Friday, December 31, 2010

MineCraft Server

The server client on my laptop looked like this.

Last night a spend a tone of time on a Minecraft server that I made. The process was very easy, and I had almost no trouble at all. Once I got it up and running, my friend and I played for hours and hours on it. I followed this simple tutorial to get the server up and running on my macbook. Here are the directions I followed when making the server, they were very clear and easy!
  1. Download the latest version of minecraft_server.jar from here
  2. Create a folder and put minecraft_server.jar into it. For example, create a folder on the Desktop named minecraft_server and drag the jar file into it.
  3. Open TextEdit, set the format to plain text (Format > Make Plain Text), copy and paste in the following code, and save the file as "start.command" in the same folder as minecraft_server.jar.
    #!/bin/bash
    cd "`dirname "$0"`"
    java -Xmx1G -Xms1G -jar minecraft_server.jar
    This will give the server enough RAM to run. The amount of RAM can be changed by editing the 1G to something else, such as 2G for 2 GB.
  4. Open Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/Terminal). Type in chmod a+x , with a space after it, then drag and drop the start.command file into the terminal window, then press enter. (This gives run permission to the script.)
Double-click the start.command file to start the server.
Next, set up port mapping by following the directions below.
For server settings, see the relevant steps in the section Configure the Minecraft Server, but skip the port forwarding steps if you followed the port mapping directions below.

The whole process took about fifteen to twenty minutes, and the server only took a little less then 100 mb of RAM to run. Plus, the rate at which it send packets is very small too. My friend and I made a house, and found quite a few items. We even saved it so next we return to the server, we can play with our items!

~Dave

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Holidays Come to An End


After many sales, the holiday season has come to an end. Steam will be wrapping up its holiday sale this Sunday. Many stores are offering last minute price cuts, such as GameStop and Games For Windows. If you haven't gotten what you wanted already, then it is probably best you wait. Just around the corner is the new year, and many items drop in price then too. Some even go lower then they were during the holiday. That said, no games will be lower at the moment then the ones in the Steam sale, so make sure to pick up what you want out of that. Plus, in the new year there are many new things coming out, so you may wish to save your money for something then. And because the new year brings new items into the store, they tend to have clearance sales on items they don't want anymore, one that didn't sell well, or ones that they have too many of. So make sure to just keep an eye out for those sales.

~Dave

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It May Look Official, But It Is Not

I recently received an email that looked like it was from Steam Support; however, it was in french. The email it came from was support@steampowered.com, which sounds pretty legit right? However, when I put the message through Google Translate, it really put me one my toes. The message claimed my brothers account had been logged into on many computers with failed attempts, they wanted me to log in with the link provided to make sure the account was safe. So, just for the heck of it, I clicked on the link (for future reference, NEVER DO THAT). It took me to what looked just like Steam, but in French and the url was NOT steampowered.com. I immediately closed the window because I knew that it was a scam. I then proceeded to take the information I had gathered and set up open up a chat with Steam Support. I gave them all the information and asked if this was a scam, even though I had a hunch that it was. I got an email this morning from Steam Support, and as I had guessed, it was a scam. Steam will never ask you for your password, and the email at which they will contact you will be support@support.steampowered.com. It was a scam, and now I know for next time. Good thing I didn't give any information!

~Dave

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Price Drop?

I was recently looking at the prices of some of the newer graphics cards out on the market, and they looked like they were pretty good. I was thinking of upgrading, but wasn't sure when to buy. I don't want to spend too much, but I would like a card that can handle good graphics. I looked at the EVGA 460 (Fermi) with 1GB DDR5 RAM. For the price that Newegg is selling it, about 150, it is a good buy. So I asked around to see if it was worth upgrading. Most people said they were good cards, but to wait till after the new year because the price would most likely drop and you could get more for your money. So now I will have to wait and see if the price drops on this card so I may get it. If not I will just wait it out.

~Dave

Monday, December 27, 2010

When it Doesn't Work...Make it Work


At the moment I am writing this, there is a ton of snow outside. Yesterday we got quite a heck of a storm, so bad that when I went outside to work it was almost impossible to see. Knowing the storm was coming I spent some time in the morning trying to get my snow blower started. I kept trying the electric starter, however I burnt it out. How did I pull that off? By not reading the instructions. First lesson learned again and again, always read the instructions. So I gave it a break until the afternoon. There was quite a bit of snow and I had to get a move on it. So I went down and read the instructions on how to start in manually. It said to open the clutch, prime it, close the clutch, and start. My problem was that the primer button had dried out and had fallen off. So how do I prime it. It took me some thinking to figure this out. I needed something that could push air into the system. Then it came to me. I could use a bicycle pump! So I went and got on of my bike pumps and put the nozzle to where the primer button was. I opened the nozzle head so more air could get it, then pumped two or three times. I then gave it a couple of tugs on the starter and in seconds the machine came to life. I was so excited at this moment because I didn't think it would actually work. I though I would be stuck with a broken snow blower during this horrible storm. The second lesson I learned, never give up and always look for another way. There is almost always another way.

~Dave

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What Did You Get?


