Games programming – 1984

A wonderful hashtag #MyFirstGamesJob has been doing the rounds. Whilst I am not totally in the games industry, I am not exactly not in it. I tweeted that my first games job was writing a C64 lunar lander that was selected to be printed as a listing in the magazine Computer and Video Games. I had be reunited with a copy of it back during the Wimbledon days at IBM (15 odd years ago and hence lost again!) but now it is sitting online in the wonderful Archive.org

the first 2 pages
the last page

They appear in the issue 28 from 1984 ! the full document is here https://archive.org/details/cvg-magazine-028

I got a whole £10 and a copy of the magazine. The C64 was my second home computer after the ZX81 and really set me on the way to being a programmer and doing al the things I have done in my career.

I had a different back story to this xmas gift one but that’s OK, the writers and producers did what they needed to 🙂

I still lover the analogue nature of gravity simulation and thrusters in Lunar lander. It was a go to genre to try and learn any new machine or language. Also in this version I couldn’t;t get the sound chip to do a long booming noise, it kept only clipping and making a splutter, so I changed the description to say it was running out of fuel. (Need must sometimes 🙂 )

So here’s to 35 years of being officially being a techie, a programmer, a geek and of course a minor celebrity 🙂 I am going to have to get this into book 3 somehow.

(UPDATE 10/4/2019- Thankyou so much to Mark Hardisty for spotting this link to the game with images and a listing 🙂 the internet is fantastic isn’t it !) Going to go get and get the emulator running!

C64 Planet Qwarrk

Target Met

Its March 29th 2019 and I am really happy to have hit my initial weight target after my 800 Kcal/per day plus loads of exercise especially my Choi Kwang Do training. My use of Nutracheck on my iPhone to track everything, my Nokia/Withings Wifi connected scales tracking weight and body composition, my Hykso punch trackers keeping my punch power tracking and my Apple Watch keeping the rest of the activity recorded and my heart rates all logged. In addition I have been eating many of the same things I have always eaten and having little impact on the cooking I need to do for the family. All there to get me to 94.8Kg down from 120Kg at Christmas.

Now I switch to 5:2 – 2700Kcal 5 days a week and 600KCal on two other days, plus the constant exercise. Another interesting experiment in the journey.

I have been really interested in seeing and feeling my speed and power increase in my Choi training and the image below shows the increase in contact speed in general over the last few weeks. I had stepped up training before my 2nd Dan Black belt a while back but this is even more significant as my mass is decreasing and Force = Mass * Acceleration. The indicative impact speeds have gone up due to more to the speed than to the application of weight. Here the total across both my hard pressing PACE drills (2min,1min, 30sec, 15 sec) and my general training and experiments in tweaking technique sees the total average impact speed over the year rising. So it’s gone from 9.5Mph to just over 11Mph. The leap Jan to Feb was higher too.

The individual sessions here below on days right to left and timed top to bottom as the full on impact drill (with kicks too that are not tracked) show a general overall increase balancing number of punches and speed. The last bottom right session dropped a little but that is something to work on next time. The last 15 seconds are at max heart rate when already worn out from the previous sessions. It was still 25 punches (plus some kicks) making contact in 15 seconds.

Having all this tech is awesome 🙂 Lots of IoT measurements to tweak. Now with a new Apple Watch (series 4) I bought to celebrate I will get even more accurate data too on the rest of the moderate exercise and impact on heart rate etc.

Looking forward to a bit more food during the day on 5:2, it seems an awful lot to eat now!

A decade of Feeding Edge – 10 Years? Really?

In February 2009, after 20 years at IBM, I left. It is one of those sliding doors moments (or I should say Russian Doll given the latest Netflix sensation) where I took a particular path which led me straight to creating Feeding Edge. It is now a full 10 years, an entire decade since that moment. Which is utterly amazing to think as its 1/3 of my 30 year career so far that I have had this site and written and shared what I see and feel in emerging tech.

