Insomnia63 Gaming Festival

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This weekend I had the brand new experience of going to the Insomnia Gaming Festival. Having never been to any gaming events or tournaments, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had a full weekend ticket, so I was there from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon.

As families often attend over just Saturday and Sunday, Friday was a fairly quiet introduction to the festival environment. We were able to get our bearings and explore the arena, and we could try all but the largest activities without queuing.

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Why Ada Lovelace Day shouldn’t just be about science

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On the second Tuesday in October, we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day to commemorate the great mathematician and writer who massively influenced computing history. We often use Ada Lovelace Day to highlight the past and present achievements of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). But focusing solely on STEM means we miss the most important parts of Ada’s story.

Biography

Firstly, I’ll recap Ada’s background for context, though I’d also recommend reading either of these articles for more information.

Augusta Ada Gordon (Countess of Lovelace, after her marriage) was the daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron and Baroness Anne Milbanke. Lord Byron was well-known for his adventures and affairs, and was famously described as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”. (Researchers believe that Byron probably experienced bipolar disorder). He left his family when Ada was four months old, then died when she was eight years old.

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How Is The World Feeling?

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If you have a smartphone, then right now you could be taking part in the world’s largest mental health study. Sounds interesting? Then head over to http://howistheworldfeeling.spurprojects.org/ to join in.

If you need a bit more convincing, then read on.

The survey is called How Is The World Feeling?, and it’s aiming to get a snapshot of how everyday people around the world are feeling during this week (October 10th- October 16th). The target is to have 7 million people taking part, and 70 million emotions logged.

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Game Optimisation, Part 2: AMD vs NVIDIA

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If you missed the first post, which was an overview of the different levels of optimisation a game can have, then you can find it here:

99% of all graphics cards are made by the duopoly of AMD or NVIDIA (NV). As well as controlling graphics hardware, both companies have expanded into software, creating a middle layer that goes between the graphics card hardware and the games software. Both companies have a similar box of tricks, and I’ll explain a little of what they both offer.

While they are similar in many regards, the major difference at the moment is how much influence the company can have both after a game is released and, more importantly, on the development process of a game. Current graphics card poster child Watch_Dogs is the game in focus today.

NVIDIA’s armoury:

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Game Optimisation, Part 1.

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First things first, what is optimisation? The general definition is “the process of making a strategy maximally functional; removing deficiencies in a system or process”. In gaming terms, this means a game making good use of the resources it has been given to run in.

In consoles, optimisation is often not a big deal, due to standardised parts. Because all Xbox 360s (for example) have the same resources as each other, a 360-specific game will be developed on the exact same system it will be played on, meaning the game can be set up to work well on the hardware supplied. Of course, some games still don’t run properly even then, but that’s normally a fault of design or programming at a more basic level.

Optimisation can sometimes be an issue when a game is ported from one console to another without fully taking the differences between systems into account. Games released for the 6th and 7th generation consoles concurrently often had issues on the Wii that weren’t present on other consoles, due to the Will having technical specifications lower than the other 7th generation consoles. Games released for the 7th and 8th generation concurrently have the same issue with the Wii U. (For a look at the minor flame war about the Wii U port of Mass Effect 3, look here)

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The Great Facebook Debate

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And by this, I am of course referring to the controversial experimental results published this week that show Facebook’s ability to induce emotions in people.

Although the study was actually carried out 2 years ago (January 11th-18th, 2012), it was approved in March 2014, and first published at the end of June 2014. Since the first news stories about it broke last week, legal institutions such as the UK Information Commissioners Office, and the US National Academy of Sciences, are investigating whether the experiment should have been approved.

However, the National Academy of Science are the people who published the paper in the first place- this goes beyond locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, and more resembles investigating the door for possible structural problems after the horse has already caused property damage.
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