If this year's crop of rocky video game launches has taught us anything, it's that coding video games is hard. Sit through the 30 minute scroll that passes itself off as a credits screen these days and you'll see just how many moving parts go into making today's games. With gigabytes of art assets to create, pages of story to write, hours of dialogue and sound to record, a tangled web of complex behaviors to script, and, oh yeah, actual levels and gameplay to design, one thing is clear: making games isn't all fun and games.
Yet despite the ever-increasing complexity, the creation process is more streamlined than ever. Why? Licensable game engines, tools, and middleware. From specular maps to dynamic shadows, high dynamic range rendering to cloth simulation, from pathfinding to AI reaction behavior, game engines take care of all the nitty-gritty graphical and scripting groundwork and provide a solid (hopefully) codebase for our beloved games. And just like you wouldn't throw a HEMI into a Smart Car, or a power-saving hybrid into a monster truck, knowing which engines excel at which tasks is crucial. So here's a quick look at a cool dozen—a V12, if you will—of the biggest engines and middleware tools in use today.
To write about the death of Digg would be to step into a time machine, back to the late August launch of the fabled “Digg version 4” which singlehandedly managed to unwind nearly six years of continued growth and excitement in one, crappy swoop.
Here’s the real secret though: In Digg’s grand quest to somehow reinvent itself back to mainstream acceptance (a code phrase for “profitable traffic numbers”), the site’s various, changing overlords fail to recognize that the pin on the grenade has already been tossed to the floor. Amongst the geeks and the traffic-shapers (more on them later), Digg is irrelevant. Its power to toss tens of thousands of users to a give site or piece of content has been nerfed nearly as badly as its submission system.
Yet, we really only have ourselves to blame. We helped Kevin Rose create his monster and, in doing so, forever proved that you just can’t have direct democracy on the Web without some jackass(es) screwing it up. We broke Digg.
"Privacy" is the word that's on the lips of anyone even remotely connected to the Web 2.0 nowadays. But I don't care much about that. What you do on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or whatever, is your own business--and, worse, there aren't really third-party applications that you can download and use to self-assess your potential privacy pitfalls. You're on your own there.
However, when it comes to Windows--oh, yes, there's much we can talk about when it comes to the Windows operating system. There are always newer and stronger ways to protect your PC from intrusion, from third-party access via an unscrupulous exploit or unintended network connection to the raw, physical tricks one can use to gain access to your protected information. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it, it does.
So, without further ado, let's take a little joyride through some unique free and open-source applications that you can use to lock down your PC without removing all traces of usability from your operating system. For just about the only thing worse than a computer nobody else can get into is a computer that you, yourself, have to jump through 30 hoops just to get into. These apps aren't going to be that, you have my word.
In the past, Microsoft has been against the use of open-source software, but it appears that trend is going to change with the introduction of their new search platform, Kumo.
Reportedly, the team in charge of Kumo (previously Powerset) “tries to use open-source software, if it is available.” And, on top of that, they’ve made it a point to avoid proprietary software. It would seem that Microsoft’s anti-open-source ways have been left in the dust (for the time being). While Microsoft is notably nervous about licensing their software using an open-source license, they are enthusiastic about consuming open-source software and integrating it into their proprietary products.
So, for the time being Microsoft has lowered their defenses when it comes to the possibility of open-source software. Though, given their track record, it isn’t likely that this trend will continue.