Lucky number 7

So it’s that time again, the new Windows 7 public preview as been made available. I’ve been following it’s progressed by installing the leaked betas on aVM to test them out but that’s always slow and doesn’t make you take your feet of familiar ground (my tuned XP desktop) to really get to know the OS, so i felt it was time to jump in on the public beta and try and use it as a main OS for a month.

One thing I think needs to be clear, Windows 7 is Windows Vista plus polish, Vista had a difficult birth, suffering from numerous issues and that showed in the final product, vista was released as a ghost of what was “promised” and riddled with performance issues and driver issues from the get go, at it’s core it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t what I and allot of people were expecting, as such I gave it a pass and stayed with XP. But stay in the “past” forever isn’t usualy a good idea so I had to see if Windows 7 was ready for me.

First hurdle was the install, Windows 7 comes on a DVD, not having any kind of optical drive in my computer for a few years now (with a fast Internet connection and a big enough hdd it becomes pointless) I had to figure out how to install it without one, odds would have it Microsoft as made it very easy to make a Windows 7 install USB pen/HDD. So following some instructions I proceeded to install it without no issues on a side partition I save for alternative OS’s, score one for Windows 7.

But eventually it came time to setup my screen cloning and that’s were things went bad for Windows 7, or maybe should I say nvidia. It seems that the nvidia drivers available no longer support cloning with screen spanning, as such I’m unable to have cloning and native resolution on my main screen since it limits it to the maximum resolution both monitors can support. I tried installing Vista drivers, using UltraMon but Vista drivers didn’t have a working control panel and UltraMon didn’t even manage to start, so as far as trying out Windows 7 Beta that was it for me, just not willing to give up the convenience of my screen clone setup for Windows 7, hopefully drivers will get better as Windows 7 aproaches final and I’ll try it again.

From the few minutes I used it some I liked, the aditions to windows managing and the show desktop corner button seem great ideas even if it seems it will take some getting used to, the new taskbar however asn’t fully convinced me yeat but without everyday use I can’t really say for sure, some of my friends with simpler setups are trying it out as well so at least I’ll get to know all the kinks of it anyways for round 2…

Update: Got UltraMon to work by folowing some instructions in the forums, although mirrowing worked it proved very cpu intencive (40% cpu usage) and as such unviable.

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Main Screen 2.0 Review

Main Screen is an application designed to make the boring and monotonous work of taking screenshots into an easy task.

Almost everyone as had that time where you needed to show what was going on in your screen, maybe you need to show that strange error message to a helping tech friend, or maybe you just want to show a funny/nasty bug, either ways Main Screen will help you do just that.

The setup is simple, just extract and run, some people might prefer this way but personally I’d like to see an installer, just too dam lazy to copy files around :), anyways I was told that an installer would appear in a future release.

Even before starting Main Screen a thing that might leave some users scratching their heads is the complete lack of any sort help, documentation or quick start guide, even a simple application like Main Screen should have some simple instructions on how to use it it’s a shame since little pearls like “Alt+Print Scrn” key that will take a screenshot of just the active window will go unnoticed.

Main Screen interface is mostly a well designed one, and everything works fine, still there were two big issues that I noticed:

  1. That it didn’t give valid default values for the directory and filename, if left unchanged it gives a “Can’t create Directory” error when taking a screenshot which may take some users a little time to figure out, giving the valid default values and adding “Please check that the Directory and filename are valid” to the error message would fix it.
  2. The “Start Service” Button name, the part of Main Screen that actually takes the screenshots runs in the background not requiring that you leave the interface open and that button will start it, still I think it’s poorly labeled and should be changed to something along the lines of “Enable Main Screen” with a dialog telling the user that Main Screen is running and that he can close the interface. That would make it less cryptic about what it does.

Besides the issues mentioned above everything in Main Screen worked fine, all I had to do was “Start Service” and click on the “Print Scrn” key and it would save a copy of the screen into the defined directory.

Main Screen isn’t perfect but does what it’s supposed to well, it has become a permanent part of my windows installation making the old Print Screen / Open Paint / Paste / Save As days a thing of the past, if like me you take lot’s of screenshots I sincerely recommend you give Main Screen a try, It may make your day :).

Mega Fantasma Main Screen Page

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Unoficial knows best

This seems to be the rule when it comes to a certain bands websites. After seeing and listening to the this mysterious new band called Fort Minor featuring the vocal talent of Linkin Park‘s Mike Shinoda I Just wanted to get to know how this project came about, after going around in circles browsing trough the official website I finally found the answer in an unofficial website. For some reason the “official” websites never seem to have this kind of information I expected it to be the first thing the “official” website would display.

Anyways the music’s dam good giving us a taste of the Linkin Park sound without Chester Bennington a bit like it was presented in tracks like High Voltage, so I highly recommend it (but don’t get me wrong, Chester rocks and Linkin Park wouldn’t be the same without him).

PS: And there you have it, an unusual music review from me (darn it even rimed)

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ACEE 2005 Report

Late I know but I was hopping the ACEE organizers would give some more information I missed (which they didn’t). so anyways here it is.

There I was waking up at 9am Saturday morning and during Ester vacations, anyone could see this had to be something important for me to do this :D.

So I toke my breakfast and toke of, this time alone (dam you cebola) but at least I was driving the family car so the trip was a short and comfortable one. When I arrive there I could see this year’s ACEE (Image) was going to be very different, there were man in suits all over the place with name tags and two ladies (that’s right ladies, this time they showed up) were putting up a big ACEE sign on the wall.

