I always find Matt Asay’s blog an interesting read - even if I don’t always agree with him, his posts on open source are always thought provoking. Today he was talking about how Wikipedia’s contribution rate is falling and how that has parallels in open source; that the community is no replacement for a centralised, focussed team. He’s right on the core point - at the heart of every successful open source project there’s always a core team (or individual), and in the really influential ones, that team is usually funded - Mozilla is famously bankrolled almost entirely by Google, the Apache foundation has many, many sponsors including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, Eclipse has IBM, and so on.

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One of the things I love about open source is that there’s a huge amount of power in the idea that you can use, and indeed co-operate on, a whole ecosytem of generalised, robust, re-usable components, and then combine, configure and supplement them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts - into a final result which concentrates on being extremely good at a particular task. There was a time that to create something awesome in a particular space, you’d either have to buy in lots of expertise or you’d have to invent it yourself, before you ever got to the interesting bit that mattered.

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My wife & I loved playing Left 4 Dead. Sure it only had 4 campaigns and became repetitive after a while (but we still logged 30+ hours on it), but there was just no other game like it. Not only was it the best co-op experience I’d ever had, defly encouraging real co-operative play (rather than just feeling like you happen to be in the same game at the same time) without it ever feeling forced, but it was also without doubt the best zombie apocalypse simulator ever.

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What a difference a few years can make. For a long time, Microsoft was seen as public enemy #1 of those who liked to promote, produce and consume open source (I’m deliberately not describing it as a ‘movement’ here - that implies political motivations which I assert that only a vocal minority have). It was entirely their own fault of couse; blustery, really quite bizarre tirades from the only two CEOs their company has ever had cemented their position as the McCarthy’s of the modern era.

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I took up playing the guitar a couple of years ago, after almost 2 decades of not touching any musical instruments and forgetting just about all the musical theory that I’d learned. I’ve enjoyed it; despite not being that good yet, it’s nice to pick up a new skill and I discovered I still like music despite abandoning the study of it years ago. So I have 2 guitars in the house now, one accoustic and one electric.

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My broadband connection was on the blink this morning, which affected me less than it would usually would have because I had a dentist appointment, so I didn’t think too much of it. I heard on the radio when driving to said appointment that the whole island was affected so that made me feel a little better, and everything came back about an hour after I returned. However a friend of mine works at one of the local telecoms companies (and which is also the broadband wholesaler to the others - kind of like our local version of BT) phoned me at lunchtime to ask if my connection was back, since he hadn’t seen me on Skype (I’d actually just forgotten to turn it back on).

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The last 12 months have been a big adjustment for me. Just over a year ago, I almost lived at the keyboard of my PC - work, hobbies (mostly Ogre & general coding, but some PC gaming too). It was not unusual for me to spend 12 hours in a day sitting in front of a computer, coding away. I had a bit of RSI (addressed with low-profile keyboards and less mouse use), and some back pain on occasion, but I carried on because I loved what I did, and with always a huge list of things to do (and that I wanted to do!

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So, I’ve just about completed my practical experiments & review of Mercurial and Git.

In the end, I had far too many separate notes and sets of experiences to post, so I boiled the argument down into the 10 most important factors to me, and scored Mercurial and Git on a scale of 1-5 based on what I’d found when using them. Here are the (annoying) results:

# Criterion Git Hg
1 Ease of use - command line 4 5
2 Ease of use - GUI 4 4
3 Platform support - core 3 5
4 Platform support - GUI 4 4
5 Web Host Functionality 5 4
6 Reliability & error handling 3 5
7 Storage efficiency 5 3
8 Run-time performance 5 5
9 Flexibility 5 4
10 OGRE Community support 5 4
Totals 43 43

I’ll explain the scores, and my conclusion, after the jump.

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Penny Arcade tends to divide a room much like Marmite, but I like both. I was pleased this morning, therefore, to see Torchlight, a game deep within which little gears of my own construction are happily spinning away, featured as the news and comic of the day, and in a very positive fashion. [Penny Arcade tends to divide a room much like Marmite, but I like both. I was pleased this morning, therefore, to see Torchlight, a game deep within which little gears of my own construction are happily spinning away, featured as the news and comic of the day, and in a very positive fashion.

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There was a time when patents represented innovation. Thanks to the relaxing of patent rules as championed by the US patent office in a blatant attempt to curry favour with dubious business interests, and make a bit of money at the same time, those days are gone. These days, patents are a tool for those who have no business model other than litigation, either because their primary business model failed, or by design because filing patents and hoping a lawsuit or three will stick (or rather, be settled out of court) is easier than actually building something good.

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