Kings of Kong

Do you remember the awesome documentary from 2007 “King of Kong“? If you hadn’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. Turns out the film started a resurgence in the game and people started to score more points than Mitchell and Wiebe. Here is a good overview on the progression of the high scores since the films release.

What is interesting is that both Mitchell and Wiebe back then held their progression in the game a trade secret. They’d tape their game and send it to Twin Galaxies’ Walter Day to verify their scores. The reason for this was to avoid other players to rack up more scores and to not release secret tactics. You can find leaked versions online, but that’s not the point.

The point is that the internet has since proven that by open sourcing the gameplay you can actually get even higher scores, because everyone chips in to the knowledge base. David Goldenberg:

Now, anyone who wants to be competitive for the record has to be embedded in Donkey Kong Forum, or else they won’t learn the point-grinding strategies needed to chase glory. Saglio points out that Wiebe still is interested in the game and plays regularly but has handicapped himself by never getting involved with the community. “He fell behind,” Saglio said. “He’s no longer capable of challenging for the record.”

Dean Saglio is the current record holder, but he is playing in an emulator. Nonetheless, he has been able to make 1,206,800 points. (Breaking 1 million points was a big deal in the movie.) The teoretical maximum for the game is 1,265,000 points which takes into account the random number generator as well, and if true, is considered the perfect score.

Winning the lottery is hard

In a series of tweets Notch came out:

Except for people who’d born into the rich, it takes adjusment for anyone to deal with it. Notch got a fair amount of money and it clearly starts to show the dark side. Psychologically it acts like a stimulant drug which, after some steps down the road, starts to show how empty your life is. I mean, the first two years are aweseome, but then what? Start a Commodore 64 development company? Sure as hell, I would!

Ethereum

What is Ethereum:

You’ve built a website and someone wants to buy it for $5000 but they can only pay in March. In the traditional approach, you transfer control of the website and write down what’s been agreed on a piece of paper. March arrives and it seems there has been some confusion. You assumed the contract meant this March but they insist they meant next March. Get ready to argue in court about the meaning of “March”.

So we’re looking at a Bitcoin-based Smart contract implementation. But I don’t think it will work. Just look at the example above, how can a smart contract ensure that the developer made the customer happy and it was a good business for both parties?

I don’t know about you but I developed websites and I also had websites developed for me. I don’t think I can recall a single case where it was as clear as Ethereum makes it seem it is. The argument is usually about mapping expectations both for the product itself and the delivery by the contractor to reality.

Example: What if March arrives but a component is missing from the website? Or the component is there but doesn’t work the way the initial arrangement was made? If this was carried out through Ethereum, I, as a client, would certainly be annoyed. The implementation focuses only on transferring ownership, but doesn’t focus on the delivery itself.

The example code transfers ownership in case the 5k was transferred before the deadline. It doesn’t say anything about the delivery.

I’m pro Bitcoin and new world, but I’d be sceptical to use this.

No iPhone 6c at September 9 event

Mark Gurman:

don’t expect a new 4-inch “iPhone 6c” to show up on stage. Sources say that while Apple has been working on a new 4-inch iPhone with the capabilities of last year’s iPhone 6, the device is not yet ready to ship. (…) Apple currently plans to discontinue the iPhone 5c upon the release of the new 6S and 6S Plus, according to sources (…) for those interested in 4-inch iPhone screens, Apple will retain the iPhone 5s from 2013 and drop the on-contract price to free, per sources

Well, I can go another year with my 8 gig iPhone 5c easily and wait for this 6c anyway. Or I could buy the 5s 32G if I’m in a desperate need of buying a phone since they’re lowering the prices. Sweet.

Secret tech screening at Google

This is happening. If you’re entering specific search queries related to programming, the familiar interface might open up to reveal this:

Max Rosett was playing along and he was presented with a command line interface offering various tasks with what he’d spent two weeks solving. After this was over he got invited to Mountain View and eventually landed a gig at Google. Here is more.

Slack fixes

In the Slack iOS client the swipe left and right always brought up a contextual menu. If you swiped from the left edge you’d get the channel/user list, if you swiped from the right, you’d see the Slack menu.

For some time these were not real drags, but programmed swipes that didn’t follow your finger, you just triggered the event and it slid automatically. And those times sucked, it always felt like a robot massaging me. Then they changed it and now it’s a real drag with real feedback. I had this issue and it was fixed.

