Monthly Archives: March 2014

LOST on the Island – my Novel

LOST-MIB

I loved LOST the TV show but I always wanted to write a novel that filled in some key gaps

  • Who was Whidmore and what was his staff really up to? How did the Island rules affect him?
  • What did Dharma do on it’s years on the Island?
  • What went right and wrong with the Dharma experiments?
  • How did Dharma and the others meet and battle and make a treaty? What was the treaty?
  • The “voices” and trapped spirits had what powers and limits on the mainland?
  • What did Ben and Whidmore and others do “off island”?
  • What did the Sumerians do on the Island?
  • How do “The rules” of the Island work?
  • What was the temple and it’s resurrection waters?
  • How did the lighthouse work?
  • What was Jacob’s Cabin?
  • What was Richard doing on the Island?
  • What were Ilanya and the Temple Guardians doing for Jacob and how did they interact?
  • What were the rules and rituals of OTHER society and their contact with the world?

I am working feverishly on a Novel on these very topics. Chapters to appear soon!

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Great LinQ Bloggers

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Want to read some great LinQ blogs?

Greg Costikyan speaks about Online Gaming

Ten years ago, at the launch of the PS3 and the Xbox 360, I told you to ignore the manufacturers’ hype. These machines were not ushering in a new golden age; they were putting the last nail in the coffin of game innovation. The long term trend of ever-higher budgets and ever-larger teams would continue, and fewer and fewer original titles would be published, until the last ounce of creativity was squeezed out of the industry, profits would decline, and the whole structure would eventually totter and fall under the obvious inconsistencies of the system. And I decried the greed, and lack of taste, on the part of publishers, that led us to this sorry pass.

I was kind of right. We’re now witnessing the last death throes of the AAA system, the viper that sucked game innovation dry. And my sincere regrets to every developer who has suffered in that transition, inevitable though it is.

I called for a revolution; and to my astonishment, we’ve witnessed one, over the last ten years. Online distribution and developers ready to defy the system produced the indie revolution, a Cambrian explosion of creativity not seen since the early days of computer gaming. New platforms – social and mobile games – have opened up entirely new channels, and enabled entirely new game styles. The last 10 years have been the most exciting and most promising time to be a game developer in history, and I include the birth of the industry, and the rise of tabletop hobby games, both exciting times, in that judgment.

But all good things come to an end. And so it is today. The walls are closing in once more. The coming years are going to be harsh. There will be a winnowing of developers unseen since the Atari crash. There will be less and less innovation. Ten years from now, we’re going to need another revolution. And as usual, greed and lack of taste will be to blame.

Let’s look at the markets that have sustained this revolution: indie, social, and mobile games. All three face dire challenges.

The indie revolution has been sustained by one thing: Steam. Oh, yes, XBLA was important once, but Microsoft screwed that pooch; they no longer care about indie games, and don’t care that their authorization and update policies make developing for XBLA utterly unattractive to indie developers. What’s happened with PC games is that we swapped a world in which you had many possible distributors – admittedly distributing into a declining retail market – into a world in which ONE company has a virtual monopoly. And that company is moving from a curated market, in which you were virtually guaranteed success if you passed their curatorial bar, into a total free-for-all, like the mess that is the Apple appstore, in which it will be well nigh impossible to reach an audience unless you are at least as good at public relations and marketing as you are at game development – something true of very, very few indie developers.

Capital likes to invest in companies that are at the pinch-points of a market, because they can squeeze out the lion’s share of the revenues that market produces. Valve is at the pinch-point of the PC games market. Valve, admittedly, actually cares about games, which puts them one up on every other channel; but you can guess where the revenues are ultimately going to go. And it’s not to you.

The Apple app store? Do I even need to recap what a horror -that- is? Tens of thousands of apps, and only two ways to find them: the best-sellers list, and featured games. This is WORSE than conventional retail, where you have at least a few hundred SKUs; nothing below the top 10, 20 at most, on these lists is going to benefit. And “featured” means that unless you know whose cock to suck at Apple, you can forget it. You’re not going to be on that list. Discovery is bloody fucking impossible.

And it TOTALLY DOESN’T HAVE to be this way. Amazon solved this problem decades ago; people are not identical, and best-sellers are a terrible window into your inventory. Why is there no “recommended for you?” Why is there no “people who bought this also bought?” Apple is NOT working to help expose their inventory to people who might like it, because they do not give a flying fuck. The app store is just a marketing gimmick to support hardware sales to them, and they could care less that it does not work for developers. Apple has historically been actively hostile to games, those geeky, boy toys that don’t mesh with their technocool, hi-brow mystique. They’re greedy, and they don’t care.

