textbook you’re leasing (not buying!) next year, let alone in 5 when the reading device no longer functions. And don’t kid yourself; with Pearson supporting SOPA, the intent is clear – information is borrowed, the copy never belonging to you.

When the next Library of Alexandria is burned to the ground, will the used book stores be stripped to the bare walls within days? Or will they even exist?

Update: This recent article, and its comment thread, is also relevant.

ssl != privacy

so I read about this new personalization of Google Search yesterday, and the further social-media-darling gushing about it today, flew past the supposed “motivational” features, down to the security and privacy section. they list 3 things that are supposed to reflect they are taking privacy & security seriously:

  • SSL encryption. OK, so random sniffers/proxies will have a harder time seeing what you’re searching for, presuming you requested your search through a secure page in the first place. At least this is the default if you’re signed in. This is fodder against “the big bad hacker” always looking over your shoulder. Are we all that paranoid?
  • Visual indication of results visibility scope. In general, the human mind can easily intuit this (“oh look, a link to my private journal.”) without the visual hint.
  • Toggle for unpersonalized results. I guess this is if someone is looking over your shoulder (in real life), or if you don’t trust your employer to be sniffing inside your SSL connections. (They are.) But it’d be arguably more useful to log out first, wouldn’t it?

And that’s it. It’s semi-security, not privacy, as always – and hardly “unprecedented” protection. It always boils down to a very basic fact: if you’re logged in, everything you do at that site is known to the service provider, and mapped to you, and possible elsewhere (cookies, JS, other tracking mechanisms). Even when you’re not logged in, guesswork to figure out who you are and what you’re doing is fairly straightforward.

Flirting with the “angry-old-woman” stereotype briefly: does this upset no one else?

There is absolutely nothing private about web-service-provided personalized search.