I hope everyone had a good holiday, I sure did. Of the many things I got this holiday season, one of my favorite had to be these Echo Touch Gloves. What makes them so special? Well, the tips of the pointer finger and the thumb a stitched with a special fabric. This fabric allows smartphone touch screens, and tablet touch screens, to recognize your touch. As many of you know, the common problem with using an iPhone or a Droid is the screen doesn't work when you have gloves on. Then you have to go through the hassle of taking your glove(s) off, freezing your fingers, and answer the phone call you are getting. These gloves solve that issue, and I am so happy I got them. I would not recommend using these while shoveling snow though. They are made of 100% polyester, which has a tendency to just soak up water. Then you get ice cold hands, and nobody wants ice cold hands. The gloves come in both men and women's versions. If you are still looking for a gift, this would make a great gift for someone who has a touch screen device. I can also tell you, they do keeps your hands fairly warm. I would recommend this to just about all of my friends.

~Dave

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hunble Bundle Christmas Gift!

The guys over at Hunble Bundle are still going strong with their charity promotion. However, they have added a new twist. If you pay, or have payed, $7.60, you will all the games from the last bundle with your purchase. That means you will get a total of 9 games! And, even better, you will also receive a Steam activation key for it too, so you can play your games on steam! Games included are World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugare HD, Panumbra Overture, and Samorost 2. Also, if you noticed, the previous pack had a bonus game. That may, or may not, be hinting at a possibility of an extra game for the bundle going on now. If there is no extra game, I would be fine. It is nice enough that they have given all this. The good thing is, that have raised over 1.5 million dollars from this! Remember, give a little something this holiday ;)

~Dave

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Drink Like There is No Tomorrow


About two weeks ago I found this site, and when I found it there was a half price sale going on. Now, many of you may have friends who are gamers and don't know what to get them for the holidays. Hopefully by now you have something for them, but if you don't you can order something from here. The site is called Sanshee, and they specialize in making items based on video games. They make things from pokemon trainer badges, to shirts made by people. The shirts currently on sale are made by people on their website. They sell shirts made by people on their website if they like it enough. Due note that the shirts do not come pre-shrunk, that means buy a little bigger because it will shrink after the first wash. I do suggest the TF2 Scout shirts and the fallout shirt (seen above). Both make great gifts.

~Dave

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steam Sale is On!

Yesterday, Steam began its annual sale of games. The marketing tactic was very clever for this. The introduce the treasure hunt a few weeks back, and made a requirement to log on the last day, yesterday, to be entered in the grand prize drawing. Then, when everyone logged on yesterday, Steam put their sale on. That made everyone arrive and find all these great games on sale. Now, to start you have over 1000 games on sale. However, there are a select few each day that go on sale at a ridiculously low price. Yesterday's sale had Battlefield Bad Company 2 for about seven dollars, and Super Meat Boy for about three dollars. Other games to note were Deus Ex, Fallout 3, and Portal. What I recommend is not to buy everything you want today. Buy only the games that are on the daily sale first. If, by the end of the sale, the game you wanted did not become a daily, then go buy it for the price it is at. I have a feeling most of the valve games are going on sale, so I am holding off on Half Life 2 and Left 4 Dead at the moment. I am also hoping that Killing Floor goes on the daily sale. Make sure you also have a budget when going through your purchases. You don't want to overspend and then realize you spent too much. It is very tempting to want to buy everything at once. Refrain from that and just wait it out. While you are browsing, I do suggest checking out the website http://www.steamgamesales.com/ when you have a chance. The website shows you all the prices games on steam ever were, so you can gauge if the game you want may drop to a lower price.

~Dave

Monday, December 20, 2010

Minecraft Beta


Yesterday, or today the site is unclear, was/is the last day to purchase Minecraft Alpha. Today, the game is scheduled to go to beta, and with that the price will go up. Beta players will receive all updates until the full game for free, but those who purchased in alpha will receive the game and all the coming updates for free. For those of you who haven't heard of minecraft, let me explain. Minecraft is a single player survival game. You are thrown into a world and your objective is to survive as long as you can. You use the resources of the world to build shelter, tools, and other structures. You in turn use these things to survive. When you get really good at the game, you can do some really amazing things. You can build castles, battle ships, cars, pretty much what ever you can imagine you can build. All you need is the proper resources. The game is quite fun in my opinion, and can keep you playing for hours on end. More information can be found on the website, but I have provided that which I found most crucial.
http://minecraft.net/

~Dave

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Week to Shop

As the holidays draw to a close, Steam is well known for their sales. This Friday, December 24th, is when they have their huge sale. Prices are cut to the point that they don't seem like they are right.  Below is a list of last years sale, so you can get an idea of how low the prices go:

List was taken from Shack News
As you can see, these deals are very low. They also sell bundles, which are many games in one pack for a low price. Start saving your money, the steam sale is on its way.

~Dave

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Team Fortress 2 Holiday Update

