Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Minecraft Summon Command Generator for Stacking Mobs and lots more

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

I’ve just uploaded my summon command generator tool for Minecraft . It’s a pretty powerful tool designed for map makers who want to create mobs with many customizable options

It features:

  • Mob Stacking
  • Mob equipment with drop chances
  • Enchant enchatable items held/worn by mobs
  • Status Effects
  • Colored Leather armor
  • Options specific to certain mob entities

I’ve tested this only of Firefox and Chrome. Hopefully other browsers will be ok. I havn’t worked out Villager trades yet but may get round to it one day.

Check it out at: http://bimbimma.com/mcstacker/

Emoticon Z – The Zombie Shooter

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I’ve been coding in with Processsing for some time now. But when I learned that there was a JavaScript library for it (processingjs.org), I just had to make this game.  I started it three weeks ago and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’d like to keep enhancing it, but what I’d like to do next is to redo it in Java and make it  multiplayer. Check it out at emoticonz.bimbimma.com

Quantum PC Support Scam

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

I received a call from the folks at “Quantum PC Support”. You might know them better as the Indian PC support scammers. Apparently they “detected” some kind of malware on my PC. I’ve had this call at least ten times and I usually hang up on them or say something smart like I’m using a Mac. But this time I decided to go through the process and see how they go about “rectifying” my PC.

First they get you to go to the Windows Event Viewer. You go to Start, Run, type in eventvwr and then click OK. They get you to click on System on the left hand side. Now click on the ‘Type’ Column header to sort them. Now they get you to scroll down to the bottom so that you can see all the warnings and errors. They ask you if you are aware of what the errors are all about. I said I did not know. In reality these errors and warnings are completely normal and nothing to be worried about. But to a novice PC user they could look suspicious. They told me that these errors were caused by malware and that these were responsible for slowing my computer down. Not to worry because they have a “solution”.

The Event Viewer

The Event Viewer

At this point I was put through to another person. They must have needed someone who could seal the deal so to speak. She introduced herself as Catherine Anderson from Quantum PC Support who is based in Auckland. If I needed to contact her again, the contact number was 09 973 5669. I briefly Googled this but the company is not based in Auckland and the number is fake.

Catherine asks me which browser I use. I say I use Firefox. They want me to go to their website www.qpcs123.com . But they must want me to access this with Internet Explorer. So she tells me to go to Start, Run, type in iexplore, then click OK. This is another way to start up Internet Explorer. However, I go to their website using Firefox (the safer browser) and am presented with a box to type in an Invitation Code that she gave me over the phone. This is presumably so Catherine can get her commission.  Immediately after I enter the number and hit the Join button this box pops up.

Elisnore.ScreenConnect Client

Elisnore.ScreenConnect.Client

Here you have the option to save it or open it. They want me to open/run it. At this point I cancel out before I get in too deep.

And the conversation went a bit like this:

I have good knowledge with issues to do with computer security and there is no way that I am going to run this software you have got me to download.

Excuse me sir, what is the problem?

You want me to run this software but it has a Trojan in it and it will make computer accessible to hackers.

No sir you are wrong. You need to run this program.

No, I know what I doing. My computer is fine. It has no malware on it. I am not going to do this because it will infect my computer.

Why did you say that you did not know what all of the errors in the Event Viewer was about?

I went through the process so that I could learn more about this unethical business model so that I could blog about it and warn others.

Well if you are so smart why don’t you just Run it. You should know that nothing bad will happen”.

No thanks. So how did you know my PC had malware on it? How did you associate my IP address with my phone number?

They hung up. I had more questions to ask. But what I really want to know is why NZ landline providers are not blocking these calls. After some more Googling it turns out that Elsinore Screen Connect software probably wasn’t Trojan. However it would have allowed somebody to remotely control my PC. And once this was done anything thing could have ended up on it

Bashment Ball

Friday, April 13th, 2012

I just finished my Android application which is  Pong variant. It’s been uploaded it onto Google Play (formally the Android App Market). I started this project in February 2012 and have  gotten it to a publishable state. It was good to learn something new and see it through to completion. The game  is based on the Solo-Pong HTML5 canvas game that I created a while ago. There are a few differences like bonus items and the way it is played with a touch screen. The theme for the game is based around Jamaican dancehall rhythms(riddims) and the accompanying sci-fi sound effects . In Jamaican patios this is also known as bashment. Over time, I had created a few dancehall rhythms and this game provided a good outlet for this music to be heard.  Seven of my rhythms are featured in the game and it seems to work out well with many of the familiar bashment sound effects. There are two versions available (free and paid). The free version is supported by ads and the paid version has no ads but costs $NZ 2.00.

Bashment Ball - Android Game

Bashment Ball - Android Game

Enjoy!!!

Solo-Pong: Another HTML5 Canvas Element Pong Variant

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

I made this Pong game so that I learn some new skills. Particularley with the HTML5 Canvas Element. I also wanted to have a crack at learning some AJAX since I’d never really used it before. The game runs well in browsers that support it. Apparently it should work in Internet Explorer 9 when it comes out.

For a long time, the best score I could get was around 50 but then I managed to get 99 when will be really hard to beat. So have a go. You’ll need to log in so that your scores can be tracked. Click here to play Solo-Pong. Enjoy!!!

Solo-Pong Screenshot

Solo-Pong Screenshot

Experiment in HDR with Fake Tilt Shifting.

