Censoring online content...

I have just read an article on Time Online about the possiblities of censoring online content. Whilst there is always going to be the debate about the need for 'freedom of speech' on the internet I do find myself agreeing with some form of censorship, or licensing, of online content.

Currently there is nothing to stop an individual posting any form on content on there website. There is no need for them to put up a warning if the subject matter is unsuitable for all and its largely up to the webspace provider whether or not it is removed if deemed unsuitable. In turn there is then nothing to stop my 12 year old niece from stumbling across the site and all its content. Indeed it worries me when I notice some of the sexually explicit spam emails that are indscriminately sent to millions of email addresses every day and I think how many must be being recieved by minors. I do not yet have children but when I do I'm not sure that I aould be happy for them to be reading some of the muck that floats about on the internet.

I know that policing a virtual space as large as the internet would be incredibly difficult to say the least. But saying that it is also almost impossible to police the entire of real society... The difference is that real societies have a clear set of rules and laws that everyone is aware of. I could probably get away with putting up posters of naked ladies around Richmond for a few weeks but I know that this is illegal and at some point I would get caught. Perhaps it is this lack of clear laws for the internet that make people think they can get away with posting copyrighted, illlegal or just down-right 'wrong' content that is availabe online...

I am not saying that I have an answer to the points I am raising, or that I think it is a good idea to prevent freedom of speech. I do, however, think there should be a globally accepted set of laws about some of the more extreme online content. For example: sites showing pornographic material should have to have a license meaning those operating without one would be shut down and the authors pursued. Upon obtaining a license the site could be granted a .xxx domain name (eg: www.smuttystuff.xxx). This would immediately distiguish an adult content site from others and would mean parents could relatively easily prevent their browsers opening any site with a .xxx in the URL.

Accepted there are a lot of difficult issues around what I am suggesting but with the internet expanding at an alarming rate the attitude is still 'if its online then it must be ok'...

MSDC Flash site goes live...

After an enjoyable few weeks of Flash coding the MSDC Flash website I have been working on has gone live.

MSDC Flash Website

MSDC had a strong idea about the design of the site which left me free to concentrate on making it work nicely. I am pleased with the motion and little features such as the step by step loading of the images in the Work section and the zooming on the map in the Contact section.

dirOpener for Director 8.5 - for opening locked dxr files...

My crazy-haired friend, Jen, asked me if I knew a way to open locked DXR files for Director. Before I could tell her my usual method - to write a script to open the DXR at runtime and then copy all the cast members into an external Cast (CST) file - she had sent me a follow-up email saying she had found an old exe she used to use. I remembered it myself once she had mentioned it though I must admit I have never used it.

Its called dirOpener and apparenty it can open DXR files. I have uploaded the three versions I can find (for versions of Director 7.02, 8.0 and 8.5) in case anyone finds them useful. However - I can't seem to find versions for the newer versions of Director. Possibly the 8.5 version works as not much was changed in the more recent builds though if it doesn't I can probably cobble together one that does for anyone that needs it. Let me know...

Jim out!

Apple MacBook battery not detected when running Windows Vista under Bootcamp...

I have been running Windows Vista on my Apple MacBook for a while now. Installing it with Bootcamp was a breeze. Well done Apple - Microsoft could learn a lot from you in terms of making things simple and user-friendly. 

Oddly Vista works better on my Mac than it does on my newer Dell that was 'built for Vista'. (I could rant about my Dell all day but I'll spare you the rage - this time at least.) The only problem I've been having with Vista on the MacBook is that occasionally Vista stops detecting the battery. The 'phantom' battery still works as I can power the MacBook using just the battery but the taskbar icon in Vista tells me its not there. Not very useful if you are out and about and need to see how much battery you have remaining...

To start with I thought the problem was intermittent and I could remedy it by removing and putting back the battery... This is not actually the case. Once it happens it stays happened... until you reboot in Mac OS! Once you've run Mac OS and reboot into Windows Vista again the battery is back!

So in short - to fix the problem - boot the Mac OS then next time you boot Windows the battery detection works again.

Sorted! Now I just needs to figure out what makes the battery 'disapear' in the first place!


Keep It Up (bouncing ball physics) Lingo behaviour code...

