The New Computer

To keep up the tradition I will show some photos from assembling my new computer. :)

First I'll start by removing the current components that I use to upgrade my girlfriend's computer.

The new computer

While taking the computer apart I cleaned the case and removed dust. What's left is the DVD-R/W drive, the external eSATA HDD slot, the two 80mm case fans and my self-made frontpanel.

The new computer

Next I swapped the SSD with the new one and kept the HDD.
The new computer

The Seasonic G-550 PSU has a modular cable system which is very useful to reduce the amount of cables in the case by plugging in only the necessary ones.
The new computer

The new computer

The Asus ROG Maximus VII Hero looks great with its red highlights and matte black surface.
The new computer

So tiny and so important – The CPU. :eek3:
The new computer

This is how the Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP DIMM Kit 16GB looks when it's plugged in. As you can see "VLP" stands for very low profile. ;)
The new computer

Mounting the EKL Alpenföhn Brocken 2 CPU cooler was a tough task and took at least an hour. Okay, mostly because I tend to work very slow, careful and thorough when I'm scared to destroy something. :D First you have to start with the backplate and four screws which have to be inserted and turned to a certain angle.
The new computer

On the other side two metal brackets have to be fastened with nuts.
The new computer

Yes, ~800g metal to cool down the CPU!
The new computer

After putting the cooler on the CPU a crossbar will be screwed to the metal brackets. I like the construction with the springs below the screws because it ensures that the clamping pressure is not too high even with the screws fully tightened.
The new computer

The asymmetric design allows the installation of high memory coolers.
The new computer

PSU, mainboard, CPU, cooler and RAM installed!
The new computer

Now it's time to take the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti WindForce 3X out of its box.
The new computer

This is the result after running cables and adding a lot of zip ties for an optimal airflow. The wrapped cable in the upper section is necessary because I needed one more SATA power plug. ;)
The new computer

The rear ports of the mainboard, GPU and sound card.
The new computer

The LEDs on (and behind!) the mainboard are crazy. There is even an illuminated trace on the PCB. :eek3:
The new computer

I enjoyed putting all the pieces together and it's always great when everything is working in the end. :smile:


Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be released between Q4 2014 and Q1 2015. I strongly recommend to watch the E3 2013 Trailer and the E3 2014 gameplay demo in particular. The gameplay demo is presented in 1080p with 60fps and looks really amazing! A few more examples of the gameplay mechanics and hints at a multiplayer feature are covered by the Gamescom 2014 gameplay demo.

Since I blogged about the Fox Engine and the first teasers of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes at the beginning of 2013 I'm fascinated by the graphics and details Kojima brought into these games.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Silent Hills are definitely three good reasons to buy a PS4 in the future. ;)


NASA Pip-Boy 3000

For the NASA Space Apps Challenge a team of five people built a working Pip-Boy 3000 from Fallout 3! :eek3:

A 3D printed case holds an iPhone 5 in place and runs an iOS app. Together with two microcontrollers which are connected via BLE4 and a REST API their system is capable of displaying sensor values such as humidity, altitude, latitude, longitude, atmospheric pressure, ambient temperature, object temperature using an infared thermometer and (of course!) radiation. :D

The 3D model for the case was created by Dragonator who finished his replica of the Pip-Boy 3000 with a nice paintjob. He also built a laser pistol from Fallout 3.


Fallout 4 - Hopes and Rumors

There is something in the making... Todd Howard said in an interview that he and his team are working on something big. We can only speculate about what this is exactly but many people (including me :D ) are hoping for Fallout 4.

There were no hints about a new Fallout game on Gamescom 2014 or E3 2014. In an interview Josh Sawyer could imagine a massively multiplayer online version of Fallout as the next game. He works at Obsidian and developed Fallout New Vegas whereas Fallout 4 will be very likely developed by Bethesda which makes his statement more a wish than news.

The Fallout 4 FAQ from the Fallout Wikia is a good starting point to find a structured collection of facts and rumors. In addition to that CinemaBlend sums up the rumors that are currently around. Rumors are steadily growing: In 2012 somebody met a few Bethesda employees in Boston that were researching the city for a new game. A leaked document in 2013 reinforces this rumor and connects The Institute which is mentioned in Fallout 3 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

To be honest, I don't expect to hear anything about Fallout 4 before 2015. My first blog post about Fallout 4 rumors is almost two years old and I hope in the meantime Todd Howard and his team made some great progress on the game they are developing and of course I strongly hope that it's Fallout 4. ;)


Kojima presents Silent Hills

In March Hideo Kojima gave an interview in which he mentions that he would like to reboot the Silent Hill series and to create a new Silent Hill game under his direction. I can't believe it but it's really happening!

Their PR team did a great job because they released an interactive teaser game called P.T. ("playable teaser") that can be downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store. If you manage to finish the game a trailer for the upcoming Silent Hills is shown. As I have read and seen on Twitch it's really a frightening game with the old Silent Hill atmosphere we all love. P.T. is built very smartly as it requires some special combination of actions to trigger the end sequence. That includes having your headphones connected to the PS4 controller and saying a specific name into the microphone! It's the most impressive breach of the Fourth Wall I have seen before and reminds me of the moment from Metal Gear Solid where you could switch your (physical!) controller port to prevent Psycho Mantis from reading your mind (i.e. buttons you press). :eek3:

While waiting for news about Silent Hills you can take a look at this blog entry in which a guy explains (and shows in a video) how he is hacking the original Silent Hill for PlayStation to find hidden rooms and items.