Then, for teams you’re admin in, they introduced an “Invite” feature. This menu option, however, appeared on the very bottom of the menu, where usually the highly important “Switch Teams” was. So in teams you’re not admin in, you’d get the switch at the bottom, in teams you’re admin in, the invite. When checking up on teams, it was very confusing since you always had to pay attention where to tap, the previous “just tap the bottom menu item” didn’t work.

And now it’s also been fixed. I love Slack.

Content blocking with Safari

Apple is taking the privacy issue more and more seriously. For some time I thought, well, this could be just PR, but peeking into WWDC session 511, the message is clear: they’re not afraid to put meaning to the PR speak. In this session they explicitly endorse ad blocking. They say, we give you the tools, write the ad blockers already! Given the number of iOS/Mac devices out there, this will seriously hurt the media business in its current form.

Ad blockers will be developed by small indies, like Dean Murphy, who is working on Crystal, a new content blocker using this framework for iOS. He’s experimented with the technology a couple of months back, now he’s on a spree to get this content blocker out there with the release of iOS 9.

Dean yesterday published a new post outlining the capabilities of Crystal, and it’s very compelling:

On average, pages loaded 74% faster with Crystal and used 53% less bandwidth. Just by having Crystal installed, I saved a total of 70 seconds and 35MB of data on these 10 pages.

If you watch the WWDC session video, you’ll understand why: because the ad tracking JS code will not even hit your device, Safari will just ignore the references and not load them. Can’t wait to install Crystal.

PAC-MAN 256

The guys over at Hipster Whale who’d developed one of the better games on iOS, Crossy Road, now teamed up with Bandai-Namco Games to develop a new Pac-Man game called Pac-Man 256. It’s an endless runner in Pac-Man world with a couple of creative ideas. Here is the launch trailer:

The game is free to play, but includes in-app purchase items. About the business model and the developers intention why they wanted to break away from Crossy Road, there is a good article over at VB.com.

Final Fantasy VII is out on the App Store

Mac Rumors:

Square Enix released a long-awaited port of Final Fantasy VII for iOS devices. (…) The iOS port of the game includes a virtual on-screen controller that’s “designed not to obscure the action.” It offers virtual analog or fixed 4-way digital control pad options and the opacity of the on-screen controls is adjustable. Also new to the iOS version of the game is an option to turn off enemy encounters in area maps and a Max Stats command to “become all-powerful in the blink of an eye.”

This game came out in 1997 and was an all time favorite of mine. Played with the PC port. Never really finished it, got stuck after the first CD. Back then jRPG’s made you to level up extensively in order to be able to beat certain bosses. Problem is, nothing told you that and I thought I’m stuck there forever. So I’m looking forward to this port although touch controls, meh. But here is the kicker:

Final Fantasy VII is compatible with the iPhone 5s or later, the third-generation iPad or later, and the iPad mini 2 or later

Nothing in my posession is able to play that. :)

I might as well just wait for the “finally announced” remake which was finally announced this E3:

Rendered videos, cheesy “Spirits Within” aesthetics, what else could I wish for?

I’m buying a new NAS

I’ve tried to replace my old 2006 ReadyNAS model for a new one at least two times in the past 5 years. It never worked out, buying a new NAS always feels like an extra spend I don’t want to make. This year, however, it failed me, and a couple of days ago it failed me again and wouldn’t boot. It was fixed easily (reset button!), but I don’t trust my data in a flaky device.

Now it’s time to make that spend. :( Spent half a day researching the topic and I’m buying one of the cheapest Synology models with two new 4 TB WD Red drives. Total cost will be around €420 + taxes. I could’ve gone for the 3 TB drives, but I felt the price difference is not that significant.

Since a four bay NAS was out of the question (as we say, I’m not “shitting money”) I was contemplating on getting a more powerful DiskStation 215+, then I realized it’s not worth for my purposes. Here is why: for some reason I thought a newish Synology NAS will be able to serve as a media server. In my last December setup I was using my old laptop as a media server with Plex and it was a good solution. I could access the media content from all my devices (iPads, iPhones, TV), because the old MacBook Pro was doing the transcoding (like fine, I should add).

Turns out, basically no matter what Syno model I buy, I won’t be able to skip the media server component, because they’re built with ARM processor architectures and these are not suitable for transcoding. Yes, if you follow the news, the new Syno models are always getting faster and faster, but according to this table, they can’t even transcode a 720p stream. Better yet, Plex has a nice article detailing these issues. (The Syno’s don’t even have a HDMI out, so that’s a tell.)

To combat this, I could buy a high-end Intel based Syno model or choose one of the most expensivru Intel based QNAP devices, but those play around €1200+taxes+disk. The deal here is that Syno will essentially be a file server, so I don’t need an expensive one.

