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We've written some insightful, entertaining articles that span topics from support to design to content management and beyond!




This is a headshot of Todd Hannigan.

Learning Better Pinball Skills:

 

We have a pinball machine at the office and it has become somewhat of a competitive monthly game to be in the top spot. We have a score board and we record the top three scores every month. You never know when you are going to get knocked out of the top three and it changes almost daily. The top player gets their name up on Pinball Wizard board for bragging rights for the month.

 

Brad is the Pinball Wizard for June

 

It is appropriate that we have a Pinball Wizard, because we make a content management system called WebWiz@rd, that makes adding content to your custom designed website extremely easy. If you want to be a web wizard as much as I want to be a pinball wizard, please send us an email at sales@remwebsolutions.com or check out our site at remwebsolutions.com and the great things we do here.

 

Back to pinball! It has become so much of a competition that I find myself wanting to learn more about the skills necessary to give myself the advantage over the other players in the office. So much so, that I decided to write a blog about it to let others know of a great site https://papa.org/, that you can learn all of the tricks you need to become the best pinball player you can be. The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association website has some great tips in their Learning Center under Player’s Guild. I especially like the videos on flipper skills, really makes the game more fun once you master a couple of new flipper skills. You really do have much more control of a game that most people think is random and very little control. Give them a watch and see just how much you game improves.

 

This is the machine in our office

 

Our office likes pinball so much that we are planning a night out to go to the Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo (https://www.facebook.com/PinUpArcadeBar/). It is a great place to go and pay one low price of $5.00 and you can play as much as you want for the night. 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

It’s a known fact that we at REM love to play foosball!

 

It’s a fun activity to do and it feels great to get your energy levels up after playing a vigorous, challenging match with a friend. Personally, it took me a long time to get the hang of it. When I first started playing about 2 years ago I lost a lot – and I mean A LOT! But the key in acquiring new skills is to never get discouraged, no matter the number of loses. I didn’t see it as losing I saw it as “training;” with that mentality I wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone.

 

So how does one play foosball? Essentially, foosball is table game/sport based on Soccer (or Football for Europeans). The name originated from the German word for soccer (pronounced the same way) literally meaning “foot plus ball.”

 

The goal is to utilize the 4 rods and a total of 9 “players” (the wooden or plastic men with no arms) to put the ball into the “net” (usually just a hole at your opponent’s side). The 4 rods are:

  1. The 5-bar: the rod in the middle that starts off the game. Usually the strongest because it’s the heaviest and the hardest to get pass because of how many “players” in the bar.
     

  2. The 3-bar: the main set of players that shoot the ball into the goal and therefore closest to the opponent’s “net.”
     

  3. The Defense (2-bar): this bar is right in front of your goalie and net. Its main uses are two-fold: a) to block/deflect the ball from the net and b) to push the ball away from your side of the table and into your opponent’s side.
     

  4. The Goalie: self-explanatory here.

I’ve learned that when it comes to Foosball, it’s not about the power of your shots (although having strong, powerful shots can help a lot…. I’m looking at you, Sean Sanderson!), but the precision of them.

 

Of course there’s a lot more that goes into this sport. And yes, it is a sport! It requires training, accuracy, strategy…and sometimes trash-talk…. hehe  but of course all in good fun. The important thing is to have fun and to be a good sport about it. If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a link to a handy-dandy video:

 

 

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This is a headshot of Sean Sanderson.

Pokemon GO

Chances are if you see someone walking around with their head down and overly fascinated with their phone they are playing Pokémon GO.

 

The viral mobile game has taken the world by storm and had a record breaking release.  Almost taking out Twitter for the most daily active users, Pokémon GO has the most downloads on iOS devices than any other iOS app in history. Surveys are starting to state downloads of the cultural sensational app are starting to plateau, but are future updates planning to recharge these numbers?

 

What’s All the Hype About?

