TMNT OOTS

Like most people around their 30s today, I was a huge fan (and when I mean huge, man I mean ginormous) of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I has a lot of TMNT toys, watched the cartoons, movies, had gadgets of them, some people may actually call it insane.

But one of the things I liked the very most, was the TMNT video game I owned. Being able to play as a turtle in their constant struggle against evil. As the years past and I got older I, needless to say, kept following the TMNT gaming franchise. And I must say that not all too many great TMNT video games have been released since the “Hyperstone Heist“.

With the coming of the new TMNT franchise (yet another TMNT reboot, and there have been an few) I was thrilled to hear that also a new videogame was going to be release. TMNT: out of the shadows. When I saw the gameplay footage for the first time I knew for sure: This game was going to be different.

And man was I right, TMNT OOTS takes you back to how it all began, the four turtles fighting in NY city against mutants, the Foot and the Shredder. The turtle models in this game look amazing, very uhm.. lifelike? And they each have their specific features, as other games only showed the turtles to be different in the color of bandana they wear this game really gives each turtle a different character.

Now for a little about the game itself. It is a brawler, meaning that the turtles will be facing massive amounts of enemies (like in the cartoons), which can be defeated by using combos, special actions and turtle finishers! One of the coolest features of this game is that it can be played in a 4-player coop game. There is a very easy opt-in/opt-out system which allows you to play with other players online.

This game is going to thrill TMNT fans around their 30s. This is because this game was made because of the TMNT reboot, but it features a lot of aspects from the orginal TMNT franchise (comics, cartoons, etc). It will be fun for kids new to TMNT but it will be even more fun for the older fans since they will have a better understanding of all the references that are made!

This game is available for PC, PS3 and XBOX, so you don’t have any excuse not to play this game! It’s not even all that expensive. Do note that this game is available for download only, see you don’t even have to get out of your seat to be able to enjoy this new turtles game!

As a finisher, allow me to show you the release trailer. Now go and play this game! Cowabunga dudes and dudettes!

Japanese prank

The Binary System

Although it is one of the most important concepts in computer history I noticed I never wrote anything about it. Shockingly I might add. So here you have it, the binary system. As most of you already know this is a numeral system, basically just a way to write down numbers by using only 2 digits: 0 and 1.

This will ring a bell if you ever followed a computer class. You were probably told that computers work with binary code and that they work with a sort of on or off switch system. 0 being off 1 being on. Let’s take a look at the decimal system for a moment, which you are normally using (I suppose, unless you are some sort of a genius that enjoys counting in hexadecimal). Each digit holds 10 values and the place value increases by a power of ten (which basically means it goes from 1 to 10’s to 100’s, etc).

Binary works, of course, differently, each place digit holds a value of twice as much as the previous digit. The best way to show you, as usual is by an example. So let’s take a look at the values a byte can contain for instance. A byte contains 8 bits, each of these bits can be either 1 or 0. If the byte contains the (decimal) value 2 it will look like this:

0000 0010

Important to know is that the value of the bits increase from RIGHT to LEFT. Meaning that the 8th bit (as we would normally look at it) has the value 1 and the first bit has the value 128. A little confused? Don’t worry, you’ll get it soon enough.

The value table for a byte will look as follows:

128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

Recap of what was said earlier, the lowest value is on the RIGHT and each place digit (the next digit) holds a value twice as high as the previous digit.

If you want a byte to have the value 3 it will look like this in binary (for your convenience I added the value mapping)

128 64 32 16   8  4   2  1
0    0    0    0   0   0   1  1

The value of each bit is added to get the total value of the byte. Which means that 1 byte can have a maximum value of 255. And if you ever played with IPv4 IP address this will probably also ring a bell ;-).

If the byte needs to have the value 123 then it looks like:

128 64 32 16   8  4   2  1
0    1    1    1   1   0   1  1

You get the point… :)

Oh there is 1 more thing you should know…

There are 10 sorts of people…
Those who can count in binary and those who can’t

 

 

Retro Gaming: Playboy The Mansion

As you know by now Friday is usually weird game day at this blog. Although as you may have noticed in the title, I’m going to show you a game which every man is just dying to have.

