Saturday, 28 February 2015

Gaming & Films - Blade Runner 2 - Robin Hood X

What has been going down in groove town?... Well, I have to say, Elite wise, not a lot... I've been very busy with the office job, doing 12+ hour days all week.

I've finished the project I was on however, and am happy to sit now puzzled that everything was such a rush, because unlike some other developers around here, when I say something will get done... I do it.

Immediately, I just think.... "NOOOOOOOOO"..... A long strong voice, showing my lineage as a chronic moaner and critic... Just... "Nooooo"....

This then came to my searches and it sums things up....

Or perhaps this.... 

But, I dunno, we're yet to see Ford in the new Star Wars, maybe he can still act and this isn't just like letting Paul McCartney still sing (he can't sing anymore, if you didn't realise and his nurse hasn't told him).

More closer to home, I also spotted this film ditty...

Yes, a "Pirate's of the Caribean" style hood romp... Hmm... I wonder if like "Into the Woods", it'll be a fucking musical?!?!?

So, if I'm not up to Elite Trade Data code, what am I up to?... Well, the office is nearly all sorted, I'm also signed up to Twitch now, OpenBroadcaster and some other options are being tweaked about with, so expect some live streams of gameplay, of development and perhaps even a special once a week segment of the wife hassling me whilst I play (this is particularly funny, as she doesn't know anything, but insists on playing Zombie games, then complains how gorey they are!).

Expect to see more gaming content over the weekend!

Friday, 27 February 2015

The World Reacts to the Mighty Jingles - #10 Germany

We've all wondered, haven't we, what happens when Jingles releases a new Video?... In this new series I aim to help solve that mystery.... This week, we catch the German Chancellor receiving her fix via Mobile

Check back each Friday at 18:30 UK time for the next thrilling instalment, where might we find Jingles being Enjoyed?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Working with Taiwan Twinglish Embedded Development Kits

You know sometimes, I wish people would just write a manual.  I've just come across a chap who wants to sell a development kit to the company I work for, he's in Taiwan and very excited, he knows all about his kit, and he's been on the phone bulling it up for the boss.

He has ticked all the boxes with the boss, and they've gone a head and ordered the extortionately priced item, and it's arrived on my desk.

I took one look, and asked "Where's the manual", there isn't one.  Because this is a development kit... Right, what power does it take.. No-one knows, the only way to tell has been to look at the chips and see what the lowest possible power feed should be to the lowest value chip.

Which prong was the negative?... Only could tell that by tracing - by eye - back from an obvious earth plane and a couple of large caps and checking that the line was the negative rail.

This level of just basic documentation, being lacking, immediately makes me worry about the whole bundle.

They're trying to sell this, but I think they're actually trying to get a native English speaker - i.e. me - to write their manual for them.

Next thing, how do I build software to run on this kit?... They don't know... Seriously, this is what the chap has said to me, "It in C, write in C"... okay, what compiler you got?... "We no got compiler"...

So I have to go to the chip vendor and ask for their compiler?... These people throwing this kit together don't have a compiler?  And don't have any recommendation of which compiler to use?....

Luckily I can look at the board and see the processor, so I know what architecture I'm going to target, but I was about to ask "What's the architecture", and I'm pretty sure he'd not know.

How to get the software as built onto the kit, also seems a mystery, there's no obvious portable slot, no ethernet, no USB, no serial... I can't believe I have to burn EEPROM's and plug them in... In this day and age, I've been told "Firmware take your software in, firmware do it"... but not been told how.

I swear, I could pull the last shreds of my hair out with this, not least because I have to appraise this for use by our whole UK arm before this guy jumps on a pre-booked plane ticket from Taiwan over to here.... Gah

Friday, 20 February 2015

The World Reacts to the Mighty Jingles - #9 India

We've all wondered, haven't we, what happens when Jingles releases a new Video?... In this new series I aim to help solve that mystery.... This week, India and this one cool dude is Swapnil Desai.  Some say he's developed a voice command recognition system; I however say he's ready to get his Jingles Fix!

Check back each Friday at 18:30 UK time for the next thrilling instalment, where might we find Jingles being Enjoyed?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Elite Dangerous - Trading Tools - Office & Server Update - Progress Pt11

Update: You can now support this project at Patreon!

Where have I been?  And what have I been doing?

