Battlefield 2 � Flying a Helicopter

I�ve yet to find a suitable �Helicopter Flying 101 for Battlefield 2� page out there � so if you know of one (or have written one yourself) then please send me a link so I can point people in it�s direction. Give this lack of (easily found) flying tips, I�ve compiled a number of pointers which I�ve managed to glean from forums, message boards, in game chats and the occasional fleeting reference on clan and fan pages � while I�d like to attribute the original authors, the sources are too many so I�m only planning to link/reference pages which are outstanding in the depth of information they hold.

Read on, enjoy and please � play nicely

I�ve been playing Battlefield games since Battlefield 1942 was released and the game play has always been great, the in-game physics are better than I�ve previously experienced in other FPS and (back when I had disposable income and could afford a decent graphics card) the graphics are almost too compelling (in that you stand and look and the nice texturing on generated surfaces in appreciation, until someone comes along and shoots you for staying stationary for too long) and the range of vehicles and player classes just spoils you for anything else.

Anyway, I�ve recently upgraded my DSL plan (to one where the data cap wasn�t such an onerous monster that I�ve felt comfortable dipping my toe in the water of online play) and, in conjunction with my (also) recent Battlefield 2 addiction,
I�ve also come to the realisation that online gaming is far more compelling than AI or even local network play, but to be truly effective in the online space you need to be able to fly.

Because everyone wants to be a flyboy, and because helicopters are not that easy to fly (or at least, not that easy to fly well) there are continually people stood like dumb arses next to a spawned chopper, waiting for someone to dare to take the pilots seat, then the race for the gunner position begins.

I�ve been part of the great herd waiting for a pilot but I�m getting a bit sick of the behaviour of players at helicopter spawn points and have been team killed too many times for the gunners seat (the penalty for team killing is miniscule when compared to the points one can generate as a gunner for a good pilot) I figured it would be a good idea to learn to fly.

Continue reading “Battlefield 2 � Flying a Helicopter”

I want PRESENCE!!

Why is it that we’re in the bottom half of 2005 and companies STILL continue to ignore the internet as a method of reaching their customers?

We’re due to have a baby in just over 4 weeks and, we need to get our digital camera repaired so we can take some of those new arrival shots that parents love to bore their friends and family with.

I decided to don a ‘user’ hat* and try to find where to get our �Olympus Muju 300� camera repaired, as my fried Sunil would say – “What a mistakea to makea!”

Continue reading “I want PRESENCE!!”

smartFeed – Podcasting for your Pocket PC

I’ve found out about a new piece of software called smartFeed which allows you to manage your podcasts directly on your PocketPC (or SmartPhone)… I’ve installed it and it’s pretty good!

I’ve been a keen listener to Podcasts for just over a year now and it’s getting easier all the time as it becomes more mainstream.

You may remember I wrote a piece a while back about the whole blogging / podcasting thing. Well, last night as I was painting the hallway (or dining room, I can’t exactly remember – there’s a lot of painting going on) I was listening to a Podcast from Geek News Central which referred to this entry over on DavesiPAQ.com. Now I’ve been happily using the Doppler software for windows to manage my podcast subscriptions and, through an entry on one of the Blogs that I subscribe to by Sean Alexander, I dutifully went through the HowTo and set things up to manage these Podcasts that doppler downloads, via Windows Media Player – which in turn allows me to sync them to my portable device… sounds complicated eh? Well – it kind of is, and I have some issues with Doppler as a package which doesn’t seem to want to allow itself to be killed automatically on a windows shutdown, but I may go into that in another entry at a later date.

So the good news, after quickly wiping paint off my fingers, I did a dash to the notebook (which was out of the way of paint splashes thanks very much), rewound the file a wee bit and grabbed the link. I installed it this morning (why don’t they give you 2 cradles for your PDA when you buy it, you *need* one at home and one at work!) and – though it didn’t work first off, giving me a "Could not find resource assembly" error message. Which in fact means that you need to download and install SP3 of .NET CF (of course) which you can get from here.
From there it was a simple task of setting the Podcasts to load to a particular directory of my storage card (root is default – yuck) and choosing which casts to subscribe to via the PDA.

