Monday, January 31, 2011

reCAPTCHA explained in one sentence

Defeating severe distortion that was applied to scanned old newspaper text (largely pre-internet spam) to stop bots from recognizing it and spamming, while feeling warm and fuzzy that it helps digitize the books that couldn't be digitized automatically.
Uhh yeach.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Piracy, DRM, Steam, and pirates.

I don't care very much about piracy.
There's a few things i hate, though:

1: Pirates contacting me for tech support. Every time there is a marketing push, the numbers are big, and even a tiny fraction of failures is a lot of reports. (most of issues are resolved by reboot by the way). I don't need you reporting me bugs that I fixed months ago! Buy it, and get the latest version with updates. And no I'm not going to be pitching my game to each pirate individually.

2: Certain individuals, who I cannot prove to be pirates, making up sheer lies for the purpose of getting others to pirate instead of buying.

I've seen big threads about my game, where early in the thread some wise-*** would tell authoritatively utter and complete made up lie that "Valve is taking >90% of the revenue" and he don't want to support a greedy evil corporation. Talk about word of mouth 'advantages' of piracy. Some paying customer starts a thread about my game, or writes a review, because he wants others to buy it too, and then someone drops by and post some made up falsehoods that would justify piracy and hurt the sales. (Don't know about you, but I would suspect this someone is a pirate). We are all trained since childhood to prepare defence speech in advance, to make up reasons. We are all trained to think that when others do it too, it is ok.

My game comes with no DRM what so ever (not even Steam's). There is a fairly generous demo. It is digitally distributed, meaning I get lion's share of what you pay. If you want to play without paying - at least keep it private, don't lie to yourself and everyone else, don't just make up and post reasons to pirate rather than buy.

Then the pirates making up bullshit about Steam problems (after never even checking my site for alternative methods of purchase). Steam may not be totally perfect, but it is VERY good and non intrusive. Yet people make up lies how you can't run game without Steam (you can) and how Steam is evil DRM adware and so on and so forth. Posting their speculations in a style as if they bought a game there then encountered problems, and had to resort to piracy (which does not seem to be the case).
They're just speaking of what they think is possible, and they don't even see this as lying, they see it as they are warning others of a possibility which they foresee using their unique skills of deduction. They don't see it as lying because they simply don't care what the truth is AT ALL. Well in my book it is worse than outright lying. To lie requires you to bother to learn the truth. There's some tiny degree of honesty in plain lying that is absent in bullshitting when you don't even care to know if you're lying or not.

Behaviours like this lead me to question whenever negative word of mouth impact from game's DRM is as strong as it would seem. It's hard to know what percentage of people who are claiming they won't buy it "because of DRM" would make up something else in absence of DRM.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Update released.

  • Windows: support for any audio format via DirectShow codecs; simply install system wide codecs in the usual way to play any format. Some types of internet streaming audio might also work now depending to the system configuration. (OS X version already supports pretty much any format through system codecs)
  • Key bindings for next and previous song and song restart work correctly now.
  • File chooser directories are remembered independently for different file chooser dialogs.
  • Removed "Merry Christmas" from tutorial level (the Christmas tree remains in the Christmas level)
  • Moved Christmas themed music down in the default playlist.
  • New arena.
  • Wormholes are bigger now and easier to fly through.

For FLAC support - I tested it, after installing these codecs:
FLAC worked.

WMA and WAV formats should now work out of the box. I did not have time to try any codecs for Wavpack yet. Internet streaming works now if you put an URL into playlist file. (You need to have relevant codecs installed for the stream type)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arizona shooting.

This is just horrible.
How easily an insane individual, perhaps barely capable of finding his way on the streets, can just buy a gun and go on and kill a lot of people by just pulling the trigger. How he can just buy a high capacity magazine that holds 3 more bullets than AK47 magazine. A magazine that no reasonable person will want to have for self defence, given how it almost doubles weight of pistol, makes pistol cumbersome to carry, and is more likely to jam.
I'm not normally posting anything about US politics. But when something like this happens, when you recognize one of the faces of those shot as a face you seen before, when one can imagine the personal tragedy of a family who lost their child, well one can't just stay silent as of what one believes to have contributed to this horrible incident.

What would it take to end a politician's career for inciting those insane to violence, if a hit list complete with gun related rhetoric is not enough? Realistic cross hair over photos? Direct suggestion that one must be hunted down? Should politicians have this sort of immunity? I think not. Disagreement is fine, but gun related rhetoric targeting individual opponents is not. It is ridiculous that a (quitted or not) governor, a part of establishment, would play revolutionary tunes.
Could Palin's constant gun references and violent rhetoric ever incite a sane person to vote for her, anyway? No I do not think so! Not for my definition of sane. Of course it can also be said that you must be crazy to interpret that as incitement to violence... ohh, right.
Who's to blame for violent rhetoric? Politicians? Or the mildly insane portion of public whom this rhetoric apparently incites to vote? Or perhaps both?

It is well understood that some percentage of people are insane and can be incited by this kind of political message. It is also understood that message to sane people can be conveyed without use of this kind of symbolism, without making violent allegories, unless one specifically wants to deliver a message to insane, even at the cost of turning sane people away.

On topic of freedom of speech, is shouting "fire" in the theatre OK now too? What's if someone wants to start panic but yells it like "Fire! Fire [less loud]those actors" ? How far can plausible deniability stretch?
I sincerely hope that politicians will cut down on mixing guns into the politics now. This is outright insane. Even if this particular shooting cannot be linked to any particular rhetoric, that does not make it fine to mix guns into politics, to incite crazy to do politics by using guns.

But Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, has a surprising (well it was to me) spin on Palin's comment. If she thinks she's turning the guns, so to speak, back on her critics for attempting to endanger her (her what? her political future?) by claiming she contributed to a climate of violence, she's gone about it totally backwards. He told me today:

It's not just inappropriate, it's profoundly ironic. By making this comparison and playing Jew in the picture, the person endangered by a blood libel, she admits that the words people use can have deadly impact.

By claiming that others' words are a blood libel that endangers her, she's at least admitting the prospect that claims her words endangered others could be true.

I'm not giving her a free pass. It was a poor and hurtful analogy. But clearly, she's affirming exactly what her critics charge.

I'm with Rabbi Brad on this one. Astute observation. Same goes for claiming that gunsight crosshairs were meant as something else. Ohh yes, so the gunsight crosshairs could have incited violence, but Palin is totally innocent, so innocent she couldn't have imagined those crosshair like icons can be seen as gun crosshairs.

edit: Long before the shootings, Palin's list was described as "an al Qaeda Christmas card" and criticized even by conservatives previously supportive of Palin. There.
Palin's (and supported by her) 'view' how Obama is a terrorist? How Obama is like Hitler? How Obama's healthcare will introduce "death panels" that will kill her child? Combined with "don't retreat, reload" and the like. Holy shit. Is she trying to assassinate Obama or what?