Category Archives: Geeky

This will be the Geeky Blogs…

Online Role Play Gaming

I have played Online RolePlay games for many years, from well known games like World of Warcraft and Guildwars to games that are not so well known like PlaneShift and Auteria. All of these games have good points and bad points, however, these points also change often.

This is mostly about the 3 I have played most of all in the last few years. Firstly, I didn’t play World of Warcraft for very long, because I completely disagree with going to the shops to buy a game, and then having to pay to play that game every month aswell, (note, I wouldn’t mind getting the game for nothing, and paying a small fee to play online, I understand there are maintenance costs). Guild Wars you pay once for, and then play online when and if you feel like it, Auteria and PlaneShift are both free (but not the same type of free). Here’s a short run down of things that I did and didn’t like about the games (I’m not including World of Warcraft on here, as I didn’t play it for long enough to have a real opinion)

PlaneShift: http://www.planeshift.it/

Planeshift is Open Source (though you may not use the Art-Work from Planeshift) this is a good point, because it’s already “community” based. some very nice graphics, though the animations could do with some more work. There is always something to do in Yliakum, and many skills to learn. Planeshift is very heavily orientated around the Role Play, including spending hours in the Tavern, though they have recently added a second server that is for the people that don’t really want to do the Role-Playing. You can very easily just run around and kill creatures in Planeshift, but I think most would get bored of that relatively quickly. Training skills, selling items, and Role-Playing brings this game to life. I, Myself am a blacksmith in Planeshift, Mostly because Tailoring wasn’t an option when I started (I’m not sure it’s implemented yet, I would have to check)

If you want to learn to do some very good Role Playing, I would recommend Planeshift, with lots of role-playing going on here, and Jobs for people to do as well as killing the creatures. There are also many quests here, and some of them are quite tough with riddles and longer answers than just a “yes” or “no” which require communicating with other players, finding your way around the maps and learning where different NPC’s are. (Though you must be in-character when asking for help if asking in the Main channel out-of-character conversations don’t go down very well here).

Pros:

Free
Excellent story line with individual (Role-Played) stories from other players / characters
Great Role-playing
Challenging quests (yes, this is a good thing)
Many skills and levels to learn
Ability to purchase guild/safe houses
Grouped Role-Play world events

Cons:

Server can be a little unstable under load
Some area’s of the maps are sluggish due to trying to load too many items (even on fast systems)
Some listed skills are not yet implemented
Sometimes a little overly concerned about the Role-Playing
Some skills take a long time to learn and can get a little boring.
Character movement can feel sluggish

Score 8/10

Auteria: http://www.auteria.com/

So far, this is my favourite to play at the moment, Despite the lack of “Role-Playing” when in the game, the community is very good, and the developers have worked hard on making the game work. The Chat section of this game is a separate server, as is each map area. this mean when one of them goes down for some reason (very rarely happens, but I have seen it once) the rest of the game still works. However, if your character is in the area that has crashed, or you try to travel there, you end up in a timeout loop, and have to wait for the server to come back.

Like Planeshift there are many skills to learn here, and maybe more here than there is in Planeshift. Almost everything you get that is not a form of raw material you are able to make with the appropriate skills, some Items require multiple skills, for instance some armour will require you to do some Blacksmith work, as well as some tailoring. Though the skills are not tailored around the community making and selling to other players, this does happen a lot still. There is also many things to do here, it’s very hard to get bored, a lot of skills to learn, a huge amount of quests, and when all else fails, there’s probably some pig-racing going on somewhere.

At the moment, the game is still very quiet, it doesn’t have many players yet, but it’s also still quite new and not very well advertised. I’m sure this will change over time, and new players are always well greeted with other players offering help and items to get them started.

