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WebsitePainter 1.2.0 released

A new version of my small website editor is now available. This update is free for existing users, of course.



Minecraft

Did you ever play Minecraft? I did, and I like it, but not as much as the fact that it was created by one single programmer which by now made an incredible amount of money with it. On monday last week for example, the day after the servers went offline, he made $350000. In one single day!
By taking a look at the stats page, you can even see how much he earned until today. At the time of this writing, it were 266383 people who bought the game, this is about 2.5 million euro gross.
Incredible. This guy had not only a nice game idea but also a lot of luck. :)



Nightingale's Playground

Interesting digital fiction project: Nightingale's Playground, by Andy Campbell and Judi Alston. The second chapter has been created using CopperCube and looks like this:


Quite scary. But exactly what I intended CopperCube to be used for. It's 40 MB to download, either as Windows .exe or Mac .app, but worth it, IMO.



Open Trial

Open Trial is a 2D trial bike simulation game with vintage and modern trial bikes, with black and white display.


This game tries to be a most realistic as possible, and playful the same time. Open trial uses realistic trial bikes, riders and ground mechanic measurements. Looks quite interesting IMO. The game uses irrKlang as audio library, by the way :)

The demo version is free and without time limitation.



Must be a driver bug

If you tried out WebGL and never programmed realtime 3D graphics before, you might have stumbled over a small problem: Most of your textures are never shown, they all appear black. Some few users of CopperCube and CopperLicht reported this for example. Because these were only some very few people and I never received any example to reproduce this, I decided this must be a driver bug, something which still happens today [, shame on the 3d hardware industry :)].

Being an a bit experienced 3D programmer, it never came to my mind that the real reason for this problem was quite different: I am used to create textures with a power-of-two size, like 128, 256, 512 or 1024 pixels. Of course, people who never did any work in realtime 3D before have usually never heard of this concept, and simply use any size for their textures. Which resulted in some WebGL implementations treating these textures as 'wrong', refusing to show them without any feedback.

Some days ago I accidentally finally noticed the problem. It was also a bit sneaky because not all WebGL implementations do this, I guess currently only a few versions of Minefield. But anyway, I just updated CopperLicht (1.2.2) and CopperCube (2.0.1), and when using a texture with a non power-of-two size in there, it will be automatically corrected internally and will now still work then as well.



Starting your own Software Company? Think twice.

Four years ago I started my own software company and named it Ambiera. I had no experience on how to run a business before this but quite a lot of programming experience, so I thought "what could go wrong?". Fortunately, most worked out nicely since then, and I've learned quite a lot stuff. So if you are thinking about starting your own software company, here are a few advises for you:

People lie
People will try to rip you off wherever they can. Especially when it comes to money. They will pay you late or not at all. They will lie straight into your face. "The check is in the mail" and similar is just one sentence you will begin to hate. So be prepared and don't believe people. They will always try to rip you off, no matter if you think they are your friends or partners. (addition: But of course, not all are like this. In fact, most business partners for me were usually quite professional and honest)

Taxes are high
Remember the middle ages where they had to pay the tithe (german: Zehent)? That was a 10% tax. Today, for example in Austria, the value is currently at 70% (50% income + social security, and 20% vat). And it's getting higher, thanks to the politicians and the economic 'crisis'. Anyway, you will probably have to pay this, and especially for a startup company, those taxes are incredible high which is not that easy in the beginning.

You are responsible
Since you are now on your own, there will be no one to keep you motivated. Nobody will tell you that you need to work X hours per day and focus on the most important things. Personally, for me this never was a problem, but I know that a lot of people tend to get lazy and have problems motivating themselves to work. This is a major show stopper, so if you know you are that type of person, better don't create a startup.

You will not be successful
Despite creating a great product or implementing a unique feature, you will probably not be successful. Take a look at the market: In most cases, the most successful software is not the best software. There are a lot of articles and even books about why that's how it is, and it's not easy to explain this phenomenon in a few sentences. But simply keep this in mind: Probably not even 10% of all software created is commercially successful. That means that there is a 90% chance that your software will fail. (source? [[citation needed]] ) While I worked on Ambiera the last years, I've seen 9 startups founded by friends and people I know. And 6 of them failed so far.

The competition is not sleeping
Regardless of what you are doing, there will always be companies in your sector which do a similar thing but have more money. And they will use it to crush you, and probably they won't even notice while doing this. They will have bigger advertising budgets, more managers, better contacts. It's difficult.

Summarized, it is not that easy to launch a startup and keep it running, there are a lot of obstacles. But once you managed to overcome them, this is where the fun begins.
If you need some advice, share experiences about your own company, want to do a strategic partnership with my company Ambiera or similar, don't hesitate to contact me. :)



CopperLicht 1.2.1 out now

I just uploaded a small update for CopperLicht, the WebGL 3D engine, version 1.2.1. It includes many minor bugfixes and improvements. Examples:

Happy programming.



