Shared posts

27 Feb 15:01

EU Commissioner Wants to Abolish Netflix-Style Geoblocking

by Ernesto
Markku.lempinen

I remember the NES-era country-specific blocks and I found them stupid. Just like the dvd regions and whatnot. These very pointless and very artificial limits don't quite work in this day and age (and they never should have worked in the first place).

ansipDue to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library.

The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube.

These regional blockades are a thorn in the side of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market in the European Commission. In a speech this week he explained why these roadblocks should be abolished.

“Far too often, consumers find themselves redirected to a national website, or blocked. I know this from my own experience. You probably do as well,” Ansip said.

“This is one of many barriers that needs to be removed so that everyone can enjoy the best Europe has to offer online. It is a serious and common barrier, as well as extremely frustrating,” he added.

The Commissioner is targeting an issue that lies at the core of the movie and TV industries, who license content per location. Ansip specifically mentions BBC’s iPlayer, but other services including YouTube, Amazon and Netflix have the same restrictions.

The geoblocking restrictions are demanded by content creators, who want to sell the streaming rights on a regional basis. To enforce these licenses, users from outside of the designated countries are blocked.

The Commissioner believes that this is an outdated concept which he likens to discrimination. If people want to pay for content, they should be able to, regardless of where they live.

“In the offline world, this would be called discrimination. In the online world, it happens every day,” Ansip noted. “I want to pay – but I am not allowed to. I lose out, they lose out.”

“How can this be a good thing? We put up with the situation because there is not much alternative. Now it is time to do something about it,” he added.

The artificial restrictions are not a market issue according to the Commissioner, but a matter of rights. These rights should be enjoyed equally and not just by the happy few who happen to live in a ‘licensed’ country.

“There should be no exceptions. Everyone should be treated the same. This is a key principle that underpins everything we want to achieve,” Ansip said.

The EU is currently discussing how copyright legislation in Europe should be overhauled and the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market hopes that measures against geoblocking will be part of the new rules.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

25 Feb 23:38

A five-year video timelapse of the Sun

by Xeni Jardin
Gorgeous video from NASA Goddard's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which recently marked a 5 year anniversary.

Read the rest

24 Feb 03:08

Idaho lawmaker asks if women could swallow cameras for gynecological exams before abortion

by Xeni Jardin
Markku.lempinen

ô_Ô
Why is it always men who come up with the most braindead ideas regarding abortion? I guess it's because they know they don't have to suffer through them :P

Christ, what an asshole. Idaho Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri. Courtesy Idaho State Legislature website.


Christ, what an asshole. Idaho Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri. Courtesy Idaho State Legislature website.

A complete idiot who managed to get elected to The Idaho House of Representatives received a female reproductive anatomy lesson today. Read the rest

23 Feb 10:57

More Crunch than crunch itself

by cliffski

Gah! this may be the year I dump firefox, its bugginess and post-eating crashiness is finally starting to try my patience… Anyway I am in crunch mode. I know that in theory indie devs do not crunch, but GSB2 was originally scheduled for a December 2014 release. That became January, January became February and now I am targeting the end of March. And although that sounds four weeks ago, in game-shipping terms it is only a few days of work away and this is why…

I want to be PC+Mac+Linux capable on release day and I need time for the port to be done.

I want to have *at least* French + German versions on day one and they need time to do the translations…

blog

Plus…I have a bunch of ideas/tweaks/improvements from the beta to put in *before* I declare it ready for any of that. And then… even more timing related angst because I am going to both GDC and Rezzed between now and release. MADNESS. (I have to attend both, because I’m speaking at GDC and also showing off GSB2 and Big Pharma at Rezzed…). This might work out ‘ok’ because with luck, people will be working on translations and/or mac builds whilst I’m at these things, which is at least something that can get done while I’m busy smiling at people at shows.

Anyway…

There is also some other stuff to dop, such as extra ship module graphics for variants and also steam trading card stuff. And of course a lot of testing and general QA/Polishing. Even as I type this, I’m starting to think *cliff you are nuts…it will not ship in March, FFS get a grip and let it slip a few more weeks*.

Arggh,

Anytway, if you can’t wait (and who can!) you can grab the current build of GSB2 when you pre-order-the-game here!

 

20 Feb 17:36

Slowly fermented over a thousand years

by Iain

It’s always fun when Star Wars fans augment the official canon with back stories of their own – and even more so when they illustrate them with LEGO. In the hefty build shown below, Daniel Stoeffler explains the origins of Sarlacc’s Nectar – the original Jawa juice – which is apparently extracted from [SPOILER ALERT!] the innards of Tattoine’s infamous Sarlacc.

Daniel even claims that [SPOILER ALERT!] Boba Fett used this futuristic moonshining operation as a way to escape from his close encounter with the Sarlacc. Read the whole story over at Eurobricks, or check out many detailed photos of this creation in the Flickr album (which at 66 photos may be a new record for a single MOC).

20 Feb 21:20

Superfish doubles down, says HTTPS-busting adware poses no security risk

by Dan Goodin
Markku.lempinen

"Despite the false and misleading statements made by some media commentators and bloggers, the Superfish software does not present a security risk."

Mmmhmmm... Right.

Following security professionals' near-unanimous condemnation of adware that hijacked encrypted Web connections on Lenovo computers, the CEO of the company that developed the finished product is doubling down on his insistence that it poses no threat to end users.

The statement, e-mailed to Ars by a Superfish spokeswoman and attributed to company CEO Adi Pinhas, is notable for making no reference to secure sockets layer, transport layer security, HTTPS, or any other form of encryption. Those technologies are at the core of security researchers' criticisms. They say the self-signed certificates, registered to Superfish and installed in the root level of every PC's SSL/TLS folder, makes it easy for malicious hackers and even script kiddies to build websites that trick affected browsers into behaving as if they're connected to servers for Bank of America, Google, or any other HTTPS-protected website on the Internet. In fact, there's near-universal agreement about this. Earlier today, the US CERT joined the growing chorus of critics with an advisory headlined "Lenovo Computers Vulnerable to HTTPS Spoofing."

Update: It turns out the vulnerability is easier to exploit than previously known. As this post was being prepared, a security researcher published new findings showing that a malicious hacker doesn't need the easily-extracted Superfish private key to perform a man-in-the-middle attack on PCs that have the Komodia proxy installed. That's because the proxy will re-sign invalid certs and make them appear valid to the browser.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

19 Feb 14:06

Lenovo pre-installed malware on laptops

by Rob Beschizza
PC maker Lenovo reportedly sold laptops preinstalled with Superfish, a hidden malware package that injects advertising into browser sessions: "it can basically intercept everything and it could be really misused."
19 Feb 10:08

Lenovo caught installing adware on new computers

by donotreply@osnews.com (Thom Holwerda)
It looks like Lenovo has been installing adware onto new consumer computers from the company that activates when taken out of the box for the first time. The adware, named Superfish, is reportedly installed on a number of Lenovo's consumer laptops out of the box. The software injects third-party ads on Google searches and websites without the user's permission. This is bad enough as it is, but surprise surprise, the malware in question is actually horribly insecure and allows for some crazy stuff to happen. Superfish, an adware program that Lenovo admitted in January it included as standard on its consumer PCs, reportedly acts as a man-in-the-middle" so it can access private data for advertising purposes. The adware makes itself an unrestricted root certificate authority, installing a proxy capable of producing spurious SSL certificates whenever a secure connection is requested. SSL certificates are small files, used by banks, social networks, retailers such as Amazon, and many others, to prove to incoming connections that the site is legitimate. By creating its own SSL certificates, Superfish is able to perform its advertising tasks even on secure connections, injecting ads and reading data from pages that should be private. Do not buy Lenovo. In fact, do not buy any Windows PC that is not a Signature Experience.
17 Feb 17:59

WATCH: American kids react to breakfasts from around the world

by Mark Frauenfelder
Markku.lempinen

The so-called Finnish breakfast is just nonsense - or I'm not a Finn :p

American kids attempt to eat traditional breakfasts from Korea, Brazil, Finland, Vietnam, Poland, and Netherlands. (more…)

16 Feb 16:23

Human vs eight-switch Useless Machine

by Mark Frauenfelder

The Useless Machine Advanced Edition: eight times more useless than the original!

16 Feb 13:02

Tiger 2 / King Tiger

by Sariel
Markku.lempinen

A lego Königstiger? Yay!

Small-scale model of the King Tiger tank. Features 4 remote-controlled functions and custom stickers.

Datasheet:

Completion date: 15/02/2015
Power: electric (Power Functions)
Dimensions: length 28 studs (not including the barrel) / width 16 studs / height 14 studs (not including the antenna)
Weight: 0.714 kg
Suspension: none
Propulsion: 2 x PF M motor geared 3:1
Motors: 2 x PF M motor, 2 x Micromotor

After I’ve built my Tiger XL model, I got plenty of requests to build Tiger II. I was reluctant at first, because it seemed that at the same scale, large part of the chassis would be almost identical to that of my Tiger XL, but then I did some math and it occurred to me that I could try building a fully motorized Tiger II at small scale, with tracks of older type.

The original King Tiger isn’t as iconic as Tiger I tank, even though it was much more deadly. It’s fair to say that Tiger I’s fearsome reputation was partially product of Nazi propaganda, while Tiger II deserved every bit of horror it evoked. It was pretty much the most terrifying thing you could see on WW2’s battlefield, it was terrorizing Allies throughout the Ardennes campaign and up to the very last day of war, and some sources claim that Soviet crews would sometimes abandon their tanks at the very sight of King Tiger.

Many consider Tiger I to be the first true heavy tank but also a somewhat premature one. In this regard, King Tiger represented a mature concept of the heavy tank: it was improved and perfected, but also suffered from typical disadvantages of the heavy tank: monstrous fuel consumption and poor mobility, as many bridges and roads were simply unfit for a vehicle weighing nearly 70 tonnes. At the same time, it was tank that sported what is commonly considered the best tank cannon in entire World War 2, and a front armor that according to some records has never been penetrated in combat. It was a tank that could easily kill Allied tanks from 2 km away or more, and it only grew deadlier at closer range. It benefited from many improvements over Tiger I, such as sloped interlocking armor plates and a powerful multi-speed turret traverse system capable of doing a full rotation in just 10 seconds. We should be thankful that less than 500 of these tanks were ever produced because every single one was nothing short of a nightmare to WW2 tank crews.

My primary goal with the model was to make it fully remote-controlled at such small scale (effectively 1:34 scale) without compromising it too much. There are many static King Tiger models at this particular scale and I wanted to create a working one that could compete with them aesthetically.

On the technical side, the model was fairly simple. There was no suspension due to the lack of space, and propulsion system consisted of two PF M motors driving the front sprockets at 3:1 ratio that was forced simply because there was no room for a gear larger than 8-teeth one. Two PF IR receivers were located above the propulsion system, with their tops exposed on the front deck in places where hatches would be. The 8878 rechargeable battery was located longitudinally at the back of the hull because hull’s sloped sides made it impossible to install it crosswise, and it was turned on/off by pressing a 2×2 round dish on the rear deck. There was no turntable – instead the entire turret was simply sitting on top of an ungeared Micromotor. Another Micromotor was located at the back of the turret, controlling cannon’s elevation at 3:1 gear ratio. This necessitated use of the 24-teeht gear, making the turret slightly taller than it should have been.

The looks of the model were far from perfect. Firstly, I prefer to build my tanks in dark gray and this model only confirms this preference to me, but seeing as a number of necessary pieces was not available in dark gray, I decided to give light gray a try. It seemed straightforward to me at first, since light gray is a popular and common color, but I’ve run into some surprises along the way – most notably, I was shocked to find that slotless pin joiners I wanted to use to make the barrel perfectly round sell for about $4 apiece. I needed 6 of those, and with shipping from multiple shops included I would need to blow some $40 just to get part of the barrel a little rounder – an extravagance I simply couldn’t afford.

Secondly, while static models can be very fragile, a motorized and driving tracked model needs to be considerably stronger, especially when there is no suspension to absorb vibrations from the tracks. For this reason the mudguards and side skirts of my model were not accurate – I kept them simple and strong when they should be slightly sloped and lowering towards the rear. The turret was not only somewhat too tall, but also too wide in the front, and not sloped enough in the back – a result of it being almost completely filled by the cannon elevation mechanism. Finally, the model’s ground clearance was notably smaller than with original vehicle, because the hull had to be deep enough to house the PF IR receivers and the battery.

All in all, it was imperfect model but a good exercise at building very small. It worked flawlessly and looked much more accurate than my earlier attempt at tiny motorized tanks: my first Tiger model. While it did have a number of accuracy issues, it was simply nice both to watch and to play with. It was also my first model to use foil stickers of my own design. I think they are better than paper stickers, at least on bright-colored LEGO pieces, but the problems I was unable to solve so far is that they are partially transparent and that it’s impossible to put white color on them. That means they are still far behind the technology used for the official LEGO stickers.

Work in progress photos:

dsc03291.jpg dsc03417.jpg dsc03586.jpg

Photos:

1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg dsc03805.jpg dsc03809.jpg dsc03817.jpg dsc03819.jpg dsc03836.jpg dsc03853.jpg dsc03870.jpg dsc03878.jpg dsc03881.jpg dsc03888.jpg dsc03898.jpg dsc03901.jpg dsc03913.jpg dsc03933.jpg dsc03957.jpg original1.jpg original2.jpg original3.jpg original4.jpg original5.jpg research.jpg

Video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Media coverage:

Kotaku, The Lego Car Blog

13 Feb 18:50

Photo

Markku.lempinen

Moomin approach to life ftw 8)



14 Feb 12:20

LEGO unveils the Ultimate Collector Series TIE Fighter [News]

by Iain
Markku.lempinen

I may need one of these... And if they come up with a TIE/I, I most definitely would need one!

This morning at the New York Toy Fair, LEGO revealed its latest addition to the Ultimate Collector Series (UCS), the 75095 Star Wars TIE Fighter. The set will be available directly through LEGO via their online store beginning May 2015, and is expected to retail in the US for $199.99.

 
Here are some details, provided by LEGO:

“This large-scale LEGO-brick rendition of the classic Imperial starfighter has intricate detailing, as well as an opening top hatch and an exclusive TIE Fighter Pilot minifigure with a blaster pistol. And when you want to keep it safe from Rebel attack, mount the model on the display stand and keep yourself updated with all the key facts and figures on the included fact plaque. The Ultimate Collector Series TIE Fighter is the perfect addition to your Star Wars collection! The UCS TIE Fighter measures 18.5in (47cm) high, 12in (30.6cm) long and 12.2in (31cm) wide.”