Valve has come out and put another update into TF2. This one is special for the holidays. A bunch of new weapons, hats, and sets were released. In addition, The Mann Co. Store is having a weekend sale, so make sure to get what you want from there. One of the more noted changes, is the gun "Natascha" has been nerfed.  In other words, they weekend it for being too powerful. The promotional page for the update can be found here. Below, I have listed the changes that Valve stated in the product update:
Team Fortress 2
  • Added Medieval Mode, a game mode where players are restricted to using olde weapons.
  • 'Your Eternal Reward' changes:
    • Spies can now change their disguise weapon via 'lastdiguise' while using 'Your Eternal Reward'
    • Already-disguised 'Your Eternal Reward' Spies are no longer forced to switch to displaying the melee weapon when they make a kill
    • Spies no longer play speech lines when making a kill with 'Your Eternal Reward'
    • Sentries no longer track 'Your Eternal Reward' Spies after they backstab someone
  • 'Natascha' changes:
    • Spin-up time increased.
    • Slowdown-on-hit effect is reduced over distance.
  • Added 'The Medi-eval Medic', 'The Hibernating Bear', and 'The Expert's Ordnance' item sets.
  • Added new weapons: 'The Claidheamohmor', 'The Back Scratcher', 'The Boston Basher', 'The Fists of Steel', 'The Amputator', 'The Crusader's Crossbow', 'The Ullapool Caber', 'The Loch-n-Load', 'The Buffalo Steak Sandvich', 'The Brass Beast', 'The Warrior's Spirit', 'The Candy Cane', and 'The Jag'.
  • Added 20 new hats.
  • Added a prototype item testing map, and associated functionality, for contributors to test their work. Further details in an upcoming blog post.
  • Spies can now see TargetID's of players and objects regardless of their own disguise status.
  • Fixed some speech lines continuing after the speaker changes class
  • The Spy 'Sap Auteur' achievement now increments in cases where the Spy was the assister in the building destruction.
  • Fixed the arrow burning effect getting stuck on if you changed class in a respawn room with your arrow lit.
  • Fixed a Flamethrower bug that allowed players to rapidly fake the Pyro's airblast effect.
  • Throwing the Jarate or Milk now returns you to your previous weapon, instead of your Primary.
  • Added leaderboard to track duel wins.
  • Added ability for players to donate money directly to the creators of their favorite community maps.
  • Increased backpack size by 100 slots.

Happy holidays, and enjoy!

~Dave

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ambient Temperature

With the weather changing, I thought I might take a moment to explain ambient temperature. When you read reviews of computers, many people state their "ambient" temperature. But, what does that mean? It is actually a fancy way of saying room temperature. However, when working with computers many people list it in Celsius and not Fahrenheit. So what is considered good room temperature for computers? Anywhere between 25-27 degrees Celsius is fine. Colder then that is ok if you are running a very hot rig. Hotter, however, is not so good. You want to keep your parts cool, and your ambient room temperature can make a big difference in cooling your system. So remember, try and keep it cool.

~Dave

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chrome for a Cause


Many of you out there may not have started using Google Chrome, but now would be a good time to start using it.  Google is now starting a new program. It is known as Chrome for a Cause. Once installed, the extension will show how many tabs you have opened in the browsing session. For every tab opened, Google will donate something each of the five causes. The causes are trees, vaccinations, books, person's clean water, and square feet of shelter. The terms are simple. There is a maximum of 250 tabs allowed per day that will go to donations. If you hit that limit, you will not be able to give to the cause until the next day. In addition, Google is only giving one million dollars towards this at the moment. That number is able to be changed, but only at the discretion of Google. I think this is a great idea and that this extension should stay after the holidays. Google, in my mind, should keep this up and keep donating. I urge you all to install this, and help those in need this holiday.

~Dave

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Humble Bundle

It is the season to give right? So why not give a little to charity. The people over at Humble Bunlde have started a sale on five amazing indie games. Here is the catch, you pay what ever you want for them. Then you get to decide how your money is split. Do you want it all to go to charity? All to the developer? Or even all to the people over at Humble Bundle? It is your choice. Plus the games are DRM free, meaning they don't have restrictions on how many times they can be installed. In addition, each game runs of Windows, Mac, and Linux! So you get all three when you purchase this bundle. The games being sold are Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans. This is the first time some of these games, such as Braid, will be coming to Linux. And, to make it even better, Humble Bundle has been talking with Valve about allowing people to add these games to their Steam account. They tweeted yesterday that things are looking pretty good for that. So what are you waiting for? Go help charity!

~Dave

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Out Comes 1 TB 2.5"


Seagate, Western Digital's post popular competitor, has put its foot into the hard drive market again. They have announced their 1TB 2.5" drive. Now, this drive is different then the drive that Wester Digital announced last year. This one is much faster. It spins at 7200 RPM and has a transfer rate of 6 GB/s, compared to Western Digital who's Scorpio Blue has 5400 RPM and a transfer rate of 3 GB/s. The drive, known as Constellation, is targeted more for the desktop user. It has a lifespan of 1.4 million hours, that is 2 million more then the previous drive. When compared to its older brother, the 3.5" version, it has 72% more power saving while idle then the older brother. The drive itself is aimed at the business market more then the consumer market. The drive also comes in sizes of 250 GB, 500 GB, and this 1 TB model.  It also comes built with data encryption, keeping your data safe and secure. Most likely Western Digital will respond to this drive in the coming months with a drive of their own. We will see.

~Dave

Monday, December 13, 2010

Problem Sort of Solved

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had some issues with the Vanilla build of Google Chrome OS. After contacting Hexxeh, I got a response explaining the reasons. The reason the Vanilla build would not boot on my desktop was simply because it had unsupported hardware. What this means is that when Vanilla is called on to boot, it doesn't know what to do because it doesn't recognize any of the hardware. Simply put, I can't use the Vanilla distribution on my desktop, but I can use it on my laptop. The other issue which I contacted him about, was wifi on my laptop. The vanilla build would not allow me to enable wifi. Once again,  contacted Hexxeh about it. He said not worry, that is on the list of things to fix, but it is not top priority. I guess for now I won't be using Google Chrome OS unless I don't feel like leaving my desk. It was nice trying it out though. I am really hoping, now, that I get the CR-48, a.k.a the Chrome OS Laptop. This way, I would not have any issues to deal with. Lesson from this: Asking questions is always a good thing, so never be afraid to ask.

