Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Black Box

In 1918 the Germans had launched massive attacks and broken the allied lines. Then after stiff fighting the Germans suffered a crushing defeat. Ludendorff called it "The black day of the German army". A significant part of it might be down to one tank. A Whippet MK A light tank nicknamed Musical Box.
On 8th of August, Lt C.B Arnold, his gunner, C. Ribbans and the driver W. J. Carney climbed into their Whippet tank. One of 8 tanks in the unit, and left their overnight camp near Amiens. At 0420 the formation departed, passing Villers-Bretonneux (see Edfrancis thread about why that place is famous). However the going was bad, and soon all the other 7 whippets were bogged down, leaving Musical Box on her own.

Lt Arnold moved his tank up behind some Australian infantry and MKV tanks. Shortly after linking up with the advance his area came under fire from a battery of German field guns. Able to spit out 48 rounds per minute the German battery started causing serious problems for the infantry, two of the MKV's were smashed by the barrage.
Arnold drove his tank at its top speed of 8mph past the front of the battery engaging them with his machine guns. The Germans launched over 30 rounds at him, luckily none failed to connect. The Whippet made it to cover on the flank of the battery, and enabled Arnold to mount a flank attack on the Germans scattering the battery, and smashing the local German defences. The Australians were able to move up the quarter of a mile, and take the German position with no further loss.

After dismounting to liaise with the infantry Arnold moved off to rescue several troops of cavalry who had been taken under fire by Germans in a wheat field. After routing those Germans Arnold continued to attack. Unknown to him he by now was far out in front of the advance, deep inside the German lines.

Arnold came across a railway bridge defended by Germans. Rushing down the rails he smashed through their lines and scattered their defence, causing over 60 casualties to the defenders. For the next hour or so he harried a German battalion, causing significant damage.
Musical Box was not getting off scot free. The Battalion of Germans had put up such a storm of concentrated fire the fuel cans stored on the outside of the tank had been hit multiple times. These doused the tank in flammable fuel which leaked into the fighting compartment. The crew were standing knee deep in the petrol. The fumes became so bad that all three crew were forced to wear their respirators.
So Musical Box was now a driving bomb, with the crew drenched in fuel, the slightest spark and it's would all be over.

It was by now 2PM; Musical Box ploughed further into the German lines, and became possibly the only tank in WWI to score an aerial kill. She came across an airfield and on it an observation balloon. The transport for the Balloon, and the craft itself were both swiftly destroyed.
Moving on Lt Arnold spotted a German truck approaching, so he hid his tank round a corner, and as the truck drove past rammed it. Continuing down the road Musical Box found the rest of the transport column and set about them. She also routed another column of German infantry.

As Musical Box penetrated deeper resistance began to stiffen. Arnold didn't know it but Ludendorff's HQ was close by! In a fierce fire fight the Germans belted Musical Box with everything they had. At this point the left hand pistol port was shot off by weight of German fire. Grabbing one of the other machine guns Lt Arnold pulled it off its mounting and stuck the barrel through the hole ripped in his tanks flank. Firing the machine gun from the hip as his Gunner manned the Left Machine gun they delivered effective fire onto the enemy.

After 10 hours of constant combat, drenched in fuel the inevitable had to happen. A German field gun managed to score a pair of hits that ignited the fuel.
Bailing out Lt Arnold realised that both the other crew members were still inside the tank, he rushed back and despite being on fire himself dragged both from the blazing wreck. British infantry later found the burnt out hulk of Musical Box.

Although being in no shape to try, they attempted to escape, but were all captured by the Germans, during their capture one of the crew was shot and Lt Arnold sustained a bayonet wound.
Lt Arnold was interrogated almost immediately, and there followed an exchange between a German officer and Lt Arnold that is worthy of any film.
After being asked any question Lt Arnold replied: "I do not know."
"Do not know, or will not tell?" Was the German officers response.
"You can take it which way you wish!"  Arnold defiantly replied, followed by a under his breath comment of "...and be damned to you!"
The German officer stormed out of the interrogation.

Lt CB Arnold

Arnold was sent to a German POW camp at Freiburg, where he found his Brother, whom had been captured earlier in the war. It appears that Lt Arnold received a DSO.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

[ALL] WG & Linux

Online game developer and publisher Wargaming relies on Linux and open source software to produce and distribute its line of popular military strategy games, says Maksim Melnikau, a solution architect at Wargaming.

