Driving Lesson #14

September 25, 2008 – 21:02

Finished my 14th driving lesson about an hour ago, we covered much of the same thing as previous lessons some driving on fast roads and town roads the some manoeuvre. Not much to be said really I felt more relaxed despite stalling more than in the previous lesson. My observations were more than a little lax in places, I completely forgot to check my blind spot while reversing round the corner.

Kev did get a chance to fill in my driver record, I now have:

  • 4x 5′s (Cockpit Checks, Safety Checks, Controls and Instruments and Signals)
  • 8x 4′s
  • 5x 3′s
  • 1x 2′s
  • 1x 1′s
  • 1x 0′s (Emergency Stops)

Please with my progress so far, need plenty more practice only got to wait till Monday for my next lesson, looking forward to it!

Driving Lesson #13

September 18, 2008 – 21:12

Had my first ever evening driving lesson this evening, Kev and I went to Seaford and back again over the course of the lesson, using some national speed limit single carriageways and some town driving.

Had a slightly hairy moment when I decided to change lanes while going round a roundabout, actually scratch the “slightly hairy”; it was down right dangerous. My mistake was; I had this image in my mind that if you are going straight on at a roundabout you go round the out side… what I had not got straight in my head was that if you are in the right hand lane stay in the right hand lane, all comes down to Mirror-Signal-Manovure.

I messed up turning round in the road and had to do it in four points rather than three, which was no big deal really it was slightly frustrating.

A huge upside was that I had not forgotten as much as I expected to, I spent some time revising from what I have posted up here – Really helped. So fellow learner drivers practice “stealth revision”:

  1. Do your lesson
  2. Write down what you learned
  3. Next day… read through what you wrote down, correct as required
  4. Day before your next lesson (or after a week which ever comes sooner) read through your write up again
  5. If possible read through it again just before your lesson to keep it in your head

Kev is more than happy to read through what I have written, and I am sure your ADI will be equally as happy. I check back on my notes when ever I have a free minute on the bus. It is stealth because it dosn’t feel like revision!

Back to the Urban Battlefield

September 15, 2008 – 22:11

No, I haven’t taken up free running I have just been playing a little more Call of Duty 4 over the past week, I was encouraged to look back at it by a friend some time ago. Only just got round to trying it again.

Since I last played there has been another patch, that includes new maps (I thought there were four maps, however I have only played three.

I seem to be playing fairly well still, I go through phases where I can get some awesome scores for a map or two a few matches later I can’t seem to get a single kill in. Finished the above match a few minutes ago – decided it was best to call it a night and end on a high rather than risk a crushing defeat in the next match.

The community seems to have matured, there are more clans hosting public servers that they actually play on and there are fewer M302 spammers around it seems. A wider range of weapons in use for the different roles, and occasionally organized teams of randoms all going stealth (my preferred class – Silenced MP5, Silenced USP .45, 3 Frag Grenades, UAV Jammer, Dead Silence and a stun grenade). This is probably the class that gets me the most kills.

My main tactic is slowly move around the map with one or two other people dressed for stealth, taking people out as we go. Aim for head shots where possible you can usually predict where people are going to pop up, in the corner of windows in between gaps in walls. The range of the silenced MP5 is severely reduced so sniping from a distance can only be done with short bursts (i usually try to squeeze out two or three bullets with two short clicks).

The more I play it the more I wonder if I might enjoy being in a clan that is on a competitive gaming ladder. Then again what with playing EVE, Team Fortress 2 and AudioSurf fairly regularly makes me wonder if I would ever have the time.

Steam

September 11, 2008 – 20:12

Steam Main Window

The day I purchased AudioSurf was the first day that I even saw Steam (Content Delivery), sure I had heard lots of people talk about it, many people praising its loveliness and many more complaining that it was evil.

I had never had the need to install it, I owned Half Life (Video Game) (never finished it) and had played a bit of Counter Strike 1.6 in my time, but I had never felt the need to take it any further and buy Half Life 2.

While I was downloading AudioSurf, I noticed that there was 9 hours remaining of a free trial of Team Fortress 2 so I set that to download while I messed about else where. Now, I think Team Fortress is great, fun for a quick session blatting away at a couple of foes, that wasn’t what hooked me onto Steam, no it was the ease of it all.

I simply double clicked “Team Fortress” in My Games and it told me about the offer and guided me through downloading it (which was pressing “next” three times), when it was finished downloading I double clicked it again and it launched Team Fortress. I have been dreaming of software like this for years, so simple yet so effective.

Steam has a huge library of games, including some great packs such as The Orange Box, there is also a nifty “gift” system which allows you to pass on games you have two copies of, for example if you bought Half Life 2, then The Orange Box you would have two copies of Half Life 2 one of which you can pass on to a friend.

In summary, I think Valve Corporation has done a top job on Steam, without falling into the DRM traps that so many publishers seem to be dropping themselves into. I will post back when I have played the games a bit more, for the time being pleased with my discovery.

