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Configuring Forza Horizon 5 (Steam) to work with Sim Racing Studio

January 13, 2022

Forza Horizon 5 banner image

If you have a motion rig, you might have bought Forza Horizon 5 from Steam, expecting to use the game with Sim Racing Studio to drive the rig. You might soon discover that SRS’s instructions do not work.

For FH5 to work with SRS, the game has to send telemetry data via UDP packets to SRS, which listens for those packets. SRS’s instructions tells users to send packets to the localhost loopback address (127.0.0.1), but the Steam edition of FH5 is blocked (by Steam?) from doing this, so telemetry packets don’t make it to SRS.

Here is a solution:

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COVID-19: The New Normal

December 21, 2021

Someone asked me recently when things will return to normal after COVID, and I only had to think for a bit before replying, “never”.

And the core reason, I suspect, is that our species is simply incapable of rising to the occasion at this point in history. First, our default systemic reaction to a looming disaster appears to be—by design—to protect the rich and powerful and sacrifice the weak and poor. While the rich get their shopping delivered, the poor are forced to choose between risking their life and not paying their rent.

Second, a large portion of the global population has fallen victim to disinformation, and will not vaccinate themselves no matter what. So far I have seen no effective outreach program to change their minds.

Third, even when people do want to get vaccinated, the cost and logistical barriers are high, to protect the profit interests of pharmas. The actual cost to vaccinate the world is $50b, according to OECD—7% of the US military budget—but we won’t cross the companies to do it.

We are now caught in the usual détente that arises whenever a common disaster threatens the wellbeing of the masses: A standoff between the wealthy and the poor, exacerbated by agents of disinfo, with the rich basically daring the government to do anything beyond protecting only them.

And I predict, governments (surely in the US, likely in other nations) will once again concede to moneyed interests, and sacrifice the masses in exchange for the minimum set of actions that keep the troubles JUST outside the gated properties of their wealthy patrons.

The best way to end COVID is obvious: vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible; give people money so they can afford to stay home; ban unnecessary contact worldwide until the disease is virtually eradicated; then isolate any new cases as they appear. But as a species, I don’t think we have it in us to do this.

And so we will live with COVID forever, always battling flare-ups, always overrunning our hospitals, always shaking our heads when we read about the next variant, and always locking down when things get bad. As long as the wealthy think their lifestyles can be made immune from the dirty poor’s disease, we will not solve this problem. And since the wealthy know only to demand protection at the expense of the poor, we won’t.

This is the new normal.

Embracing Remote Work

December 18, 2021

I wonder how long it would take for major corporations to learn to cut their losses and give up on the idea of a mass return to the office, especially for software workers who can obviously code from home, as evidenced by *gestures at the past two years*

One thing I hope the pandemic has taught us is to appreciate how utterly wasteful some of the things are that we used to do; how much time we squander each day risking collisions on roads just so that we can do the same thing we would have done at home.

Do I miss meeting coworkers in person? Yes. Do I miss the chance collaboration and tangential conversations we have at lunchtime? Yes. Do I have to be located mere yards away from them for eight hours a day while I wrestle neurons and stare at a computer screen? No.

One thing I cherish during work-from-home is low-overhead flexibility. I can take a 30 minute break and do something fun with my kid. I can walk around my neighborhood or take a short drive for leisure (imagine that). I can (gasp!) take a nap when I’m exhausted.

But most of all, I love the ability to manage interruptions, the number one nemesis of a software engineer. Context switching is incredibly expensive, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ability to socialize when I want, and shut out the world when I need to.

Certainly, not everything about work from home is good, but not all of it is bad. Throwing it all away in the name of “normalcy” is not wisdom. We grow by learning to take the best parts of our experiences, and synthesizing them to improve our lives.

I sense an inflection point approaching. Major corporations are adopting the flexibility of working remotely as a competitive benefit. There will perhaps be a critical mass where this arrangement is expected by new hires, especially senior engineers.

I look forward to it.

Think Probabilistically

August 11, 2021

One vital skill that everyone needs to develop is the ability to think in probabilities instead of certainties, to accept that the world is uncertain, but somewhat quantifiable.

Questions like “is it safe?” or “will it work?” should be replaced by “how safe is it?” and “how likely is it to work?” This makes life so much easier to understand.

Much of the hesitancy in COVID-19 vaccinations are premised on the idea that the vax is “not safe” or “doesn’t prevent infection”, but these statements only make sense in an absolutist world. In a probabilistic world, the questions become “what are the probabilities of side effects?” and “how much does it reduce the risk of infection?” and suddenly getting vaccinated makes a whole lot more sense.

Thinking in probabilities also enables you to understand how vaccines, masks, lockdowns, social distancing, etc. are layers of protection, that combine to reduce your risk of infection to a lower and lower number.

Thinking probabilistically also saves you from regret or blame if you draw a losing card: it’s nobody’s fault but the game’s. It really is a great tool for navigating life. Focus on the improving the odds, not hoping for certainty.

Liza Loop and the Apple 1, Serial Number One

August 8, 2021

Liza Loop behind a lectern at Computer History Museum. The Apple 1 serial number 1 board is displayed beside her.

I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Liza Loop of LO*OP Center today and spend some 20 minutes personally chatting with her, courtesy of the Vintage Computer Festival at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Liza is one of the early pioneers of using computers in US secondary education, and getting personal computers into the hands of the public.

What you see next to Liza in the image above is an Apple 1 board, Serial Number One. It was given by Steve Wozniak to Ms Loop in 1976. It’s a priceless artifact now and an important part of computing history.

Here’s my retelling of the story Liza Loop told about the Apple 1. It is a combination of the contents of her talk, and other details that she related to me in our conversation. You can find other similar accounts online if you search for her name.

The story

In 1975, after opening the LO*OP Center (Learning Options * Open Portal, a public access computer center), Liza Loop, then a math teacher at Windsor Junior High School, was interested in finding ways to bring computer literacy into high schools.

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