Archive for the 'Society' Category

True or False: Vista!

Just quietly, before we begin, small shout-out to Arvixe web hosting who are hosting my blog and stuff now! Thanks!

I have a question to pose. What was wrong with Windows Vista?

I had used Vista from Beta through to the other day when I finally upgrade to Windows 7 (because I wanted new technology like DX11) and never, ever had an issue with it as an operating system. My system specs were not amazing, nothing about my computer other than myself (being savvy) is different than one bought off the shelf anywhere else, and yet it ran flawlessly. And I am not the only one. I have built computers within prices ranging from $900 – $1600 for friends, installed Vista, and none of them have a problem with it either.

This leads me to believe that the problem has to be the setup of the operating system itself. Any computer enthusiast should understand that an operating system is just like any other program, and needs to have its options configured to how the user wants in order for the software to behave accordingly. This is a 5 minute job which changes the entire feel of Windows Vista for the better, and in my opinion, makes it more than “liveable”.

Admittedly, Vista was a long way from Windows XP in polish when it came out, and some features were a little annoying, but these could all be switched off (User Account Control – Bah!) There is only a marginal difference in RAM usage from Vista to 7 (both fresh installs, no upgrade) possibly 5 – 10% overall on my system with 4GB, and not a lot more on my laptop with 2GB. So alright, it does use slightly more, but then again, it does look a lot better than XP. If you don’t want it to look better, turn it off!

It seems to me, that because the “IT Professionals” preferred a little speed on older computers and were not used to the default setup of Vista, they took an instant dislike to it, and then wrote on their blogs about it. Then the people who don’t know as much about computers listened. And refused to buy it. And the sales crashed. And more blogs by people who know even less came out about how they don’t like it. And the internet wins again.

I don’t want to get too rant-y here, but let’s just see what the latest internet trends are… Tiger Woods (celebrity scandals! O noes!), New Moon (Teen Vamp movies…), Lady Gaga (Bad music…) and Avatar (The movie, I’m guessing). My point is that you cannot listen to the internet. The best bet would be to ask someone who LIKES Vista to tell you why, rather than someone who hates it. Admittedly, both opinions have their flaws, but why not hear both sides of the story?

I guess the point of this blog wasn’t to give you my opinion, but to help you understand everyone else’s. If you do still have vista and haven’t already followed the fanboy rush at the Windows 7 desk of your local JB HiFi then please, take my advice and do the following:

  1. Turn off User Account Control.
    This helps make the computer a smoother, less obtrusive instrument to get what you want done.
  2. Change your Security Centre settings to stop notifying you.
    This gets awfully tiring after a while. Personally I don’t run Anti-virus or anything so it will always alert you otherwise.
  3. Set Control Panel to Classic View.
    The best for people who are used to using Windows XP. It’s the same again!
  4. Set your Start Menu to Classic View and customise to your liking.
    Also suggest using small icons here. This is something I have always had until I upgraded to 7. No, you cannot do that in Windows 7, but you can make it a bit better…
  5. Set your desktop to Small Icons.
    Much cleaner for those with smaller monitors / laptops

There is a lot of other small tweaks that you can do, and I’m sure you can google those yourself.

In closing, please don’t judge before you try. You really can make Vista an acceptable operating system with just a few small changes here and there. It’s like OS Feng-shui. Or something.

Have fun,
Andrew

Fan-Dangle-d Tech-Knowl-Igy?

Just a quick one today, I feel like I want to share some information I have become privy to in the recent minutes. After deciding that I want to format Patrice’s Asus eeepc 900 and install Windows 7 Ultimate, I read a cool guide to do so here, which also points at a very nice Microsoft tutorial on Installing Windows 7 from a USB Drive. The only issue I have with this, is that I don’t want to use a USB key (I have an 80gb Portable 2.5″ HDD.)

This brings me to the issue of how do you format a hard drive to FAT32 (required to be able to boot from the disk). I had done this once before on my Vista setup, which took quite a long time and involved using a 3rd party app to format. Of course somewhere along the line I lost the application. After a quick Google I found The Answer very quickly.

Download the archive file from Here and extract it to an easy place to find (I recommend C:\) then follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your disk is connected
  2. hit Start / Run
  3. type “cmd”
  4. be very, VERY careful you know what disk you want to format
  5. type “c:\fat32format x:” (Where x: is your drive)
  6. once again, triple-check you have the right drive
  7. type “y” and press enter
  8. Don’t go have a cup of coffee. I dislike it when people that make lists and include those stupid items which are meant to be smart.
  9. That’s it. You now have a FAT32 formatted drive of any size!

Now there are a few things to remember, Due to the way FAT works, I would not suggest using it for a primary hard drive, or anything like that. It can get awfully clogged and tiresome to defragment. Also, people might laugh at you if they ever found out.

