Saturday, 29 May 2010

Things One Can't Do Anything About

The past week or so I have noticed something quite disturbing if true; apparently during some nights I have managed to inflict wounds on myself while asleep. At the very least I have woken up three times the past few days already to find fresh wounds, some more obvious than others.

The primary target appears to be my genitals, with painful open wounds which take a few days to close and stop hurting. Yesterday I also noticed a piece of skin missing on my forehead, apparently scratched away as it matches the size and direction of me inflicting such a wound with my fingernails. Today I noticed bloody scratches on my right arm.

If these are indeed injuries I have caused to myself during my sleep it would be the beginning of a disturbing new trend. Before I would mostly express my frustrations and pain by crying and by retreating into myself during a paralyzation attack. Self-mutilation was very uncommon and I was always conscious and aware of the event. Having read up on cases where people managed to become semi-awake and realizing the effects prolonged exposure to stress can have on this symptom, it's a worrying development.

I have had many occasions where I would wake up from my sleep drenched in sweat, even with the room being quite cool in temperature, sometimes with my fists tightly clenched across my chest. This would seem to suggest that my sleep is often restless, disturbed by night terrors. I really hope that I won't end up harming myself more than I already have, though. I have no idea what the limits are to what I can and will do to myself while asleep and whether it'll get any worse from now on. Maybe I'll just have to be restrained while in bed to prevent such things from happening again :(

Anyway, on a more positive note, Lilium Milestone 1 will soon undergo its unit testing. With some (a lot?) luck I could have it more or less working by next weekend. Then it's a matter of putting a good benchmark together, both in VHDL and THDL (the internal language for Lilium), and seeing whether Lilium can do better than 1% of the performance of the competition :)

I have been working on the Wild Fox project as well, together with the Mozilla developer (whose name I'm not sure I can use freely yet). I will be testing a build of Firefox with H.264 enabled, then if it works I'll backport it to the Firefox 3.6.3 code which will then be called Wild Fox 3.6.3. Wild Fox will follow the version numbering of Firefox. If the backporting works well an Alpha release of Wild Fox (WF) 3.6.3 will be released in one or two weeks time. This will be followed by as many Beta and RC releases as necessary to get it stable.

Within Nyanko I'm also still working together with Trevor on Even Cats Dream. The resource cooker utility app is done, we are now using the FBX resource format which will make the creation work flow more streamlined between 3D Studio Max, other creation tools and the game. The past few days I have spent putting some 3D models together for use in the first level of the game (to be recycled for other levels too, of course). Hopefully next week we can have something resembling the first level put together. Once we get the first one done things should go a lot faster :)

In other news, this week I ordered some new clothes and shoes from an online store and received them Thursday. Everything fit just fine aside from some shorts which - although marked as being size 36 - fit like a size 34. In other words a tight squeeze. Fortunately the return policy of the store allowed me to have it picked up and the money returned without any costs on my side. Sadly it's not possible to directly exchange the item, only to order it again, but I doubt I would do it for this piece of clothing anyway if they can't even get the size for it right. The rest of the clothes look and fit fine, though. I'm well-equipped for the summer now :)

Last Thursday Pieter went to a debate in Amsterdam on basically the issue of the downloading of copyrighted materials, currently legal for movies and music. The event included lots of politicians, lawyers, Dutch Pirate Party members and the Dutch RIAA/MPAA equivalent (Brein). He got to speak there as well, asking a question to the politicians on how they had imagined outlawing 'illegal' downloads could be enforced as methods like Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) are completely ineffective when it comes to detecting copyrighted materials, also because it can not determine whether it's a legal or illegal download. In other words, even if it could be made to work it would trip up on legal downloads from online music/movies stores just as often. In other words, it's utter tripe to think that a technological solution exists for this 'problem'. What would help more is actually making it possible for every online Dutch citizen to buy (legally) a digital copy of any music and movie (and games) currently available in brick and mortar stores.

At any rate it's a debate which will take much longer to settle, if it ever will. I do not believe that people will stop choosing for the easiest (and cheapest in terms of time and money) solution, whether it's downloading a movie from some not-so-legal Bittorrent site, or from a fully legal online store. It's often about instant gratification. If the user has to jump through a dozen hoops to find a legal digital copy of some song or movie, gets burdened with DRM which requires him to be online while playing the movie, disallows making any copies and uses a stupid video format which only plays in some proprietary player provided by the store, and many more inconveniences, then it should be clear that only the insane will opt for this method of self-torture.

Technically this debate isn't new with the arrival of P2P on internet, though. Even with VHS tapes there was already this affliction to put stupid trailers, FBI warnings and heavens know what else on the tape before the movie started, forcing people to fast forward through this junk before they could watch the movie. Copying the actual movie to another tape allowed one to skip this bit, even if the movie studios hated it when you did it.

Then when DVDs came along, which theoretically would allow one to skip directly to the main menu, they came along with a new 'feature': unskippable content, forcing one to yet again fast-forward through the same old trailers, FBI warnings and retarded anti-piracy clips. Yes, I would like a copy of that car, please. Thus people began to rip their DVDs to make it more convenient to do what they bought the DVD for in the first place: watching the friggin' movie. Insert DVD, play movie.

The application of crippling DRM to digital copies of movies and music is just a continuing trend in this regard, and equally doomed to failure. Things should be made more convenient for consumers if they'll even want to look at what you're offering them. Recently Ubisoft tried a new experiment with super-restrictive DRM on its games, basically requiring the player to be online to play at all, with any hiccup in online connectivity resulting in the game pausing, throwing one back to the menu and maybe saving your progress. This means you can not play games with this DRM while your internet is down, during an 8-hour long flight on your laptop, during a vacation to Middle of Nowhere, Somewhere, or when some jokers feel like DDoSing the Ubisoft servers. In other words it is a stupid idea which hasn't found much positive feedback among gamers.

In stark contrast there are companies like Blizzard who have never used severe DRM implementations in their games, which includes hits like Star Craft and (World of) Warcraft, and have even denounced the use of such crippling DRM. Star Craft II will require one to active the game online one time after installation, which is at least a plausible proposition, even if I despise any kind of 'activation' on a software product I just bought.

Nyanko's own games will not have any DRM. What ECD for example will have is a key which doesn't unlock the game or anything, but can be used to gain access to online features on the ECD website. This way one can play the game anywhere, any time, with or without paying for it, but for the full experience you will have to pay for access. We also accept that piracy exists, but will not attempt to sue our userbase into submission. Instead we hope that being customer-friendly will make people want to buy our games. You know, instead of forcing people to pay up, such as what for example the 'three-strikes' laws in France, Ireland and the UK are attempting.


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