5 Commands I Use Every Day

September 8, 2008 – 18:07

For my regular day job I am a Systems Administrator, my team and I manage a network with 7 servers and approximately 600 workstations, 200 laptops and 2500 users. All clients are Windows XP SP2 or SP3 and all servers are Windows 2003 SP2 or Windows 2003 R2 SP2.

I am sure I am not alone in knowing least 5 commands that I use day in and day out to manage workstations or servers on the network. I thought I would take the time to share some of these with you now.

Audiosurf

September 5, 2008 – 19:26

One of the many RSS feeds I subscribe to is Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Over the weekend Alec Meer posted an article about a game called AudioSurf.

Essentially you feed in an audio track in one of several popular formats, AudioSurf then analyzes the music and generates a racetrack. On this racetrack ride several coloured blocks. These blocks can be collected in a grid, in much the same way as Connect 4. Once you have collected three or more of these blocks of the same colour in a connecting pattern you will score points based upon the number of blocks and the colour.

There are variations on the theme giving your character special abilities such as pushing the blocks to the side to create more complex patterns, or “mono” mode in which you only have one colour to collect and one to avoid.

Because the track is generated from music the number of tracks available is only limited to your music collection, equally two people can compete on the same track by feeding in the same music.

If you get a chance and have $10 sitting in your PayPal account, it is available on Steam. My current favourite track is Fire Fall Down by Hillsong United.

Driving Lesson #12

September 3, 2008 – 18:26

Breaking my streak of 11 blog posts on the day of my driving lesson… I had a driving lesson yesterday. Strangely enough I feel that my driving is getting worse, I don’t think it actually is getting any worse I am just getting more confident and trying to do more things at once, at which point Kev steps in (literally) with the foot break.

Interesting experience today as we were driving round in the pouring rain, it was quite disturbing at first as the windscreen wipers were distracting, however once I got over that I was more or less ignoring them. The main issue I had was large blobs of rain obscuring entire cars, again once I got use to checking a bit more carefully I got over that too.

Kev went through reverse parking today which was actually easier than I expected, perhaps because I had been doing amazingly boring task of “paper work” before my lesson today so my brain was ready to learn something. The essence of the manoeuvre is as follows, please remember that this may be TOTALLY INCORRECT and much of it will only apply to the particular model of car I am driving:

  1. Start about a meter beyond the car you are going to park opposite (i.e. with the front of the car facing).
  2. Do the checks from your blind spot round to the rear window.
  3. Reverse until the car disappears behind the head-rest of the car (this bit may not work unless you are in Kev’s car!).
  4. Check your blind spot.
  5. Do one whole turn to the left (i.e. towards the kerb).
  6. Once the wheel arch starts to obscure the kerb, turn the wheel two whole turns to the right.
  7. Once the car is parallel with the road straighten up.

At this point you should be there. I was stopping between each step to figure out what I was doing next, although it could be done without stopping I suppose.

Google Chrome

September 2, 2008 – 21:41

I am sure almost everyone in the whole world will have seen this as I got told by two friends, my RSS feeds and my wife almost simultaneously, which was a disturbing experience in itself. Google has released their own browser, Google made a rather amusing and informative cartoon too. There is pleanty of coverage from all of the usual suspects such as Lifehacker, Lifehacker (Again), Official Google Blog and The Register.

I am making the commitment to use Google Chrome for the Google Web Applications that I use, from what I have skim read about the product it is probably more suited than my add-on rich Firefox install (I do a fair amount of website coding, and even more debugging other peoples code – for which Firebug is a must).

I will try it for a week or two, see what it is like… it certainly seems faster than Firefox for browsing the web!

Driving Lesson #11

August 27, 2008 – 17:46

Had quite a break between lessons this time, found it much harder to get into the frame of mind after an 8 day break, came back quickly enough. Kev has been trying to get me talking through what I am doing to improve my concentration and awareness of the situation, I am still struggling to get junctions and roundabout quite right, I still tend to come up to the junction to fast not giving myself enough time to get into position, change gear down and look.

It is helpful talking may way through the things I find harder, because I often answer my own questions, or at least know where I am going wrong when I say it. We spent some time turning round in the road (three point turns, although they can be done in more than three) looking at hazards and improveing the frequency that I check mirrors.

Credit where credit is due Mythic!

August 26, 2008 – 21:08

Apparently this was released sometime last week however I had missed it completely, Mythic and its Electronic Arts overlords have decided that they will not be crediting former staff members in Warhammer Online. I really don’t understand it, Ryan Shwayder put it across better than I can.

Everyone who contributes to a project puts something in, even if their product is not explicitly included in the final complete product they are part of the process. Not including someone’s name in the credits of anything be it a game, a film or a TV show is a giant slap in the face. As a programmer I would be gutted to think that I had been excluded from the credits having put years of work into and then moved on to better things a few months before launch.

Open source manages it just fine, huge sweeping lists of credits for relativly minor utilities. Why can a game? Its not like anyone is forced to watch it or read it. Put it as a file in the install directory, or a page on a website.