Pros:

Free
Excellent Community
Great fun to play
Lots of quests (some easy and some hard)
Events happening pretty much weekly (sometimes more)
Lots of skills to learn
Endless levels

Cons:

Not many players yet
not a lot of Role-Playing

score 9/10

Guild Wars: http://www.guildwars.com/

Guild Wars is a good game if what you want to do is run around and kill things, that’s about all there is to do – really, you have missions which can be challenging but the point is really to progress by attack. however, the “community” in Guild Wars was not so great in with my experience of the game, people rarely talked to each other, and there was never more said than “do people want to join my team” (to go out and attack). This said, it is fun to play when you want to ignore the world, and just run around killing things for a bit. It has a very large map, and takes a lot of time to get through the game.

In Guild Wars you only see other players in Towns, when you are running around the maps outside of the towns you don’t see any other players unless you are grouped with them. I think this has a big effect on the lack of communication in the game, and does push people into silently playing the game.

Pros:

Good value for money
fun to play
outstanding graphics

Cons:

Poor story line
very poor community
no interaction with other players outside of towns
only has attack / defense skills

Score: 6/10

Conclusion:

For anyone wanting to try out any of these games I would recommend trying at least PlaneShift and Auteria. and of the 2 it would very much depend on your personal preference of games. If you prefer role-playing, Planeshift would come very highly recommended, if you’re looking for a good community and a good game, I would recommend Auteria. However both are very good games to play. I would only recommend Guild Wars if what your looking for is to ignore the world and just go and kill things.

Bare in mind, the 2 games that I highly recommend are both still under development, so there is quite often updates to the games, and things can change qutie dramatically without much warning. However, they are the most fun games I’ve played and both have kept me occupied for more than a year each. Guild Wars only had me glued to the screen for a couple of months.

If you try these out, I wish you the best of luck, and if you want to speak to me in game (mostly Auteria at the moment) then I am Mohero

— Comments disabled on this post due to too many spam messages in my inbox every morning.

World-Wide Programming Contest

Hi to all that read,

The company I work for along with a few other companies are now running a world-wide programming contest, with a nice prize to win at the end of $2000 plus a trip to our conference in Princeton, New Jersey in September. For those that don’t know, I work for a company called Dyalog LTD, they are a programming company creating an APL Interpriter.

This competition will be very good for anyone with a good mathematical mind, and for all people that would like to know more about the fantastic APL Language, be warned, it’s hard to get into, but very cool once you’ve cracked the code! For more information on the competition, you can look here, and for your copy of Dyalog APL to get started with the competition, you can apply for a student license here, or if you’re not a student and would like a non-commercial license, look here.

The competition requires completing some problems found on the Project Euler website These are very mathmatical problems, and must be completed in APL. Unfortunately I can’t enter it, (or at least not win) which is a shame, as it would be a good learning curve for my APL. I also can’t help any of you with the problems. but if you would like to enter, I can assure you the Conference in Princeton will be very good for anyone getting into APL. (and APL is a good thing to get into ;-) )

Enjoy, and I hope some of you that read this do have a look into the competition, and give it a go.

J

Simple Things, Simple Minds

It doesn’t take much to please me, infact, it takes very little. So, I guess I’m a simple person.

There’s various things you can do whilst bored on the Internet, one thing that crops up on occasion is searching for yourself on Google, and then picking one of the first 3 hits as your “double”

looking at the logs on my website, I noticed there was a google search for me, “Jason Rivers” and I thought, wow, how far did they have to search for that! so I had a look and searched me on Google. Turns out I’m 9th on Google so, hopefully not long before I am myself.

Well, nice short one for now, more later… when I can be bothered to sit at the screen for a little longer :)

J

A Lack of Internet

Ok, so over the past week I’ve been moving house, as some of you may know, However, what this means is there has been no or little Internet at home. I have been able to get online with a mobile “Broadband” dongle, but it’s speed has been varying between completely unusable and completely unbearable. And yes, there is a difference, one allows you to send a message once an hour…

Anyway, if you know me, you’ll also know that I spend my life online. So a week without Internet is like torture for me. One would think that it would give me time to sort some other things out, and to some extent this maybe true, as I now have DVB-S2 card in my media system, but other than setting that up, I really have just been going completely nuts without the internet. But the internet came online on Wedesday, and this is great, after updating all my systems with latest patches, and upgrading the media system, this has had some nice changes, that I’ll go into in another blog.

