Monday, July 24, 2006

Arx Fatalis, the greatest game since Ultima Underworld

Do you know how some games have so much publicity spin on them and so much advertising that they immediately start making money and becoming "the most popular game"? Arx Fatalis is not one of those. This game is a rediscovery of the good old values of Ultima Underworld: good story, great playability, nice AI, very little or no getting stuck possibilities, fantastic immersion in another world. If you loved Ultima Underworld (which can be found free on the net, but I am not sure you can make it work on the newest computers around), you will definitely fall in love with Arx Fatalis. I am telling you, I am hooked. I finished the game in a working week and two weekends and I did it so fast because my wife wanted me to give some attention to her. Yes, you read right, Arx Fatalis IS better than sex.

You can get it very cheaply from Good Old Games.

Ok, what is so great about it? I will give a few hints and let you discover the rest for yourselves:
  • you make magic by mouse gestures (you move the mouse in certain patterns, like in Black and White)
  • the AI characters yell for help from associated NPCs and run away when too hurt
  • I once ran into an impenetrable beast that could kill me with one touch. Running away from it I reached a dead end. I expected to find no way out, but the beast disappeared and reappeared a few feet behind, just enough to let me run away.
  • I couldn't find ONE spot where I would have gotten stuck in the entire game.
  • the quests are intelligent. You need to use brains to finish this one. It's not something that must be searched on google to finish, either. If you have the will, there is a way.
  • you can kill almost every character in the game as well as finish their quests.
  • a lot of side quests. You can finish the game in a week or in a few months, it depends on you.
  • hidden magic spells. Each rune has a specific meaning. Try combining them in innovative ways.
Not interested yet? Oh, come on!

Update: I have found a Doom3 mod that tries to be a prequel to Arx Fatalis. A pretty neat effort and I am glad I found a new reason to upgrade my computer :). This is their site: Arx – End Of Sun and this is a gameplay video: Arx - End of Sun (Gameplay Video #1) [Doom 3 SP Mod].

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Microsoft Acquires WinInternals and SysInternals

Mark's Sysinternals Blog

I hope this is something Microsoft did in order to improve their products, but I fear that the only reason for this purchase is to shut down the sites that give for free better tools than the one Microsoft puts in their OS. If this happends, I'll just move to Cygwin and ports from Linux for system tools X(

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yahoo Messenger 8 Beta : getting rid of the annoying Indigo skin

Nowadays Indigo seems to be a classy name. Everything is Indigo, from WCF to skins for every possible program or device. The new beta for Yahoo Messenger comes with the classic skin (aka Old Windows Forms style), Indigo (something that looks like Windows XP) and Maverick. Even if I changed my skin to classic, every time I restarted Yahoo I got the Indigo skin back. The only solution I found for this is going to Program Files/Yahoo!/Shared/Graphics and delete/rename the Indigo and Maverick folders. Now Yahoo looks and feels like the low profile/high utility app that it's supposed to be.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Intellectuals suck!

"How can you say that, Siderite, since all your rants are typical intellectual rants and you are obviously one?" writes a loyal blog reader.

Well, loyal reader, only reader and also writer of this blog, I also suck! Yes. Writing a blog that basically helps no one except for the programming tips, for the main purpose of being read by anyone, shows that I suck big time. And I am not the only one. Forums and blogs are sprouting all over the net, an infestation marketed as Web 2.0, basically saying absolutely nothing useful. The writers usually start blogging for the same reason that young girls write diaries, then "accidentally" leave them so anyone can read them. The opinion of people we don't care about and that normally should not care about us should be irrelevant, but the human need for self affirmation seems to counteract this obvious logic.

And I've realised this (well, finally at a conscious level) by reading these small magazines that are free and left to be read in bars and restaurants. They contain a few articles, targeting medium or high income young adults, as most of the clientele of this places is, and written by intellectuals. The rest of the pages are filled, of course, with commercials and ads. I first got interested, because the things that these guys said resonated with my own thoughts. Then I realized that they only did so with negative thoughts, talking about how the world is and shouldn't be and the adjacent sarcasm and intelligent irony. They didn't really provide useful solutions; and the more I read them, the more they sounded like whining.

