Thoughts on APB

After a little prompting by Wrestlevania on twitter, I’ve written up my experience so far on All Points Bulletin (APB).

For those who have not been following the games development, APB is an MMO created by Realtime Worlds, set in the near future where vigilantism have been legalised, so a big game of cops and robbers in an urban setting. You can play as ether an Enforcer or as a Criminal, with Clans and Parties, all normal MMO features. Dave Jones (creator of GTA) is one of the main people behind the game and Realtime Worlds, and off the back of Crackdown it has been much anticipated. It use a different payment model to most MMOs, playtime can be purchased per hour or 30 day unlimited (GameSetWatch has a nice article on the Psychology of this.)

All this is all based on the Keys to the City event, so only on ten hours or so game time, also this is the first MMO, I’ve experience apart from a little tour of Everquest by my brother in-law, so I may be a little off on common MMO features.
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European Hacker Culture

I just started a new Open University course, most of the first few weeks is about the history of open source, mostly the book ‘Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution‘. Which was a nice refresher on open source even if its a little dated now but I do have to take issue with ESR‘s essay, A Brief History of Hackerdom, saying Europe had no equivalent culture to the Berkeley/MIT/Stanford.

Europe didn’t have the cheap local phone calls, so BBS‘s took longer to be come popular (which are documented in Jason Scott‘s great series) but I would say the demoscene and the cracker culture it grew out of was our starting point. Lots of (especially) game developers got their start in the scene and provided that same focus mostly around the Amiga. Giving european hackers culture a different style and shape.

Still little known outside graphics geeks and old 16bit people, as hacker culture has become more global, overshadowed by the current billion dollar Silicon Valley startup’s, the demoscene is still healthy and producing some wonderful art.

A Postscript to Ada Lovelace Day

Mostly for me, I thought it would be useful to list who else blogged about Limor Fried for Ada Lovelace Day this year:

Ada Lovelace Day – Limor “Ladyada” Fried

Continuing the hardware theme of last years post. This years is about Limor “Ladyada” Fried and not just because of her nickname.

Limor has made some great contributions to Open source hardware and has a good set of tutorials for the Ardunio, which were useful when I was first looking at playing with them.

Formerly she was at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center but now is a successful entrepreneur at Adafruit Industries which has been profiled on make, lifehacker and interviewed by Streampunk Workshop for last years Ada Lovelace Day.

Electronics like VLSI is one of those area that is seen as the dirtier end of technology all workbenches and soldering iron but women are making contribution and running successful businesses in these areas, so don’t be put off, get involved.

Honourable Mentions: Jane McGonigal for her great TED talk on why we need gamers, Gina Trapani for lots of cool productivity tips, Pippa Buchanan for the great DIY Masters.

Letter to Harriet Harman about the Digital Economy Bill

So following on from the letter to my MP, I’ve also written to Harriet Harman, the current leader of the house of Common to ask for a debate, some background over at BoingBoing and Richard King’s excellent letter, writing your own only takes a few minutes.
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Letter to my MP about the Digital Economy Bill

So tonight I finally sent my letter asking for a debate on the Digital Economy Bill, if you need some background Matt, Richard and @JimboGunn made better points than I could make about why the bill in its current form would disastrous.

Other people ‘s letter are starting to make a difference, so write your own letter it only take a few minutes and Join the Open Rights Group.

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Into 2010

Normally I don’t have a clear idea what I want to do in the next year but this year it does seem different.

Finish the Web Applications Certificate I started last year
I’ve finished the 1st year now, still waiting for the results on the course from just before Christmas, but this year I have Databases within Website Design, Open Source Development Tools and to finish up Server Management, Performance, And Tuning to look forward too.

A Weekly summary
Something I’ve done at work for a few years now. Seems lots of folks have started doing this recently on their blogs. I’m not sure if I do enough to do a summary every week, maybe everuy month make more sense. Which leads smoothly into…

Blog more
Being able to write better or at least faster is something I’ve been meaning to work on for a while, which is only going to happen if I practice (via Hacker News), only six post in the last year is pretty bad, plus like others say (via Hacker News again), I find writing ideas down does help me think about ideas and development them more.

