Archive for November, 2005

Bah!/Shiney

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on November 30th, 2005 by MrCranky

Well, the plan to go with the older motherboard was thwarted by the fact that I don’t actually have a keyboard with a full DIN connector (rather than the more standard PS2/mini-DIN connectors now commonplace). D’oh! So its back to the same old motherboard, but sans the disk that died on me. So, still random stability problems, but now the shoddy disk is gone, at worst the machine will need rebooted to get access to things. Still sounds like a hoover though – I should probably retrieve my old P2 Celeron from the person I loaned it to and use that instead. Still, not too urgent.

I’ve decided to up my backup frequency though – restoring from an older subversion database is a pain, as all the changes made have to be isolated and re-commited to the DB seperately. Way more time consuming than it should be.

On an unrelated note – I liked the case study of EVE’s most recent hardware upgrade: detailed here. Sounds like a case of ‘can we have this new shiney bit of kit please?’ followed by ‘OMG thats shiney – everything works great now!’. Of course, the fact that you have to upgrade to faster hardware to sustain more users points to a flaw in their scalable design. In theory, a truly scalable design means that you can support more users by simply increasing the number of processing units of the same type available; otherwise you’ll eventually run into a hardware wall (disk drives can only get so fast). Still, I’m sure it won’t be an issue for a long while – increasing the power of the bottlenecked process by a factor of 10 in theory means allowing 10 times as many users before it becomes an issue again, long enough for another item to become the bottleneck first…

Next!

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on November 26th, 2005 by MrCranky

Well, thats that contract done with – can finally spend some time back in the office, tying up loose ends after 4 weeks, 9 till 5 in someone elses office. Good news – the company were glad to have me working there and everyone said nice things about me and my abilities/manner. :-) Bad news – come home and fire up the server machine to put some stuff into source control, to find out its pretty much toast. :-(

So, will probably strip the machine and build it back up with the older motherboard/CPU I have – its much slower, but unless I get to the root of the reliability problems I’ve been having with the machine, its pretty much useless anyway. All I really need is a CPU, disk, network card and CD-ROM and it’ll suffice, but it has to reliable (and preferably be a bit quieter than the current one, which sounds like a hoover running – not a good thing for a machine that serves its purpose best when its on 24/7).

Will have to look at a list of objectives for the company as well; things have been somewhat slow recently, I want to get a handle on where we are going, how fast we want to get there, etc. Priorities really – the one thing you get from working a contract full time is a list of things you want to work on when you get a chance.

In non-company news – the Insolvency Payments people have come through on the unpaid protective award I was due from VIS – so thats a nice little bit of cash to help things along over Christmas. Yay for slow but steady government bureaucracy! :-D

Insurance

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on November 10th, 2005 by MrCranky

Here’s a bit of comedy (or so I thought) for you: I’ve been sorting out Professional Indemnity insurance for the contract work I’ve been doing, and boy is it awkward to sort out. Anyway, the one firm I found who do it online (Hiscox) are the only ones who got back to me in any reasonable length of time with a quote.

So, I’m going through their online purchase procedure, and filling in more details; there’s a lot of yes/no questions where the yes answer boils down to ‘are you a risk’. E.g. ‘are you a crook’, ‘have you made any previous claims’, ‘do you make medical/aviation equipment’, etc. Then there’s a question:

    Are you responsible for any of the following?

  • Internet Service Provision, Application Service Provision, or games development
  • full implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning systems
  • full implementation of Customer Relationship Management systems.
  • specialist work in relation to the security of networks and systems such as design of security systems, and vulnerability and penetration testing? (This does not include standard virus, firewall or router protection)

So somehow, games development is considered as bad as all these other (obviously) risky professions. How come?

I’ve worked in games development for a good while now, and I’ve seen some dodgy business stuff going on, but it rarely if ever came down to a litigious claim against the other party. Even when there was good reason to make a claim! If anything, negligence in the games industry is less likely to result in a serious breach of contract. If you screw up a business client’s database, chances are they’ll notice it, and complain and bluster and claim damages. If you screw up a game’s save and restore system, the players will moan and rate the game less, but it won’t come to a damages claim.

Maybe it’s down to the ge
nerally poor specification treatment that games contracts get. It is easier to see the specification of a business software contract and follow it to the letter; a games development contract requires a flexible approach to what work needs done. Then, of course, more flexibility leads to vagueness of responsibility, and the possibility of a claim being made as both sides disagree on what needs done.

Off-site

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on November 4th, 2005 by MrCranky

I’m out of the office 9-5 for the next 3 weeks or so, working on a client’s site instead – if you need to get in touch better to use email or my mobile. Nothing games related, just a short-term technical contract to get some cash in. On the plus side – getting to play with Dreamweaver and finding out just how much easier it makes HTML/CSS development; there’s a good reason why it costs so much to buy! I did have an interesting discussion with a colleague here about a possible casual game idea that might be worth pursuing, I’ll have to give it some thought when I get a chance and may try to build a design.

I’m also following the articles over on GamePolitics about the Alabama video-games suit (Strickland et al vs Sony et al) – hopefully the judge will be sensible and throw it out on its ear, but you never know :|


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