This 0xA or 0b1010 number of years has for the most part been full of unusual, interesting and rewarding (intellectually more than financially) experiences. It is coming up to 3 years of being an analyst at 451 Research, which seems to have flown too. It is always fun to do an intro where we share our various experiences to people as I get to throw in kids TV shows, sci fi novels and virtual hospitals, as well as the 20 year IBM career and being officially a metaverse evangelist in the previous wave of VR and AR.

On of the really cool things for me is that I have had all things virtual as a consistent part of my work and play for a very long time. The Second Life and Eightbar movement from 06-09 was a follow on from work in at the start of the century and that in turn was influenced by my engagement with games back in the late 70’s. Thinking about it I go to experience the rise of the video game, as a gamer from my formative years, plus as I started work in 1990 it was the beginning of the web (which celebrates 30 years this year). All the wonderful tech and experiences still seem fresh to me, and I still get a buzz out of helping people come to terms with the new without, I hope, being too world weary about it all.

This year, again, I was at MWC in Barcelona and I was really pleased to be able to be able to take part in the analyst event as part of the release of the Hololens2. So give or take a few days this was the 10th anniversary of this metaverse evangelist striking out on his own and I got you see this kit in action for real.

MWC 2019
Hololens 2 – Fresh out the box

There could not really have been a better present, and I thought of of all the things I wrote in Reconfigure and Cont3xt as I experienced the various demos. It was personally enthralling. So I can still be a Fan Boi 🙂

There are so many other cool things happening such a mass of fantastic gaming experiences too. Going back to those early days of asteroid and space invaders and now we have Read Dead Redemption 2 et al. It’s utterly wonderful. Of course not everyone does this stuff, many people are still worried about new tech or any tech. That is a shame because there is so much to be learned and gained from it.

I am still finding that being able to measure heart rate, weight, food intake etc. is working really well as a motivator for my massive weight loss program. Just for the record I am now down to 36 in trousers from 42 inch in 8 weeks. Down from 120Kg to 98kg. Oh, and punching harder and faster according to my punch trackers and my Choi Kwang Do training 🙂

Punching test post workout
After a hard workout I tracked doing one of each of out main punches, 12-16 mph impact 🙂 very happy not wasting away !

I have no idea what the next decade may bring, but with a wonderful family with me, good health and fitness, a couple of novels ready to be a Netflix series and eternal optimism it should be a blast.

May the multiverses keep on being fun whichever route I take. Thanks for reading 🙂

Options :)

Life in the old dog yet – plus some tech!

As we rolled into 2019 I realised that whilst have a decent fitness level in being able to practice and train in Choi Kwang Do it was getting a lot harder because lifestyle and work travel had led to me putting on an awful lot of weight. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions but on Tuesday Jan 15th I thought it was time to do something, making sure I had avoided that dreaded 1st of Jan starting point.

What did I do? I installed and paid for an app, as that always helps doesn’t it! However, I had decided to not only ramp up my exercise (which is relatively easy to do as I already train 3 nights a week in Choi) but also add the challenge of diet alteration. I have never dieted in 51 years but we already eat a pretty varied and healthy selection of freshly prepared food that I cook regularly. Though I was eating lots of late night snack and crisps to go with glasses of wine.

The last time I decided to cut anything out was a few years ago about 7 months before my 1st Dan blackbelt grading and I was certainly a lot better equipped to deal with those rigours. For the 2nd Dan I was a lot later getting ready and it was certainly a challenge to get through. In year of so it will be 3rd dan time. Which, is 1st Dan and 2nd Dan combined in one grading. So I have a decent goal to be ready physically and mentally for that, all training and exercise can therefore not just be for the sake of weight loss or a personal guilt trip.

I took up the moderately trendy Fast 800 diet, buying the Kindle version to support a fellow author :). The facts and figures were well worth taking a look at as a degree of reassurance and as of Jan 15th I took to a carefully calculated 800Kcal a day intake with high protein and low carbs and sugar. The app I subscribed to was Nutracheck’s Calorie Counter that I found instantly useful being able to scan the barcode of products to add to the diary or to craft multi person recipes and get my 1/4 of that. It also records fat, sugar, water intake etc. I therefore had some numbers to play with and a game to play in effect. What could fit into 800 a day?

