Tag Archives: computer

Opera Mini as default browser on iPhone.

So Opera Mini got approved for usage on the iPhone the other day.  I downloaded it as soon as it was available and gave it a try.  Its very snappy, and works as advertised.  I immediately found myself wondering how to make it the default browser as I never want to use Safari again.  I remember editing Ubuntu Linux a while ago to change the default browser to firefox from Conquerer or something like that.  I had to change a bunch of paths and links and aliases, but eventually Firefox worked as the default browser.  I find myself wondering how can I get into my iPhone via SSH and change all the references to use Safari to Opera.  This is currently high on my wish list.  Does anyone know how to do this?  Please let me know if you do — I will be extra grateful!!

Great and not-so-great things about the internet in Japan 2008

As I stated earlier, I am visiting Japan for the first time in 10 years this Thanksgiving break. After a couple of days, there are a few things that have really stood out to me.

Electronics are not as advanced over the rest of the world as they used to be. There are still alot of cool things here, but there is nothing I have seen so far that I am just dying to have. 10 years ago, this was very different…

The prices of things have not changed at the same rate here as in North America (ESPECIALLY Canada). The last time I was here, there were many things I wanted to buy, the the prices where prohibitively expensive. Granted, at the time I was a graduate student working on my Master’s degree and money was a bit harder to come by — but — the prices of things here is definitely cheaper. Eating out is now quite a bit cheaper than in New York City (depends on the restaurant of course).

The internet is the thing that is sticking out the most to me. 10 years ago ISDN was a luxury that most people only dreamed of. 128kbps was jsut amazing speed and you could actually download the newest version of Netscape 4 in under 1 hour. It was just great at the time. Now with fiber, cable, and DSL connections being plentiful here, I can watch TV via sling AND Video chat with friends and family through Skype for no cost at all. I spend more than $200 on phone calls the last time I was here!!

With all this good stuff, there must be some bad. The bad part of the internet experience I am finding so far is related to content filtering. It seems that many companies and providers are IP filtering connections and seem to block any connections not originating from the U.S.A. This is lame. One problem that is really bothering me is that Steam is not allowing me to download Left 4 Dead onto my laptop so I can kill some zombies. I already purchased the game and have been playing it on my desktop as well as my computer at work. I forgot to install the game on my laptop before I left, but didnt think much about it since I knew there would be a fast internet connection waiting for me in Japan. Well, to make a long story short, Steam is not allowing me to download any new content while I am connecting from Japan. I have tested this theory using VNC to my systems at work and at home. No problems there. Anyway, this lameness aside, I have found a way around other filters. SOCKS 5 Proxys are great. I installed WinSocks on my computer at home. I am connecting to the computer via Hamachi using a VPN. This allows me to not open ports on my router for this. Makes it very easy. Anyway, using a program called ProxyCap, I can redirect programs running on mylaptop to mask their IP address to that of my home system. This allows lots of things to work now. In particular, I am thoroughly enjoying watching NFL football via DirecTV’s Superfan program. It refused to connect without the proxy, but when I change the settings, I have live NFL football in all its glory right on my laptop. This is very nice.

Anyway, lots of good, and a few bad things (no killing of zombies is pretty bad…) to mention here. I will post more as the trip goes on.

EA Sports to Return to PC

I read this article on shacknews this morning.  If you don’t want to read the article — it basically states that Electonic Arts (EA) is going to make sports games for Windows again in 2009 after taking a year off.

I am generally happy to hear this, but I hope they have really rethought their marketing strategy for the PC.  I really like playing games via the interenet on PC because there is so much more you can do than in a locked down environment like XBOX Live or PSN.  The other thing which is far superior on a Windows PC is the freedom to choose your controller.  I can use the great xbox 360 wired or wireless controllers perfectly on XP or Vista OR I can choose to play with a keyboard and mouse.  This is really where it is at for me and its why I spend more money on my PC.

I have to wonder what EA is thinking at this point.  Cancel the series…Bring it back….  I don’t get it.

In the past EA has half-assed their Windows versions of Madden.  They have left out control schemes, they have NEVER implemented force feedback, even though they natively support the XBOX 360 controllers, and they have used copy protection schemes that have rendered some of the games I have paid for unplayable in the past.  I think these reasons are enough to indicate why people may shy away from buying the PC version of Madden.

I hope they do a good job with the game and I hope people buy it, but I dont think people will and here is why.  We dont need to buy a whole new game every year.  It is just too expensive and after a new version every year since 1992, there isnt that much more to add.

I do have some suggestions for EA regarding Madden:

  1. Make a new engine every 5 years for the game instead of every year.  Use the model of First Person Shooters.  Build a really good engine that is tweakable year to year to take advantage of lessons learned.  This will lower some costs.
  2. Since you are now not reprogramming the game from scratch every year, dont sell a game every year.  Instead, make money from microtransactions.  ROSTER UPDATES are clearly something people will pay for.  I think EA could STILL sell up-to-date rosters for Madden 92 and some people would buy them.  I have never understood why this isnt supported and I really question the marketing people at EA for it.  You can sell other things too via live, psn, or even steam — skins for stadiums,  weather packs (fog, snow, hurrricanes, etc), new uniforms and many, many others.
  3. Here is another idea I have been toying with for Madden in particular.  I think it might make sense to not even sell the game (still DO sell microtransactions, of course), but rather give it away for free and support it via advertising.  The game is already riddled with adds.  Why not add internet conenctivity to these adds and deliver personalized or local adds during game play.  For example, say you are playing online and your opponent calls a time-out.  A commerical for Taco Bell could run full screen while players choose their play again.  At first people might find it invasive, but if the game was free, I dont think they would care, I for one would gladly trade some of my attention for a free game.

