Nexuiz – Wonderful FPS

A couple of months ago our Development Team here at Talis decided they wanted to have some sort of game server running internally so we could have a little fun from time to time. Most people had settled on Unreal Tournament but it had two major problems, a) you needed a semi decent graphics card to play it, and b) you had to buy it ( if ur being honest and above board which we are! ).

Anyway I came across Nexuiz, which is a free FPS based on an early Quake Engine. It requires fairly modest hardware to run, so it’s perfect for running on laptops. It also runs natively on both Windows and Mac which is excellent given a number of us have Mac Book Pro’s and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try and run an FPS inside of VMWare although it would probably have worked. Anyway because of this we set up a Nexuiz Server running in a VM on our internal network. It runs very well, and plays incredibly well. It might not be as visually aesthetic as later versions of Quake or Doom or Enemy Territory, but what it lacks in visual polish it more than makes up for in playability … it is awesome!

Having played a few times there’s a number of things that strike me. I’ve been playing FPS games for a number of years, I even play for a great team. Now because Nexuiz is based on a Quake Engine, anyone who has ever played Quake/Doom/Enemy Territory will be immediately familiar with it. Whilst the game-play is different, as are the weapons, the damage levels and even the hit boxes, it doesn’t take too long to get used to it, or the frantic pace at which the game is played. Check out these gameplay videos…

It supports all the popular game modes, although at the moment we have it running Team Death Match pretty much all the time. it also supports a really nice little single player mode which is great to practise on, and get used to the controls and feel. I have to confess I am really beginning to like it, in a LAN setting. It’s a lot of fun, and just the thing when you need a five minute break from staring at a load of code that you have been refactoring for several hours.

Download it and try it out!

Firefox Extension: TinyURL Creator

If you haven’t already got it installed I highly recommend the TinyURL Creator Firefox Extension. I’ve been using it more and more recently, simply browse to a page and right click, select ‘Create TinyURL for this Page’ and it generates the url and places it on the clipboard ready for you to paste.

For those who don’t know what a TinyURL is TinyUrl is a service that takes a long URL as input, and gives you a short URL to use in it’s place. For example the TinyURL for https://www.virtualchaos.co.uk/blog/ is http://tinyurl.com/39sbbh. This comes in useful if you want to put a link into Twitter or in an SMS message where you have a limited number of characters to use. I’ve been using the service a lot, but it’s so much easier with the firefox extension.

flickrvision is so cool

I was pair programming with Rob yesterday, at some point during the day he showed me flickrvision running on his machine. I have never used it before but found myself drawn to the new 3d Visualisation it supports. Since I got into work this morning I have had it running on my second screen. I could almost sit here and watch it all day. It is constantly updated with photos uploaded to flickr by users from all over the world. As a new image is posted the map shifts to the user location and the image appears. It really is awesome … somehow makes the world seem closer, as this stream of images shows us whats happening around the world. I love it!

VMWare Fusion – wonderful!

I’ve been running VMWare Fusion on my MacBook Pro since I got it. Last week I finally got round to installing a Windows XP Professional virtual machine. The virtual machine runs beautifully and feels as though I’m running it natively such is it’s responsiveness. Almost as soon as I had the VM installed and running I immediately installed Windows Liver Writer lol. But then I noticed the Unity Icon, what this basically does is minimise the VM Window and allow you to run applications inside the VM directly on your Mac Desktop, here’s my desktop running Windows Liver Writer, Paint and a Windows Command Prompt (click to enlarge):

What makes this truly wonderful is that I can place windows applications directly into the dock in order to launch the applications. Here’s the neat bit, even if the VM isn’t running when I try to launch and app, Fusion starts up the VM and switches into Unity automatically.

Superb!

The Web’s secret stories

Here’s another wonderful ted talk, this time by Jonathan Harris

Jonathan wants to make sense of the infinite world on the Web — so he builds dazzling graphic interfaces that help us visualize the data floating around out there. He presents “We Feel Fine,” which uses a technique called passive observation by scouring blogs to collect the planet’s emoti(c)ons. It’s an amazing social tool. Jonathan also presents and the “Yahoo! Time Capsule,” which preserves images, quotes and thoughts snapped up in 2006. And he premieres “Universe,” which presents current events as constellations of words — a tag cloud of our collective consciousness

The visualisations they have implemented across these applications are absolutely amazing . I’m very very impressed.

Microsoft brings Windows Live services out of beta

Microsoft has finally released out of beta it’s suite of Windows Live Services, offering users half a dozen downloads and web apps.Among the offerings are IMAP-enabled Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Writer (one of my favourite tools!) for offline editing and uploading blogs, A Picture Gallery application and a parental controls application for web browsing.

This offering by Microsoft does echo Google’s Google Pack, which was also an online/offline software bundle. The difference between the two is that Google’s offering includes products from other vendors whilst Microsoft’s offering does attempt to tie you more to Microsoft’s own Platform.

I’m not complaining though I like variety …

SVN Time Lapse View

Came across a very useful Subversion utility today. SVNTimeLapseView downloads every revision of a file from your subversion repository and allows you to scroll through the revisions using a simple slider control. As you scroll through revisions it highlights the changes that were made in each revision in blue. I found it very useful earlier today when trying to figure out what had changed in a .php file when trying to understand changes made to the file by another developer. It’s a simple but very useful tool!!

SVNTimeLapseView is free and works on any platform that runs Java, you can download it from here.