I Love WINE!

Well, as some of you may already know, I’m one of those people that game on a Mac. One of the select few, who, despite crappy integrated graphics, try their best to game (CS: Source being the FPS of choice) on what hardware they have.

Now for some strange reason I can get Source to run under Steam (the gaming portal of choice) under Windows, under Apple’s way of Bootcamp – which is pretty much an emulated BIOS, since Mac’s use EFI nowadays.

However, under native Windows it runs great – as a slideshow. I get maybe 5-10fps – totally unplayable.

I even took the step to borrow and upgrade a computer that was just lying around to be able to run Source – something it now does a LITTLE better than it did. Only thing I did was up the graphics card from a Nvidia MX440 to a FX5500 – however, the mobo’s audio is screwed as a direct result of me giving the board a good shock a couple of years back – luckily, the processor, ram, HDD, and all the other parts are still fine. We replaced the case, PSU, and the board now works – albeit loudly as the fan for the PSU is attached to the heatsink by 4 different screws, none of which quite fit properly. Result? Massive vibrations and noise.

Luckily, I’m an advocate (glorified beta-tester) for this great app called CrossOver, by CodeWeavers. It’s basically a cross-platform app that emulates a VERY BASIC Windows environment so that your Windows apps like Office, Internet Explorer *shudder*, and other productivity-based apps. I use their derivative product called CrossOver Games, their Windows emulator designed purely for games (and Mac/Linux gamers!) in mind. From their website:

Based on the latest Wine Games development work, CrossOver Games allows Mac and Linux users to run their favorite Windows games in the environment of their choice. No rebooting, no switching to a virtual machine, and no Windows Operating System license required; CrossOver gives you the best performance possible if you’re not running on Windows.

For those of you that don’t know, it’s based on the WINE package – one of those recursive acronyms for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”. Basically it uses X11 under OSX for GUI stuff, and then wineloader is the process that makes the magic happen in the background.

Again, those of you that are in the know would have heard that WINE 1.0 was released not too long ago – CrossOver games was updated as a result of this. Now before the update to WINE 1.0, I had a couple of strange issues – things that I put down to WINE incompatibilities.

However, one particular issue frustrated the heck out of me – in Source under CX Games, I couldn’t play on Internode servers.because of their “server start screen”, that screen when you join a server, and says things like “Don’t Cheat!”, and “The player of the week is NOT YOU!” Now for some strange reason, I couldn’t click on the “OK” button underneath that screen on any Internode server. Bizzarely, GameArena (BigPond’s gaming portal) servers didn’t load the “Don’t Cheat!” screen either, but I could just hit OK and then all would be, okay.

With the WINE 1.0 update, and the corresponding CX Games update to 7.1, I am pleased to report that Internode servers on Source, under CX Games on OSX, now work.

Here blogs a happy, integrated-graphics card, Mac OSX gamer, all thanks to CodeWeavers and Crossover Games. And, of course, the WINE dev crew. Kudos to you, guys!

Comments below.

Etax is Ecrap.

Seriously, WTF.

If Microsoft, Apple, or any other software company can make decent pieces of software, why can’t the Australian Government?!

Etax is _the_ most horrible piece of software I have ever had the pleasure of using – no wonder I decided to lodge my tax return over the phone last year!

If you’re like me and have a job, you’ll be wondering how to lodge your tax return. A word of advice – don’t use Etax. The ATO said they were going to support Macs – they don’t. Even so, it’s still a totally crap piece of software, even under it’s native platform! Just generally buggy, and far too complicated.

If it were to be improved, it would have to have a massive UI facelift – currently it looks like we’re still in the old Win95 days – and we’re not, really. Vista is crap, but that’s another topic for another day 😛
Besides a major UI redesign, it would also need to be improved code wise. How about you make it cross platform, by BUILDING it in a cross platform language. I’m hesitant to say Java at this point in time because I know how good (and BAD! very, very BAD) Java programs can turn out – but programming languages such as Realbasic, a BASIC variant, are truly cross platform. Of course, this was the very first time I have ever heard of Realbasic, but hey – if it’s cross platform, it’s cross platform. Obviously.

Another thing they should add to Etax 2009 is the ability to have two modes: “Simple” and “Advanced”. Just like the Short Tax Return for those of us with less complicated monetary status’, it’d be just as easy as the online form. Advanced, however, would just be the current iteration of Etax – all the bells and whistles, all the questions, all the forms. I shudder to think of people that actually have to think about, and fill in, al that stuff. Don’t even talk to me about me filling it out in ten or so years time – I’m not looking forward to it at all! But hey, that’s what accountants are for 😛

Apologies for the totally non-inventive heading for this post – if you can think of something else (that is more creative), leave it in comments.

Dear Cupertino…

I’ve just been invited to contribute to an Apple-related blog, Dear Cupertino.

It’s a massively awesome idea – articles addressed to 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA (that’s the Apple headquarters, if you didn’t know) that outline how Apple products should be changed/revamped to make them “supercool”.

If you want, you can email me ideas for changes to Apple products, and they’ll eventually make it up there (but no guarantees).

I’ll also include your name and provide a link back to your website/blog if you so desire.

For all those who have clicked through to here from my Blogger profile on Dear Cupertino, welcome!

Diablo 2 is AWESOME!!

Really, it is.

I hadn’t got into this game back when it was actually popular, but after purchasing the Battle Chest from game.com.au, it’s fantastic. Really is the best old-school RPG ever made.

