Teapot-Studio new homepage!

A short post to announce the new homepage of teapot-studio. It’ll be a better place than here to propose and talk about the tools we develop. The website still needs a bit of fixing, but it should be done soon.

Kudos to Emeline for the design and the integration (responsive design, no less!). I’ll soon move every download links there, so you’d better check it out if you’re interested in gametools or SLS.

On the technical point of view, I deployed a CDN to enhance the performances of the website. It’s a bit overkill for a small website such as this one, but it was the occasion to get used to AWS CloudFront. And it indeed improves the performances. (the actual server is still available with org.teapot-studio.com). DNS settings were a bit touchy, but it seems to work well.

More about it soon!

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Many news!

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I didn’t post anything on my blog. As a result, there are plenty of news I’d like to share.

First of all, I fathered my first kid a little more than a month ago. (Which mainly explains why I was so silent on this blog). The name is Akio, and both the mom and the baby are healthy. We’re now both discovering the real value of sleeping…

Celine Piat, from LivingColors took many superb photos of the baby. If you need a professional photographer to take pictures of your wedding/baby/family, I couldn’t recommend you more to check her website.

It’s not the only good news: I also registered Teapot-Hosting as a company. There is sting many things to do, and things don’t go as fast as I wanted, but the business is on its rail. The website was reshaped, business cards were printed, and every user of the service seem to be happy.

As for Teapot, while the hosting is still the main activity, I also planned to release the tools I designed to help me to handle the business. Namely EasyBiz, a piece of software to handle customers/invoices/transactions with many cool features (graphical dashboard, customizable API, reports, plugins…). SLS, The licensing API and the keygen I use to deliver license keys for the Gametools Suite will also be released soon.

I’ll post here as soon as the betas are available.

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My first RROD

Yesterday, I tried to play Dead Space, but instead of starting normally, my XBox 360 displayed 3 blinking red lights… known as the Red Ring of Death, RROD, or ROD.

I heard/read a lot about this issue, however, being myself a moderate gamer, I foolishly hoped my XBox wouldn’t end up like this.

A RROD usually means your XBox won’t start anymore, and you have to send it to the microsoft repair center. The good news is that Microsoft is aware of this bothering issue, affecting 30% of any xbox produced before 2008, and 10% of the latest versions. So the warranty has been extended to 3 years. (and luckily, I got my xbox end of 2007).

Since I couldn’t play anymore, I was thinking about this issue, among others, and tried to figure out what I would have decided if I was out of this 3 years warranty. (buy another XBox? a PS3? a Wii?). So I decided to write a post on my blog to give my point of view. (well, nothing better to do, as you know).

So, if I had to buy another console, would it be…

A Wii?

No way, just kidding. I said I’m a moderate gamer, but I work a lot with CG, and can’t be impressed by Wii’s games visual quality. In addition, the lack of connectivity is unconceivable for next gen console. (well, there are channels, but It’ll never be close to the PSN or XBL). And appart multiplayers games very funny when you have 2 or 3 buddies at home, I have yet to find an interresting single player game. Not to mention the lack of achievements/trophies.

To sum up, the Wii is not an option.

a PS3?

PS3 has really interresting features: cool games, a blue ray reader, a nice VOD catalog, and the PSN is free. A nice console, and a multimedia platform.

Another XBox 360?

There are good games as well on the 360. And the live features are nice. However, there are also major drawbacks:

  • – The reliability. RRoD for 30% of the production clearly tells the buyer “you’ll probably need to buy me again someday”
  • – The noise. I feel there is an airplance taking off everytime I start my XBox. And I feel it particularly ruins the effort of Microsoft to promote VOD. I can stand such noise while playing a game, but I’ll never play a movie on my XBox only because it’s too noisy.
  • – The price of the Live. The service is good, even better than the PSN. I agree to keep additionnal features (discount, special downloads, access to special tournaments…) for Gold members, however I won’t pay for a service free on other platforms (ps3, steam…)
  • – The lack of blue-ray. This is not a major issue, but now, the BR clearly burried the HD-DVD. I guess Microsoft isn’t too happy to pay royalties to a competitor, but I cannot see how the XBox could become the multimedia platform Microsoft want it to be if it doesn’t even propose a recent media reader.

