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punk2176 writes "Hacker and security researcher Alejandro Caceres (developer of the PunkSPIDER project) and 3D UI developer Teal Rogers unveiled a new free and open source tool at DEF CON 21 that could change the way that users view the web and its vulnerabilities. The project is a visualization system that combines the principles of offensive security, 3D data visualization, and 'big data' to allow users to understand the complex interconnections between websites. Using a highly distributed HBase back-end and a Hadoop-based vulnerability scanner and web crawler the project is meant to improve the average user's understanding of the unseen and potentially vulnerable underbelly of web applications that they own or use. The makers are calling this new method of visualization web 3.0. A free demo can be found here, where users can play with and navigate an early version of the tool via a web interface. More details can be found here and interested users can opt-in to the mailing list and eventually the closed beta here."

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A shot of Unity 4's new Mecanim animation interface.

AAA developers with deep pockets are no doubt looking forward to the many gorgeous upgrades available in the upcoming Unreal Engine 4. But smaller independent developers will probably be more excited about the new features for Unity's just announced Unity Engine 4.

The new version of Unity fully integrates new animation tools from Mecanim, a Canadian company that Unity acquired last year. This brings skill from experienced animators who have worked with major publishers including EA and Ubisoft. Besides improving computational efficiency and increasing Unity's limit on simultaneously animated characters from dozens to "hundreds" at once, Unity President Dave Helgason stressed that the Mecanim system makes animation much simpler for developers.

"Things that would normally take several hours or even days to do—taking the animation data, making sure it fits the character, timing the motion extracts and making sure it all loops correctly—now that's all automatic so it's literally minutes... you can do so much more with so much less," Helgason told Ars. Users will also be able to buy canned animations from the Unity Asset Store, dropping fully animated characters into their projects unedited, or diving in deep to play with the underlying blend trees and state machines if they want.

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I am no longer committed to supporting any Flash related open-source projects.

Here is why. When I started using the Flash Player it was quite easy to reach its limits. However you were able to get around those limitations with clever hacks and debatable optimization techniques. I was always keen to share my knowledge with the community and to explore all possible options to achieve best performance.

The Flash Player has been hibernating for half a decade now. The only glimpse of performance was finally a set of specialized op-codes which allow you to modify an array of bytes. In layman’s terms this means it was finally possible to do a[b] = c with an acceptable performance. So I wrote a tool which allows you to do just that and many other things. I have spent a good time of my free time trying to improve the performance of the Flash Player and contributing all my code to the community.

As a reminder: I showed some drastic performance improvements at Flash on the Beach in 2009. That was three years ago. It was not necessary to modify the Flash Player and it was not necessary to modify the ActionScript language.

The Adobe roadmap for the Flash runtimes states that Flash Player “Dolores”

  • will support ActionScript Workers
  • comes with improved performance for Apple iOS
  • and ActionScript 3 APIs to access the fast-memory op-codes

This player should be released in the second half of 2012. The “Next” Flash Player will finally include

  • modernizing the core of the Flash runtime
  • work on the VM
  • updates to the ActionScript language

This is planned for 2013 apparently. And what can we expect? Type inference, static typing as a default, and hardware-oriented numeric types. Hooray, so it will be finally possible in 2013 to write a[b] = c without having to use some weird fast-memory op-codes. If we look back to the year 2009 this makes me really sad.

With the introduction of the speed tax you will now have to license your application. No matter if you make money out of it or not. Now I think that 9% is a decent number and I can understand Adobe’s position on this. In fact it is much more friendly than the 30% Google or Apple take. However the AppStore was an invention. What is the invention here? Squeezing money out of an already existing feature, and suddenly making it unavailable after people have been relying on it for years to push the boundaries of the platform and actually innovate?

But for the hell of it, a[b] = c is not a premium feature. Nor are hardware accelerated graphics. That is what I would expect from any decent runtime.

