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Simon Hibbs
Works at Equiduct
Attended Wolverhampton University
Lives in Bexleyheath, London, England.
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Simon Hibbs

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Here's (almost) my first completely self-designed vessel in Kerbal Space Program. It's a heavy probe, with which I intend to explore other planets and moons in the Kerbal system.

The long engine at the back is a nuclear rocket engine, so it should have plenty of Delta-V. The white knobbly thing at the front is a Kethane detector, from an add-on to the game which lets you prospect on other planets and moons for a resource you can use to make fuel. The map in the window to top-left is a map of Kethan deposits. The small grey dish is an altitude mapping system, it's output is in the window to top-right. It can also detect 'anomalies' which are easter eggs hidden in various places, such as crashed flying saucers and long lost alien cities.
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I saw The Hobbit on Tuesday night in HFR 3D and loved it.

I do agree with it's critics that the technology has some limitations, but boy does it have some advantages to go with them. The clarity and sense of presence is excellent, much like a decent iMax film, and this realy comes into it's own in the CGI and action scenes (which in this film often add up to the same thing). In particular the flight of the eagles near the end was breathtaking, and I don't think you'd get quite the same effect in 2D or even normal 3D.

On the other hand in some of the close-up scenes the feeling of looking at a set and being able to tell the characters are wearing makeup and prosthetics can be a little jarring.  To my mind though, you need to take the rough with the smooth. For some people the over-realism will put them off,. I think it's a shame that the structure of the story meant that it was mainly the early scenes in Bilbo's home that displayed these problems, before the film gets a chance to show what it can do with the new tech. On balance though I think it was worth it.

I do look forward to seeing the film on DVD which will be a different and perhaps more coherent experience, but I'll happily go and see the next film in HFR 3D.
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Zhao saw it with me and was surprised when it ended because she hadn't realised almost 3 hours had gone by. Thats quite an achievement. Although in china fantasy is a long established genre so for her watching a fantasy film is like a mainstream thing to do and she doesn't think of it as a fringe or geek culture thing.
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Simon Hibbs

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On the deficiencies of Mac and third party 27" displays.

I just ordered a Mac Mini. It looks like a great little machine, but my original plan was to get a new iMac when they come out in December.

I had no problem waiting that long, but when I checked out a current 27" model in the store I hit a snag - the monitor resolution is too high (the new ones have the same resolution). The reason this is a problem is that it means the icons, buttons, menus and such are too small. This machine will be used not just by me, but also by my wife, kids and in-laws. Most of us wear glasses and my mother in law has failing eyesight. The system font size on Macs can't be changed. You can change the logical display resolution and it'll interpolate to that scale, but then you've got fuzzy text. Deal breaker.

Still, the new Mac Minis look great, so no biggie. I thought I'd just buy a third party 27" display - except the standard resolution is 1920x1080. They're really just small HDTVs with the tuner ripped out. Anything different is prohibitively pricey. One problem with this is the panels are too short vertically (in pixels). The second problem is that now they're too low resolution. The pixel size is now too large and you can sometimes even see the grid lines!

So I've plumped for a 24" Dell Ultrasharp at 1920x1200. It's the same dimensions and resolution as our current trusty old iMac and should still be a nice upgrade in brightness and contrast ratio. It's dissapointing, I was looking forward to a 27" display, but I've saved about £600 compared to an iMac.
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What's the best order to watch the Star Wars films in?

I've already showed the orriginal Star wars trillogy to my kids, but this post makes a very compelling case for inserting Episodes II and III of the prequels before Episode VI. It's not as simplistic as 'because Episode I is crap' though. It's worth reading the article to see why this ordering of the films works. I'll have to try it, maybe over Christmas.

My one doubt about this is that Episode I is a kids film, and my daughters are 7 and 8 so I'm not sure this ordering makes sense for them.
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Taken at around 06:40am from London Bridge, on the way to work.
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A short video demoing a Traveller RPG utility I'm developing on the iPad using Pythonista.
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All the space good guys versus all the space bad guys, all at the same time.

Not the most awesome graphics, although they're great for a fan effort, but definitely the most awesome battle.
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And the only reasons the Vorlons and Shadows aren't included is... no-one's really sure which ones are the baddies.
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Time to geek out a bit. Our new Mac Mini arrived yesterday and I spent the evening setting it up. Here's the low down.

2.3 GHz Quad core i7
1 TB Fusion Drive with 128 GB Flash
Apple keyboard
Dell Ultrasharp U2412M 24"
Logitech C920 HD Webcam 

Our current computer is a late 2006 24" iMac. It's been a great machine, but has started acting up over the last 6 months. The Mini arrived yesterday and I'm about half way through setting it up.

Physically the Mini is very compact and surprisingly heavy. The solid aluminium shell feels like you could fire this thing out of a cannon and do some serious damage. The 16 GB upgrade is still to do, so I haven't looked inside.