I was happy to find that almost all the recipes I do and the things I cook off spec well ideal for things like a 400Kcal evening meal if I left out the Pasta/rice/bread etc and replaced them with things like baby cauliflower instead. This was important as it meant the family were not having to deal with my fad, and decreased the amount of extra effort that might cause me to not bother. I also started drinking lots more water, I was already a water drinker, I like it and always have. I dropped alcohol (having given that a go since new year in a non-resolution way. Also gone are evening snacks have gone completely, often in favour of things like Japanese roasted rice and match tea. I know if I do have a snack I fail my daily target in my app and blow the game I am creating for myself. Obsession is an interesting technique I find.

Another key part in the technology of this experiment is using my Apple Watch. I already use the Under Armour Record app during Choi classes and home training to keep an eye on heart rate and recovery, but I have also taken to the Apple Rings and managed to complete Move, Exercise and Stand each day since I started. The dietary app, the exercise app and the rings all feed into the Apple Health app to track the intake and the exercise and help me look at trends in things like protein. The idea is to stay on 800 for as long as possible up to 12 weeks, then switch to a 5:2 approach. Five days of normal calorie intake and 2 non consecutive days at only 600KCal. This gives the body a bit of a kick everyone and then to not get comfortable and static.

I mix and match the exercise, I am not a runner so a fast walk outside, or on our treadmill watching The Punisher on Netflix with the heart rate up nicely on the watch for 45 mins or so is a regular feature, often after the light lunch. Mornings or evenings is Choi, some flexibility training and some speed, strength and power depending on the evening lessons and what feels right. At home I use my Hykso punch trackers that record the effectiveness of punches (not kicks) and provide a way to structure workouts. I often use a high intensity or PACE approach of 2 minutes on the bag and Bob dummy working at about 80% effort, 2 mins rest, 1 minute on at full pelt, 1 min rest, 30 seconds really flat out, 30 seconds rest then 15 seconds working at the edge of being worn out completely. My average punch velocity, just in 2 weeks has risen from 8mph up to 12mph.

The other piece of tech in this the Withings/Nokia wifi connected scales. These also feed my Apple Health app, though I manually enter the weigh-in I do each morning into the calorie counter app as part of the ritual and mentally tracking and typing the weight loss.

So how has it gone so far then? Well in the 17 days so far (apart from one odd blip) I have lost weight every day, a lot of weight. So far I have dropped 10.4Kg/1st8/22.6lbs. I have a couple of dumbell weights I sometimes use to between punch training that are just 5kg each, they feel pretty heavy when I pick them up but that’s how much I have dropped already.

Last night I was put through my paces in Choi class doing coloured belt, 1st Dan and 2nd Dan speed drills which I am sure I would not have been able to do a few weeks ago quite so well, and yet that was at the end of the day having not yet had the extra 400 KCals of evening meal.

I am not finding myself particularly hungry, and I am enjoying trying a few things to slot into my rotating recipe collection that I work up each night. Lunch is also more interesting as I am mixing that up with more oily fish, like sardines, lots more poached eggs and the odd Avocado.

All this will meet a major challenge as work travel kicks in a week on Sunday I head to Raleigh, 2 weeks later is Barcelona and MWC. However, I may be able to work the 5:2 in as text and possibly come back to 800 between trips. I don’t tend to take gym kit or go to hotel gyms but the hotel rooms, in the US anyway, are big enough to do complete sets of Choi workouts, to at least keep the heart rate going.

So it seems, with some tech and some self direction I may be able to make this thing work! Fingers crossed. I also hope this may help as a bit of inspiration for anyone else, though of course make sure you consult Doctor’s etc. as needed.

As we say in Choi – Pil Seung! (certain victory)

The Northern lights virtual and real

The end of a very busy travel year in 2018 which included work trips to Barcelona, Madrid, Santa Clara, Boston, Shenzhen / Hong Kong and holidays to Japan and Portugal ended with a holiday trip to Sweden and up into the arctic circle in search of the Northern Lights.

