Category Archives: Uncategorized

Readyboost helps even with 4GB of RAM

My wife’s laptop (an Inspiron 1720) sits near the living room, a perfect spot to keep an eye on the kids, and so it ends up being used by both of us. I browse using Firefox, with tons of open tabs, and my wife browses using IE. Browsing these days takes a lot of RAM, and it’s not at all hard to saturate the 3.5GB of RAM accessible to the 32-bit Windows 7 (out of 4GB in the machine).

When more than 3.5GB is in use, the laptop starts going into slideshow mode, when switching tabs, programs or even using the OS can take long seconds. That pain led me to consider various options, such as installing the 64-bit version of the OS or getting an SSD. I eventually remembered Readyboost, which can use a USB Flash drive to cache disk accesses, and so has a good potential to speed up systems with disk thrashing, for example due to virtual memory use.

We had a 4GB Flash drive that wasn’t in use, so I plugged that in and configured it. I’ve read a lot of comments of how Readyboost is only really useful on systems with little RAM (1GB and under), but since we started using it the laptop has become a lot more responsive. We no longer feel the need to shut down applications or reboot. It’s of course not as good as having extra RAM, but it’s a whole lot better than before.

I’m sure that a RAM upgrade (impractical in this case) would be the best, and an SSD could be a good solution (I’m considering it, though might go for a Seagate SSHD), but as a cheap upgrade (free in this case) this is a surprisingly good solution.

GMG Capsule, Securom and Deus Ex DRM freedom

Following a GOG conversation, I decided to try to see if I could get Deus Ex GOTY, which I have at GMG, installed as a DRM-free game.

I’ve read that GMG uses Securom for all games, and it looks like this is the case. Downloading Deus Ex on my PC it asked for an unlock when it ran. I copied the entire game directory to my laptop, which doesn’t even have Capsule installed, then downloaded and installed New Vision. I had to delete DeusEx.ini and User.ini to get the game to run, but once I did that it ran without a problem.

So there you have it, a DRM-free copy of Deus Ex downloaded from GMG. Not as trivial as getting one from GOG, but if you intend to install New Vision it’s not really any more work. You have to have Capsule installed to download and install the game, but it’s not necessary to run it later, and the copy can be backed up easily.

Green Man Gaming’s Capsule and moving games to another PC

I bought LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 on Green Man Gaming. I wanted to install it on my HTPC, which has a slightly erratic WiFi connection because of its location, and apparently Green Man Gaming’s Capsule, it’s download client, didn’t take well to that, reporting errors in the download without giving me a clear idea whether it’s planning to fix them.

So I decided to download it on my own PC and copy it there. Capsule downloads a zip file of the game, and that’s easy to copy, but it didn’t recognise that I copied it, and still continued to report errors and continued to download over it, even though it said there was 0.1GB left. Unzipping using Windows didn’t work well, and unzipping with IZarc wasn’t perfect either (though a little better). I ended up installing on my PC and copying the directory over.

When I ran the game Securom asked for a code. I ran the game on my PC and there it showed me the code, which I copied to the HTPC and it worked.

All in all it took me quite some time to get this to work, but it’s really not that bad. Capsule could be improved a little, but I imagine that for DRM free games there will be less hassle to copy over, and in any case it’s not like Steam which prevent running the client on two PC’s at the same time, and the game doesn’t need Capsule running in the background.

(As far as terms of use are concerned, GMG isn’t better than Steam, for example the terms say that a game can only be installed on one PC. I hate all these petty limitations which often conflict with normal, legitimate use. But at least technically GMG is less limiting than Steam.)

Review note: Logitech MK220 keyboard + mouse combo

I posted a while back about my HTPC. I thought about reviewing the various components, but of course I won’t get around to doing real reviews, so I decided to post short notes about them instead.

The Logitech MK220 is a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. The keyboard is small, rectangular and flat, so fits well on a narrow shelf, but it also has full size keys and a numeric keypad (but not a standard arrangement arrow keys and home/end, etc.). I won’t say that it’s an extremely comfortable keyboard, but it serves its purpose, and it’s not that bad. The mouse is a simple one.

I’ve used several wireless Microsoft combos and mice, and never had any luck using them at a range of over a few tens of centimetres. I tried one of them with the HTPC but it just didn’t work. This Logitech combo works well at two metres and more, so I can easily control the HTPC from the sofa.

The Red Queen of Oz adventure game Kickstarter

I interviewed Bryan Weigele when he first ran the Kickstarter project for The Red Queen of Oz graphic novel. That one failed, but a later try was quite a success, and as he said in that review, his plan has always been to create an adventure game. Now the The Red Queen of Oz: Two Fates – An Adventure Game project is up. It will be an adventure game with turn based combat, which I think is cool (but it’s optional in case you don’t like it).

Lowendia.com now registered at NameSilo

I’ve been moving my domains out of GoDaddy. I don’t like the “get a special deal just today” kind of sales, nor all the products being pushed at me. For my main domain, et3d.com, this also meant getting more e-mails, because GoDaddy’s forwarding has spam filtering, and it lost me e-mails.

Internet.bs is cheap and has a simple interface, which I liked. Unfortunately when I tried to move lowendia.com there I didn’t get one of the mails I needed, and the e-mail support I got was totally incompetent, so I asked for a refund (which annoyingly I got as credit, although I can live with that).

