UK Patent Review

It appears that finally, the upper echelons of government (in the UK at least) are realising that the patent system is fundamentally broken and needs serious medical attention. It is, however, a little worrying to see a few too many quotes about reducing the complexity of the current system to encourage more patenting by SMEs, without explaining what to do about defensive patenting, patent hoarding by holding companies doing absolutely nothing productive, patent scatter-shotting where quality is irrelevent so long as a % goes through, and other such atrocities.

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Ubuntu 5.1

Well, I’m blogging this from Ubuntu 5.1 which I just installed this evening. It’s been a little while since I used desktop Linux, I’ve been using Debian or Gentoo on servers with a command-line interface alone for the past year and a bit and enjoy using them. However, the Ubuntu desktop install experience has left me somewhat underwhelmed, for a number of reasons: Installer wasn’t much above the bare Debian installer, and had a habit of just sitting on a blank blue screen whilst examining and / or formatting partitions, which can be unnerving.

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Parallel builds

This is another nice thing to see in VC8 since I’ve upgraded my machine: 5>—— Build started: Project: Plugin_OctreeSceneManager, Configuration: Debug Win32 —— 6>—— Build started: Project: Plugin_ParticleFX, Configuration: Debug Win32 —— 5>Compiling… 6>Compiling… 6>OgreScaleAffector.cpp 5>OgreTerrainVertexProgram.cpp 5>Generating Code… 5>Compiling… 5>OgreHeightmapTerrainPageSource.cpp 6>Generating Code… Yep, that looks a little odd because it’s interleaving the building of 2 projects at once - ‘5>’ is one build process, ‘6>’ is the other. This isn’t really news, but I didn’t have a HT chip before so never saw this until this week.

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Well, the Microsoft marketing machine is in full swing again. I can only imagine the despair of MS engineers when they see what the marketing guys do to their creations. It’s recently been announced that Vista will appear in no less than six variations - that’s right, six. Now, we all know that market partitioning is one of the oldest tricks in the book for extracting the maximum revenue from your customers (latin: Bovinus Cashius), but this raises it to a truly art form.

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Well, I finally got my SATA drive issues resolved. As briefly discussed in the comments of the last post, on looking at the detail of the drive I noticed that whilst mine was in the same model range of those affected by the bad implementation of NCQ (DiamondMax 10, model number starting with 6B), the firmware version on mine was a few notches below that supposedly affected by the bug (mine is BANC1B10, the affected version in this family is BANC1B70).

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Gaah

Well, my upgraded machine has been yanking my chain all evening. I’d resigned myself to losing the games drive and went to recreate the partition and format it, however XP was having none of it. The remaining 100Gb of my disk thus remains inaccessible, due to what seemed to be inexplicable format errors. Turns out now that there are actually known problems with Maxtor drives and the nforce4 chipset, for which Maxtor have issued a firmware patch, although you have to contact their support to get it.

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Upgrading…

Well, my stuff arrived today so this evening was dedicated to hardware upgrades. The new Thermaltake chassis is indeed very nice, and surprisingly light. As befitted the occasion, I ensured that I still managed to cut myself and thus christened the case with a bit of the old personal claret - not a fault of the case, I might add, actually a particularly sharp section of the motherboard blanking plate. After some swearing (whilst they may have invented ‘zero insertion force’ CPU sockets some years back, they still haven’t managed to resolve the 1500 pounds of pressure required immediately afterward to mount the heatsink) I managed to get the new bits in and working.

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Well, I got time to do more testing of the multi-SceneManager today, and amazingly it all seems to work; I now have multiple independent SceneManagers playing nice together and running pretty darn fast I have to say; that’s a Quake3 level, a LOD’ed terrain and a texture shadow test all running at once on my FX5900, each in their own separate subscenes. I think I see a few visual artefacts on the BSP level which I’ll look at, even though BSP is not our favoured format.

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Upgrades

I finally got around to ordering some upgrades for my machine here, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but just never seem to find the time. I haven’t upgraded the core of my main machine for over 2 years now, mainly because these days I spend far, far more time coding than playing games and thus not only do I not have time to tinker with the hardware much anymore, but having a graphics card that’s not the latest and greatest is actually a bonus - I’m always scared I’ll get sloppy if I’m working with the best all the time.

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Bushed

I’m quite pleased with the amount of work I’ve got done on OGRE over the past couple of weeks. As well as the things I’ve already mentioned in this blog, I’ve added a new ParticleSystem optimisation feature that lets you tell particle systems to stop updating if they’ve been out of camera shot for a defined period of time. Since particle systems can be CPU heavy, and you might want to distribute them around a bit, this should save some cycles and allow more particle systems to be used practically.

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