Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The return of the Dungeon Master

I do remember very clearly some of my first games on my AT 286 and from the very beginning, there was one genre that stuck with me the most. I spent hours upon hours playing the likes of Nethack, Dungeon Master, Zork, Ultima, Bard's Tale, etc.

Having not long ago bought a Kohjinsha and discovering the joys of actually being able to fit my laptop in the little train trays to do a bit of work here and there i thought it'd be a great idea to get some old games since the Kohjinsha doesnt have the power to run anything particularly new.

I though first I'd give a try at getting some old school Amiga games and I found what seemed like a legal download site  http://www.amigaforever.com/. They have an iso that allows you to boot an environment where you can use the old Amiga Workbench together with other preinstalled games. Sadly though, the Kohjinsha's processing power isnt enough to run this (already slow) emulator.

It's quite depressing that such a modern piece of hardware can't run stuff from 10 years ago. Next thing to try now though is to get some "Abandonware" on it and see how it performs. I'll be trying CSBWin or "Chaos Strikes Back" for Windows, this is an emulator of sort that runs the old Dungeon Master with much lower requirements than the Amiga emulator. This version only includes the original Dungeon Master but you can also download the more hardcore Chaos Strikes Back and versions for other platforms such as Linux and Mac.
The site looks perfectly legal, http://dmweb.free.fr/?q=node/851. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Who does Google think you are?

I found an interesting article on Brand Republic. It's review of Domino's Pizza's Marketing Director Robin Auld and how he "does not appear in the top five results" on Google when searching for his name. In his stead, you can find a Southafrican musician's website and his Myspace profile and a Wikipedia article about Sir Robin Earnest Auld.

What is really worrying about this is that, not only our identities are becoming very much public knowledge with the advent of the facebooks, myspaces and linkedins but that this is expected and encouraged.

Of course, the first thing I did was to search for my name to see how much Google knew about me and I was (pleasantly??) surprised to find a couple of links to some mentions of my person (all good things thankfully). Now, although my presence was slightly haphazard, there are ways you can ensure you appear in the google listings, particularly if your name is not one very popular like, say... John smith (you'd have to compete with the bitter of the same name)? How!?!?!?, I hear you ask whilst waving your arms in the air in despair. Well, below you will find a couple of methods that seem quite effective:

  • Register your domain name. This is quite important, particularly if you want to protect your name from being taken by someone else. Take Robin's example, he should go and register http://www.robin-auld.com straight away to avoid Robin Auld from SA to register it first.  If you have a business that relies on your name (i.e you are a freelancer) or you are a well known person, its very important that you do this. You don't know when you will want to setup your online present behind your own domain and find that it has been taken by some evil dimension travelling doppleganger.
  • Blog. Yes, just like I do (sometimes), get a little Blogspot account, hosted wordpress, any of them will do. The important thing is that you blog and that you talk about yourself or about anything you like. Get some content flowing, that's the first step. If the blog allows it, point your newly registered domain name to it.
  • Build a website. Running a blog is probably enough but if you are a bit tech savvy and you want to add your own spin to it, some content galleries with pictures or videos and you think your blog will just be a section of it, then go for it. Having said that, most decent blogging software such as Wordpress provide all the functionality you need through templates and plugins. Experiment!.
  • Register social networking profiles. Go to Linkedin, Facebook, Myspace, Xing, last.fm, and any other networking websites you can find and register your name and/or your own public profile. Make sure you go through the security settings and avoid disclosing any information that could be used against you, perhaps Date of birth is a good start. Social networking sites like Linkedin and last.fm tend to allow Google to crawl your profile quite easily.
  • Get Linked. Yes, having a website isnt enough. You need to be found by Google for something to happen. Some profiles like last.fm and Linkedin allow you to add a link to your own website. Do it! Those are quick wins. If you read blogs, comment on them, most blogs allow you to add your website url to them and some will provide you with some benefit. It can't hurt.

Now that's start. They are quite simple steps, give them a try and see what happens, do have in mind that it will take a number of weeks before you see any results but the key is to experiment!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Project Mojave... a slight rant

Project Mojave is a Microsoft inititive to prove just "how good" Windows Vista is.

They grabbed a bunch of "regular people"(1) who never used Vista before and made them try what they called was Microsoft's next operating system, Project Mojave. Then, they interviewed these people and put "some"(2) of the videos on this website:


Besides the clever "taste brand x versus our brand" approach, there are some things that really irritate me, probably because I am a bit opinionated as to the whole "Windows" and "Best Operating System" debate.
Some of the interviewees opinions on an [x,y] grid:

[3,4]"It seems like its really good for its time(3)... if its up against other systems, like a Mac system or something(4)... i would say this one has got probably the best features I've seen(5)"

[9,5]"Lets say Vista is a drink, what kind of drink is it? - Lets make it a Martini, its not too complex..."(6)

[7,3]"So what 3 words would you use to describe Mojave? - Easy...... (long pause)........ (longer pause)....Can i change it to convenient?"(7)

Seriously, you could go on for ages but dont get me wrong. I have seen it, tried it and its quite good, it was running on a core 2 duo 2 ghz with 3gb of ram, it's very pretty but... will it blend?


1 - Regular people? As in... Americans? Didnt think you could check on the rest of the world about what they think about Vista? Maybe UK, France, Japan, some of the thirld world will most definitely have an opinion since they probably have barely been able to afford a Windows 3.1 license and are stuck with it?
2 - Not all the videos were published, I think they missed this one for example: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=3a2zqRc1jvs
3 - Yes, it requires 30th century hardware to run, and lots of it!
4 - Say it!!! Its called Linux and it kicks ass!!!
5 - Yes, because you have experienced so many operating systems, like... Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98se, Windows 98me, Windows XP... so yeah, sure, its got lots more features and some of the old ones too, like that pretty blue screen of death... oh, and by the way, Mac's operating system is called OS!!!
6 - And it helps if you've had some drinks before using it!
7 - It shows the quality of the people chosen for this project...i mean initiative......... can i say .... publicity stunt..... sorry scrap that... waste of time...