To summarise:

  1. Install the latest .NET service pack for your PocketPC / SmartPhone
  2. Download smartFeed for your platform from http://smartfeed.org/
  3. Install the software
  4. Setup your destination directory (under settings)
  5. Add your Podcasts
  6. Retrieve some files (I’d recommend using the cradle link – bandwidth is MUCH cheaper when it’s not mobile 🙂
  7. Start listening…

Update [28/06/2005]: While preaching the good word of Podcasts to a collegue here at work, I’ve just seen that Doppler 3.0 has been announced and includes some very cool features including more support for Windows Media player, a plugin to launch Doppler and auto-download feeds and even uses the BITS technology to background load podcasts… nice!
Not yet launched into Beta, but definatly something worth keeping an eye out for 😀 😀

MCE 2005 – Why Media Center will change the way I’m entertained.

I’ve been playing with home theater applications on and off for a few years, I dabbled with MythTV and the ShowShifter type apps, but I’m now a firm believer in Microsoft Media Center 2005 so this entry will serve as a staging point for me to babble on about it…

Like the subject says, Microsoft Media Center has changed the way I am entertained. I’ve been a keen wee techno geek for many years and since purchasing my first VIVO card [archived] back in 2003(?) I’ve been on the lookout for something which can record my TV and let me watch the stuff I want from my PC – this is important given how long I spend in front of it every day.

Things I want to discuss in this post:

  • My history of HTPCs
  • My TiVo experiences
  • Why MCE 2005
  • Ideal setup
  • The media center future

Back in the crazy days of single life, after I’d dropped close to $1000 on a graphics card I was all keen to create an alternative to the TV / Video combination we had in the lounge, after all – my flatmates outnumbered me and often there’d be broadcast conflicts as to what we all wanted to watch – I also was working a lot longer hours including my evenings, so having a TV window on the desktop appealed to me greatly.
The problem with TV cards back then were they were fairly terrible quality, or stupidly expense, so the VIVO option was a good one as I could simple hook off the back of an old VCR I had lying around and use it’s tuner to get my TV signal into the card. The problem with that was I had no IR blaster to change the channel on the VCR and, in conjunction with a lack of an electronic programming guide, the whole operation was very hands on.
Moving forward from there I dabbled with ShowShifter, I looked briefly at some linux distributions which claimed to do all I wanted but, well Linux STILL scares me despite the number of machines I have running it in my home now doing their little things – so Linux was off the cards, aside from a quick dabble with FreeVo and again with KnoppMyth.

I first saw Microsoft Media Center Edition (MCE) back in 2003 when our GM brought a gorgeous Toshiba notebook home from the states with it pre-loaded. It had interface issues which ddn’t quite ‘work’ and of course ran an NTSC tuner so the TV experience was just a fuzzy black and white, but the potential sparked my interest and I’ve kept an eye on the platform ever since.

While I waited for MCE to arrive in New Zealand, I turned to MythTV and, taking a deep breath (and many hours of time from my patient collegues at work) I suceeded in getting a system working… mostly. The main enabler for getting MythTV going for me was a HOWTO by a chap called Jarod Wilson who had documented his experience on his site. In fact, I was so impressed and greatful, that I made an attempt to document my experience and created a page of my own (which seems to get more traffic than anything else on my site, despite it’s now vintage state).

Microsoft New Zealand finally released (quietly) MCE into the NZ market at the same time that it was launched into Australia, but neither country had an Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) avalible so, it’s adoption to date has been slow to say the least. The good thing however is, that a whole range of communities have sprung up around MCE and extensions to its capabilities, including the ability to ‘modify’ things enough to load your own EPG data. I finally managed to succeed in doing this around the end of 2004 with the help of a number of threads from one of the best communitity sites called The Green Button (it’s a reference to the button on the MCE remote used to launch the app).

Now I’m almost ready to introduce it into my home (which is currently undergoing renovations) and have settled on the following specs which I’ve built up on my desk here at work. This is an excerpt from a response I posted over on The Green Button pertaining to Home Theater PC (HTPC) case recommendations:

I’m currently running a Silverstone ST-LC10B (with the iMon VFD software in conjunction with FrontView for MCE it’s sweet!)

Full specs are:

Mods I’ll probably make are:

  • I’m tempted to dremmel out the fan grills at the back over the twin 60mm fans as they’ve got a bit of turbulence noise coming from them.
  • I’d like to mount the HDD in a housing to eliminate vibration as it’s the noisiest thing in the system.
  • I’d like to crack open my MCE remote and drop the sensor into the front of the VFD for WAF (Wife Approval Factor) reasons alone (less clutter /
    visible wires = less complaints)

The case itself is kinda large, but it’s good for airflow and the ability to select from a wider range of cards and cooling product – and I like having a VFD

So that kind of sums up where I am currently, I’ll update this post in awhile with a bit more detail.

