The free game is not a lie! To encourage download of Steam, Valve is giving Portal away for free for the next two weeks. If you haven’t already played it, YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE NOT TO.
Wine for OS X and Linux especially designed to play graphically-intensive Windows games. The Orange Box and its contents are supported, and Audio-Surf ran OK for me, with some minor resolution-based oddness. Not sure it’s worth $40, though, when I can just reboot to Boot Camp.
I bought a new laptop drive for my MacBookPro last week, and with SuperDuper, was able to copy my OS X partition and boot off it within hours. The Boot Camp Windows partition, however, stumped me. No amount of disk copying or dd’ing worked.
This tool did. It does all the magick required to successfully copy a Windows partition and tweak the partition table to make Windows boot again. Hurrah!
An outstandingly fun Windows game: Drive a car over coloured blocks on a track generated by an MP3 of your choosing. Pick something mellow, and you get a relaxing low-scoring game. But if you want a challenge, throw some pumping techno its way. Works very well with Chemical Brothers and Pixies, I find. Best use of Digital Signal Processing ever!
The excellent TrueCrypt now runs on OS X, as well as Windows and Linux. I’ll definitely be shunting some of my files onto an encrypted thumbdrive later.
“Vista has an aroma like [Windows] ME, and I am not interested in getting sick again.” Ooh, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s pretty true. Vista and ME are not dissimilar in their not-worth-the-hassle-of-upgrading-ness.
Cool looking little screencast app from TechSmith — An easy way to grab images or video from your desktop, and share them quickly. Works in OS X and Windows.
As someone who installed Vista on a PC in January, and regretted it for months, I echo Joel Spolsky’s summation: “I’ve been using Vista on my home laptop since it shipped, and can say with some conviction that nobody should be using it as their primary operating system — it simply has no redeeming merits to overcome the compatibility headaches it causes.”
From the “about bloody time” file, a plugin from Microsoft for Firefox which allows WMV files to stream in your browser. This has been broken (and required lots of DLL copying) for years.
Bill Gates trolls the Apple fanboy. “Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.” I had to double-check this wasn’t some “Fake Steve”-style spoof!
Impressive looking network backup software. Straightforward to set-up, you can either pay CrashPlan to backup to their servers, or use local or friends’ hard drives for free. Lots of nice touches, like using Bonjour to discover local backup destinations automatically. Once the Linux client is ready, I’ll be in heaven.
Open source Worms-a-like. Far too many of my student hours were taken up playing “Worms 2” against my flatmates. Admittedly, most of that time was taken up by giggling as we named our worms things like “Sean Is A Virgin” and “Jim’s Cock”, but I think the game was fun too.
MS try to avoid the “Volume License Key” fiasco of XP (if you used FCKGW, or another volume key to install XP, you didn’t have to go through “activation” - ie. phoning into their servers) by not issuing volume keys for Vista. Instead, they created a server that enterprises could run, and installations of Vista would phone into local servers. Someone gets hold of said server, creates a VMWare image, voila! Anyone can install Vista without having to activate! Cat, meet mouse. Mouse, meet cat. Fight!
The latest beta of Parallels Desktop for OS X allows you to seamlessly display windows from, erm, Windows on your OSX desktop. This is very cool stuff. Makes me wish I had an Intel Mac to try it out on.
Really frickin’ good Photomosaic-making software. I’ve been having lots of fun with this, using around 15,000 album covers as the “tiles”, and it does an bang-up job, without “cheating” by tinting or repeating images (like some other software does).
New version of WinAmp (Remember them? It’s like an iPod, except you can’t carry it around with you. Ask your parents) includes “remote listening” — Stream music from your home PC to wherevers. Since Apple kept disabling hacks that did this with iTunes, I’m curious how AOL think they’re going to be able to keep this “legit”
Links to all the pieces you need to get Django up-and-running on Windows. I’ve just started poking at Django, and I’m liking it so far.
The first major public release of the next version of Office. Get your grubby hands on the shiny new UI for the first time, and try to imagine how you’re going to explain it to your parents over the phone.
Distributed P2Pish secure backups. You give up 10Gb of your hard drive, for the rights to distribute 1Gb of your files across hundreds of peers. Sadly Windows-only, and there’s no way to tweak how much *bandwidth* you’re willing to give up, but could come in handy.
Fantastic news: VMWare are making their server product free(beer). I’m almost certainly going to use this for a dev server at work — Backup the virtual machine image every night, and if hardware crashes, just startup your backed-up image on a new machine. Also gets around the “You can’t create an image” limitation of the free VMWare Player app.
Microsoft have released a public beta of IE7. The homepage is a staggeringly fucking awful flash animation, promising “Everything you need, nothing you don’t, and a few things you have yet to imagine”, before displaying a list of Firefox’s features.
To be tried-out: Cross-platform app that creates VPNs between computers — even if they’re behind firewalls. Downside: Requires connecting to a centrally-run server to initiate connection, which will soon be charging $$$.
The currently-circulating Windows WMF exploit “probably affects more computers than any other security vulnerability, ever.” Every PC running any version of Windows since 1990 — even if fully patched — is vulnerable!
Microsoft have release the various versions of Visual Studio Express for free. Very smart move on their part — It reduces the cost of Windows programming to essentially zero for those who aren’t willing to pay, and MS can make up the money with their “professional” Team solutions and MSDN subscriptions.
This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.