Not having the Internet for a few days has taught me 1 thing. That is, how much we have come to rely on it. The connection I now have probably costs more than most of yours, as I’ve opted for a business grade line that is with probably the most expensive provider, however, I chose them, because I know them, they’re fantastic, and I’m yet to hear a bad word about them. You get what you pay for.

well, enough for now, I think I have some work to be doing, oh and I need tea bags!

There’s no place like ::1

With the move of house, comes a lot of other movements of technology. At the old place, I was on Virgin Media’s Broadband, Although I did not have any problems with them, I do know people that had more than their fair share. I think in the course of 2 years my line went down for a total of 2 minutes, and I think that’s fairly acceptable. However, it lacks on some features. Dynamic IPv4 address (and only 1) means I had to write some rather complex scripts, due to my server blocking SSH access from anywhere unless it’s a “Known Location”. These locations normally consist of my place of work, my place of home, and my parents houses for when I visit them.

Although IPv4 is being exhausted, many people are still using it, in fact, pretty much everyone on the Internet is using IPv4 in one way or another. For me, my new connection has a /28 mask of address’s, call me selfish, but this does give all my machines external IP’s, and then I’m NAT-ing Wifi connections, because they don’t need external address’s. It also has Native IPv6 on the new line. there is still very much a case of “No one’s using IPv6 so we don’t support it” and also “many things still don’t support it, so I don’t have IPv6″. In my 2 years working at Dyalog, I have moved our internal systems to IPv6, and so far 50% of our servers are on IPv6. The interpreter received it’s required changes to support IPv6 in version 12, and some of these will be improved in 12.1, and this improvement will most likely be on-going.

So, to IPv6, and who supports it? well, Google have had IPv6 work going on for a long time now, and you have been able to access http://ipv6.google.com to run your web searches. however they only resolve www.google.com as an IPv6 address if your ISP has registered with them. I can understand this to some extent, but on the other hand, it might hold things back, as there’s alot of people beating their ISP’s to IPv6 with Tunneling over IPv4. Google here have proved that a move to IPv6 can be done without too much effort, providing you can release resources into the change, and you have a good firewall, Remember NAT is not a firewall.

What about ISP’s, what are they doing about IPv6? well Andrews and Arnold seem to be among the few ISP’s offering native IPv6 in the UK, I believe there is currently no more than 3 ISP’s offering such service. Why? maybe they don’t see the point because not many sites are using it yet. Well, here’s some news, every site I run, has IPv6, that is my personal sites and company sites, Google also have IPv6. so what are we waiting for?

Consumer devices is where my attention is grabbed, Can you name a single off-the-shelf Consumer grade router / modem that supports IPv6? I can not. and I can’t see someone at home spending thousands on Cisco gear to have IPv6. My solution to this was to buy a consumer-grade Asus WL-500gp router, and flash it’s firmware with Linux. This now gives me IPv6, along with IP4 and IP6 firewalls that I am personally comfortable with configuring.

Maybe the big problem here with ISP’s supporting IPv6 is that the consumer devices do not yet support such a thing, this means it is completely pointless having the ISP’s support it. IPv6 is moving forwards, and in the last year or 2 there has been some very big movements. unfortunately, these movements are no going fast enough, and until consumer devices support IPv6 this movement will be on a slow trickle. we only need one or two big ISP’s to start supporting IPv6 in the UK for it to take off like a rocket over here, so maybe this is a cry to the manufacturers of the consumer devices to support IPv6 so the ISP’s can also support it.

Get on the IPv6 bandwagon, this is a vote for IPv6 move forward.

TomTom Windows Mobile 6.1

I seem to be having a fair number of hits to my Windows Mobile 6.1 post with people running searches through Google for TomTom on Windows Mobile 6.1.

I’m not completely sure what these people are looking for, but if it’s “does it work” the answer is “yes”.

