The Truth in the Stick

PS3%20JoystickWell, I occasionally put in posts about games I play (I am not counting SWTOR here OK).  But I managed to get some kid free time to play South Park; The Stick of Truth.  I was going to rant about the censors of Australia, like so many places of public officialdom believe that know better than I, what I want.  Suffice to say that not banning the game in Australia enabled me to get the game from overseas in Australia.  I am one for watching and playing the best version, Director’s Cuts, Game of the Year editions and so on, so knowing that some elements were cut from the game and replaced with just a crying Koala and a textual description of what was happening was not the same as seeing and therefore opted to spend my money overseas.  Another local Aussie retailer loses money because of the government (and it has nothing to do with the GST (Goods and Servicers Tax)).

So, with that disc in my hot little hand, I found my controller (the one not used the kids which means it still works as in Dual Shock and SIXAXIS) and I decided to boot up my PS3.  I am a fan of Role Play Games on the PC, enabling to play RPGs without the required organisation and room and time needed to find enough people with the same time to sit down and play a pen and paper RPGs these offer the next best thing.  I am also a fan of Obsidian as a game developer they have created some great games, Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol and et. al.  But they seem to have some problems with delivery, unsure of the backroom machinations and who says what they are either over stating their ability to delivery what they can or are being forced to, either way it often leaves the game not properly finished or properly tested and as a consequence will otherwise mar a potentially great game.

I will use Alpha Protocol in this, the story, the game play each of these elements gave the game this feel that I have not had in an RPG in a long time, it sat me on the edge of my seat, wanting to push ahead in the game.  But so many times was the game hampered by problems, technical problems.  Which shows the game was not properly tested before being released as it was often commented on by reviewers.  This game got OK scores but had they released a properly working game it would have had better scores.  The same went for KOTOR2 and Fallout: New Vegas, a great game hidden by a myriad of bugs and technical issues.  Many have been fixed, but in KOTOR2, there is a large portion of the game never released because the game, already delayed was on a VERY tight timeframe to follow up on the massive popularity of KOTOR.   PC owners can download and install a mod that is meant to restore as much of the content that can.

K2_00020

That aside, when I read about the delays in the release of South Park, which like many of the Obsidian games, I have been excited for this game for sometime but when the delays were announced and when THQ went under things were starting to not look good.

Thankfully Ubisoft took over the distribution and the game was finally released and I will say, it is a great game.  An RPG that feels like an old fashioned RPG but captures 100% the essence and feel of South Park.  This game comes so close to watching South Park that anyone who were to walk in the room, would not think twice if it wasn’t or not.

south-park-the-stick-of-truth-ps3-boxart

So like many of the games the kids play in the TV show you find a way into the game they are playing.  Everything seems to be in this game that you might expect.  The number of times I have found myself just laughing out loud.  Trying to open Stan’s Wardrobe and hearing Tom Cruise say “I am never coming out…”  was a nice touch.

There are some minor flaws here and there but nothing that seems to have been on account of Obsidian rushing their releases and more to do with specific mechanics. 

As far as the RPG goes, it has all the elements.  The standard 3 class and the additional Jew class system.  The character customisation which is as good as it should be for this game and the fact that you can change your appearance throughout the game means you can pick what you want, and certainly when I got the Chin Balls I felt that I needed to walk a mile in Butters’ shoes.

Turn based RPG system that also requires timing of the button presses to make the critical strike.  There is weapon stickers and strap-ons that enable your to augment the ability you already have.  The special abilities are a good touch and provide a decent ability to help with vanquishing the “elves” that are in South Park.  Coupled with Magic, a special South Park Magic gives additional boosts and the ability to clear paths when needed.  But this is the mechanic that seems difficult to properly grasp and can often be ineffective.  But accompanied with Summons (like many Fantasy setting RPGs), you are able to unlock some of the friends you get in your journey but some being Mr Kim (from City Wok, or Shitty Wok) and Mr Slave to name but two.

personajes-south-park-mr-kim-600x337

This is South Park, all the voices are here and all of them are well integrated into the game.  As for other sounds throughout the game, it give that feeling you are in that town but also don’t feel out of place for the type of RPG that this is.  The music is a combination of music from the TV show, custom music written for the game and there is a nice choral element where Cartman is in the background of the piece. 

As for game play it as as much depth as many RPGs of the past.  No crafting system but it would have been limited as to what you could craft.  But potions a plenty, revives, mana and power potions means you can help your allies or yourself.  One element I like is Butters’ Healing Touch, where he comes up, pats you on the back and tells you everything is OK.  It was a nice Butters moment.

Graphics, what could one say about the graphics of the game, it is South Park, it look like no matter where you go.  From the characters to the backgrounds to the weapons.  The PS3 version is running at 720p, but I don’t think it would matter if this was running at higher resolutions on a PC, since the graphics on each version would look the same.  This is South Park and no matter how many pixels you have to show it, it will look like South Park. 

tumblr_n2edwjZt321rlo1q2o1_1280

Adults are not Children

The only grievance I have is not with the game, it is over the version that was released into Australia (and it also seems some other parts of the world).  There was some content replaced in the game with that of a crying Koala and the textual description of the goings on.  To me, we had a recent introduction of a R 18+ rating for games and under these new censorship laws, this game was either going to be banned or needed to be edited.  Rather than fight, they decided to edit the game and replace it with what is above.

As an adult who has children, I have not played this game in front of my kids, ever.  I understand the concepts portrayed in the game and understand the contexts of what is going on.  But to be told as an adult that I am not able to view certain elements because they are, well for whatever reason not clean enough for me is just rubbish.  Now my only possible reasoning for this is that despite the R rating that they assume that children will be playing it (I personally know of several children who are under 18 years old who have played this game (the censored Australian version that is).  So regardless of the law children will still play the game.

But due to this crappy situation local retailers have lost out because I have ordered this game overseas.  It cost me less money in the long run and also gave me a game that is completed and unedited.  I am responsible with whom I let see or play this game, but those who are responsible are being subjected to antiquated laws even ones drafted in 2012, because they believe we are all children, or that children will see this.

That said, elements I have already seen in this game (unedited) are no worse than what I have seen aired on TV in Australia, which doesn’t make sense to me since that is only rated M or MA at the worst.  Interactive or not there is no excuse at all.

</RANT>

So, with the ranting over I would say, RPG fans who do not like South Park should not get this game.  Though it is a solid RPG and has all the elements an RPG should have, it is South Park, from the classes (Jew) to the Summons, Mr. Slave, to the taunts in the battles, all of them come back to the fact that you are in a South Park game, RPG or not.  South Park fans, who might not like RPGs will still get much out of this game.  Accessible for those not used to the concepts but certainly can be played on easy just to enjoy the South Park portion of it. 