Well, I've not been coding, not one line of new code has passed my finger tips.

What has been happening though is a complete remodelling of my office and work area, I've been to ikea and on my zero dollar budget (yes, no-one has yet dipped into their pocket to sponsor this project) I got a very cheap new table, a monitor rising shelf and made my power arrangements safe.

This new work area has then seen over 18 hours of solid testing, from system to system, station to station, collecting data.  As well as using the analysis tool to make advantage of it.

My next quest/test will be to allow manual editing, or at least suggested editing, of the database to remove, or correct those sometimes mis-detected names of commodities.

The test after that will be to go and find some rares, see how they process out, and begin a list of them spotted, so as they can be highlighted in the analysis tool.

The data collection server is also a priority now, the old Power Edge 2650 machines have been decommissioned, and I've actually donated them to a charity so they can perhaps sell them and make some money.  The new server is a Pentium 4 based box, which will be running Ubuntu Server, or maybe Arch... Though in the long run a Raspberry PI 2 running Arch may take over, if suitable network storage can be arranged, or if I can power a 2.5" 5V HDD from the Pi itself via USB for storage.

Cheap cheap, this is the way.

I've had more correspondance from potential users and people just asking for the program, it's not ready folks, help me to help you by supporting the project with a donation, or through patreon.

As for those still asking "why", simply because I don't want to run on my computer things others have written, I find some tools collecting market data must be simply opening the Elite Dangerous process, getting the tokens set to read the memory and slurping out all the data they want.  Frontier asked other projects to stop doing that, so we won't even state.

And then why am I doing this alone?  Because I like to code, it's my profession, not just a hobby, this isn't just a script thrown together in Python, or a slap dapse executable thrown out there with who only knows what malware attached, no this is a formal project, with revisions, a coding standard and it's letting me get to grips with OCR, something I've always thought about needing, but never got to use.

More updates at the weekend folks.

Update: You can now support this project at Patreon!

Friday, 13 February 2015

The World Reacts to the Mightly Jingles - #8 France

We've all wondered, haven't we, what happens when Jingles releases a new Video?... In this new series I aim to help solve that mystery.... This week, France, and it seems Mr Sarkozy is not that interested, like most French Tank drivers.

Check back each Friday at 18:30 UK time for the next thrilling instalment, where might we find Jingles being Enjoyed?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

HMS Dreadnaught

Happy Birthday, HMS Dreadnought....

99 years ago, today, a new generation of Warship was launched, concentrating all the main fire-power into rotating turrets, rather than both turrets and barbed emplacements along the length of the ship.

She was HMS Dreadnought and her name went onto represent a new era and new form of Naval planform, from which the great naval arms races of the early twentieth century would hang.

It is with great reverie many of us look back at the great navies with awe and even a tear, some of us had family or perhaps ourselves served in the Navies of the world.

For my part, I grew up hearing about life aboard His Majesties Cruiser Belfast, stories from my Grandfather, which I will be bringing to you over the course of the coming months.

But today marks the day on which Naval warfare changed, and the great stories and names of other ships came to prominence, Hood, Bismark, Repulse, Warspite, Houston, Enterprise, Ark Royal and all the rest would not have occurred without the direction given to advances by Dreadnought.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Elite Dangerous - Trading Tools - User Privacy - Progress Pt10

Update: You can now support this project at Patreon!

The boring bits of the Elite Dangerous Trade data tool... Yes, this weekend I've been checking as to what information I can extract without wanting to draw the ire of Frontier... Using OCR you can pretty much read anything, at least here in the UK, so long as I don't represent this as my data and I don't charge anything to access the information.  Which I never will.  Then we're free to collect information.

I believe tools like this go one step further, because you can argue we'll be showing off the internal complexity of the markets in the game and so perhaps selling the trade side of the game.

Anyway, as part of the boring bits, I also have to check with you, the users, what you want to let the program do.

Now clearly, by downloading the program you accept it's going to run on your computer... You do get that yes?... I had one guy, well lets say, he's a bit slow, he didn't realise I was writing a program, he asked to be a tester and when I handed him the exe I got this very puzzling reply... "Where's the script"... it's a program mate.. a program... an executable.

Anyway, the one thing you guys get to control is what, if anything, the program is going to do with your data, both the information - like your name you type in - and the actual trade data you collect.

