Sunday, July 31, 2011

Help Fund a Game

While browsing kickstarter yesterday, I came across a game that is in the early stages of development. The game, known as Blade Symphony, is a sword fighting game who's game mechanics are based on those of the Star Wars: Jedi Knights series. What is better is that you can help fund this game! The more you give, the more you get. One of the neediest promotions is if you donate $1000, you get named an Executive of the  game in the credits.  This game has potential, and is definitely worth donating to. 

For those of you who don't know what Kicstarter is, it is a website where people post their ideas for products. If the idea is accepted, then Kickstarter will fund their prototype and let them make a video about it. The person(s) then try to promote their idea, so as to reach their goal. When they reach their goal they go and start producing more of that product.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekend Plans

Once again the weekend is here and I off course have some plans to get to. First, I plan on going ahead in my Objective-C 2.0 programming book. This is the 3rd Edition by Stephen Kochan, it is geared towards people who have no previous programming knowledge. I don't know how many books it will take, but I eventually hope to reach my ultimate goal: creating an application. Second, I am still looking an SSDs. Mushkin just introduced its line of Chronos SSDs. They are fast and cheaper then the Patriot Wildfire. Before I buy I just have to make sure that they don't have any issues working with Windows. As always, I will try to be patient with my decision, even though that can sometimes be tough. And of course, last but not least, I will be updating my blog (here). So that is just a brief overview of my weekend, hope you all have a good weekend out there!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Humble Bundle 3 is Here!

Humble Bundle is back and this time sporting five new games. Humble Bundle, for those who don't know, is a charity promotion event that allows you to buy the five offered games for any price you wish, even free. This is one of the best ways I have seen to raise money for charity. Past Humble Bundles have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, just by selling games for what ever price the buyer wishes to pay. In addition to buying the games, you have the choice of where your money gets to go. You could send it all to charity, or you could send it to the developers. Split it however you would like. This time around the games up for grabs are Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, VVVVV, And Yet it Moves, and Hammerfight. All of these great games for what ever price you want. So what are you waiting for? Go buy some games!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why I am Waiting for a Windows SSD

In recents months SSD prices have been dropping to the point where I am considering buying one for Windows. I came very close to buying some of them, but then I strayed away. The reason being is that all the current drives that are SATA III are having issues with Windows. Many of the newer drives are having problems where they randomly get a Blue Screen of Death. This is a huge no buy point for me, as I don't wish to deal with any issues. I keep looking, but at the moment there only seems to be one drive that doesn't have any issues, and that is the Patriot Wildfire. With no issues, and comparable speeds, it is the drive worth buying. However, with a price point of $300 I am not ready to buy that yet. For 120GB I would like less then $200 to be spent on the drive. Until these issues are fixed, or this drive drops in price, I will be waiting to buy a SSD for Windows. Plus, I have no issues at the moment with my 1 TB Caviar Black drive.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Dell Has Impressed Me

A while back I mentioned the new laptop I helped my friend pick out. Earlier this week it arrived, and as of yesterday we opened it. The Dell XPS 17 that he ordered performed much better then I expected to be honest. Everything was pre-installed, including all those annoying dell drivers, After booting up, we made sure to remove the annoying Dell drivers, as well as Mcafee and Roxio Creator. Freed up quite a bit of space.  We were a little disappointed with the fact that Steam was suppose to come pre-installed at no extra charge, but it would seem Dell forgot to do that. It only took us about half an hour to get the computer to where we wanted it to be. We installed the normals: Google Chrome, Pidgin, Skype, and Steam. Then, we updated the graphics drivers, and updated Windows itself. I usually use Microsoft Security Essentials, mostly because it is free and does a great job. My friend prefers to use Malware Bytes. I have never used this, but he says it is lighter (takes up less space) and does the same thing as MSE. In my opinion, what ever floats your boat. 