The thing about Blizzard (the publishers of Diablo 2 and it’s expansion, Lord of Destruction), is that they manage to include both Mac and PC versions of their games on the same disc. This includes their whole product catalog, including greats such as Starcraft (I own the Battle Chest), Warcaft 3 (I also own the Battle Chest), and Diablo 2 (Indeed, I own the Battle Chest). Even some of the more recent games like World of Warcraft – sadly, I don’t own the Battle Chest, but it’s far too time-consuming an RPG for my liking. No single-player offline mode either.

No other software company, as far as I know, manages to include both Mac and PC versions of their apps on the same disc. Shame on you. If Blizzard can do it, why can’t you?!

Anyway. The weekend was fully hectic y’all, two 18ths in the one weekend is just enough for one person. Congrats to Ash P, Paul C, and Felicity J. ON the down side, my clothes now smell very smoky – but on the plus, I got to play Wii Sports and Super Smash Bros. Brawl!

However, I did manage to open a bottle with my fairly-old, bottle-opener-equipped, Billabong belt… I have to say, I did feel tough. I’ve owned that belt for a good 4 or so years, and this was the first time ever that I had used the bottle-opener feature. On a belt. It begs the question: what was I thinking when I bought it?!

There’s a weekend wrap-up from Chris on freshbytes if you’re interested – if not, take a look at some of the fireworks at Paul’s (thanks to Emily L for the camera footage, apologies for the utter crap quality):


Either I fail at Java, or Java just simply fails.

To me, it’s as simple as that – no ifs, ands, or buts.

Today in Computer Science I was trying to create either a Fibonacci sequence generator/recursion experiment (Input nth term of Fibonacci sequence, program then spits it back out the correct number in the Fibonacci sequence) or a stopwatch/number incrementer (press start to start incrementing, press stop to stop incrementing, press restart to reset counter) – none of which worked!

Sure, I didn’t have all the necessary skills (how DO you differentiate between different buttons?), but for something to be considered good (therefore, not fail), I run it past this rule: if it’s sufficiently complicated enough for me to have to refer back to the textbook or included manual, then the developer/creator has made it too complicated. To be honest, those projects weren’t outside the scope of my knowledge, but they were challenging enough to make me think.

If I ever get those projects working, I’ll post back here.

Either that, or Cocoa/Objective-C for the win.

Telstra, I salute you!

Oh, finally!

Telstra, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that their data packs are far too expensive and are now bringing up the included data in them.

It took them long enough!

Now the comparison between the $29 ‘yes’ plan (250MB data, 23 minutes calls) and Telstra’s $29 plan (2.5MB data, 22 minutes calls) is far closer that it was – which is how it should have been in the first place.

The difference between the two to bring them on par in terms of data is now $16.50 – a reasonable price to pay, because Telstra has far better 3G coverage in Tassie that Optus, which only reaches Taroona according to some reports.

So Telstra, I salute you. Data AND coverage ftw.

Original link courtesy MacTalk, and the Telstra press release can be found here.

I’ll wade through the usual stuff and just leave you with the important bit:

Telstra Data Packs

Telstra Data Packs

In other news, the UMAT (that’s the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test, folks) was this Wednesday. Section 1 was hard, 2 easy, and 3 mildly challenging… Hopefully, I’ll do well, but as we all know, how ‘easy’ (relatively speaking) the test was isn’t necessarily a reflection of how ‘good’ you went 😀

If you’re wondering why this post is here and not on freshbytes – it’s ‘cos I’m trying to cut down on the personal posts on freshbytes, instead focusing on things that affect school life and so on… If you have any comments, feel free to contact me.

This post was composed and published from OSX blogging software, Ecto. I like using it because I don’t have to be online to compose posts, but it also allows me to focus on what I’m writing instead of getting distracted – which means more high-quality posts for you! There are a few things I don’t like about it, though, one of which is how it handles images – IMO, the WordPress editor is far better and handling those sorts of things. Anyway, most posts here will continue to be published in this way, and I’ll be doing some of freshbyte’s posts in this manner as well. I should publicly thank Martin P for purchasing Ecto for me – credit cards are great things – and so here it is: thanks!

More things will be here soon, I promise!

Computers are like a bicycle for our minds.

Hey there,

I just wanted to open with a video from Youtube about Steve Jobs. It’s where he’s talking about the speed of different species here on earth, and at the end he says something along the lines of: “But when humans on bicycles were measured, they blew past every other species by a huge margin. That’s what computers are like for our minds – a device which enhances our brains to such an extreme…

Truly, truly great words. Massively profound.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did – Steve really has some awesome things to say.

Now the main reason for this post is to explain why this site is here, and a the message that goes along with the blog description, “Computers are like a bicycle for our minds.” Well, you already know why I’ve put the blog description as I have – computers are excellent, and that’s about all there is to it.

But this blog exists as sorta of a personal thing that I whipped up in the period after mid year exams in 2008 – hopefully, it’ll still be here by the time I have kids.

Since we’re talking about personal, why don’t your read my interview at Mactalk? It’s available here, but you’ll need an account to read it.

It’s pretty simple, but if you were looking for something a little more glamerous, try freshbytes, my other website.

Last but not least – stick around. You never know what you might find 😀

Comments below!

Just Launched!

Hi there,

So this is isn’t that new – but to you, dear reader, it is.

Stay tuned for more info as I get things up and running.