How to disable Messenger Auto-sign-in via Outlook.com

2012/11/27 Leave a comment

I must say I am a big fan of Microsoft’s new web front-end for Hotmail – Outlook.com. The UI is very modern, minimalist and fast!

About the only complaint is that any time you browse to outlook.com via a web browser, it will automatically sign you into MS Messenger.  Though initially this may not be a problem, I find that you can rapidly reach ridiculous numbers of logons even though you may only consciously be using say one browser at home and another at work.  It got so bad that I was even prevented from signing into the desktop Messenger app in Windows Live Essentials.  If only there is a way to prevent automatic login.

Luckily there is.  Jonathan Kay has come up with a rather simple way to block auto sign-in which you can read on his blog.

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Categories: News Tags: ,

Autonomous Steering Update for Space Simulator

2012/11/07 3 comments

I recently added a behaviour for steering the ship towards a target destination; thrusting up to cruise speed; followed by a final deceleration step.  With a given velocity and breaking deceleration it’s reasonably easy to work at what point to start breaking.  This makes it nice to enter a point in orbit around a planet or perhaps a space station.

Next will be to work out an actual orbit based on either a given velocity or how far the orbit should be.  Fun days ahead!

Other updates include:

Though floating origin works rather well, the next problem is to scale the planets based on how far away they are.  “float”s don’t have the precision to otherwise model ranges of the distance from say the Sun to Jupiter and then to model Jupiter’s diameter.  It seems the solution is to treat things as continuous sub-scenes.  A topic for another day.

20121104 spacesim

Categories: SpaceSim Tags: ,

Space Simulator Screenshots

2012/10/23 Leave a comment

Here’s some spiffy pics of the simulator thus far:

Bridge

image

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The Earth with a nice atmosphere effect.  A quick implementation of atmospheric scattering

image

Categories: SpaceSim Tags: , , ,

Space Simulator Rewrite via Unity

2012/10/23 2 comments

I’ve switched to Unity 3D, both a game engine and game development environment for my humble Space Simulator hobby project.  Thus far I’m most impressed with the speed that Unity allows me to realise ideas and focus on what is more important – what the game is about. Far more sensible than spending time in other 3D APIs trying to implement a mini-map which may break in the next release of the API.

Unity’s asset and scene browsers allow you to organise your project logically and visually.  Setting up a scene is an absolute joy as opposed to attempting the same in code.   Files that have been created externally in say Blender, 3ds Max or Photoshop for example do not require subsequent import steps, Unity immediately displays changes.

Unity Pro also comes with some nice features such as:

  • Pro Image Effects including shadows; screen-space ambient occlusion (SSAO); bloom
  • Occlusion culling
  • Extended light-mapping (radiosity)
  • Deferred rendering with unlimited lights
  • HDR
  • A pretty dark-grey theme

I did feel guilty about the idea of using a tool such as this but that was quickly laid to rest.  For instance, we use nHibernate, StructureMap, Entity Framework, ASP.NET MVC and IDE’s such as Visual Studio and Xcode so the concept is not new.

Why re-invent the wheel?

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Metaphor

2012/10/02 Leave a comment

Playing Carrier Command: Gaea Mission without a functional AI is like buying a scuba tank with a hole in it – sure you can still go diving but it would be nice to not have to return to the surface every 20 seconds or so

Categories: Games Tags:

An Example of How Not to Implement Autonomous Steering

2012/09/30 Leave a comment

Although sporting rather pleasing graphics; sensible controls and some really nice concepts such as expanded building and upgrade types than the original, CARRIER COMMAND GAEA MISSION has absolutely the worst AI I have ever encountered in any game on any platform.

The "autonomous" (and I use the word lightly here) steering is a complete joke with vehicles completely unable to proceed from A to B without performing a near-infinite number of three-point-turns.  Why sometimes vehicles even wanted to initiate a three-point turn in some cases is a complete mystery.

Vehicles get stuck between rocks, drive off bridges, cliffs and ram into each other in that typical fashion we have come to expect in all Bohemia Interactive Software (BIS).

When you consider this is a remake of the fine 80s CARRIER COMMAND where AI is a centre piece, it is quite criminal to even attempt making something similar where AI was left as an obvious after-thought.

Whilst the original CARRIER COMMAND allowed you control your units through the AI whilst allowing you to jump-in at any time, CARRIER COMMAND GAEA MISSION forces you to constantly baby-sit and micromanage all units all the time thus defeating the purpose of multiple units.

Why on earth did they not use the brilliant work of Mr Craig Reynolds of Boids and OpenSteer fame?

Categories: Games Tags:

Well No, Macs No Longer “Just Work”

2012/09/16 Leave a comment

Last year I wrote about how things changed once I bought a Mac, well it has been over a year now and I wonder how things are fairing?

Things have changed drastically during the past year and it’s quite worrisome. Let’s review that post in chunks:

  • Apple TV and iTunes on iMac just work; do not forget each other

Well no, ever since OS X Mountain Lion (ML) if my Mac goes to sleep to conserve power, it’s too dumb to restore network connections properly once the Mac comes out of sleep.  Maybe it’s my router?  Did I mention I have an Apple Airport too? So now I have to tell it not to sleep which is sort of naughty in this green day and age.

  • Canon MX850 was automatically detected over wi-fi when plugged into Airport Extreme Base Station USB socket

This still works, yay!

  • Lacie 4big Quadra 4TB RAID was automatically detected and iMac kindly asked if I wished to use it for TimeMachine
  • Pressing big blue button on Lacie launched the brilliant TimeMachine app
  • TimeMachine is fast, intuitive, reliable
    Sadly this is screwed if my Mac does to sleep; the Mac does not wait for the drive to be ready before it stupidly tries to open iTunes.  Some times I have to reboot the iMac and/or Quadra.  Did I mention Windows has no problem?
  • Apple’s iMail automatically configured e-mail server settings just by me typing in my @me.com address

I have had no reason to redo this but that’s all pretty academic since iMail/Mail is too demented to restore connectivity after a sleep.  I have to rerun Mail.  At least prior to ML you could click the little alert symbol to fix it.

  • MS Messenger for iMac (via Office Mac) is much like pre-Windows Live Essentials meaning it doesn’t have the annoying ads but more importantly, uses less computer resources like memory and CPU in wlcomm.exe

Well sure, but sadly it does not support pasting images into it plus it’s missing all the features in the Windows Live Essentials version on Windows.

  • Apple’s Xcode IDE is only $5.00 and uses minimal CPU and memory

Xcode tends to crash – a lot!  However, Xcode is continuing to grow on me and they are adding new features all the time, sadly the debugger is rather featureless compared to Microsoft Visual Studio.

  • Though Apple may make use of seemingly vertical standards such as Bonjour, historically it can be shown that Apple is more likely to adopt more popular standards with more realized use cases than say MS.  Calendering is a good example

Mail, Calenders and Chat continue to support other non-Apple tech which is nice.

I’m not sure why I said Visual Studio is bloated, particularly when such criticisms are silly when no one is stopping you to install any version whether it be Express or Ultimate or any in between.

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