Getting Clicky

How’s this for cool? It seems that now not only can you click your mouse to get to a URL, you can also click your camera phone.

How’s this for cool? It seems that now not only can you click your mouse to get to a URL, you can also click your camera phone.

After reading a notice on the NZ Wireless site that I frequent, I headed off to see what I could find out about Semacode. Wired News wrote this article about the people behind the technology, and being professional journos and all will probably explain it better that I attempt to below.

Simply put, Semacode is a barcode representation of a URL, by taking a photo of a Semacode with your camera equipped phone the image is interpreted by the Semacode software and you are then presented with the URL of the site, accept and away you go. It is the result of about a year of development by a Canadian programmer Simon Woodside and his associate Ming-Yee Iu who, interestingly (?) enough, I’d heard of before I knew of Semacode due to a document on Java UI basics which I read way back when I was pretending I’d have enough time to teach myself some more Java programming stuff – scary place this interwebby thing – almost as scary as the things my brain decided to remember for me (and yet I still can’t remember my wifes mobile phone number!)

Semacode representation of this sites URL.  If you had a compatible phone, had downloaded the software and took a photo of this, you'd be able to visit the homepage of this site!At the time of writing, the only phones supported are the Nokia3650/7650 or 3600/3620/3660 and the Nokia 6600 or 6620 but a note on the website directs the visitor to a hardware page where a range of modern camera phones are listed along with their specific model notes.

Basically it appears that phones running symbian/j2me will be supported and the porting process is an on going one. It’s pretty promising technology and one which I can think of a number of real world applications for, we’ll just have to wait and see how many of those I can help bring to market here in New Zealand.

Speaking of getting clicky, I’m waiting for the wowsers to restart the whole “the Government and Telecom are in cahoots…” malarkey as Paul Swain has today announced in a NZPA report that he will be accepting the recommendation not to unbundle.
I’m not surprised by this decision, given the points I made way back in December 2003 but I’m sure the conspiracy theorists will be baying for blood once again and running up the the elections there may well be some ill founded policy statements made by the opposition to try and latch on to these people.

People… get on with life, by the time a LLU policy was completely implemented, the existing infrastructure that is being contended will be as good as obsolete. There are other technologies out there, start choosing to use those to demonstrate your displeasure if that’s what makes you feel better.

Update 12/2010: (Wow – Six years on!) I have revisited this post as part of a test of QR Code adoption (QR Codes are what these things are called now). The original semacode image is somewhere in the mists of time, so I’ve regenerated it using this tool.

Predictions for 2004

After spending the best part of a couple of weeks away from my beloved broadband, I find myself with an almost unquenchable thirst for news and reviews that I may have missed out on during my time down south with just a simple CDMA connection to rely on.

I’ve found that I don’t have much of a job to come back to as internal wrangling over moving from one department to another have left me a little “underutilised” until it gets resolved. This is a mixed blessing as, while I can spend my time on the strategic stuff I was working on prior to Christmas, there is no clear desire for that work to be performed due to the departure of the manager for our little group of people. The transfers must be going ahead though as both myself and my colleague are now reporting to one of my colleagues team members who has been given the role of acting manager. Anyway � enough on that…

The lack of imminent work allows me time to not only reflect on and plan for my impending wedding it also gives me some leeway to catch-up on what I’ve missed over the Christmas break.

January is traditionally the time where all the industry commentators compare their past predictions with what happened in the previous year, and make a whole set of new predictions for the year ahead.

In keeping with this tradition (and starting the same tradition myself) I’m making the following predictions for 2004.


WiFi

Ah yes, my December blog was supposed to have covered this in some detail, but, suffice it to say, the message got lost in the post (pun semi-intended). I believe that wireless devices will be come more mainstream this year as the 802.11 standards have been ratified and manufactures scramble over themselves to get devices to market including all those wonderful retro-fits which will enable us early adopters to get connectivity for our, now ageing, devices.
To achieve this penetration the industry will need:

  • Relevant content & services
  • An attractive price point (includes device AND bandwidth costs)
  • Ease of configuration
  • Connection security

Relevant content and services must be the enabler for effective uptake of wireless as, without something to use it for, the technology is pointless.