Google is no better; nor does it seem to bother Google that per-user game revenues on Android lag iOS drastically. And they certainly aren’t doing anything to fix that.

And Facebook? Good Christ almighty. Not content with seizing 30% of developers’ revenues off the top, they have nerfed the viral channels that once made it possible to quickly build a massive audience, so that now the only route to user acquisition is advertising – on Facebook, in competition with every other developer on Facebook, so that an ever-increasing share of revenues go to Facebook. And social game developers either die on the vine, or turn to other channels.

Game markets are killed by greed and lack of taste. The casual game market should serve as a warning to us all. Ten years ago, it was the only sign of hope on the horizon, an alternative channel where developers could innovate and thrive; but the casual game portals took an every-increasing share of revenues, cut prices ever lower to compete with each other, and turned a thriving market into a cesspool in which only a Croatian living on starvation wages could hope to compete. Their short-sightedness and greed killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

The same thing can, and will happen again, unless our distribution partners start to realize that success can only be sustained over the long term if there is a viable business ecosystem in which all parties can thrive. Apple doesn’t care about games. Google doesn’t care about games. Facebook doesn’t care about games. Valve may care about games – but my bet is that they care about money more.
Contrary to libertarian theory, a business does not exist to maximize profits. A business exists to do something. Profit is the condition of survival, but it is not the goal.

How many of you go to work each day, thinking “I want to maximize share-holder value?”

And how many of you go to work thinking, “I want to make the best damn game I can?”

We’re faced now with a scary landscape: Essentially monopolistic distribution channels that have total power over what gets distributed, and what gets attention, with the power to demand whatever portion of the consumer dollar they want.

You can sit passive in the face of this, or you can do something about it.

Actually, I have no idea what you can do about it.

But it might be creating an indie cooperative movement, to join together for better leverage against the other members of the value chain. It might be trying to create our own path to the consumer. It might be marching on the Googleplex, or Apple’s ridiculous flying saucer, and demanding change. I don’t have any pat answers, but we need to start thinking about these issues, instead of allowing ourselves to be passive victims in the face of inimical market forces, shaped by those who do not give a flying fuck about games.

Games are good. Games are powerful. The best games are worthy of love, and of passion. We must somehow shape a world in which games that are worthy of love and passion can find their audience. We’ve had this, for a brief few years; we must not let it go.

C++ gets some power from BOOST

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Boost makes C++ easy & powerful

Where to get BOOST….

http://www.boost.org/
is an awesome FREE open source C++ library that truly makes C++ easier to code. i rarely code C++ without it. It features:

  • Better data types and collections like Vector (including bound checking) and many useful ways to manage object collections.
  • Regular expressions.
  • Easier multi-threading
  • Easier, Safer I/O
  • Timers
  • A rich array of math functionality
  • Hundreds of features you wish C++ had

Its part of the C++ 11 Standard now

These are so useful C++ 11 made it a standard part of the language thus officially blessing it.

Speedup a Windows Machine!

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Speedup that work for all Windows Versions

Introduction

Sent about 12 hours speeding up my Mom’s old XP system because it had gotten very slow. Here is the definitive guide (and almost all these suggestions are Win7/win 8 / vista ready) to what I did some of you may have great suggestions or corrections here is the list:
(of course I first just removed lots of programs casual users grandkids, me, her other children put on that have not been used in forever, drivers for 3 different printers and their companion programs she does not have anymore, etc.)

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The Speed Up Tips

  • http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html is the ULTIMATE SURVEY TOOL to see what your system has hardware and software wise and print it out. Free and does an amazing report including License keys, installed service packs, every piece of hardware and motherboard revision #s, etc. A printout from this will answer any techie’s question about what is on your system. And will help you know what drivers you do need based on your current hardware.
    Note: Speccy http://www.piriform.com/speccy is somewhat better in terms of hardware discovery. For instance, a video card that Belarc will show as a generic VGA card will be much better detailed by Speccy. Belarc, however will doa great job with applications and software!
  • http://www.blackviper.com/ BlackViper is your must have reference to know what Windows Services are started and don’t need to be (i.e. Services.msc issues). This option is time consuming, consider just steps 3, 4, 5, 8 first they may speed things up enough that you don’t have to do this even though eliminating unneeded services speeds up PCs even further.
  • Tip use half as many colors as usual i.e. if your Graphics card can do 32 million colors, set it to use 16 million instead. Half as much work redrawing the screen. Right click on display properties provided that option.
  • TIP If your system has 2 to 4 Gigs of RAM turn off ‘swapping to disk’ for memory just use straight memory. On control panel, SYSTEM, ADVANCED
  • if on XP make the system look great, turn on ClearType (on already in Vista/Win7 most of the time). You will be shocked how much better text looks on the machine.