~Dave

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Running Chrome OS

As stated yesterday, my weekend mission was to try Chrome OS. After picking up a USB drive, 4 GB, I went and downloaded the Flow Build from Hexxeh.net. I then followed the instructions there on how to put it on a USB drive. When I was done, I popped it out and put it on my desktop hackintosh to see how it ran. At first it didn't work, then I set my desktop to boot from USB HDD and it worked! After playing around with it a little, I found Flow to be lacking since it is a little outdated. I went back to Hexxeh's website and downloaded the Vanilla build. Although it was newer, I currently can't test this build on my desktop because it won't boot. At this moment I am running the Vanilla build on my Macbook with no issues other then no wifi. If you have been following my twitter feed, you may have noticed I did contact Hexxeh about the problem. I am currently waiting for a response. As a side note, I wrote this update while running in Chrome OS.

~Dave

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Want to try Chrome OS?

I do. I signed up for the Chrome OS testing program, where they send you a computer to test it out with. However, I haven't been accepted into that so there must be another way! Turns out there is. Google has their source code online, but you have to compile it if you want to test. I don't know how to compile, so I searched for one that was already compiled. I found Hexxeh. Hexxeh is a site that compiled the chrome OS and packaged it so you can download it. The catch is you can only install it on a USB drive, or in Virtual Box. Virtual Box is an application that allows you to run other operating systems in a window. The reason you can't burn it to a disk and install to a hard drive is because Chrome OS does not support hard drive. Google wants their OS to be razor fast, and thus they want solid state drive only. It makes total sense, but they are really zeroing out a huge market. My goal this weekend is to install Chrome OS on a USB drive and run it. I just have to get a USB drive. What is your weekend goal?

~Dave

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mac App Store Release Next Week?

The rumor mill has produced this one. CNET reports that an "inside source" says the App Store for Mac will be launching December 13th. From the way things have been going, almost all "inside sources" have been good to their word. If this is true, then you can start buying free/payed applications from the store and downloading them to your Mac. It is very odd that the store would launch next week. Steve Job himself said the store was slated to release ninety days from October. That would mean this application should not be available until the end of January. That makes more sense because the next Apple press conference would be around then. However, launching it next week would also be a good move for Apple's holiday sales. They could put many of the new applications on sale for the holidays, not only testing their service, but also making money in the process. We will just have to wait and find out.

~Dave

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chrome OS and The Web Store


As Monday, Google announced Chrome OS and the Chome Webstore. Chrome OS is Google's Operating System which they have been working on for the past year or so. What Chrome OS is in a nutshell is a web browser. The entire Operating System runs in a beefed up version of Google Chrome. You log into the OS using your gmail account. All your files will be saved in the Google Cloud under your google docs. Your calendar info too. Essentially, there is nothing on your computer but the OS. You may be wondering, what else is there to do in a web browser? Well, that is where the Chrome OS web store comes into play. The web store is just like Apple's App Store. You can browser through apps and extensions, and download them into Chrome AND Chrome OS. That means you don't need Google's OS to use the apps. The Apps can range from checking your email, to having full picture editing programs. The idea is that you never have to leave your web browser. An interesting concept it is, but whether the whole cloud thing will work is what bothers me. It is great having all your info safe up in the cloud. If your computer crashes it is all saved up there. My worry is, what if you don't have access to the cloud. For example, maybe you don't have internet. How would you get your document? Or, even worse, what happens if Google is cyber attacked, or have a mass server crash? What happens to your information? These are all things to think about. I have a feeling it will all work out well in the end. Finally, Google is allowing any Gmail user to register for a chance to test the Chrome OS. If selected, you will be sent a Chrome OS Netbook for testing. I signed up for one, I hope I get it!

~Dave

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

X Marks the Spot

Well, it would seem Steam is at it again. Two days ago Steam announced their Treasure hunt challenge. The challenge is to collect as many achievements as you can from the challenge list. If you collect any ten challenges, you will be entered in a sweepstakes to win 100 steam games of your choosing. In addition, every day five players will be chosen. Those five players will win the top five steam games on their wishlist. But wait! There is more! If you play Team Fortress 2, start collecting achievements in this competition. If you earn five achievements, you will get the Bounty Hat in Team Fortress 2! If you manage to reach fifteen achievements, you will be given the Treasure Hat. Finally, if you manage to get twenty eight achievements from the steam challenge, you will be given the Hat of Undeniable Wealth and Respect. New achievements are given every two days or so at 10 AM PST, which is about 1 PM EST. Good luck!

~Dave

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spaces for Windows

As an avid Mac user, it is hard to go without my spaces. Even Linux, both netbook and desktop edition, have spaces. For those of you who don't know, spaces, or workspaces, are different copies of your desktop where you can put applications. If you have four spaces, then you have four places to put applications. So why is it that Windows 7 does not? I may not know why, but I do know that I wanted spaces on Windows yesterday. After doing a little research, I found that you could do spaces on Windows. All I needed was an application.  The application, known as Dexpot, allows Windows users to have spaces. The install is very easy, and the program itself is small. Plus, once installed, it is very easy to configure. Selecting the number of spaces, you can have up to 20, is as simple as typing a number. The keys that you press to activate it are very natural because they are almost the same as the ones on Linux. You can always change the keys if you want, I left mine the way it came. I also went to plugins and selected the "cube" effect. The cube effect, when activated, allows you to spin through your screens in a 3D cube. It is really just for show if anything, but I like it. You can also move applications from one space to another with ease. You can either drag it, or right click and click "Move to space X". X being the number of the space you wish to move it to. If you are like me and like to stay organized, I suggest you download this application. It is very useful!