His specs were good, coming in with an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia 555M 1GB graphics card, 6 GB RAM, a Samsung solid state drive, and a half terabyte Toshiba. His boot time was about 12-15 seconds, which is still really fast. I have to keep reminding him that he has to install more stuff to the hard drive and less to the SSD as the SSD will get slower the more it fills up, as well as die quicker. The computer only really got hot when we started gaming, but that was no big deal as the ventalation took care of most of the heat. Overall this is a great product, and I am quite surprised at how well it performs considering Dell's track record. I would recommend this computer to someone looking to an affordable gaming laptop.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Creating a Symbolic Link

This walkthrough was a little bit complicated for yesterday's SSD setup guide, so I made a separate post for this specifically. If you are running a computer with an SSD and an HDD, obviously you want to keep the larger files on the HDD. However, certain files and folders are needed by applications so that they can run properly. You can't just simply move those folders because then the application won't run properly. Certain apps such as Steam, iTunes, even iPhoto, all store information in your home directory. This is fine on an HDD, but on an SSD where you have minimal space this is not ok. So, how do we move these files? We have to create what is called a Symbolic Link. What this will do is make the OS "think" the files are in the right place, when really you are directing it to the HDD instead of the SSD. This does use terminal, so if you are not comfortable with using terminal I suggest you get comfortable soon, or deal with the space issue you have another way.
1. Find the folder you would like to move. I am going to use my iTunes Music folder located in /User/*insert your username here*/Music/iTunes

2. Copy that folder that you have chosen anywhere you want on your HDD

3. When you are done copying, open up terminal. We want to delete the previous folder, so type:
cd /User/*insert your username here*/Music/iTunes
That will make sure terminal knows what folder we are in. Next type:
sudo rm -rf iTunes Music
It will ask you for your password, and then it will delete your iTunes Music folder from your SSD.

4.Now we have to create the Symbolic Link. Before moving forward, make sure terminal is still in the folder iTunes since that is where we are making the link. If you are doing this for something else, just make sure that you are in the folder that the original file (the one we just deleted) was in. Here is the difference between being in a folder and not being in a folder in terminal:
Notice one says desktop and the other doesn't.
Now, while in the folder type the following into terminal to create the Symbolic Link:
ln -s /Volumes/*Name of hard drive you moved the file to*/path/to/the/file
For me, I would type ln -s /Volumes/Applications/iTunes Music
All we are doing here is telling the computer to make a redirect folder pointing to where we moved the folder to.

If everything went as planned, then you should have something that looks like this:
Notice the folder with the arrow. That is a symbolic link
So go ahead, and give it a try. Best of luck to those you want to do this. Took me a couple of tries to get it right.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Optimizing an SSD for Lion

First and foremost, the one thing you must do after installing Lion is run Trim Enabler. What this does is enable the trim feature for your SSD if it is a non-Apple certified one (e.g if you bought something like an OCZ or a Corsair drive). Without trim enabled, you will wear down your SSD faster because the SSD will have to re-write information a lot more. What trim does is when you delete a file it is completely removed from the memory block. However, without trim, the SSD will think the file is not in the memory block, even though it still is. That means that when a new file has to be written, the no trim SSD will have to delete the old file and write the new one, where the trim SSD just has to write the new one.

When OS X goes to sleep normally, it uses hibernation mode. This is ok on a HDD as you have a ton of space. However, on an SSD you don't have a ton of space and every byte counts. When hibernation mode is enabled, your computer will write all the contents of your RAM to your SSD. That means if you have a total of 8 GB or RAM, it will be written to your SSD. That is a lot of space to lose to RAM. We want to turn this off, so go ahead and open up Terminal.
Note: The $ sign is not required as part of the code.
1. In Terminal type the following:

$ sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0
This will then turn off hibernation.
2. Next we have to remove the old file (you may not have a file to remove if you just installed Lion and haven't put your computer to sleep yet). To remove the file type into Terminal the following:
$ sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage
And that is it, you will now have no hibernation on your computer!

By default OS X enables the command to put your hard drive to sleep when inactive. However, SSDs don't need to be put to sleep. Some even are known to freeze up when put to sleep. To disable this, simply go to System Preferences->Energy Saver and disable it. If you are on a laptop, make sure to disable it for both with and without the power adapter.

