First. Sale. Doctrine.

August 27, 2010

You’ve probably heard about THQ (and other publisher/developers) whining about used-game sales. It sickens me to see people agreeing with the companies. Video game industry take note: you’re no different than the music, movie and book industry (they whine as well, but it’s impossible to enforce their demands). I purchase a game for $50, I see it as the value of playing and enjoying the game and the possibility to sell the game if I don’t like it or would like to purchase another new game. I love hearing the argument about maintaining the game servers. Didn’t part of the initial cost of the game go into maintaining such servers? I always thought that only one player could play online per copy of the game? If I sell a copy of the game, isn’t there still only one player (a different player) playing online?

Oh wait, they expect for people to get tired of the game and no longer play it online, thus allowing them to discontinue it. But if I sell my copy of the game, another player who never played it before will be interested in it and will be playing it online. Meaning it’d be a little more controversial to discontinue it. What about just stating on the back of the package “Online services will be discontinued on November 30, 2013” (or whatever date they decide to discontinue it).

There’s also that pesky First Sale Doctrine, which basically states that people are allowed to sell or give away anything when they want to.

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I’ve Finally Upgraded to Windows Vista

August 19, 2010

My “unoffical” policy of upgrading my operating system is to upgrade to the predicessor of the current version of Windows. For the longest time, I’ve used Windows 2000. And I will readily admit that Windows 2000 is the best operating system, no. The best piece of software to come out of a certain company from Redmond, Washington. At the time that it came out, it was revolutionary. Stability and being able to use it for less than workstation tasks. Times change, though. Software isn’t compatible any more. Hardware isn’t compatible anymore. At the end, you are going to upgrade to something else. It’s going to happen. It may not be to the latest version of Windows. It may be to Apple’s OS X. It may be to Linux or FreeBSD or.. something. But you are going to upgrade.

I upgraded to Windows XP a few years ago. Yes, I did use prior to that. But on my own computer it was Windows 2000 or bust. It was my computer, so I had the say on what software was being run on it. But today… well a few days ago, rather. I upgraded to Windows Vista. The very software I complained about. The very software I made fun of. I knew that it was inevitable that I would upgrade. Linux is great, but at the moment it isn’t a Windows killer. And, I hate to admit it, but Windows Vista isn’t very bad at all. It takes a little while to get used to it. They changed a lot of things for the better (eg: Windows update) and some things not so much for the better. Actually compared to my testing of Windows 7, I prefer Vista. I like that Vista is darker than 7. I like the Vista UI better. But, Vista is the OS I’ll be using for the forseeable future. Funny how that works, hmm?

The "Wow" started in 2007 and I failed to realize it.

A Look at Firefox 4 Beta 1

July 12, 2010

A few days ago Mozilla released the first beta of Firefox 4. Though, it is still pretty early in the development cycle, I like what I’m seeing so far in Firefox 4 beta 1. So far, they’ve updated the user interface, made several changes to the underlying HTML rendering system called Gecko, 64-bit Firefox binaries and there is now support for WebM. Of course there are still things to come in later Firefox 4 releases, and I’ll write about such releases when the time comes. This “look” was run on Windows XP x64 SP2 with the 32-bit version of Firefox.

When you first start Firefox, you’ll notice several things. For one, tabs are now on top (though you may set it so that tabs are on the bottom, like older Firefox releases). There is also the newer, more modern theme. Surprisingly, I like it.

On Vista/7 systems, the default UI is the “Firefox bar”. It can still be used on 2000/XP systems, and looks fairly good even if it is not being used in its intended environment. As always, you can always disable it and use the classic UI on Vista/7 systems.

Currently, Firefox 4 gets 97/100 on the acid 3 test, while Firefox 3.6.6 gets 94/100. By the time Firefox is officially released, it will get 100/100 on the test. Though, that is not as important as many of the other HTML5 improvements in the beta. Firefox now supports WebM video, which will surely be more popular thanks to YouTube’s encoding of all videos to WebM.

Firefox 3 introduced the current add-on system. It does what it needs to do and does it well. Firefox 4 introduces a new add-on system that no longer opens a dialog box. Now, the add-on system is interfaced with in a tab. It does the same job as Firefox 3.x’s system and it keeps with the new UI’s “theme”.

Not to mention that Firefox 4 supports hardware acceleration for videos current. Though later releases should expand this to in-page content. Don’t worry though, Firefox 4 supports this through DirectX 9 on Windows (so it will be compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7). Firefox 4 also supports Direct2D (which is available in Windows 7 and the “Platform Update” in Vista). IE9 does the same thing, and performance should be superior with Firefox 4. There are other new features that I’ll discuss in the final review of Firefox 4.