So, I've got some questions being asked, and a new configuration file which lets you take control of whether you share your data etc....

This is the penultimate build which is behind closed doors, I'm soon going to be able to collect this data to my server, so we'll start to see the application out there for download and more of you to try it.

However, I do still need more testers... Comment below to volunteer!
Update: You can now support this project at Patreon!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Elite Dangerous - Trading Tools - General Update - Progress Pt9

Update: You can now support this project at Patreon!

Right, it's been a week, but I've not rested on my laurels with the Elite Dangerous Trade Data Collection, prior to my spending sometime playing the new Beta 1.0 and Beta 1.1 I had taken my first pilgrimage to Earth:

But it gave me a chance to test some of the commodity capturing, especially in the stations with lighter hangar backgrounds.

Capturing went all well...

As you can see, we have Sol XML data.  I visited the three earth stations, the moon station, Mercury and the platform at Venus.  It was interesting to immediately see taking Gold from Mercury or Venus to Earth was as profitable as my run taking Gold between LHS1914 and FK5 2550 - the main run I had been doing previously.

other asthetic changes I've made is just making the console application look better, it is a console application to collect the image data, because it doesn't need to take a lot of processing power to tell you what it's up to.
Under the hood I'm also adding user friendliness, as I had the process Id being manually entered, but this meant people had to open task manager, add the process id column and a bunch of other stuff, which people just didn't want to do.  Least not my two lazy ass testers - I NEED BETTER TESTERS!

So, now the application will enumerate through the windows, find one named the same as the Elite Dangerous client and try to use that process id, before it'll give up and just ask you to enter the correct Process Id.

Friday, 6 February 2015

The World Reacts to the Mighty Jingles - #7 The Third Reich

We've all wondered, haven't we, what happens when Jingles releases a new Video?... In this new series I aim to help solve that mystery.... This week, The Third Reich...

And is it me, or does the chap at the keyboard look suspiciously like our hero himself?

Check back each Friday at 18:30 UK time for the next thrilling instalment, where might we find Jingles being Enjoyed?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

4D Cinema

I've just been watching a report from the BBC's Jo Black about 4DX cinema, and it being invented in Korea... 4D cinema was not invented in Korea a few years ago, it was around at the American Adventure here in the UK in the 1980's and 1990's!

It was called the "Motion Master Theatre"...

You can see the BBC report here:

But you can find pictures of the 4D cinema at the American Adventure here:

The projector here:

The motion systems were controlled by a DEC PDP11 mini-computer of mid 1980's production vintage, I've seen pictures of this system, but never saw it in person.

You can find pictures of the Motion Control room here:

I have of course rode the very uncomfortable seats at the park before it closed.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

I broke Amazon

I broke Amazon... I've had an item on order since Monday, and at the time of ordering it was listed as in stock and I even paid for expedited delivery...

When on Tuesday it'd not been dispatched I really wondered why, so asked, but had no immediate reply, four hours later I started to chat with them and not only did I get my expedited payment refunded, but they insisted the item would be sent for delivery 1st class.

Unfortunately, since then I've seen the item appear as "Out of Stock", as "12 items in stock", as "Back in stock Friday", and as "In Stock"... So I've not been confident it'll be delivered.

Today, it's still not listed as dispatched, but it is still listed as "In Stock", however the price has risen £20... From Monday to Wednesday, £20...?

This is sold and dispatched by Amazon... I dunno, maybe my query cost them to answer, so they upped the price.

Either way now, if I get it before the weekend I'll be ecstatic, but just to get it for the original price I'll be happy...

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Into The Woods : It's A Fucking Musical!

Stop, stop right there... Yes even you at the back... Stop...

Watch this...

Right, you watched that, which is the official trailer from July 2014 for "Into The Woods"... Right, you may have recognised a few of the cast, James Corden, Meryl Streep, Tracy Ulman, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick and the delectable Emily Blunt...

Looks a pretty cool film from that trailer...

You know what this trailer totally and utterly does NOT contain?...


You know what none of those cast members are really known for?...


Johnny Depp, we forgave you for the Demon Barber bullshit, but why are you here in this for like five minutes flat?  Seriously, five minutes and you got a special "and Johnny Depp" in the titles...

Yes, folks, this fucking film is full of singing, it's a musical... Something I, my wife and my mother-in-law failed to spot before paying to see this fucking thing last weekend.

We went based on this very trailer, we saw that before another film a few weeks before and thought this was pretty much just our sort of thing... Ner.

It's a fucking musical, I saw it say at the beginning "From the Director of Chicago", and I thought... "I hope that's the gangster kind, not that singing shit"... FUCK.

We were genuinely surprised and a little let down, the film was okay, there are glaring problems with the plot, which they wound up and threw away... "Jack your mother died"... no she didn't, she bumped her head, what the fuck!??!?!

Meryl Streep was very good, but they just disposed of her character in the oddest way, and the ending was rubbish...

The family sat behind us in the packed auditorium summed it up best... As the little girl turns to her Dad... "That was a nice film, how long have we been here?".... And his reply "I don't know, but it feels like forever".

I nearly fell asleep at one point, but I'm not paying £9.50 to fall asleep... I feel a little ripped off, and I'd never have gone to see the film with a more representative trailer.

The November 2014 Trailer is different in one key way... Yes, it includes the singing.

Monday, 2 February 2015

General Update

I've been a busy boy this weekend, I've ordered some new network wire to bring Cat 6 Ethernet directly to the upstairs bedrooms, so I have that to fit out, I've organised all my finances after the house move and everything.

I've retired my two Dell Power Edge servers - just because they were so loud - and I've got a whole bunch of pictures of them for their going on e-bay later this week - they'll be sold as a batch lot, as I basically use one as parts for the other, but they're not shabby, the heavily used on is is ironically one of the cleanest machines I have.

Their replacement is a much more suitable Pentium 4 PC - my old World of Warcraft & Eve-Online machine in fact, it's a massive downgrade in power - we're going from dual 64bit Xeon's on a server chassis to a 32bit 2001 Pentium 4.  But it's all about getting away with leaving the PC running in the front room, where it'll be part of my internet provision of services.

I've also been servicing and modding my Saitek X45 joystick, I've got a friend of a friend sorting out a set of new springs for me, I've looked carefully at modding the handle, and also had the thing in pieces to discover what's inside.  I maybe putting together a whole post on this alone, as there are not many or much good information about this solid old stick on the interwebs.  Mine being 12 years old it's lasted a long time with no intervention.  It's played me through MS Combat Flight Simulator, the original IL2, IL2 Forgotten Battles and IL2 1946.

It started to get a little funky in War Thunder last month, I noted I could not keep my 109's from pulling oddly, I thought it was a trimming issue, but it was actually the lack in my spring.

Anyway, as I say, more about all that later.

In Elite-Dangerous, I've been out and about in the universe, I've taken my pilgrimage to Sol, I arrived there last night, and docked at Abraham Lincolm station just as Australia was coming into view below.  I'm going to take a better look tonight.  However, on the way, though I have a fuel scoop I did decide to stop off and dock at a station, just to update my save at that point.  The Commodity reading software worked a treat, even on the system name it had never been trained on before.  Going forward I need to improve the capturing sequence, as it's a little clunky even for me; and I created it; but data capture is working out really well now.  Capturing and the reading of the commodities, with my myriad of little updates and string swaps is working extremely well.

Aside from changing the capturing to be more, shall we say, slick; I'm also going to be adding threaded operation to the OCR, so as I can leverage some of the multi-core features on machines to speed up the reading process.  There is a notable delay at the moment between the images being captured and the OCR kicking in.  Yes, part of this is writing the images as bitmaps to disk, but the major delay is the serial nature of it going down the list, I may as well go down two different parts of the lists at the same time!

Apart form selling the Dell servers, I'm also going to be selling a really nice 1024x768 resolution CRT monitor, my last CRT monitor.  I'm only selling it because it's being retired along with the servers, it was their heads up display.  But it's one of those crystal clear displays perfect for coding with.

I'm also going to be selling the Samsung CLP-320 laser printer, because... well, despite being only 4 years old it's not survived, it still works, but there are fading in and out on the printing, I've replaced the toners (at a hell of a cost) and so I can only conclude it needs some tinkering with or servicing, which I don't want to do.  So I'll go out the door for spares & repairs on ebay.

If I get a decent price for all these bits of stuff I'm selling, I may be looking to get myself the £160 X55 Rhino flight stick, but this is perhaps a pipe-dream with the financial situation as it is.