Ubisoft. Worst QA in the entire games industry?

Apparently one of the best PC games in the last few years was 'Assassins Creed II' by Ubisoft. For the last few months this has also been available on the Mac through Steam or the Mac App Store. (Steam is currently cheaper, even more so when it's on special offer as it was last week).

I had waited for a sale, because the game has bad reviews for poor performance (it's a TransGaming port, so all the API calls are DirectX translated at runtime into OpenGL, and apparently it only runs single-threaded). Unfortunately, it turns out there's an additional serious problem: if you are using a laptop, you can't use an external keyboard to control the game - only the laptop's built-in keyboard. This has been confirmed by Technical Support and no patch is planned.

This is a serious flaw and makes the game broadly unusable for me. If I'd paid anything approaching full price for this I'd be extremely annoyed (especially as it's virtually impossible to get money back from steam, and you risk permanently losing access to all the games ever purchased from the same account). Instead I am merely disappointed that, by and large, they get away with such contemptuous behaviour. I know the market for Mac games is not huge, but after Valve showed the world how well native cross-platform releases can be done, it's distressing to see Ubisoft throw out such a careless port. Surely paying more attention to detail would be more profitable for them, long term, than getting a well deserved reputation for the worst Quality Assurance in the industry?

I have sent this to my MP

Dear Mr Lansley,

I'm writing to express my concern about the recent comments by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, to the effect that the funding of the BBC is likely to be reduced substantially from 2012.

I feel that the BBC is a key element in the make-up of British culture, and I oppose any measure which would threaten to damage its contribution. I worry that making cuts to its supply of income would endanger its ability to produce the wide variety of original content that is currently on offer, in particular Radio 4 which is entirely unlike any other radio station produced by any commercial organisation in the world. The BBC is able to prioritise programme quality, so that a deserving programme can survive even if it is appreciated by only a small proportion of viewers. Commercial broadcasters can only put their advertisers first, and while that may mean they attract large audiences, they do so by producing cheap, lowest-common-denominator programs of little aesthetic or intellectual value.

It has become clear to me that the majority of the pressure against the license fee owes its origin to a few large media corporations in competition with the BBC, and it horrifies me that the government would take such commercial interests at face value instead of protecting the nation's ordinary listeners and viewers such as myself.

I therefore ask that you would please:
1. Raise my concerns with Jeremy Hunt, and tell him that your voters do not support the proposal of cuts forced on the BBC
2. Tell me what you, as my MP, plan to do to stand up for the BBC and protect the valuable services it provides.



I spent April 13-18 at New Word Alive (on the South coast of North Wales) without internet access, newspapers, TV or radio, so coming back into the real world was a bit like being on an episode of The Bubble. Certainly if anyone had asked which of these news stories were true:

  • A volcano in Iceland had closed all the UK's airports
  • Roger Waters is touring "The Wall" thirty-one years after the album was first released
  • The Lib Dems were leading in opinion polls for the next election

    I probably wouldn't have believed any of them. Especially the last one.

    Anyway, with that election in mind, I've visited a few of the sites which try to map my political views onto one of the political parties, with some possibly predictable results:

    Your Personal Survey Results
  • Lib Dems 33.33%
  • Green Party 33.33%
  • Conservatives 16.67%
  • UKIP 16.67%

  • Take the Who Should You Vote For? England quiz

    Liberal Democrat30
    UK Independence11

    You expected: LIB

    Your recommendation: Liberal Democrat

    Click here for more details about these results

    Help shadowphiar and get your own badge!
    (The Livejournal Electioniser was made by robhu)

  • connect

    My favourite albums of 2009

    It's around this time of the year that the DPRP runs a readers' poll about the previous year of music. I thought I would make a record of my answers so I can see how well my opinions match the final results when then come out in March (or so), and in the meantime perhaps some readers may find it interesting...

    Top Albums of 2009

    10. No Line On The Horizon (U2)
    9. Focal Point (Paul Cusick)
    8. Force Of Gravity (Sylvan)
    7. Realm Of Shadows (Knight Area)
    6. Anno Domini High Definition (Riverside)
    5. Frequency (IQ)
    4. The Whirlwind (Transatlantic)
    3. Ostara (The Wishing Tree)
    2. Amor Vincit Omnia (Pure Reason Revolution)
    1. The Incident (Porcupine Tree)

    Biggest Disappointment in 2009

    The Uprising (Muse)

    I was gutted when I first heard this album, and it hasn't grown on me since. Their previous album, Black Holes and Revelations, was in my opinion a masterpiece - but with this effort Muse have taken their art a long way backwards, carrying all the excess and silly elements without any of the musical flair. What's worse is that it's being lauded as "the future of prog" by journalists who haven't actually listened to any prog in the last thirty years, who wouldn't know a time signature without a "4" in it if it stood up to bite them, and who think that it is the height of musical innovation to shove a bit of incongruous Chopin in the middle of an otherwise incredibly lightweight album. This is like prog for the televised karaoke generation; this is like prog trying to impress Simon Cowell. Ugh.

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    (no subject)

    Transformers tomorrow! (Actually, today in fact since it's past midnight... I *really* must go to bed now). Quite excited, my front room is full of cardboard boxes which I really hope will fit into my car. But I haven't packed up my computers yet - ran out of time.

    Was out this evening for a friend's stag night. Went 10 pin bowling - was very pleased with my first game of 120 (including a stonking 8-split -> spare) but in the second game I bowled a rather more humdrum 78. Was all in all a very good evening.

    Don't match flammable honeycomb

    Quartz Light User Instruction

    Brief Introduction

    Quartz light is one of most popular use lights in the studio. Based on 3200K color temperature, this quartz light can offer a suitable continuous lighting for your shooting. The light system is improved time after time. The design has over-heat protection of circuit and auto-cooling function. The light is not only infinitely variable adjusting in power but also the angle of irradiation is large. Under the light's good protection, it has long service life. It can connect all kinds of accessories, like soft boxes. This quartz light will provide high-quality continuous lighting for TV video shooting, advertising photography, traditional film photography, digital photography and so on.


    1. Insert two pins of light bulb into the front base of your quartz light. Make sure two supporting clamps are firmly holding the bulb. Don't touch the quartz made envelope with bare hands.
    2. Turn on on/off switch. The built-in fan cooler will automatically turn on and blow air inside out.
    3. Place the light accessories (ie. reflectors, soft boxes, barn doors etc.) in front of your quartz light.


    1. When assembling and disassembling the quartz light, don't touch the light with your hand directly as the sweat will damage the bulb and affect service life of quartz light.
    2. Don't tough light cover in use so as to avoid burning. Don't move the light in use for avoiding the damage by shaking the light.
    3. When you use it, you should turn on the fan set, and then adjust the brightness of quartz light. When you want to shut down the light, pIs. adjust the brightness to the least. After five minutes, you close down the fan set. When the light is used 10 to 20 minutes, you'd better adjust the brightness of light to the least and make the light to have a rest.
    4. Don't match flammable honeycomb to the best of your abilities. If necessary, you may consider taking off the middle cloth inside soft box in order to avoid the danger.