I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to get my local server situation sorted out - I’m still running an old version of Debian on my primary server, which works fine but really needs swapping for Ubuntu LTS now, and in addition, the hardware is getting long in the tooth. It’s still running on an ancient discarded home PC, an Athlon 1Ghz with 512Mb RAM and software RAID1 disks - and runs all my office functions (mail, web, test environs, backups, data sync, databases, you name it) beautifully with that.

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I can’t remember who made the assertion / joke that if you looked through an infinitely powerful telescope you’d end up seeing the back of of your own head, but I was reminded of that by a certain event today. In the last couple of years I’ve often Googled for a particular subject and ended up with the top hits pointing me back at one of my own posts in the OGRE Forum or on my blog, in a weird self-citing manner.

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In the grand scheme of things, nothing really very surprising was announced at the WWDC 09 keynote; sure, we got a few hardware revisions and some more specific details on the next version of OS X, but there wasn’t anything singularly shattering about it. And yet, when taken as a whole, I think it was one of the most important WWDC’s yet. iPhone 3GS A speed increase, more memory, better battery life, better camera, addition of a compass so it can know which direction you’re facing as well as where you are.

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I posted about this in the artist’s section of the Ogre forums already, but I figured I’d post it in my blog too. I’m looking for a content pipeline to generate normal, displacement and specular maps from reference photos, and I’ve been playing with the demos of both CrazyBump ($299) and ShaderMap Pro ($19.99). In my tests, CrazyBump seems to give me the superior results very quickly, and I’ve been impressed by both the default setup and the amount of tweakables it has.

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Now that I’ve had my 360 fixed & returned, I’m being pestered with requests to fill in a survey about my experience. Ignored the first two, since I was neither ecstatic nor furious about my support experience, so it would make a particularly tedious ‘ok I guess’ response. But, they’re insistent with their damnable reminder emails, so I tried to do it. I got right to the end screen, and then got this:

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Ahem. Yeah, that means my 360 came back today, fixed and happy. MS tech support have put a smiley-faced band-aid over its owwies, and now it’s all better. I took a long coffee break to hook it up and test that it works, and whether my DLC still works or needs re-downloading (answer, it does, and it doesn’t, respectively). Muchos gracias, señor Microsoft. Total turnaround time: 33 days, although it would have been 10 days less had it not been for the first support request disappearing down a virtual plughole while I was away for a week (and 2 bank holidays didn’t help).

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I’m glad that E3 is back - it adds a little excitement and pizzazz to the gaming calendar, and luckily this year it seemed to be pitched at about the right level - not the crazy-bonkers E3 of old, but big enough to be interesting. Whilst I think there’s a lot of other interesting stuff going, inevitably the ‘big 3’ console manufacturers are the shows that people pay most attention to, at least initially.

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L4D2

l4d left4dead 2 valve

Oh hell yes. My favourite co-op zombie apocalypse sim is getting a sequel! " Video Games | Left 4 Dead 2 | E3 09: Debut Teaser <div style="padding-top: 3px;"> <a style="color:#FFFFFF;" title="XBox 360" href="http://www.gametrailers.com/platformlist/xb360/index.html">XBox 360</a> | <a style="color:#FFFFFF;" title="PS3" href="http://www.gametrailers.com/platformlist/ps3/index.html">Playstation 3</a> | <a style="color:#FFFFFF;" title="Wii" href="http://www.gametrailers.com/platformlist/wii/index.html">Nintendo Wii</a> </div> <div style="padding-top: 3px;"> I'll </div> <p> I'll miss playing Francis though, with his vans/hospitals/small towns hates. </p> <p> Inevitably some people are whining that Valve should have done some new campaigns as DLC for the original instead, but given the choice between new DLC levels, and a sequel with new levels plus new special infected, new features (dynamic weather & level structure, comedy melee weapons) and other refinements, I'll take the sequel any day of the week.

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Many people have declared email to be dead in the past, and they’ve all been wrong. The typical play has been from instant messenger advocates, and most recently from Facebook. But, while these options have been a valid all-encompassing solution for teenagers and students, I haven’t met a single serious modern IT user whose life isn’t still driven primarily by email. There’s a reason that Outlook and Exchange are such consistent cash cows for Microsoft, and so many business people own Blackberrys.

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I, like many people, viewed the Bing marketing video last week, which promised not to create a search engine, but to create a ‘decision engine’ - if you winced at this blatant attempt at the ‘game changing switcheroo’, congratulations, you can join me on the ‘jaded technology observer’ bench. Despite my distaste at having to swim through the murky waters of marketing blurb in this video, the demonstration looked pretty nice - showing how the ‘decision engine’ picks out flight details, product reviews and other things out of your search terms and provides context-sensitive recategorisations such as price and specifications of digital cameras if that’s what you were searching for etc.

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