Process Lasso is your friend

  • Install Process Lasso YESTERDAY from http://bitsum.com/prolasso.php it will help you make any system MUCH MUCH FASTER it allows you to
    monitor who is hogging your computer’s brain (CPU) and memory (RAM) sooooo much better than any other tools, terminate programs instantly
    that don’t want to exit or take minutes or never exit when they hang, etc. It also ‘throttles’ (i.e. slows down) any program that tries tomonopolize your machine.
    process lasso has many more features than Task Manager:
  • when a program tries to grab 100% and takes over a machine PL keeps a log of the programs that did so on the bottom of its screen. This is helpful because when a program slows down a machine often machine is sooooo slow Ctrl escape will not pull up Task Man and when it finally comes up the offending program has calmed down and you cannot see who was monopolizing the machine a few minutes ago.
  • When a program tries to tab 100% PL throttles it i.e. slows it down and gives it less CPU time so it can grab 100% of the CPU. PL is an active tool unlike TaskMan that observes but cannot slow down a greedy program.
  • When a program hangs FoxPro, Explorer, whatever and quitting or clicking on the X will not close it, Process Lasso has several right click terminate options some of which can end the program in a second when a stubborn program refuses to end.
  • It has many more useful columns of information about running programs to see RAM consumed to spot RAM pigs, threads, average and current % of CPU, etc.

More Speed Up Tips

  • http://pcdecrapifier.com/ is superb tool. It clears out a ton of uneeded programs vendors throw on that clutter your computer and registry.
  • http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner   Ccleaner can clean your registry but it makes me super nervous as it does MS engineer to remove things that may break software. But this seems to be the best at it.
  • Glary Utilities is useful.
  • Revo uninstaller is amazing. It can remove things Add Remove Programs will not.

Security Tips

Security I just removed everything but Microsoft Security Essentials.
In the past I have used AVG (very good free), Norton, Macafee, Spybot Search and destroy (also very good), and AntiMalware Bytes but nasty things slipped by any way on other’s machine about twice a year or anytime my machine got infected by a baddy  I had to clean. NORTON in particular slows down a machine so much I always remove it entirely from a machine and use Microsoft Security Essentials which takes much less machine resources to keep machine even safer. Process Lasso has identified most scanners as CPU HOGs – windows security essentials is not.
When Bad things slip by or even if you suspect but are not  sure your machine is infected do THOROUGH BADDY CLEAN (see end of doc)

Browsing Tips

  • Internet Explorer and Firefox are memory hogs. IE more so than fIreFox. On an old system or slow system switch to Chrome it will perform much better on any system.
  • Use the suggested add-ins I recommend.

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XP Only Speedup Tips

  • http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html is THE TOOL to remove tons of uneeded stuff that windows XP itself will never let you remove and to do so in a very easy way. First thing I do after installing it is apply the SHRINK option it reclaims a lot of disk space and eliminates a lot of unneeded update rollback info, orphaned temp files, etc.

More Questions? Need Help!

All of these tips and more and advice on this can be gained by asking questions on email groups devoted to repairing and using Windows I recommend joining and sending questions, error messages, etc, to

  • http://superuser.com/ the Stack OverFlow family of help sites for Windows.
  • my favorite Yahoo Groups i.e.
    • xxxx
    • xxxx

What a SMART tech company would buy…

A smart tech company would bolster their tech portfolio with these excellent products:

Windows 8.x – broken and never fixed?

Where to get Windows 8 help….

There are several places when I consult, I go to get Windows 8 help to help my customers.

  • xxxx
  • xxx
  • xxx

If you came here because your Windows 8.x is having troubles, you can stop reading here.  The rest is a deep and objective discussion about Windows 8 and Windows 10.

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The Windows 8.x failure – Why It Failed…

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The Windows 8.x Failure – Why it DID NOT FAIL

I hear really bogus reasons Windows 8.x failed all the time. They sound seductive but fail the tests of general semantics and critical thinking. Some fall for the bogus reasons, but here they are and easy refutes for them:

  • “You just hate learning new things.” Actually tech types love it. They just love learning the fastest, easiest way. iOS and Android are offering that.
  • If you had a touch laptop you would love it.
  • If you had a touch monitor you would love it.
  • It is the bravest thing Microsoft has ever done.
  • Just throw away everything you learned about programming to make Win 9/Metro/Modern apps

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Why Windows 8? Why Windows 10?

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  • xxxx

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Why Not Windows 8? Why Not Windows 10?

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Win1-and-Win8 Windows8-idiocy

A list of really obvious Windows 8.x problems there are no answers to

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt despite what Microsoft blogging engineers and blogging IT types want you to believe.

