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Tag Archives: Mac

nogui.wordpress.com now boasts the all new Linux Gaming Corner. A Section of the site dedicated to gamers and gaming on the Linux platform. I’ll be adding views and reviews as well as tips and advice on how to get games running under Linux.

So, to kick things off, a quick review on one of my favourite indie games – VVVVVV.

VVVVVV is a charmingly retro 2D platform/puzzle game from award-winning independent game designer Terry Cavanagh

In the game, the player assumes the role of Captain Viridian who must search and rescue the lost crew of her ship after becoming stranded in an alternate dimension. In VVVVVV the player is not able to jump, and the player must flip gravity to fall up/down the screen in order to overcome obstacles.

The gravity flipping control mechanism which forms the core concept of the game becomes second nature after a short period.

You will die a lot playing this game (My completed game file has a death count of over 1000). The game allows for this by providing very frequent checkpoints (re-spawn points) and instant re-spawn upon dieing – (no last life or game-over). The death/re-spawn cycle allows you the practice needed to perfect the required twitch gaming reflexes needed in some of the games more fiendish sections

But, contrary to what you might think, In VVVVVV dieing repeatedly does not frustrate or infuriate. You feel as though you learned something from each death, or it got you one step closer to overcoming the challenge and reaching that next checkpoint. And when you do progress and reach that next checkpoint, the sense of achievement is extremely satisfying (for a game! :-))

Game play takes place in a free roaming map, that can be retraced, similar to Super Metroid. This allows the player the freedom to take their own approach- Undoubtedly, very few players would play through the game in the exact same order, as there are so many routes from A to B.

Getting around is aided by conveniently placed teleporters which will allow fast travel from one to any other. Which adds nicely to replay value – allowing players to quickly travel to unobtained trinkets or unexplored areas of the map.

Graphically, The game is heavily inspired by the 8-bit era, and is therefore duly simplistic. but the graphics are clear, concise and have charm, which is very appropriate for a game of this nature, and goes some way to proving that gameplay is what matters.

The music in VVVVVV, scored by Magnus Pålsson is fantastic. Again has a very retro feel, consisting entirely of chiptune, it sets the pace for the game very nicely, from slower exploration stages to high energy fast paced sections. Truthfully, I fire up VVVVVV and run it in the background just so I can listen to the music while working on my computer – that is how much I love the it!

In terms of longevity, the game can be completed in < 3hrs, however uncovering every last piece of the map will take longer, as will collecting all the trinkets (collectibles which reward the player with a jukebox facility on the ship), some of which are fiendishly hard to get.

In all a hugely enjoyable, quirky game that will have you hooked almost instantly.
If you can look past the old school look and feel of the game, an absolute gem is waiting to be discovered underneath, and with its low system requirements, will run on almost any computer.

Getting it running on Linux

Originally written in Flash, VVVVVV was ported to C++ and Linux binaries made officially available in both 32 and 64bit.

Running the game is simply a matter of extracting the archive and executing the script VVVVVV. Type ./VVVVVV at a terminal from that directory.

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The latest round in the Apple Vs Adobe scwabble has seen a press release published by Apple explaining their position. As they attempt to take a moral high ground, they come off sounding like total hypocrits!

Sure, its easy to take a pop at flash… its bloated, buggy (on linux) and will eat into your system performace like no ones business. But with all that considered, it is responsible for a large amount of the matirial we consume online, and its not going away anytime soon.

But apples opening argument on its press release attempts to slam adobe for its lack of openness. Below I have quoted this section of the PR, as for no excerpts to be taken out of context.

    First, there’s “Open”.

    Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

    Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

    Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.

For Apple to try and take the stand as the ‘good guy’ in an openness and free speech argument is so asburd and hypocrytical that only a fanboy would be sucked in by this garbage.

We all know that the iPhone and iPad are the two most locked down and controlled devices ever brought to market. EVER. Apple control exactly what the hardware is cabable of, through their propriatory OS. Apple control exacly what software is available for the platform, through the app store application process. Apple control exactly how developers make software through their propriatary SDK (mac only) and licence agreement.

By reading the above exerpt, you can see that Apple conveniently ignores all the points i mention, and focuses on web standards, thus conveying Apple as an advocate of openess and free creativity on the web. They believe that web standards should be open, but they don’t believe in openness when it has ramifications to their business model and profits (like in the app store).

Next, Apple gives its self a nice pat on the back for WebKit rendering engine. The wording of this shows Apple in a very positive light to the uniformed.

Apple did not create WebKit. They pillaged the opensource project KHTML, developped by KDE for their Konqueror browser. Apple made a fork of KHTML and named it ‘WebKit’, yet Apple withheld their code, preventing further colaboration with KDE on the project, and violating the initial terms of the licence. Apple eventually open-sourced their code in 2005, but from their behaviour, it is clear that they are not avocates of openness, and will do whatever it takes for their own gain.

