Poochy Ain’t Stupid

Finally I was also able to beat this level. I’m not playing as good as this guy above, and I’m sure I’d spent so much more lives than he has, but today I was able to 100% the level. This warrants a blog post, right? 😀 What makes this level hard is the dog. You can’t control him, and it takes a while to understand the behaviour. Instead of the guy who named this level I think sometimes the dog can get stupid, ie. after the green Bullet Bill where you need to drop down on top of the dogs head and there is no way to make sure it’ll be where you want it to be.

Adventures with my laptop

Macrumors:

Apple has updated its vintage and obsolete products list with three new products: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010), and Xserve (Early 2009).

This means that these computers won’t get much hardware love from Apple. On the software side El Capitan can be installed on MacBook Pro’s as far back as Mid/Late 2007. These machines are more than 7 years of age. Since I have a fine MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011) model, I might run out on hardware parts soon, but I’ll be eligible for software updates for many, many years. This is good, because I plan to replace this fine computer when I won’t receive software updates any more. Here is a complete list on obsolete and vintage Apple hardware.

There is an interesting aside to my MacBook Pro, though. From this support article:

Apple has determined that a small percentage of MacBook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts. These MacBook Pro systems were sold between February 2011 and December 2013. Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair affected MacBook Pro systems, free of charge.

Guess what, my computer is affected in all three problems, reproducing the secondary display black screen is the most easiest. I tried this two times at the office already, and the secondary display simply doesn’t work. Today I went to the Apple Store, but I can’t just go in there and have repairs, I need to book an appointment. Took some drooling looks at the gold Apple Watches before I left.

It will be interesting to see if I get free parts for this 5 year old machine, and for how many days will I need to go on without my laptop. That is probably the worst part, since I don’t have a secondary Mac at hand (this is my secondary laptop after all). For the curious, I haven’t received the company Mac yet, and if it’s up to me, I won’t, until the new Skylake Retina MacBook Pros are updated later this year.

update 03/12: went to the store, test ran fine, took drooling looks at the gold watches on my way out.

Thoughts on the full Aperture Robot Repair Vive VR Demo

The video answers what Valve is up to these days. They’re doing VR stuff. I’m sure Half Life 3 will be out supporting this format.

Which, I guess, I don’t mind, but I’m still not sure if I want to experience games this way only. This technology is definitely hot and, based on accounts who’d played this demo above, runs at a framerate where it immerses you. Yet, I’m not convinced.

My question is whether I’ll be able to play the game the conventional way, where I don’t have to “motion control” the game. My only experience of games this kind was playing Skyward Sword on the Nintendo Wii. There were points where I had to wave my hands at certain points to advance in the game. It was sort of “ok”, but I’m sure the whole gameplay experience would have been the same without it.

Here you need to move your head constantly. You need to explore spaces, have two dingus in your hand and wave them constantly. You’ll need to have a designated space in your apartment to be able to play otherwise you’ll end up accidentally destroying your living room. (Remember when the Wii was out and there had been all these reports on broken controllers and TV sets? And it was only a controller. This one is two of these kinds, plus you don’t see anything in your real world.)

I’m worried that the next Portal game will be released only for this very expensive hardware.

Mapillary raises $8M to take on Google’s Street View with crowdsourced photos

TechCrunch:

A startup out of Malmo, Sweden called Mapillary is using crowdsourced photos to create an open source, B2B database to compete with Google’s Street View, and today the company announced a Series A round of funding from an impressive list of backers to help make that ambition a reality.

The $8 million from Atomico, Sequoia, LDV Capital, and PlayFair will be used to expand operations outside of its home base of Malmo, including a new office in San Francisco, and also to hire more staff, such as computer vision engineers to supercharge the kind of data that can been gleaned from Mapillary’s image library.

Fantastic news to come to work to.

Maintaining colors in your Google documents

Let’s pick a color:

Not very useful, because later on I will never know what particular shade of gray did I use in my document from this very picker. There had been a number of occasions where I’d try to guesswork the color I’d used, since I want my document to be consistent.