These are just a few of my ideas.  I certainly hope that EA reads this and thinks my ideas are good.  If not, well, I hope someone else does and uses the ideas first.  Compeition usually helps out the consumer.  If you are reading this, and you represent a game company or marketing company, please feel free to contact me.  I have alot more ideas as to how to make money using networking and video games.  I might jsut do some free lance work for you.

Windows Vista Revisited

Very early on after its release, I gave Windows Vista a try on one of my secondary computers.  I was primarily interested in the Media Center funcitonalty of the Operating System.  I had and am currently still am using Windows XP MCE 2005 and like it alot.  So Vista MCE was seemed very interesting to me.

I installed it, and initially I liked it quite a bit.  But then the bad Vista came to bite me.  The audio drivers for the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum Pro were clearly not designed for Vista.  The Nvidia drivers for my Geforce 8800 GTS Card were also clearly immature.  But most of all, the Media Center software that was the reason for my testing out Vista COMPLETELY disappeared from the computer.  There was no sign of it at all.  It happened all of a sudden too, I had turned off my computer prior to a thunderstorm and when I turned it back on after the storm, Vista was there, but the Media Center had been erased from existance.  VERY WEIRD.  These things caused me to give up on Vista for around a year.

I recently purchased a new motherboard, processor and ram.  I went with the EVGA 780i SLI motherboard and the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 CPU with 4 gigs of Corsair Dominator ram.  Everythign else, I kept the same in my system as the other components are all fairly current.  In the older system, I was running Windows XP MCE 205.  With such a major change in componenets, it is necessary to reinstall the Operating System.  So I decided to give Vista a 2nd chance as Service Pack 1 was already available.

The installation was not super smooth.  I only have SATA optical drives in my computer now.  The LG Bluray-HDDVD combo drive is very nice, but is not available in PATA/IDE.  Windows Vista does not seem to like to install from SATA optical drives from waht I can tell.  Luckily, I had an old external USB DVD recorder which allowed me to install Vista Ultimate with ho hitches.

Once installed, the system seemed to function well, after updating all my drivers to Vista approved versions.  All of the software I use seems to be fully functional in Vista when I turn off the User Account Control.  UAC is just an annoyance to me.  I consider myself to be a power user, and UAC is very invasive — that said — I feel the SUDO in Linux is also annoying.  If I am capable, I should be able to run as root.  I realize its a bit of a security risk, but I have a pretty good idea what I am doing.  Therefor, the ability to completely disable UAC is good foresight by Microsoft.  Anyway, all seemed well and I decided to let Vista run for a few months.

Spring forward to today —

At the present I have been running Vista on my main computer for about 3 months and on a Dell XPS m1330 laptop for about 4 months.  At this point, I have to say, I notice very little difference in performance between Vista and XP now.  I think Vista is at least equivalent in both categories and may actually perform better than XP in some things.  I have figured out where all the settings have been moved to on Vista, so tweaking things is about the same as XP.  Gaming performance is on par with XP now too.  In fact on the main computer with an Nvidia Geforce 8800GTS with 768 megs of ram, gaming runs very very smoothly.  I have no complaints really.  I game either at 1270X800 or 1920X1200, depending on the game.  Anything I have tried works well.

Part of my job is running Autodesk Maya and MotionBuilder along with Vicon Nexus.  Thse programs run fine as well.  I notice absolutely zero difference between Vista and XP as far as speed or stability goes.  Infact, Vista may be slightly MORE stable at this point.

The laptop doesnt get used for gaming, so I can not comment there.  I have another m1330 that has a Geforce 8400GS M in it, that does get used for gaming, but I have XP MCE 2005 currently on that machine.  The Vista laptop is very stable and seems runs very quickly.  This laptop was purchased 5 months ago for around $700 USD.

I have no complaints at this point with Windows Vista — aside from the complaints I have with all computers.  It seems to have most of the bugs worked out, and Nvidia seems to have their act together on the drivers at this point.  If you read any review or critique of Vista at this point in time, make sure you check the date of the article.  My feeling is that it is working and can at this point be adopted by the masses as a decent operating system.

Firefox 3

I downloaded the portable version of Firefox 3 the other day to test out the new browser.  It seems to work fine and offers what seems to be, a speed boost over Firefox 2 when it comes to loading websites.  I personally didn’t measure this, but it does feel faster.

The first thing I notices was how many of the add-ons I use that are incompatible.  A few notable plug-ins as of this posting are:

  1. All-in-One Sidebar
  2. Auto Copy
  3. Exch (a currency coverter)
  4. Fingerfox
  5. Google Browser Sync (this is a biggie)
  6. Google Pagerank Status
  7. Google Send to Phone
  8. Google Web Accelerator
  9. Minimize to Tray
  10. Tab Effect
  11. Tab Preview
  12. Tabbrowser Preferences

Some of these plug-ins are totally unnecessary (tab effect), while others have become integral in my decision not to use Internet Explorer.  The other thing I was surprised about is the Noia 2.0 Extreme Theme is currently not compatible with Firefox 3.  I am sure some, if not all of these add-ons will be updated in the near future, but others such as the Google Browser Sync will not (according to Google).  A suggestion is to use Mozilla Weave, but at the time of writing this the site is down and I can not test it to post my opinion.

My general opinion of Firefox 3 is that its a bit of an improvement over V2, but I people should give the developers a bit more time to get their plugins running before you make the switch permanently.  Hopefully this happens in weeks rather than months.

Computer format

I recently decided to install Windows Vista on my main computer, and during the install process I ran into some issues with a hard drive controller.  To make a long story short, I lost some data, which included the old website data, so I am starting new with a new look.