So, that beats down every argument put forth by Apple against Adobe in regard to openness. Apple are hypocrits. Steve Jobs is the lead hypocrit. Apple fans are deluded fanboys who follow blindly and accept anything they are told. Apple are denouncing a company for following the same business model as Apple themselves. and that is pure hypocracy.

Please leave a comment if you have an opinion on this.

I recently needed to let off a little steam,so i decided to provide some feedback for Apple in respect to the iPad. Below is my email, submitted via apple.com. Lets see if they take anything onboard. haha

———————————————————————-

When will apple learn? The ipad might be considered a ‘pleasurable user experience’ with ample battery life, and a responsive touch display, but what apple is doing is reigning terror on its users.

In politics, apples position of power over its users would be compared to a dictatorship. Do you care for your users at all? The iphone/ipad ‘ecosystem’ restricts users in a way unparalleled in computing prior to the phone/itouch launch.

The biggest example of fascism in this sickening fiasco, is ofcourse the mandatory use of itunes/appstore in order to acquire new content or software for your device. Forbidding developers to release there software under open ‘free speech’ licences such as ‘GNU GPL’ or ‘MIT’ yet, as a company, having no qualms about pillaging the opensource community for your own gains when it suits you, shows just how greedy and hypocritical you really are.

The members of your staff who approve/reject appstore submissions, are clearly scitzophrenic. allowing an app one day, rejecting it the next, requiring re-submission for every update made to the app… Apple seems proud of the fact that there are [insert number of apps here] apps available for the this environment. never heard of quality over quantity?

back in the iphone/itouch only days. I could grudgingly accept the product for what it is. like games consoles, i do appreciate the importance of protecting what has been created. BUT! with the a move into the tablet sector, and with apple championing this ‘ipad’ as a computer, occupying the same ground as netbooks? no i will not stand for that. Is apple really trying to control users so tightly?

look at all non-apple phones out there. users are free to install compatible apps.how they please. the symbian and android projects are entirely opensource. windows mobile allows for the installation of open software and does not restrict its licensing. i happily run a python interpreter on my symbian device, and best of all, i haven’t spent a penny on software for it.

oh yeah, how could i be so naive? I just hit the nail on the head. MONEY. Don’t lie to your ignorant fanboy supporters who would jump off a cliff if SJ told them to. You lie to them and tell them that the ‘lockdown’ on the iphone/ipad is for there own good. you tell them that jailbroken devices are anti-apple and will cause the downfall of man. Are you that insecure in your ability to build a sturdy and resilient platform that you need to do that?

Ok, thats the main point, other stuff.. suggestions for the net gen of ipad (you might actually like some of these, but you’ll have heard these from other users for sure)

1. USB. not hard. every computer since 1998 has had one or more… except yours. I dont want to hear your excuses, you are crippling your users without it.

2. VGA/DVI/HDMI. add some kind of video out onto the device. I can see that you have released about 6 dongles to add ‘partial support’ for this sort of thing… but $30 for another item that you need to carry around?

3.MULTI TASKING. yes. computers have been doing this for so long,its not even funny. yeah. I get it, the ipad is underpowered,so…running multiple programs would slow the thing down thus impeding the much hyped user experience

4.HOMESCREEN. yeah you are using the same OS as iphone (more or less) but the ipad would benefit greatly from a redesigned homescreen to best make use of the screen space. you could integrate widgets and other webservices direct into the homscreen (like some other devices)

5.DRM. there is a snowballs chance in hell of you listening to this. DRM hurts your users. when will you understand that? it impedes usability and makes a mockery your ‘unparalleled user experience’ fascists!

Ok apple, listen carefully – stop trying to dazzle the media and fanboys with all ‘magical’ ‘revolutionary’ bullsh_t. concentrate on what matters (I dont mean how pretty the case is, or how smooth scrolling is, or having ‘nice animated menus) – if you still havnt figured it out,i’m taking about productivity and functionality. I really believe that the zombies that use your tech will awaken one day, and they’ll realize what tyrants you are.

Apart from that, Love it!

Tom

p2p

Wondering which peer-2-peer method is best for you? I’ll be looking at some of the most popular, and rating them in different areas. It appears that this post got a little longer than i had originally intended, but i didnt want to cut anything because this is good stuff. Read on…

What do you want to download?

The first question i shall ask is: what do you want to download? It is true that some networks/protocols are better for certain content than others. Here is a quick rule of thumb.

Anime – IRC, FTP
I find that Amine is best obtained from either IRC, or FTP. Most fansub groups maintain there releases through these two methods, so it tends to be the most organised. I find torrents can contain a mish mash of different dubs and subs and differing file types and are best avoided.