People like me, who are fans of RPGs and South Park will find that the amount of content in the game will satisfy that RPG itch you might want and means you feel like you are watching just a South Park episode.  So if you are in Australia, then I might recommend Play-Asia.com, the PS3 version is not region encoded and therefore is playable on any PS3 but some versions of the XBOX360 version can only be played in certain regions so be careful with what you get.

A Strange Oort Cloud Object

SpaceSo many theories have come and gone about the coming of the 4 horsemen.  Some fantastical and some potentially plausible, depending on your belief and understanding.  But one recent theory has me intrigued and has me in search of more information.  But first I will put some context in it on perhaps where these theories might have come from and the possibility of links to others, if I can.

Nibiru

This is supposed to be a planetary object that is meant to come into the solar system that will either hit earth or be a near miss.  The orbit is contrary to the orbit of other objects within the solar system (which in itself is not strange).  This bizarre orbit is not the area which is not unreal, Pluto (a planet in my books still) was thought to have been capture by the Sun.

Simply put, a planetary body supposedly the size of the Earth orbiting our sun (albeit in a very contrary way to all other planets) would have been seen, would cause all kinds of other disturbances within our solar system including knocking asteroids in the asteroid belt and even hitting objects in the Kuiper Belt.  The theory of a hit or a near miss in 2012 never eventuated but because it hasn’t been seen one might postulate that it is still not proof it doesn’t exists as there are billions of billions of objects within the known universe that we have no seen but theory suggests it is there.  But this end of the world scenario has been theorised but has never materialised.

So going on about this Nibiru since this seems like the most plausible scenario on the scale of plausible of not plausible to potentially having plausibility.

Firstly why has not much in the main science spoken about this? Most of the comments come from what is called pseudoscience, even if some of these scientists are reputable.  It also doesn’t help the debate when conspiracy theorists jump onto this bandwagon and yell cover-up as to why only information from the fringe is emerging.

So let us look at the information we have;

Images, yes some have emerged from sources unsure that show and object with what seems to be satellites.  Those with some understanding states this object is a Brown Dwarf Star with its own system of planets orbiting.

So this is an image, enhanced, taken from an observatory in Antarctica.  This is an image in the infrared, the red blob is meant to be the brown dwarf, more often only visible in the infrared spectrum as they emit heat but very little light.

The position of this is 0°02’37.77” arc-degrees, Right Ascension 9h47m56.32s.

When things start to go strange is when the believers start looking at this with several pairs of rose coloured glasses, enough smoking of the wacky tobaccy and state that one of the celestial bodies orbiting this brown dwarf houses and civilisation that settled earth as a form of slave labour, in the subsequent 3600 years since their last visit we have expanded in size and have broken our so called shackles.  This race is called the Anunnaki, they are a technologically and supposedly morally superior race of beings to which we are their slaves.

Now I am willing to accept there is a lot about the universe that is not know.  I am even willing to look at the evidence about there being another object out there beyond the Kuiper belt affecting the orbit of the outer edge planets.   But the moment we start going into this realm of another civilisation on another planet orbiting close to their brown dwarf star then I need a little more than some theories out there.

I have some theories about the universe which are mine, I am not a astrophysicist nor a scholar nor mathematician of any kind and my theories are based on information I have read and seen, they are not unbelievable nor are they backed up by any basis either, they are mine.  I am one who requires a lot of convincing and will often sway when there is evidence presented.

Nemesis

Some scientists believe an object is out there an unseen twin to our sun, a Brown Dwarf which correlates to some information in the Nibiru camp.  But they do not believe that this object enters our solar system but merely orbits the sun, tugs on the orbits of Neptune and Uranus and every 26 million years (give or take) will disturb objects in the Oort Cloud and this send these sometimes massive objects into the centre of the solar system.

This theory has gained some momentum based on the theory of mass extinction events happening every 26 million years or so.  This option sounds plausible, most systems in the universe are binary systems and the fact that we are in the select few of non-normal systems and happen to have life and happen to have intelligent life, seems hard to swallow.  But the idea of there being a twin star, yet unseen orbiting far out from our sun doesn’t seem too far fetched.

So astrophysicists will continue scanning the heavens in search for this wondering where this object might be, why, well if it disturbs objects out in the far reaches of our solar system, these objects come into the path of the earth like Feb 15 2013 over Russia, seen, photographed, videoed and heard by people in the region.  This was one of the largest such objects in recent times but was smaller than the one that shook Tunguska June 30 1908.

So it seems like a good thing since this object that crashes back in 2013 was nothing compared to the size of the object that brought about the extinction of the Dinosaurs or the other events that brought the eras of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods to the abrupt ends.  And since there is a massive object (90377 Sedna) which some also call a dwarf planet and Sedna is about half the size of Pluto and if knocked from its orbit would cause a massive problem if it crossed into our orbit.  Hence the search for something that might cause some issues. 

The Oort Cloud is just as unknown as the Universe

That is the truth, the Oort Cloud a cloud of the remaining particles, gases and dust not formed into planets, comets, asteroids and other stellar objects orbiting our Sun it is a almost spherical cloud about 1 light years or about 60,000AU1 , scientists can guess the items in it, they would be making sure they mark the ones that can cause problems.  This floats around in space, orbiting our sun, very slowly.  It is said that the objects there can be perturbed by the gravitational forces of the Milky Way itself.  Though there is no data to support this theory but they need an explanation how comets from the Oort cloud change their trajectory around the sun.

Scientists are trying to look at these bizarre trajectories of these ex-Oort cloud objects to determine a possible cause, but I believe they are still looking, and certainly the believes of any theory of an extra planet/twin star brings those believers back into the fray and scream cover-up again since they believe it is simple to explain why these objects have been shifted from the original and safe orbit around the sun.

But because something is not known doesn’t mean someone is covering information up.  A lot of science is the search for truth, so scientists out there are searching for this truth.  To them claim that the government is making or forcing the scientists to clam up about this mystery in the depths of our solar system is odd in deed as it would see that more data would come out, likes of Edward Snowden aren’t alone in their need to release information they feel the world should know. 

Let us Assume…

OK, let us look at this with some defined context.  Suppose there is a brown dwarf star out there orbiting our sun, it is about the size of 8 times earth mass, we will hold it there for now.  Since there is various theories on when this sucker orbits the sun 3600 years or 26 million depends on how far out since Sedna takes 11,400 to get around does show the gravitational influence the sun can have on celestial bodies.

sciam1

  1. It is thought that at its furthest point this star is about 3 light years from the sun, but it is also about 1 light year to Proxima Centauri (our closest star).  Knowing that Proxima Centauri is about one-seventh the size and one-eighth the mass of our Sun but is also at its furthest point three-quarters closer to Proxima Centauri than our sun you would think that there might be some tug from the closest star certainly enough for it to shift. 