3D Duck Hunting as Flash Game

Tim12345 just posted a game he made using CopperCube 2 into the forum. This one is a demo which kept me staring in surprise for about 2 minutes at the screen, because I could initially figure out how he did this. :) He claims he just clicked it together in the editor and didn't use any scripting, only the behaviors CopperCube provides. But try it for yourself:

Press 'F' to shoot, Cursor keys to move

I wasn't aware that CopperCube was able to do that with animated sprite billboards as well, because most stuff is designed to be done with real, 3D skeletal animated meshes. Especially the part where the duck dies and hits the floor wasn't clear to me in the beginning.
I am quite impressed that this is possible without any programming. And I shouldn't: I created that editor. Great work, tim12345 :)



EU: seamless surveillance state in progress

The EU is currently planning behind closed doors to turn Europe into a survilance state: The german pirate party has disclosed the INDECT documents which describe how they are planning to implement seamless surveillance. Interesting. Download the papers here. Time to emigrate?



CopperCube 2 released

CopperCube 2 has been released today. It contains a lot of major new features and improvements, such as the recently mentioned game AI behavior. But there is also Undo/Redo, something which wasn't that simple to implement considering the fact that CopperCube wasn't initially designed to include this and that there are about 500 actions which can be done by the user in that editor.


But the major news for Irrlicht users is maybe that CopperCube 2 is now basically free for them: exporting .irr scenes in CopperCube 2 will now also work although the trial period end has been reached. If you are interested in the detailed changes, you can read the change log here.

With that version of the editor, it is now also very easy to create pretty interesting WebGL applications, and I'm looking forward to the next versions of Chrome and Firefox which seem to have WebGL built-in then. I'm also going to release a new version of CopperLicht soon to keep up with this version of the editor.



SysAdmin on a battle ship

Incredible comment of an sysadmin active-duty sailor of the US Navy Marine Corps found on wired (via fefe):

Ships run the Common PC Operating System Environment (COMPOSE). It's essentially a Windows server with a huge and insanely convoluted proprietary set of applications that are all somehow dependent on one another. Not a day goes by where there isn't something that isn't working correctly on the network, and when you dedicate time and effort to troubleshoot the problem and then report your findings back to the SME's at SPAWAR or Juno, you're told to reinstall the entire server! It's like someone at Juno decided that since they can't control the network on the ship, they'll just make it such a complicated piece of crap that we'll have no choice but to turn to them and ask why we can?t do something as simple as change a password using their proprietary tools.


IT people on these ships only seem to have user level accounts and have to call helpdesk themselves which is a government service and only available during working hours. Increbible. That's how these huge battle ships are run? If some nation thinks about invading the U.S., it should maybe consider hiring some virus programmers instead of soldiers :)



Upcoming CopperCube feature: AI

The next version of the Flash 3D and WebGL editor CopperCube will include a feature to make it possible to quickly prototype games: A very basic 'Artifical Intelligence' behavior, characters which can navigate around in your world and do basic game related things like attacking and dying. As always, no programming is necessary to enable this, only selecting the behavior for your 3d model. Here is a small demo of the very basic character, doing not much:


Controls: cursor keys to move, mouse to Look.


The model and the room has been created by me, so warning! Programmer art. Pretty ugly.
You can download CopperCube right now, but this feature is not available yet and will be introduced in the next release. If you would like to get a mail once the new version of CopperCube is released, subscribe to the Ambiera Newsletter:

Your email adress:
(will open the ambiera.com website for confirmation)




No more gold in Fort Knox?

I've read an article today which hasn't gained as much publicity as I think it should have received:

Ron Paul, a texan congressman who even I, although German have heard of already, just called to mind what a lot of people already believe: That there is maybe no more gold in Fort Knox, the U.S. Gold Bullion Depository. Ron Paul simply wants an independent audition of Fort Knox to see if there is still gold.

The US have denied any independent auditing for decades and refuse to do so still today. It is an open secret that the gold price is being manipulated and artificially held down, but recently, this hasn't worked out that well, the gold price is celebrating all time highs during the last year. If it would turn out to be true, and there is no more gold in Fort Knox, and the US government has lied to the people (how shocking!), the gold price would probably explode. No idea what impact what this would have on the dollar. Maybe the economy and the dollar will simply break down, as Greenspan said, the gold price is basically a fever thermometer for the paper money. But anyway running a broken economy by lying to the people will also result in the same.

If I had some money left, I think this would be the ideal time to buy some gold now. ;-) Quite interesting times we live in today.