Installing TomTom is very simple. If, like me, you have a TomTom SD Card (Actually, I’ve got a replacement, due to it not being big enough for all my maps)  then it’s as easy as putting the card in, following the instructions on the screen, and selecting your GPS device (I use a Bluetooth device on Com0) and then running it. If you have a TomTom CD, then I believe there is 2 ways of installing, copying to an SD card and running the CAB, or installing through ActiveSync. I have not tested this method, as I am a Linux desktop user, and therefor don’t have ActveSync.

TomTom runs very well on Windows Mobile 6.1, infact, it feels alot smoother and faster than it did on Windows Mobile 6.0, My device only has 64MB Memory (128MB Flash size) and a 520MHz Intel (ARM Based) CPU.

I have been a TomTom user for around 5 years now, and despite a new phone on the way that doesn’t support TomTom, my HTC Universal will continue to be my TomTom Sat Nav, and this will also be it’s only use.

For me, it is working on Windows Mobile 6.1, If there was another reason people are finding my site than does it run, then leave a mesages and I’ll be as helpful as I can.

J

Linux 2.6.29 Released!

This week Linus Torvalds has released the new 2.6.29 Linux Kernel. For the most part, this kernel release isn’t hugely exciting, but for me there is a bit of excitement.

Up until now, I’ve had to install Linux on my Eee PC 901, then patch the kernel and re-compile, and even then some things weren’t perfect (namely the FN function keys for the hardware). With the release of 2.6.29, I shouldn’t have to do this anymore, at least, Once the distributions start shipping it because it now contains the hardware drivers for the Eee 901. It also has drivers for other netbooks like the Aspire One (though most things worked on this from 2.6.26 but there was a bug in the Wifi driver).

Another change is the support for the BTRFS, what looks to be quite a nice file system and is said to replace EXT (this might take a few years, as EXT4 has only just been made stable)

Something that came as a surprise to me after compiling and rebooting was the lack of Tux… Tux has been (temporarily) replaces with Tuz, Tuz is a Mascot to encourage support to the Tasmanian Devil Campaign, so maybe Tux will return soon enough.

other than these items there isn’t a great deal that appeals to me, unless I decided to build a system in my garage with 4096 CPU’s, which are now supported, but this is unlikely for a number of reasons, one of which is cost, another is space, and another would be…. no wait, that’s all…

If you’d like to see the list of all the changes in 2.6.29 then head over to http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_29

J

– EDIT –

With the release of this kernel, it does mean that there will be some small down-time of my server hosting my site when I reboot into the kernel. I’ll try and do this during a quiet period but you can never tell when people will be looking…

Moving House

Well, there’s some good news coming through, that is, I am moving house, hopefully the move date will be April 13th. People say you shouldn’t get the first place you see, well we are. any why not.

The House is perfect for our needs, spanning 3 floors with a large kitchen/diner, study lounge and 4 bedrooms (2 of which with ensuites). Even the smallest bedroom can have a double bed in it without any problems atall, of course, I’ll possibly have the biggest room, as I’m the only one that’s going to be there full time. I now have to decide what I have in what room…. My Media system (which I will write about later) is setup in a Single seat mode, this means it runs for itself and nothing else. so I can put that in the Living room on the nice big telly, but….. what about music in the Study, bedroom or kitchen…. (note the flat I have at the moment is small enough that this isn’t a problem) So I’m now thinking about a uPNP system for the Media system, along with some EeePC Desktops, or ITX Pico systems to run a very minimal Operating system and connect to the Master system for all the Music and Video’s.

This will most likely be a Linux system with Myth front-end, The question is if I can mix MythTV with MediaPortal, each have their benefits, and each will be used, at least until Myth TV does everything I want it to do (and I am willing to live with some flaws…)

I’ll be looking into the features of both MediaPortal and MyhTV (running on MythBuntu) later in the week, providing there is time to do so. so keep an eye here, and you’ll see how my current system is configured.