While the Sims were already legendary at this point in time it was decided that an even more legendary yet more manly simulation game should be created. And this is how the idea of playboy the mansion was born. 
You play as Hugh Hefner (no I’m not kidding) and you are in charge of the playboy mansion. You have to decorate it, invite girls over, ask them to be playmate, ask journalists and in the end deliver a new playboy magazine.

The idea is of the game is very simple. You, as Hef, have to change the modest mansion he owns in to the famous playboy mansion. This means you will also have to make the magazine world famous. You can do this in many ways, as stated earlier you can throw parties which makes it somewhat easier for you to start networking. On these parties you get to learn people and you can start building up relationships with them. There are 3 types relationships, Casual, Business and … ehm.. let’s call it romantic.

After a while you know enough people and you can start hiring an editor, journalist, photographer so you can get the playboy magazine started. One this is done you can ask your.. eerr.. “business relations” to pose for the centerfold or the cover of this month’s magazine.

Although most of these simulation games are free play without a real story line nor missions to complete, playboy the mansion works differently. This game actually has missions, a total of 12. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but they are quite challenging and it will take you a while to complete them all.

Oh just a heads up, yes, this game contains (mild) explicit scenes. So be careful when your wife is around ;-).

As usual, and let’s face it men, this is what you have been waiting for, all that is left for me is to show you some game play footage…

 

Notepad++ Macros

Quite a while back I’ve wrote an introduction to macros and as you know by now macros is a concept that is known in many software packages (excel for example). This, let’s call it feature, is also available in notepad++. And in this tool, a macro allows you to record certain actions you perform in a text document. Let me show you with a small example.

What I often have to do is to look up the details of a bunch of IDs in the database. The problem is that I get the IDs in the following format:

1-5GHN
1-5JDC
1-9ARO
1-9AT7
1-5JIB
1-9AUQ
1-9AXS
1-134VX

And they sometimes come with hundreds at the time. The problem is that I have to use these codes in the where clause of SQL statements. This means that there has to be a quote before and after the code and each line should be followed by a comma. You can imagine this is quite the chore when having to do this for 100 codes at the time. But there is a very simple solution using a notepad++ macro.

This is my notepad++ document
2013-08-19 08_21_44-_new  1 - Notepad++

On the top right of the screen I can see the macro buttons
2013-08-19 08_23_50-_new  1 - Notepad++Before creating the macro, click the first line then to create a new macro, simple press the record (the first one) button. It will seem nothing will happen, but don’t worry, it is recording. What I do next is press the home button, type a ‘, hit the end button, type another ‘ followed by a ,. Next I push the arrow down button and the home button once more. Then I click the stop recording button (the second one). The result is as following:

2013-08-19 08_27_15-_new  1 - Notepad++If I now click the run multiple times button (the fourth button) a dialog box will popup and you are prompted to enter how many times you want to run the macro.

2013-08-19 08_29_36-_new  1 - Notepad++Since I need to do this for all the lines in my document I picked “Run until the end of file”

Result:

2013-08-19 08_33_34-_new  1 - Notepad++

 

If you press the fifth and last button, the macro can be saved and assigned to a key combination.

And that is how simple it is :).

 

What the offices of winzip look like

The how and what of your e-mail

We send hundreds or e-mails per day, because it’s cheap, it’s fast and most people know how to handle a digital message. Wouldn’t it be nice to understand how this digital courier pidgin works? Well this happens to be my job, explaining you stuff!

So here it is.. 

When we send an e-mail our computer (when using an e-mail client like outlook, thunderbird, windows mail, etc) connects to our e-mail service’s mail server. Which is, if you look at it with a pair of non technical eyes, a big computer which stores all your (and those of others) emails. The server responsible for sending e-mail is called the SMTP, the simple mail transfer protocol, server. One SMTP server can pass on mails to another SMTP server until it finally reaches it’s destination. 