The growing company joined the Linux Foundation in May as it seeks to advance the gaming industry. And it's off to a great start, having shipped more than 15 titles since 1998, including the armored World of Tanks and World of Warplanes, a free-to-play flight combat game. Wargaming is now expanding to a new mobile platform and continues to hire developers as it opens offices across the globe.

Here, Melnikau discusses how Wargming uses Linux; the company's hardware setup; gaming on Linux; his advice to game developers; and openings at the company.

How does Wargaming use Linux?

We extensively use Linux for multiple Wargaming projects. Servers for all our games, for example, are powered by Linux. Whether you play World of Tanks and World of Warplanes on PC, World of Tanks: Blitz on iPad, iPhone or any Android device, World of Tanks 360 Edition on your Xbox, or World of Tanks Generals in your browser—the server side is always Linux-based.

To run its web services, Wargaming actively uses a wide range of open source tools and frameworks such as, to name but a few: MySQL, Python, Django, Nginx, and RabbitMQ, and when it comes to servers, all our games rely on Linux.

The company’s development studios handle their day-to-day operations and processes, widely applying Linux. Finally, many of us prefer the GNU OS for everyday use.

What’s your server setup? 

World of Tanks has client-server based architecture, where everything is being calculated on the server. The major benefit it grants is security—it is virtually impossible to hack in to the World of Tanks. The client does nothing other than translate keyboard and mouse movements into commands to send to the server.
Maksim Melnikau, Wargaming
The overall server setup depends on the amount of active players. The Russian game cluster, for example, peaks with more than 800,000 concurrent users, which calls for relevant server capacities. Presently the game cluster has close to 300 powerful servers with 24 threads and 64 GB RAM each. Besides significant computing power, we have huge database machines with a lot of RAM (our largest database server has 384GB RAM, to be exact) and powerful storage (24 HDD x 600 GB in RAID10).

What are some of Wargaming’s most popular titles for LinuxOS users?

Although there’s no World of Tanks client for Linux, the game runs on Wine and other Windows emulators.
The collectible card MMO game World of Tanks Generals, which is now in Closed Alpha testing, will be cross-platform. Another upcoming title—the mobile MMO action game World of Tanks Blitz—will have a version for Android.

How has the recent release to Steam on Linux worked out so far?

Wargaming is not using Steam for its products. The company’s vision is to create and run its own distribution services. However, we are happy to watch Linux evolve as a quality gaming platform, and Steam is what helps it to grow.

What advice would you give developers who want to build games for Linux?

For starters, I’d tell them to be less platform-specific and concentrate more on the quality and robustness of the experience they create. If your game is engaging, accessible, and deep, it will attract players at launch. Don’t stop when the game goes live—improve and grow it to ensure users stick to it for years on. As for the server side, I would definitely advise you to choose Linux.

Why did you join the Linux Foundation?

We rely on Linux open source tools a lot. They help us continuously improve on our server platform and stay in the vanguard of the global technology evolution of this massive movement.
The Linux Foundation contributed greatly to Wargaming’s success, and we hope to continue our collaboration in the future and expand it into other areas.

I see you’re currently looking for a Linux system administrator. What are the skills and experience you look for in new Linux hires?

Besides system administrators, we seek Linux system developers and Web developers. The full list of vacancies and requirements for them is available at Hot Vacancies section of Wargaming’s corporate website. Linux engineers will find plentiful offerings there. As for the skills, we hire both experienced specialists and those only starting their work life.

Originally posted here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

[WoWP] Going Open Beta. Updated

World of Warplanes is going open beta: actually it already has done in Russia, and NA servers are being updated at this time, while EU will have to wait until July 4.

Updated. July 4. EU has also joined the open beta joy of WoWP. 

There is 0.5.0 update that brings the game to a new stage. Pre-orders (effective after full release) will also be available upon open beta launch - gave example to RU ones.

Reminder: during open beta (at later stages) there will be a chance to "farm" in-game gold in WoWP and spend it acquiring unified/single premium account for all (currently 2) WG games.

See you in the sky and waiting for first-hand feedback.   

Sunday, June 30, 2013

France's unknown Hero

Most of the material in this article was originally in French, so I had to use Google translate. This may have allowed errors to slip in, however I do believe its as true as it can be.

Special thanks to Roland Narboux, who helped me fill in some of the blanks. Mr Narboux also published the only book on the subject, which has far more details than contained in the article bellow. The book is however only in French. He's also the author of the Alfred Stanke article I link to later on.
Also thanks to Gauthier Blanc who helped with the French when Google failed me.


