Age of Empires III

It's coming. The 4th instalment in the hugely popular "Age of" series. This time Ensemble take us to the colonisation of the new world.

Age of Empires III screenshot

The Age of Empires III engine is a fully DX9, Shader 3.0 compliant engine with more technical bells and whistles than any other PC game to date. As you can see from the screenshots, we have a world that feels bright and sunny, but with a softness and depth that hasn't been seen before. From things like self-shadowing to HDR (high dynamic range) lighting to water that has proper Fresnel reflectance properties, this is a very high-end graphics engine.

We've also integrated physics into the game in a big way. When units are blown up by cannon fire, we use ragdolls to bounce them around the world, off of rooftops, and down cliffs. As buildings take artillery damage, pieces of the building realistically break off and fall down with proper collision modeling. When you throw in hundreds of integrated animations per unit, the overall effect is quite impressive.

Age of Empires III screenshot

Happy New Year

The joys of being a webmaster

Today was interesting to say the least (well yesterday now). I came back home from work at around half one for my lunch break. I did my usual e-mail check, site/forum check. All looking good some weird activity from some people on the Oblivion forums mainly people from another Oblivion website. Didn't take much notice and went to make a cup of tea.

Came back continued browsing over the web and stumbled upon my Oblivion topsite list which I setup a week or two ago. What did I find? "Could not connect to SQL database........" and so on. So I login to the server to check the database is up and running, it was. So I continued to hunt down the problem - login details to the SQL database had been changed. So I change them back and notice that all the links are totally broken. So I go grab the backups and restore the entire directory make sure it's all working, one thing I notice is one of the sites listed had been renamed to blablablabla, with remove as a description, not having time to deal with that I do a password change on all important areas of the site and download the logs, not having time to check them out before having to go back to work. My entire lunch wasted by this nonsense, I was obviously not in the best of moods.

Anyway I got home at around half six. Check to make sure it's still up. No. "Could not connect to SQL database........". So I upload the configuration files again, all back up and working. Within ten minutes it had changed back. Bingo, at least now I'd have a narrow time frame to check in the logs what was happening.

There it was someone accessing a private install script I had hidden away. Easy to sort. What was interesting was the IP address of the user(s) doing this. They match up with a certain forum posts from earlier. A quick lookup confirms my suspicions over who it was. One of the staff on a site competing with the Oblivion Portal the site that had been renamed blablablabla on the topsites list.

Now these guys have seem to of had it in for me right from the offset. They opened their doors a few weeks ago with a short interview with Bethesda, the developers of Oblivion, which I point out on my news page getting them most of their early traffic. I also add their link up on the contents bar and the links pages. A week or so later I setup the topsites. They join up within a few days and pull up in second.

All cool? No far from it. I get an e-mail from one of their staff going on about the Oblivion Portal "cheating" in the listings some how. I wasn't really sure what he was on about, English isn't his first language, he was going on about having the topsite code on all of my pages? How's that cheating? That's what you're supposed to do. So I just sent a polite e-mail back explaining how the system worked, I get an e-mail back in the same kind of tone as the first one, hardly nice language. Accusing me of cheating doesn't get my nicest side. I just choose to ignore it.

I also notice they were getting about 8 or so people, their staff mostly (as far as I can tell) to vote 1/5 for every other site on there and 5/5 for theirs. Over and over. However I decide to ignore it.

After a few days I get another e-mail from him. This time in extremely aggressive tone. Accusing me once again of cheating because I had a surge of hits from sending out a mail drop to some of the forum members. Sites obviously can't have traffic that is above their average can they? Of course not! So I must be cheating according to him. So once again I just ignore the tone of it and send another polite e-mail back, explaining to him that I sent a mail out to several hundred people going on about some of the new features on the site. What's even weirder is he said he had been visited the topsites page all day at least once every five minutes? Don't you have anything better to do? Seriously, there's hundreds of far more important and helpful things you could be doing with your life then pressing refresh over and over.

Anyway I get an e-mail back apologising, I send one back saying not to worry about it. This was a few days ago.

All was quiet until today when the above mentioned posts happened on the forums and the accessing of private areas of the website.

An example of one of the posts:

As we all see it as admins from [snipped] it is war. You asked for it, you just don't wanted to stop, so we will see how this is going to end.

Riiiight okay... Whatever you say.

They also have the nerve to personally attack the Oblivion Portal on both their website and the official Elder Scrolls boards. Why? Do they all have screws loose or something?

I've tried to bite my tongue over this, but this just needed to be said. Oh one more thing, any comments or e-mails from any of the mentioned website's staff are subject to be publically published as I see fit.

Attack of Mr Moo

Mr Moo

Mr Moo should be considered extremely dangerous, he ate a mouse made entirely from sugar and was seen trying to hump the webcam. If you see him in your neighbourhood please inform your local law enforcement agencies.

Master Chief vs Mr Moo

Additional - the Chief has been called in... This is the last known communication with him. It is believed he has fallen victim to Mr Moo.

Another nail in the iPod's coffin

One of the UK's biggest music retailers, HMV on Wednesday announced it was developing an online store to be ready for February next year which would be based on Microsoft's Windows Media format.

From the BBC:

Record store HMV has teamed up with Microsoft to launch its own digital music downloading service. HMV will plough around £10m into setting up the service, which it hopes to roll out by February next year.

The two firms are developing software and hardware that will allow customers to download music directly onto PCs.

HMV added the system will be compatible with Microsoft's Windows Media Audio, and therefore with 75 types of portable music players, but not Apple's iPod.

An HMV representative also stated that they plan to stop selling iPods when the service goes live.

Microsoft UK managing director Alistair Baker:

It's great to be involved in such a leading-edge retail project that will support an explosion of choice, enabling music fans to buy music in-store and online - in fact anywhere - on a whole range of devices from different manufacturers. The partnership extends to the development of the [software], which will be constructed by a joint team from Microsoft and HMV.

It's happening, the same mistakes that killed the Mac are killing the iPod. Apple wake up, you have to license your technology and open your technology to even stand a remote chance of winning this war.

Apple at it again

Apple Computer is eyeing a technology that could make the iPod more likely to survive a fall.

The company has applied for a patent on technology that would allow a portable media player to detect when it is falling and then stop reading or writing to the hard drive. Such technology would work by detecting the acceleration that accompanies a drop.

"The portable-computing device protects its disk drive by monitoring for such accelerations and operating to avoid usage of the disk drive during periods of acceleration," Apple said in the patent application, which was published Dec. 16. "Through such protection, the likelihood of damage to the disk drive or loss of data stored on the disk drive is able to be substantially reduced."

Oh dear, I guess nobody told them that IBM already have a patent on this technology, straight from IBM's mouth:

"IBM's patented hard drive protection technology helps protect people's data. The IBM Active Protection System, similar to the technology used in automobiles to deploy airbags, uses a microchip on the system board to detect system acceleration (such as in a fall) and responds by temporarily parking the drive's read/write head. This rapid response can help prevent some hard drive crashes that occur in some falls, helping to prevent total data loss and ultimately reduce downtime and warranty costs."

What's up Apple? Can't you afford real advertising?

1 ... 153 154 155 156 157 ...158 ... 160 ...162 ...163 164