Fixing The Only Thing That’s Slow About Grand Theft Auto V

The driving, crime, and general mayhem game Grand Theft Auto V is something of a phenomenon that has lasted for the last seven or more years. Whether following the in-game missions, driving around like a hooligan for fun or performing crazy stunts, the depth of detail in its landscapes and the continual improvements to gameplay that have arrived over the years have assured it a massive following across multiple platforms. The game is not without its problems though, one of which is an unreasonably long loading time for its online version. This annoyed [T0st] to the extent that it was worth the effort of looking under the hood to find out where the problem lay.

It was evident that for PC users the effect varied depending on the hardware present. Furthermore AMD processors seemed worse-hit than Intel ones, and indeed they found an entire core maxed out by a couple of processes during the wait. Some diagnostics and disassembly led the trail to some string processing code which was identified as a JSON parser. This was not simply parsing the JSON but also performing a check for token uniqueness in an extremely inefficient manner, causing the whole process to be extremely slow. Sone nifty patching in a DLL containing a much more efficient function with a cache for unique values saved the day, and delivered an impressive 70% speed-up. It’s to be hoped that the game’s developers will take note, and a future GTA V update will deliver a fix.

Driving a car from a third-person viewpoint in a game like GTA V is a hoot. In real life though, not so much.

Thanks [Thanatos Erberus] for the tip.

An Homage To Daft Punk In Fan-Made Helmets Through The Years.

It’s with sadness that we note the end to an end. The French dance music duo Daft Punk have split up, announced in a video that’s has already clocked 22 million views.The band have inspired hardware geeks across the world not just with their music but the way they present themselves. A perennial project has been to replicate in some way their iconic robot helmets.

Ben Heck's 2009 take on the helmet
Harrison Krix’s 2009 take on Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s helmet.

The artists themselves have been reticent about the exact technology that powers their headgear, but while this is a source of endless mystery and speculation to the music press it’s safe to assume from our perspective that their designers have the same parts at their disposal as we have. Microcontrollers, EL wire, and LEDs are universal, so the challenge lies in artistic expression with the helmet design rather than in making the effects themselves. We’ve reached into the archives for a bit of Daft Punk helmet nostalgia, so stick on Harder Better Faster and lets take a look at them, er, one more time.

Continue reading “An Homage To Daft Punk In Fan-Made Helmets Through The Years.”

Don’t Tase Me, Keeb!

Okay, so this doesn’t really use a taser — that’s just click bait and we apologize. An actual taser would be a terrible way to train yourself to be a better typist, because depending on where you choose to deliver the shock, you could damage your typing nerves pretty quickly with a few milliamps at 50,000 volts.

Instead of a taser, [nobody6502] got a pack of prank gum off of Amazon that delivers a much more doable shock that is painful enough to get the user to type more carefully. [nobody6502] set up a simple no-pain, no-train website that presents random English words one at a time and checks for typos against an open-source list of nearly half a million entries. Misspell a word, and a get a relay-driven shock from the gum circuit.

The main brain of this pain trainer is a Particle Argon board which has I/O pins that can be controlled from the web. When the website detects a typo, it sends a signal to the Argon, which turns on a relay that activates the shock mechanism. What’s most impressive is that [nobody6502] doesn’t have a full-blown computer and programmed everything on an iPad. Check out the build video after the break.

Are you a hunt and peck typist? There’s a negative reinforcement keyboard for that.

Continue reading “Don’t Tase Me, Keeb!”

A FLIR One Pro Sees Again, Thanks To Some Nifty Soldering

The Flir One Pro is a thermal camera that attaches to a mobile phone with a USB-C plug. [Gigawatts] has one, and unfortunately managed to drop it, breaking the USB-C plug and rendering the device useless. The plug is separate from the main PCB, an assembly of its own with a flexible cable, but FLIR are not interested in supplying spares. What was the answer? Wire data lines into the device’s charging port, of course!

The One Pro has its own battery, and to avoid draining the phone it is charged through another USB connection, this time a socket. The data lines aren’t connected, which necessitated some very careful soldering of wire-wrap wire to an SMD package to fix. When completed and secured with glue the resulting camera works with a USB-C cable, and there are plans to mount a tripod thread receptacle in the space left by the USB-C plug.

It’s disappointing that Flir choose not to supply replacements for the USB-C plug assembly, seemingly they see the device as a throwaway piece of consumer electronics rather than the expensive instrument that it is. This modification should at lease allow some unfortunate One Pro owners to revive their dead cameras.

If you’re curious about the Flir One series of cameras, perhaps you’d like to read our review.