I like the rich palette in general, but what if it had a section that read: “Colors in your document” and it’d populate automatically. You can get to a similar behaviour by using the “Custom” colors for this, but it’s just exactly one step more than what most people want and you can’t set default colors as custom colors (more on this later). Most people want to 1) select some colors for their document 2) next time they’re there, see their used colors in the document.

How do I know this? Because of all the years I’d been using Google Docs, there was never a single occasion where I’d define a custom color or saw someone else do it. Never. Even though I’d spent countless of minutes wasted on trying to find the color I’d used for highlights, it has never occured to me to define colors for a document. For two reasons: first, I’m not exclusively using GDocs. I’m using different software and different software tend to have different solutions for this. Second, when you’re doing actual work, you just can’t be bothered with defining custom colors.

One more thing: if you define a custom color in GDocs, make sure you actually are using a different color from the base palette, because if you tried to set a custom color of the base palette it will not get defined. Good luck with finding your used gray.

Sketch bugs related to vectorizing strokes

Here is a bug that you can reproduce in 3.5.2 Sketch, the current version:

1. Create a circle, make it any size you want (I made mine 200px)

2. Set a centered stroke on the object (20px)

3. Set the ends to “Curved” and create a dashed line, eg:

4. “Layer – Paths – Vectorize Stroke” In later versions: “Layer – Convert to Outlines”, but this doesn’t change the result

Now, here comes the part that is buggy. If you were to edit this vectorized path and hit “Edit”, the object will be selected like this:

The bottom anchor point will only have one handle, will say it’s “Disconnected”. The only thing you can do to restore the normal functionality is to “Finish Editing”, then re-edit the path again:

If you clicked at the bottom point, it will have its proper two handles that you can work with. Took me a couple of tries to figure this one out.

Additional bonus: if you follow the same process, but set the stroke either to be on the inside, or outside, the vectorize stroke function will not work properly in either cases. If you have a stroke looking on the inside, you can get to an expected result by deleting and recoloring layers that had been created, but if the stroke looked on the outside, it will be a mess.

To sum it up: vectorizing strokes in case of dashed lines does not seem to function correctly and depending on where your strokes had been aligned to, leaves you with various, unexpected results.

Good bye, Prezi

Last Thursday was my last day at Prezi. I spent almost exactly one year with them and I loved the place: it is one of the best companies to work for in Budapest (they’re hiring an Interaction Designer if you’re interested). A mature startup, you get to work on one product (although at different parts), fancy office and good people.

Why did I leave then? Because Linda and I decided that we wanted to move back to Sweden – and so we will. I’ll be working for Mapillary.com as Lead Design. A hot new startup in the area full of amazing people and technology. I spent the weekend with them in Barcelona at a company offsite, and although I think I overdosed on Catalan food, it was an amazing bootcamp.

Looking forward to the next chapter. 😉

Creating hover states that click in InVision

I think it’s not very well articulated how you can make a hover state that clicks when building an InVision prototype. It’s actually very easy to do:

1. set up a hover state hotspot and link it to your hover screen

2. go to the hover screen and define a link hotspot then link it to the next screen

The end result:

Re: Dribbble and The Creation of The Useless Designer

Michael Abehsera:

Today the Dribbble community grew into desiring complete aesthetic Porn, with “function” going out the window and only caring about “form”. Designers are sitting there for hours trying to make a “shot” beautiful (…) Last time I checked design was about solving problems, and that’s why I was excited about becoming a designer. I think we should start penalizing and neglecting designs like the above examples and reward with more “likes” the designers that post different work that has a fresh approach on different problems.

I think Dribbble solves a different problem: it allows designers to showcase their visual skills, to experiment, act like cool etc. It is also big and thus full of mediocre, me-too designs, overdone animations, shadows and blurs. If you can accept this, then you can also deduct the fact that solving design problems might just happen somewhere else, and Dribbble is just fine the way it is and people can give likes any way they want. (Ironically on his homepage Abehsera is not solving any design problems, but showcases screenshots one after the other.)

Can Mike Hearn kill Bitcoin?