But I will say that Proxima Centauri is our closest star now but hasn’t and won’t be ours in the past or future.  So this tug might be nothing.

Where am I going with this?  I am getting there, well I hope I am.  So, this body then decides (well, you know what I mean) swing by our neighbour hood.  Some might say we should be able to see it by now if it is going to swing by the place, well brown dwarfs are hard to see, they give off almost no visible light so spotting one, not iluminated and not silohetted becomes a tough job.

NOW, the government (puts its cover-up hat on) and determines that it isn’t in the publics best interest to know about this coming brown dwarf.  That it will not hit Earth but the magnetic field this object would have would possibly cause a reign of destruction onto the planet and the seas swelled, tectonic plates shifted, lava flowed land was lost into the seas, forever.

Why would they?  What possible explanation could they have for not letting us know there is an object, 8 times bigger than us about to cruise past and say hello?  That anyone who was planning on releasing information out there, publish papers in peer reviewed journals have said to have been killed.  There is only ONE reason I can possibly think of. 

Panic.  Often when the end of the world talk hits the air it is coming from the mouths of those who are not seen as credible sources.  They are not getting up with panels of experts or the UN science teams.  They aren’t broadcasting from major radio or TV stations they are more often confined to themselves or a select few, releasing podcasts and administering web sites about the impending doom.  So when they talk we hear but we don’t listen and even if they say something slightly credible, the number of boy who cried wolf scenarios that has come out from these people, we are loath to believe anything they say.  BUT, if the government comes out, the President or Prime Minister emerges to a pack media contingent, microphones, phones, tablets and notepads at the ready to take down the titbits about to come forth, then we listen, then we take notice and understand that things are bad. 

But is not telling us early going to create a panic when there is no denying it and the possibility of doom is looking as sure as the Pope’s convictions as a Catholic.  People will be rushing out buying supplies for the end, building bomb shelters hoping this means that the holy man Jesus will come down, take a select few and leave the rest to burn in the impending devastation that will come.  People will profiteer, selling new products assured of survival beyond the apocalypse despite the fact that would not ever help you survive crossing a quiet street let along this cataclysm.

So is it a cover-up, in the way to stop the panic now and create a worse panic later are they deliberately sending out the “scientitians” saying there is no Nibiru, there is no Nemesis, there is Planet-X and we are still unable to find the green sheep.

2

So, where do I sit, I have provided all of this information provides pieces here and there, given even a possibly plausible reason (albeit not a very good one) why misinformation might be spoon fed to us by the governments.  What is my stand on it? 

Ifs, Buts and Maybes

We have infrared telescopes trained into space looking at the the universe presented before is.  This is a place of mystery to say the least.  We live in a galaxy with over a billion stars and certainly when you look at this image from the Hubble Space Telescope;

galaxy-space-milky-galaxies-hubble-distant-originals-download-free-backgrounds-wallpapers

You realise that this small area of sky gives us a glimpse of that wonder.  We are a young species, about 6000 years old, we have advanced so quickly in that time from the moments we burnt our fingers lighting a fire to burning our fingers on the hot fires of industry to burning our fingers on our friends iPhone as the battery is about to explode.

Out there, there are forces beyond our reckoning even for the super smart boffins pondering the ever evolving equations might say what a black hole can do but we don’t really know, they are equations on paper that tell us about it do nothing telling us what it feels like.   Words sometimes fail to adequately express situations, the feelings I have for my boys, the feeling I have when I gaze up in wonder the feeling I have while peeing in a pool and the warm euphoria sweeps over me. 

I believe there is something out there, it is disturbing things and might orbit our Sun.  This might be Nibiru or it might be Nemesis, since I am only looking at information I can get from documentaries, the internet and second and third hand talks at the pub, mean that I am still sitting firmly on the fence as to what it is. The ever violent nature of the universe tells me we can’t predict all possible outcomes, we can’t protect ourselves 100% of the time and that sometimes it is best to just take what we have and enjoy the moment.  Because IF there is something out there that will cause havoc, what can we possibly do to stop it.  Nothing.  If Sedna was coming towards us and even if we knew when it was going to hit, an object slightly smaller than our moon, we could not do anything to stop it.  Bruce Willis will be too old and in the words from Robert Loggia (General William Grey) from Independence Day said “And turn one dangerous falling object into many.”

It is out there, in space, our end and it will not come out of the blue, we will know it is coming and we will scuttle like ants with their nest disturbed trying to delay the inevitable.  But I want to enjoy my time with my family before I worry about the end and if it comes, we will worry about it then.

  1. An AU or Astronomical Unit is a unit defined as the distance from the Earth to the Sun (the mean distance since our orbit is slightly elliptical.  This is about 150,000,000km in in length.  This is only a guess but I am thinking that AUs were made to help measure the distances to the planets before things start getting measured in light years.
  2. FOX, Mem (2004). Where is the Green Sheep? Australia: Penguin Australia – ISBN: 9780670041497.

Addendum

It might sound like I believe in the theories of Planet X but in some part I do.  But I will be asking my beautiful wife if I can get a Telescope for my birthday.  I will then look at the stars and find the things I would like to see with my naked eye.  I will also like to target the position to be that of where this object might come and see for myself.

I would like to take some pictures of it myself and see what I can show.  The universe has always fascinated me, learning about the strange goings on around the place, Jupiter my favourite planet, biggest in our system but a minnow in the universal ring, but its magnetic field 4 times larger than our Sun, Whaaaa?  Questions, what drives it, Venus, shrouded in mystery and Sulphuric Acid Rain, extreme heat and pressure so intense it has crushed everything we have ever sent to the surface, more than 10 atmospheres.  Triton with geysers like Earth but eject liquid nitrogen high into the air and it falls back as rain on the surface. 

File:Triton moon mosaic Voyager 2 (large).jpg

This is only in our Solar System, what awaits for us outside it, or still within.  I will forever be learning of the universe and all we learn about the new things we find.  And if a day comes, in my life time space flight becomes a reality for more than the super rich I would like to see it. 

Time Alone or a Time Together, Certainly Time Missed

orbz-life-iconIt has been a few weeks since I last posted, not out of wanting to but today I felt I should include something, not to address a reason why but to perhaps just take stock and provide some, insights, if you will, into things.  My grandfather recently passed.  It was a very sudden event, I get a phone call telling me he has had a massive heart attack, but seems stable if not aware of his surroundings.  Just over an hour later I got another call telling me he went to sleep and never woke up.

Out of everything that has happened I am thankful that my two grandparents (one grandfather I barely new my other grandmother I never knew, she died when my mum was 3 (or there about)), one was my mother’s father the other was my father’s mother, they both passed while asleep and pretty much without too much of a warning that things were coming.

