Bookmark Reminder Pro 2.2 – minor fix

Minor fix in this version 2.2 that relates to keywords not saving when you Add a new bookmark, edit the keywords and click save without leaving the keywords field.  While the new version is waiting for approval the workaround is to click off the keywords field before clicking the save button.  Editing existing bookmarks and their keywords is unaffected by this issue.

New version submitted to Apple today.

Bookmark Reminder Pro v2.0

After many months of development, version 2.0 of Bookmark Reminder Pro has been uploaded to the app store.

The new version has had an overhaul of the reminder system bringing new ways to be reminded of web page changes.  Not only can you use the old way of a date or time but you can now scan pages for keywords found (or not found) and a reminder will popup under those conditions.  You can also use advanced reminders that can check for differences in word count inside html tags, class, ID’s or even complex css-selectors.

 

Animating characters

The last few weeks have been spent working on character animations for a client in the US.  Using 3D Studio Max and Biped to animate different actions then exporting for Unity 5 for use in their bespoke system.  It was a short deadline and lots of animations but they all went through with little challenge.

It was great fun work and reminds me that character animation is as much fun as programming!

Next mission when I get some time is create a mo cap studio using Vive trackers as that would add a fantastic level of realism to character animations, especially if I can get hand tracking converted across using Leap Motion. Exciting stuff.

Bah!  Vive trackers all sold out in the UK.  Come on Valve, get some stock in.

Optima Guitar Tuner v3.0

Many years ago I created my first iPhone app called Optima Guitar Tuner for a company I worked at called Optima Design Services Ltd.  Years later they asked if I would like to take the project back via App Transfer and update it for all their users as it no longer worked on iOS 11.   Optima are a great company and have supported me over the years so, yes.  I took this on.

Over the last couple of days I have stripped out all the advertising, updated the app to use the latest 64 bit SDK and worked around all the depreciated methods that Apple no longer want anybody to use.  The app is now in submission to Apple so hopefully will be available in the next couple of days.

As for future updates, let me know what you want.

3DSMax Exploding objects in MaxScript

When you have an assembled object made up of many smaller objects and want to explode it outwards then MaxScript is a good solution.  I could of course used Particle Flow and geometry for the effect but you lose fine control.  The studio wanted to have one object explode into another object and then another and another etc, a tricky challenge when you cannot actually break apart the model into fractured pieces.

My solution (and I tried several) was to create a 3DSMax plugin that creates a very configurable explosion that works on the selection center of any group of objects.  They explode outwards and animate into a tornado spinning effect at which point a different object can blend in without the viewer knowing, the other object then reforms from the tornado into the assembled model creating the effect of one object becoming another.   My goal is to always give the client as much control as possible.  The explosion speed and spread, the axis that the explosions happen on, spins, bouncing up into the air etc are all user configurable.  It also separated the animation into helpers so after the plugin has done its magic the user can then tweak curves and key frames for different results.

Client was happy as this saved them days of manual work and they also get a reusable tool too.

Concept VR Board for FPS style motion

While trying to work out how to move quickly in VR without nausea I knocked up this sample in a couple of hours.  To overcome motion sickness you would need the same hardware representation in the VR world for this to work.

 

Basically you are standing on a circular board which can tilt a full 360 but my theory is that you must have the same representation of the board inside VR so your body can learn that a leg movement left in the real world creates the leg movement left in the VR world and you strafe left, if you are moving forwards and rotate slightly left you start to turn left instead of strafing. Your body can learn to accept this much more naturally than other input systems. For example real skiing is quite hard to learn because it restricts your natural movement, it takes a long time to master. We need to find an input system that is fast to master and cheap to build.

To stop game developers from changing the speed or rotation of your input device in every game there should be a standard, maybe feet per second. Being consistent is a key aspect for this to succeed in VR. As you master full movement you can start to override and increase the motion speed in VR. Most games only have a walk or a run and blend very quickly between the two when using analog input. This system would need to make that much more accurate to allow greater control. Natural movement has many more levels of accelerate, sustain and decelerate than 2D/3D games offer.

The problem with thumb-stick motion is that there is very little link to what your body expects to happen and when it goes wrong its awful. A bit like the feeling you get when putting a car in first gear and expecting to move forwards when you accelerate but you have put it in reverse by mistake. The feeling is horrible and disorientating. I guess if you brute force yourself long enough you would build up a resistance to it (ye ole sea legs) but that really hampers early adoption.

I do not know if this concept would work as balance is a key element.  Could a user move while shooting for example?

R.I.P Asherons Call

A rather sad pre Christmas week when Turbine / WB decided to shut down Asherons Call after allowing users to buy the game forever as a one off payment.  I was just getting back into it too.  <sad face> <angry face>

Black screen with mouse cursor on Mac bootup – Fix

After an Apple Sierra update last night, the 5K Mac that my parents use was stuck at a black screen with just the mouse cursor.  Thanks Apple!

The solution to this I found here: https://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/82502-mac-mac-boots-to-a-black-screen-with-cursor

Keep in mind that you are in a terminal type interface and if on the 5K iMac then the text is readable by ants only.  But it worked for me with some major eyeball focusing.  I could never have expected my folks to do this.

Also, point 3 may take a few seconds to run so do not rush ahead.