~Dave

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't Miss the Daily

In the past week, Games for Windows live has been ramping up the competition on Steam. For one week, they will put 7 games on sale for $1. That means one game per day for $1 instead of its normal price. So far they have sold Deus Ex, Shadow Run, Viva Pinata, and Blacklight: Tango Down. Granted, some of those games are not the greatest. I am hoping that in the few days there are left, they will cut some really good games. Something like Batman Arkham Assylum: Game of The Year would be an amazing deal. So far though, they have only picked games in the $10-$20 range. Today's deal should be out any minute, so make sure to check http://www.gamesforwindows.com

~Dave

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TF2 Beta

If you own TF2, you probably noticed the new game that has arrived in your Steam Library. The TF2 beta has been launched as of last week. It is Valve's way of letting the player test the changes to the game without including them. The biggest change in the beta so far is balancing a weapon known as Natascha, which is very over powered outside of the beta. There will be many changes tested in the weeks to come, some new weapons will even be added. For the full low down, you can read the official write up here.

~Dave

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Installing Linux Netbook

A while ago I decided to install Ubuntu Netbook Edition, just so I could see how it worked. It is not that hard to install. It is, in fact, very straight forward. Before we start, you will need either a 4GB USB or a 4.7 GB DVD-R. You will also need to download the latest Ubuntu Netbook Edition from here. The file, for me, was about 600 MB. I recommend doing this in Ubuntu Desktop Edition, as I found it the easiest way to burn the .iso file to a CD. You can also do it just as well with Windows or Mac. If you use Ubuntu Desktop, all you need to do is insert the blank DVD, then right click on the .iso and select "Burn to disc" and then let it burn. The same can be done with Windows 7, simply right click on the file and select "Burn to disk image". Follow the prompts and you will have the DVD ready. Finally, on Mac, you have to open up Disk Utility. This application can be found in your Utilities folder, or just by searching your Mac using spotlight. Once open, drag your .iso file to the left sidebar of Disk Utility. When it is there, go to the menu bar and click "Images", then "Burn", and finally go through the prompts to burn the .iso to the disk.

Next we must install Ubuntu Netbook. I am using a Mac to do this, if you are on Windows the process will be different. When the Macbook boots, hold down the Option key when you here the start up sound. Keep holding until you see a hard drive on the screen. At this point you must insert your DVD which you burned. If done correctly, your DVD will show up next to the hard drive. Select it and boot from it. When you boot from the DVD you will boot into the Live Installer. It is all straight forward from here, the only thing you must be careful of is when you are partitioning. Make sure not to wipe your hard drive when doing this, read everything very carefully. I take not responsibility for any damage done to your computer if you make a mistake. If you don't know something when installing this OS, or any OS, I suggest you go to another computer and search for what you don't understand. When you partition, I suggest about 10 GB be set aside for the OS, and maybe another 2.5-5 GB for swap space. You don't need swap space, but it acts as more ram in a sense and thus is good to have. In total you will have set aside 15 GB. Feel free to set aside more or less then that amount. Once done, click next through the installer. When you get to choosing a keyboard, Mac users should scroll down and choose the US-Macintosh keyboard. Finally, click next and let it install.

At this point you may be wondering how you will boot into Ubuntu. Well, Ubuntu comes fitted with Grub, a boot loader which allows you to select which OS you want to boot into. Once you are into Ubuntu, you will need to update somethings. If your wifi card is not yet supported, just plug into an ethernet cable and get internet that way. Once you have internet, make sure that you update your drivers first, those are the most important. Most likely, there will be a message that shows up in the right corner, if not you can find the driver program under "System" ---> "Administration"----> "Additional Drivers". Once you are all updated, you are ready to go!

~Dave

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I Hate Product Keys

Mentioned in yesterday's post, was the fact that I was having a small issue with Grand Theft Auto's product key. It was not that it wasn't working, but more or less the fact that I had revoked it on one computer and activated it on another. This left me with one use remaining when in reality I should have had two. So, like any good paying customer, I went to the games support page. I sent out an email about how I had revoked the key and would like my product key to have a token added to it. I got a prompt response from someone who had no idea what I was talking about. Having read this, I called up the support line for the game and got on the phone with someone in less then 2 minutes. That impressed me. Anyway, I get on the phone and start explaining to the guy what happened. He told me I had to go to another company that makes the product keys for them. So I head over to the other companies website and send them an email. Within minutes I get an automated response to please check their FAQ before sending an email, so I did. In their FAQ they stated they could not add tokens to Product Keys. At this point I am pretty mad. I call up the maker of the game and explain my situation so far, and even mention that I got the game as a digital download. And of course, that made all the difference. I was then told that if you digitally download a game, some sites provide their own product key. I said thank you, hung up, and moved on. I proceeded to checking my email and acquiring the number for the digital distributer which I had purchased from. I called them up, and after a five minute wait or so, was connected with the support worker. I explained my whole situation in the best English I could due to the fact that she did not have perfect English. She then clarified with me that she understood, and proceeded to tell me that the company can not hand out new sets of game keys until the old set expired. So after hours of running between support services, I got my answer. I have to run out of activations on one key, then call up the people I bought from and have them get me a new key. This is why I hate product activation keys.

