Furious Seven (2015)

Furious Seven

Furious Seven

And the seventh is out there, and it seems eighth is on its way. What can I say? More of the same. Good to watch if you are in the mood, if you like speed, girls and punches. A little difficult for me to see Jason Statham as the bad guy. Other than that, cool. And, of course, Nathalie Emmanuel is very, very cute.

No need to comment on the hacking stuff, and mistakes or impossible stuff. You do not see a movie for that. Also, of course, lots of publicity. Other than the cars, at least Dell and Monster. Whatever.

Finally, a good homage to Paul Walker. I confess I got sentimental.

Transporter: The Series (Season 2)

Violante Placido as Caterina Boldieu

Violante Placido as Caterina Boldieu

I liked this series a lot. As I included in the season I review, it included lots of action (martial arts-like), cars and car stunts, and pretty girls with few clothes. For this season, you can see some action, a few car stunts and no girls without clothes. The prettier girl around is, probably, Violante Placido, as Caterina Boldieu, but always in decent clothes.

They say a new season will be prepared. I am hoping at least the car stunts get back, because this is getting more and more distant from the Transporter character, and more and more near the 007 franchise.

Also, I am not yet sure why all car makes are removed from the cars. As you can see bellow, there is a Renault truck without its logo. No idea why the logo was removed. I think anybody will see that is a Renault. The same happens with all the Ford, Nissan, Kia, Skoda and other car makes that appear in the series. I think the only two makes I saw were Audi, the one that probably sponsors the show, because it is the transporter’s car, and a Mazda, that probably slipped from the censure, as it appears by, let’s say, accident, at it is just a parked car that get some focus.

Renault Truck

Renault Truck

Piracy and HandBrake

From time to time I am reminded on how good piracy is, and how copy protection is designed to make consumer life difficult. This story happened today. I just bought a DVD with the Penguins of Madagascar movie. Unfortunately I do not have a DVD player attached to my television. I have an old Mac Book Pro as media player. Its multi-drive is mostly dead, so I can’t use it to watch the DVD.

Well, when I bought the DVD I did not think on this, or I might look up on the DVD information and, noticing the “anti copy” I wouldn’t buy it. But I did not notice, so I bought it. The next step was to do a ripped copy, so I can copy it to a pen drive and see in the Mac.

I installed HandBrake and, of course, it complained the DVD is protected. I can understand its developers not to include the needed libraries to decode encrypted media, or they might have legal problems. But after some time I found out there is some DLL files I can copy and DVD will be able to rip the movie.

And this is why I love piracy. Not because of the piracy itself, but because every initiative against it LIMITS THE USERS THAT PAYS FOR THE MEDIA, not the one that copies the media illegally.

Windows 8.1, lock screen and flickering

Windows 8.1 Default Lock Screen

Windows 8.1 Default Lock Screen

Mostly sure you recognize this screen from Windows 8.1. This is the default picture, at least for some Windows 8.1 installations, used in the lock screen. A lot of users do not change it, as it is used in a few circumstances. Nevertheless, I changed it. And it made me shiver on Windows 8.1 implementation details. Although it is really fast booting, when compared with other Windows versions, I still see things I would prefer not to. Namely, before the picture I chose for the lock screen be shown, the screen flickers and I see.. yes, the default picture shown above. This means that the operating system is loading this image from disk, even when it is not needed. Couldn’t the system load the user defined picture and, only if it does not find it, load the default picture? Wouldn’t that be faster?

Also, Windows 8.1 is out, a lot of fixes, and the “dots animation” on the busy screens are not yet fixed? Any of my students would make that animation correctly. Yeah, look to it with caution, and you’ll see what I mean.

Allo Allo (Season 4)

The Flying Nun

The Flying Nun

For some time that I did not laugh so loud with Allo Allo. You know, after season 1 you get more of “Good Moaning”, or “Listen carefully, as I shall say this only once”, or even “It is I, LeClerc”. Although the story did not change much, I confess I have been laughing really hard in this season (specially episode “The Flying Nun” and “The Jet-Propelled Mother-In-Law”). Just great. Preparing for the next season, the biggest, with more than 20 episodes.

Atom.io

B62xj9FCUAA3YoC.png largeAbout two months ago I discovered the existence of Atom.io, a free editor from the GitHub team. This fact, being from the GitHub team, made me wonder. There are not good editors for Windows. I usually use Notepad++ that is great, but somewhat limited on extensibility. When I use Mac OS X or Linux, I usually use Emacs or Vim. I know there are versions of Emacs or Vim for Windows, but I got curious on the Atom.io editor. But unfortunately I did not like it. It is quite heavy starting, the UI is not very polished and there isn’t native support for LaTeX. I know the idea of this editor is to be extensible, but when something gets completely community driven, diverse modules or packages for the same purpose appear, and it gets difficult to know what to install.

Nevertheless, I did not quit at first. I got into the package manager and tried to install a LaTeX package. The first package I found should, at least, allow me to compile a tex file directly from the editor. After about 3 minutes installing a package (too much time for such a limited package) I tried to compile the LaTeX document and I did not get any feedback. Neither that the plugin was invoked or that it wasn’t; if the file was compiled, or not. Nothing. I didn’t even get LaTeX highlight.

Please, atom.io crew. Look into Notepad++. Look to its size. Look to how fast it starts. Look to the amount of different languages syntax he supports.