I thought I would post the original code from the Keep It Up game from my last post. As the game evolved I added a lot more stuff such as scaling the shadow, disorting the ball when it was kicked and including 'trick kicks' (which was a bit of a nightmare). This is the basic code as version 1. Feel free to use it and add your own twist if you wish. Simply start a new Director project, drag a ball sprite onto the Stage and position a shadow sprite one channel below it in the Score. Add a simple 'go to the frame' behaviour to the Frame and attached the ball behaviour below to the ball sprite. Done!

-- jim's bouncing ball behaviour

property my, shad
property grav, accelH, accelV

on beginsprite me

   my = sprite(me.spritenum) -- sets a variable 'my' to easily refer to this sprite

   grav = 1 -- the gravity, change this to change the physics of the game

   accelH = 0 -- the acceleration in x direction
accelV = 0 -- the acceleration in y direction

   shad = sprite(my.spritenum - 1) -- sets 'shad' to the sprite i use as a shadow

   my.locv = 150 -- initial position of the ball. use (sprite(1).bottom - 20 - my.height/2) to place it on the bottom of the screen
shad.loch = my.loch -- sets the x position of the shadow to the same as the ball


on exitFrame me

   accelV = accelV + grav -- affects gravity on the y acceleration
   accelH = accelH * 0.96 -- dampens the x acceleration

   my.locv = my.locv + accelV -- affects y acceleration on the balls y position
   my.loch = my.loch + accelH -- affects x acceleration on the balls y position

   shad.loch = my.loch -- positions the shadow to the same x location as the ball (you may like to also change the size of the shadow)

   -- tells the ball what to do when it hits the left side of the screen
   if my.loch < (sprite(1).left + 3 + my.width/2) then
loch = (sprite(1).left + 3 + my.width/2)
      accelH = accelH * -
   end if

   -- tells the ball what to do when it hits the right side of the screen
   if my.loch > (sprite(1).right - 3 - my.width/2) then
      my.loch = (sprite(1).right - 3 - my.width/2)
      accelH = accelH * -
end if

   -- tells the ball what to do when it hits the top of the screen. you can add this back in if you want the ball to bounce off the top
--if my.locv < (sprite(1).top + 3 + my.height/2) then
-- my.locv = (sprite(1).top + 3 + my.height/2)
      -- accelV = accelV * -0.8
--end if

-- tells the ball what to do when it hits the bottom of the screen
if my.locv > (sprite(1).bottom - 20 - my.height/2) then
my.locv = (sprite(1).bottom - 20 - my.height/2)
      accelV = accelV * -
end if

   my.rotation = my.rotation + accelH -- rotates the ball based on the x acceleration


on mousedown me

   -- works out the x and y accelerations when the user clicks on the ball
-- the further from the centre of the ball the harder the kick
h = (the mouseh - my.loch) * -1
   v = (
the mousev - my.locv) * -1

   accelV = v
   accelH = h


Keep It Up Shockwave game...

I thought I'd post this...

Its a game I developed a few years ago in Director. The code that controls the ball is very simple and it took less than an hour to put the basic game together. The styling and 'trick kicks' took a little longer but it was still a relatively short dev (for me). I'll post the code at some point in case anyone wants to improve on the physics or game engine.


PS: Just remembered - try holding SHIFT when you click on the ball to start... ;o)

Information Shockwave thingy...

Mr Lee Ford sent me this. A very nice Shockwave showcase... Reminds me of my old experimental days.

I wonder if it has been coded by hand to take the average colour of all the pixels in the used imagery then map these to the pixels of the bigger images on the fly. Its all very clever and smoothly working stuff. Once the images have loaded in its great to keep clicking and seeing the next image glide in.

Top work :o)

New Honda Civic is like Windows Vista...

I recently traded in my pre-2007 Honda Civic Sport in for a new shape (Diesel) Type S... I didn't really want to because I loved the old Sport, even though it wasn't Type R(my preferred choice but money wouldn't stretch that far), the handling was great and I'd just finished paying it off. However - with rising fuel prices and the amount of mileage I'm currently doing I felt it was probably the best option to trade in to a diesel model.