But the death of my pop, was more of a shock for one of a few reasons.  I was planning to go up and see him and the family at Christmas 2013.  With my new family, 2 adults and 2 children and flight prices in Australia is pretty much like everything, EXPENSIVE, it was going to cost 4 Adult tickets to travel to Brisbane from Melbourne which was well in excess of AU$2000.  I spoke to my mother and we both didn’t think it was going to cost that much and decided we could put things off until they call come later in 2014. 

So now, they will be coming later in the year, but they will be without my pop.  There is a massive amount of regret I am feeling.  Why did I worry about the cost?  I could have physically afforded it, it wasn’t as if I was going to go without food or not have money to the house or bills, but I thought I guess nothing like this would happen, or more correctly I didn’t look at this as a possibility.  Often when making plans, one doesn’t take death into account.  “I should go see someone just in case they die.”.  But a lot of choices I make in the future, this might be in the back of my mind, when faced with the choice of seeing one of my family or worrying about some financial problems down the track (if that might happen) I will possibly take the prior.

Do events like this always need to happen for anything of such to change a tact of policy, perhaps.  I know if I had decided to pay the AU$2000+ in flights to Brisbane that Christmas, my Grandfather would have seen Isaac, but would have I felt better when getting the news about his death.  Was it not so much the fact I didn’t go at Christmas but just that I will miss a good man, we were not terribly close but since I was closer to him than my other Grandfather there is something missing.

Death comes to all and it is something that we all have to deal with as friends and family are taken from this world.  The one thing that I can take from this is;

So often in these moments we look at the person and miss the fact they aren’t there any more.  I know I will miss the bad jokes he would love to indulge us with or regale the tails of story from Readers Digest.  He loved playing Rummy Cub and any card game and was a very handy man, having built many things for my mum, as a child and also as an adult. 

He fought in World War II in Papua New Guinea and despite the many attempts to have him tell the stories of his time in war from what I knew, he never once told anyone, I could be wrong, but something happened during that time that he does not to share or relive in his mind.

He saw the death of 2 wives, 4 brothers and he always still liked to put a smile on peoples faces.  No matter where he resided he was always befriending people and did so with ease and was certainly popular with the ladies, even up in the last weeks before his passing.  He wanted to be a better father for my mum but all in all, the tales learnt and passed to me I see that though he thought he could have been one I don’t think he was disappointed with the way his son and daughter turned out and then subsequently his grandchildren whom he saw grow into adult hood and also bring him great grand children. 

My oldest son Elliott met his great grandfather a few times and he was known as GG to him.  My youngest still knows of GG and has only spoken with him.  Considering all I know about him, I couldn’t have wished for a better grandfather and certainly there was no better great grandfather for my two young men. 

You have now the infinite of space and time to come and go as you please but I know despite the tantalising nature of that is you will be happy to just watch over us and catch up with your Brothers and your first wife Agnes, whom you have not seen in some 60 odd years.  Your life will live on, always.

He is a man who will be missed, but no because of him not being here but because of the joy he could bring to others. 

Javascript Error in AjaxControlToolkit

thC1BL12ENDocumentation for this is sketchy at best, but I am unsure if this is the solution for all instances of the error.  The AjaxControlToolkit, is a nice addition to the ASP.NET stable, managed on Codeplex this enables you to include extenders that provide useful and sometimes just nice features to the existing toolkit of server side controls in ASP.NET.

Following their examples, I wanted to include a simple Password Strength extender to a password box.  Sounds simple, since as users type in their password it gives and indication of how good their password is.  This is merely a visual indicator and not anything to do with validation or what is acceptable.

I follow their coding example, which is below.

&lt;!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC &quot;-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN&quot; &quot;http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd&quot;&gt;
&lt;html xmlns=&quot;http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml&quot;&gt;
&lt;head runat=&quot;server&quot;&gt;
&lt;title&gt;Control Toolkit&lt;/title&gt;
&lt;/head&gt;
&lt;body&gt;
&lt;form id=&quot;form1&quot; runat=&quot;server&quot;&gt;
&lt;asp:ScriptManager ID=&quot;asm&quot; runat=&quot;server&quot; /&gt;
&lt;div&gt;
&lt;asp:TextBox ID=&quot;Password&quot; runat=&quot;server&quot; /&gt;
&lt;ajaxToolkit:PasswordStrength ID=&quot;ps1&quot; runat=&quot;server&quot; 
	TargetControlID=&quot;Password&quot; RequiresUpperAndLowerCaseCharacters=&quot;true&quot; 
	MinimumNumericCharacters=&quot;1&quot; MinimumSymbolCharacters=&quot;1&quot; 
	PreferredPasswordLength=&quot;8&quot; DisplayPosition=&quot;RightSide&quot; 
	StrengthIndicatorType=&quot;Text&quot; /&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;
&lt;/form&gt;
&lt;/body&gt;
&lt;/html&gt;

Straight from the horses mouth so to speak.  But you run this and you get a nice little error jumping out at you.  This isn’t an ASP.NET one but a JavaScript error so it only appears when you visit the page with the control on it.

image

What?  What does this mean? 

0x800a138f – JavaScript runtime error: Unable to get property ‘UI’; of undefined or null reference.

Hitting break shows me this line of JavaScript; (I added comments to prevent any browser issues.

//$create(Sys.Extended.UI.PasswordStrengthExtenderBehavior, 
    {&quot;CalculationWeightings&quot;:&quot;40;15;15;30&quot;,
    &quot;MinimumNumericCharacters&quot;:1,
    &quot;MinimumSymbolCharacters&quot;:1,
    &quot;PreferredPasswordLength&quot;:8,
    &quot;RequiresUpperAndLowerCaseCharacters&quot;:true,
    &quot;StrengthStyles&quot;:&quot;Bad;Poor;Weak;Normal;Good;Excellent;Strong&quot;,
    &quot;TextStrengthDescriptionStyles&quot;:&quot;Bad;Poor;Weak;Normal;Good;Excellent;Strong&quot;,
    &quot;TextStrengthDescriptions&quot;:&quot;Bad;Poor;Weak;Normal;Good;Excellent;Strong&quot;,
    &quot;id&quot;:&quot;PasswordStrength1&quot;}, 
    null, 
    null, 
    $get(&quot;txtPassword&quot;));

Strangely looking into the data finds that Sys is fine but it is the Extended that is undefined.  So why is this happening?  Don’t know, following the exact sample there causes an error.  My opinion, the example doesn’t work, period OR, it is not meant for the version of .NET I am using (which is 3.5 SP1).

BUT I fixed it.  HOW?  Simple, maybe.