Comics – IRC, Rapidshare
Comics are Usually released as .cbr or .cbz files. Rapidshare is the best way to go. many rapidshare forums have threads listing thousands of issues, very well organised.

Music – Soulseek, WinMX
Soulseek Wins. Not the most graceful or effective p2p tool, but there is so much rare and hard to find music on here, it just cant be overlooked.

Current TV – Torrents, Gnutella, FTP, IRC
Torrents and IRC are best for current TV – usually encoded and uploaded within hours of airing. Torrents are probably top because it is the most rapid distribution method, allowing a file to proliferate in mere hours.

Current movies – Torrents, IRC, Rapidshare
Again, Torrents are very good for movie releases. The problem lies in finding high quality encodes with high quality sources. ‘Now Showing’ films at the cinema are unlikely to be good quality downloads (Cams – recorded in the cinema on handcams)

Games – Torrents
Games are widely available on all p2p methods. OF course, with games and software, viruses are a significant threat. this goes without saying, but always scan files with up-to-date AV before opening. and download from a trustworthy source – either a private torrent tracker or private FTP are good. Also read torrent comments to see what other users have said about the file.

Old stuff (TV, music, movies – FTP, Rapidshare, Gnutella,
If you’re lucky to enough to meet someone who archives a show on his FTP, then congratulations. Otherwise RS and Gnutella can be the way to go. Also, entire series and older stuff is released as torrents, but there will be fewer seeds on unpopular and less up to date stuff.

*about Newsgroups*
I have personally never used newsgroups, but my understanding is that you can get almost anything from them. I once spent weeks scouring the internet, every (free) filesharing method i knew of looking for a particular file – no luck, it just was not available, simple as that. However a friend of mine who is a subscribed newsgroup user *DID* find the file for me. And in just a day he had brought it into work for me! Needless to say, I wasted no time and uploaded it again in torrent form so more people could use it.

The above list is just an illustration, and will help you choose a network/protocol to find what you are looking for. But you wont find many people who just stick to one method, it makes no sense to limit yourself.

Ease of use

This is an important point. some P2P setups are not well suited for beginners, of course, savvy users can quickly move past this topic, but I have known many ppl stick with kazaa and bearshare – not because they dont know of something better, they just dont know how to do it. Here is how I rank the p2p methods in terms of ease of use.

1. Gnutella clients/Soulseek/WinMX

Very easy to use. download, install, and launch the client. Easy to use tabs including search and current downloads/uploads. Users must setup a share folder and share content or risk being banned by other peers

2. Rapidshare

In simple terms an HTTP file server where other users have added files. Visit a link, click download, wait for an alotted time, and you’re browser will download the file. The problem is, most downloads are split .rar archives, and only 1 file can be downloaded at a time, which makes downloading by hand very tedious. Use an automation tool such as Tucan(cross format, highly recommended) or Rdown(firefox extension) which allows you to paste all your links, and then automates the downloading.

3. FTP

FTP is very easy to use – the difficult part is getting access to the server! FTPs are private servers,so you need to know somebody who can give you access, or contribute in some way to earn access. If you do have access, there are numerous programs that will alow you to upload and download files. It works in a similar way to moving files around your own computer, just a bit slower =)

4. Torrents

Torrents are generally easy to use. The reason its in fourth place, is because sometimes it can be hard to fix problems when using torrents.

Download a client – i recommend utorrent to windows users. In linux I like rtorrent, but its a bit hard to use. Something like Transmission or ktorrent are both good.

Find a good site to source your torrents, download the small .torrent files. open them using your client and away you go.

5. DC

From what I understand, a DC client allows a user to connect to a wide number of hubs. A search facility can the be used to locate files from the connected hubs. Most hubs require clients to share a certain number of gigs/files in order to connect. Can require configuration in order to get working correctly

6. IRC

Most people know of IRC for chatting, but there is a huge file sharing community on IRC. The problem is learning how to use it. IRC is probably the least accessible file sharing protocol I know, but also one of my favourite. You’ll need to register on a given IRC network, identify, connect a chan that is serving files, wait for triggers regarding files, and then use a command line interface similar to linux’s BASH in order to get files. There is also a lot of etiquette that comes into play when using IRC – fail to follow procedure and you could find yourself banned.

So yes, IRC has the steepest learning curve, but is actually a lot of fun to use – I will dedicate an entire post to this topic in the future so watch out.

Need your files right now?

It is hard to be definitive on the speed of a given protocol, because so much varies. For example (in no particular ranking):

Torrents
with torrents, a very new, or very old file will be slow, as there will be few peers sharing the entire file. But a mid-life torrent is usually very fast, and can max out the majority of modern connections. Also very popular files will download very quickly using torrents, but un popular or rare files can take ages.

