Archive for June 2013

Looks like Carmageddon for Android is free today:

Carmageddon Promo

It seems a pretty accurate reimplementation of the original game, but the touch controls are about as bad as I’d expected. Still fun even if it is harder than the PC game as a result.

The great ‘wind turbine’ massacre continues:

Twitchers flocking to see rare bird saw it killed by wind turbine

They’re expensive, unreliable and massacre wildlife. When will these things finally be torn down?

Spaceship cover

Petrina cover

Petrina is coming soon. I have most of the issues fixed, and should have it off to Createspace in the middle of next week so I can use my free coupon. After I’ve read the proof I should be able to upload it as an e-book, probably starting with Amazon and doing a free few days in KDP select before pushing it everywhere else after the ninety days required.

I’ve been thinking of alternate titles, but I’m so used to calling it Petrina that I think I’m going to stick with it. I guess I could go for the full ‘482 Petrina’, but that would be weird.

Thanks to Zahra Brown for being my beta reader.

Edit: Petrina is now awaiting review at Createspace. I’m playing Oblivion for the rest of the week rather than writing.

So there I was, just wanting to tweak a few JPEG screen captures. Open them in Gimp 2.8, crop off the edges and select save.

“You can use this dialog to save to the GIMP XCF format. Use File→Export to export to other file formats.”

Save will now only save as Gimp’s own .xcf format. It will not save JPEG.

Save As will now only save as Gimp’s own .xcf format. It will not save JPEG.

To save the JPEG file I just opened, I have to select ‘Export’, then select the filename, then click ‘OK’ when it says the file already exists, which I already know because I just opened it. Worse, after saving, it still says the file has been changed since last saved and I have to then select ‘Discard Changes’ to close the window. That’s about a dozen extra, pointless mouse clicks just to save a file.

What retarded monkey came up with that idea? Gimp already has the worst, least intuitive interface of any software I use on a regular basis and this only makes it worse.

Is there a decent alternative yet? Particularly a node-based image editor?

Another issue I just ran into with Linux Mint 15 is the switch to version 1.7 of the Subversion source control system. It refuses to update existing 1.6 files, and you first have to do an ‘svn upgrade’ to upgrade them to 1.7.

But after you do that, any attempt to retrieve a file with an SVN external will result in a W195017 error complaining that the SVN external can’t overwrite a versioned file. Which is completely bogus.

Fetching external item into 'HTML/include/images/petrina-250.jpg':
svn: warning: W195017: The file external from 'svn://Stories/trunk/Covers/Petrina/petrina-250.jpg' cannot overwrite the existing versioned item at 'HTML/include/images/petrina-250.jpg'

Even deleting the old file doesn’t work. The svn update still complains even though the file isn’t there.

The only workaround I found is to convince svn that the file has been deleted by using ‘svn -r0 filename’ to revert it to revision 0. Then it will pull the SVN external on top of it.

$ svn up -r0 HTML/include/images/petrina-250.jpg
Updating 'include/images/petrina-250.jpg':
D include/images/petrina-250.jpg
Updated to revision 0.

But it’s a real pain for something that should just work out of the box.

Mint 15 is working pretty well so far aside from my previously mentioned issues with the wireless card in my laptop. Problems ranged from high dropped packet rates to disconnects to the truly bizarre, such as inability to ping the wireless access point it’s connected to yet being able to ping the other machines it’s connected to through that access point. Since that is also the default gateway, that means it loses any connectivity to the outside world.

After a web search, the solution appears to be disabling hardware encryption. The wireless chip is apparently overloaded trying to do the encryption as well as everything else it has to do, which makes sense because it would normally go horribly wrong when starting Firefox, which hits the Internet to download a number of web pages when restoring the old configuration.

To do this, create a file /etc/modprobe.d/rtl8192se.conf and put the following line in it:

options rtl8192se swenc=1

This forces software encryption, which appears to be an insignificant overhead on an i5 CPU. Since enabling this I’ve run for a few hours with no problems, but I’ll update this if I do.

My laptop is now running Linux Mint 15 on a new Intel 520 SSD. Boots in a few seconds and pretty much back to the old Gnome 2 interface with some enhancements.

So far it seems to work well other than some odd behaviour by my wireless card, and the process was relatively painless. I had to update a few OS configuration files, install missing packages, and then put the old hard drive in a USB box and copy /home over to the SSD.

But for some reason the 8192SE wireless card won’t run at more than 18Mbps even when it’s two feet from the wireless access point. I didn’t actually check what speed it was running at in Ubuntu 12.04, so this may have always been the case. It’s consistent with the throughput I’ve seen between the laptop and my home server (around 1-1.5 megabytes per second).

Or something.

I was reading a funny thread on a web forum where one of the forum socialists was bemoaning the future of 3D printing and nanotechnology and how it would destroy jobs so the government would have provide jobs for the unemployed to do things no-one else thought worth doing.

I could only shake my head and wonder: why would anyone want a job if they produce anything they wanted in their garage?