Like a letter, an e-mail has a sender’s address, and a recipient address. When the e-mail you wrote is sent, the e-mail client (again if you are actually using an e-mail client) connects to the SMTP server of the sender’s e-mail service. And then the client transmits the address of the sender, the address of the recipient and of course, not to forget, the content of the e-mail. 

At this point the SMTP server starts working and it tries to find out the whereabouts of the recipient. Using the recipient’s e-mail address, it locates the domain name. And the domain name is everything AFTER the @ sign. @gmail.com = connecting to the gmail domain. 
Each domain has a unique web address called the IP address (which we’ve already came across in earlier posts). The link between all domains and their IP addresses is stored in the domain name registry, this registry is kept in the DNS, the domain name server. When the SMTP server connects to the DNS where the registry is kept, the DNS server sends back the address of the destination SMTP to the sender’s SMTP (it’s hard to read, trust me it was at least equally as hard to write). 

Once all this is done, the SMTP server proceeds to hand over the e-mail to the SMTP server of the recipient. This last SMTP server checks and confirms that the e-mail address is known and hands it over to his best friend, the POP3 Server.

What.. another one? Yes.. I’m afraid so, but bear with me, we are almost there!

The POP3 server or the Post Office Protocol server is a server that has the job to receive mails. Ignore the 3 for now, this is only the version number of the protocol. POP3 servers have e-mail accounts and each e-mail account is mapped to a username and password combination. Once the e-mail has been received by the SMTP server, it’s handed over to the POP3 server which stores the e-mail until the client logs on to pick up his e-mail.

This explains why your computer shouldn’t be on 24/7 in order not to lose e-mails. The data is temporarily stored for you on a remote server. 

Of course this also brings a few problems. As I just explain, the POP server stores the e-mail until you get it. But what if you have a bunch of important unread mails and your computer crashed? Sadly, if you are in fact using POP3, these e-mails are gone forever. To overcome this problem IMAP was introduced, the Internet Access Protocol, this does basically the same as POP with the only difference it keeps a message of the e-mail on the server. As a matter of fact it keeps your local mail client in sync with the server. Delete a mail in outlook, it will be deleted on the server. Delete nothing at all, everything will be kept on the server as well. 

And there you have it, a basic understanding of how e-mail works. Now go on, in the time it took you to read this, you’ve probably received a few dozen e-mails, give that SMTP server of yours some work ;-). 

Retro Gaming: Harvester

Aaaah Friday is always a good day to play some good old fashion games. And today’s game is besides retro also one of the strangest games you’ll ever come across. If you ever played, or read my post about phantasmagoria, you are familiar with the point and click genre.

Harvester, which we will be discussing today, is one of those games in this genre.  Created in the late 90s, when game developers still had the idea that this genre would be life changing, the game of Harvester takes us along to tell the story of Steve Mason. He awakes in a strange town called Harvest in 1953 with a bad case of amnesia, he cannot remember anything from his past. As he tries to explain this to the people who claim to be his family they all refuse to believe him and tell him that he shouldn’t kid around.

Fun fact is that most of the people in this game, townsfolk mostly, look very eccentric, to say the very least. As if they are stereotypes in stead of actual people. All people Steve meets encourage him to join the lodge, which is basically a big building in the center of town that serves as the headquarters of the order of the harvest moon.

Steve is told that all of his questions will be answered once he joins the order. But like with any respectable order, you can’t just barge in. No, Steve has to perform a series of tasks first. These tasks vary from vandalism to arson.

And off you go.. pillaging and rampaging.

It all sounds a bit silly but back in the day this game came out it caused quite a bit of controversy. Why you wonder? Because it contains various scenes of violence, gore, people fondling, masturbation and S&M (what is it with point and click game developers and S&M, remember phantasmagoria 2?). And the list just goes on, murder, suicide, child abuse, profanity, cannibalism, prostitution, molestation, arson, theft, serial killing, vandalism, STDs and so on and so forth. If you were a horror game lover in the 90s, this was right up your alley.

The horror!

 

Eventually this game was banned in Germany and never released in Australia. The game did get released in the UK, but there were a lot of scenes removes, to make it “acceptable”.