Change;

&lt;asp:ScriptManager ID=&quot;asm&quot; runat=&quot;server&quot;/&gt;

to;

&lt;asp:ToolkitScriptManager ID=&quot;asm&quot; runat=&quot;server&quot;/&gt;

I am unable to properly determine why but it seems the standard one that ships with asp, this is the plain ScriptManager doesn’t have all the elements required for the one that ships with the Toolkit.  Therefore the ToolkitScriptManager is required.  There is also a reference to the ToolkitScriptManager on their site but examples use the ASP.NET one. 

SO, to put it as simple as possible ANY of the Toolkit objects you may want to use, USE the ToolkitScriptManager, place this just under the form and it should work.  Other Ajax controls that ship with ASP.NET the normal ScriptManager will work fine.

So even if you see this error on other controls you have used check the ScriptManage component in your code.  It might be the wrong one.  Might I say, since I am unsure if one might work in specific examples, all I know is the PasswordStrength one, this fixed it.

Tolerance in the MMO

swtor-logo-256x256World of Warcraft set a very nasty trend in the world of MMOs, though it has been in gaming for sometime, elitism.  In gaming it is specifically the exclusion of those who the “elite” deem unworthy.  This is everywhere in society but for a game that promotes itself as being inclusive for everyone and being social it is incredibly unlike that in reality. 

Why am I bringing this up?  I experienced this to a certain degree last night, a couple of nights ago and I see it in general chat on both Imperial and Republic fleet in SWTOR.  The game released, everyone is on a level playing field and as the game progresses it shows the casual, dedicated and the down right obsessed players as the gap widens.  Free to play launches and a massive influx of new players waddle in, getting feet wet and the gap again widens, like that between rich and poor you start to see the quality of gear difference, money and so on each of these make this gap, and it is there, get wider.

Ejection

golden_fury

Daily questing on Makeb.  The call goes out to dish out some hurt on the Operation Boss (and unofficial world boss) Golden Fury, Toborro’s “golden” child.  This is an interesting fight, not very difficult but a few things to be mindful of, placement in the fight and so on.  But that is me going off on a tangent. 

The call was for DPS, I put my hand up after checking my gear, it was SM so I wasn’t greatly concerned since I had on average 156 gear (few pieces higher) so I was beyond the recommended gear.  One thing I have never done on any of my toons is stack endurance.

Endurance Stacking

MOST armour comes in 2 flavours, an endurance heavy version and a stat heavy version.  The idea is Tanks can use the endurance heavy version and the others can use the stat heavy, but they are there to mix and match to a personal taste.  My total health on my Mercenary, Bounty Hunter is about 32K, decent, my output for damage is very good, I can output anywhere from about 3K to 10K damage a second based on various circumstances (this is all that it states in MOX).  So.  I am well geared for SM, I have done it before on this guy and feel confident.  Because I don’t stack endurance and look at ways of boosting my power and critical chance and multiplier, to the untrained eye it might seem I am a little under-geared, especially in comparison to to those with 35K, 40K health.

OK, I was in the instance, ready to go and someone invited one too many DPS to the party.  No problem, then I get kicked from the group.  I asked why, they said gear.  OK, I looked at the others and out of the other DPS I had lower Endurance, since they weren’t in the instance they couldn’t inspect my actual gear so it was purely based on endurance.

I told them that and then the one who kicked and invited me is on my ignore list.  To not look at the whole picture and simply look at the amount of health does not mean I am lousy at DPS.  My Sentinel was testament to that simply because I was very picky about where I allocate my points in everything.

Request for Leaving

The next item I have seen for wasn’t as bad as before but it is certainly one of the lower forms of it.  I was running Eternity Vault, Hard Mode and I was working on the Puzzle that happens after you beat Gharj.  Normally I am not the one who is on the Pylon duties.  Reason I have heaps of DPS more often than note and am better to simply attack and not have my time clicking the puzzle.

So, the puzzle was running but suddenly there was a reset in the middle.  Reasons people were complaining about things going to slow.  OK.  Then it came out, those who do not know this, please leave.  An interesting statement considering firstly the Operation was Hard Mode most players were Level 55. 

So, I was told to get into the fray and begin turning the puzzle, that is fine, since I was playing my sniper I was able to still be useful.  But there was another sniper not doing anything in the group and certainly was level 52 so DPS output was far lower than mine. 

We then halted a second time due to the other team being slow but I felt the finger was being pointed at me.  We continued and we got through no wipes.  But the tone of comments, the accusations of not knowing what was going on smacked of this elitism becoming more prevalent.  We continued and strangely when we get up to Soa, the one complaining about not knowing the fight and people should leave, died on the second set of crumbling floors.  Strange no comments were made then.

General Chat

The final element of this elitism case I am putting forward is things seen in general chat.  Guilds posting ads there are not uncommon.  Often each guild I have seen is Causal, Laid Back, etc…, but this one was after highly geared players for all Ops, etc.. will only be allowed if they have gear over a certain level.

I have seen people looking for groups for ops, then requesting saying, please be geared.  Another was asking about wanting to do Dread Fortress, Hard Mode and wanted proof of completion of Story Mode achievement. 

These are now starting to tell me of this once World of Warcraft elitist ways are creeping in more and more, exclusions by way of “my” choices.

It reminds me very much of an old situation I once found myself in when I was first looking for work.  It become a matter that no one would give me a job as I didn’t have the experience, but, how can I ever get experience if no one gives me a job.  So, specifically asking for people who know the fights, who are properly geared places a massive burden on people, why.  How can I work out a fight if I have not run through it, if I go into a fight with other people who don’t know it.  When you have experienced people going into operations to determine the mechanics there are many wipes, as you determine the best time to swap tanks or to kite the tank.

E.G.

The first time someone goes into fight Soa.  We all went from the western side.  The tank taunts, takes the agro and the fight begins.  The Melee DPS jump into the fray and every else begins the bombardment.  Now, if you don’t know, when Soa’s health reaches a point, he shields himself, which makes him invulnerable to damage and he drops items from the roof which causes the floor to fall away. 

So, if you one of the ranged members of the party in the right location you would be safe and sound, watching your melee counterparts fall to their demise causing a wipe in any doubt.  So, you try again, you manage to escape but now you might wait, only to find the platform you are on also falls away and you have to begin descending down the long way, jumping, healing and so on. 

Then the next platforms and the fight goes.  If you are learning the mechanics you may wipe many times in each fight, costing you lots of money in repairs costs.  So, to then force people to learn the fights with unexperienced people makes it even more difficult, you have one person who knows the fights, you can send through 7 people inexperienced with minimum gear and you will get through with minimum wipes. 

