Improved procedural vegetation generation

I don't have much spare time anymore, but when I do from time to time, I like working on my procedural generated post apocalyptic game, which runs directly in the browser (WebGL), and is based on my book. I just added a much improved procedural generated vegetation:

It looks much better in movement, but see for yourself (Chrome or Firefox recommended).

I'm also using this to actively test CopperCube's WebGL 3D engine, and to improve it here and there. Works nice so far, with the next CopperCube update, I'll have some WebGL improvements in there which I found while working on that game.

RocketCake 1.0 released

After 2 public beta versions, I just released RocketCake 1.0. It is the responsive website designer I've been working on recently, and it is free to use:

There is also a professional edition which costs 39 euro to keep funding further development, but you can basically do mostly everything with the free basic edition. It is also available now in the Mac App Store. Feedback was very positive so far, and people really seem to like it.

XCode and me

I hope someone will reserve a very special place in hell for the designers of XCode. About once a year, you are focrced to update to the next XCode version, although the current one just works perfectly. And after upgrading, something usually stops working. This time, the buttons in XCode for verifying and uploading the project were simply disabled / grayed out. No hint, no message, no error. Just a grayed out button. No mention in the documentation. I now wasted hours of work just to find out the reason for this. Fortunately, we have google and stackoverflow today. Otherwise, I would probably still need a few more days to find the problem. Thanks, Apple.

Learn how to report a bug

From time to time, I get bug reports like this:
Your software doesn't work anymore since yesterday on my system.
So... what software does the user talk about? He didn't select any product from the list (he choose the default, 'other'). But I am currently selling a handful of products. And what does he mean with "doesn't work"? Does it crash? Doesn't it do its job anymore? Does it do it in a way the user doesn't expect it to be done? And what happened 'yesterday', which caused the change in behavior? Did he maybe upgrade his system? Hell, what is actually his system? Windows? Mac OS X? Android? He didn't mention this at all. So all in all, a pretty useless bug report.

Anyway, this is ok, I usually try and am able to find out what the user actually meant, by asking back a few questions. Average users have no idea how software works in detail, and they are usually pretty friendly and helpful when I ask them for details.

But If you are a programmer, then you have absolutely no excuse to send me a worthless bug report like this. What the hell were you thinking!? You now wasted our both times. You could have written a few more lines, and your problem would probably be resolved right now. Instead, I now have to write lots of emails and go back and forth with you, trying to find your problem.

Why am I writing this? Recently, I get more and more mails similar like this. From programmers. What has happened? Did programmers stop thinking suddenly? I don't know. Are they becoming lazy? Not sure. But I start to begin thinking about simply not answering mails like that.

CopperCube 5.3 released

I just released CopperCube 5.3, it includes quite some new features such as fog rendering, much better Blender .blend import, experimental FBX support, WebGL and Android improvements and more.

The unusual thing is that I am giving away CopperCube Basic edition for a 50% discount now. Crazy, I know, it is a bit of an experiment.

A detailed list of the changes in version 5.3 can be found here. It is a pretty nice list, and I'm quite happy with it.

Heating Our Building - Part II

In the beginning of this year, I blogged about the air-to-water heat pump which is taking care that all the programmers in my office have it warm in winter.

It is now running for more than one full year, so I have some more data to show: The graph below shows the temperature and the needed electricity. It also contains the electricity needed by the full building, but at least 80% is used for the heat pump:

Easily to see that if it gets cold outside, the needed power goes up quite a lot. It looks maybe a bit scary, but interestingly, this system now is 50% cheaper than the old oil based heating: Our electricity bill is now only half of what we paid yearly for oil.
I'm quite impressed by that, I thought it would be cheaper with a heat-pump, but not by that amount. Nice to see that we will have it still warm inside, while paying less AND keeping the environment clean - our electricity is generated by water power.


It's a bit embarrassing, but although CopperCube is already in version 5, and now about 7 years old, it still doesn't support fog. (Well unless you add this by writing your own shaders). But fog is a pretty cool feature, especially for the lightweight targets like WebGL and Android. So I started adding this:

It looks very nice, especially when used with terrain. Works also with the reflecting realtime water, I didn't even have to change a line of code for that, interestingly.
This new feature - fog - will be included in the next free update of CopperCube.

C++ sorcery

Achievement of the day: Made a big C++ library compile on Visual Studio 2005, although it uses lots of features of C++11 . Learned a lot about C++11 details that way.

Short "The Thing" (2011) review

So last weekend, I watched "The Thing" on Amazon Prime, thinking that it is a remake of the original "&The Thing" film from 1982.
It has been many years since I saw the original movie, so I was confused about all the people speaking Norwegian, and the discovery of an alien space ship, of which I was sure it didn't happen in the original movie. Also, the main character was female, suddenly. I was pretty pissed by then, assuming this was again a pretty poor remake with lots of changes in the plot, "just because". Lowering my expectations for the rest of the film, it still was a bit entertaining, although not very thrilling.
Then came the ending, and - boy - I was wrong! Didn't the original movie start with a helicopter chasing a dog? That's right how The Thing (2011) ends! Embarrassing. So it was a prequel. And by today's standards, actually not a bad one.

RocketCake Beta 1 released

I just released Beta 1 of RocketCake, the free responsive website editor. The internal beta test went pretty well, and I am happy that the testers loved that editor. If you just want to design a ready-to-go website without the need to code anything, it seems to be working very well for now:

You can download the editor from its website, but keep in mind, it is still in Beta. No major bugs are known for now, and it seems to work well.

There isn't a Mac OS X version yet, but work has started for this already too.