Limiting the capabilities of a runtime — by defaulting back to software rendering for instance — will make it less attractive to use it in the first place. You are probably not interested to go through a signing progress for a small demo. So your performance might be crap, people will complain about the Flash Player taking 100% CPU because its using software rendering (YEY! 2013!), laptop fans will start to dance and you will look like a bad developer because that other guy got the same thing running with hardware acceleration. Or you could use a different technology.

Why is this bad? Because apparently this signing with a $50k threshold targets the enterprise and small developers seem to be acceptable collateral damage. However thinking about the next five to ten years: who is going to write ActionScript code if it is no longer attractive to play around with it in the first place?

We still rely on the Flash Player at I am still developing for it and we will probably have to use it as long as there is no alternative. Me no longer supporting open-source tools is just me no longer spending my personal time for a platform that I would not use for private stuff. Work is of course not always about fun. But fortunately I am able to spend 90% of my time writing Scala code.

I will finish this blog post with some bad karma:

It’s also worth noting that the new Adobe license will prohibit scenarios where you’d have the first level of a game in the Flash Player, and the full experience inside the Unity Web Player. Alas, this is something you’ll need to be aware of if you were considering such a route.

You will not only pay for the features. You are also welcome to cede some of your rights.

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The aim of this project is to provide a cross platform all inclusive plug-in based library for Unity3d Pro users to aid developers trying to create runtime application based functionality in there own unity projects. Although primarily the focus will be on creating a solution that runs perfectly for PC /Mac standalone solutions, some functionality where appropriate will also be focused on web-applications and possibly may work  on other unity supported platforms although I will not be testing these currently. 

The library will hopefully offer Unity users things such as a file browser, processing bar, access to runtime mesh, texture, audio, video and material libraries, import support for OBJ, DAE, 3DS, standalone use of  a DLL for conversion of H264, MP4, WMV to OGG THEORA and MP3, WAV, AIFF to OGG VORBIS.

The library will be released under MIT and certain import modules under their own MIT licenses, so it will be fine for anyone to play with and utilise, just let me know of any ammendments, optimisations or improvements (and I am sure there will be many!), so I can update future versions for other users.

Although much further work needs to be done on this project, so much has been done already:-

  • Load via inbuilt file browser complete with skinned GUI (non-web platforms only) 
  • Load via path (all target platforms)
  • Load .OBJ & meshes & materials (all target platforms)
  • Load .DAE & meshes & materials (all target platforms)
  • Auto Progressive Mesh LowPoly Collision Generation
  • Auto Scaling, Centering, Handles Parenting and Instances
  • Project Creation Generation and File/Folder Handling
  • Mesh Serialisation and Texture Saving to Project Folder

Note: I have ommitted any DAE importing of bone structures, physics, animations and shaders through the Collada specification for the moment, however that is not to say that one day they might be added as a feature. Also currently project load and save is not fully functional, you will have to wait for this as it is currently being worked on.

Alot of personal time hard-work and effort has already gone into making this possible, please read the licenses at the top of each script and donate if you it will help you commercially.

You can now download the Runtime Library version Alpha 0.4 here (also contains a cut down slightly older version for indy users)
You can also download some model import tests here.

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Assuming that the doomsayers were incorrect and we won't be annihilated come the weekend, it looks like those interested in the upcoming Luminesca, an underwater action/exploration by Matt Glanville, will have something to rejoice over.

From Friday May 20th to Sunday 22nd May, Luminesca's preview build will be free to play for everyone. Ostensibly a way to allow the general public a way to engage in the creative process, I also think it's a brilliant marketing plan on the developer's part.

The art style seems reminiscent of Limbo and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet but I personally don't see it as a negative thing though some might. If nothing else, it definitely works well with the general theme of the game. That said, I really, really do like where they're going with this here.

"Lum comes from a unique species which has developed the ability to control its bio-luminescence with startling awareness. He can send complex signals to attract planktids and then blend into the shadows when a bigger fish is on the lookout for more food. Through mutual symbiosis with planktids, Lum can achieve great feats of power and high speeds."

Definitely intriguing. Right now, the game is also present on IndieGoGo and is currently looking for patrons willing to pledge a few spare dollars to its creation.

Those interested in the free weekend can go to the Luminesca's website to take a look.

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