~Dave

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easeus Todo Backup

Recently I picked up a new hard drive to replace my old Windows hard drive. The problem that confronted me immediately was how to get all my information from the old drive to the new one. I had settings on there I didn't want to change again, many games installed, and a few applications. I asked a friend of mine about it and he recommended I use Easeus Todo Backup. This application can back-up, restore, or clone hard drives. Cloning is exactly what I needed. I installed the program and ran the cloning option. I selected my current drive as the "Source Drive", the one where the information was being taken from. Then, I selected my new 1 TB Wester Digital drive as my "Target Drive", the one where the information was being sent to. I started at about 7:50 PM last night, but I am not quite sure when it finished because I went to sleep and left my computer running. To give you an idea, it was about 30% total completion by 10:30 PM. After copying my information, I booted into the new drive. My second problem was that my new drive was only formatted to read 149 GB in total, since that was the max size of the old drive. To fix this, I went into the Control Panel, and selected "Administrative Tools". Next, I selected "Computer Hardware" and in the new window selected "Storage" from the side bar. It then listed for me all of the hard drives in my computer. I found my 1TB drive, which showed 149 GB formatted and about 780 GB free space. I clicked on the section that was formatted for 149 GB and then right clicked. In the new menu that appeared I selected "Extend Partition". It asked how much I wished to extend, and I choose the maximum amount and clicked "OK". Now my drive is all setup. The only error I had after that was my GTA IV install asked me to use my product key again. I am in the midsts of dealing with that.

~Dave

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Incompatibility Won't Stop Me

During the weekend of amazing sales I was able to buy Grand Theft Auto 4 for the PC. The game took me about two hours to download because of the sheer size of it, 13 GB to be exact. I finally had it downloaded, then I had to wait another two hours for the installer to unpack all the files. Finally, I got the installation screen. What happens next? It tells me the game is incompatible with my system and does not let me install. I was not happy to read that. So, I jumped onto Google to see what I could find. It turns out that the game is build for Windows XP and Vista, but not Windows 7. After reading quite a few articles, I decided to try running the installer in compatibility mode. To do this I right clicked on it, clicked on properties, and choose the Compatibility tab and check "Run in compatibility". I then selected the drop down menu and choose "Windows XP Service Pack 3". After running the installer again, and waiting three hours for it to unpack the items, I finally got to the GTA install screen. I clicked through it and waited another couple of hours for it to install. And now, I finally have GTA 4 installed on my computer. One last problem confronted me. When I ran the game, I couldn't sign into Games for Windows Live. I didn't know why, but I had a feeling the game was not up to date, and thus was not allowing me to sign in. Next, I checked Rockstar's website and found that GTA 4 indeed needed an update. I downloaded it and ran the installer, and now everything works fine. I didn't give up, I just kept at it until I found the answer.

~Dave

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It Will Leave A Mark

People have a tendency to leave things on every now and then, but the one thing they shouldn't leave on is their screen. This really applies only to those with desktops, unless of course your laptop is hooked up to an external monitor. Anyway, people leave their screen on for hours some times. When I say on, I don't mean as if they are playing a game or surfing the web, I mean just leaving it at the desktop and walking away. If the screen is not turned off, you could eventually induce screen burn upon your screen. What is screen burn? Well, screen burn is when what is left of the screen for long periods of time actually burns itself into the screen. When you turn your computer off, you will be able to see an outline of what was on the screen. Plus, if it is really bad, you can see it while you are working on your computer. Keeping your screen off, even if your computer is on, when you are not using is the best way to prevent screen burn. Just remember, turn it off unless your using it because a new one is quite expensive.

~Dave

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber What?

Today, as some of you may already know, is Cyber Monday. It is the first Monday after Black Friday, and all the deals online start today. Now, most deals are not that great in my opinion, most stores tend to cut more during Black Friday then Cyber Monday. However, you may find the occasional amazing deal that you have been looking for. Yesterday, Gamestop had some great Pre-Cyber Monday deals, and today they continue their great deals. Things are moving quick there, Borderlands Game of The Year Edition is already sold out. Make sure to check that out. Plus, if you are a PC gamer, Gamestop cut their PC game prices pretty low, almost 90% off some titles. You can check that out here. Steam is continuing their amazing streak of deals, cutting prices like crazy. Their deals have been going since last Thursday, but that is not to say they don't have good deals. There is only six hours left before they change the deals today, so get there quick. Places like Newegg and Best Buy, unfortunately, are not as low as they were for Black Friday. That is disappointing because both sites could give some really great deals, but choose not to. What did you find today that you bought? Was it worth it? Leave a comment below!

~Dave

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Speeding Up Windows 7: Keeping it Fast PT2

This article is continued from Speeding Up Windows 7: Keep it Fast PT1.


Disable Search Indexing
Unless you use the search bar frequently, there is no need for your computer to index everything. By turning off indexing you will gain a lot of speed because your computer is not busy else where. To turn off indexing, click "Start" and type in the search bar "services.msc" and find the one that says "Windows Search" Click on that.
The window you will get when you open Windows Search service
As you can see in the window above, you disable it by clicking on the drop down menu and choosing disable, then click "Stop" under Service Status.


Turn off unused features
Windows has a lot of background features that are unused, and in the end just slow down your computer. We want those off. To do this, open up the Control Panel and select "Programs and Features". On the side you will see "Turn Windows 7 Features On or Off", click on that.
In the window that appears you will see a bunch of folders, each with different things in them. You can now start unchecking the ones you don't want. For example, I unchecked Tablet PC, some games, and indexing services. Once done, click apply.


