Monthly Archives: July 2011

Allied Star Police is a pretty good twist on the tower defense theme and you can get it for iOS here for free. This is a PopCap game designed by ten-year-old Owain Weinert.

PopCap met Owain in April when Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Alaska & Washington told us about his wish to make a video game. Owain (which means “little warrior” in Welsh) was diagnosed with pre-B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia last year and has gone through lots of difficult treatments. But his dad said that what he really wanted was to hang out with “real game designers”. So we volunteered to help Owain make his video game during PopCamp. PopCamp is a unique time here when folks can tinker around with interesting ideas, learn lots of new stuff and share it with everyone else at the end of the week.

Living with CyanogenMod 7 for Samsung Galaxy S

My phone, a Samsung Galaxy S, has been running CyanogenMod 7 for the past week or so. The first week was a bit rocky. The phone ignored vibration settings at first and would vibrate when ringing, and when I hung up. In one call I couldn’t hear the caller at all! It also ignored my ringtone setting and used the first mp3 on the phone (not so bad, it was a Fun Lovin’ Criminals track!)

Anyway, I practically had to upgrade. I was running an earlier version of the Voodoo rom which unfortunately didn’t behave. Wifi kept turning itself off and I used my allowance of 3G bandwidth a couple of times. I did try to update Voodoo but screwed up and had to do a factory reset. Thankfully I had a backup done with Titanium Backup! After restoring my apps I decided to take the plunge to CM7. Why? Gingerbread!

CyanogenMod is an aftermarket firmware for a number of cell phones based on the open-source Android operating system. It offers features not found in the official Android based firmwares of vendors of these cell phones.

Initially I installed the 7.1.0 RC1 but there were problems as I mentioned above. There are nightly builds however and they’re supposed to be fairly easy to install. I screwed that up too but eventually got everything working! I’m now running nightly #67 and things have been fairly smooth.

CyanogenMod 7 is a very good mod. My phone is flying along and while it does offer advantages over the stock kernel (updated more often plus other features) you do miss out on the excellent Samsung Camera app, and battery life is slightly worse. The FM radio doesn’t work either but I haven’t bothered to investigate that as I rarely use it.

Flashing a new rom isn’t for the unadventurous. If the idea of rebooting into recovery mode, possibly changing radio drivers and knowing you might run into a world of pain scares you, don’t do it! Gingerbread, the latest Android firmware for phones, is making its way to the SGS and if you haven’t got it yet run KIES and you may find it waiting for you. The advantage of using CM7 is that they can move to the very latest Gingerbread (2.3.5 at the time of writing, my phone company only offers 2.3.3). Nightly build #70 introduced that version of the OS. You might want to keep an eye on this thread on the XDA forums too. There are problems with the nightlies but of course most of those who have no problem won’t be posting there so you’re bound to see a concentration of negativity. #67 works fine for me. YMMV!

How fast is my Samsung Galaxy S now? I ran Quadrant Standard three times, with progressively better scores.

  1. 1612
  2. 1977
  3. 2015
For comparison, the original Samsung Galaxy S had a score of 750. I would be very interested to hear how the stock Samsung Galaxy S with the Samsung Gingerbread firmware compares.

It’s still not quite as fast as the Galaxy S with the venerable “One Click Lag Fix” I benchmarked a while back. That used EXT2 however, a filesystem lacking journaling features important to maintaining data in the event of a system crash or problem.

Would I recommend CyanogenMod 7? If you’re a techie and can live without the Samsung Camera App then yes. Go for it. If you’re an Open Source fan who hates proprietary software you should definitely go for it. You even have to install Google Apps separately because they are proprietary software!

If you just use your phone to take photos, check Twitter and make phone calls, then don’t go near CyanogenMod 7 (or any firmware TBH!) just yet.

Four Free Games

  1. Spelunky looks like a modern day Rick Dangerous and that gets my thumbs up!
  2. Dig n Rig reminds me of Terraria but it’s not.
  3. SkyIsland is a fairly cool browser based platformer with a 3D twist!
  4. A Flipping Good Time is a 2D platformer with a gravity twist.

Of those I’ve only played SkyIsland. I just haven’t got around to installing them yet.

Oh, apparently to get better at TF2 you should install tr_walkway. Again, yet to try it myself. Not enough hours in the day!

