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DRM and me – The problem with The Settlers 7

By pcurd

This morning I happened to notice on Steam that there is an update for the Settlers 7 out and I thought to myself, wow did I miss the release?

I’m a big fan of the Settlers series and I own all of them from Settlers 1 (which I have on floppy disk somewhere) through to Rise of an Empire, the sixth game in the series, which I own on Steam.

Although there have been shakey moments in the francise, the fifth game The Settlers: Heritage of Kings tried to be too much like Spellforce without capturing the essence of RTSRPG for example, Settlers games have always been fun to play.

So with much excitement I did a quick search.. nope, Settlers 7 (Paths to a Kingdom) is not available on Steam.. must be one of those regional locks which annoys me, considering The Settlers is made by Blue Byte Software, a German developer. Why does the US get it first? It’s published by Ubisoft – a French publisher!

So I decide to check out Ubisoft’s download page to see what the price is and there I find it. Well, I find the US page anyway. After some more searching I find the UK page – except it’s from GamesPlanet. But whatever, it’s got a Ubisoft logo on it.

£34.99 is a reasonable price for a new game, don’t even get me started on the “electronic copies should be cheaper” debate, so I start to check out what’s in this edition, after all the US copy is the Gold Edition and only £5 more. The feature difference isn’t important but I do notice one thing I’ve been secretly dreading all this time. Ubisoft’s DRM package (Digital Rights Management).

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Using IN on concatenated keys in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is very slow

By pcurd

During the migration of T-SQL code from Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 I found a few procedures that were running very slow. They all used the IN keyword to filter records based on the content of a concatenated key (i.e. a key using two or more fields added to each other).

I have written a quick script to test the performance of three different ways to do this (IN, EXISTS and LEFT JOIN) and the difference is staggering.

Using IN on a concatenated key for this test is in the order of 200 times slower.

The basic summary is that the technique:

select * from #performancetesttable tt
tt.field1 + tt.field2 not in (select tt2.field1 + tt2.field2 from #performancetesttable2 tt2)

is much much slower on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 than:

select * from #performancetesttable tt
left join #performancetesttable2 tt2 on tt.field1 + tt.field2 = tt2.field1 + tt2.field2
where tt2.field1 is null

even though in Microsoft SQL Server 2000 the performance is about the same.

The hardware difference on the two machines is greatly in the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 favour – being a dual six core machine with 32GB RAM as opposed to dual dual core machine with 4GB of RAM (only 2GB used by Microsoft SQL Server 2000)

Using IN – Microsoft SQL Server 2008 takes 20250 ms.
Using IN – Microsoft SQL Server 2000 takes 106 ms.

Using EXISTS – Microsoft SQL Server 2008 takes 103 ms.
Using EXISTS – Microsoft SQL Server 2000 takes 46 ms.

Using LEFT JOIN – Microsoft SQL Server 2008 takes 23 ms.
Using LEFT JOIN – Microsoft SQL Server 2000 takes 33 ms.

Read more for the SQL script to test this for yourself



Rookie Mistake 101

By pcurd

Note to self:


Thank you.



Arthur C Clarke

By pcurd

I’m not one given to obituary’s – but celebrating life and remembering the good times only works if you know someone close enough to be able to say “I know how this person felt. I know what they would want to hear right now”. I’m not in this situation today, I feel sadness and an undeniable loss.

Hours ago one of the finest science fictions writers to ever grace us with his prose passed away. Arthur C Clarke, author of 2001, the Rama series and countless short stories (from which I know him best) was the visionary of the last half of the 20th century. Without him so many ideas would never have been explained so clearly, so many young readers would never have looked upward and pondered the questions he asked and our world would have been worse for it.

At a time of such rapid scientific change – a telephone in every household connected by satellites? – who else but Clarke could have theorised the domestic demand and provided the idea of how to do it – 9 years before Bell Labs got there and actually started to build them. For a Science Fiction writer to have had such a direct impact on society is remarkable, but somehow, when we are talking about Clarke, it is not so remarkable – it is easy to have expected nothing less.

I will mourn his passing, as will all of his readers, because we have lost something special – a mind filled with ideas and revolutions that will not come again.

Remembering the good times will not be difficult – Clarke has left a wondrous collection of his ideas – the fruits of his genius – in every library in every English speaking town. I for one will console myself with knowing that his memory will long outlive my own.

From us carbon based bipeds to our lost spirit – we thank you for all that you have given us.

A humble reader.

More obituary’s

Paddy K

Wis[s]e Word’s

BBC News



M4 in the morning

By pcurd

M4 in the morning 2, originally uploaded by PCurd.

The M4 in the morning is a scary place. It’s a standstill and it’s not fun. This morning I faced the view of 45 minutes of other car’s behinds.

Not the most pleasing way to spend one’s morning.

M4 in the morning