Gadgets off
In Windows Vista a program called "Gadgets" was added, which is essentially like widgets for Mac. The problem with Gadgets is that they lie right on your desktop, and that slows your computer down if you don't use the. To turn Gadgets off, follow the steps in the above to get the the Windows Feature On Off winndow. Once there, turn off Windows Gadget Platform and click "Apply".



Drivers up to date
Last, but not least, is keeping all your drivers up to date. Newer drivers can actually add performance to your computer. Since I built my computer, I know exactly what motherboard I have, and what graphics card I have, so I know what to search for when getting drivers. If you don't know, you can always google your computer that you bought and find out. Check for new drivers at least once every month.

That concludes part II of this article, I hope it helped you, if you know more ways feel free to leave a comment about it!

~Dave

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Speeding Up Windows 7: Keep it Fast PT1

In the past I have mentioned tid-bits here and there about how to speed up your computer. I did some intense research over the past few days and found there are small things you can do within Windows 7 to increase performance and speed. Most of these things also work on Windows XP.

Defrag
First thing you want to do is to defrag your computer once every couple of months. This helps to keep your disk information all sorted and tied together, no lose ends. You can read more about this in my previous article.

Aero-Off
Windows 7 comes with the very beautiful Aero Theme, which at the same slows your computer down immensely. By turning this off, you will gain a significant speed boost. To do this, click on the "Start Menu" and then right click on "Computer"--->Properties. In the new window that appears click on "Advanced System Settings". You will get a new window that looks like this:
Continue by clicking on the "Advanced" Tab and then click on Settings under Performance. In the box that pops up you will see options related to the Aero Theme. Click on the one that says "Adjust for best performance". When applied, all of the Aero Theme will be turned off and your computer will look like it is on Windows 98.  Before closing that window, one more thing you should do.Click on the "Advanced" tab and in the first box, the one that says "Allocate System Processes", choose Programs and click apply. By now you should be seeing a much needed speed boost.

Explorer.exe
The explorer.exe is what manages control over your taskbar and desktop. We want to make sure it is running at the best speed so we get the best performace. To get to it, open up the Task Manager and click on the "Processes tab. Seen below:
Locate the process "Explorer.exe" and right click on it. In the menu that drops down you will see a choice named "Set Priority". Click on that and choose "Realtime". This will make sure that your taskbar is the main focus of the processor. If it sets the priority to "High", that is ok.

Power Performance
If you are on a laptop. I don't recommend changing this setting as you will have to charge more often.
Open up the control panel and choose "Power Options". You will now have a window that looks like this:
Select "High Performance" from the available options. Now, when I did this it worked the only problem was I had trouble putting my computer to sleep. So, I went and edited the configuration (Change Plan-->Advanced Options) of "High Performance" and under Sleep I turned off "Allow Hybrid Sleep".

Upgrading your Drive and Ram
If you have the money to spend, upgrading your internal drive and your ram will make a huge difference in speed. Upgrade your HDD to an SSD, more information can be found here.. SSD are much faster and will make a huge difference. Also, upgrading your RAM is very important. In my opinion, 4GB of RAM is the standard today. If you don't have 4GB, I suggest you upgrade to that first. You can always have more, just make sure to check how much your motherboard can hold. Mine, for example, can't hold more then 16GB of RAM.

Start Up Apps and Services
I have mentioned this before, having applications start up will slow down your boot time greatly. What I am going to add is how to disable ones you may not know are there. Open up "Run". It is located in the Accessories folder in the start menu. Once open, type "msconfig", this stands for Microsoft Configuration. You will get a window that looks like this:

Looks a little scary, I know, don't worry
Select the "Start Up" tab. In this tab you will see all the applications that start up when you start your computer. Go through unchecking the ones that you don't want. For example, I didn't want iTunes or Quicktime to start up, so I uncheckedt them. The less you have on start up, the faster your computer will load. Also, if you don't know what it is either google it or don't change it. Next, head over to the "Services" tab.There are many items here, and although it seems overwhelming, there are some in there that we don't need.. Only turn off the ones you know! In my case, I turned off Fax, iPod Services, Remote Registry, Secondary Logon, Remote Desktop Configuration, Tablet PC Input Services, Parental Control, and Remote Desktop Services. I went and looked up some of these before I turned them off. Once you are done you can hit Apply, but don't close the window just yet, we will need it in our next step.

Boot Up
While still in msconfig, click on the Boot tab.There is a small section that says "Time out", it is most likely set to 30. Set that to 3, this will make your boot much faster as it times out quicker.

Keeping it Clean
Other then Defragging, mentioned above, we have temporary files that need to be dealt with. Open up "Run" again and type "cleanmgr.exe". An application will then open related to disk cleaning. It may ask you to select a drive, select the one with your OS on it, most likely the C: drive. It will then scan your computer for what needs to be emptied.
cleanmgr.exe window
Now, from here we want to select everything except "Setup Log Files" and the System/Per User Error Reports. Once done click "OK" and it will proceed to clean out these files. You will want to do this at-least once a month to keep you computer running fast.You can also use google as there are applications that can assist you with this, one example being CCleaner.

This will end part 1 of this article, part II will be out tomorrow. I didn't want to make it a huge wall of text, that is no fun. Check back tomorrow for part II!