Given the recent outburst and leave from Mike Hearn, here is a post of a sage, Gavin Andersen, who stays strong and remains the Chief Scientist of Bitcoin:

Clever engineers will find ways to work around around the limit, whether that is ‘extension blocks’ or the lightning network or a sidechain that everybody moves their coins to doesn’t really matter. I’d prefer a nice, simple, clean solution, but I’m old enough to know that most of the world’s great technologies are built on top of horrifying piles of legacy cruft, and they work just fine pretty much all of the time.

After banned from Reddit, Hearn has joined a consortium of banks. What a tool. Stepping back, the whole stunt was only good for helping the concept survive. This was a good call and people now will work together and solve the problems. But first some blood will be shed.

Safari 9.1 goodies

Apple yesterday announced the feature set from the upcoming update coming to iOS and OS X. They will also ship Safari 9.1 with dozens of new features – here is the changelog. It will support CSS variables (no need to preprocess those), drops prefix from CSS filters, the usual improvements to the Inspector and so on, but here is something I like, the landing of the picture element:

I remembered that I’d blogged about this three years back to the day in 2013. The picture element is nice, the browser will decide what size of asset it has to download for the device. For older browsers that don’t support the element, well, they’ll fall back to IMG SRC.

The elusive secret levels in Super Mario Advance 4

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3 (GBA) is now out on the Wii U eShop. Why is this such a huge deal? And what’s with this confusing name?

I’ll explain. First, there have been four Super Mario Advance games for the GameBoy Advance which all have been remakes of original classics. In 2001 Nintendo released “Super Mario Advance” which was based on “Super Mario Bros 2”, the same year SMA2, which was a “Super Mario World” SNES port, then came SMA3 “Yoshi’s Island”, another SNES port in 2002 and finally in 2003 SMA4, which is a port of the iconic “Super Mario Bros 3”.

The game plays the same as SMB3, but with updated graphics. This is all good, but there is a catch, too: the US and JP versions had a special world, called World-e in the system. This world could unlock special levels (and special abilities) with the compatible Nintendo e-reader hardware (not sold in the EU). The unlocking mechanism was quite interesting: the map data was not in the game, just the tiles, sprites, mechanics etc, therefore you really had to get your hands on the cards to upload the levels, hacking the ROM itself didn’t lead you anywhere.

One of these levels is “Mad Dash” (unofficial translation). This level was not circulated on e-reader cards, in order to obtain this level, you had to bring your GBA and game to select retailers (in Japan!) where they’d upload the level to you. And if you did all this? Well, you had a speedrun level where you need to finish the level in just 20 seconds, so at max speed. Here is a playthrough on the level:

If you played all these special levels, you would find “Advance coins” scattered around, which would open up these Toad houses you see above on the minimap, where you could play three minigames. Better yet, certain levels contain “e-coins” scattered that you can only pick up once.


e-coins have a striking resemblance to Super Mario Makers’ medals

Upon collected, these coins are then just displayed in the World-e castle. The castle has 8×3 = 24 displays, but only the first 8 coins is obtainable from the released secret levels (and out of those 8, only cards for 3 were released in the US), so the remainder 16 slot will forever be empty. Nintendo had more plans for the e-reader cards, but I guess it didn’t turn out the way it should’ve.

I found ROM hackers on long forgotten forums who’d recreated the Mad Dash level, I was also able to source the savegame itself and whatnot, but the icing on the cake is that Nintendo has released this game just before new years with all these levels. Unfortunately only for the JP market, without English translation, but anyway, there is now a chance to experience World-e once again! (I’m secretly hoping for an EU release and for the 3DS.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Has the spoiler-alert threshold been passed? If yes, here is a Force Awakens review by Matt Drance:

The plot is a lazy, messy recreation of A New Hope: stuff hidden in a droid; wistful hero in the desert; Millennium Falcon; setpiece; genocide; setpiece; sneaky base infiltration; trench run; lightsabers; explosion. There are countless on-the-nose moments typical of an Abrams film. One particularly silly scene, where the old and new Death Stars are compared side-by-side, is betrayed by a preceding trailer for Independence Day 2, which features Jeff Goldblum achingly declaring “That is definitely… bigger than the last one.”

These were the bad parts. Then he goes to write about the good ones, too.

Me? I watched the movie and I really liked it. I could pick on things, but I’m just going to write this: it was good cinema.