Friday, May 3, 2013

Always be a Beta tester

Recent upgrades at work have highlighted the fact that I deal quite well with broken computer systems and a lack of support. But that’s because I’ve been beta testing games for a while. But in the workplace programs really should work the first time, be reliable and give informative errors.

For example:
Programmer sitting at PC with Win7, running Citect HMI on primary monitor.
Second monitor running windows remote desktop to a factory PC, also running Win7 and the new Citect HMI 7.20.
The programming PC is working fine and Citect properly communication between the two PCs.
The factory PC showing all local variables, but nothing that is being passed from the Programming PC.
Using the windows remote desktop opened command prompt on factory PC to ping programming PC.
No response, this computer is not on the network

Refinery PC sending steam usage data back to the boilers station.
Of the 4 boilers PC’s this data is visible on the 3 where it is not usually used.
The one where we want steam usage occasionally shows the correct value/ #COMS / #BAD
This was due to a security patch, blocking offsite use of the refinery data. The patch failed 3.5 times out of 4.
Workaround is to create individual login data for each of the 4 boilers PC and hardcode it into the Refinery PC.
Thereby allowing the boilers PC’s to see the data from the Refinery PC.

Nearly all the settings from the ini file are now options within Citect
Conversely nearly everything that was a option is now defined in the ini file.

Everything with an icon now has a new icon, nothing looks quite the same as it used to. For no apparent reason.

I go away on the weekend and shutdown my PC when leaving.
Come back monday morning to see a notice "this program has stopped responding do you want  to close it anyway?"
Well, no, not anymore now that I am back. I click cancel.
PC shuts down to spite me...

While win7 is new for the factory PC’s its not new software and this version of Citect was released in 2010. The reason for the update is the supposed lack of support and security on the XP machines. While its not supposed to be a downgrade there doesn’t seem to be many improvements as yet, just a lot of changes.

Thus I’m happy to go home and play with RazerComms and assume it will break but not be too worried if it does. Mostly though I’m pleasantly surprised how smoothly RazerComms runs. I hope I can always be a beta test and am always looking for ways to improve and acknowledging defects. This also gets back to my enjoyment of learning.

Another recent one is Warframe, its nice to see the game developing from player suggestions. Seems every week there is a UI tweak that makes it easier to use and they usually add more ingame items. Though the ingame items are where they make their cash.

Also turns out that I was an Alpha tester for Hawken, though we haven’t been really keen on that game. I like MWO better, but I;m biased from putting some cash into that one.