This trick is especially useful when running a large drive to play DivX or Xvid movies on your PS3 or USB-DVD player (completely legally, of course) as those devices only use FAT32 disks and USB drives. Also, when building USB Boot-drives for a netbook.

Other than that, I am considering getting one of These Puppies for myself, as I do not have a small laptop, my current one is large and cumbersome.

Keep “with it”,
Andrew

Vista Vitality

As everyone knows, Windows Vista is the latest and “Greatest” operating system released by the software giant Microsoft. Yet no businesses have adopted it yet, and barely anyone knows exactly what it can do or how it can do it. Not to mention the hardware requirements. Why is Vista so poorly marketed? For that matter, why are the Intel Core2’s poorly marketed?

The answer is simple. If they told everyone what it could do, people wouldn’t buy it because they would feel stupid. In today’s high technology, sushi and innovation-full world, almost no one understands the bigger picture. People think computers just work because some geek told them too, and they pay those geeks to fix their computers every 10 minutes because they keep breaking down.

A computer isn’t really all that intricate to understand. Basic principles (not “this is a computer”) would help people diagnose problems so much quicker than no learning at all. If the government put up free computer classes in basic hardware and software “understanding” then people would be more creative, more productive and heaps less noob. Yeah I said it. As a bit of a case study I have been slowly teaching my girlfriend about the inside workings of a computer, and she has begun to understand applications and even hardware better, leading to better output using a machine.

With OS’s coming out like vista, boasting increased user-friendly-ness, it makes the everyday person even less compelled to take the lid off their computer and blow out the dust. Why bother, when for $50 someone else can do it for me? Knowledge for the sake of knowing. Understanding what things can do helps use things, helps fix things, then you can teach your friends and then the whole world knows it. Then people can stop worrying about making User-friendly operating systems and start making stuff that people want. Windows Media Center? HELL NO!

Andrew

Deep, Immersive Gameplay

Communities are a very interesting environment, and they usually encompass many types of people. Having a closer look at how people interact with each other usually allows for someone to recreate a more realistic environment pertaining to people. In the game industry, you have to understand how computer-controlled actors work, and how they will interact with the player, and other NPCs (Non-player characters).

Usually in games the main character or the plot characters he/she interacts with are really extraordinary people, and are interesting and have a lot to say. This just isn’t the case in the real world. You have the quiet people, who just don’t want to talk to anyone. And you have the loud obnoxious people who are incredibly annoying. Sure, having these characteristics in the characters in the game would make it more realistic, but would it make it enjoyable?

Having an extreme personality type for a main character gives the game a twist, but what if you have a city of different personality types? It would make the place very interesting to explore and understand. If each character reacted differently depending on their personality, it would change the way players looked at the game. Using facial expression in games is a great advance, and it can be used even more thoroughly if it is required to tell the player what the NPCs are feeling.

Imagine, busting into a hotel room during an alien invasion and the person inside was just about to shoot themselves. Not because of the invasion, but because they were unhappy. You would have to talk to person out of it, or let them do it, as long as they don’t shoot you or alert the aliens. Entire new aspects of games open up, and things become more realistic, or more interesting the deeper you go.

Again, this is just an example. What if the whole city ran on extreme personalities? How things would change.

Andrew

Modding a Community

Modifications for games are some of the most interesting, innovative and often inspiring pieces of software that are on the web (Usually for free). They range from making a gun in Quake 3 look like Yoda, to an entire “Total conversion” making the game completely different, with a new story, new models, new quests, new everything. Modding is a community based hobby, which has made some people very rich.

This rant is about two things; the fact that mods are awesome, and the fact that some companies are exploiting them.

Do you remember the days when a new version of counter-strike would come out, and you would have to wait another 8 hours for the 150mb file to download on your dialup connection, because all those internet servers with amazingly fast internet already have it downloaded? I sure do, and I miss them greatly. Valve, after all, are a good company, in that they have released some good games, and they know what the market needs. But buying off modders and selling their content for profit? Is it just me, or is that low.

The latest victim that I am aware of is Garry Newman, creator of Garry’s Mod which is now for sale through the steam shop for $9.95 or something. Why? I don’t know why. All I know is that it is stupid how we have to pay for stuff like Team Fortress 2, Day of Defeat Source, Counter-strike Source and even the HL2: EP1+2. I realise that episodic games can cost, but they are a little expensive for 4 hours of gameplay. How greedy are they?

Anyway, some friends and I have decided that we are going to use the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset to make a module for that, so we can have something to show sooner, rather than later. This will take a fair bit of planning as we don’t want to do something small. It’s going to be grand. 5 or 6 person production grand! I am thinking about using it as my other project. That may be a good idea…

Andrew