Monday, June 16th, 2008

I’ve been seeing a few stunning High Dynamic Range (HDR) images lately on the blogs so I thought I’d have a crack at it myself. But with an added twist, I have combined it with a fake tilt shift technique. Disclaimer: I am not a photographer and my Photoshop skills are pretty average.

This image is made up of three exposures. One underexposed at shutter speed 1/1600. One overexposed at shutter speed 1/400 and the other in the middle at 1/800. I used the auto exposure bracketing feature on my wife’s Canon EOS 5D. The three exposures were then combined into a HDR image and tone mapped using Photomatix. By exaggerating the dynamic range, the detail in the image looks as though it was hand painted. Lastly the image was opened in Photoshop CS3 where a fake tilt shift technique was applied. The aim of the tilt shift was to create the illusion of a miniature model by blurring the immediate foreground, background and horizon but leaving the center of the image not blurred. As you look at the image you can imagine that you are looking at a photograph of a miniature model of Auckland City.

Auckland Fake Tilt Shifted in HDR


This is another HDR of my backyard which is the first HDR I had attempted. It turned out pretty good. You can almost imagine you are looking at a ray-traced scene. There is no fake tilt shift on this one.

Matt's backyard in HDR

 

No DVD audio playback with Windows Media Player

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Another problem I’ve had with DVDs is that I couldn’t hear the audio when I played them on the computer. I had checked all of the obvious things like having the speakers turned on and having the volume up. I don’t often have the need to play DVDs on my computer so hadn’t bothered to get to the cause of this until now.

I was able to rule out a hardware fault as I could hear the audio on some discs but not others. I thought that it may have been a fault in the audio cable that runs from the CD/DVD drive to the audio CD Line In on the motherboard. It turns out that this cable isn’t even required. It was a software issue relating to Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player does not have a built in AC3 or DTS decoder. Therefore audio will not work for these types of DVDs. AC3 or DTS are licensable technologies that developers of DVD playing software have to pay for. Therefore the cost is transferred to you. I guess that Microsoft was too cheap to include this for their media player. Or if they did the cost of Windows XP would be more.

But there is an easy fix. After some googling I found this forum. There is a reverse engineered open source audio decoder for DVDs called AC3 Filter. Apparently this will fix the problem in most cases fairly reliably. I downloaded and installed it and played the DVD and the audio now worked. I didn’t need to change the default configuration but if you need to, there are plenty of options to tweak.

DVD-R discs that wont play in DVD players

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I’ve been trying for ages to create DVDs on my computer that will work on my DVD player. In theory, with a little knowledge and know-how, it should be pretty straight forward. In my case, this was not so. By doing a bit of research, I was finally able to successfully create discs that will actually play on a DVD player.

The DVDs that I make are photo slideshows for clients of my wife’s wedding photography business. For each wedding, there will be around 150 images that we create a slideshow of using Microsoft Photo Story 3. This software does really nice transitions that look quite elegant. You have the option of outputting your project in WMV format in DVD quality at 768 x 576 along with a few other formats.

The authoring software I use is Adobe Encore CS3, which is an excellent product for creating menus and planning the project. What it isn’t good for is transcoding WMV files into a format suitable for DVD. Apparently many of the shipped codecs are quite screwed. I was receiving a PGC error before the DVD burn would even start. I read a good forum that discussed how to fix PGC errors. This lead me to software called Sorenson Squeeze which is used to pre-encode your movie so that Adobe Encore doesn’t have to.

One of the common pitfalls in producing DVDs is the use of cheap media. TDK are fairly reputable as are Verbatim. My main burner is a Lite-On that is about a year old.

I was now ready to burn my DVD project to disc. Encore completed the burn without error messages. The disc would play fine on my computer however it would not play in my Panasonic DVD player. For a while I believed that my DVD player was not compatible with burned media. This issue was frustrating as I didn’t know which was at fault. Was it the disc or the player or a combination of both?

Later I read about a technique called Bitsetting. This is where you use special utility software to change the Book Type of your disc to trick DVD player into thinking the disc is a DVD-ROM. DVDs that are mass replicated are identified as DVD-ROM as the book type. They are not burned with a laser. Instead they are created with a stamp that is from a glass master. It costs hundreds of dollars to do this and is not a viable option for a one-off disc. Bitsetting does not work on DVD-R. It only works on DVD+R/RW discs. As it turns out none of my DVD writers were compatible with the software so I had to try something else.

I contacted a local DVD authoring and replication outfit in Auckland called Express Video mainly just to find out the cost of making a glass master. I wondered how they went about creating one-off DVDs for clients and if they had any issues with discs not working in their clients’ players. I emailed Jon and the advice that he gave me was to use quality media (They use Verbatim DVD-R discs). He also said to burn the discs at a slower speed. All of my previous attempts were at 16x. I tried again at 8x speed. This disc played but the audio and video kept dropping out. The slowest speed that my Lite-On writer would do was 6x. On this attempt, the disc played with fewer video and audio dropouts but it was still far from perfect. I found another older DVD writer under my desk. I considered scrap and I didn’t even think it was working. I’m not sure what brand it is but it allowed me to burn my DVD at 1x speed. At last this disc played flawlessly on my Panasonic player.

So if you’ve had problems creating discs that will play on DVD players, maybe this advice will help: Use quality DVD-R discs and burn at the slowest speed possible. Good luck.