So, at the moment, wondering if I’ll install Sublime, Gvim or some Emacs.

Girls (season 3)

Marnie

Marnie

The third season of Girls is just like the others. The story continues, showing four girls dealing with their loves, sex, drugs, jobs. I am not sure why I still watch this show. Probably because I like Marnie (see above). Unfortunately the only girl making top-less during this season is Hannah, the less interesting one. At least for me.

Given it has 20 minutes episodes, it is good to watch when you do not have time for any other, like Castle or Game of Thrones, and when you are up to date in other 20 minutes series, like The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family.

Sorry for this not interesting post, but there wasn’t really anything relevant to say about it.

Windows 8.1, 32bits, 64bits, and MBR or EFI or GPT disks

Laptop-hard-drive-exposedI am no expert, so I am sorry if I say anything wrong. Please correct me, in that case. But I had some experiments installing Windows 8.1 from DVD into a recent Lenovo laptop, and had some issues with hard disk drive and the format it was into.

Well, it seems that recent laptops (and probably also workstations) use a new kind of format to store the partition table of the disks. It is, somehow, related to EFI. So, if you have a disk drive in EFI mode, you will be able to create more than 4 primary partitions (no need for creating an extended one, and then create others inside).

If you try to install Windows 8.1, 32 bits, it will expect a disk to be in MBR (master boot record) mode. If your disk is in EFI mode, your best solution is to delete all partitions (be careful, you will lose data) and create new ones. Probably you will need to delete them all, use the next button and let Windows use the entire disk, or if you want a specific partition schema, cancel the installation, reboot, and with luck you will be able to create a typical MBR partition table.

The other way around, if you try to install Windows 8.1, 64 bits, it will expect a disk to be in EFI mode, and if it is in MBR mode you will need to… you guess it… delete all partitions, and go next.

You might also find gParted to be helpful in this process.

Another interesting information: Windows 8.1 32 bits does not detect a Full HD display.  With the 64 bits display, installation procedure was all in Full HD. Also, the 64 bits was able to pull drivers automatically (namely for wireless). The 32 bits didn’t.

The Moose Slippery – February PR Challenge

Moose Slippery

This February my Pull Request assignment on the CPAN Pull Request Challenge was Ovid’s Module, MooseX::Role::Strict. For me this was a big problem. First because it is about Moose (which I do not use) and then because it is about the Meta-Moose, the way Moose itself behaves.

The idea of the module is to allow Role users to import a role that defines a method that is already defined in the current package/object in a strict fashion. If the user declares that method will be overridden, it will work, if it doesn’t, then an exception will be raised.

It was great to notice Ovid maintains a TODO list. It is not very clear what each item means, but I tried to ask him and understand. And as far as I could find, the first item of the TODO list seemed easy to implement. In fact,  too easy. This Pull Request, as far as I can tell, could do the trick. But I lack knowledge on creating a test case.

So, in order to close this month’s assignment, I am asking for comments, suggestions and any kind of constructive help on testing and fixing this pull request.

MonoGame, XNA and Documentation Hell

2000px-MonoGame_Logo.svgI confess I have some admiration towards the Mono Project. It is the base of different tools, and it allows those tools to run virtually on any device. A good example is the Unity 3D Game Engine.

In my teaching duties this year I need to each MonoGame. Not sure if this is a good choice or not, I just needed to keep with the old syllabus as I did not have any time to prepare the course as I should.

In case you are not aware, MonoGame is Microsoft XNA made public. Although the libraries, themselves, are easy to install under Windows, the most recent version is not available for Mac or Linux. The documentation that is available is mostly from the old XNA, in Microsoft MSDN. There are a few mini tutorials and blog posts that help on some specific details, but there isn’t a official, well prepared, source of documentation, and that is a shame.

Another problem from basing things on Microsoft previous work, is that MonoGame depends on Windows libraries, some of which are not free, and can’t be made available by the MonoGame project, meaning the developer needs to go through a list of old software (yeah, from 2011 is old software) to be able to have everything working.

One of the problems with MonoGame is that it depends on a binary format, named XNB, for importing assets. I am not sure if this format is open or not, but given it is Microsoft, I do not think so. To create these files, from other files, like image or sound files, you need a tool to convert. It seems (although I did not test yet) there is such a tool for Linux and Mac (the MonoGame Pipeline) but not for windows (are you sensing the strangeness here? the latest version of the library is only available for Windows, but the needed tools are not available for Windows…).

I wasted 5 hours trying to figure out how to create a XNB file from a WAV/MP3 file. I searched for tutorials, I downloaded software, I tried different approaches. None works with Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013. I still did not try to contact the MonoGame team or foruns. But given this is something crucial for game development, I can’t understand how there isn’t an official reference from the project, on how to create these files).

The most promising tool I found was XNBBuilder (also known as XNBFormatter), a standalone tool for this conversion. But, from standalone it has few. It depends on XNA libraries (that I have installed) and, even with those libraries available, it still complains on them missing. In fact, a book I bought from Apress about C# game programming in MonoGame also suggests this tool (that means I am not the only trying to figure out how to create those XNB files). At the moment my try was to contact this tool author and asking for some support.

I confess I was expecting some more organization from MonoGame. I am really considering the suggestion to change the syllabus for another library. Even libgdx is more organized.