Marcel Claude Emile Haegelen was born on 13th of September 1896 in Belfort, France. He is almost utterly unknown, even in France. This is surprising considering his exploits.

Before World War One, Haegelen was a car salesman. He enlisted in the army, and was posted to 27e Régiment d'Infanterie. During his service with this unit he was involved in the precursor fighting and earliest stages to the battle of Verdun, at the bitter back and forth trench warfare at the Saint-Mihiel salient. During less than a year his service earned him three commendations, and the Rank of Corporal.
In July 1915 he started to learn to fly, joining Escadrille F8 (a reconnaissance squadron) at the start of 1916, flying Nieuports. In March 1917 he joined N103 Groupe De Combat. His SPAD carried the emblem of the Squadron, the famous "Les Cigongnes" or Stork.
Haegelen spent allot of his time shooting down observation balloons. But in the last years of the war he found himself mainly fighting against fighters of Jagdgeschwader 1, commanded by Herman Göring.
At the end of the war Haegelen had a total of 22 kills, 12 Balloons and 10 Air craft.

Haegelen left the air force in 1921; he was hired by the French firm Hanriot, initially as an instructor. He had a hand in the company’s move to Bourges in 1928, where he became Chief test pilot. The company set up a factory and aerodrome at this location.
In 1931 and 1932 Haegelen won the Michelin cup, the second time being the world record holder.
In 1936 Hanriot and Farman Aviation were nationalized into SNCAC.

At the outbreak of World War Two, Haegelen was enlisted back into the French air force, and given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Forming an ad hoc unit made up of 6 Polish pilots and another pilot of unknown nationality, they were stationed at Bourges to protect the SNCAC works. The flight flew Curtis H-75 Hawks that France had purchased in response to the outbreak of war. Haegelen's H-75 carried the Les Cigongnes emblem.

In June 1940 Haeglen intercepted a German air raid attacking the town. Closing on a HE-111, he pursued it eventually shooting it down. In the process his plane took 14 hits, some of the bullets missing Haegelens head by inches. One bullet, however, hit him in the shoulder. He still managed to nurse the plane back to base and land it. At the age of 44, 22 years after his last kill, Haegelen scored his 23rd victory. He became one of only about 6 people to score air victories in both world wars.

Haegelen's unit racked up 30 combat sorties during the battle of France, but it was all for naught. As the Germans approached Bourges, Haegelen received orders to lead his flight to Algiers. Once there he was part of a team testing imported US aircraft until France surrendered. Haegelen was a committed anti-German, and wanted to join the allies and carry on fighting. However he knew his advanced age would hinder that. So he returned to Bourges under the terms of the Armistice. SNCAC in the meantime had been taken over by the Germans, and was building Siebel 204 aircraft.
Haegelen carried on working as SNCAC, but not as a collaborator. Haegelen was actually part of the French Resistance. Obviously the exact details of the Resistance's exploits are little documented. However we do know that Haegelen carried out a detailed reconnaissance of the SNCAC factory and Avord airfield, passing the results on to the allies. When the Allies bombed the airfield in 1944 they smashed Avord, with no casualties or damage to the surrounding town, due largely to Haegelen's work.

Another incident that might have been Haegelen's work at the SNCAC factory has a number of leaflets being distributed early in November. These called for a 3 minutes silence to celebrate the victory over Germany in the First World War. At the designated time the entire staff of the factory downed tools and observed the silence. The Germans were furious, arresting two men and deporting them.

Haegelen himself was arrested on March 15th 1943, by the Gestapo for espionage. Kept in solitary confinement for 33 days, the future looked bleak for Haegelen. Then mysteriously he was released without charge. There is some indication that Göring had ordered Haegelen's release, due to them both being Aces of the great war, and had fought against each other!
After his release Haegelen organised a raid, where he and few other associates broke into SNCAC and emptied the German armoury of weapons. They then handed the truck load of ordnance over to another resistance unit to be used against the Germans.

Although not entirely clear on the details, documents suggest Haegelen had some contact with another incredible man in the area, Alfred Stanke. See the following link for another little known hero:

Google translate or Roland Narboux's article on Alfred Stanke.

Haegelen survived the war, dying on 25 May 1950, and is buried in Pasir-Ris. At the time of his death He was a Grand Officer of the Legion d'Honneur, holder of the Military Medal, the Croix de guerre 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.