Mass employment is a relatively recent invention as part of the industrial revolution. In the early era of human hunter-gatherer life, we would hunt or collect the things we needed at a good time to do so, and then relax the rest of the year. In the farming era, there would be jobs available for those who didn’t have their own land to farm at times where the farmers needed more hands than they had in their own family, but life-time jobs in the modern sense were rare. It was only with industrialisation that we needed millions of people to do the same boring, repetitive things all day, every day.

Jobs are bad. Many of us have jobs that we find inherently interesting, but that doesn’t mean we want to do them eight hours a day, five days a week forever. We should look forward to a future where few people have to work and we can leave the industrial anomaly behind us.

The problem is that socialism is inherently an industrial-era philosophy, so that would make them irrelevant. Socialism made no sense before the industrial revolution because there were few workers to own the means of production. Socialism makes no sense in a future of home 3D printing and nanotech assembly because everyone owns their means of production.

They should be celebrating. They’ve won. The fight between workers and employers is irrelevant in a world with no workers and no employers. But they’ve been ranting about the need for full employment for long that they simply can’t understand or accept that employment itself is going away; not to mention that such a world destroys an entire power base of people who have no desire to lose the power they have.

SR3 Car

Driving around in my little red car

I began this post last year after finishing the game, and just discovered it in my drafts folder.

Saints Row 2 was one of the most entertaining games of the last few years, a worthy successor to the Grand Theft Auto series after Rockstar threw out the fun in Grand Theft Auto 4: Bowlerama. While GTA tried to present a more realistic approach to gangster life and continually interrupted the player as they were driving around hijacking cars, running down pedestrians and blowing things up with phone calls from NPCs who wanted to… go bowling… Saints Row pushed the genre even more over the top.

SR3 Plane

There are planes

Saints Row The Third (aka Saints Row 3) takes that even further, and is the only game I’ve played where the answer to the question ‘what weapon would be best for this mission?’ sometimes turns out to be a three-foot purple dildo. One of the earliest missions includes NOLF-style shootouts in mid-air after falling out of a plane, then crashing back into the plane to shoot the bad guy before parachuting to the ground, and side-missions include a mascot-shooting game show and causing destruction and mayhem with a hundred-foot tall ball of yarn.

SR3 Zombie Fight

Yes, there are zombies

SR2 had many problems, most obviously a massive appetite for computing power and a remarkable ability to crash at the slightest provocation; it was poorly ported from consoles and odds are that on any given PC it would either run but require much better hardware than similar games, or it would not run at all. Workarounds have been developed for a number of those problems, but it’s still not guaranteed to run and unlikely to run more than a few hours without crashing. Worse, the cars drive like a 1970s cop show where all the actors are drunk.

SR3 has none of them. The only major bug I noticed in over thirty hours of game play is that cars sometimes get stuck in scenery or the ground when they crash or something falls on them; not a big problem as you can usually just steal another car, but the last time it happened to me was on an island infested with zombies, where other cars were few and far between. One minor bug is that the car collection activity is impossible to complete after finishing the game missions, because one of the cars is only available in the second half of the game. It’s also hard to complete because some bridges are open at that point, and while they can be jumped in a fast vehicle, a slow one just goes into the sea.

SR3 Car Flying

There’s something wrong here

The missions are generally entertaining, but it does have consolized ‘checkpoint’ saves, and at one point there are a few missions that run into each other with cut-scenes between, so you can’t just finish one mission and do something else. Dialogue is often funny, particularly the mission with Bert Reynolds and another where the character is pretending to be someone else.

It does suffer from DLC-itis with numerous small addons available; fortunately now the game has been out a year or two the complete game packs with all important DLC are pretty cheap. The mission DLCs are good fun, and Dr Genki’s events are some of the best parts of the game.

I’d give it about 8 out of 10 solely because the game world feels less interactive than SR2. There are really no hidden areas like the SR2 mall, and few buildings you can enter. Otherwise it’s just jolly good fun and I’m waiting to see what SR4 will be like.

SR3 Pileup

Oddly enough, this wasn’t actually my fault. The AI cars try to jump the bridge and often fail

‘Unfortunately DMClient has stopped. Press OK to continue.’

I don’t care. I have no idea what DMClient is. Why should I care that it’s stopped? Is this a bad thing? Why does my Transformer have to tell me this every couple of minutes and lock the screen until I press OK? What disaster would unfold if I didn’t press OK?

You just have to love untested bug reporting dialog boxes that cause more problems for the user than whatever problem they’re actually reporting.

For the record, this advice seemed to solve it:

Transformer Forums

Clear the DMClient cache and data and reboot and now it no longer complains.

While we’re on the subject of downloads, why is it that the instant I turn the tablet on, it goes off and starts downloading megabytes and megabytes of app updates from the web and sucks up all the network bandwidth to do so? Don’t you think that when I turn the tablet on, it’s probably because I’m planning to… drum roll… do something useful, and therefore want to be able to run things that need network bandwidth, like the web browser?

Windows was always moronic with every piece of crap little program wanting to check for updates at startup, when the hard drive is thrashing just trying to load all those piece of crap programs. Android appears to have adopted a similarly stupid design philosophy.