In a similar vein, the price point for both wireless enabled devices and, possibly more importantly, access but be within reach of the average consumer. If the devices are cheap but the access is prohibitively priced then devices will still be bought, it’s just they won’t be used to their full potential as the wireless side of the technology will not be utilised until such times as it’s affordable.
The ease of configuration is a tricky one, while early adopters are fairly tech-literate, the penetration into the market depends on pretty much a click and go philosophy. I’m not sure if it’s that we’ve been ‘dumbed down’ by the installation ease demanded by the newbie’s to computers and delivered by our friendly Mr Gates or if indeed technology honestly should be easier, but suffice it to say, if it can’t be plugged in and/or turn on and work then we’re in for an uphill battle. Users lose interest REAL quick and take a long time to be coaxed back into trying again. This issue is/will be compounded by the inability to access in “mesh” context, rather, requiring users to re-authenticate, possibly with different credentials, at every access
point they encounter.
Security should be top-of-mind for every user, but the simple fact is, it isn’t. Perhaps it’s the ‘dumbing down’ I referred to earlier or maybe people just don’t care about their data/identities. I suspect it’s a bit of both and, much like a hard drive crash to a backup policy, it’ll take something extraordinary to change peoples mindsets. We’re already seeing a bit of a turnaround when we look at email attachments and user behaviour, but it more of a vendor focus to change the way people use their gear, and in the interim I suspect
we’ll have to live with whatever can be shoehorned into default settings
without affecting that ever important ease of configuration.


Local Loop Unbundling

I pretty much cover this in my December blog so I’ll save some bandwidth by directing you there. I do think that the LLU will end up going ahead in New Zealand, however I believe this will be more of a vote buying exercise than an honest attempt to get broadband access to the masses and open the market to innovation. If it was my call to make I’d be inclined to legislate that broadband coverage must be available to 90% of the residents of the country at an affordable rate within 3 years and available to the entire country by say, 2008, mainly because it’s a nice round number than any external influences.
I’d say with this kind of motivation along with some financial backing in the right areas to fund innovative approaches to the task, we’d get there in time. I think the bun fight that will take place if LLU goes ahead will not only remove the focus from where it should be (i.e. providing broadband access to all citizens) but it will also cost a huge amount which could be invested in other ways toward the same end goal. Let’s not forget that if it was any other company who was incumbent on the local loop they would be doing exactly that same thing to protect their position.


PDA / Smart Device Penetration / Phone Wars

Smart Device Penetration – sounds really painful right? I’m predicting that smart devices will become more prevalent, following the lead of those crappy pxt phones. People will want them because they’re there and yet, unlike pxt, there is some real benefit to the technology that the smart devices will make avalible.
You will be seeing a real toe-to-toe battle between the big names in this area in 2004 as each tries to buy the market into it’s version of what is essentially the same technology. While it might be nice to have a pretty blue phone that plays Oh Fortuna when the mother-in-law calls, whilst allowing you to roam all the way around the world (very few of us do), the killer app will not really be an app at all, it will be the enablement of content. And that is where the battle will be won, who can get the best content and services to the people at an affordable price.


Home Entertainment

Home Entertainment will be where the push comes from in regards to getting broadband to consumers and convincing them to undergo a full technology refresh.
It is the easiest way to catch the attention of the public, give them some ‘wow-factor’ and build the need/desire for the latest stuff. The backbone for this will be wireless networking, very few people are like me (which is good) and because of that (average people simply don’t run CAT5 through their walls) wireless is *the* way to get multiple devices into the home environment and talking to each other. The more devices that you can get into the home the more services can be sold, the more services that can be sold the more bandwidth will be consumed – do you see where this is going? The providers win any which way you cut it, if the technology is subsidised it will be based on service subscription, if the service subscription is subsidised it will be based on the bandwidth required to drive it, if the bandwidth is subsidised it will be based on the services subscribed to. At the end of the day both the hardware and the services suppliers have a very nice earner.

I have a 31 year relationship with television. If I can be exposed to new content and services via devices which plug easily into, and are controlled from, my television then it’s the perfect way to generating new revenue streams using an appliance that pretty much every home has and is comfortable with. Try getting the same engagement via a PC. Traditional telecommunications companies profits are continuing to shrink as the products they offer get marginalised by advances in technologies and the resulting cost savings that can be enjoyed, and supplied, by almost everyone. Content and content services may well be the lifeline that these companies can use to stay alive. Those that can’t get their heads around the shift will almost certainly go under.
At the end of the day we’ll be able to have one entry point for broadband, feeding multiple devices from hard wired PCs to portable notebooks, to wireless audio/visual components in the lounge, all sharing the same bandwidth, all able to access a pool of content either from the PC or from the service provider/internet as a whole and all using devices and interfaces that the consumer feels comfortable with.

I’ll see you next January and we’ll see how well I did[n’t] do