So like John Greenaway, I’m going to try project 52 and blog once a week for the year

Make stuff
I think Pete Gilbert said it best:

Make a new years resolution: Start making things – real things – in the new year. And try selling them. #newmanufacturing

Which for me taps into the Get Excited & Make Things! meme and some of the ideas in Makers by Cory Doctorow (Review by Jukesie)

With more experimenting physical computing be top of the list, so hopefully I’ll have some results to of messing around with arduinos (Bath Arduino hackday wave) and processing and my plug computer.

Hopefully all this creating things will give me some cool stuff to blog.

More work on my family’s holiday villa
I seem to be taking over more and more of the day to day work plus the website really needs a revamp and I have some new ideas from my OU courses. Running as business has taught me more about business than working as an employee for ten years did and being able to try out idea right away has been a good learning experience, some worked well, some worked a little, some didn’t really work but I learnt so much from each one.

Read more books
I used to used to read so much, at least a book a week, but I got out of the habit, this year I’m going to try to get back into it. I’m still working not sure the best way to go about this, setting some target but the way Derek Sivers list them on his site seem like I nice idea for non-fiction.

Side projects
So early last year I setup a tumblr on building, Pied-à-terre as a scrapbook of ideas and details for houses plus as a testbed for the platform so I could work out how to best use the tool.

Towards the end of the year I ended up setting up a second one covering some demos I like and to stop them swamping my twitter account, The Demo Scene

The plan for this year is to updated the regularly, have a post a day on each for the year on Pied-à-terre. I’m not sure I’ll be able to find 365 demos to post so I don’t want to set the same limit on The Demo Scene but we’ll see what I find.

So one post down only 51 more to go,

Random Best of 2009

Just a very incomplete list of cool things from a the last year in a very random order.

  • Elevated by Rgba & TBC
    I’ve been a big fan of demos for a long time but this was something special. All this in 4K, I even ended up starting a tumblr on the demoscene if you like this sort of thing.
  • Starfleet finally on DVD. It was huge when I was growing up and still stands up today.
  • Rymdreglage – 8-bit trip chiptunes and lego, lots of clever bits you only spot of the second viewing, so impressed by all the hard work they put into the video.
  • Kind of Bloop: An 8-Bit Tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue another chiptune project, but really trying to push things. You could tell from the first post about it that it was going to be special. (Listen to the trailer)
  • Silhouettes Of Jazz, Love the technical way they used shadow casting to draw images combined into a nice film with a cool soundtrack, for me this was the highlight of the SIGGRAPH Bristol Animation Festival, really worth a look.
  • Pixel City In a former life I did lots of procedural generation (mostly terrain and planets), so seeing this very cool project was a really blast from the past and really got me thinking about doing some computer graphics again.
  • Bathcamp really lives up to its tagline ‘ideas and interesting people’, all credit to to Mike and the rest of the crew.
  • Like A Boss by The Lonely Island NSFW but very funny, I even ended up buying the album.

Edited to add 2010/01/06
Three more that I forgot:

  • Dropbox Just made sharing files between my desktop and laptop as easy as it always should have been. Windows, Mac and Linux, slick interface that stays out of your way until you need it.The freemium model works really well, with extra storage for referring people, discounts for paying for a whole year upfront. If you use more than one computer you need this.
  • Spotify much like dropbox, this is slick, doesn’t get in the way, and helped me listen to loads of new (to me) music since I installed the application. They still have some holes in the catalogue and yes the ads can be annoying, they don’t give a discount if you paid for a whole year but the experience of just being able to listen to pretty much any track right away is compelling.
  • DIY Masters is such a nice idea and really helped start think about a structure for all those things I want to learn and just taking the life long learn thing a little more seriously.