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Around the web XXXIII

Some random facts for you; the B-2 stealth bomber has an optical sensor system that warns the pilot if the aircraft starts generating contrails that would give away their position, and in old English, the verb “to mock” used to mean “to imitate”/”to copy”, and is still used in that sense in the term “mock-up”.

Sci/tech;

  • You can admire the evolution of Apple’s print ads from the late 70’s to the present in this piece from Web Designer Depot. Times change.
  • If you’ve ever wondered how wind farms get built, the BBC have a detailed article and interactive multimedia piece on the topic.
  • Sketchub is an interesting piece of work - a shared whiteboard that allows very deep zooming. It was built using HTML5 with a view towards tablets, Surface-type devices, etc, as well as PCs. Sharing a specific whiteboard is as simple as sharing the unique link to it. Check it out and read more on the blog.
  • And if you’ve ever wondered how books are put together, this set of videos from the Discovery channel and elsewhere shows the evolution of the process over the years.

Gaming;

  • European games expo GamesCom was on recently, resulting in plenty of new announcements and trailers. Far from least among them, this wild gameplay trailer from a giant Battlefield 3 map (64-player), featuring jets, amongst many other things. From the same game, PC Gamer have a run-down of some of the weapons and equipment that will feature.
  • Starsiege: Tribes/Tribes 2 were interesting but somewhat lesser-known games, forerunners of the team-based multiplayer FPS in the late 90’s/early 2000’s shortly before Battlefield 1942 planted its flag. Unlike Quake, Unreal and similar multiplayer shooters, they featured large outdoor environments, vehicles, varied equipment and objective-based gameplay with an emphasis on teamwork and specialist roles. And jetpacks, plus an infamous skiing mechanic for traversing hills in a hurry. Well, there’s a new Tribes game in the works for a while now; the free-to-play Tribes: Ascend. PC Gamer have some impressions from GamesCom. Incidentally, the Torque engine currently used by some indie gamedevs originally derived from the engine used in Tribes 2.
  • On Prey 2, some new screenshots and the final part of their E3 trailer developer’s commentary.
  • From a little further back at QuakeCon, Bethesda’s very interesting retro-future first-person sneaker/assassination game Dishonored also gets some new screens, an interview and a preview. Dishonored, set in some kind of steampunk London, involves some of the art and design talent behind such innovative titles as Deus Ex, Thief, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and Half-Life 2.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (yeah, yeah, here I go again) is now out in the US, with the EU release coming at midnight Friday. If you have access, go play it - it’s apparently quite good. If you don’t, here’s a blog post with 10 memories of the game’s development from James Swallow, novelist and also one of game’s writers. Amongst other things, his very first writing for the project was the phrase “It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.” - later featured in the game’s trailer.

Business;

  • In an interesting blast from the past, Huffington Post dug up a video interview with Mark Zuckerburg from 2005 - see post. At this stage, Facebook was still very much a college community site, active in a few hundred colleges and celebrating its 3 millionth user (hence all the beer). Facebook is now, well, Facebook. A non-trivial portion of the population of the planet (11%, best guess) has an account with them.
  • The internet can offer great opportunities to folks in the developing world via sites like Elance and Freelancer.com, as the BBC reports.

Dev;

  • LinkedIn just launched a new mobile web app, based on HTML5 with Node.js on the backend. This brief piece from DevBeat gets some background from LinkedIn on how the app works.
  • If you’ve wondered (I seem to be using that line a lot) exactly how a modern web browser processes and renders a page, HTML5Rocks.com have a very in-depth and interesting piece on the topic, based on some exhaustive work by an Israeli researcher, Tali Garsiel.
  • Fuzz testing is a form of black-box robustness test that involves throwing dodgy and badly broken data into your software’s inputs to see how it handles it, thus discovering bugs. If you’re Google, you can do that on a grand scale, as their blog post about fuzz testing Flash describes.
  • A new MSDN blog has just been launched where the team building Windows 8 will discuss its ongoing development. So far, they’ve discussed file management improvements (e.g. you’ll be able to pause file copy operations), USB 3.0 support, and the team behind the project.

GameDev;

  • Crytek have just released a free (for non-commercial and/or educational use) version of their CryEngine 3 (of Crysis 2 fame), following in the footsetps of Epic’s Unreal Engine UDK, etc. Get the SDK while it’s hot.
  • The Advances in Real-time Rendering course from SIGGRAPH 2011 now has the first slides, videos, etc available online, with more to come. Course content included presentations on CryEngine 3 and Frostbite 2’s rendering systems, lighting tech from God of War 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops, tech for voxels, geometry management, skin shading and plenty more.

Misc;

  • This Facebook album (the three of you who don’t have Facebook accounts may or may not be able to access that link) has 200 photos of street scenes from Dublin of yesteryear (70’s and earlier, it looks like).
  • If you want to sleep with the fishes, this underwater hotel bedroom in the Maldives should fit the bill (a very very large bill, I suspect). It’s actually an underwater restaurant, but they apparently convert it to a suite for special occasions.
  • In the nuts-but-impressive category, here’s an article and video showing a $1.7m steampunk-themed loft apartment.

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