In a complete and total surprise, my cousin presented to me yesterday the result of a grand conspiracy in the Ogre community to commemorate my time as project lead - a specially designed, unique Ogre statuette! Thumbnails below, click for more detail… I literally had no idea this was going on, or that my cousin had been asked to make the delivery that day (I thought we were just meeting for a social).

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It was my birthday this week, and from my wife I received Arkham Horror, a co-operative board game based on the classic role-playing game Call of Cthulhu - which in itself draws much of its content and vibe from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Set in 1920’s New England, in contrast to traditional western ‘horror stories’ (vampires, werewolves etc - all a bit pedestrian), Lovecraft’s world is filled with bizarre creatures and unknowable ‘Ancient Ones’ - slumbering horrors in the outer dimensions who threaten to wake and destroy the world, and the ‘Investigators’ the players control - which include doctors, archaeologists, flappers and gangsters - are trying to avert this outcome.

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After hearing on Twitter how an acquaintance’s new hosting provider went ‘mammaries skyward’ this week, much to their understandable annoyance, it occurred to me that I have some recommendations I can make on this subject. While I don’t host that many sites, I’ve been doing it for long enough and had experience of both personal and medium-traffic sites that I’ve experienced the highs and lows quite a few times already.

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I’ve never really liked Facebook, as regular readers of the blog will be all too aware of, but I’ve been a user of it in the last couple of years, mostly at the cajoling of friends. During this same period of time I also started using Twitter, a service which I was also skeptical about initially. Previously, I’d always relied on my blog, forums and official sites to do my interacting, and I wasn’t sure I needed anything else.

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Apple’s new flagship product, the iPad, was only just released in countries outside the USA last Friday, and I was fortunate to get my hands on one on launch day. Like many Apple products, this one has divided people, with a lot of people decrying it as a device looking for a purpose, a device that falls between two stools (not as portable as a phone, not as functional as a laptop), a device that is stifled within Apple’s walled garden.

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I came across a couple of interesting issues when I came to do the first pass of writing the text for the user-visible strings I’d been setting up for a Cocoa app I’m writing (painfully slowly as I learn the nuances of the environment), and I thought I’d share them. Full details are after the jump, since I’ve embedded a large script in the post.

The basic principle for text localisation on OS X is that, like most systems, you externalise your user-visible strings in string tables and reference them by keyed aliases in code - in this case using NSLocalizedString. Apple provide a tool called ‘genstrings’ which extracts all these into a template strings file called Localizable.strings which you can then populate per language - localised files are kept in folders called en.lproj, fr.lproj etc and helpfully they’re picked up by default like this.  So far, so good.

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Giving up the leadership of OGRE was a sad moment for me, but in hindsight it has also been rather liberating. For 10 years I’d spent most of my energy on OGRE or on projects that were related to OGRE. There was an implicit understanding both from the community and from myself that everything I embarked on would in some way tie into OGRE - and indeed my business has always been based on a constant balancing act between how I can make a living while also promoting and advancing OGRE.

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Spring is usually a time of change, and I finally got a gap in my schedule where I could wipe my primary Windows machine and install Windows 7 (64-bit). It’s had XP on it for years - my experience with Vista on secondary test machines quashed any desire to ‘upgrade’ my primary work environment, and despite owning Windows 7 for some months a number of things have stopped me installing it, from lack of driver support for my office wifi-connected all-in-one printer / scanner, to work commitments where I couldn’t afford to take the time out to reinstall and set up several complex environments.

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Yesterday saw a triple-whammy of sugary Apple gaming goodness: Steam for Mac was released, meaning all the games you own on Steam that are ported to the Mac can also be played there, free. Torchlight was a day-1 release on the service, meaning Ogre (and therefore code written by me) was among the very first on the service. Portal became free (for Mac and PC) Wow. A great day for Mac gaming.

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Our rampantly consumerist world has many facets, pros and cons to it, but one thing has so far been perceived as a universal constant - the quest for the ‘next big thing’. That one product, or class of product, that every man, woman and small furry creature from Alpha Centauri wants to get their hands on. In the technology world, analysts have long since been riding the gravy train of purporting to be able to peer sagely into this murky future in order to extract those world-changing gems that everyone would be invested in.

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