Secure Android Development, project preparation, a cold and a new year

It’s been a mixed start to the new year. Watching what I eat for the rest of January, damn you Christmas. Back at work after three weeks off, achieved nothing and left by eleven. My ego got the better of me and I went for a run despite having a cold, so am now suffering. Need to shift it with the first cross country league race on Wednesday. I can’t help wondering why generic medicines are so much cheaper than brand names.

Finally got around to ordering a replacement Acer V3-112P screen. Replacement was straight forward. Like most avionics technicians, I breathed a sigh of relief when the LED panel lit up proving the fault. The old girl is now sitting running a million updates courtesy of Microsoft.

While many Linux advocates eschew Microsoft, I prefer Office (Home Use Program). Like current, I take the path of least resistance and I use Word and Excel so often I know them inside out. Linux is an outstanding development platform, I’m using it for TM470.

TM470 project preparation continues, reviewing both TM353 and TM354. FutureLearn is a fantastic resource with a course on Secure Android Development. Delivered by the University of Southampton, it started last week. I haven’t decided the tool chain yet, particularly versioning. I have used SVN and Bazaar, which I prefer as it integrates well with Launch Pad. I won’t be using LP though so should investigate Mercurial and Git.

Read Original Sin too – best Marvel I’ve read in ages. Like Murder She Wrote in space. A real page turner, I read it in one sitting.

Something that didn’t grip me was the Assassin’s Creed movie. It starts off quite well, with a similar story to the games. It suffers the same problem as earlier games though – the present interrupts more interesting stories in the past. What I don’t get though is why option a game as a property then try not to appeal to that market?

What I haven’t made time for though is the Nintendo Classic Mini. I played a little Ghosts ‘n Goblins – damn I forgot how hard games were then. I always thought as a kid that I’d somehow be better at them as an adult but I guess I didn’t factor in reactions.

Upgrading to the new 3DS

Bought my kid a new 3DS for his birthday, the device is great but the process to transfer between old and new is poorly documented.

The device came with a pre-installed copy of Majora’s Mask. Except, inexplicably, transferring data from an old device wipes the new device rendering the pre-installation pointless as it has to be re-downloaded. The game is tied to the hardware (not the user ID referred to as an NNID) so I’m baffled as to why.

It appears you can only register one device type to an NNID at any one time (one 3DS, one WiiU, etc.). This is alluded to by a statement on Nintendo’s eShop page: “The downloaded game can only be played on the system it is downloaded to”. I can’t see what Nintendo is getting from this, we know the eShop can identify hardware and the NNID so why restrict the download when access control could still be enforced?

The take away from this for anyone upgrading is:

  • You don’t lose the game – it needs to be re-downloaded. There is no code – it’s available in the eShop on that device.
  • Nintendo expect you to have one and only one 3DS at a time.

On the plus side I now own a 3DS. So that’s nice, although its now sat with a bunch of other stuff I really need to put on eBay but am not quite sure who would want ot buy.

Steam

I go away for five months at the start of the year and my Internet usage drops to around 500 Mb a month. Rockstar has the Grand Theft Auto Complete Pack on Steam for £19.99, GTA IV is downloading as I write (16 Gb). Should make it interesting when I renew with my ISP at the end of the month.

Steam has three GTA collections:

  • Complete, again £19,99 (GTA, GTA II, GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas, GTA IV and Episodes from Liberty City)
  • Classic Collection at £19.99 (GTA, GTA II, GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas)
  • or GTA IV Complete at £24.99 (GTA IV and Episodes from Liberty City).
Fairly obvious choice there then.

Homefront

After not inconsiderable cajoling by a friend of mine, I hired a copy of Homefront on PS3. It transpires that this is a formulaic FPS title.

The game is buggy. I’ve played through the first four levels and the PS3 has crashed on each of them, requiring a power recycle. The collision detection with scenery is very unpredictable – it often inhibits movement when there is no visible object in your path. When there are NPC in your party you cannot go through doors until they have. Worse still is the way checkpoints are handled – surely play testers noticed that putting lengthy character conversations after the checkpoint means sitting through these tedious dramatics repeatedly.

Without doubt the most irritating FPS title I’ve played. If you enjoy the desire to throw your controller through a window this game will afford you the opportunity in spades.

Why are video games the 30 something’s hidden vice?

I’m 35. There’s one PS3 in our house and I bought it. It’s attached to a nice big Plasma TV with a high refresh rate. If that sounds like I’m bragging, I’m not.