Is there a reason for being elitist, no.  So you were the first ones to complete nightmare mode Eternity vault with no wipes in under 2 hours, were you?  How do you know?  If so, who cares, it seems you could be one of a very small minority who do.  Help teach those who don’t know to reduce those who don’t know.  The more people you can include the more fun you could possibly have.

Brand loyalty in the PC World

Hardware-Chip-iconWe have seen it in so many areas of life.  Coke v Pepsi, PlayStation v XBOX (Nintendo is as Nintendo does as are their fans).  Like footy teams we pick it, we stick to it and we will hopefully never let our belief waver that we have picked the wrong side by providing any number of logical and very much unorthodox arguments over the choice of one said team over another.

I was looking at PC part prices as I wanton to do and I saw a special for an AMD Radeon card.  If someone was close to me they would have heard me mumble I will never buy and AMD card again.  It dawned on me on this loyalty and if I was rightly justified in my belief.  I have used AMD hardware before, so I believe I have a valid reason for not wanting to go down that path again.  Though to the fan boys out there it would seem petty and because I wasn’t going to show it love, then I deserve not have have the love returned.

Why no AMD?  I have used three AMD devices in the, a CPU from the old days and 2 video cards, one being a desktop the other being a laptop.  Back in the days with the CPU, PC parts were VERY expensive and one was looking for the next upgrade without the least expense.  I was looking to upgrade my current Intel 486 DX2-66 this lead me to the AMD Am5x86 chip. 

It sat into the slot on my motherboard, which was handy, didn’t need to worry upgrading that part, it gave Pentium performance and was cheaper than Pentium which at that time was having Floating Point issues and also required a different motherboard than I had.

Why did Intel name their new processor the Pentium instead of 586?  Because on a Pentium when you add 100 to 486 you get 585.99999999999999. 

So I did it.  I drop what little cash I had, put the chip in, using careful levering of the old chip out and the new one in.  I turned it on, I knew at worst I would have to re-install my Operating system, which was Windows 95 at the time but I was hoping for it to work.  And…

It did, until…

I am wanton to rebuild my PC from time to time, by that I mean, perform a clean install.  There are a couple of reasons one being I find that a clean machine is a lean and mean machine, the other is also about backing up and making sure I have access to all my data offline, since I am often performing a low-level format of the disk during this process.  Must scrub clean all that nasty pornography so the police don’t find it.

So, I decided that this day was the day I needed to perform my re-install.  Found all the disks, Windows 3.11, MS DOS 6.22 and my Windows 95 upgrade disc, I got it and Office 95 for free, I still have the box of Windows 95 Smile yes cool and nerdy.

The path was, Install DOS, Install Win95, when prompted for upgrade use the Windows 3.11 disk when prompted.  All was good, install DOS, first problem.  DOS installer wasn’t working as expected.  These were also the days when the Internet was not common on all PCs and I did have it on my Windows 95 machine but, well it was not even running DOS yet so no good.  One just had to plod through the issues and get it working.

I will not go through this problem but suffice to say, 3 days later I got Windows 95 running.  Phew.  First time I had issues.  Before with my old Intel chip, I had done 2 re-installs without issue.  So, this put me off.  There was also a problem my friend had with a Cyrix Processor.  So, since I had no issues with Intel CPUs, I have stuck with them.

Intel 486DX2-66, Pentium II, Pentium III, Pentium 4 HT, Pentium Core2 Quad, i7, I have not has issues with any of these processors and my first foray into overclocking happened in the Pentium III when I overclocked my Pentium III from 450MHz to 550MHz a 22% gain in performance not too bad.

My next test into AMD was the AMD Radeon 5770HD with 1GB of DDR5 VRAM, it was a great bang for buck card with the research I had done.  Lots of recommendations on it.  It wasn’t too expensive and it was a considerable bump in performance from my NVIDIA 9400GT.  When I got this there were a couple of games I played regularly, in that I mean I come back to them frequently, I still do now, so any system I have needs to run these games.  One is The Movies, by Lionhead Studios, Age Of Empires II by Ensemble Studios and Knights of the Old Republic by BioWare. 

The Movies gave me hope since it would come up with an ATI logo when starting which meant that ATI supplied them cards and it did.  Age of Empires, it is solid and works, I can even run it in a Virtual Machine.  Knights of the Old Republic was the issue.  Upon looking around the internet, there were workarounds for this issue, it related to the OpenGL drivers for the ATI Cards.  I needed to copy the OpenGL driver into same folder as the game. 

That was strike 2, I shouldn’t need to do that.  I didn’t have to do that on my NVIDIA card why should I on an AMD one.  So, one last chance to impress.  Not long after that I was in the market for a laptop.  I saw in the paper a sale on, I went there, my Wife didn’t want to come in happy doing word puzzles in the car, I went in and game out with a brand spanking new HP DV7 laptop.  It was faster than my Intel Core2Quad at home as it had an i7 in the guts as well as an Intel 3000 HD video card and an AMD 6770M 1GB DDR5 chips as well.

It was a nice machine, nice and quick, I upgraded the HDD in it as there were 2x 750GB 5400rpm drives in it, I made them 7200rpm drives.  Performance wise it is nice, I can overclock it, it gets a little warm but I use it mainly for playing SWTOR while I am away from home and it did the job until a driver update from HP went awry and SWTOR stopped playing.  Putting this at a driver issue from HP I though I would go get the Mobility driver from AMD…. NO.  I can’t do that as I need to download the verification tool, which I did and it told me it isn’t compatible.  Thankfully, I was able to get SWTOR running again, I rollback the driver and it worked, but performance (which was the reason for me upgrading) was terrible.

One might think this is HPs fault, and that is what AMD say.  We let companies use our hardware but we are not responsible for the way they are implemented or the drivers they supply.  The other issue is also they do not provide a fall back either.  Which is poor service on AMDs part.

HP Driver Release – 2011-11-18 , Version 8.882.2.3000

AMD Driver Release – 2013-12-18, Version 13.12

Yes a large difference between the driver versions.  Now NVIDIA devices in notebooks, work with NVIDIA drivers, no issues.  But to Install Reference Drivers, Install New drivers, re-install reference drivers, update driver from Device Manager.  To do this just to get the driver working and at proper performance it bad not only from HP but also from AMD who simple washed their hands of the matter.

Strike 3 Thumbs down

So, this experience has put me squarely into NVIDIAs camp and Intel’s camp and I might pay more for it but I haven’t had issues.  I have also maintained loyalty on Seagate drivers as I have had some issues with WD devices.  Strange how these problems can create loyalty in one brand or another.

SWTOR and the Road Ahead…

swtor-logo-256x256

BioWare released an article that describes, not in great detail but essentially what is happening for releases up to the mid year point. 