All in all, I feel that right now Firefox 4 is an excellent browser. Even in the pre-release state that it is (though I have yet to have it crash on me). Unless I find a serious problem with it, I will probably use it until the final vesion of Firefox 4 is released.

EDIT: Firefox 4 Beta 2 and now Beta 3 are released. As I said, I will post a final review when Firefox 4 is released.

Why Dice, Why!?

July 2, 2010

I love the Battlefield series. I can honestly say that a good portion of my most epic moments in gaming came from that series. Jets. Helicopters. Tanks. Jeeps. You name it. I’ve piloted one (in game, at least) and I’ve killed (again, in game) lots. I buy every new Battlefield game for the PC. And every Battlefield game is buggy. Not a little buggy, but very buggy. From extremely crappy server browsers to the menu that takes 10(+) seconds to load. And yet I put up with it. Why? Because as soon as I’m in game I have as much fun as anyone could possibly have while blowing shit up.

But with the latest game (Bad Company 2), I really can’t say the same. The server browser is downright horrible (the latency doesn’t even show up correctly). The buggy quirks annoyed me. It was like every other DICE game; the game is great except for those little things. And a lot of those little things make a big thing. After the Modern Warfare 2 (I’m sorry but MW2 was and always will be Mech Warrior 2) dedicated server, or lack of, fiasco, DICE promised that BC2 would feature dedicated servers. And they were right.. well somewhat. The game does indeed have dedicated servers. But they’re not servers that I could run in my basement. I have to rent a server from an “authorized provider”.  With BF2, there were ranked (rented) servers, that would allow unlocks and unranked servers that wouldn’t allow unlocks, but anyone could run. Why isn’t there an option for that in Bad Company 2? I would like to be able to practice flying the different helicopters offline, but with this I can’t. Why don’t you allow for unranked servers?

I Think I’d Like to “Jump Back in Time”

June 23, 2010

This site has got me to start thinking about HTML5 and Flash Player. About how the horrible things that Flash has spawned onto us (Flash advertisements, for one). The horrible Flash player for Linux (and from what I’ve heard, the just a little better Flash Player for OS X). About how OS/2 or BeOS users (who have modern browsers ported for their platform) are stuck with ancient or no (well, that may be a good thing depending on how you look at it) Flash Player. Think about how many times the Flash plugin has crashed on you. I think I’d rather “jump back in time” to a 1998 where plugins don’t crash my browser while I’m getting rickrolled. Yeah, and I’ll play some Tomb Raider 3 or Half-Life and be content.

I’d rather have an open specification such as HTML5 that can be freely implemented in any browser on any platform imaginable that won’t crash and require 98% CPU usage to watch a 360p video on YouTube in fullscreen. So what if it can’t do a few stupid things that shouldn’t even be done with in the first place. Though, I will admit that Flash has a time and a place. But that place is not in a users web browser when they’re watching stupid videos on YouTube or uploading files to a website. There are things that Flash does well and there are things that Flash just doesn’t do well.

Steam, Steam, Forget What I Said, I Love you Afterall

May 12, 2010

After hearing about Valve porting Steam (and all of their games, including Half-Life [1]) to OS X, I thought that they would port it to Linux. Linux is more similar to OS X than to Windows, after all. And they did port Source to Open GL. So why not do a little more work and open up to a new market: Linux gamers. So when I open Slashdot today and see that they are indeed planning to port Steam (and their games) to Linux, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. Not to mention that Portal is free until the 24th for Windows and Mac users (and presumably Linux users too, after they release Steam for Linux and it’s advertising for Portal 2, but what the hell).

Steam, forget all that I’ve said. I might dislike some of the things about Steam, but then Valve goes and does this. This outweighs the bad.

If You Have Everything, Search with Everything

May 4, 2010

I was looking for a new search utility a few days ago (the XP one just doesn’t cut it, and I don’t know how to revert back to the classic non Dog search in XP x64). While looking I found a small utlity (not even 500KB) that caught my interest. It’s name: Everything. It’s fast. No, I take that back. It’s very fast. The first time I ran it, it indexed everything on my C drive (131,492 objects, currently) in under 30 seconds. Its simple and dog-less interface does what it has to do, nothing more, nothing less.

If you want search that just works, download it. And no, I’m not the developer, just a newfound fan of it.

I’m Sorry Mr. Jobs, but I’m Afraid This is it.