 

Players use their mobile devices to hunt, capture and collect little digital monsters. These creatures pop on to the screen alongside real world environments. (activated by the user’s camera) This augmented reality technology paired with the geocaching and the 90's nostalgia has proven to keep trainers hunting.

 

The Nintendo game is forecasted to make at least $25 million this year and even local businesses are profiting using the in game 'Lure" features to attract not only Pokémon but people to their shops.

 

A handful of us here at REM have downloaded, and play the app. With a Pokéstop right next to our office we are surely not likely to run out of Pokéballs anytime soon! Even if all we can catch are the Rattata's

 

Gotta Catch 'em all!

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This is a headshot of Ryan Covert.

An acquaintance of mine recently wrote an increasingly popular article on the negative effects of client authoritative network modelling as it applies to online multiplayer video games. Specifically, the enabling of "cheaters" when client machines are given priority over the server. Glenn Fiedler is a respected software engineer who has worked on several AAA video game titles over the years and most recently finished working as the lead software engineer for Titanfall by Respawn Entertainment before moving on to start his own business where he specializes in network technology for - you guessed it - video games.

 

Glenn's original article discusses the problems with this network model and the reasoning behind developing these solutions from a server authoritative model is the only way to ensure the best experience for gamers:
http://gafferongames.com/2016/04/25/never-trust-the-client/

 

The article has since been picked up by several major online publishers, some of which I have listed here.

 

Ars Technica: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/04/analysis-the-division-may-need-complete-rewrite-to-fix-hacking-problems/

 

Developer Tech: http://www.developer-tech.com/news/2016/apr/27/ex-programmer-respawn-and-sony-criticises-divisions-network-model/

 

PC Gamer: http://www.pcgamer.com/veteran-network-programmer-says-the-division-needs-a-complete-rewrite/

 

Games Radar: http://www.gamesradar.com/why-the-division-is-broken-online-according-to-a-former-god-of-war-titanfall-dev/

 

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/26/hackers-cheats-ruined-the-division-pc-ubisoft

 

Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/thedivision/comments/4gjlh5/network_expert_gives_his_opinion_on_hacking_in/

 

And the list goes on...  I've left out links to articles that Glenn himself has flagged as being too inflammatory or negative in general. Glenn was simply attempting to help the gaming community at large understand what the problem is with The Division from the viewpoint of a seasoned software engineer who has literally written the correct type of code himself with a great level of success.

 

As a software developer myself, I not only find this interesting but also very familiar. When we're developing software at REM we always take into account the potential actions of the client machines accessing our software and the best ways to circumvent problems without negatively impacting the website visitor's experience.

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This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

Gear VR Blog Image

 

Well, my early impressions didn't blossom into any interesting.

 

I purchased a great MOGA controller to give the gear VR a fighting chance, but after the novelty wore off (about 3 weeks) my Gear VR is sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

 

My primary complaint is that the maximum time I could keep the unit on my face was about 15 minutes before requiring a heat break, complete with a sweat clean up.   Gross.

 

The secondary complaint is that even the best games inspire a lot of "You've got to see this" comments while immersed.  Unless you buy a Gear headset for everyone in the room, most people are just left staring at some person twisting in unnatural positions.  It's not a shared experience.  I think the lack of sharing relegates the device to a party trick/novelty as opposed to the next big gaming paradigm.

 

With that said.... I will still buy an Oculus Rift for my PC to give it one final chance to win me over during this generation.  Innovation requires investment, so I don't want to bail completely at this point.

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This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

 

I had a chance to attend Video Games Live on March 7 (coincidentally my birthday) and had one heck of a time with my family.

 

Massy Hall, Viking Jesus, Tommy Tallarico and a capacity crowd congealed to form a 3 hour rock opera that hooked us at the opening Castlevania retrospective and didn't let us down, or let us go until the crowd finished belting out "Still Alive" from portal.

 

I got caught up in the excitement of the night and snagged a shirt for Jill, Kylie, and I and have to conscientiously make sure we never put them on at the same time for fear of becoming that family.