Producer’s Road Map 2014, and they are setting the stage for what I believe is the 3.0 expansion pack which is possibly coming at the end of the year.

We knew 2.6 was coming, as this was the official release of Galactic Starfighter (GSF) which has at this point garnered wide praise, so with more ships and battle zones coming this looks set to go from strength to strength and certainly sets this MMO apart from many others in terms of variation in gameplay.  The one area I am looking forward to is new “Tactical” flashpoint which is coming in 2.6.  Suffice to say it is scalable, and they performed that test on scaling content very well with the Rakghoul plague on Alderaan in January.

2.6 is coming 4th Feb I believe which is the day of this post, so, there will be another influx of players as people who only play the game for GSF jump on board and since you can play it from level 1.  It means that there will be people who just play that. 

Is there a benefit to playing the game proper if I only want to play Galactic Starfighter?

Yes.  But it isn’t needed.  What the ground game will give you is access to more companions.  The GSF game comes with its own set but there are also advantages of having use of the ground game companions.  But if you are happy with the companions you have then enjoy the game.

DOUBLE XP

These are always great, but they get very busy as perhaps new Alts are created to take advantage of this double XP.  Be wary of those who are free to play, queue times might be lengthened as the number of people who log on go up substantially.  And as preferred access got into Galactic Starfighter I did notice that on the weekends the number of players has grown substantially and across all planets there is a massive surge in population in the game. 

But the double XP also helps out players legacy too.  So, even if you have reach level 55 working on dailies or flashpoints will help the legacy experience along as well.  I only have Alts to level during this period.

Double XP is slotted for the weekend March 14 – March 17

New Flashpoints

These new flashpoints are going to be the direction the game is going to take for future flashpoints, operations and the expansion at the end of the year.  Two different (though I think they won’t be that different) flashpoints on Korriban (for the republic I am guessing) and Tython (for the Empire) where they are going to attack each other directly.

It is unsure if these are going to be a scaled flashpoint of a level 55 one, since they are looking at the Empire and Republic attacking each other the ground story of the game looks like it should be played through to understand most of the background.

They did this with the story thread about the Dread Masters, with the Empire and Republic coming across these ancient Lords of the Sith on Belsavis.  Which also shows through the Dailies in Section-X and Oricon, also the Operations that have been released, The Eternity Vault (which is on Belsavis).  We see the influence the Rakata had on the galaxy and we also see why not only the reason for the prison on Belsavis but also the reasons for them keeping these worst beings in there.

Karraga’s palace I feel lent the Rise of the Hutt Cartel Expansion and the Battle of Makeb and we see that god awful bell end hat that though a worthy prize from the operation, though it isn’t the only one, it looks as silly sitting atop Karraga as it does any player who wear it.

We see the seeds of the Dread Masters in Explosive Conflict as we find details of why the Trandoshian armies have been sought for this conflict and we come up against some of the toughest enemies to date with the Warlord Kephis unleashing not his plan but the one ordered by him.  Though I do like Denova, it is a very nice looking place.

Terror from Beyond where we see more influence of the Dread Master’s plans as we head to one of the worlds controlled by the Gree and see the wonderful technology and the terrible horrors that await as you fight in one of the most interesting boss fights every, and a friend returns more powerful than before.

In Scum and Villainy we are told there is a massive arms sale going down on Darvanis and as you battle through the hordes of scum and villainy you understand the purposes of this as you get our first taste of the power of just ONE of the dreaded Sith Lords, Dread Master Styrak.

Oricon-Flyby

And now the location of the remaining masters have been found and all players Imperial and Republic alike descend into the despair that is Oricon. We battle through the inhabitants or corrupted soldiers from either side, and beasts of one ilk or another to reach the Dread Fortress and Dread Palace to hopefully throw down this menace in the galaxy.

With that aside you can see the depth the story has gone into to just for the Dread Masters I hope they put they same level of story telling into the new series of operations and flashpoints that will be coming soon.

In June they are proposing release 2.8 coming.  There is this one line in there.

And much more… this is going to be the biggest update up to this point – we will reveal more once we are a bit closer to June

Doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things but it is also they are mentioning 2 digital expansions one being one like Galactic Starfighter in scope which is to my understanding will be in release 2.8 or 2.9.  Then what it sounds like a new planet, level cap rise and more in one similar to Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  So release 3.0 will be either in September or October, OR from a gut feeling, will be with the 3rd Anniversary of the game in December.  But my gut is only ever right when it comes to food.

So, much is happening in 2014 for the game and I think we might know more about release 3.0 at E3 this year, since SWTOR was fairly absent from the event though they did have their community cantina on around the time of the event and in LA as well.

Changes in the release schedule this year which has been noticeable but if it is true they are planning on increasing this to help in removing some of the more pesky but I might say plaguing issues in the system it can only be a good thing, if that is what they do.  So I hope they stick to their plans and that we have a great SWTOR year.

No Servers displayed in SWTOR

swtor-logo-256x256

The real reason for this is unknown to me, but I was reading a post on the forum regarding the improvement in performance by simply setting the Compatibility checkbox on the executable properties to be that of Windows XP SP3.  Their reasoning behind doing this was changes to the way VRAM and texture allocation in memory and so on.  All of this was garbage but out of testing this, since I am always one to try and find ways of pushing the limits of the game to get better performance I found one unintended consequence.

While testing this out, I set the Launcher and the EXE compatibility options to be Windows XP with SP3, see below for where to set this, it can be set on the Shortcut that you launch the game from or the EXE for the launcher but for the SWTOR.EXE it needs to be on the EXE since the launcher isn’t starting the game from the imageshortcut.

The compatibility tab in Windows 7 and Windows 8 are a little different, the additional options in Windows 7 that are there relate to the use of Aero interface elements which aren’t in Windows 8.

But when testing it I set both of them to Windows XP (Service Pack 3) and everything was OK (and no improvement in performance) so, when finished my testing I also switched them back but I switched the launcher and not the EXE.

OK, now what this did and I have seen it before but as a consequence of something else.  Was when I logged in the launcher took a little longer to verify what is happening.  Play enabled I then continued. 

The process then took longer than normal and then instead of the last character I logged in with showing up I was looking at the server list screen but it was empty.

As mentioned I have seen this before, I used a latency reduction service called BattlePing.  It doesn’t as much lower my ping but provides me with a stable and fairly unfaltering connection to the servers.  Though there are some issues that are outside of my control, but I won’t go into that at this time.  That said, sometimes the connection can be a cause of problem, I change from Connection 1 to Connection 2 (I think it is the NIC at the proxy end personally) and it worked, then.