This trip was a birthday president for my wife from back in August and I had booked the IceHotel for a couple of nights and then a trip to Abisko mountain (one of the best places in the world to see the Norther Lights.

Like all natural wonders, especially ones that depend on weather conditions we were not certain to see the lights so it was really interesting that serendipity kicked in just before we set off not the trip and wonder Forza Horizon 4 released its DLC – Fortune Island just before we set off. In this expansion the scenery is a remote crazy island north of Scotland and amongst other things, as night draws in you are treated to a wonderful display of the northern lights. So I took a few screen shots to take with me on holiday almost as a lucky charm.

Forza horizon 4 northern lights
Forza Horizon 4 Northern Lights
Forza horizon 4 northern lights
more Forza Horizon Northern Lights

Before the full northern lights trip to Abisko the Ice Hotel near Kiruna was our destination. (No kickbacks of benefits here but the trip was booked through Discover The World)

We stayed our first night in the IceHotel 365 where out room was at -5C, we did have a warm bathroom out back but spent the night in a thermal sleeping bag sleeping on reindeer skins on ice in a victorian themed room.

Ice hotel room
Ice Hotel 365
Ice hotel room
Ice Bed

This was quite an experience, yes its cold, but its quite nice sipping champagne from ice goblets in an icy work of art.

Ice hotel room
Goblets

I had to apologise to the hotel in the morning though as I sat on this Ice Chair and it decided to break as I leant back gently on it.

Ice hotel room
Ice Chair

It was -25C outside in the morning, so the Hotel felt tropical

-27c on frozen lake
iced up

Whilst there was a tiny bit of light (more of a dusk) we were far enough north for it to always be dark, as my sun cycle on the Apple watch showed

Untitled
watch

We had a great trip out on the snowmobiles from here on the night we slept in a warm hotel room, which was a good call I think!

On this trip we did see or first inkling of the norther lights which as you can see is not the most spectacular picture ever.

Northern lights
Faint northern lights

However, things improved greatly when we headed up to Abisko for the night, with a cable car up to the top of the mountain a nice meal and wine, then we heard shouts of “wow look at this” from one of our fellow travellers. He dashed in with a photo, that I thought was, like my earlier one at the start of this post, from a game or a fake. Eventually we finished eating and donned our polar suits and stepped outside. It was pretty amazing.

Northern lights
Northern Lights Abisko
Northern lights
Northern lights
Northern lights
Northern lights

The complete set I took are below and here on Flickr in a group (yes I am sticking with Flickr with a pro account)

Northern Lights Abisko 2018

All the photos are taken with an Iphone App “Northern Light” that helps set the exposure and camera settings, this is because they lights do not look this green to the naked eye, but you need to have a long exposure to see them on a camera, which enhances the green, and other colours sometimes.

What you see is a greyish wisp of cloud hanging in the sky that as you look at changes shapes and swirls, fast enough to notice its changed not slow enough it does not seem to. The guides suggest that it takes 30 mins of darkness for you nigh vision to kick in, but any light then resets that. We were all busy taking picture then looking at them so maybe we did not see the colours quite as much as possible if there is no light, but it was like an instant version of sending pictures to be developed, you see a swirl, you snap, you look and see more of this intense green blast on the screen. Look up and it’s a different shape.

I think the several hours of display we got was pretty much as good as it could possibly be. The entire group was in awe of it, and you can see, like many natural wonder, why it yields do many tribal folklore stories of ancestral ghosts, magic fox tails and gods battling.

So the real thing was definitely better than the virtual but the virtual you can see with the naked eye. It is also fascinating that every image we or film shown of the Northern Lights its effectively an image enhancement of the real thing. In reality its a subtle and ethereal thing rather than a full on fireworks display to our naked eye, but both are equally wondrous and fantastic.