April 30, 2010

I’m not an Apple fanboy. Quite the opposite, actually. I dislike almost everything “Apple”. The control restrictions they place. The overpriced hardware. The (parts of the) community that consider Steve Jobs to be godlike. Hell, even a God apon Earth. But, I could handle it for the most part. Maybe a jab here and a small rant there, but I never hated Apple. That is, until now. Enter the 2010 Apple/Steve Jobs. The massive turd that is the SuperSized iPod touch, err iPad, rather. Steve’s “Thoughts on Flash”, where he has the balls to rip the “openness” (or lack of) of Flash. Steve, shouldn’t you look at the products you produce before even talking about openness? How come I can’t install whatever I want on an iPad? Why can I not install OS X on any old IBM PC compatible system? You’re just as “open” as Adobe is, Apple.

And then today Steve talks about a patent battle against Ogg Theora, where he says:

All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Steve, how about that openness you spoke of earlier?

Written on my Windows XP x64 system, and proud of it.

Yet Another Steam Rant

April 28, 2010

The “new and improved” Steam UI update was released today. The new user interface is too shiny and overly verbose. For a comparison:

Simple. Streamlined. Perhaps even a hint of elegance. And now we have:

As I said: Too glossy. Too verbose. And just plain “ugh”. Why is it that “News” is now a separate tab? Why was it that in the old UI I could look at updates for games in a secondary window but this is no longer the case with the new UI? I dare not complain on the Steam forums for fear of getting my head bitten off by the “gamers” who’ll consume whatever Valve PR tells them, like the obedient leashed dogs they are.

And then there’s the fact that they’re dropped support for Windows 2000. Don’t give me the “But it’s x years old” bullshit. The box said the game supported Windows 2000, and it had better support Windows 2000, should I decide to install and play it on a Windows 2000 machine. Don’t give me the EULA bullshit either. I could very well write an application that has an EULA that states that the users soul is now my property (much like that game retailer in the UK). But would it be legal?

As I’ve said many, many times prior, no DRM at all is “acceptable”. They are all just as horrible as the next one, but in different ways. They all restrict your rights to software you purchased (nee, rented or “subscribed” to). The only reason at all that I put up with Steam is because of Valve’s good games. Perhaps I should stop and no longer play such games.

Those of you whom have had bad experiences with Steam may speak your mind here. There is no corporate kool-aid around here, I’m afraid. Just an angry geek that’s about to snap at DRM bullshit.

UPDATE: There are also reports that the update created performance problems for several games (such as Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead [2]).

A Rant on Windows XP x64.

April 26, 2010

I can’t remember how many times I’ve discussed “upgrading to Windows 7” on the blog, but I do remember that I did that a lot (however I most likely will upgrade to 7 fairly soon). This post isn’t about that, but rather it’s about the operating system I use now: Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. When I tell people that I use it, they freak. “Why the hell are you using that? It’s not compatible with almost any software or hardware! Hell, Windows ME is more compatible!” They tell me, rather they almost demand me to upgrade to either Vista, 7 or even back to 32-bit XP. I’m going to be bold here and say this: Don’t tell me how the hell to run my system. If I wanted to (though, I doubt it would work) run Windows ME on an i7 980X system with 24GB of RAM, I can very well do that. If I want to use a Commodore 64 as my primary computer, I very well can do that. If I want to run an OS that gives me several benefits: Can use more than 4GB (most likely less) without kernel hacks, and has a familiar environment I very much like. I very well can.

And then there’s that “compatibility” thing they speak of. Let’s see.. Of all the systems I’ve run XP x64 on, I’ve only had one device not work, a KWorld TV tuner (that has since bitten the bucket). And you know the funny thing? It doesn’t work on Vista/7 x64 either. It might work on Linux x64, but I haven’t tried. The thing is: if you have somewhat modern hardware made by a decent company (which I would assume x64 users would want anyway), I see no reason why XP x64 shouldn’t work.

I’ve very rarely had software compatibility issues with XP x64. One of the times was a 16-bit (DOS & Win16 apps aren’t supported on x64 Windows) installer for a mid-90’s 32-bit video game, all I did was install the game in a 9x based Virtual machine and copied the files over. The game worked fine after that. Another time was when setup thought XP x64 was Server 2003 (which it is. They are both NT version 5.2.3790) and would not install. Most likely because the developer had an “enterprise class” version of the software for Server 2003. And there are times where you can just use compatibility mode. Nearly all the apps I used in XP 32-bit work in XP 64-bit (Microsoft Security Essentials, aside. Probably because Forfront works on Windows 2000/Server 2003/XP x64 and because it costs money).

All in all, XP x64 compatibility is not as bad as people say it is.