Another feature that is Hard Drive specific. This feature prepares a HDD for impact if it detects the computer falling suddenly. The features will disengage the hard drive head and stops the disks from spinning. With an SSD however, there are no moving parts, so this command is useless. To turn it off, type the following code into Terminal:

sudo pmset -a sms 0

If you don't search your computer a lot, then you have not reason to let spotlight index your computer. Simply turn it off by typing the following into Terminal:
sudo mdutil -a -i off

I hope these tips help you out there who wanted to optimize your SSD for Mac.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Installing Lion

The installation of Lion was a smooth and painless one. After making the $30 purchase from the App Store, it only took about an hour for me to download it. The download is added to your applications folder, and will launch when done. Once you click through the installation screens, Lion will say "setting up". What most people don't know about this faze is that when Lion says "setting up", it really is partitioning your drive to add a recovery partition. You may wonder "Why do I need a recovery partition?". Well let me remind you, you don't have an installation disk. With out an install disk you can't recover right? Because of this, Apple added the ability to have the installation disk stored in a recovery partition. Pretty nifty right?

After that your computer will restart and from there you just select the Hard Drive (or Solid State if you are using one) and let Lion install. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to maybe an hour depending on your hard drive speed. It took my SSD about 15 minutes to install. After that, the computer will reboot and you are good to go!

I will go over some SSD tweaks tomorrow, and later this weekend I will go over the new products from Apple.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lion unleashes its "Roar".

As I write this, the Apple Store website is currently down. Suspected to be coming out of this downtime are new Macbook Airs as well as new Mac Minis. What is confirmed as coming out of this down time is OS X Lion. Lion is the next installment in Apple's major operating system releases, and brings a slew of new features, as well as kills some old ones. For example, Launch Pad will be a new way to open applications, however something like Front Row will no longer exist. Lion will be digitally distributed through the Mac App Store, not through physical copies. However, if you search around, there are tutorials on how to make an OS X Lion install disk. Another thing to consider is that once you update your Mac, if you are running an SSD it is best to do a clean install. In addition, make sure you google how to tweak your SSD for OS X. Later this week I will write an article about that, I have to go through the process myself first. Lion will run you about $30, so be ready.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Flash on the iPad

No flash on the iPad. That is what you are told to believe. That is all fine and dandy, but if you look around (legally of course) there is a work around. This work around is an app called Photon Flash. Photon Flash is a web browser that allows you to stream flash to your device. The app is great in the way that it allows you to use it as a normal web browser, and when you come across flash you can activate it at any time. All you have to do is tap the lightning bolt button in the top right. The page will then reload and say "Now streaming flash content" and the flash content will be there. Since it is streaming, you won't get perfect frame rates, however it does a pretty decent job of handling flash. You can watch videos, look at ads, even play online flash games. Your games, however, may be limited since you can't make a lot of quick actions. That means you can't really play any games that need a lot of mouse movement.

Another neat aspect is that the app allows you to call upon a keyboard when ever you need. This is particularly great for playing games when you need to have to use multiple keyboard commands at once. The app does come with some stability issues, and crashes every once and a while. I would say that this is the best way to browse with flash on an iPad. For $4 you can pick this app up in the App Store.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Google+: The Facebook Killer?

After weeks of on and off usage, I can honestly say that I believe Google+ will be the Facebook killer. In just under a month or so, Google+ has already raked in 10 million users. That is compared to Facebooks 500 million in a couple of years. Not only that, but Google+ is way more intuitive to use then Facebook. Things are simple, laid out in such a way that they are easy to understand. Facebooks has stuff popping up all the time, as well as adds and games. Google+ is a straight forward experience. You can have friends, as well as family, and acquaintances, all grouped so you can visualize your sorting. You can also selectively send status updates. That means I can send a status to my friends, but not to my acquaintances if I wished to. You can also follow people, which is great if you are following a game developer or a news station. The only thing that Facebook has that is like is adding things to your "Hobbies", which in the ends puts a lot of spam in your stream of posts. Just the way that Google+ is laid out makes me believe it will be the next big social networking evolution.


