WTF is HTML5 and Why We Should All Care

I saw this tweet today:

#IRONY RT @kevinmarks: I like this ‘what is HTML5′ Infographic: should b a webpage not a bitmap

Now I repost here, in the event it should disappear because I think this is a really good info-graphic and it deserves more exposure…I hence present “WTF is HTML5 and why we should all care”.

The original link can be found here.

Limiting Steam for Mac to Specific (Free) Content Servers

I have had iiNet ADSL for a very long time, and as a result of one of their acquisitions, the 3FL game servers now count as “freezone” for all iiNet customers. Whats really great about this, is that 3FL has official steam content servers; so steam downloads from 3FL are “freezone” too! This is great, if like me you are a die-hard valve/steam fan boi.

The problem is that Steam uses a “BitTorrentesque” download technique and despite any settings you make inside Steam, it will not guarantee that it will limit its downloading from that server. Windows users for a while now have had an app called SteamWatch which monitors Steam, and when it trys to download from another server, forcibly closes the connection on Steam. Sadly, mac users dont have anything so easy, yet. However, here is a shell script which adds a number of rules to the OSX firewall to stop steam from downloading from non-free servers:

/sbin/IPFW -f flush
/sbin/IPFW -f add 3000 allow tcp from any to 203.59.140.194 27030 out
/sbin/IPFW -f add 3001 allow tcp from any to 202.173.128.178 27030 out
/sbin/IPFW -f add 3020 deny tcp from any to any 27030 out

Just save these lines into a text file (mine is called ‘rules.sh’) and then in the terminal (and from the directory you saved the file) execute:

sudo bash rules.sh

In this case, I have setup the rules for 2 servers, 203.59.140.194 and 202.173.128.178 which are the 2 servers which correspond to free content servers for iiNet. If you are not iiNet, and can find out the IPs of your free Steam servers, just remove those lines and add/edit accordingly.

Now, this is not a silver bullet. When these rules are on, it may restrict or otherwise affect online gaming and some Steam games may not download at all (because not every Steam content server has 100% of the steam catalogue on it!). However, when you reboot, its reset, or you can run this command at a terminal prompt:

sudo /sbin/IPFW -f flush

…and the rules will be reset.  Happy free downloading!

Only 11 More Sleeps…

Words cannot describe how much this excites me.  Only in my wildest dreams did I think Steam (my absolute favorite gaming platform) would ever come to Mac OSX.  Then I saw this news, which made me giddier than a school-girl.

I watched April come and go, and still no Steam for Mac.

But then my patience was rewarded when Valve gave a hard date of May 12, 2010 as the official release date.  Now obviously we Mac peeps wont get the entire Steam catalog, but Valve has more-or-less promised their library and any future games to be simultaneously released on PC, Mac and XBox360.

Valve also has a nasty habit of pushing back release dates again, and again – but I am hopeful that this time, they’ll do us proud.

Reign Supreme

Sometimes I wish I was a super-hero with the ultimate power of persuasion.  Because then I could call up world leaders and convince them to do things my way (because clearly my way is better)!

On a less narcissistic note, I was thinking about the things I would do to shape the world in my own image – and realised that you can tell a lot about a person about the things they don’t like about the world (or the lack thereof).  To that end, I’ve created a list of the top 10 things I would change:

  1. Make it illegal to charge ANYONE (parents, insurance companies, anyone) for medical care given to children (people under 18).
  2. Rename “marriages” to “civil unions” for everyone (gays, hetros, lesbians) – and make the churches responsible for the “marriages”.  If you want to be joined by law – get a civil union, if you want a marriage, goto a church.
  3. Allow stem-cell research, but with strict oversight.
  4. Roll-out fibre to the home for all residences in Australia.
  5. Tax high-pollution industries and use that Tax to give a rebate for deploying solar power to every household in Australia.
  6. Revoke Scientology’s tax free status.
  7. Pass laws to give woman the right to choose what happens to their own bodies (surrogacy, abortion etc).
  8. Pass laws to protect Doctors and create a proper due-process for people to choose to end their own  lives.
  9. Eliminate years 11 and 12 – either pick a trade and work as an apprentice for 5 years, or study in academia for an additional 2 years in your chosen field.
  10. Create a “guild” system of government.  Several elected officials, with the cabinet of the elected party made up of the people chosen to best represent that industry or sector – so instead of “climate change minister” in cabinet (for example) – it would be a person considered by his peers to be the best climatologist in science – and for these leaders to be separate from political affiliation (too many times we’ve had ministers filling port-folio’s they didn’t have the knowledge or skills to manage).

Political Satire

This is an old political comic I found in a news paper early in 2007, and I just wanted to share it (and store it in the cloud).  While the issues is not really relevant any longer, and despite your personal political views, I do think it accurate encapsulated a major factor as to why Howard lost the 2007 election.

Political Comic - Rudd vs Howard
I’m Kevin, and I’m here to help.

Woot! Valve Confirms Steam for Mac OSX

Its been speculated for some time now, but it turns out that sometimes rumours that seem too good to be true, do materialize after all.  Steam is coming to the Mac.