 

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This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

After almost 10 years, I am still using the Logitech G5 as my daily driver.  I have worn the paint off of three spots, and have contemplated replacing the teflon gliders on occasion, but this thing hasn't let me down once!

Out of curiosity I looked at my options for replacing this mouse, and apparently I am not the only person to want another one.  The going rate for this mouse is $265 which is about $200 more than I paid in 2005.  Yikes!

In unrelated news, I have an unspecified vintage computer peripheral for sale that has appreciated over 4 times its original worth.  It may or may not contain missing paint in 3 areas, and may or may not require new teflon gliders.  $250 CAD - Makes a great stocking stuffer or host gift for that discerning geek in your life.

 

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This is a headshot of Ryan Covert.

 

Admittedly, I spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube.  Being a "gamer", I especially enjoy the comedy team of VanossGaming, H20 Delirious, Luis Calibre, Daithi De Nogla and their various friends. If you're looking for some hilarious moments in gaming, where goofing off in-game takes precedence over playing the actual game, then look no further. It's an instant comedy fix.

 

Of course, for the more serious moments, I frequent channels such as VSauce, Numberphile, MinutePhysics, Smarter Every Day and Big History Project. There is no shortage of intelligence-fueled commentary on YouTube. You can literally learn about new topics in science every single day.

 

On the topic of YouTube from REM's perspective, it is interesting to note just how easy it is to embed videos in WebWiz@rd.  The design of our content management system allows you to place all sorts of multimedia content within your website for visitors to consume.  Here's a simple example of a video embedded within this blog post:

 

 

If you'd like to learn more about embedding YouTube, Vimeo or other video sharing site's videos on your WebWiz@rd powered website, feel free to contact our support team any time!

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This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

 

On a recent Sunday morning my daughter Kylie called out from the living room "Daddy, I've done it!  I got 100%!  I'm finally done!  I've got everything!"  

 

She was talking about her recent fixation on a reasonably old (by technology standards) game called Kirby's Epic Yarn by Nintendo, and more accurately, she was talking about the act of "completing" a game.

 

When I was her age, game developers often made games excruciatingly difficult to "beat" and "completing" a game meant defeating the final boss, try after agonizing try.  The worst games rarely gave enough lives/continues to make it to the end, let alone beat it... so completing a game felt like an accomplishment.

 

In today's games, I find myself getting resentful of the constant reward systems, auto-regenerating health systems, never die systems, auto-save systems and all of the other bells and whistles that make todays games far easier to "complete" by my old standards.

 

What I never realized was that for the next generation, the generation that hasn't any notion of "the good old days," they experience harder challenges than I ever faced - if they truly want to "complete" something.

 

The game file at the top of the images shows my joint effort with Kylie - 47 or so hours to defeat the final boss with some time spent along the way replaying our favorite levels.  We completed 87% of the game's total content and subsequent rewards.  By my old school standards, we had done everything required.  It was time to move on.  The game was done - and it was too easy.

 

To Kylie's new school standards though, she wasn't done.  She wasn't happy with 87%, she needed 100%.  She was a new age "Completionist".  She started a new game file, and went on a 26 hour quest to find everything herself.  

 

It was when she was explaining her accomplishments to her mom that I realized how much more difficult that type of endeavor was.  (This is especially true when you factor in that Kylie isn't allowed on the Internet for anything... and doesn't have the first clue about walkthroughs)  I always knew what needed to be done to "complete" a game - hammer away to get to the final boss - defeat the final boss - watch the cut scene.  She had know idea what things were still "hidden" or how to collect them all.  She had to factor out every possible combination to make sure that every possible outcome was covered.  That's 26 hours of "what about here", "what about this", "what does this do now".  

 

I'm not sure if "Mom" will ever really know that feeling of "completing" a video game, but I finally know what that feeling looks like through the eyes of a 7 year old with new school games.  I promise I won't complain about how new games are "too easy" on players.  I'm off to play cow clicker.

 

 

 

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