While I have you, does digital distribution spell the death of retro gaming? Interesting read but having a physical copy of a game is no guarantee that a game will work on a machine in the future. Modern consoles are so prone to breaking that I can’t imagine any regularly used Xbox 360 or PS3 surviving 20 years …

Tabbed SSH Sessions in Putty

If you’re a Windows user who uses Putty to ssh to your server you may be annoyed by the fact that you must have a separate window for each ssh session. I know I am, as tabbing through windows to find the right browser window is made just a little bit harder by flipping through those black screens.

Anyway, I went searching. There are ways to fix this. Unfortunately only one worked for me.

  1. Putty Connection Manager – is a nice interface that imported my Putty sessions automatically. Unfortunately double clicking on them launched the session but, apart from a new tab showing, the terminal window itself remained grey.
  2. Superputty – is very similar to Putty Connection Manager but didn’t work either. It doesn’t import Putty sessions automatically, it had to be done manually through a menu. Even though I didn’t have any sessions it warned that imported sessions might overwrite Superputty sessions. When I double clicked on a session it loaded Putty in a new window.
  3. WinTabber is a general purpose tabbing app that makes it easy to tab any sort of windows. However, during the install it offers to install Putty so they know their market! You can use CTRL and the number keys to switch quickly between tabs, just like I’m used to on other operating systems. This worked fine, but the free version has a limit of 4 tabs. Don’t worry, the registered version only costs $5 so it’s not going to break the bank.

In Mac OS X and Linux the terminals I use support tabs so I’ve always thought it odd there wasn’t an ssh client bundled with Windows. How do you handle ssh sessions in Windows?

Minecraft up in the aether

Aether, a mod for Minecraft that is, “a celestial realm found in outer limits of the atmosphere. The Aether is what you could call the “antipole” of the Nether. The Nether is a network of desolate, fiery caverns filled with bloodstained Cobblestone and sticky Soulsand; it lies beneath the very soil of our Minecraft world. The Aether, on the other hand, is a collection of floating plains and islands, all connected together to create a breathtaking dimension of the skies. Even during the night, the Aether is still quite peaceful, and a normal day in the Aether is the equivalent of three days on the surface.”

It has floating whales, new block types, angry birds, and dungeon systems protected by guardians!

Unfortunately it’s not trivial to install and when the next Minecraft update comes out it’ll mess everything up, probably. Still looks like a stunning mod for the game! (via)

BF3 Multiplayer Trailer

Yes, yes, yes. Footage of the alpha test of the game is making it’s way around the net but you won’t find it here. The game is far from complete but shows lots of promise.

Oh yes, check out the battlelog too. That would be the social interface to the game DICE are working on. (Thanks xRegardsx for reminding me ’bout that post)

Great Pixelenemy interview with Kevin O’Leary about Battlelog and the BattleRecorder.

Now, why is it that the gaming PC I want to get always costs over 1,000 Euro? PS3/Xbox versions for me!

It would seem that friends playing together is regarded as team stacking in Team Fortress 2.

On one hand that’s great because the server is free to balance teams but it sucks when you want to play with friends you’re chatting with on Skype. Any notion of playing strategically as a team goes out the window when you have to be careful what you say. The same happens with Bad Company 2 on PC.

Who ever decided that a server browser was the best way to join a game anyway? I Just want to play a game with my friends! I don’t care what server I’m on.

PC players will look down on console players because they have to use fiddly controllers but the squad system in Bad Company 2 on consoles is a great way of getting a group of friends into a game. Yes, there is team stacking, but servers do auto balance as well (sometimes). Then like any of the platforms you have to try to get back to your old squad. At least you start out on the same team!

Now, come on Microsoft and Sony. Let console players use a mouse and keyboard! Best of both worlds!

Cookies for Comments 0.5.4

Cookies for Comments is a WordPress plugin that can be used alongside Akismet to significantly reduce or even kill completely comment spam.

Version 0.5.4 adds a rejections page in case human visitors trip over the cookie check. You can modify the message shown to visitors and it’s obviously only useful if you don’t use the cookie check in your .htaccess file.

It happens sometimes, usually when the visitor has cookies turned off, but very occasionally for some other reason. (That I don’t know of yet)

This plugin isn’t a replacement for Akismet as it is easily bypassed. Thankfully 99% of spam bots don’t bother checking so this plugin works quite well!