Rapidshare
Rapidshare is perhaps the most consistent in terms of speed,and therefore the easiest to predict download time. The only problem is,its not the fastest. Free users are heavily restricted – only able to download 1 file at a time, and must wait a given number of seconds between downloading each 100mb segment of their download Rapidshare is an absolute horror to use without a program like Tucan.

IRC
Speeds here depend on the individual file server that you are connecting too, and by and large, transfer rates are very fast. The problem occurs when there are queues. Most bots or users on IRC will only serve a small number of files simultaneously, to prevent the connection getting overloaded (typically 2-4 slots) If you request a file when all slots are full,you’ll be placed into the queue to await a free slot. Even still, the bot will tend to give priority to Voiced users, Ops and personal friends, contributers, etc, which means, as a newbie, you could find yourself at the bottom of the queue for a long time as priority connections overtake you!

SoulSeek
I have never been impressed with the speeds on soulseek. Luckily this network specialises in music, which means small files. Soulseek is a bit out of date technologically – it only allows for connections between 2 peers for a given file, meaning that you cant download a single file from multiple users who all have the same file – you have to select the particular user and file, initiate the download and potentially sit in a queue until a download spot becomes available.

FTP
Again, speed is dependant on the FTP servers connection and its current load – normally you will find that FTP transfers are very fast. The problem is, not many of us are blessed with knowing people kind enough to share they’re beloved FTP server with you. Yes, You’ll need IP address, username and password in order to download from an FTP.

Gnutella
Allows distributed distribution among many peers, meaning many parts of one file can be downloaded from many sources. At the user end, it appears somewhat similar to soulseek, but the way files are actually transfered is mare akin to torrents. Gnutella, despite its name, is not associated with the GNU project, but many Gnutella clients are realeased under the GNU GPL licence.

Anonimity and security

None of the above protocols are inately anonimous, meaning there is a chance (if you use p2p download copywritten material) that you can be identified and prosicuted. some torrent clients encrypt data, but this is normally a measure against traffic shaping which is a common strategy by facist ISPs (i used to work for an ISP – all they care about is the lost bandwitdth and server load that p2p causes)

However there are ways to make these methods anonimous.for example, connecting through Tor – a distibuted proxy which bounces connections through many computers, thus masking your IP address. Another is a piece of software called peer guardian which again, supposedly protects users when connecting to p2p networks.

There are however, a new breed file sharing protocols/networks which are innately anonymous and do not broadcast IPs, effectively making you untraceable. Such examples include GNUnet and Freenet

As far as security against viruses and malware goes. There is no way to be certain a file is clean. common sense prevails. Non executable media is more likely to be safe – i.e. video files, plain text files or music. But that does not mean you are safe. some media files will attempt to download trojans mascarading as codecs to name just one. Be extremely careful downloading any software or games. The safest places for these downloads are private torrent trackers and private FTPs. Windows users: always run up-to-date AV and scan everything once downloaded.

My advice is, if you use a spare machine as a downoading workhorse – do the sensible thing and run linux on it!

Conclusion

There is no single method which is the best. For most people, torrents or the Gnutella network will be adequate. I myself Use a selection torrents and rapidshare, occasionally firing up nicotine (linux soulseek client) when i’m looking for music. try them all, see which you like. feel free to leave comments and share your own experiences.

gpokr

It cant have escaped too many Linux users that, the majority of poker/gambling websites seem to prevent access from Linux computers.

And its not simply an incompatibility issue, they purposefully reject Linux connections, even when Linux is technically able to run the site – Java, Flash whatever.

Well, here is a site that DOES work in Linux. Its a free-play site, so don’t expect to clean up in here – its just for practice/fun.

www.gpokr.com is built using the google web toolkit and programmed in Java, AJAX, and GWT. Not quite as flashy as some of the poker sites out there, but more than playable – even fits nicely on the screen resolution of the eeepc900 – as long as you hit f11 for full screen.

vlc_ascii
This is SO cool, even if its usefulness is somewhat limited. VLC, and also Mplayer support video output in the form of ASCII characters which can be viewed through a terminal window, tty,or even a remote session via ssh.

The main use i can imagine for this is if you run a NAT/torrent workhorse without X server,you could ssh to it and actually check media files.

To activate in VLC, go to Tools>Preferences>Video and then select ASCII from the outputs drop down. Colour ASCII is also available.”

sony_video_player

If you’re a linux user, and own a Sony MP3 player, Sony couldnt care less about you. Even if you are a Windows user, the syncing software provided by sony (connect and sonicstage) are possibly the two worst pieces of software I have ever encountered – so I was overjoyed to discover this project.

JSymphonic is a Java program for synchronising and transferring music to and from Sony MP3 players. Being java based, it is platform independent, able to run on any machine that handles java. Supports generation 3 onwards, which covers almost everyone. If you havea sony player you NEED this. say goodbye to sonys awful software forever.

Peep the excellent documentation right here