So it hit me! These people have no reason to write anything to others. They only express their own impotence as members of the most elitist and minority group: intellectuals. They are intelligent, they read a lot, know a lot, and can't do anything about it. They are surrounded by idiots and the world these idiots create and the only possible thing to do about it is BLOG! (as in rant, using any media they can access). And because their opinion is nothing more than a sad whine, with no effect whatsoever, they suck. And so do I!

Friday, July 07, 2006

IntelliAdmin.com: Why Windows takes so long to shut down.

Why Windows takes so long to shut down.

Now this is a nice article that just touches my soul. How many of us, computer geeks have been at the mercy of the Windows shutdown? How many minutes wasted staring blindly into the monitor for that simple but elusive power off?

I have installed the Hive Cleanup Service and it mostly works. However, I can't say that it provides with the instant shutdown that I was looking for and I have no idea if the fact that my computer shuts down regularily now is due to this software, but it certainyl didn't hurt my computer in any way.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Profile of the Sociopath

Profile of the Sociopath

This link is a short summary of the psychological profile of a sociopath. Having dealt with at least two in my life, and with one when I was least prepared for it (Grrr!), I kinda stumbled over this. As a paranthesis, search on Google for cult leaders and their psychological profile. Some weird event from your adolescence or the strange behaviour of your child can be sometimes explained by the influence of sociopathy and cultism.

If you read carefully the link above, a pattern forms and a profile of a sociopath emerges. Are they many in society today? And asking myself that I noticed that this profile fits a lot of women almost like a glove. Don't believe me? Read it for yourself. Of course, it doesn't ALL fit, else we would be in big trouble, but I started wondering, as the defining characteristic of psychopats is the incapacity for love and shallow emotions, how do women feel? Could that be an explanation for the way we can't understand the opposite sex, while they understand us perfectly? Could it also explain while we get mad rather rarely, but intensely, while they seem to get enraged after all kind of stupid things, then quickly get over it? Do they really love? These are questions that stuck with me for days.

Of course, a general and simple answer doesn't exist. If I look closely, a lot of those traits fit me as well. Does it mean I am a sociopath, coolly manipulating my blog readers? I just might :D

Transforming inline webservice code into codebehind

I somehow managed to add to one of my Visual Studio 2005 Web Projects a webservice that had the code written "inline" meaning the <%@ WebService Language="C#" Class="WService"%> tag, followed by the C# code. While Visual Studio has a decent Intellisense functionality in asmx files, ReSharper doesn't. So I felt the need to move the code into a codebehind file. You would think that adding the Codebehind="WService.amsx.cs" would be enough. No, it isn't! As the codebehind model for VS is to have the codebehind in a compiled dll, an error like "Cannot create type WService" will annoy the hell out of you. The solution is to add the cs file into the App_Code directory.
<%@ WebService Language="C#" Class="WService" Codebehind="~/App_Code/WService.asmx.cs"%>

VS2003 and Pocket PC project problems

I've tried compiling and using a dll from the net for a Pocket PC and, even if the compilation of the source worked, when trying to add it as a reference, I got an error and the dll would not show in the references. However, a lot of other errors occurred later on, as if the dll was still referenced. Reading the csdproj file directly, I noticed that the reference to the dll was there, but that every time the project was loaded, the same error occurred and the reference did not show. The only solution is to remove with a text editor the XML entry from the csdproj file.

Also, VS2003 hangs periodically after a few debug-deploy cycles, usually when trying to stop debugging, using 100% CPU and freezing. This might also be related with version 2.0 of ReSharper which I have installed, but somehow I doubt it, cause I love the guys at JetBrains! :) The only solution is to kill the process, which will close VS2003, then restart it and reload the project.

Another issue is with the file on the Palm being in use while you try to deploy. The solution is to get to the Palm Control Panel, go to Memory, select the Running Programs, kill any program that has the same name as the program you want to deploy and anything that looks like "Client".

There are other issues, but I don't care to remember them all B-)