I was a bit early but still, I head straight inside, as soon has I enter I greeted familiar faces from last year and continued my way to the exhibits. This year’s games were not that many so I decided to write about them all:

  • Pac-Man Arena by Nuno Subtil, also made an appearance since last year, I didn’t noticed any changes since then, so I just moved along.
  • Ladrão dos Esgotos (Thief of the sewer) by (Can’t remember the names) it was a Pac-man style game with a odd theme, I still can’t figure out what a thief would want to go down a sewer for, but of course to each is one, the game was really retro with old NES style graphics but considering the authors were still in the 11º grade it wasn’t that bad :).
  • Frog game by Ricardo Santos was a bloody weird game if I can even call it that, I really couldn’t figure it out (and I wasn’t alone in this). The flash game consisted in a frog that would began a quest and you could control if he was walking or standing still, every time I stopped the frogs eye would pop out and drop into the floor, I figured out that you could click stuff but all I could do was pick up a violin and open door to odd characters that told me to only return if I could help… I just considered this one too “innovating” and “artistic” for me and moved on…
  • Mine Sweper style game by (also can’t remember the name), pretty much seemed to be like the mine sweeper that comes with windows, never been a fan so moving along…
  • Reaktor by José Miguel Salles Dias, Tiago Rodrigues e Rui Pires, o yeah baby multiplayer rocks, the game itself was quite basic, there were no animations to the player actions, the bullets appeared in front of the characters, but dam it worked, and it was all made from scratch by the authors making it dam good all things considered.
  • VIGDP01 by Filipe Amim and Jaerden Sousa, this one brought me old memory’s from galaga and space invaders, the game play was pretty much the same but with “better” graphics, probably to good since sometimes it was hard to see what was going on, in any case it was a nice game 🙂
  • Enemy Territory AI mod by some French/Swiss Clan (I think) and dam those BOTs were tough bastards, they supposedly were at a mid level setting but still head shots were common, I only tried them in defense and noticed some flaws mostly how they would allow me to build stuff unharmed as long as I was behind cover or how they wouldn’t even try to destroy the tank, still their sharp shooting more them compensated for that.
  • Tranceball by Paulo Faria, one of my favorite games from last year’s edition, this time the sound bug was gone and I actually managed to complete some levels :), this was a still a beta version but I didn’t found anything wrong with it so I think that it really will be released next month as Paulo Faria claimed, a game worth waiting for.
  • M.I. – New Dawn by Helder Pinto’s Team, all that was available was a video but dam it look good, if the mod lives up to the images it’s gona be one hell of a ride :p.

Also as usual there were lectures (surprise, surprise :p), after the almost boring official opening the first off in the list were Bitbang (Telmo Menezes e Tiago Batista) who spoke of the well know problem of AI (or lack of it) offering a possible solution by using evolutionary intelligence, a dam good discussion, so good that I had to shower the lecturers with questions after the presentation during the “oh so nice” Coffee breaks (we even had cakes an drinks on the house, the luxury of it all :D).

Alaney Dória, was also present as before this time talking on the progress of the IGDA chapter Lisbon, they are planning a new website and more collaboration with the gamedev-pt community, which can only be a Good thing.

After the delicious lunch of BBQ chicken at my house, I returned for Clemens Pecinovsky lecture on professional game developing and current trends, (even if nobody mentioned it a bit of googling seemed to indicate he was working in RockStar Vienna) he gave us a good look at how game studios work these days and some advice to the hopefully future game developers in the audience.

Óscar Mealha also had an interesting lecture about Transdiscipliner education, even if it was not game specific it was of interest since as a person studding to become a game developer often thinks it should focus on OpenGL Programming, Modeling and stuff forgetting other areas that are also important like Team Work strategies, having a good writing, etc…

Finally we add one of the coolest presentations, the Demo scene, we got to see the tools used to make to make those “little” pieces of art, and yes it’s all pure Assembly code all the way, from the music to the textures, everything in the demo is generate from a bit of assembly code, I was blown away…

And that was the end of that, the jury decided and handed out the awards. Honorable mentions were given to Ladrão dos Esgotos, M.I. – New Dawn mod and the Enemy Territory AI mod. 3º place was given to the Reaktor FPS, 2º to the VIGDP1 and finally 1º place was given to Paulo Faria (it would be very hard not to considering the quality of TranceBalls).

Concluding, one thing that should be noted this year was the maturing of ACEE 2005 into a “real” event, the organization increased from 3 to 27 persons most of them wearing full suits during the even (pour guys I feel your pain :(), the presence of international speakers, reporters and even the offer of magazines and complimentary snacks and drinks, it all made me fell confident that ACEE is here to stay, I can only imagine that it will grown in the next few years and hopefully attract more people expectedly Portuguese amateur game developers, I know they’re out there (I know a few) but some are still working on their games wile others fell they got nothing to show (even when they do)… I expect them to make an appearance in next years ACEE, till then.

Note: Images generously made available by Nuno Subtil from his New Dawn ACEE Photo Galery, thanks dude ;).

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Freddy got Fingered

Once upon a time I wrote “Freddy got Fingered” on my mobile, I had forgotten why I did it or what it meant until today.

Because today this Movie was on TV and… I don’t know what to say, it goes out there and pushes even further to levels even I felt uncomfortable with.

Still I admire the bravery to create something with so much controversy potential like this, to sum it up it’s Tom Green at is best (or worse depending on how you look at it) a must see even if to say it’s pure crap.

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