And for an up-close and personal look at the set, here is the LEGO designer video:

13 Feb 18:47

Explore This Rare Gallery of Hyper Detailed Star Wars Models

by Gareth Branwyn
Markku.lempinen

Good old scale models. They're just beautiful 8)

starWarsModel_1The site Slightly Warped Curiosities has posted this wonderful, rare gallery of close-up photos of the Industrial Light & Magic spaceship models used in the first Star Wars trilogy. Anyone who scratch-builds models knows the importance of “grebble” — that’s the baroque surface detail–usually cool-looking bits “kit-bashed” from other models–added to […]

Read more on MAKE

13 Feb 21:30

On Kickstarter, everyone is Peter Molyneux

by Kyle Orland
Markku.lempinen

I did take part in the Godus kickstarter, just in case Peter managed to get something closer to Populous than his later doings. Overly optimistic, knowing how the ROI of his plans have been in the last decades, I know, but I felt like giving it a shot and him a chance.

Since I got access to the beta in Steam, I've had a go at three versions, each with new worlds. It's just not *fun*.

Peter Molyneux and his team at indie developer 22Cans have not been having a good week. It started on Monday, when Rock Paper Shotgun published a report highlighting the fact that Kickstarter backers are still waiting for a promised PC version of god-game Godus, nearly two years after the game exceeded £500,000 in funding. Though the Kickstarter pitch promised development would take "seven to nine months," backers are still stuck with a buggy "early access" PC version that is missing key features like combat, a "hubworld," and multiplayer support (a mobile version of Godus launched last year with the help of a third-party publisher).

Despite this, recent reports suggest that 22Cans was planning to shrink the Godus development team in favor of a newly announced mobile project, The Trial. As one frustrated new 22Cans developer put it on the game's message boards, "to be brutally candid and realistic I simply can't see us delivering all the features promised on the Kickstarter page, a lot of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now especially the persistent stuff like hubworld." Molyneux and his team took to YouTube to reassure backers, and the public at large, of the game's continued development.

Molyneux and members of the Godus team offer apologies and updates on the game's status.

The bad news continued on Wednesday, when Eurogamer published a fascinating piece about Bryan Henderson, who had won the opportunity to share in the revenues from Godus in exchange for serving as the game's first "God of Gods." After some initial enthusiasm on both sides, contact between Henderson and 22Cans fell away, and the promised revenue share and "God of Gods" functionality are still pending more than 18 months later. In response to Eurogamer's article, Molyneux said he "totally and absolutely and categorically apologize[s]" to Henderson for not living up to his promises.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

11 Feb 23:44

Why are you unvaccinated?

by Jason Weisberger
Markku.lempinen

I honestly can't understand how there are people in a supposedly civilized country, who don't vaccinate their children :s

attribution: matt bors


attribution: matt bors

Cleanly sums it up. (via Daily Kos)

10 Feb 21:38

A most excellent Star Wars Millenium Falcon cake

by Xeni Jardin
444

This Star Wars-themed cake by by Cup A Dee Cakes includes so many loving, nerdy details: panels, access hatches, floodlights, all in an array of edible hues. Read the rest

06 Feb 16:10

Build your own working Lego ballista

by Nannan

Jason Allemann has come up with a design for Lego ballista that can launch a 2×4 brick 15 feet (which will let you hit almost any target in even the biggest dioramas). The best part is that he has posted step-by-step instructions for you to build your own. Time to get ready for battle!

Flying Elephant VS LEGO Ballista. Fight!

06 Feb 10:00

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is in beta at last… RIGHT NOW

by cliffski
Markku.lempinen

I'm... most intrigued.

Oh god the fear…game launches are terrifying. And this isn’t release day it’s beta day but still…let this trailer do some of the talking…

So yup, GSB2 is now taking pre-orders direct from my site, and this gives you access to the beta. You can grab it right now from here:

http://www.gratuitousspacebattles2.com/

Note that this is a proper beta, not some super-early-access proof of concept thing where most of it doesn’t work. In other words, most stuff works! it’s playable. Hopefully its fun! It’s PC-only and English only for now, but that will change come-release. There will of course be bugs, and myriad balance issues. And I will be adding some extra voiceover and a few other bits and pieces. But hopefully this is something you can play and enjoy right now. You get a download link, an online serial (for challenges, if you want to use them), and a steam code for its eventual steam release (the code obviously isn’t working yet).

PLEASE tell people you know about it, this is really appreciated. If you are a member of the press, please check your inbox, and if you don’t hear from us today please email me at cliff At positech etc… and I will put you in touch with *my people*. Yeah that’s right, cliffski got people now :D.

And of course, we have forums that you can go chat on and offer feedback and suggestions, criticism, maybe even some praise for things you like? and ask questions about stuff. You can log in to my forums with google or twitter or facebook, or manually sign up for an account. We also have a facebook page.

Holy cow I’m nervous. I actually feel sick.

04 Feb 20:32

Philly TSA supervisor Charles Kieser sent a traveller to jail for asking to file a complaint

by Cory Doctorow
Markku.lempinen

TSA ,wtf...

After sending Roger Vanderklok for jail for the audacity of asking to file a complaint, Philadelphia International Airport TSA supervisor Charles Kieser then lied about what happened on the stand in court. He fabricated an aggressive confrontation and a bomb threat, neither of which are in evidence on the CCTV footage or in the police report. His victim was help incommunicado in jail, panicking his wife who had no idea where he'd gone. Kieser gets to keep his job.

Read the rest

03 Feb 23:01

How to Extend the Life of Pricey Hobby Paints

by Gareth Branwyn
Markku.lempinen

I moved from Citadel paints to Vallejo just because of that: the citadels dried up damn quick, a couple of them before I got to actually use them! And that was a couple of citadel paint generations ago.

citadelDropperPaints_1Has Games Workshop/Citadel Miniatures finally come to their senses and started releasing paints in convenient, air-tight dropper bottles? Hardly. But frustrated with Games Workshop bottles’ notorious habit of drying up long before the paint is gone, a hobbyist took matters into his own hands. Using dropper bottles found on eBay, […]

Read more on MAKE

03 Feb 16:03

Mine Craft: Decommissioned Naval Weapons Repurposed Into Beautiful Furniture

by Gareth Branwyn
Ahi_01Estonian artist and sculpture, Mati Karmin, makes beautiful wood stoves and furniture from decommissioned naval mines.

Read more on MAKE

03 Feb 18:16

Gratuitous Space Battles 2, the brand new ship classes…

by cliffski

So if you have played the original Gratuitous Space Battles game, you will remember that there were three classes (or crudely put: ‘sizes’) of ship in the game. They were cruisers, frigates and fighters. In simple terms, cruisers were the big damage-dealing and damage-soaking tanks, frigates were the smaller, faster raiders, and fighters were tiny things that zipped about and sneakily shot through enemy shields at very close range, plus enjoyed some aesthetically pleasing dog-fighting with enemy fighters. This was pretty simple and obvious, but it didn’t lead to enough variety, and thus we have doubled the number of ship sizes/classes this time round. So here they are, and here is what they do…

Fighters

Same as before, the small fast little one-lifeform dogfight ships, that can also carry some small missiles and do damage to enemy frigates & destroyers, but not much else. The big changes in GSB2 are that these ships (and this also applies to gunships) need to be brought to the battle aboard a carrier, and need to refuel now and then. (depending on how big the fuel tanks are you fit to them of course :D)

Gunships.

blog_gunships

These are new. basically big fighters, more power, more hull slots, able to mount two weapons at a pinch rather than one, so consequently they can also pack enough armor to survive one or two shots and still make it back for repairs, unlike many of the smaller, cheaper fighters.

Frigates

These are quite deliberately targeted to be raiders this time round. They are faster, and more geared towards attack. They are vulnerable to fighters. Ideally deployed in a nice big formation and told to keep moving to leverage their speed and avoid getting hammered by the slow-tracking cruiser & dreadnought guns.

Destroyers

blog_destroyerss

These are support-ships, that you will generally find escorting or in formation with a cruiser or dreadnought. They are roughly the same size as frigates, and share some of the same module choices. They have special ability modules such as shield support beams, propulsion support, and defensive systems such as point defense and guidance scramblers. These don’t generally attack they enemy, they defend your bigger ships against attack.

Cruisers

The main line-of-battle ships. these do the majority of the damage, blasting enemy cruisers and frigates to bits with serious weaponry and decent defenses, meaning they will last a good time into the battle, even in the middle of things. They have the capability to act as carriers, and have some of the big, scary weapons. Cruisers can also take on enemy dreadnoughts, and actually share quite a few module choices with them.

Dreadnoughts

blog_dns

The ultimate ship. This is the ship that a fleet is built around, and you are unlikely to have many of them deployed at once. Expensive, big, very slow, and capable of carrying the biggest weapons available. Like cruisers, they are vulnerable to missiles and fighters, and rely on an escorting group of destroyers to defend them from enemies while they deliver the killer blow. Ideally suited as carriers, that stay at the rear of the battle, refueling and repairing endless squads of fighters. Losing a dreadnought in battle can be a disaster.

I think this variety is going to add a lot to the game. Right now it’s not, I have to admit, as balanced as it could be, but that will be something endlessly debated and tweaked during beta. I’d like there to be really distinctive roles for each class and that is going to mean a lot of restricting modules to one type or another, and maybe adding a bunch of new ones. If you don’t want to wait until all thats sorted out, and want to get your tentacles dirty with the beta, we are taking pre-orders and giving out beta copies to people who pre-order starting this friday… So keep an eye on this blog, or our facebook page.

01 Feb 15:55

A preview of space ship design in Gratuitous Space Battles 2

by cliffski
Markku.lempinen

I was sold on GSB2 as soon as Cliffski announced it, thanks to GSB itself :p

So we are only a few days away from the GSB2 beta (oh yes), and I thought I’d write up a little preview about the basics of spaceship design in the game…

As you probably know Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is a game about ship design and fleet design, not really a typical real-time strategy game where you give individual instructions during a battle. As a result, what really matters is your ability to perfect a decent spaceship design, one which is efficient and effective in battle. This is harder than it sounds. In GSB2, like the original game, you select a ship ‘hull’ from a list of presets, and then equip it with modules that contains engines, weapons, defenses and other abilities…

design1

The trick is balancing all the different attributes of a ship to get the right mix. Basically everything you select has a cost, a weight, and probably both a crew and power requirement (plus many more attributes specific to that type of module). Cost means you will be able to afford more or less of these ships in any given fleet. Heavier modules make a heavier ship, which makes them slower (which is countered by more engines…). The last two requirements (crew & power) are often the two you spend time fussing over.

crew

Each hull in GSB2 (unlike the original game) comes with some power generation and crew supplied, but you are likely to need to add to that with extra modules. There are power and crew modules in various sizes, but getting the exact balance right, where you have enough of both, but are not wasting capacity on surplus power (wasted) or surplus crew capacity (again…wasted) can be tricky. This also leads to a lot of head scratching and chin-rubbing. You *could* add another engine, but if the engine needs more power and that demands another powerplant, then actually will the heavier weight reduce the ships speed enough to mean that the extra ‘marginal’ engine wasn’t worth it? There are a LOT of trade offs, and ship design is an art.

icon_strip

As well as those variables, there are also lots more, such as range, damage and tracking speed for weapons, fire interval, salvo size, fighter capacity for carrier bays and many many more. Thankfully, the game does try to make comparing it all a bit easier than it sounds, as you can click on any variable associated with a ship module and it launches a handy list to show you how it compares against other modules for that particular attribute:

compare

This is just scratching the surface, because the choice of ship hull also affects how things turn out. Some are relatively cheap, some expensive, and many of them have bonuses (or penalties) to cost, power requirements, armor, and so on. There is no ‘best’ hull for each class, it really depends what you will be using it for? A tank, a sniper, a support ship, an anti-fighter platform? a raider?

This is a BIG part of the game. Part of the fun is fighting and winning a battle, and then working out how to do it with a cheaper ship. Every point you don’t spend on fleet cost gets transformed into ‘honor’ if you win the battle. If you beat your honor record for a mission, you earn the difference, so you can keep re-fighting a single scenario with a more and more cleverly balanced fleet to score as many points as possible.

…and of course, once you earn that honor there is the decision to make as where to spend it on the research screen. On a new hull? new weapons? new shields or engines? Or shall we be gratuitous and just spend it on a nice new decorative fin for one of our ships? :D

research

If you like watching huge at space battles AND the idea of studying starship blueprints to work out whether you can make your space cruiser more deadly for less cost you will be in heaven :D.

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is still in development, although pre-orders & beta are coming at the end of this week… Tell your friends! (and warn your enemies…)

30 Jan 16:57

Preparing for Gratuitous Space Battles 2 beta (and pre-orders…)

by cliffski

logo

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is approaching pre-orders + beta. You know the sort of thing by now. The game isn’t finished but you can pre-order now and get immediate access to the beta. Steam early access made it popular. So why not put the game into Early Access? basically this isn’t an early-access kind of beta. It’s a proper ‘we think it’s more or less done’ beta, like betas used to be back in the old days. It’s pretty much content complete (a few more extra graphics & voiceover await). It’s definitely feature complete. It’s definitely playable. it has been optimized a lot, and bug tested a lot. It’s essentially what my idea of a beta is, which is a finished game, with some rough edges, and maybe some compatibility issues. There are a few big things not done, namely translations and ports. The beta will be PC only, and English only. I plan on a Windows/Mac/Linux  and English/French/German/Spanish (maybe more) release when the game actually gets released on steam, Humble Store, GoG.

screnn1

So the beta will be direct-sales only, and will get you a download link & online challenge game serial (no DRM, don’t worry), and a steam key that will be useless until release.

So thats all the warnings and caveats. What will you get? You will get a VERY explodey, lasery, space-battley smorgasbord of laser-death and gratuitous zappyness that makes the battle at the start of the last star wars film look like an episode of Blakes Seven. I’ve kind of gone a bit overboard of the graphical shininess this time. I might have overdone the lens flares a bit, and the particles, and the everything else. And yup, the multi monitor stuff works fine in the beta.

wide

Gameplay wise, it’s Gratuitous Space Battles, but with more ship classes (hello dreadnoughts, destroyers and gunships) and better formation orders, better targeting AI, and *drumroll*… You get to design the ships yourself from components, so they look exactly how you want them. This is I suspect…a bit of a killer feature. It is VERY cool, to design a whole fleet of spaceships then watch them blow up your friends fleet.

So yup, it should be a lot of fun. It’s tons better than GSB1. I can’t believe how GSB1 looks and feels and plays now, this new version is basically laughing at it, like kirk laughed at khans superior intelligence.

Anyway…stay tuned. beta SOON.

30 Jan 15:03

theWAREHOUSE comic 934 – Diver’s City

by carlh

2015-01-30-theWAREHOUSE_comic_934-Divers-City

So if you follow theWAREHOUSE on Twitter or Facebook you’ll have already seen that I just found a triptych of paintings I did a little while ago and totally forgot about! Put them away some weekend when I was cleaning and – boom – out of sight, out of mind!