With so many drawbacks, you may wonder why I keep my XBox. There is one huge advantage microsoft has over their competitors:  XNA/Indie games. Being a passionate coder, I always dreamt about creating games on a console. Microsoft made it possible, and their framework is simple and accurate. I cannot see anything close on other consoles.

As a conclusion, I’ll keep my xbox now because it’s still under warranty. If it wasn’t, I would clearly think a lot about switching to PS3. I don’t know what will be in the next XBox, but it would be really great to have at least the issues I mentionned fixed, even if it means a more expensive console.

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Back from holidays

1 week of honeymoon under the sun… Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) is definitely a nice place to be:-)

Here below are few news:

muryel-regard.com is now live! There will probably be improvements in a near futur, but you should take a look to this talented photographer who also happens to be my cousin. The development of this website was also the occasion for me to remove the dust from LCS, the generic lighweight backoffice I developed about a year ago. It is getting quite better now, so I’ll try to post more about it soon. Just for you to know, the idea of this tool is to let you create your website model, and then to insert LCS calls to get dynamic content.

XCross is getting popular, and the sales are not bad despite the fact it is already gone from the “latest entries” section. The trailer is now on both Youtube and Dailymotion, and was already included in several other pages. Picross-Star, our partner is also advertising for us, and several other websites already reviewed it (emuboards.com, gaygamers.net…) Only good comments so far. If you are reviewer and plan to review XCross, don’t hesitate to ask me for marketplace tokens. You’re also welcome if you already did this review.

More infos soon.

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Fight Spam

As an internet user, you probably have a mailbox. And if you do, you are also probably bothered by the plague of the net: the spam.

Most of the companies providing mailing services also provide spam filters. Those filters are getting better and better, but to me, all of this could be avoided by following several good practices. And when I check my mailbox, I am still very surprised to see how many friends of mine are still unaware of those practices.

Here below are what I consider to be common sense to use a mailing service. If everyone followed them, I guess spamming would not be a problem anymore 🙂

The key is to remember your email address IS private, and so are the address of your friends. Do not disclose it to anyone you don’t trust. Only provide your real address to well-known/trusted  websites. When not sure, give an alternate account.

If you have a website or a blog, NEVER use a mailto link. There are tweaks to make it unreadable by bots, but I would not rely on those so much. If the coder behind a bot really wants to make his bot accurate, it is not that hard to make it recognize patterns. For the same reason, I don’t recommend to use manual tweaks neither (like my_email[AT]my_website.com). If you want to be contacted from a website/blog, ALWAYS use a contact form.

Chain mails are one of the worst thing for your privacy : when you receive a chain mail, there are already a lot of contacts in the To: or CC: field. Plus, when you forward, all those contact will be displayed directly in the body. While 99% of people will not care, just think what happens when this kind of mail reaches someone selling address list/spamming… he didn’t need to do anything, and received by mail a fresh list of hundreds of contact. And you may not have such evil friends, but who knows about your friends’friend’sfriends? (it only requires 2 forwards, afterall). To avoid this, there are two things you can do very easily: First, always remove all the email adresses you can see in the email’s body. It takes a second, and all those people will be grateful. Then, and this is true for any mail you want to send to many people, Use BCC instead of To: or CC:. BCC will send the mail as a blind copy. As a result, the people who’ll receive your message will only see “undisclosed recipients”. And even in the mail’s headers, there won’t be any email address.

There are others ways to fight spam. However, the practices I detailed in this post are easy to do, and don’t require to install anything.

So let’s try to make the web a better place together!

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