And not just im some crappy pseudo lameness through a dodgy emulation or some-such, but real honest to god native application which is, according to Valve to be considered a tier-1 level platform with simultaneous releases for PC, Mac and XBox 360 from now on.  Also, Mac and PC builds will be concurrent, patches will be released to both simultaneously as well.  The source engine, also gets the native treatment, now that Valve has incorporated OpenGL into its award winning, modular engine.

Portal 2 will be Valve’s first simultaneous release for Mac and Windows. “Checking in code produces a PC build and Mac build at the same time, automatically, so the two platforms are perfectly in lock-step,” said Josh Weier, Portal 2 Project Lead. “We’re always playing a native version on the Mac right alongside the PC. This makes it very easy for us and for anyone using Source to do game development for the Mac.”

This means that all steam games will be theoretically available to Mac users. Steam and Valve’s own library of games including Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and the Half-Life series will be available as soon as April (next month).

But looking at the bigger picture, I think this is a huge industry changing announcement from Valve.  I think this will be the event all Linux and Mac users had been hoping for to finally bust the lid off the “Windows is best for games”.  This is a great idea from valve because it means that they’re going to have access toa  huge market of new potential gamers.  I suspect that many OSX users will flock to Steam as their de facto games delivery platform, since historically only very large titles were ever ported to MAc, and generally years after the PC launch.

What’s more, if Valve is to be beleived, it may be more than just Source games coming, Gabe Newell, President of Valve said:

“As we transition from entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service, customers and developers need open, high-quality Internet clients, the Mac is a great platform for entertainment services.”

“Our Steam partners, who are delivering over a thousand games to 25 million Steam clients, are very excited about adding support for the Mac,” said Jason Holtman, Director of Business Development at Valve. “Steamworks for the Mac supports all of the Steamworks APIs, and we have added a new feature, called Steam Play, which allows customers who purchase the product for the Mac or Windows to play on the other platform free of charge. For example, Steam Play, in combination with the Steam Cloud, allows a gamer playing on their work PC to go home and pick up playing the same game at the same point on their home Mac. We expect most developers and publishers to take advantage of Steam Play.”

Given the lack of enthusiasm for Windows Vista, and given he number of people I know to be making the move from Windows to Mac, I think this will only lessen the ties people have with Windows.  Especially that source game licenses are granted for either platform.  Blizzard has done this too, for the record.  Its not quite as elegant as steam, but battle.net was (to my knowledge) the first way to get dual platform licences which could be downloaded from the web.

In summary, this is such exciting news for me, I am positively elated.  And I think that this will cause quite a stir in the games industry, in that games that support only one platform may finally be a thing of the past.

Why iPad? Because it’s Cheap!

ordinary people just want something cheap that works. And that’s how the iPad will seem to them. Many will never make a conscious decision to switch. They’ll get an iPad as well, then find they use their Windows machine less and less. When it dies they won’t replace it.

via ycombinator.com

I think this is totally true.  And interestingly, I think its the same reason why the MacBooks have taken off recently.  I am one of the converted.  Mac “gets” mobile computing.  They  seem to understand that when I am on the move, I dont want headaches with network connections and I just want my Laptop to work!

This being said, the iPad is a disappointment for me because I really wanted something a bit more.  I wanted something that run OSX, and had a stylus with multiple sensitivities.  I also wanted it to have a conductive touch interface and I wanted it to be as thick as the air.  THAT would have blown my world – however, I am convinced that this may actually be coming (at least in part) in the future.

I do think that the iPad was rushed and I do think that its uninspired (the iPhoneesque interface is starting to show its age).  But I also think that this wont matter at the till.  I also think that it opens up some interesting development ideas, specifically in the area of table-top gaming and traditional board games – especially when coupled with ‘linked’ iPhones.

I am very hopeful that the iPad succeeds in creating a new category of applications that use it unique feature set.  I truly think that limiting it to Web browsing and Book Reading would be a terrible shame.  And a waste.

WebGAC Takes the Pain Out of .Net Dependencies

My good friend Paul Jones, has released a great tool called WebGAC to github.  WebGAC is a great way to manage .net assemblies and adding them to .Net projects from a centralised repository of binaries.  As someone who has used this tool on literally dozens of projects for nearly 2 years now, Its a must have tool for all Visual Studio developers.

Managing binary dependencies in .NET can be a complicated task. For small projects, checking the dependencies into source control tends to work just fine. So does requesting that all developers have various binaries available in their GAC. Grow much bigger, or add more projects, and managing that starts to get very difficult. The Java world has had a solution to this problem for a long time, in the form of Maven and Ivy. Remote servers store the binaries, and the build tool automatically downloads them on demand.

WebGAC adds the core of this functionality to .NET, but without requiring you to switch build tools, or maintain a separate configuration file. Dependencies are specified just the same way as normal, but if you don’t have them when building your project, WebGAC will fetch them for you automatically.

WebGAC is available at http://github.com/paulj/webgac. Browse over there for more information and installation instructions, or continue reading here for more details.