Content is King, Again

And now I have a serious reason to consider LoveFilm. Bravo Amazon.

Netflix is releasing their remake of House of Cards tomorrow, starring Kevin Spacey.

The idea that these companies who are not traditional media companies are now investing in content as a differentiator is incredibly interesting and it’s also something I’ve said every mobile and fixed line broadband carrier should have been doing for the last five years. People subscribe to HBO to get Game of Thrones. People love the BBC for their natural history documentaries. Content is important.

Valve bleats, ignores elephant in the room

Gabe Newell from Valve:

Newell believes that if Apple makes a move on the living room before the PC industry gets a foothold, then the Cupertino manufacturer can “shut out the open-source creativity” possible with the Steam platform.

Valve’s DRM system makes Apple look like a saint. I love Valve games but Steam is a closed, DRM-heavy, anti-consumer stick. And on Mac it’s sluggish and buggy as hell too.

Waffle about open source creativity if you want, Gabe, but when your system means my account can only be used to play one of the 50 games I have bought from you at a time (meaning I can’t log in elsewhere and let my son play one of my other legally purchased games, then you look like the king of Digital Restrictions Management.

Pi-Cade Complete

Today we completed the Pi-Cade.

Pi-Cade Completed

We were interrupted briefly a small group of Bangor Academy students (who were not in the project group) coming in and marvelling that this sort of thing was being made at their school, in their Technology class.

The problem we had was with the pins-GPIO mapping. The instructions we were using, sourced off the Internet, were incorrect. Through a lot of trial and error and swapping pins about, we managed to figure out where the errors in the mappings were and modify the breadboard accordingly.

The teacher, Mr Pollock, is now taking the new pin layouts and intends to make some PCBs which will make the layouts permanent. As we have another set of joysticks and buttons, the intention is now to make a pretty one.

At The Foot Of The Mountain



Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the foot of a mighty mountain that I have to climb. The only path open to me is a single rope, fitted with a lasso, which I can somehow loop around the summit and then just pull like mad until I reach the top. I cannot conceive of the 100,000 steps that I should be taking, the company I should be making and the help I’ll need in order to achieve this mighty undertaking.

I marvel at others, like Brain and Nerd and Twenty3Ten and their ability to step carefully through the minefields of their visions.

Like for Predestination:

And for Mulbury:

This mountain is my Magnum Opus. It could very well end up being the video-game version of my “Qabal” RPG but I’d hope that it ends up being more like “The 23rd Letter”, “Zombi” or “SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO” (also known as the books I was able to finish).

Some of the things I’ve been talking about:

  • Real time tactics
  • Asynchronous Multiplayer
  • Massively and Passively Online
  • Multilevel 3D world (cityscapes)
  • Squad-based combat
  • Territory-based resource collection
  • Human and AI protagonists and antagonists
  • Story-based plot development
  • Aliens, Tanks and Explosions

The problem is that climbing a mountain alone is difficult.

Pi-Cade Project Team at Bangor Academy


+ Case designed and constructed
+ Electronic bits and bobs (wires, breadboard)
+ Car reversing monitor screen (with separate power)
+ Raspberry Pi with 5V power
+ SD card
+ Salvaged and donated joystick and buttons

Special thanks to Mr Pollock ([Bangor Academy]( Technology Dept) and Steve Sloan (Momentum/All Island Software Network) for getting things moving.

Games and Real-Life Violence

From RPS:

Ian Bogost thinks videogames already lost the gun control debate: “The truth is, the games industry lost as soon as a meeting was conceived about stopping gun violence with games as a participating voice. It was a trap, and the only possible response to it is to expose it as such. Unfortunately, the result is already done: Once more, public opinion has been infected with the idea that video games have some predominant and necessary relationship to gun violence, rather than being a diverse and robust mass medium that is used for many different purposes, from leisure to exercise to business to education.”


This is despite many studies saying that virtual violence actually decreases the amount of real world violence. Maybe Belfast Rioters should be given Xbox 360s?

Digital Circle does Computing Clubs

For the past few weeks, I’ve been helping Bangor Academy with a Raspberry Pi project.

I had attended the school with Young Enterprise and the VP asked if I would be interested in helping them out with a project. As I lack the ability to say ‘No’ to good ideas, I agreed. The project was determined to be a Pi-Cade; a mini-arcade machine that could fit on a desk that was operated by a Raspberry Pi.

Today we were joined by Andrew Bolster from Farset Labs and Stephen Sloan from the All Island Software Network (part of Momentum). They worked with the teacher and kids to discover the intricacies of the GPIO pins, breakout boards, shoot the breeze about Arduino and try our damnedest to get MAME to compile on the device.

All in all it was great fun, even when we ran into an immovable object.

C2K block anything useful; getting the source and binaries for anything was made anything between ‘more difficult’ and ‘impossible’. We had to use an iPad mini 3G (in the Faraday Cage of school building) running GoodReader to download the modified xmame source and then transfer to a Mac over USB onto a USB stick so we could load it onto the Pi. Thanks, C2K.

Anyway, thanks to the students, to Mr Pollock (the teacher) and Andrew and Stephen, we’re making some progress.

The equipment and time I’m putting into this is kindly given by Momentum. There have been some other donors too and we’ll thank them specially when everything works. And special thanks to @vedanator for the joysticks and buttons at the last minute (ours haven’t arrived from yet)