I nearly forgot to mention another funny piece of detail in the Ice Hotel room artwork. I only just about noticed it, but on one of the bedside tables was an ice glass carved and placed, but it seemed to have something in it. Very clever 🙂

Ice false teeth on bedside cabinet
Icy False Teeth

The joy of exploration in game virtual worlds – Forza Horizon and Read Dead Redemption 2

Game worlds just keep getting better and better. The time and effort that goes into the environments in free roam games is certainly worth it, as a consumer and gamer. Two examples of free roaming but very different game types and narratives are Xbox’s racing game Forza Horizon 4 and the western epic follow up from the creators of GTA V, Read Dead Redemption 2.
Forza is about racing cars around, hundred of types, lots of customisation, on and off road. In Horizon 4 this time environment has moved to the UK. The huge game area represents areas of the UK, with cotswolds, lake district, Edinburgh all blended into the experience. It is not a 1:1 of the UK, but it doesn’t need to be. Also the game engine represents time of day changes and each week the seasons change which radically changes the look and feel of the game. There is also an incredible set of radio stations to listen to as you drift, speed, jump and crash around. You don’t have to stay on the roads either. The cars, as usual, feel great, but its augmented by the arcade madness of of os the challenges, of which there are many!
With all these free roam games the scenery is really important, the sense of wonder and space that they give really adds to it, hence you can just go for a drive as a digital tourist, not even engaging with the challenges of the game.

Also you can custom paint the cars, as I have often written and talked about.
Here the scenery is into winter, with a wonderful sky and my custom scooby with Choi and Reconfigure decals hurtling along. Pretty much anything you can see you can reach.

Forza Horizon 4 Scooby Snow

Here I am parked up at one of the houses that acts as a base, but the sky is the star in this photo. Remember this is a razzing around in a car game!

Forza Horizon 4 Sunset

The simulation elements of the cars are realistic but the antics don’t have to be. As you can get a lot of air

Forza Horizon 4 Jump

Forza Horizon 4 Bikes

The attention to detail in the sky and environment is just wonderful though

Forza Horizon 4 Sky trails

With Red Dead Redemption 2 the environment is even more detailed and huge. It also is even more key to the experience as you are a person in it, not a car razzing around. You trot around on your horse, or walk. It is full of wildlife and plants and trees of all sorts. Like Forza the night and day cycle, and weather fronts make a big difference. The immense map area transitions from mountains to plains, from desert to forest, swamps, lakes and rivers also feature. Once again if you can see something off in the distance, you can usually get there. The work id populated with lots of other characters and your gang help you drive the story forward, if you want to that is. It is fun just to go off on an adventure, just to see what you can find.

Here, as on of the initial camps the gang forms to get the story going you can see rich vegetation but off in teh far distance snow capped mountains.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Rich vegetation selfie

After a long ride you can find yourself up in those mountains (Making sure to change into a warm coat so you don’t freeze to death!)

Red Dead Redemption 2 mountain selfie

On the way, or in other adventures you get to see sights like this waterfall

Red Dead Redemption 2 waterfall

Dramatic skies

0_0-6Red Dead Redemption 2 sky

Even double rainbows !

0_0-Red Dead Redemption 2 rainbows

What is amazing is that many of these sights and sounds and experiences are unique to the player. With such a huge world being in a certain place at a certain time adds to the magic of exploration. On top of all that the games have brilliantly designed stories or things to do with set pieces that who the entire world to you in many different ways.

These are not the only two massive free roam games, but they are some of the best of the current crop especially in $K Ultra HD. With Just Cause 4 arriving next week we can expect even more free roam goodness with fantastic gameplay thrown in. The last one was 2016. In it I got to do silly things like this.

You see games, and in particular massive virtual worlds have a whole lot to offer 🙂

Made it at last (in VR too)- Thanks Streetview

I was just checking out Hong Kong on my Oculus Rift in Google Earth VR and also Streetview VR for a few mins today. I have a trip to China in a couple of weeks so was just using the tech to get ready.
After that I popped back to Basingstoke, remembering seeing the street view car in the summer as I left the station. I knew where I was, but I figured the picture would not be there yet or not be looking my way.

