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Archive for September, 2008

App store review changes

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Following much irritation with its App store reviews, Apple has over the weekend made changes to the user review process. Anyone wishing to leave a review for an application is now blocked unless they have bought the app. This should eliminate the idiots posting stupid comments and bad reviews without trying the app, and will hopefully result in a more meaningful rating system that genuine shoppers can trust.

While this will be of little benefit to the authors of free applications (though I expect some benefit will be gained since the time wasters have to download the app), it should help those making a living from their software. Now if only someone could get rid of those darn ‘first post’ jokers.

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Alternative operating systems

September 28, 2008 Leave a comment

While Windows is the dominant operating system in use today and Mac OS X is constantly gaining market share, there are many other options when it comes to picking an OS. Linux is the obvious choice with very good hardware support and masses of easily installed software packages. The initial obstacle for me is always which distribution to choose. Techradar have a good basic guide to what they consider the best 14 distributions for a range of user levels.

My biggest problem with linux is that while there have been massive improvements in ease of installation and setup there are some basic things that don’t just work. I have searched for a long time for an easy way of setting up a Microsoft multi-button mouse. It can be done by editing an xorg.conf file, but this is 2008 so why do we have to resort to this to get a popular piece of hardware working? I have yet to find a package that configures the mouse for you.

Another problem I had was getting games to work under Linux, specifically the audio part. The OS was Fedora which had switched to the newer Pulse Audio system and the games didn’t want to work with this. I know there are workarounds to fix these problems, but again it’s editing config files. Getting audio working on my hackintosh was easier than this, I just dropped a couple of modified kernel extensions onto KextHelper and rebooted. Here’s an article detailing the various sound API’s available.

Moving away from LInux there are lots of smaller operating systems that while not quite ready for widespread use are looking very interesting. Royal Pingdom has the details on ten of the most promising. Amiga OS 4.1 is one of the options I wish had more widespread use, but unfortunately the hardware to run it is neither cheap nor widely available. React OS is aimed at providing a Windows compatible operating system for free, and the others all have a unique focus. Well worth a read.

New game download services

September 26, 2008 Leave a comment

There’s always been a lot of nostalgia for older games. Maybe it’s the cost of keeping up with the latest title’s hardware requirements, or just that a good game is always a good game irrespective of age. I’ve been playing some older titles myself recently, and having just completed Tron 2.0, Far Cry and even Unreal again I understand the appeal.

There’s a new site for buying these older games at GOG.com, short for Good Old Games. There are two very good reasons to use the service, the games are cheap at either $5.99 or $9.99 and are downloaded fully patched to the latest version and compatible with Windows XP and Vista. I signed up for the public beta a couple of weeks ago and now have an entry pass before the service goes live. There’s over 30 games currently available with more being added soon. Here’s some of the titles offered from the front page.

Read more…

iPhone/iPod Themes

September 25, 2008 1 comment

A while back I featured some of my favourite themes available to install through Cydia. It’s been several weeks since and those talented artists are still turning in some fine work, so here are the themes I’ve been using recently.

Vector by Jayden. Colourful and reminds me of the cell shaded style of several games. This one works well with unthemed icons as it sticks to the standard shape. Read more…

Synology Firmware update 0722

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

For quite a time I have been trying to get SMB shares showing in the Finder sidebar. Nothing I have tried has resulted in a permanent fix so this has become an issue I expect Snow Leopard to resolve. This morning I updated my Synology Diskstation 106e to the latest 0722 firmware and while SMB shares still don’t appear, the Diskstation does. From the release notes:

Enhanced Mac OS Usability: Synology NAS servers will be automatically found by Bonjour protocol, including Finder and Safari browser (Bookmarks > Bonjour)

The image on the left shows the Finder sidebar with the Diskstation detected through Bonjour. I would previously see this icon while connected to a share but as soon as the share was ejected the Diskstation icon dissapeared as well. It’s now permanently there, either a monitor with the infamous Windows BSOD (who says Apple doesn’t have a sense of humour) if using SMB or one like the macpro icon above for AFP. Both methods of access appear to work but SMB was a bit flaky and didn’t always connect, so I’m sticking with AFP for now.

There are a lot of other updates in the new firmware including a new downloadstation so have a look if you own one of these devices. I’m always amazed at the continued support and updates Synology provide for older models so would recommend their NAS units to anyone.

Adobe unveils Creative Suite 4

September 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Today’s other big announcement was Adobe’s CS4. Available like CS3 before in Master (£2313.58), Design (£1467.58), Web (£1404.12) and Production (£1655.58) packages that seem even more expensive than the last versions. Big news for design and editing proffesionals and not much of interest for those of us who can’t afford £569.88 for an image editing app (that’s Photoshop CS4 standard). Some of the new features like GPU accelerated image handling may find their way into the next versions of Adobe’s budget Elements offerings. I’ve always been a bit puzzled why Adobe doesn’t offer more of these along side Photoshop and Premiere Elements. Dreamweaver Elements would be interesting, as would InDesign Elements so how about it Adobe?

Android arrives with the T-Mobile G1

September 23, 2008 Leave a comment

There’s a couple of big launches today, and the first is the T-Mobile G1. This is the debut device based on Google’s Android software platform, an open platform that aims to be offered by a range of manufacturers and networks. There are lots of positive comments about the device at the moment so I’m looking forward to having a try at some point. The main competition for the G1 appears to be the iPhone, in light of this there’s a lot of things about the phone that don’t make much sense.

  • The applications the phone offers work best on a 3G network, and from the T-Mobile G1 site that’s not a huge amount of America. The UK has pretty patchy coverage outside of major cities so how well will a device that needs 3G work?
  • The G1 will offer Amazon’s DRM free music store with 6 million songs, but it doesn’t have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. You have to use an adaptor in the proprietary USB socket.
  • The Phone misses a major opportunity to better the iPhone by not offering Video Recording, stereo bluetooth or a multi-touch screen.
  • For a new device that’s competing with the iPhone, the G1 is just ugly. Apple have a knack of making their products look and feel good. The G1 looks like a 10 year old lump of plastic.
  • T-Mobile are allowing 1Gb of data usage per billing cycle (I take it that’s a month) after which the data rate drops to 50Kbps. That’s unusable for a device that needs 3G to work well.

The ultimate test of the Android platform will be the sales figures. Despite the flaws of the iPhone 3G it’s still sold very well so this could be an interesting battle.