  • TCO
  • iPad Copying
  • Android copying
  • One OS to rule them all
  • If you think these are wrong, you may want to research confirmation bias.
  • The hatred of Skeuomorphism and love of flat.
  • The embrace of ugliness and bad typography.

How bad is Windows 8?

Well there are many signs it is much worse than it’s Stockholm Syndrome cheerleaders are willing to accept via their rose colored irrational glasses:

  • People use their phone and tablet because it is easier than their PC.
  • The rising new purchase of Chromebooks and Mac OS and Hardware.
  • People are upgrading phones and Tablets both hardware and software.
  • Gifts and Prizes.

This is some hefty evidence. Only victims of confirmation bias, Stockholm Syndrome and MS Fanboy status (even ones in denial) will refute these.

But Windows is SUCH a better Corporate and Productivity OS

Ah this one sounds so good, but is easily answered with rock solid counter points.

  • xxx
  • xxx

Don’t be an OS bigot. Bigotry is how a bunch of Christian people found themselves in White Sheets burning crosses on lawns. Now bigots are too busy leaving nasty comments on Windows 8 blogs, refusing to buy Apple devices, buying Microsoft stuff for family members that want Android and Apple, or commenting rabidly on blogs that dare to criticize the great Microsoft. Microsoft Supremacist may sound better than White Supremacist, facist, socialist, et al. but supremacy mentality combined with confirmation bias is how Joe Stalin and Grand Dragons became who they are.

Anecdotal Problems I had that discouraged me from using windows 8 full-time

I run/ran Windows 8 in a virtual machine. I have to know it to support it as a consultant and for friends and family. but I cannot bear to subject my best machine to it.

  • I had the Wifi problems everybody had.
    • No internet access while every other device (Win 7, Win XP, Mac, Android, iPad, Android Phone, Android Tablet, iPhone) had Internet fine when connected to Wifi.
    • In a connected world not being able to access Internet from WiFi is a show stopper. Do not ship till you got this right. My Windows 8.1 is totally up to date and was bought in March 2014 so I am not an early adopter. They had several years to fix this.
    • There are fixes in fact http://everythingsurface.org/4-ways-to-solve-your-windows-8-1-surface-pro-wi-fi-issues documents 4 fixes.
  • Ugly colors. Ugly icons. Ugly typefaces. Tiny icons. Boring icons. Monochrome dialog boxes and icons.
  • Bugs. Bugs. Bugs.

The best fix to Windows 8

There are many best fixes to this.

Use Windows 10 the minute it comes out as a free upgrade to Windows 8. I like the beta-test/customer preview versions of Windows 10. I do not LOVE it like I loved past Windows because Mac OS X and iOS and Android provide me with so many things I usually count on windows for.

Use Other better products instead of Windows. Read about your options @
http://techsuperheroes.com/?cat=297

But then you are just an Android and Apple and Mac Fanboy! And anti-Microsoft!

Well that is a nice thought that sidesteps the legitimate issues I raise here and the massive agreement that the purchasing public and usual Microsoft cheerleaders discredit.

But read this article on Fanboys and if you still think I am after that, well I have done my best to present you with the objective truth. Even I can’t beat confirmation bias.

Hope this all helps – Happy Windowing! – Chaz

 

 

Windows – Long Path and Filename Bugs

I use a few DOS commands and third party programs that encounter the dreaded

The directory name is too long

This is an operating system problem in an OS they have had 28 years (since Windows 1.0) to get right. DOS was released in August 1981. Do you think they could have it free of bugs by now?

Granted I can buy my way out of the problem with things like:

But I personally bought DOS 1.0 – 6 and Windows 1.0 – 8.1 and everything in between at a cost of several thousand $$$. Apparently MS does not care enough about their OS to fix this long standing bug even for those of us who who pay, and pay and pay.

It affects internal and external commands as well:

  • a simple command
    dir curl.exe /s

    blew up the screen with errors like this:

0003

And not only did it flood the prompt with those errors they wiped out any hope of ever seeing that the file was there several times.

In the excellent Take Command it worked quite well i.e.

0004

If Microsoft wants to win back customer loyalty leaving severe bugs in a product for well over 30 years is not it. Bugs that tiny companies can fix yet a company with over 50 billions in cash and in excess of 100,000 employees does not bother.

It also broke XXCopy my favorite file copier because it is entirely DOS based – at least on systems with long file names and paths. A few of my systems have that issue.

Mac Questions? Great places to get them answered

Mac Help Wanted

I get my Mac questions answered a variety of places of varying quality.

You will get most of your Mac questions answered there.

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