NI21 announces Local Government Candidates

by Matt Johnston on April 23, 2014

Credit to @alaninbelfast

And yes, I’ll be explaining myself.


Windows XP Obituary

by Matt Johnston on April 8, 2014

12 years, 7 months and 15 days ago, Windows XP was released to OEMs. Today the official support for it stops, though businesses and governments can continue to purchase support for it. This means that bug fixes won’t. It means that support will only continue if you can pay Microsoft to do it. And it means that if you’re hitched to Windows and not already running Windows 7 (or planning your Windows 9 deployment) then you should probably consider a new career.

Schools in Northern Ireland have done well out of Windows XP as of today, they’re (both primary and secondary) still running it.

At least we can say they were right when they insisted on Windows being the default OS – after all it is the operating system used by most businesses. I didn’t think they actually meant Windows XP.

Windows XP was the first time I felt comfortable with Windows. The pre-NT kernel editions were creaky as hell but I wished for the hardware compatibility and software ease of use of Windows 98 with the pre-emptive multitasking of Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000. XP was the first time it really worked. It’s stood the test of time as well – if you run a lean machine and keep the services under control, it still can be blazingly fast. On newer hardware it just gets out of the way. But that’s all coming to an end.

Today you die. You had a good run.


Resist(ance) Servers Going Offline

by Matt Johnston on April 5, 2014

There’s a problem with online console gaming (and most MMOs). There’s a non-trivial effort required to maintain the server, lobby and match-making infrastructure which is nowhere near as glamorous as or perhaps as rewarding as developing the game.

For instance, the Resistance series is about to die:

If you’re a fan of Sony’s OTHER first person franchise – you know the one with aliens, not space fascists – you may want to tuck in this weekend as Sony will be shutting down the servers on April 8th. FOREVER.

This plagues consoles and how many MMOs have shuttered over the last four years, consigning to the bitbucket millions of hours of labour and craft in leveling, grinding and adding pretty textures.

It’s also affected the mobile industry as the early winners consolidate their gains. You only have to look at OpenFeint to see what happens. Matchmaking gone, leaderboards defunct.

For PC games, it’s been a little different. Some of them rely on the client-server model and they can lose their vital connection to ” lobby” services. Few have managed to transition them to community owned third- party services. But I can start a game that, without official lobby access, still manages to function.

There are reasons for doing it both ways but in my opinion if you’re going to shutter a service, it behooves you to find ways to work with the community.

My preferred solution is one that we thought of in Conquest Dynamics. Reducing the server component as much as possible while still allowing for match-making, interaction and sticky services. It does mean maintaining a server of some sort to act almost like a Torrent Tracker – a centralised location for the servers present in every client to find each other. We’re still working on it.


BelTech: thanks to all who made it happen

April 5, 2014

Just spent two breakneck days at the BelTech conference. Had a great time meeting dozens of techies on day one and hundreds of kids and educators on day two. Thanks to Tom Gray of Kainos for the vision and congratulations to Sheree Acheson also of Kainos for launching Women Who Code Belfast. Thanks also to [...]

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There Are Women Who Code

April 2, 2014

When Sheree launched Women Who Code Belfast, I was immediately supportive. I read the blurb and found it refreshing that WWCB was only open to individuals who identified as female. I thought that this was probably the best thing to happen to the NI Tech Scene since Belfast Open Coffee Club (back in about 2007). [...]

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Linked list on Digital Content

March 27, 2014

A linked list of interesting stuff that I want to record A tutorial in how to make 2D Water in Unity3D. BBC unveils Birmingham ‘Guerrilla Group’ to drive digital content What do NASA, Siemens, Porsche and Lego have in common? Unity of course! The brilliant @Doctoe has written for MCV about tax breaks and what [...]

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Talking about public transport on the Twitters….

March 25, 2014

Talking about public transport on the Twitters, of course I’m a fan of “free” for public transport. roywhite_ni: @cimota @Kalista63 @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @Olive1309 @EdSimpsonNI @AdamMurray88 Lots of gr8 PT in Euro,all req subsidy+fee paying customers And yes, Roy is right, there are plenty of great examples in Europe of how it’s meant to work. In [...]

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Drone Farming

March 19, 2014

With virtually unlimited sunshine, Africa may need drones more than roads: “We feel that if drones are going to be used to transport goods, the most logical place is Africa,” Simon Johnson, director of the Flying Donkey Challenge, told Quartz. “Not for humanitarian reasons. We’re not doing this because we feel bad for Africa. It’s [...]

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March 19, 2014

This blog post by Green Party activist, Aidan Jones, annoyed me. I had to ruminate on it for a while but it still stuck there. Part of the problem is that I consider John and Steven to be friends and I am a fan of GPNI on their social policies. Part of the problem is [...]

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Asking Tough Questions to Scary People

March 18, 2014

£40 ($60) to change the face of journalism. This is a crowd funding project. It needs 200 subscribers or the project fails. I’ve backed it for $100. We don’t have investigative journalism that is brave enough to ask tough questions to scary people. As I write this, the wolves are circling around the civil servants [...]

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