See the kids come in from school a good hour and a half before I do. So they can adhere to the rules (complete homework and get their kit ready for the next day) yet still be engrossed in video games by the time I get home. But it doesn’t end there, see I have a Lovefilm subscription so that means my wife likes to watch a film or two on the PS3 once we’ve eaten.

I like on line multi-player, particularly FPS but I can’t really get on before about ten each evening. The weird thing is I’m not alone. I just logged off after an hour playing with three other men my age(ish) – completely unplanned.

There’s something deeply flawed with three thirty-something married men whispering into headsets at midnight on a week night trying to play PS3. Its almost as if its a taboo.

Injuries, contracts and holidays

Physiotherapist thinks that it’s going to be a while before I’m back running, although I haven’t had a specific diagnosis (the Army seems to feel physiotherapy is a panacea). He thinks there’s a 75% chance of recovery without further referral. So no impact PT and watch what I eat.

It’s all quiet on the education front – my next course (or module as the new terminology  dictates) isn’t until the end of September. The Open University also sent me out my contract for TU100’s Café forum – never read so much legalise.

On leave just now, which is nice. Kids are busy with youth club activities this week so I’m pretty much just relaxing at home. Re-read World War Z (someone I know is an extra in the upcoming movie) and re-played Final Fantasy VII.

I’m also drudging through Assassin’s Creed II. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great title but I’ve already done it. I rented it and finished it. Then I saw it on offer and bought a copy to play the add-on levels. FYI, the Platinum versionwon’t read the original’s save game.

Talk about first world problems, lol.

Black Ops “Strict”

Odd solution to an irritating problem – Black Ops say “Strict” in multi-player, even with “Open” NAT. Load Modern Warfare 2, go to multi-player on-line up to the point where you choose the game type and eject the disc using the button on the front of the PS3. Insert Black Ops and load it, go to multi-player and you will be open.

I have no idea why this works, I got it off a forum post. I have tried putting the PS3 in a DMZ but it doesn’t work, so it’s not as if the game uses non-standard ports – it’s just bugged. It only needs to be done once each session – you can play something else and reload Black Ops as long as you don’t reboot.

Black Ops is an OK game, it’s not the best FPS and the single player is woefully short (with a very poor story) – its multi-player where the fun is to be had. With the latest DLC out on the 10th June, it’s a shame that Activision and Treyarch can’t get it together enough to sort this out. The truth is though that until we stop buying DLC, there’s no incentive for the publishers to fix bugs.

I killed my PS3

I’ve been playing the brilliant “Assassin’s Creed – Brotherhood”. So much so that I’ve killed my PS3 – it now overheats and turns itself off after about three minutes (if its booted from cold), beeps three times and flashes the power light. Mind you I’ve had it for about four years.

I bought a new one (surprised that the hard disk size going up seems to have reduced any price decreases over time).

Seems like a faulty fan – sounds like a bearing grinding. Anyone any experience with them?

Not happiness is…

Following my last post

<rant>

Things that do not make me happy:

Spending the first of your two weeks leave that you finally managed to get at the same time as your kids in bed sick.

Your clan mates PS3 packing in.

Upgrading to Ubuntu Netbook Remix Jaunty only to find it won’t do wireless any more and that you’re going to need to install it in a VM on another box to write its documentation.

Paying insurance premiums religously only to find that after a genuine accident they don’t fancy paying out because there’s some technicality. Then your neighbour comes for coffee and laughingly tells a story about how they just poured juice down the back of the TV and are getting a new one through their insurance.

In-fighting in teams.

Trying to integrate DokuWiki and Drupal.

Spending several weeks on a calculus paper only to screw up the final result because you transposed a sign for some reason.

Writing a very clever piece of Java only to present it and someone say “why didn’t you use the method in such and such a standard object”.

Being unable to convey why using the same String object in a for loop is a bad idea in a cryptographic system (it creates new instances until garbage is collected)
Consistantly being overlooked because you “don’t have XML/XSLT” skills – despite having a track record with them.

Looking forward to the one damn thing you can eat when you have a sore throat, stawberry ice cream, only to find the store changed their opening times without telling anyone

    Lastly, my number one pet hate, so big it deserves its own paragraph.

    If I was a plumber, would my colleagues and neighbours expect me to fit a new bathroom for them free of charge? Should I have chosen the carpenters path then would it be reasonable to expect a free conservatory? No. So why is acceptable to expect on call IT support, application development and fixing computers riddled with viruses without so much as a damn beer?

    </rant>