New Blog : Dummies and Death Rays

Not content with a new baby and the lack of sleep that comes with it, I’ve been playing around with blogger and have thrown together another blog called Dummies and Death Rays. MY plan was to review some books I like, and maybe post some relevant news but I might take it further and see how it goes. I guess it depends on how much sleep I get. :)

Not sure what I’m going to do with this site yet, maybe a change of direction.

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Free Album : Banjo or Freakout – Xmas Album

BanjoorFreakoutXmasAlbum2009Never heard of this Hackney dwelling Italian chap before but the name sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a listen and I love the fuzzy electronic sound he is producing. He’s picking up some pretty good reviews around the net too so probably one to watch.

He’s released a free album of tracks for Xmas which you can grab over at his blog.

Here’s a video of another track of his to give an idea of the style.

Banjo or Freakout – Left It Alone from banjo or freakout on Vimeo.

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Lego Matrix : Trinity Help

Proving that anything involving lego is excellent is this recreation of that Matrix scene. :)

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London 1927 Colour Video

Some video from 1927 of some very familiar parts of London. Amazing just how little has changed in some ways, apart from the transport and people of course.

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Simplify Web Pages for Reading With TidyRead

I read a lot online, including a lot of short fiction magazines and websites with lengthy articles but I’m often put off by the page layouts or design when what I really want is the text.

Previously I’ve cut and paste text and put it on my ereader,  I’ve written scripts to scrape the text automatically and I played with greasemonkey scripts to create simple versions of a few sites I read regularly.

Recently though I’ve found TidyRead which pretty much does exactly what I need. It works as a plugin or bookmarklet and for any web page you wish it will try and strip out all the extra information just leaving you with the main article text and images in a clean easy to read single page with options for colour and font sizes.

TidyRead renders web pages with better readability as an-easy-to-read manner, similar to eBooks, by accurately extracting the context text and removing the cluttered materials. Read what you should and nothing else.

I’ve been reading the quite excellent Clarkesworld Magazine with this and have found it far more pleasant with larger text, a dark background and light grey text which is easier on the eyes.

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Go Programming Language from Google

Do we need another one? Google seem to think so.

http://golang.org/

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The Matrix as a Slient Film

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Vintage Ad

Thought this was interesting given the ads you see today.

wateon

[via vintage_ads]

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Free Game Development Tools & Engines : DarkBASIC Pro, Unity3d, Unreal Development Kit

Had a random desire yesterday to play with some games development stuff just to use the old brain cells for a bit and strangely it seems to have coincided with a three companies releasing free or at least free for non-commercial use versions of their tools.

In what seems a fair order:

DarkBASIC Pro

freedownload

DBPro (along with blitzbasic) is pretty much the modern equivalent of the old AMOS and STOS BASIC languages for those that remember them. It’s a BASIC variant targeted specifically at games development and makes it very easy to get something running quickly. It’s aimed more at the bedroom coder but I think a few people have hit the casual game market with it.

They’ve release a completely free version which you can download here. The only difference is that this version is supported by advertising and from a quick play it looks like mostly advertising for their other products. Perhaps they will move to a model of providing the tools for free and selling content to use with those tools.

Not being a games developer I’ve no idea how far you could push it but it’s definitely fun to play with.

Unity3D

overview-broad

Getting a bit more serious, the people behind the Unity engine have started giving their entry level product away free which was previously a $200 “indie” license.  I don’t know anything about the engine beyond playing (and being impressed by) quite a few indie games developed using it, mostly using the Unity Web Player which provides pretty damn nice 3D gaming in a browser.

Gamasutra has an article for more information on this one.

It can target various platforms including wii and iPhone and I believe they will be targeting the 360 too but I imagine those would require a paid license. Still looks like a great catch for indie developers.

Unreal Development Kit

logo-udk

OK this one is the biggie of the three and way beyond anything I want to do, the Unreal Develpment Kit powered by the Unreal Engine 3 which clearly has been used for top end games. I imagine you could do pretty much what you like in this though it no doubt has the learning curve to go with it. It’s free for non-commercial use (and pretty reasonable licensing too) but for students, education and people just wanting to use a professional level kit I doubt you can do much better than this.

UDK is Unreal Engine 3 – the complete professional development framework. All the tools you need to create great games, advanced visualizations and detailed 3D simulations. The best tools in the industry are in your hands.

Altogether an interesting development, and a bonus for indie developers, I wonder who’ll go free next…

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Free Tutorial Book – The Complete Guide to Google Wave

Thecompleteguidetogooglewavecover01I’ve had a Google Wave account for a little while now but haven’t really had a chance to spend much time playing with it. To be honest I fired it up, thought “OK what now” and promptly forgot about it.

Partly this is because it’s not immediately clear how best to use the thing and partly because I know very few people using the thing which seems to be the key if you wish to collaborate. :)

This free ebook/guide can at least help with the first part of my problem and let me work out what I want to use it for and how to use it.

The plan is to sell the guide as a DRM-free PDF but the contents will remain freely available at http://completewaveguide.com. It already looks pretty comprehensive and being a collaborative document itself it should remain up to date as more features are added and documented.

The Complete Guide to Google Wave is a collaborative user manual for Google Wave written and edited by Gina Trapani with Adam Pash. Launched one month after the Google Wave preview release, this guide is the most current, comprehensive, independent user resource for the most ambitious (and confusing) web application ever created.

In the spirit of Google Wave, this guide is a bold experiment in collaboration and public iteration, as well as independent book publishing.

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