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Latest blog posts

D-Link DIR-615 Modding

Posted: October 15th, 2014
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Hello everyone, today we’ll take a very quick look at a hardware mod I did a little while back on an old D-Link DIR-615.

This was initially an experiment in building a wireless repeater network to span some more of my workplace, so I wanted to fit large, high gain antennae. The DIR-615 seems an odd choice then, given it has fixed, non-removable antennae and is fairly famous for dodgy wireless performance out-the-box. But I haven’t lost all my marbles because it also supports DD-WRT, the open source router firmware that gives you a worrying amount of control. Coupled with the fact that I was able to buy two DIR-615‘s for under £10, I think we have a winner!

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Quick web project today…

My employer in 2013 also ran a scaffolding company, and one of my first tasks (probably as a test) was to redesign and implement a new site atop WordPress. Having never used WordPress for anything other than this blog before it was a little daunting, and parts of it are hacked together rather than done properly, but it does work.

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 Movie Carol (2015)

Above the fold features the nav, a service guarantee, various accreditations and a short slideshow of sample jobs, and from there we break in to three columns to enumerate the types of work the company will undertake.

It’s still live so have a look yourself. Not the most interesting site in any sense, but a pretty sharp design I think.

Movie Carol (2015)

Movie Carol (2015)

Generating previews with imagettftext

Posted: November 15th, 2013
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Long time no blog!

I’ve been so busy at work recently I haven’t had any time to work on other stuff, and for the record, I’ve now got plans to rewrite my sort-of-game engine under Haxe 3 and OpenFL, so whenever I get around to that expect some new articles!

But today I have a little php nugget I had to put together recently that I think someone will find useful!

In the past I’ve dabbled with generating images dynamically in php – usually basic stuff, website statistics etc. But recently I had to do something a little more advanced in generating preview images of letters that people would be paying for. This involved placing a large amount of text within a series of template images – including ones with oddly shaped spaces where the text would have to go, which presents the problem of getting it to fit in the gap. I guess you could brute force it – manually position each line – but that’s frankly ludicrous and not future-friendly at all.

So, let’s make a solution. (more…)

Online highscore system for Haxe NME

Posted: June 30th, 2013
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Hello everybody.

Long time no blog, so here’s a quick catch up: I got a job at a small start up doing many varied and interesting things. The first project I was given built on my experiences with game development, and somewhat outstandingly I got to start writing a new game in Haxe NME! I can’t go in to details about the title right now, but it’s 99% complete and looking good.

One desired aspect of the game was an online leaderboard of some sort, so we can assign rewards to weekly/monthly winners. I’d never even looked at NMEs web function before, vaguely deciding I’d worry about highscores in Tower Defence “at some point”. To my relief it’s super simple to use, and with a few php files on a server I’ve got a nice simple highscore system running… Someone’s bound to find this useful since I couldn’t find any complete samples online, so here we go… (more…)

I bought my Xbox 360 just after Christmas 2006, £300 for the console with two wireless controllers, Project Gotham 3 and the first Gears of War. Since then it’s been custom painted, it’s red ringed and taken a holiday to Frankfurt where it was repaired over Christmas 2009, lived with me in five different houses, and generally been run in to the ground; But although all the internals were replaced with the RRoD repair in 2009, the hard drive was still the original 20Gb unit it arrived with. Until the last couple of years this hasn’t been a problem, but now it’s annoying. Halo 4 for example, requires you to install the second disc to the drive before you can play anything – that’s 4Gb gone right there. Throw in a few map packs and a lot of accumulated game saves, and suddenly space is at a premium. Not only that, new hard drives are also at a premium – depending where you look, a new drive at the top end of the available sizes (250/320gb) can be £70!

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But of course, you never need to do things the “official” way. Within that drive enclosure is actually a standard 2.5″ SATA drive, and besides a little bit of software tinkering you basically just need to swap it for a larger drive… In the newer style 360, it’s even easier since the native SATA connections are exposed inside the HDD slot, so you can literally take a 2.5″ drive and (carefully) plug it in to the slot. I knew this was possible having read about it at some point long ago, so “why not”, I thought.
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Simple C++ TicTacToe game

Posted: April 25th, 2013
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Hello my lovable minions, today let’s talk about board games.

tttoe
Well, not really, but let’s briefly discuss that I made one. This was an all-important C++ refresher that I wrote in preparation for a small interview the other day where I knew I’d be queried on some C, so it seemed only practical to do some for the first time in a long time. Nothing particularly complicated, but a good refresher in pointers, memory management and classes/program structure. The one zip file I’ll provide includes both the source and a compiled exe, since C programs are so small anyway, and it’s only command line — download here.
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The old Nerdshack (circa 2009)

Posted: April 16th, 2013

Before the current Nerdshack, and before the previous Nerdshack, there was the original Nerdshack – the same site really, blog, portfolio and random drivel, but in a more designed shell. I recently found this single screenshot of the old design and figured I’d publish it for posterity. I still like it – those boxy headline backgrounds were based on the window frames from the Watercolour theme in Windows Whistler (XP) builds 2410-2419, and the boxy layout of the sidebar complimented it nicely. In the final iteration, the lower boxes on the sidebar contained links to recent blog posts, and clicking any link in to the blog triggered a smooth transition to the identically laid out but much darker design of the blog. I’m currently investigating building a similar theme for the current site – the grey is nice but it is a bit depressing after a while!

 

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Xbox Mods Part Deux

Posted: April 15th, 2013
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Hopefully this week I’ll be recieving a large number of LEDs and some replacement chips for ones that were fried in my first attempt and I can finish off my new Xbox mod. I pulled it apart and figured out all these problems over the weekend, and fixed a few small glitches while I was there, as well as finally switching the ROL lights in my 360 to blue so they match the Xbox1. One photo now, one in a few weeks when everything’s finished and beautiful 😀

 

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Alpha/Demo/Something update!

Posted: April 11th, 2013

Well I’ve spent a lot of my downtime the last few days crawling through C++ in the Visual Studio debugger, and gathering crash data via adb from my tablet, all in the name of fixing threading bugs! A few core classes lightly stripped down and occasionally rewritten, a few things jiggled about and we have something that’s stable [on Windows].

I left several copies of this code running the other day as a test — none explicitly crashed, although there are persistent memory leak issues (aka, “gunking up”) over time which eventually lead to what is basically a freeze on the second thread, which does all the work. But in my testing all the sessions ran for at least half an hour at double speed (only a debug option right now, sorry), notching up an impressive health of over -5000. For reference, besides the threading related crashes everything else is basically the same as in the previous demo, so still lots of unfinished/unfixed/placeholder content and code.

So NOW go download this demo of Tower Defence, representing build 44.

Alpha/Demo/Something release

Posted: April 2nd, 2013

Progress with Tower Defence has been slow recently, what with moving and the general disruption that brings, but the other day I did manage to settle in and resolve a few long standing and occasionally nasty bugs which brings the game to a highly playable level. As such, I felt it might be prudent to make a demo available so people can actually try this thing out themselves rather than watching my boring videos.

I’m a long way from guaranteeing it’s crash free, but it’s not far off. There are also bugs galore (see full release notes after the break), and a few things are disabled for being either half implemented or inconsistent in performance or reliability, but it gives a reasonable overview of the project. This release is in the form of a Windows binary, although if there’s any interest in OSX/Linux/mobile builds I’ll happily crank one out and you’re welcome to see if it works.

Download build 43 now 🙂

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