Friday, July 15, 2011

You can never trust rumors

It is sad to find out that Lion was not released yesterday. The date had been spread around the internet as almost certainly the date for release. However, in my mind there are some things that don't match up. Here is why I believe people should not have relied on that date. For starters, Apple never sent out an announcement email telling people to be ready. That usually happens a couple of days before release. Next, Apple has a trend of releasing operating systems on the last Tuesday of a month. If this holds true for Lion, it won't be out for another week and a half. And finally, they are just rumors and unless they come with a leaked photo it is hard to trust them. However, there is an upside to this story. Certain apps on the Mac App Store are already approved for Lion and will run on Lion. This is a follow up to the note Apple sent out earlier this week requesting that people send in their Lion applications. We will find out the release date in time.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Follow up to Lion Rumor

Yesterday there was a lot of issues when trying to connect to the iTunes and Mac App Store. I, like many others around the internet. could occasionally connect, but would lose connection or not be able to browse at all. According to Macrumors, Apple sent out an email soon after to developers stating the following:
iTunes Connect will be undergoing scheduled maintenance on Wednesday, July 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PDT

During this time, iTunes Connect will still be available. However, pricing changes made between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PDT will cause the app to become unavailable for purchase until maintenance is complete, at which point the app will become available at the new price. To avoid interruptions to the availability of your apps, do not make price changes during this time. 

Lastly, customers may not be able to purchase apps in the Mexico, U.K., Australia, Switzerland, Japan or Norway storefronts during the scheduled maintenance. 

The App Store team
Today is July 13th, and if the rumors hold true that Lion will be released on the 14th, then this makes sense. Just think, the store will be down for most of the day with "price changes" (aka new apps for Lion). Lion itself will probably be put on the servers through out the day so that it is ready for download tomorrow. All we have to do is wait it out.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rumor: Lion to be released this week

On top of the macbook air refresh rumor and the mac pro refresh rumor, there is the rumor floating around regarding the release date of Lion. Lion is said to be released some time in July, but no specific date was given. However, last night developers were sent an email asking them to submit their applications for Lion to the App Store. This means that Apple is gearing up to have the first round of Lion apps ready on launch day. I would guess that the release would be within the week. Rumors from different sites suggest it will be released on July 14th. However, after reading about I found that Apple usually takes about a week to approve applications for the App Store, which may put Lion's release next week. Then again, if Apple does have a release scheduled for this week it will rush to get apps to the App Store. I for one cannot wait for Lion as it will allow me to utilize my new Agility 3 I put in my Hackintosh, as well as give me a almost 100% stable hackintosh. There will be a post about install procedures regarding Lion.

On a side note, for those of you who want a physical copy of Lion, I would suggest you look up how to make a bootable CD. I plan on doing this because I like being able to boot into a CD if I have any issues.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Building a Laptop

Image from Dell's website.
A friend of mine is getting a new laptop for which he would use for work, and maybe a little bit of gaming. He had a price range, and after hours of searching with him we hit the laptop that would fit the price range. The laptop was the Dell XPS 17. Now, as a precursor I was not so fond of allowing him to buy a Dell. See, when I used to own a Dell, they were horrible. However, according to my friend, dell has really upped their quality in recent years, and have also been named #3 in customer satisfaction.

So what were some of the items my friend was looking for? Well, for starters, it had to have an Intel Core i7 processor. Next, it had to have Nvidia graphics, he doesn't like ATI (not to mention the fact that they have driver issues). If possible, he wanted a SSD boot drive and a Hard Drive for storing information. Finally, it had to be affordable and portable. The XPS met all the requirements while still being affordable. It doesn't compare with something like Origin or Falcon Northwest, but for the money you will get a very decent laptop that will probably last you 3-4 years. 


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Steam Summer Sale Almost Over

If you haven't been on Steam in the past week, then you may have missed that fact that the yearly summer sale is going on right now. Everyday from July 30th to June 10th yields new daily sales at 1 PM EST. These daily sales are huge sales of some of the hottest titles. Games like Mass Effect, Fallout, and Magicka, all on sale now. The best strategy is to wait for your game to go on sale during a daily deal. Even though the game may be discounted because the sale, a heavy discount could happen if it is on the list of daily deals. If the game you want does not hit the daily deals rack, buy it on the last day while it is still discounted. This is always a good rule of thumb so you don't lose money on your purchase. Here is an example: Magicka was discounted to $6.69 because of the sale, but it made it to the daily deals section and was discounted to $3.39. That is when I bought it. Next day, price went back up to $6.69. You can find all the steam deal by heading over to