Monday, 28 July 2008

Troubleshotting port related errors on Windows

I was trying to install wamp on my relatively new Kohjinsha SA5. I thought that the portability of the machine was great for coding on the train and testing some stuff I've been trying to do for a while, namely, write a facebook app and take a look at the android platform. I kept running into an error message saying that apache couldnt bind to its listening port, which cleary means that there is something else using it. How to find out what applications are running and what ports they are using? Enter "PortReporter", a free app you can download from Microsoft's website. It installs itself as a service and outputs a log file to C:\windows\system32\portreporter.

You can download it from here.

Once you find out which app is causing trouble, close it down, disable it or uninstall it and restart the apache service.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

I have always been a follower of the Final Fantasy series. Because
those games were never released back home, i had to resort to using
emulators to play them. That was until FFVII came out. I remember
spending about 24 hours in a row playing FF with my brother because
we... ermmm.... didnt have a memory card back then. So I've played most
of them, even FFXI (a.k.a. Final Fantasy Online) where I spent hours
past my bedtime fighting ridiculously hard battles and trying to
communicate in languages I cant even speak... good times.

I was very happy to see that Square decided to expand the FF VII myth
by not only releasing a new FF movie but also a number of other games
revolving around the same storyline. Now, for one reason or another
(mainly the horrendous reviews they got), I decided not to buy any of
them. That was until FF VII: Crisis Core came out.

The game, released
for the PSP platform, features the new fighting system that will
apparently be used for the upcoming FFXIII series. The new DMW (Dynamic
Mind Wave) combat style is a mixture of a more real time and button
pressing skill based system but it also depends on a strange slot
machine situated at the top left corner. This slots machine introduces random power ups and special attacks that resemble the old "Limit Breaks".

Now, I cant say too much more about it because I have just started
playing it but, so far, i have found it quite fun, even when I've
always preferred the more "turn based" format (i like to take my time
with these things). The game does seem slightly more shallow than its
previous instances and it makes you feel like its lost a bit of the old
strategic quality it always seemed to have.

Nevertheless, I shall continue playing it and see where it goes. I am
slightly driven by curiosity after seeing the first Summon attack from
Ifrit... very impressive pre-rendered CGI!

Monday, 21 July 2008

My first facebook app

Yes, I am going to try to write my first facebook app, tune in to read about how I pull my hair out and helplessly punch the monitor hoping that will make the remote server do as i tell it to do!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Upgrading Fedora 8 to Fedora 9 using Yum

Despite all the warnings about updating Fedora 8 to 9 using YUM i had to give it a go. I did this succesfully a couple of months ago but was left with a couple of minor problems that are related to the actual new version of Fedora rather than the update method.

Firstly, I cant run wine anymore. It seems like, because I have an nvidia card and the drivers for Fedora 9 still havent been released, there is some sort of crashing caused perhaps by an attemtp from wine to access direct3d or opengl features from a driverless card. This is a bit of a guess as you can see but i have seen complains all over the web.

Last night I finally saw the x11 nvidia drivers in the udpates list so I will be checking today if this has changed and fixed the situation.

The second problem i am experiencing, i have to admit i have been too lazy to figure out whats causing it, is that I cant run the updates through the new, pretty graphical interface. Note that I log in as root (yes, i do and you can give me all the reasons you want not to do it, I will still log in as root, i am a carefull user) and it seems that the issue is related to that in some way (I read somewhere someone say "it confuses yum to log in as root" ????). I can still open a terminal and run yum update and it works perfectly.

I will see if wine is working again and drop a post about it.

---> Edit

I almost forgot about this one. The actual problem with Wine is with some of the files it creates the first time it runs. I run Linux as root (naughty) so, what i did was, I deleted the ./wine directory from the /root directory and then started wine. It works perfectly now.

On the other hand, yum still wont update from its GUI and I have to run yum update -y from a shell. I really havent looked at this, its so easy to just use the command line for it that it seems a waste of time. I'll post here if I ever fix this.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Netgear Rangemax routers and the PS3

I have a Netgear Rangemax router, a DG834PN to be more percise, its been working great since i bought it up until i got my PS3. Ever since then, when the PS3 is on or on standby, I can clearly notice that browsing the internet becomes incredibly slow on my other laptops. I have all these devices connected through wireless and never before have i had a problem of this nature.

Looking around on the net i found mention about PS3s being incompatible with RangeMax due to some N protocol they use, so i thought the best test was to borrow another router to check this. I used a router supplied by BT for Business Broadband customers, a 2wire, set it up exactly as I had the netgear and gave it a go. It worked perfectly all the time, being able to have my PS3 on and browse the internet at decent speeds (*).

Yesterday I thought i'd go back to my Netgear and see if I could get it to work. I connected it back up, went to wireless settings and checked the "Mode" option which gives you : b and g modes, g only or Auto (108 mbps). I changed the setting to g and tried the whole thing. Its now working perfectly fine, I will give it a couple more days of testing but its clear that the mode used for 108 mbps is somehow incompatible with the PS3's wireless functionality.

(*) Note: This was particularly noticeable whilst attempting to play World of Warcraft since I could see the Lag bar going read while the PS3 was on. Switching the PS3 off from the back switch would return things to normal.

Right, call me a liar, tried it yesterday and its causing the same issues. I had to go back to the 2wire router. Furthermore searches on the internet show lots of people complaining about the same issue. Nothing on the Netgear website but, then again, no surprise tehre.