How to SSH Tunnel to AWS-external Databases (DevBlog #33)

How to what?? Sorry for the messy headline. That’s what happens when you try to cram every relevant aspect of an article into a half-sentence. So here is what I try to say with it: RDS databases on AWS are expensive, and if you don’t utilize them heavily, try to avoid them! On my web space at DomainFactory, I have 10 databases included in my plan, so why not use them instead! Sounds like no big deal, but you need to know some things about SSH tunnels and Unix Domain Sockets to pull it off. Here is what worked for me, and hopefully will help you as well.

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Outstanding Debut at LEGO League Robotics Challenge

“My” First LEGO League (FLL) team which I have been coaching since August last year achieved a truly outstanding result at the regional competition on January 13th! The girls-only team “Albern Vierstein” competed with the “big” ones (9 to 16 years) for the first time. Accordingly, they embarked with humble goals – and went home with three nominations and a trophy! Especially their research project convinced the jury, and their robot design impressed favorably.

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Leaving Twitter

People start a new year with good resolutions, many of which are not kept. So it is time to finally fulfill one of mine for 2023. That is leaving Twitter. In November 2022, I already opened a new Mastodon account. On Twitter I was only referencing my posts there. But I never got around to officially closing my Twitter account, just because I wanted to keep my timeline there. Now, finally, I downloaded my tweet archive and converted it to a presentable form using Tim Huttons Twitter Archive Parser.

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Suddenly Professor

Sometimes, life takes turns you never anticipated. In my case, it was being appointed to a professorship. While I did study computer science and even received a Ph.D. afterwards, I had concentrated on a career in project management for a long time. But when I was made aware of an open position which just perfectly matched my professional background, I seized the opportunity, and here I am. On September 29th 2023, I received my letter of appointment to the faculty of computer science at the Nuremberg Institute of Technology. Three days later, I stood at the front of a lecture hall, speaking to a room full of students for the first time. But the interesting question here is: how does this impact my private projects such as the Games:Tech:Blog and Network Traders?

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Finally! Notes in Network Traders (DevBlog # 32)

This was probably the most often requested feature for my mobile game Network Traders, and finally, here it is. Personal notes which you can add for each player you have traded with, are now available in version 0.5.2. In order to prevent abuse, I had decided early-on to use random city names for all players. The downside is, that it is difficult to remember who was behind, e.g., Oberwestingen. By adding a note that only you can read, this will now be much easier to keep track of.

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OpenHABian Troubleshooting: just Redo

I finally got my hands on a new Raspberry Pi 4 and some time to spare – albeit at the expense of Network Traders – to setup a Smart Home server. As server software I chose openHABian. It is super easy to install or, as the installation guide puts it, a “hassle-free openHAB setup”. While this is true, there are newbie mistakes you can make, as I proved. And here is some advice I wish I had come upon quickly when things went wrong.

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Realm Database for Unity Games (DevBlog #31)

Network Traders, the game I am currently working on, stores parts of the game data in a central, cloud-hosted database. But some of the user-specific data is private in nature and therefore only stored on the player’s mobile device. Until now, I have just serialized this data to persistent storage. But as I needed to add new user-specific properties, I wondered why I should not use a database on the client as well. After all, they may provide benefits such as atomicity or migrations when the database schema changes. After some searching I found Realm, which integrated nicely into my Unity project, although with some intricacies I would have liked to know beforehand.

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Wheelwright Building Released (DevBlog #30)

As promised in my previous post, I have kept the next release of Network Traders really small. Version 0.5.1 allows you to build a new building, the wheelwright. This building increases the transport capacity of your merchants, and allows them to trade more goods with your fellow traders.

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Milestone “Alpha-Test-Ready” Reached! (DevBlog #29)

Today, I finished the last remaining features for release of Network Traders. When I defined this milestone more than one year ago, this was what I wanted to have for my Early Access or “Alpha” release. Well, I got impatient and went into Early Access in September already, but here it finally is: a major milestone on my long indie dev journey!

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Free Tools for Gameplay Videos (DevBlog #28)

Last week I had to create a gamplay video for Network Traders in order to participate in a video games contest. I used to do some video editing before, but it’s been a while and I rarely did screen capturing before. So I had some special requirements and had to start looking for the right tools. This is what I came up with.

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