Cool Stuff Collective returns – S2Ep1 Cloud

The second series of The Cool Stuff Collective hit the screens today, sponsored by Nerf (from Hasbro) which in itself is cool. It’s this Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV-10

The Cool Stuff Collective is now filmed at BBC television centre in Studio 2 which is a much bigger studio than we had for series 1 at MTV Camden.
Where the magic happens
There are Blue Peter signs everywhere which is quite awe inspiring.
The production gallery is up above us as opposed to the side where @marleyman007 directs us from.
Monkey has been reborn too, and has some wonderful googly eyes too.
Monkey reborn
Another new character on set is Lady Blah Blah complete with beard
Sy, Lady Blah Blah and the popcrash grannies
Here is Lady Blah Blah with Sy Thomas and the Popcrach grannies, though I realize this looks odd as Janice has lent back to talk to Victoria.
This is the view we have sat on set (though there are usually more people staring at us 🙂
View form the set
This week the gag was that we had all forgotten Sy and call him Sid as its been a few weeks since the last series. Predlet 2.0 was a bit confused watching the “acting” he asked me if I really had forgotten Sy’s Name 🙂
So the show opened Sy introducing it all and then I come on measuring the TV and feign ignorance.
Calling Sy Sid
My tech part of the show is more back to normal though in a attempt to define cloud computing and cloud gaming in 3 minutes.
I used the basic principle that cloud is really about the break up of the PC and of computer components and moving them away to other places.
I took an old computer and pulled a card out and handed it to Sy by way of a prop to try and explain the distribution of compute resource, storage etc. It was a simplistic explanation but when you boil it down that is what is happening.
I then explained how Onlive works and is coming to the UK with BT very soon and that it is actually good for gaming in that we can play any game on any console, and will not really have to replace any of our old kit as all we need is a screen, network and input controller.
The final extrapolation is a planet wide grid of compute resouurce. I was going to throw in IPv6 but that got too tongue twisty. Any resource anywhere local or remote and combined into massive computing power and storage.
This first show (and next weeks) was great fun to record and the coming shows look awesome too. The team at Archie Productions and Sy Thomas have done a great job and I love being part of that.
I guess that wikipedia article needs updating now for the show? to reflect series 2 and the new record location.
See you all next week same time same place 🙂 (Or any of the many repeats all week)

Knowing who you know

Very often the naysayers of social media will point to the vacuous nature of connections online. Friend does not mean an actual friend etc. We are also restricted as human in how many people we can successfully know and stay in touch with. We are though in a position where we are able to share who we are and what we do, and make it available to anyone who finds it useful. We may all have a mental model of our relationships and who matters, who influences us and who we mentor in life. Social media has brought us the ability to visualise and data mine those relationships. (It has also allowed others/businesses etc to look at those and use them commercially).
Linkedin has started a project to show your professional links to people and it produces very organic looking social media graphs, this is my one from my profile connections
linkedin IH
When you create it you also get to label the coloured groupings which are roughly people in certain types of network. I have lots of virtual world and tech people in my network both from my corporate career colleagues and from other places and a little spin out cloud of media people and one directly related to WImbledon.
Visualizing data like this and being able to navigate around it does start to inform and provide a check and balance for your mental model.
The application is available here

Getting caught out by c# in Unity3d and Smartfox

Warning a moderately techie post with no pictures.
I have been a programmer since I was 14 and I have used an awful lot of programming languages and danced around many a syntax error. When you do spend all day everyday in a particular environment the basics tend to just flow, when you chop and change from code, to architecting to explaining and sharing with people, sometimes the context switch gets more tricky. Todays tech world is also full of many flavours of component that we wrangle and combine. There were two in particular that were causing me hassle and I needed to look up more than once so I figured if I am having the problem then so will someone else 🙂

Up to now most of the things I have done in Unity3d with various experiments use the basic examples and provided scripts or variations on them. These are all in Javascript or the .js deriviative that Unity uses.
However, now that I am talking to the Smartfox server pieces it’s become more useful to to do .cs (C#).

The first is calling a script in a function on another object in the scene.
In .js its straight forward

Where there is a .js file called AScript with a function DoWork in it accepting a string. Attached to the object “RelevantObject”
It is just regular dot notation method access
(I know that it is no efficient to go and find the objects and components everytime but it is easier to illustrate the point in a single line)

In .cs its nearly the same but….
BScript someScript = GameObject.Find("RelevantObject").GetComponent();

Where there is a BScript.cs file attached to “RelevantObject” but being c# is is not just the file name but a proper class definition.
So going from the quick lets just get this done of .js you have to be a bit more rigorous though it all makes sense 🙂

using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;

public class BScript : MonoBehaviour {

// Use this for initialization
void Start () {


// Update is called once per frame
void Update () {


public void DoWork(string sval){

//do something with sval

The other problem I had was more related to using Smartfox server.

I was attempting to set Room Variables. These are server side containers of information that when they change will generate an event to clients that have registered an interest. i.e. very handy to preserve the state of something and send it to multiple clients. The main smartfox Unity Island multiplayer demo uses more direct message to send position transforms for players.

It worked setting the variables, and I could see them in the Admin client. I also got the change message and the name of the variable(s) that had altered, but I kept getting exceptions thrown in the getting of the variables.

After a lot of hacking around it seemed that
room.GetVariable("myname"); //doesn't work
room.GetVariables()["myname"]; //does work

i.e. Get the whole hashtable with GetVariables and reference it directly versus getting the GetVariable function to do that indexing for you.
Now this may just be a wrong version of an imported DLL somewhere. I have not built the entire Smartfox Unity3d plugin again. It does work, so this may be a work around for anyone who is having problems with Room variables. It works enough for me not to worry about it anymore and get on with what I needed to do

Other than that its all gone very smoothly. Smartfox Pro (demo) does what I need and then lots more. I have had conversations and meetings with people in my own Amazon cloud based instantiations of unity powered clients. Now I am over any brain hiccups of syntax again its onwards and upwards.