~Dave

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Sale Have Begun

Today marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Many stores are slashing their prices to get buyers to spend their money. I personally don't go out, but stay home and look for the online deals. Best Buy has some really good prices, especially hard drives. I bought a 1 TB (terabyte) Caviar Black HDD for almost have the normal price. Then there is Xbox Live putting out some nice deals, I went and purchased Splosion Man because the price was so good. I was disappointed to say the least with the deals that came from NeweggApple, and Mircrocenter, I was expecting lower prices from them. Tiger Direct on the other hand has some pretty decent deals, although I am not purchasing anything from them at this time. I checked Games For Windows Live, but they seem to have no sales going. GameStop is running some great deals, so make sure to go check that out. Last, but not least, is Steam, which is giving some amazing deals on games. All these deals are great, but I almost forgot there will be more on Cyber Monday! This Monday, the one following Black Friday, is known as Cyber Monday where many of the great online sales happen. So, although many of these stores have Black Friday deals, they may have some better deals on Monday. That is not to say you should not buy what you want now.

~Dave

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Custom USB Flash Drive - Bulk, Promotional, Wholesale, Branded USB Flash Drives

Custom USB Flash Drive - Bulk, Promotional, Wholesale, Branded USB Flash Drives. I recently discovered this website while surfing the web. I was really impressed with not only the selections of drives, but the ability to create your own USB flash drive. It is the perfect time to order a customized one too, because it is just in time for the holidays. From what I understand, you can create a design, and send it to them. They will then create a flash drive custom fit to your design. So, if you wish to spell out someone's name for their holiday gift, you can! I personally would like a 1x1 scale of a floppy drive which, when you slide the little metal piece on top, slides out the usb stick to connect to the computer. Just a little tid-bit before the holidays. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, there will be no update tomorrow.

~Dave

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Open Pages Documents on Windows

If you go between a Mac and a PC, you may find yourself with a constant problem of reading text documents. If you use the word processing program Pages on the Mac, then saving documents as ".pages" is not going to work. Although you can export to a word document, what happens in the even that you forget and find yourself with only a pages document? I had this issue yesterday and found a very nifty solution. If you ever end up with a .pages document on a Windows computer, don't fret. First thing you have to do is locate the document, mine happened to be in my Downloads folder. Next, right click on the document and in the menu that appears click "Rename". Now, change the ending from ".pages" to ".zip". A box will come up asking you if you're sure you want to do that, click "yes". You will see the document change into a folder with a zipper on it, now all you have to do is double click on it. The file will then unzip, and you will see two files and a folder, double click on the folder named "QuickLook". It will look something like this:
Yeh I used a Mac for the picture, sssshhh! Don't tell!
Inside the folder you will see two more documents, one will be named "Thumbnail.jpg" and the other named "Preview.pdf". Open the Preview.pdf and there is your document! You can now print it with no problem!

~Dave

Monday, November 22, 2010

Partitioning

Before you go around partitioning your HDD, meaning making different sections to it, you should keep in mind that there are two types of partitioning. There is destructive and non destructive. Destructive partition does exactly what it sounds like, it destroys information. The only time you would use destructive partitioning is when you are doing a fresh install of an operating system, or two for that matter. On the other hand, there is non-destructive partitioning, which does not destroy anything when it makes new sections on the disk. You can use this at any time for just about any reason. You could take a 500 GB HDD and partition it into two 250 GB sections, then work on one section and back and save files to the other. Or, you can do what I did and dual boot operating systems. One of the best non-destructive partitioning tools is the one found within the Linux Live Installation CD, that is the CD you use when installing Linux. If you do use the Live CD, you don't actually have to install Linux, you can partition and then cancel the installation when done. So just remember, unless you are doing a fresh installation of something, you want non-destructive partitioning or you will lose all of your information.

~Dave

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rule The Empire for 10¢

Today's daily deal over at Games For Windows Live is Age of Empires III....for 10¢. Yup, that is correct, only 10¢.  The game usually sells for $40, but as long as you download through the Windows Live Game Client, you can get it for 10¢. Don't download from the website or you won't get the discount. Age of Empires III, for those who don't know, is a real time strategy game made by Ensemble Studios. Real Time Strategy is when both players work on their teams at the same time, and have to strategize in real time to what may be coming. Although it is not on Steam, it does give  you a reason to start paying attention to GFWL. The holidays are coming, and I hope both services starts slashing prices on some good games. The more they compete, the more we save and get some great games in the process.

~Dave

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How To Take a Screenshot: Linux

Finally, we come to taking screenshots on Linux. The method used by Linux is very similar to that of Windows, all you need is a program that comes with your linux distribution. I am using Gnome Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop Edition. To start, head over to the Linux icon in the the top left corner (this may differ depending on where your bar is). Here is where mine is:
From there, proceed to Accessories-->Take Screenshot. A new window will open up, and it should look like this:
As you can see, there are three options. These options resemble that of the Mac, but the application resembles that of Windows. The only thing it lacks when compared to windows is the ability to do free form pictures. Make sure that you set your Grab after a delay of to at least 1 second(s). If you don't I found it won't take the picture. You can change the seconds to a higher number if you have to get to a certain menu before the picture is taken. You also have the options of showing your cursor in the picture,  including the window border, and some effects to spice it up. Also, when using Grab the current window, it will grab the foremost application window. So, if you wish to take a picture of FireFox, but Terminal is on top of that, it will take a picture of Terminal. Linux also includes other methods, like using terminal, but I found those a tad complex.

~Dave