I’ll have to figure out some sort of contest or promotion or something to give the set out as a prize.

Happy Friday!

29 Jan 01:41

The PSF Brochure

by Mary Ann Sushinsky
Sometime back in 2011, the PSF realized that Python, although at the time a mature and widely-used language, was still unknown to many decision-makers outside of the tech world. To remedy this obstacle to Python's growth (and grave injustice), the brochure project was born.
For over two years, the brochure team, headed by PSF Director, Marc-Andre Lemburg, sought success stories and sponsors, in order to demonstrate to “CIOs and chief developers, scientists and programmers, university lecturers, teachers and students, customers, clients, managers and employees”  that Python could be the programming solution they were looking for. The brochure team also worked hard to ensure there would be no cost to the PSF membership by securing sponsors' ads to fund all printing and distribution.
Making its debut in April at PyCon 2014 in Montreal (issued in two releases of 5,000 copies each, with the first release running out almost immediately), the brochure was titled “python: a programming language changes the world.” The brochure makes clear in 32 pages of vivid detail why Python has become a leading programming language in business and industry, finance, science and research, media, education, the public sector, government, and charity worldwide. 
Python's leanness (for example, "a task that requires an average of twenty lines of code in C and seven in Java can often be done with just one line in Python”), agility and flexibility, ease of teaching and learning, capacity for system integration, along with the extremely large number of libraries available, were cited in the brochure over and over again as reasons for its use. According to Chuck Groom – Head of Engineering at the Seattle SurveyMonkey office, “The transition to Python from NET has been a great success. Our Python applications handle heavy traffic without problems. Developers have found it possible to add new features much more quickly than before. New employees get up to speed in a manner of days, and recruiting has become easier.” And other web-service providers featured in the brochure, including Google and You Tube, are just as effusive in their praise. 
Examples from science and industry also abound. ArcGIS (geographic information systems), who created the ArcPy module for data analysis conversion and management, identifies an additional benefit in describing the Python community as “an extended workbench of a company's own IT department.”  More scientific uses are described in the brochure by OpenQuakeOpenERP, and Intellovations (maker of ForecastWatch). 
Making "heavy use of Python," scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) are able to develop software that will, in the future, be put to use on Mars to search for signs of life. And at CERN, physicists, in only 6 months, were able to replace the C++ analysis framework used for choosing experiment parameters with Python. The result, “This new system has been in use for a few years now, and many problems that could not be solved using the previous system are now literally one-liners.”
Today's film industry is also shown to be committed to Python. Companies such as Industial Light and Magic and Side Effects use Python for their animation software and to manage production processes. Accoring to Tommy Burnette, head of Global Pipeline, Lucasfilm, "Python plays a key role in our production pipeline. Without it a project the size of The Avengers would have been very difficult to pull off. From crowd rendering to batch processing to compositing, Python binds all things together."  And Blender , “a free open-source 3D content creation suite," uses Python as its primary language.
Not to be overlooked, the financial services industry is also featured as greatly reliant on Python. Examples in the brochure include Swisscom IT Services and Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg. And companies such as eGenix.com, which provides Python-based software to the nation of Ghana for the collection of VAT revenue, point up Python's importance in contributing to developing economies.
The brochure also features several educational uses of Python that serve to empower disadvantaged learners, like One Laptop per Child (OLPC), which has provided laptop computers to over 2.5 million children and teachers in 42 countries, and the PHOENIX project (Physics with Homemade Equipment and Innovative Experiments) started in 2004 by the Inter University Accelerator Centre (IUAC) in India.
The above are just a few of the abundant and impressive stories highlighted in the PSF brochure. Visit the website or download a copy for more info about how Python is indeed "changing the world." And If you or someone you know would benefit from this type of exposure or if you have a success story you'd like to share, please let us know.



27 Jan 19:42

Me Grimlock not stupid

by Ralph

Considering all the rubbish TV shows I used to love as a child, I was undoubtedly very good at suspending my disbelief. However, even as a child I knew Dinobots make no sense whatsoever.

Grimlock: Dino and robot mode

I can understand that, for a robot of alien origin on Earth, the ability to turn yourself into a car and blend into a crowd might make some sort of sense. However, disguising yourself as a 15 ft. tall metallic dinosaur does not strike me as a particularly sensible way to become inconspicuous. I am also sure that their personalities irked me.

Sludge: Dino and Robot mode

Still, that does not mean Dinobots cannot be exceedingly cool as LEGO models, as shown by the tiny but fully transformable versions of Grimlock and Sludge built by Chief Supreme. I like the use of minifig headgear for the robots’ heads in particular. Dinobots may be stupid, but these are definitely clever.