Friday, July 8, 2011

Synchronous and Asynchronous

So yesterday I was browsing through some SSDs on the market, and I came across the new Force GT by Corsair. I then had the urge to read up on their website what made this drive different then the other drives out. The Force GT has a Synchronous NAND chip, unlike drives like the Agility 3 or Solid 3 which have Asynchronous NAND chips. What the heck did that mean? Well Synchronous NAND is a very organized way of sending information. Imagine information is lined up in a long line, Synchronous NAND tells the information to go one at a time, but at a very fast and organized pace. Now imagine you have that same line, but with an Asynchronous NAND. It would just tell the entire line to go at once. You still get fast speeds on both drives, but one drive will be more efficient in the way it transfers data. This not only aids in having a better life span, but also allows you to have to worry a little less about wearing out the parts in your SSD. As your probably know by now, SSDs have a death rate of about a year and a half to two years depending on how much information you read and write to it. This is one of those small things you should research about your drive before buying it, who knows, it may save you a little money and data.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another great experience

When it comes to customer service, it is hard to be motivated to call them up. Most of the time they can be little or no help. However, when I called OCZ's customer service, I had a very helpful man. The man knew what he was talking about and was glad to assist me. The reason I had placed the call was because the 60 GB Agility 3 I had bought did not come with a 2.5" mounting bracket like it was suppose to. Even though I had an extra, I wanted to notify the company of this bad quality of packaging. Someone is suppose to make sure that all the parts are with the drive before it ships, and since mine did not come with all the parts I will be filing a small complaint as well as requesting a replacement for that part. Unfortunately I couldn't do that over the phone, so today I will be filling out a suppose ticket. The ticket will allow me to get a replacement part. 

Next on my agenda was asking the customer service rep about the issues I had been reading about regarding SSDs. Recently, there have been many reports on OCZs forum of issues regarding their Agiltiy 3 and Vertex 3 drives. Most people say it is firmware related, but you can never be sure. The issues would include Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), lock ups, and freezes of the Window OS. I asked the rep if this problem was really as rampant as it was made out to be. He responded by assuring me that this problem is very minuscule, and most likely is a result of a driver issue for some people. If this is really the case, then I should have no problem when looking at a purchasing a 120 GB drive for my Windows OS. This is what good customer service is all about.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Google's Facebook

Google announced last week they would making a social networking site. The site would be known as Google+, and would allow people to connect with each other, much like Facebook does. I have been using Google+ for a week now, and I think it is much better then Facebook in that it is more fluid. In addition, Google+ is much more intuitive to use then Facebook. Things are easy to understand and figure out. One neat feature that Google+ has is something called "circles". Circles is a visual way to organize all your friends and family. You know who is who in your head, but now you can visualize it on the site. Google+ is also neat in that it allows you to chat with people on your Google Talk list, so there is no need to setup another instant messenger. Thoughts can be shared everyone, as well as with certain people. Google+ went public a day or two ago, so you can sign up now and check it out.


Friday, July 1, 2011

One SSD Down, One to Go

As I mentioned earlier this week, I picked up an Agility 3 for my hackintosh to run Lion on. However, I still need a SSD for Windows to run on. The downside to this is that I want Windows to run on a 120 GB drive, not a 60GB drive. Windows is much larger then Lion and will expand in size as it updates. So you may think "No problem right? Just go buy a drive". My issue is that many of the new drives are reporting problems with Windows, many of which are blue screen of death issues. Corsair, for example, had a recall just weeks ago because their drives were faulty. OCZ on the other hand is just putting out firmware updates, but insists there is nothing wrong with the drives. The issue for me is this: There is a sale this week putting the 120 GB drives below $200. This is the price that I am willing to pay, however it is risky to buy if there are issues. Many people insist that if you have issues, use your three year warranty and trade in the drive. Again, I have no issue with this, it is just that doing that requires me to uninstall the drive, wait for the new one, and then ship the old one out. However, think of this scenario: I have to ship out three or four SSDs because they are not working, that will mean days of no Windows drive. That would seriously hurt my gaming ability. Out of all the drives that are currently on sale, I am considering the OCZ Solid 3 as it seems to have the least problems.