The educated answer to this problem is that I need a media player component in my setup that does the transcoding and outputs the stream to the TV. (Or I could buy a Mac mini and install Plex Media Server on that one – that’s another €600 drop on hardware. Or I just use my old MacBook Pro laptop at this point!)

Do I need transcoding? According to the guys at Plex:

For ARM or PPC models, the format of your media will need to 100% match the formats your clients can play. Without the transcoder, you may also run into issues when viewing your media remotely as you will only be able to stream the media at full bitrate (…)

There are also situations where transcoding is required even if your media is otherwise compatible with your playback device. This can be the case when:

Using Subtitles: For many Plex apps, subtitles have to be “burned in” to the video stream but the Server. That requires transcoding to do.

Remote Access: When your Server is accessed from outside your home, it may not be possible to stream the content at the full quality.

I’ll be able to install Plex Media Server on my Syno, but it will only be able to Direct Play or Direct Stream the video to my TV. This means that I won’t be able to watch a movie on my iPad while my wife watches a different movie on TV, and this also means that if the server has to deal with a weird subtitle, there will also be problems and the source stream needs to be 100% compatible with my TV. OK, so an ARM Syno is not a media server. Then what?

I could still go with it. I haven’t tried it, I will try it. We have an LG-47LA620V TV set. According to this spec, that TV has got a LAN port! Better yet, this LG TV has got a Plex client. I can plug the TV into the switch, install the Plex client on the TV, the server on the Syno, and boom, I have a Direct Play/Direct Stream solution.

I could use my old laptop as a 100% competent media server. The Plex client needs to install on the TV still, or if that fails, I could force my laptop to output the HDMI as well.

As a third option I could reinstate my 2012 Popbox media player, but I don’t like this option for various reasons: no proper updates, problems with subtitles, bad as shit UI and UX, just can’t match the convenience of Plex.

I’m still glad I spent as little money on this as needed. I find it particularly difficult to research the topic without actually having the access to the devices. Consider this post part 1 of the series.

Switch

So this is it.

I’m switching the primary language on this blog to English. I wanted to do this for a long time, and now I’m ready to pull the plug and just go with it. I’d wanted to make a completely new WordPress site in English, I’d wanted to start posting over on Medium in English – nothing worked. This will work. :)

Over time I’ll fully change everything on the blog chrome from Hungarian to English, start new tags, but the old posts will still be accessible in Hungarian. I might as well write Hungarian posts later on, but don’t take it for granted.

Why switch to English? Because I like to experiment. At work, both at Prezi and previously at EPAM, I had to communicate in English, so this won’t be a huge change in direction for me. Better yet, some of my colleagues will finally be able to know wtf I’m posting about. :) I’d like to assume they do care!

What about the .hu domain and brand? Good question. If this experiment will prove to be sustainable, “Plastik media” as a name on a Hungarian domain will be deprecated. I have some ideas where to go next, but at this present moment everything is just too far away.

I’m going to apply this to my social presence as well. I’m only active on Twitter, so I’ll try to post and reblog in English from now on. What if someone asks something from me in Hungarian, will I respond in English? I’d be a tool if I did that, so I won’t. Again, these are recommendations and a completely new experiment that I’m trying.

There will be sacrifices, obviously. I have a couple of post ideas that would’ve worked in Hungarian much better, or topics that are intended for the Hungarian audience. As I said, I might do a couple of posts in Hungarian later on, but now I feel like I need to explore this space a little further.

Humble Dungeons & Dragons Comics Bundle

14 dollárért:

Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 1: Homeland
Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate, Dungeons & Dragons Vol. 1: Shadowplague
Dungeons & Dragons Vol. 2
Dungeons & Dragons Vol. 3
Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Vol. 1
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics Vol. 1
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics Vol. 2
Dungeons & Dragons: Cutter
Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 2: Exile
Dungeons & Dragons: Classics Vol. 1
Dungeons & Dragons: Classics Vol. 2
Dungeons & Dragons: Classics Vol. 3
Dungeons & Dragons: Classics Vol. 4
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics Vol. 3
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics Vol. 4.

4000 forintért a nagyfelbontású képregényeket letölteni szerintem igen megéri, meg is vásároltam. PDF, PDF (HD), ePub és CBZ formátumokban adják. Még akkor is megéri, ha nem érdekel a fantasy. (Annak idején a ’90-es évek végén a Drizzt könyveket olvastam, átpörgetem majd a képregényest is.)

Today is a good day.