Man vs virus

I hate getting flu whilst travelling - it last happened to me on the way back from Canada a couple of years ago, which wasn’t fun. Due to the awkwardness of living on an island with limited air links, my trip back yesterday required a connecting flight and a 4-hour stopover in one of the country’s dullest airports (Exeter). Unfortunately that morning I started to come down with really bad flu symptoms so it hasn’t been the most fun of journeys (not that it was really fixing to be anyway).

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I’m jumping on a plane for a business trip now and so my presence in the Ogre community will be somewhat more muted than usual until the weekend. It’s weird - I’d almost feel like I needed a sitter, if it wasn’t for the army of people doing such a good job already looking after the community 😀I know I’m at risk of repeating myself, but I don’t think it can be said enough - I really appreciate all the time people put in of their own volition on the forums, looking after other Ogre users.

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I’ve lamented a few times on this blog about the way the PC gaming industry has appeared to have been in a slow decline in the past decade, and how consoles now dominate our gaming landscape. Now, I love my console games as much as the next guy, but as a developer, such a closed platform is always a disappointment. I grew up in the UK where pretty much every kid who played games did it on a PC - not as we deem it now, but a Personal Computer, not a console.

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Busy week

Well, it’s longer than usual between blog posts, but that’s because I’ve been pretty darn busy. During the day I’ve been taming Houdini most of the week again, via a combination of sweet-talking and blunt trauma. God, it’s a beautiful tool for the user, but lift the hood and you find within a veritable labyrinth of unsignposted corridors, dead ends, fake doors and hidden pit traps. The enormous flexibility and abstraction that works so well for the end-user makes extracting the relevant data and figuring out the internal relationships somewhat challenging to say the least, more so when documentation is almost non-existent, and where it does exist, it’s often inaccurate.

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OGRE Levelled Up!

It’s done. About a year since we started planning it, Eihort (Ogre 1.4) has had it’s first public release - Release Candidate 1 in fact. The usual slew of last-minute issues raised their ugly heads but it’s out there. A few OSX updates didn’t make it in and will have to be delayed until RC2 but otherwise we’re there. I’m knackered - it’s been non-stop all weekend to get everything sewn up (heavily populated with disapproving ‘you’re still on that damn computer’ glances from my wife, whom I’ll have to make it up to), so I hope that everyone involved in making this possible will join me in sitting back and having a cold one - we deserved it 😀

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I just got a phone call from the British Computer Society, of which I’ve been a member for quite a while now, to let me know that I’m now a Chartered IT Professional (CITP). Nice. I’m a strong believer in professional and ethical standards, something I hope permeates all my work, even my previously spare-time work on Ogre, and I originally joined the BCS because of that - after all accountants and lawyers have professional bodies, why should IT be any different?

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Buried

Apologies if my replies in the forum and to email are a little more terse / slow / non-existent than usual, but I’m a little swamped right now. Houdini owns my days, and in my evenings I have a new server to configure (I’ve gotten used to SELinux now), plenty of email to deal with, an Eihort RC1 to organise (and there’s still some tweaking to do before that can be done), and a business to run (I need a full-time secretary I think ;)).

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Meeting Houdini

No, no, this has nothing to do with Hungarian blokes dangling upside down in straight jackets. Houdini is the name of a rather unusual modelling, animation and rendering tool that I’d heard of in passing before - a friend / former work colleague had used an academic version at university and was always extolling its virtues - but I’d never actually encountered it until this week. It’s not really talked about in real time graphics circles, unlike contemporaries like Max, Maya and XSI, but when you look at its rap sheet, you really wonder why it doesn’t get more attention in our field.

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SELinux - very handy

Those NSA techs know a thing or two about security - you’d kind of hope that was the case I suppose, especially if you’re part of the world’s current dominant superpower (at least for now ;)). They came up with SELinux in response to a need for kernel-level mandatory access controls which were very configurable to many levels of security clearance, and indeed in its entirety it’s a pretty complex policy-driven security system which greatly enhances both the granularity and strength of security policies over and above the typical Directory Access Control (DAC) approach you get with regular Linux filesystems.

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Surfing the game wave

So, enough work-related posts lately, let’s talk about games. I’m being seriously fickle with my gaming love these days. The Wii came out, I got Yoshi’s Island DS for Xmas, and I still had NWN2 and KOTOR unfinished from 2006, and now I’ve been foolish enough to pick up Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on import on a whim, since a couple of our local shops imports US games now and then.

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