However, it was, and I got to see myself strolling back from a trip to London, but saw it first in VR 🙂 Now, I join the ranks of those that have appeared on StreetView. Yes I know I did TV, that was cool, but being on StreetView seems cool too 🙂

If only I was carry a copy of Reconfigure or Cont3xt
Here is the pic and the link

Spotted on Google Streetview

Forza and Bond a perfect combination

The upcoming release of the Xbox flagship car brand Forza, with Horizon 4 has given the developers some great fodder to advertise with. Horizon is a free roaming driving game and 4 is set in the UK, apparently with lots of seasonal activity, just like the real thing. You know, rain, and well… rain. 🙂
An actor James Bond car pack brings models of classic Bond cars to the series, complete with some gadgets.
In this brilliant advert, using the actual game engine they have combined the music of Bond, and recreate vignettes of Bond scenes with his car and the bad guys too.
I am a big Forza fan, having advertised my book via it.
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
Also cool stuff collective,feeding edge and eightbar in various ways seeing it grow like this and be this good is awesome. Enjoy.

Watching Ready Player One on a VR Headset

This weekend I finally was able to purchase a digital copy of the film version Ready player One. It is something we saw as a family at the cinema but I had been wanted to take another look. I don’t buy many individial movies any more as with Sky, Netflix and Amazon things are usually easy to access as needed. It seems the US got to the home release first, another weird thing to be doing in the 21st century, slowly rolling out digital/streaming availability is so archaic and only really leads to piracy and lost revenue.
I had to make a choice on how to get to a digital version of the movie. Do I pay Sky for its buy and keep, where they also send blu-ray to go with the download. Or buy a blu-ray and attempt to figure out the film industry approach to digital, which, as with the release schedule is pretty archaic. Instead I went for Amazon Video. This we have on all our TV’s in the house, computers, pads and phones, alongside with Netflix. The last movies I bought were also on Amazon, John Wick 2 and before that The Raid 2, so its ideal to have next door to those.
I sparked up Amazon on the TV and home cinema and started to enjoy spotting even more of the references from my childhood and growing through the 80s as a gamer. Plus of course the who depth of engagement in VR is what flows through my head most of the time as a metaverse evangelist. Really though it is this targeted set of references and in jokes for me and my generation of geeks that I love. Wade’s Delorean with what seems to be a Knight Rider front grill, Duke Nuke-em aiming a launcher during the first battle scene, hello kitty and friends waddling along the bridge next to Wade, it goes on.
Being in VR though, with the headsets, suits, and running walkways I though I should at least try and watch it on my Oculus Go. I paused the TV stream, popped the headset on that is always next to me. I hoped an Amazon app had made it to the store, but no. Instead using the web browser I headed to Amazon video, logged in and found my movie, clicked play…. Nothing. It was a little deflating. Then though I noticed the “Use Desktop version” button in the top right and bingo it worked. Picking up where we left off at the start of the race with characters like SF’s Ryu wandering off to his car and seeing the Akira motorcycle raz into view. Selecting full screen gave a nice curved view of the 2D movie, enough I had to turn my head to look across the picture a little. Proper front row stuff. Not immersed as much as the main characters are int eh OASIS but a nice blend of traditional film, with new view tech and all a little bit meta 🙂

Another thing I noticed, which I think I had forgotten, was that when Wade first appears he has green hair, which he then dynamically changes to show avatar customisation in the OASIS. For me thats a big “yay” because I spent a long while with green hair in Second Life before finding my predator Avatar. My green spiked hair was a thing I identify with, and even got 3d printed. I also often referenced that in corporate presentations as the choice to have green hair is a subtle prod at conformity and social norms, just on the border of whether that would be acceptable to many in an office. It is not as full on extreme body shapes, or cartoon looks. The predator AV took this a stage further in the conversations. I also use green hair in almost every avatar in every platform as its a much quicker mental attachment than finding or trying to build a complex Yautja avatar. PS Home famously (from my point of view) did not allow green hair. Very odd!
So seeing Wade, in a movie about VR, the 80s and my generation my ego naturally assumed that any research the production team may, just may have come across my green hair metaverse evangelizing 🙂

Wade starts Ready Player One with  green hair. Just saying ;)

If you like player one ready, or don’t, you will still like my own VR and AR story telling with real world gaming and tech references though with Reconfigure and Cont3xt. Its got a love of Marmite in it too 🙂