27 Jan 15:34

How To Find An Object’s DrawGUI Co-ordinates In Game Maker Studio With A Rotated View

by Pentadact

Update: This was originally a post to ask for help, but now that we’ve solved the problem I’m posting the solution for anyone who needs it, and changing the title to make it more searchable. It’s a function that lets you find where an object appears on-screen, so that you can use the DrawGUI event to draw interface elements over it or annotate it, useful for tutorials. Original post follows, updates and working script at the end!

I have a maths problem in Heat Signature that I can’t quite get my head around, so if you’re into trigonometry, read on and see if you can help me! I think I know all the rules I need to solve this, but I can never quite reframe the problem into something I recognise.

In Game Maker, everything the player can see on the screen at one time is called ‘the view’. The whole game world is called ‘the room’. In my game, the view moves around the room and also rotates, to follow the action. In the diagram, the whole image is the room, and the rotated black rectangle is the view: what the player sees.

Finding view-relative co-ordinates

What I’m trying to do is find rx and ry: an object’s x and y co-ordinates relative to the screen, at its current position and rotation. I have every other piece of information:

  • x and y, the co-ordinates of the object, relative to the upper left corner of the room.
  • vx and vy, the co-ordinates of the top left corner of the view
  • theta, the rotation of the view, measured in degrees from horizontal, going anti-clockwise.

So, how do I combine those things to find rx and ry?

My usual method is to bash my head against these problems for a day or two, drawing endless diagrams and running tests and simulations in code. But lately I’ve realised how quickly some problems can be solved by just checking in with someone who already knows or finds it easy, so I’m trying that! Any help much appreciated.

Update: Thanks for all the suggestions so far! It’s possible that my diagram implies some assumptions I didn’t intend. To be clear:

  • y and vy are not the same, it’s just coincidence that they’re close here. No values mentioned are the same, related, or constrained by each other.
  • theta can range from 0 to 360, meaning the whole view could be upside down relative to the room.
  • vx and vy are the ‘top left’ of the view when it’s at theta 0. It rotates around that point as theta increases, meaning it could end up not being the top left. I am mistaken about this! See below.
  • The object can be completely outside the view, we still want to know rx and ry even if they’re negative or larger than the view size.

To illustrate the full shittiness of the problem, here’s another diagram this also has to solve:

Finding view-relative co-ordinates nightmare mode

Update 2: The plot thickens! The reason nothing has worked for me so far is that I have misunderstood how the view rotates. vx and vy do stay the same as it rotates, BUT the rectangle itself rotates around its center! So for most angles, vx,vy is well outside the screen area! Bizarre! We still need rx,ry relative to what the player will see as the top left of the screen.

Of your many clever and much appreciated suggestions, the two I’ve had most success understanding and implementing are, roughly:

The Andrew/Andrey ‘cos-sin’ version

xDifference = x – view_xview[0]
yDifference = y – view_yview[0]
Angle = view_angle[0] * -1

GUIx = (xDifference * dcos(Angle)) – (yDifference * dsin(Angle))
GUIy = (xDifference * dsin(Angle)) + (yDifference * dcos(Angle))

The Puzey/Varanas ‘arctan’ version

xDifference = x – view_xview[0]
yDifference = y – view_yview[0]
Distance = point_distance(0,0,xDifference,yDifference)
Angle = darctan(yDifference/xDifference) – view_angle[0]

GUIx = Distance * dcos(Angle)
GUIy = Distance * dsin(Angle)

These both work at view_angle[0] = 0, but drift in a circular way when the view is rotated, because it’s not rotating around the point I thought it was. The point it’s rotating around must be something like:
view_xview[0] + (view_wview[0]/2)
view_yview[0] + (view_hview[0]/2)
But we still need co-ord relative to ‘the top left of the screen’, which is something I no longer even have a variable name for.

Now that I know this I might have a way of figuring it out, will update if I do so.

Update 3: Got it! For anyone who needs it, here’s a rotation-proof function to find an object’s position in screen co-ordinates, for us in the Game Maker Studio’s DrawGUI function so you can draw HUD elements over it and annotate it and stuff. Now accounts for zoom too!

Thanks so much to everyone who helped!

var ViewCenterX = view_xview[0] + (view_wview[0]/2);
var ViewCenterY = view_yview[0] + (view_hview[0]/2);
var Zoom = view_wport[0] / view_wview[0];

var MyDistanceFromCenter = point_distance(ViewCenterX,ViewCenterY,x,y) * Zoom;
var MyDirectionFromCenter = point_direction(ViewCenterX,ViewCenterY,x,y);

var NewDirectionFromCenter = MyDirectionFromCenter + view_angle[0];

GUIx = (view_wport[0]/2) + lengthdir_x(MyDistanceFromCenter,NewDirectionFromCenter)
GUIy = (view_hport[0]/2) + lengthdir_y(MyDistanceFromCenter,NewDirectionFromCenter)

24 Jan 23:32

superbestiario: “I saw that the camera could be a weapon...

















superbestiario:

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” – Gordon Parks

Segregation history, Gordon parks. 1956

This isn’t ancient history. This was NORMAL and ACCEPTED in America in my parents’ lifetime.

We still have a lot of work to do, to realize the promise of equality in this country.