I tried this to no effect.  But then I remembered that I had just changed back the compatibility setting on the launcher but not the EXE.  I turned off compatibility mode for the EXE, started it and the application went through its normal start-up routine and did so at the normal speed.  It logged me in an showed me the list of characters and my last logged in character available for play.

servers

Now why did the application have problems simply because of the launcher having a different compatibility mode to the executable.  Well one area would be regarding the way the networking stack is set up and how an application will use it.  The launcher performs the log in, then when it fires the EXE off, there is something that is passed into the EXE to indicate that this user is logged in and should proceed, but I also launch the launcher with elevated permissions using UAC, Windows XP has no concept of UAC, but Windows 8 still requires it.

image

Above is a process of this.  This is only a guess as to one reason.  But another reason is the fact that application compatibility uses a set of Shims, which is a set of shunting APIs.  Due to the changes in the network stack between Windows XP and Windows 8, when it has been created under Windows 8, then when the EXE runs under compatibility mode, there call to the API is then redirected by the Shim to access network protocol APIs that return not the information require.  If the structure of the return data has changed then this will cause problems.  But there are also restrictions accessing code that runs in Kernel mode (like device drivers), so DirectX does this and therefore the differences between the Windows 8 and Windows 8 + Shim + Windows XP (Service Pack 3) is not compatible

Networking: TCP/IP Stack and the Windows Filtering Platform. The networking stack was completely rewritten for Windows Vista. Instead of the dual-stack model that exists in Windows XP (to support IPv4 and IPv6), the networking stack in Windows Vista implements a new architecture in which there is a single transport and framing layer that supports multiple IP layers. The new stack is modular, flexible, and extensible. While all attempts have been made to maintain application compatibility with the existing applications that interface with the stack at various layers, there are nevertheless changes (that are mostly side effects of the improvements) that might cause potential application-compatibility issues.1

Application compatibility is a last result to get applications to work on new operating systems.  By nature they were created due to the changes and optimisations made in newer operating systems.  They can resolve a lot of issues by redirecting or injecting code to enable the application to receive data from the OS or talk to the OS like it is the OS intended to run on. 

NOTE:

Remember the launcher and the client EXE need to run at the same level of application compatibility to work properly.  If it is in Windows XP mode or Windows 8 or Windows 7 mode.

1.  http://technet.microsoft.com/library/ee449431.aspx – Understanding Application Compatibility, TechNet, Microsoft

The Conservative Nature of VB (Part 4) – Use Before Assignment

vb-179

Number 4, in my series regarding the Visual Basic warning settings.  This one is an interesting one but comes from a long held problem from the days of old in Visual Basic.  Using a variable before anything has been assigned to it.  In languages like C# and C++ variables need to be assigned before they can be used, in C# if you have some simple code;

int myNumber;
if (myNumber == null)
	Console.WriteLine("My number is null.");

There will be an error reporting the use of an unassigned variable.  Why?  Often it is the way the items are created in memory.  The application will request an address for the Integer (4 bytes) to store the value that will be aliased by myNumber.  You get the address space and it contains what WAS at that address, it could be nothing it might not be.

I am aware that int types are not nullable.  But it is an example only.

But in VB, this is a different kettle of fish.  All intrincic types are assigned a value when it is created.  Take the following code;

Dim myNumber As Integer
If myNumber = 0 Then
	Console.WriteLine("My number is 0")
Else
	Console.WriteLine("My number is " & myNumber.ToString())
End If

Fairly simple as far as a VB application is concerned.  But if you open the the assembly of the application, you will notice;

mov	dword ptr [ebp-40h],0

This says, move the value 0 into a double word (32bits) pointing to the ebp (display the registers to see the value of this)minus 40H.  So, without performing any initialisation at all, I was able to declare the value and the compiler was able to pre-initialise it for me.

So a note, if you were to enter the above VB code into your VB application, set the value of the warning to match this;

image

But you might noticed no warning comes about regarding numeric types these include integral and floating point numbers.  In VB it seems that the gods have decreed

In Visual Basic whence a number variable has been declared, thus forth it shall be initialised with 0, and it is good.

So understanding this means that you don’t need to initialise these numeric data types.  But SHOULD you?  It is good programming practice to intiialise all variables before use because you can come unstuck quickly when using types that aren’t initialised.

Dim myList As List(Of Integer)

If myList.Count > 0 Then
	Console.WriteLine("There are items")
End If

So the above code, looks OK, but I am getting a warning telling me the use of an uninitialised variable could result in an error.  And in this instance, it will.

image

Well one might say that is poor coding since I didn’t catch the exception, but this is another conundrum of development should I make sure I catch all errors, or prevent errors from happening, which will be the subject of my next post.

Errors happen, but this error could have been prevented with one simple keyword.

Dim myList As New List(Of Integer)()

If myList.Count = 0 Then
	Console.WriteLine("There are NO items")
End If

New.  The code executes as intended and the warning goes away.  This is a handy item to have turned on, simply because it will allow you to know where there is the possibility of errors creeping into your code if the initialisation of this is dependant on the user. 

NOTE Just a quick note this will also look at variables that are passed by reference that has not been assigned.  These variables might be used as return values from calling procedures due to the reference being passed, but it still might be used before that, and the reference is unknown at compile time and therefore checks like that can’t be done until run time.

Another note, yeah I know.  This is one that I might recommend as an Error setting. The other languages, like C# and C++ will not compile if there are uninitialised variables, therefore it might be good to have VB not compile if it finds these errors too.  Though the main difference is the numeric types in VB are initialised, C# and C++ they are not.

An Occasion to Share

vb-179

This is such an occasion I felt i needed to share this.  I have finally, though banging my head on the desk questioning why someone did this in a particular way I have ridded myself of the crap warnings, errors and information presented to me.

I could have turned a blind eye to this and turned the warning off for things like assumed objects and use of obsolete methods, non-CLS compliance member names and the list could go on.  But through my eventual progress I have fixed them.  The code, is better than it was when I received it.

By no means is this perfect, I have never claimed to write perfect code,  My code can be at times not the cleanest in some regards but it is always well documented and it is efficient to the point without sacrificing readability.  There is much to do, I am converting each of the pages to be within the HTML5 standard, include all the XML documents with all components, more properly document the code (which means replacing the wonderful titbits I see like;

'ReportID is unnecessary and should be removed
    Public Sub BuildReport _
	(
		ByRef dsReportDefinition As ReportDefinitionDataSet, _
		Optional ByVal ReportID As Integer = -1
	)

This is what I deal with, someone has commented it, but ReportID is still there, though, this is not a used feature of the application but it is an example of these comments throughout the application.

So I will continue to plough through all of the remaining clean up items on my list, improve scalability, efficiency from an application performance and a user using it and provide and application I am proud of, which I am thus far considering what I have achieved in such a short space of time.

image

I should bask in this glory for the moment Smile.

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