After a bit of research I decided to try NameSilo. The transfer was easy, and it even set the name servers to what they were set at GoDaddy, which was cool. The service itself seems quite limited. No e-mail forwarding, and I couldn’t find how to set advanced things like MX records. Luckily I don’t need all that right now.

Coming full circle

I’ve been blogging for a while. Not very often, but I would occasionally post my thoughts about things. I started on Blogger, moved to Opera, then started my own site using GLFusion. After that got deleted by mistake by my hosting provider I decided to move to WordPress, to make things simpler. That got hacked, so now I’ve done the next simplification step and moved the blog to WordPress.com, where it would be up to someone else to keep the software up to date and protected.

Hopefully this time I’ll stay up for a while. (Which doesn’t mean I’ll post much.)

An interview with Bryan Wiegele

Bryan Wiegele is a veteran of the gaming industry who is best known as the creator of the Delaware St. John adventure series. I was recently surprised to discover that he turned to creating a graphic novel, The Red Queen of Oz, for which he’s currently running a Kickstarter project. But it looks like there’s more to this, and this is just a first step towards creating an adventure game based on the setting of this graphic novel. I was intrigued enough that I decided to ask Mr. Wiegele if he’d be willing to answer a few questions, and he kindly obliged.

[ET] The basic premise of the story, according to the Kickstarter page, is that the Red Queen is trying to take over Oz after taking over Wonderland, and it’s up to Alice and Dorothy to stop her. Anything more you can reveal about the story? Can you tell us how Alice and Dorothy met?

[Bryan Wiegele] Alice and Dorothy actually meet for the first time after returning to Wonderland/Oz. They’re both tossed into the middle of the chaos caused by the Red Queen and are searching for familiar faces to find out what’s going on.

[ET] How did you come up with this idea?

[Bryan Wiegele] The idea has been floating around in my head for years and bit by bit the pieces worked out, all except for one. But recently I had a moment where the missing piece just came to me and it all flowed. I knew then it was ready to move forward on.

[ET] I love the Simon Rosati’s art you’ve shown. How did you two come to work together on this?

[Bryan Wiegele] Simon is an amazingly talented guy. He and I actually met on my previous project, a puzzle game calle ‘dillos. Simon did the character art for all of the story images in that game and I knew then he’d be a perfect fit for the Red Queen project.

[ET] Did you think from the beginning to make this into an adventure game?

[Bryan Wiegele] It was originally my intention to build a game out of the Oz and Wonderland crossover but the reality of getting funding to do a game is pretty harsh so I took a step back and thought to take it one step at a time. The first move is to get the story and world out there to people so they can see the vision and when the time comes to raise the money for a game, people will already see the potential.

[ET] How far along is the design for this game?

[Bryan Wiegele] It’s pre-production. I’ve got the idea of execution in my head, the gameplay, etc. but right now it’s still early and there’s constantly more ideas going into the plan.

[ET] What kind of style are you planning for it? Will it be a classic 2D point and click adventure?

[Bryan Wiegele] I’d actually love to do this as a third person point and click. I’ve only ever done first person adventure games in the past and with this project I want to try something different. I’ve always loved 3rd person point and click games but the cost of doing them is greater than doing first -person.

[ET] Will the adventure follow the story of the graphic novel, or will it have a different story using this setting and characters?

[Bryan Wiegele] The game would use the story presented in the graphic novel as a backdrop. Since it’s a game, it will include a lot more content to explore and learn about.

[ET] Anything else you want to tell us about the graphic novel or the adventure game?

[Bryan Wiegele] This really is a wonderful project and if we’re fortunate enough to get the chance to get to where we want to be and show off the vision we’ve got, I think a lot of people will love it.

[ET] Thanks a lot for answering my questions, and I wish you the best of luck with this project.

Got locked out by WordPress

That’s not the reason I didn’t post, but now that I wanted to, I discovered that I can’t log in. I tried log into my hosting account to look at the database, but couldn’t. I contacted Namepad and Dave changed my password but that didn’t help, so he directed my to another login page, and that worked.

Turned out that for some reason my WordPress users table was empty. Luckily came to the rescue, and I was able to define my user again and here I am, a day later.

When you pirate, you hurt the other guys

That’s a thought I had when answering a post on Tom’s Hardware. Someone said that people who pirate often don’t intend to buy the product anyway, so it’s not a loss to the company producing it. That may be true, but it does hurt that company’s competitors. People who pirate, even if they never intend to buy anything, are still hurting the software business, and they’re hurting those whose products they don’t pirate more than they hurt the companies they pirate from.

When someone pirates Windows, this means they don’t use Linux (or another free alternative). If they used Linux there would be more Linux users and more users of Linux software. When someone pirates a game, they are likewise not supporting free games which they could be playing. If they did, those free games would have more users. More users often translates to better support (people helping each other), more feedback to developers, and even more money spent on these or related products.

Now suppose the pirate is willing (as they often claim) to pay something, just not the price of Windows, Office or an AAA game. There are not only free alternatives but paid ones. By choosing to pirate that person isn’t looking into alternatives and of course not paying for them. It’s possible to buy a lot of games for $1 to $5; there are decent paid alternatives to Microsoft software, such as SoftMaker Office.

The thing is, when the top products can be had for free (via piracy) the value of everything else becomes zero, too. Why buy indie games when you’re playing AAA ones for free? Why support smaller companies when you can use Microsoft software? The end result is that pirating software can strengthen the companies from which software is stolen at the expense of competitors.

I think that it’s worth researching whether this really happens.