FreespaceOpen installer improvement or how to mavenize an old ant based project

The Pre-story

A month ago I was having a big nostalgia moment, installed the GOG client and started to playing with old games. My childhood was there again. I remember these games very fondly even today, although I have played with them long ago. They managed to bewitch me with their charm and whenever I played I entered another world where I was the hero who had to solve the problems. It was really fantastic that even with the pixel graphics they had their magic.

I wanted to play with Freespace 2.

I recall the day when my schoolmate introduced it to me during my elementary school years. It was fun to play the pilot who shoots down the evil shivans, meanwhile colossal ships clashing each other and you try to avoid their beam turrets laser. In my first encounter with the game I had rushed in the middle of the fight and ended up wildly spinning my ship by a shot of the beam turrets.
My nostalgia energy was definitely fully charged and ready to take the adventure, the helmet and the ship controls to show again who is the better pilot. I have clicked the start and right away the energy flew away because the window was halfy showing the game. Great, so I did some search and one of the best solution on steam was to use FS2Open version. Which pumps up the game to be ready to be used on a modern day computer without issues.

NOTE: It is also worst to mention that the creators of the Freespace game released the source code on the web when their company was bought to be freely used. Since that happened a lot of promising space simulator projects have been created based on the source code. More info here.

I went to Hard-Light wiki and downloaded their installer client which was a jar file. Hmm I program mostly in java I know about these things and I’m curious how the code looks like, it is always good to see how things are done by others to learn a few new tricks. The installer project source code is not hard to find, it is located on github. I checked the project and it was created long time ago. Fortunately the project is still active and I believe it is quite useful one. For that reason I created a Hungarian translation for it. Then I have converted it to maven based project for fun.


Stanford Seminar by Steve Cousins of Savioke on Service Robots

Steve talks about his story in robotics, his view on service robotics, practical challenges they faced during the design & deployment of their hotel delivery robot.

The most spot-on line I found in this talk:

“Robotics is the poor stepchild of every other industry”

Dear David Hanson, A good slapping would be well earned now

With love,
Your fellow roboticists.

For reader reference, the video below is now in the process of getting cut to pieces & hugely misinterpreted.

Seriously. Don’t we have enough people already freaking out due to the recent years’ military adoption of drone technology?

Your work is good. Amazing. The best animated dolls ever. You have more experience in robotics than I do. But this is not the way to present your work, no matter what! The shortest line that can be misunderstood when cut in the proper way will be the one circulated around. The joke was awkward even for a roboticist.

For a few minutes of fame you just made yourself and the rest of us look like irresponsible crazy scientists. It doesn’t even do you good as you scared so many people and fuelled endless conspiracy/robot-takeover/singularity theories that tips the acceptance of robots all the way to the negative scale.

We should be concentrating on making people’s lives easier, safer, more meaningful, more pleasant, whatever that is for good, not freaking them out with human-looking dolls talking BS!

Then there are already some famous & smart people who are half-educated on recent AI/Robotics talk fearful nonsense, such as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and others. Do you want to join that club?

Cheers from a fellow roboticist,


Dear non-robotics people,

Please don’t believe sci-fi level stuff you see on TV.

For a good anecdotal overview of robotics I recommend reading Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks.

They say an engineered system is only as good as the worst performance it can give. If you would like to see how the best top-level humanoid research groups failed outside of their labs:

For a full picture on the Darpa Robotics Challenge many references can be found all over the internet or if you are from the US you can watch this documentary by PBS.

Ask me questions if you have any.

Kind regards,



Eclipse Mars on Elementary OS

I had to deal with a monstrous-size Java project that only works with Eclipse Mars. Like a good power-user I downloaded the installer and installed it fine, started right away and worked fine.


Then after lunch I tried to start up Eclipse it kept crashing and with weird errors related to GTK. Even when it didn’t crash immediately, I couldn’t access anything of the dialogs.
Tried reinstalling, and it worked again. But why?
I realized that it only worked when I started Eclipse Mars from the installer!!!

At this point I had eyebrows raised all the way to the ceiling. What the hell?
A close inspection on the eclipse.ini file showed the difference of the installer-launched Eclipse vs the installed and then launched one. It seems that by default the system goes for GTK 3 which causes things to go south.

Adding the following line to the eclipse.ini in the _installed_ eclipse folder (whereever you install it) solves the startup crash issue:



Audiobook: So good they can’t ignore you – Cal Newport

A very pleasant book with many anecdotes circulating around the idea that having a passion for something won’t necessarily get you where you’re aiming for. Instead, Newport suggests adopting what he calls ‘the craftsman mindset’. Building rare and valuable skills, that make up your career capital to a point where you will eventually be “So good they can’t ignore you”.


He takes stand against what he calls ‘the passion mindset’ which according to him has a tendency to ask questions like “What can the world offer me?” and “Is this who I truly am?”. These questions put the one adopting the mindset into a constant state of doubtfulness, causing them to be unhappy about their jobs the first moment their passion fades. The ‘Craftsman mindset’ on the other hand focuses on honing your skills and asks “What can I offer the world?”. This gives the ones adopting it the ability to develop a passion for their craft, which is a reward, not an a priori condition.



Side note: I learned about this book from an interview with Andrew Ng: Inside The Mind That Built Google Brain: On Life, Creativity, And Failure. I noticed that some of the books he recommends I have already read or had them on my list except for this particular one. It was definitely a good choice to pick it! If you’re interested, have a look at Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning course on Coursera!

Audiobook: The hard thing about hard things


This is the story of Ben Horowitz. Starting as a lowly programmer, then proceeding through several steps on the corporate ladder ending up – as he defines it – a wartime CEO and then finally cashing it all in for the big bag of $$$ and becoming a venture capitalist.  There are scenes in this story that are often rude and harsh but he stays at all times very professional and caring for what he does and for with whom he works.

The part that got me a lot is that it seems that during all his career he cared a lot for his work. No fiddling around, no laying low, but pure power and professionalism.

Enduring, navigating and fighting through hard things.

How to stop screwing yourself over by Mel Robbins at TEDx San Francisco

Very energetic, a bit rude and very true.

I’d go straight to the video, but for those who need a bit more motivation to sit through, check my bullet-point summary below.


The main points Mel Robbins goes through are:

  • Decide what you want. Be selfish about this decision, this is about you, no need to make it look appealing to others.
  • Use your activation energy. The same energy that pushes you to do great things is the one you exercise creating when you get out of bed in the morning without the “snooze button”.
  • Don’t be just fine. If you tell people that you are fine, you are essentially telling yourself that that’s the best you can do.
  • The 5 second emergency break rule. Helps engaging in different/unusual/unexpected activities. If you don’t engage in an activity in the first 5 seconds, chances are, you never will.
  • Get out of your bed. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out of your own head.

2 key slides from the video: