Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Off To Oregon

On Saturday, the family and I are heading off to the Oregon coast for a week of well deserved and long overdue R&R. We'll be vacationing with pals and recent Canadian emigrants CJ, Karen and their wonderful offspring.

To say I'm looking forward to it would be on understatement…

Today I packed the technology - MacBook Pro, Nikon D200 DSLR, Pentax S4, Canon ELURA2, 60GB USB powered external drive (photo backup), tripod, miriads of power adapters, usb cables, power cables, DVD backup media, rechargers, iPod, TomTom 910 GPS…

Tomorrow I think about clothes…

Flight Simulator On CNN

Flight Simulator was used today by CNN to describe the events surrounding the crash of the Comair jet in Kentucky last Sunday.

There is a video available of article available at CNN - interestingly, they're unusually good at describing the aviation terms and procedures. It also makes heavy use of Flight Sim.

Watch the video at cnn.com.

GeoTagging In Flickr

I've been waiting a long time for this, and finally it's here. You can now add location information to your photos in Flickr via a handy new tool that uses Yahoo Maps.

A new “Map” button in the Organize tool and a new “Map” button on everyone's Flickr page results in pretty easy access to the functionality.

I've geotagged a few recent sets - you can check out the resultant map on my Flickr page.

So, what does this mean? Well, for a start, a lot of people are going to now start geotagging their images, which means that you'll be able to search for images by location and there will actually be some results. Image location search just hasn't been interesting before as there really hasn't been any data.

Expect to see a lot of location based image mashups appearing very soon…

Need Some Stunning 3D Landscapes?

If you need some great content creation tools, especially for your new Xbox 360 project, Daz is offering free downloads of the excellent Bryce 3D Creator. I always wondered what happened to Bryce…

Anyhow, if you're building a title with static backdrops, ala a side scroller, you can't go wrong by checking this product out. The price is great.


Offer ends, September 6th.

[Tip'O'Hat to Steve Kennedy for the link.]

The Cost Of Failure Just Got Cheaper

Amazon's new Elastic Compute Cloud service allows you to effectively instantiate servers in their compute cloud at a whim.

Do you need a server to try out that nifty new web service idea? Wham. It's there.

Need more servers to handle the increasing load? Wham. Wham. Wham. There they are.

Did your service not work out? No customers? Stupid idea? Poof. Poof. Poof. There go the servers.

With no setup or cancellation fees, just pay as you go, Amazon just made it really easy and cheap to try out new ideas and scale them. EC2 in conjunction with their storage solution S3 is an absolute winner.

If I was in the server hosting business, I'd be real worried right about now.

Congrats To Grouper!

A nice exit for Grouper and their investors. $65 Million is a nice chunk of change, especially as they only took $5.25 Million in funding. A textbook example of only taking the funding you need.

Another cool thing about the deal is that Nabila and I have friends that work there. Dave and Keith - dinner is on you next time!

Finding The Feed

Why is it so damn hard to find the RSS feed on many blogs? Every now and again I follow a link to someone's blog, decide to subscribe and then scroll up and down trying to find a link to the damn RSS feed.

A lot of times I just end up viewing the source and finding the meta tag in the head.

Make it obvious people!

As you were.

Tags: , .

Make Your Own Xbox Game?

I've been holding off on commenting about the XNA Game Studio Express announcement because I didn't want to sound like a wet towel, but enough is enough :-)

Let me preface this with the fact that This Is A Good ThingTM, but lets take it for what it is.

Microsoft have enabled anyone to write code for the Xbox 360, and deploy it locally to your own console. Yes you can share the fruits of your efforts with others who have also subscribed to the service, and only in source form. I'm sure this will change in the future, but AFAIK, you can't share the compiled final product with your mate who isn't a developer.

Ok, so with that out of the way, here's the other thing.

It isn't going to come with Will Wright in the box. That's right folks, pesky things like game design, art creation, and coding mojo are still issues.

There won't be a “Make Triple-A Title” button.

I'm sure that XNA Studio will provide a ton of graphics clip art, sample models, and sample code, but there aren't going to be sample game designs, sample cool new ideas or sample innovative game mechanics.

Oh, and one more thing. Anyone can make a game with their PC right now. Just download Visual Studio Express - it's free, or maybe pick up a copy of Torque Game Builder from Garage Games - it's only $100.

What Microsoft have done is provided a cheap way for hobbyist (or cash strapped indie) game developer to target the Xbox 360. This is a good thing - it was very expensive beforehand. I'm sure that a few of these titles will be picked up by mainstream publishers, or Microsoft itself.

Just don't expect thousands of high-class titles to start rolling out of basements anytime soon. It's just another platform. Albeit a cool one.

Now, where do I sign up? :-)


TrailFire is a cool service I came across recently.

TrailFire enables you to annotate a series of web pages and string them together into a “trail”. A very, very sweet idea. I can think of a ton of uses for this. What might be really interesting is a mashup with del.icio.us.

I use the tag toread to highlight articles I need to come back to later. Following them with an autogenerated trail would be kinda cool.

Anyhow, cool tech. Check it out.

Nikon D200 WiFi Adapter

The FCC just approved Nikon's WiFi adapter for the D200. It may be a bit big, but I still want one.

Also, while perusing the manual for the adapter, I noticed that in addition to it's wifi goodness, the adapter also has a shutter release button that makes it easier to use the camera when shooting in a portrait orientation.

D200 WiFi Adapter

Sweet! That will be very useful for those tripod moments.

Flight Simulator X Demo

My former colleagues at Microsoft have released a demo version of FSX. All I can say is wow! You have to believe me when I say that this is no mean feat - actually producing the thing before the product goes final and shipping the demo of a two DVD game within the size of a CD (I have to say, it's mighty close at 634MB :-)

Well done, guys and gals.

Go and download it now!

And while you're at it, check out the very cool new flash site.

Power, Power

This morning every outlet in our office apart from the one next to my desk was out (and still is). No servers, net, etc…

Apparently some transformer in the city just blew a few phases. Handily Mike, the office parks “I fix everything” guy had a few long extension cables, which I strung to strategic locations from behind my desk and now I can code and the email is starting to trickle in to the server.

We may not have lights, but I can code…

Anthony Bourdain Evacuates From Beruit

I'm a big fan of Anthony Bourdain's travel and food show No Reservations (airing in the US on the Travel Channel). The guy is irreverent, interesting and amusing.

During last night's show, a trailer aired for an upcoming episode. Only this time it turned out a little bit different to the normal show. You see, Bourdain was in Beruit filming an episode for No Reservations when the bombs started falling. Bourdain details his experiences in an article for Salon.

The show based on the footage shot in Beruit airs on the Travel Channel at 10pm, August 21st.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.