Mountain Lion is a little different, I had Snow Leopard on our old machine. The reversed scrolling is a little odd at first, I'll see how everyone else takes to it and if the consensus is thumbs-down I'll switch it back. The ability to resize windows from any edge or corner is amazing. What a great idea. We're living in the future!

Performance - Nice and quick so far. I can open my 160 GB iPhoto library in a couple of seconds and scroll up and down through the events view from top to bottom with only very barely perceptible lag. I was concerned that pushing that much data on to the fusion drive would flush everything else off Flash storage and hit performance, but it doesn't look like it so far. From what I understand if you copy more than 4 GB of data on to it in one go the overspill goes directly to the hard drive.

Copying across my old iTunes media folder was more awkward. I couldn't get iTunes on the new machine to open it directly even though it's the same version, so instead I copied it to a temporary location then imported the old library into the new one. This copied across everything except the PDFs in my books library. Audiobooks and ebooks were fine but I had to copy across the PDFs manually. This method would also lose any playlists, but I only had a few and didn't use them much so no biggie, but for anyone who uses iTunes for music heavily this would be a problem. I have not yet tried syncing our phones or iPad to it yet, that's for tonight.

To be fair, I didn't use Migration Assistant. If I had most likely iTunes would have been fine, but I wanted as much manual control of the process as possible and paid the price. I used MA a few years ago to restore from a time machine backup when our first internal drive failed and it was quick and had no issues. 

I installed Chrome, Firefox, Skype and MS Office 2011. All went smoothly. They open in 2 bounces or less and are very responsive.

The Dell Ultrasharp is lovely. I have two slightly older but similar Dell monitors at work, but the IPS panel in this unit seems a little better at first look. I did have one brief issue with the screen switching to white noise, which was resolved by power cycling the display. I found some advice online to set the screen saver delay lower than the power save delay and have not had a problem since then, but keeping an eye out for any recurrences. Apparently it's driver issues with the integrated GPU. That's what you get for getting the latest/greatest I suppose. Everyone knows to wait a few months for teething troubles like this to get worked out. Oh well.

The Logitech C920 HD Webcam worked fine with no software installs or settings tweaks. Sound is fine too. I've not actually tried Skype yet, but gave it a try with Photo Booth and the pics and video were OK. The attachment clips on webcams are often a problem, but this is one of the better ones I've seen and perches perfectly on the Dell, it's as though they were made for each other. I might still try adding a few judicious blobs of blutack. I was setting everything up in late evening under artificial light so I've not considered screen or webcam calibration yet. I'll probably leave that for the weekend.

Tonight I'll put in the 16 GB upgrade, sync the phones and iPad to it, install some more software and maybe spin up a few virtual machines if I have time. The real test will be iMovie. It worked, but used to take 15 minutes to start up on our old machine, especially after I got a camera that took 720p video.
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Simon Hibbs

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What is it about politics the French don't get?

It's simple. When your economy's in the pan (1970s), you elect in right wingers who know how to trim the fat and kick the economy back into shape (1980s). Then when they've been in power too long and become venal and corrupt (1990s), hopefully you're in an economic up-swing. You kick them out and elect socialists who know how to invest in social projects and services which you can now afford. Repeat roughly on a 15 year cycle.

But no, not in France. They're on the brink of utter economic apocalypse and in come the socialists. Now that's jumping in with both feet all right!

* NB. Any appearance of actual political comment is purely unintentional.
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You swap the top of the pyramid in and out, but the physical infrastructure of a government never changes... Unless there's a coup, at which point the worse parts of the government either abscond with the cash, or are lined up against a wall. So the coming years in France should look very interesting, especially if Madame Guillotine has a come-back tour.

Sheesh, I'm sounding like Sean ;)
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It's a great story (found via kottke.org), very moving, but there's a Red Bull logo in the background of the video, so they've taken it down.

Fortunately there are plenty of other energy drink brands to choose from.
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Sneak preview demo of the new Siri voice controlled Apple TV.

Er... maybe not such a great idea after all!
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People
Have him in circles
90 people
Leila Thomas's profile photo
Mark Hartley's profile photo
Peter Cakebread's profile photo
Louis Kolkman's profile photo
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Richard Cunningham's profile photo
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Work
Occupation
IT Support Engineer
Employment
  • Equiduct
    Application Support, 2007 - present
  • Ericsson
    Implementations Engineer, 1997 - 2007
  • Forestry Commission Research Division
    Senior Computing Officer, 1990 - 1997
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Bexleyheath, London, England.
Previously
Bedstone, Shropshire, England. - Wolverhampton, Aldershot, Alton, Deptford, Bexleyheath.
Links
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Introduction
Currently working as a Professional Services engineer for a software company in the finance industry, having moved there from Telecoms. My first job was doing computer and network support for the Forestry Commission Research Division.
Education
  • Wolverhampton University
    Computer Science, 1986 - 1990
  • Bedstone College
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Dominic