Complicated Plea for Simplicity

Last year at the 2008 Dyalog APL Conference in Lo-Skolen, Helsingør, Denmark. Along with most of the normal presentations on what’s new and what’s been going on with the company, there was a Presentation done by John Scholes. John is one of the oldest developers of Dyalog APL, having been with the company since day 1 almost 26 years ago, as far as his computers go, he likes them to work, he’s not too fussed what it runs, as long as it does the job in hand. Johns presentation; a Plea for simplicity is here:

This was an absolutely brilliant presentation, and a big relief for a lot of people after a very long day of conferences, to have something amusing like this was great.

However, John Scholes has created a new youtube post, for those that don’t know what a Palindromatic expression is, it is an expression that looks the same, irrelivant of which way you read it. So from the person that brought you the plea for simplicity comes a Palindromatic APL Expression for Phi.

For those that don’t know about APL, have a look here APL is one of the oldest programming languages, it’s an interpreted array language mainly for mathematicians, with it’s own character set, mayking it very fast to use for people that know what they’re doing with it, but very difficault to learn if you don’t know APL, as almost every function has it’s own character as apposed to most languages you might have seen that use words for their functions.

Windows Mobile 6.1 and SMS messaging.

I have recently updated my PDA to Windows Mobile 6.1. This at the time seemed like a good idea, though in the last few days I have found out that Microsoft really does not understand Mobile Phones, and here’s why I think this.

A mobile phone to me, is a device that I can make / receive phone calls on, and send / receive SMS/MMS messages with. Anything else on a mobile phone is an “Extra”. Camera’s are not needed, I have a digital camera, however, some of these “Extra’s” can be useful. Wifi access for instance, is useful when trying to use VOIP at the office, or browse the internet on the mobile device in a location that has Wifi. This also means that a web browser is useful. I also use TomTom, which is why I have generally run Windows Mobile on my PDA, instead of something like Qtopia (this said, I do also have Qtopia on my device)

I also believe that Microsoft doesn’t understand screen resolutions. My device supports 640×480 (or 480×640 depending on which way round i’m using it), however Windows mobile believes that I am blind and must is it at 320×240,  and for me to use the device at 640×480, I have to download a 3rd party tool to do so; in my case, I’m using “RealVGA”. Here’s what my Main “home” screen looks like:

Home Screen

Nice, Simple and clean.

Let’s just spend a moment on Windows Mobile’s SMS system, which is possibly one of the worst SMS systems I’ve ever seen. If like me, you rarely delete messages then you know how a very full in-box can look (and i’m talking a few thousand SMS Messages). Someone may remind you of something that is a reference to an SMS message, to which you would think about when you received the SMS, and would then scroll down to the appropriate date, and select the message. On windows Mobile 6.0 this was OK, one 6.1 they have decided to group SMS’s by the person they were received from, which makes your in-box “look” much smaller than it is. It also tries to arrange them by “Conversation” within the SMS, however, it gets this very wrong. This is where Windows Mobile 6.1 falls apart. What this means is, in your sent folder, you have a list of sent messages, as you did on older versions, in your in-box folder, however, You end up with a very short list, here’s a view of my In-box:

SMS Inbox

As you can see here, what looks like 3 SMS messages, is actually closer to 20. Within these items in your in-box, you also end up with SMS’s that have been received from other people, as you would expect, but you also end up with SMS’s that you have sent. This is trying to succeed with the “Conversation” aspect of things.

Clicking on one of these items shows you the “Conversations” with this person. Here’s a screen-shot.

SMS Message

I’m not sure what the broken Icon on the left is for, but that looks broken. You cannot select a single SMS, making replying to a message more difficult. Infact ‘Reply’ isn’t even an option on the menu…. thanks Microsoft.

I fear that Windows Mobile 6.5 will have the same issue, and this worries me. If a company does not understand how people USE devices, they should not be writing operating systems for these devices. So for now, I’ll be using Qtopia, and only loading into windows when I require use of the SatNav. Shame, because I would quite like to have 1 tool on my device that works with everything I do, but I have better things to be spending my time on at the moment than trying to use software that doesn’t work.

J

EDIT:

Ok, I have just found that you can reply by simply writing your message in the “view message” screen, and pressing send. I still think this was designed by people that don’t use SMS, and is not the most useful SMS tool I’ve encountered on a mobile phone/PDA.