Kinda makes you wonder what this game looks like, doesn’t it? Well it’s your lucky day because there are tons of videos about this game on youtube.
Of course it is my duty to tell you to look away and to be aware because of all the 90s gore.. Although frankly, I think you’ll be fine.

Have Fun with the complete playthrough of Harvester:

The Manager Disfunction

This post is not quite technical nor has it anything to do about technology. It’s actually a list of suggestions, guidelines if you will for team leads and managers. A few things that I want to get of my chest.

It occurred to me that lately that team leaders and managers often loose their touch with reality. A team, which is used to work together, can make a lot of nice things. You would be amazed what is possible if a few people that share the same interest can accomplish. The only problem is that often managers forget that a team also express their concerns for the project. If they warn you for imminent dangers, it’s not because they are lazy but because they are genuinely concerned.

Therefore… my dear managers and team leaders, take 10 minutes of your precious time to read this small article. Don’t take this as an offence but rather as suggestions. I tell you this out of experience and even though some of the remarks may seem futile… Keep them in the back of your mind, they can make a world of difference…

1. Remember that your team members are also human beings. I agree that it’s not always easy to find common ground on the office floor. But there is no need for sneering, yelling, diminishing and so forth. Always stay calm and rational. Even if a team member expresses critique toward you, stay calm and polite, you can work it out.
2. As stated before, if a team member expresses a concern, listen! They are not trying to give you a hard time, they are trying to help you. Encourage this behaviour. Trust me it’s a lot better to discuss these points BEFORE your team start developing than to fix them in a later stage.
3. Set realistic goals. Don’t just go about a schedule things, look at the team you have available, look at their qualities and make a planning that is possible and realistic. Not everyone has the same skillset or can do the same amount of work. Try to get a good idea about who can do what and how much.
4. Know what you want. If you ask A, be sure you want A. Don’t change it to B or C or D 20 times in a row. It’s okay to forget something or to add and even change something if there is no other way. But try to keep this to a bare minimum. It will take precious time and resources to change development.
5. For crying out loud, keep track of the planning! It’s not that hard to keep track who is on leave and who is not. Work toward this. You would be amazed how often this is forgotten.
6. Listen to reason. I know business life is hard but miracles will not happen. If it’s not possible it’s not possible. Let your team find another way but do not force them down a dead end road.
7. Following to “listen to reason”. Don’t get gold fever, money is, sadly, important in our society but it isn’t everything. Make realistic decisions, keep track of your budget and try to act fast and pro-active toward problems. Don’t go making rash decisions just because you can make more money.
8. If you organise a team event, and a member wishes not to join, respect this choice. Don’t force them into things they don’t want to do. Someone who doesn’t want to be at a team event can really ruin the mood. If a person doesn’t want to join, he probably has his or her reasons. It’s not the end of the world… (what do you mean: is this about me? Ofcourse not… >_>)
9. Try to respect the work hours. Don’t start calling people at weekend or in the middle of the night. Yes the company needs are important but so is personal space. Keep the work at work and keep the nightly or “weekendly” interventions to a minimum. Trust me, people will appreciate this.
10. If there is a problem with a team member, discuss this with this person and not with a superior, director, etc. There is no need to go behind this person’s back. Again, I’m sure you can solve the issue together.

I am more than aware that it’s not always easy to follow these line and that not every team member is as easy to work with. But again, try to follow these as much as you can, it will earn you a great deal of respect.

Nostalgia: Masters of the Universe Classics

Remember the most powerful man in the universe? I know I already dedicated a post to the masters of the universe, a very long time ago. But I wanted to share something else with you. Since a few years (2008 I believe) Mattel has been  sort of re-releasing the masters of the universe toyline as the Masters of the Universe Classics. Which are a modern remake of the original toyline with a bunch of extras.

Look at how amazing these little pieces of art are:

He-Man

King He-man (this is one of “the extras)

Skeletor

The Sorceress

Evil-Lyn

If you were a fan as a kid.. How can you not love these ;-)

Just a heads up, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a few dozen figures!

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