Archive for January, 2009

More speedruns

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

In my last speedruns post, I avoided videos that didn’t just play the original sound effects and music from in-game. I’ll concede the point with this next video, partly because it only shows a few seconds at most of continuous gameplay at a time, so the audio would be choppy and irritating at best, and partly because it’s so brainbendingly awesome.

I give you: “INSANE Commander Keen 5 skills”.

It’s not a full speed run, just little bits from one, and I love it because it shows just how much potential there was in that old engine. I could jump around and shoot things and do the impossible pogo trick, but this guy makes Keen look like a parkour nut.

While making a complete mockery of every kind of baddie in the game. I wish I knew how to pogo backwards.

Hm. This’ll seem a bit boring by comparison now, but I also found a 3-part speedrun of Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss. This old game was my very first experience with RPGs of any kind, having kept mainly to games like Keen and Radix, and these videos just make me shudder at the thought of how many little things I missed, and how absolutely impossible the idea was of me ever completing it.

I played the game for weeks. I think I got down to level 9 in the abyss at one point. I can only conclude the game was just too complicated for anybody but an RPG buff to really play through, because when he started casting spells on random items that did magical unfamiliar things, and leaping through walls as if they weren’t there, and standing in what looks like a completely unremarkable spot in a room and whipping out a flute and just making crazy shit happen… It just makes me feel a bit inadequate, somehow.

Anyway. Parts one, two and three.

fortunately

Friday, January 30th, 2009

emishield

It provides shielding for more than just EMI

confusion in the head here

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

If I could have one wish granted today – any wish, anything at all – it would be that Australian ISPs would stop buying each other.

I’m in the middle of a strange problem at work right now. I’m trying to set up dialup internet for a customer; I have her email address and a password, but can’t figure out which ISP her computer should be dialing.

Her email address ends in @1earth.net. 1earth.net, if you’ll care to look, instantly redirects to Chariot. Which is all well and good, but if you click on Dialup Access (under Our Services on the left), you’re further redirected to TPG.

Of course, when I tried their dialup number, it was busy. If it’s still busy (or fails to authenticate again) tomorrow, I’m going to have to ring their tech support and ask them who the hell’s actually meant to be providing this lady with internets.

Update: For the roughly 2.7 people who will ever have this same problem and google exactly the right things to find this, it turns out that if your email address ends with 1earth.net, your ISP is indeed Chariot, you dial 0198 308 800 with your modem, and you use your 1earth address to log into everywhere.

My problem had the added bonus where my customer had actually run out of prepaid internet time, which Chariot’s servers choose to explain by refusing connections on the grounds of incorrect username/password. Which didn’t help when I was dialing random numbers in the hope I’d accidentally stumble on the correct combination…

minutes of your life you’ll never get back

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

norton-uninstall

“…How long have you got before you have to go home tonight?”

Fortunately, once the thing finished booting, the ETA dropped to a single digit number.

Seriously, people, don’t buy a laptop with less than a gig of ram. It makes me want to cry.

good to know exists: autoplay repair wizard

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Depending on who you ask, autoplay is either useful, or annoying. It used to be one of those things you just turned off on a new Windows install, but in recent years I’ve grown to like it (despite the obvious security questions it raises).

It’s useful, but a bit flawed, because there’s many ways to disable it (all of which you’d have to know about, to fix any problems). Including group policies, a concept no mere human should have to grapple with.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for autoplay problems I only discovered just today. Microsoft themselves publish the Autoplay Repair Wizard, which is an impressive little thing that runs without having to install it…

autoplay

…and aggressively works through the list of things that could be messing with autoplay. In the case of the PC I worked on today, AP was disabled in both the user and local machine policies, which I probably wouldn’t have figured out myself.

You have to log out and back into Windows to try each fix as it applies them, because changes don’t take effect until you do that. I had to do that twice, because once it found a problem in one group policy it stopped and didn’t check the others, but it was thorough and fixed the issues in the end in a matter of minutes.

autoplay2

There’s also a “trust me, there’s a problem…” mode, where it’ll watch what you’re doing for a minute or so and try to spot inconsistencies between you opening and closing your CD drive (or plugging in a thumbdrive) and what the Autoplay service actually sees and responds to. I didn’t need to go that far, but if you’ve found this post by googling for autoplay fixers, your mileage may vary.

this week, at officeworks

Friday, January 16th, 2009

dsc00080

These curious devices are chairs.

dsc00079

Do not sit on their armrests.

Windows 7: Devices and Printers window

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I stumbled on a new item in the start menu today: Devices and Printers.

w7-devices

It’s somewhere between My Computer and the Device Manager. Intrigued, I answered yes to that interesting question at the top and set about plugging in every USB device I could see within arm’s reach:

Read the rest of this entry »

Windows 7, and more on Radeons and PhysX

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

So, Microsoft released the first beta version of Windows 7 this weekend. (Actually they did it on Friday, but a thousand million keen participants brought their servers to a halt, before a mad rush to setup new servers to handle the insane load.) Officially the beta product keys will expire on August 1, which is a little later than I’d hoped, but having played with the beta for a day now myself I’m going to stay optimistic about the RTM date.

Because, put in a nutshell: Windows 7 is looking fantastic so far.

perfect

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more photos from just behind the wing

Monday, January 5th, 2009

dsc00070

No furbies. It’s the law.

dsc00074

It’s a long, long way down.

dsc00072 dsc00073

Long way to the horizon, too.

how to abbreviate the retro gaming experience

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Remember all those funky DOS games you used to play? They came on plastic squares that slotted into the front of your 486, and you had to type something to get them to load. And none of them work, because your new computer runs Vista and doesn’t even have a floppy drive, and anyway the abandonware site tried to give you a virus and the game just complains about 16 bit mode, whatever that is.

If you’re a bit more technically apt than that, you could get the games to run in DOSbox (it emulates an old PC in a window on your new one, so you can actually play them through). Assuming about 50 minutes on average for a single scenario in Dune 2 (that last level is a biatch, unless you cheat by saving frequently and reloading if a missile obliterates your base), it’ll still take you about 24 hours of solid gameplay to finish all 3 campaigns. Much more, if you replay the last half of the game to fight on all the different maps (which is worth doing, if you’re a die-hard fan).

Multiply that by the number of games you’d happily play again if you had the sheer time on your hands that you did when you were eight, and you realise it’s unfeasible for most adults. So, leech off the time spent by other adults, watch some recorded gameplay videos, and let the internet take your inner child back to a time when the internet didn’t yet exist.

Speed Demos Archive dot com would appear to be the place to go, unless you had the same games as me and are content at picking from what I could find myself: