Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I’m pretty unimpressed with Vista, whether it’s the ham-fisted UAC implementation, the ‘burn resources for zero practical benefit’ attitude of Aero and the generally derivative nature of most of its enhancements. As an OS it rates very much in the ‘could do better’ camp, and when measured against a 5-year development cycle it edges into ‘what the bloody hell have you all been doing?

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Oh, the horror

I think the games industry has just demonstrated the very depths to which it is willing to plummet in search of game ideas with Chegger’s Party Quiz. British people my age will have fond (if slightly garishly coloured) memories of Saturday SwapShop which Cheggers (aka Keith Chegwin) presented with Maggie Philbin and Noel Edmonds (before he became an annoying git, or maybe I was just more forgiving aged 8 ), and who can forget Cheggers Plays Pop?

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Thunderbird has been my primary email tool on all platforms for some years now, and the relatively recent version 2.0 update was great. Let’s face it, Outlook is one of those tired old applications that was worth some money in bygone years, but email is so ubiquitous and commoditised now that pretending you can add real value in a commercial application without doing anything radical is frankly ludicrous. Its popularity continues to stem mostly from unimaginitive corporate policy, bundling with Excel & Word, and ongoing Exchange Server lock-in, and the associated spill-over into home buying preferences.

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Schrödinger's Mac

My MacBook Pro appears to now be in a state of quantum flux. As previously mentioned it worked fine yesterady when I took it in, and indeed I used it for most of the morning (testing) and most of the evening (doing some Dx10 work). This morning though, it was back to the same problem so I took it in again to demonstrate it. As if to mock me, whilst it at least demonstrated the problem on boot up, as I was filling the incident report form in and it was sitting idly on the desk untouched next to me, it suddenly decided to right itself.

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MacBook Pro Lives!

Typical. Not unwelcome, but still typical. After experimenting multiple times with my broken MacBook Pro last night, I’d given up and first thing this morning I took it to my local Apple reseller, iQ (actually there are 2 in the island, but iQ are ‘Premier’ resellers and that’s where I bought it). I was explaining the problem and fired the machine up, and what do you know, it was fine. 😕

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MacBook Pro Dies

Yes, I fired up my MacBook Pro today with the intention of getting on with some more Dx10 work, but was greeted with a completely corrupted display. It appears that other things are still working, as I can still make some things out through the garbage - right from power on I get the top third of the screen as mostly greyish blank, and the bottom two-thirds as a ‘smeared’ version of what I should be seeing, although when I tried sleeping and waking it, I temporarily got a correct login screen view in the top third but it slowly faded into garbage, whilst the bottom section was still smeared.

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Remote debugging tips

I used to use remote debugging as my primary form of debugging many years ago (we’re talking the early to mid 1990’s now), simply because it was impossible to debug code that was tinkering directly with the VGA registers to do things like Mode X any other way. These days I still find it useful although less frequently - I’ve used it to diagnose full-screen issues that couldn’t easily be tracked via simple log output, and at times I’ve used it to debug server applications (J2EE, via Eclipse that time) where the behaviour could not be replicated anywhere but a super-duper beast of a machine.

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Kong!

We’ve been getting glimpses of this in the OGRE Forums for a while but now you can actually have a play with it now; Kong! is a deathmatch / capture the flag game with a couple of twists; firstly, everyone plays as a brightly coloured monkey (and you can never have too many monkeys in a game, IMO), and secondly, it’s top-down, like the GTA’s of old. I liked the look of it before but playing it, it’s remarkably well polished - it includes AI-controlled bots, online play and an integrated map editor.

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Developer.com is on my fairly modest set of RSS feeds, and occasionally it has something interesting in it. In general I have found that over time, online articles on development from this sort of place have become less and less useful to me, probably because most of them are of the ‘getting started’ type, and I’ve been a developer for long enough that often I either already know what the article is about specifically, or I can see that it’s just another technical take on an old idea.

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Mmmm, Orange…

Yes, my pre-ordered copy of The Orange Box turned up today. Seemed like too good an opportunity to miss before the glut of Xmas games comes rolling in - I played Half Life 2 on release, but I hadn’t gotten around to playing Episode 1 yet, so this package includes four new things to play with, namely Half Life 2 add-ons Episodes 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. I wouldn’t call it five games in one really, more one full game and 4 nice add-ons.

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