The first time I got in the new one for a cheeky test-drive I couldn't help being a little bit scared by the dashboard. It looks really nice and all - something like a cross between the starship enterprise controls and a Fisher Price toy - but it seem REALLY complicated. The rev counter has a blue glow around it and the speedo is a digital readout rather than a dial. All the other knobs and buttons, although pleasing to twiddle and poke, are spread out in a seeming random fashion all over the place. I couldn't help looking under the steering wheel in case Honda had chosen to secret some vitally important button or switch there... like the headlights switch.

For example: in my old Civic the air con / heating interface was made up of three matching dials. One for temperature, one for fan speed and one to select which orifices the air spewed from. Simple. In the new version the same interface is made up of three or four seperate clusters, each laid out differently with almost no switch following the same theme as any other. It doesn't seem to do anything differently from the old car - just be mindbendingly difficult to use. I still haven't managed to memorise the layout and have to resort to glancing over and stabbing at things with my finger until I hit the right button. Not good when you're doing 70 on the M4 and fancy warmer feet.

As I drive along, wondering if there is a course I can go on to help me learn this new layout, I can't help but draw parallels between my new car and Windows Vista. Both seem to have been 'improved' to look prettier but not actually do anything better, or easier than the old version. The handling and the brakes on my new car are slightly worse than the old model just as the stability and usability are slightly worse on Windows Vista compared to XP.  At least my new car goes faster than the old one where as Vista certainly doesn't.

Lets hope the new Civic doesn't crash as much...

Running Quickbooks 2005 on Windows Vista...

(If you want to get straight to how to run QuickBooks on Vista without reading my blather click here

It's the week before my VAT return is due and I start thinking I should wade into that pile of paper in the corner and sort out my accounts. Why do I always leave it to the last minute I ask myself as I frantically install QuickBooks Regular 2005 on my new Windows Vista machine (my old XP machine, which is actually FAR better than the Vista one is sat in the corner gathering dust).

You can probably guess whats coming here...

I click on the QuickBooks ison and...


I knew it!

Firstly I phone my accountant. She's as helpful as ever and seems as annoyed as I am that it isn't working. She suggests an upgrade which is what I was thinking so I hit the QB website. No upgrade info - just a new version of QB Pro 2008 for £299.99. Thats steep for something I hate doing, I think. So, with a due sense of dread, I call the support line. They want thirty five quid to 'go through some steps' or I can upgrade (I can't help feeling he just wants to get rid of me). So now I'm thinking I can solve this myself but I'll have a gander at the price of an upgrade first. It can't be more that 50barr as my original full version was only about £130. He puts me through...


So an upgrade is more than the new version? I say... No, he says, its the same... No, I say, its not...

Eventually I get him to agree that its more and that there is actually NO upgrade, just a new product - for less - and hang up.

I open Google and within seconds find out:

How to get QuickBooks 2005 to run on Vista:

1. Locate the program file 'qbw32.exe'. The easiest way to do this is right-click on the shortcut icon and cut and paste the Target field under the Shortcut tag (without the end bit - 'qbw32.exe') into Explorer.

2. Right-click on 'qbw32.exe' and and select 'Properties'. A Properties window will open. (You may need to have administrator priviledges or something to do this. Who knows.)

3. Click on the 'Compatibility' tag.

4. Check 'Run this program in compatibility mode for:' and select: 'Windows XP (Service Pack 2)' from the drop-down.

5. Check 'Run this program as an administrator' near the bottom. (You really, really might need to have administrator priviledges for this).

6. Hit the 'Apply' and / or 'OK' button and your done. Run your QB 2005 and smile smuggly whilst you use it. Occasionally I shout HA! when I think they wanted to charge me at least £35 for this! Don't let them get away with it...

Cheers yo!

Art of the State...

Whilst doing a search for the old KLF 'Pyramid Blaster' logo (don't ask me why) I came across a reference to some recent work of Jimmy Cauty; one half of The K Foundation / The KLF / The JAMMs / The Time Lords / etc and also a of the Orb. I was pleased to see he was still attempting to get up poeple's noses by sticking up posters around London. The whole blog (Art of the State) is very interesting and I spent a good while enjoying the work of the various artists. Not that I endorse graffiti at all...

I'm considering commissioning some graffiti for the side of the Oast.