Gaming Plans 2014

In February 2010 I bought my current gaming computer. It works great up to this day but with newer games the demand for performance rises and so I will build a new one. ;) I got the DedSec Edition of Watch_Dogs from my girlfriend as christmas present last year ( :smile: ) and it really challenges my current setup even without anti-aliasing. By the way: Have you seen this funny Watch_Dogs PR stunt that went wrong? :D Another reason to buy a new computer is GTA V which will be very likely released this autumn (I hope the rumors are not true about a delay). Patient PC gamers are finally rewarded with better graphics than the console versions! ;)

So, what is the new configuration? I usually stick to the recommendations by the PC Games Hardware magazine but their last update was in May 2014 which is a lot in my-new-computer-is-already-old-tomorrow time. :D Luckily they also publish single articles with up to date recommendations. It might seem a bit strange to buy a computer now when the new Intel Haswell CPU generation along with the X99 chipset and DDR4 memory will make their debut in the next months. But as far as I know the difference in performance between DDR3 and DDR4 is very small due to the fact that the technology is pretty new. With the new CPU and chipset generation I'm generally a bit cautious because usually it takes some time until there are stable and reliable configurations available. So I decided to not wait for the next generation and started to plan the shopping list. ;) Now for the configuration I ended up with:

With this configuration I should be prepared for the latest games and the several others coming in the next years. :eek3:


Photorealistic Videogames

Every generation of videogames strives to be more realistic than the previous one. Therefore reaching photorealism is one of the future trends of videogame development. The steadily increasing performance of modern hardware paves the way for such a progress and is accompanied by the software innovations of gaming engines. Take for example the rain and water effects of the Unreal Engine 4.

A tech demo is one side of the coin. The other side is to put the potential of the gaming engines to use by creating videogames.

Get Even employs a 3D scanning technique to create a virtual and photorealistic replica of an existing environment. Their "What Is Real" teaser video impressively demonstrates the capabilities of their system. Unfortunately the release is planned not before the end of 2015.

Another great example for photorealism in videogames is The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. In contrast to the indoor footage of Get Even this games shows how to bring outdoor scenery to a new level. The authors use a technique called photogrammetry and explain in their blog how it works. Just take a look at the stunning 3D models that you can play around with in their blog post. Both the technique and its application in videogames look very promising. The game will be released on 25th September 2014 and can already be pre-ordered. :eek3:


Zotero Tip: Where is my Reference?

If you manage your references in Zotero with folders and several subfolders this hint might be interesting for you. When you are looking for a specific reference and view the search results it is sometimes handy to know where this reference is coming from. Just select an entry and keep the ALT (CTRL on Windows) button pressed to highlight the folders your reference is assigned to.

This saved me a lot of time! :)


Luna and Eclipse Coding

The last post about Eclipse coding is from February... Time to change this! :)

There are several things that happened in the Eclipse world in the last six months. The most visible one might be the latest simultaneous release know as Eclipse 4.4 Luna. Regarding my Eclipse coding I updated the word-wrap plugin to be compatible with Luna. I was also happy to read that the review of my LineNumberRulerColumn patch is progressing. Probably my proposed changes are revised often enough to make it into the next release.

Currently my solution to activate word-wrap is a separate plugin. To have it included in an official Eclipse release I need to provide a patch for one of the existing plugins. I think it fits best to the Platform Text project which contains (among others) the org.eclipse.ui.editors plugin. Therefore I'm currently merging my plugin with this one and try to find out the best practices (where to put stuff, naming conventions, package structure, etc.) within the project by looking at other portions of the code. ;)

Holger Voorman writes the yearly Eclipse report ("Eclipse Jahresrückblick"). In the latest report Holger talks about Eclipse Luna and mentions my word-wrap patch again. What's even cooler is that his previous report (for Eclipse Kepler) is published in the Software Development Trends 2014 and therefore I'm mentioned in this book on page 108. :eek3:


Fixing a MacBook Power Adapter Cable

In combination with a MagSafe-to-MagSafe2 converter the power adapter from my 2007 MacBook is still useful. I keep it at home so that I can use my newer power adapter at work and leave it there. After 7 years of constant use unfortunately the cable that is connected to the MacBook broke very closely to the outlet.

MacBook Power Adapter

The first website to take a look at is of course iFixit. The guide explains very well how to open the casing and how to solder the shortened cable to the adapter. The trick how to open the casing is from an Instructable. I found it easier to use the pliers instead of heating the casing with a hair dryer. To prevent things from flying around I kept the adapter in position with my knees while I pushed the casing with the pliers apart.

MacBook Power Adapter

Inevitably the plastic of the casing will break at certain points but it should break very evenly that it can be glued together afterwards.

MacBook Power Adapter

The next step is to prepare the cable relief. It is glued to the cable so it is necessary to remove most of the plastic and to make sure that the shortened cable fits into the hole.

MacBook Power Adapter

I removed about 6-7cm just to make sure the damaged part of the cable is gone.

MacBook Power Adapter

Now the stripped cables can be soldered together and isolated with heat shrink tubing. I also added a zip tie as cable relief.

MacBook Power Adapter

With the old cable relief back in place we are ready to glue the casing together.

MacBook Power Adapter

Just make sure the cord winding ears are in position before you start. ;) I used a glue which was explicitly suitable for the ABS thermoplastic of the casing.

MacBook Power Adapter

DIY is great! It was a lot of fun and also saved 79€ for a new power adapter. ;)