Fish Tank

November 30, 2009 at 13:02 | Posted in Apache, fish, hardware, Linux, server, Ubuntu, water | Leave a comment

Celend got a fish tank!

Well, she’s had it for a while, but now there’s actual fish swimming around in it! There’s 9 in total, 5 of them being Siamese fighting fish. The rest so far are comprised of platyfish and some Swordtail, both species in the colors of orange and yellow. I have to confess that these critters are far more active that I’d thought. Usually the fish I’ve seen lie about waiting for something to happen, and when that something happens (which usually is feeding time) they become very acive for a short time. Although our fish likes the nom as much as the next one, they just become even more active when food is around and then they tend to swim about freely even when there’s not.

I’ve also aquired the last piece of hardware required to set up the server for now. I was delayed by the fact that it was a Matrox PCI graphics card in it when I got it but not the corresponding cable for connecting DVI or VGA screens to it. Usually I’d just slap in another graphics card, but the motherboard was modern enough to only have a PCI-E slot, and as the only PCI-E card that I have available is currently in my gaming rig I made a pass on putting it in the server. This was however rectified after a trip yesterday to my father’s who’ve graciously donated the computer to begin with after he had no further use of it. So now I’m looking forward to setting it up with Ubuntu Server and slapping making it a LAMP server once I get the time for it later on. I’m hoping it’ll be today.

Soon it’ll be December.

Mmm, XHTML

November 24, 2009 at 16:05 | Posted in domain, software, webdesign | Leave a comment

Reviewed domain settings and a web design course sparks a creative streak.

I like making websites. I don’t know why I don’t put more time into it. Probably because I rarely have something useful to make. But now I might have two things coming up where I could use my (somewhat limited) skill set!

To top it off I’ve started my web design course. It’s at a very rudimentary level and so far I’ve done a fourth of the assignments in less than one day without actually learning anything, but that’ll probably come soon. It’s nice to have school work motivating you to spend time on something you like.

Saying that I haven’t learned anything might be a misnomer though. While I haven’t learned anything so far in the study plan I looked up what XHTML actually is only to find out that it’s what I’ve been doing so far anyway, almost. Pretty sweet, since it’s all about how you write the code to make it easier to decipher, and not just for the computer to read.

In the spirit of all this did some fiddling with my domain name. No longer is the adress to this site http://kroax.blogspot.com (even if it does refer to this site) but instead you’re able to just type in http://blog.kroax.se! For most people this won’t mean a thing, but I’m having fun with it. At the moment www.kroax.se works as well, but that’s only temporary until I get something else up there again. Soon I’ll have access to Kroax.net and then I might change that, but http://blog.kroax.se will always work.

I feel delightfully nerdy right now!

Edit: Why, oh why does Blogger add line breaks automaticly in “Edit Html” mode?!

Edit2: Got access to Kroax.net now and moved it over here.

iPhones aren’t meant for continued typing

November 23, 2009 at 11:51 | Posted in games, iphone, webdesign | Leave a comment

A realisation about handheld technology comes after a perhaps uninteresting but pleasant weekend.

So the weekend was nice, if a bit stressful at times. Watched a movie at the cinema and had not one, but two gatherings at home! For me, that’s a lot. Sure, there weren’t more than 7 people at once but it’s probably good that they weren’t all there at once.That’s pretty much been my whole weekend. I logged in a short while for some WoW to kill some turkeys and played some more Dragon Age. Right now I’m mostly looking forward to starting my web design course this week and I’ve been working on a side project of mine in hopes of getting it going.

Most of this I’ve been writing on my iPhone. However, I’ve yet to find a decent app that actually works the way I want. I’d like to just write something down, save it as a draft and then edit it later on the computer. Apparently this isn’t possible, so I have to publish it first and then edit it. That’s ridiculous. Well, at least I had something to do on my break at work today, but I believe that blogging on a computer is vastly superior unless it’s very small posts or micro blogging.

Now I’m gonna do some webdesigning!

Dragon Age, The Second Coming of CRPGs

November 18, 2009 at 13:00 | Posted in games, RPG, software | Leave a comment

After many years of waiting the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate finally arrives.

I’ve now had my hands on Dragon Age: Origins for almost two weeks. This is a game I had been waiting for since Bioware first announced it several years back. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of when this was, but it was somewhat soon after the release of Neverwinter Nights. All in all a long times waiting, and so far it’s been totally worth it.

I’ll begin with saying that this game is made first and foremost for the PC. One could argue that a lot of games are better looking and have more choices than you average console port, but some games, especially action and platform games, plays better on a console. In Dragon Age, it’s clearly a computer game ported to consoles and not the other way around as in say Mass Effect. If you’ve ever played Baldur’s Gate and WoW, you’ll immediately feel right at home with the controls.

While the various stats and options might seem a bit disorienting at the start of the game, you’ll soon learn what abilities are useful for what. If you’re not the stat savy type there’s always the option of “auto level up” which helped me out a lot in the beginning with some of the NPCs. What makes the system intriguing is that all classes gains the same amount of differing abilities. No longer are mages the only versatile characters available to you as warriors and rogues alike have just as many tricks up their sleeve. That being said however, several of the non-magical abilities are “turn-on-and-forget” modes, but even they give you a tactical choice.

And you’ll need those tactical choices. So far I’ve only been playing on normal difficulty, but whenever you meet a boss it really pays off knowing your abilities and how to use them. After the difficulty nerf in the last patch to easy and normal however I’ve been thinking of upping the difficulty to hard to get closer to the sometimes soulcrushing encounters you would find in Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2. It’s less about luck than it is about sound strategic planning, and finishing of a particular hard fight leaves a great sense of accomplishment.

The story so far has also been good. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it suffuses the world and gives a great immersion factor. It works off the vibes of a gritty low-fantasy setting where there is no tangible sense of wrong or right. One of the ways this plays out is the fact that there’s no arbitrary alignment meter that is so common these days in RPGs. Instead you, the player, gets to choose what course to take, and they’re often far from the “Satan vs. Jesus” type of choice and more in the realms of grey, although often less gloomy than The Witcher. It follows in the footsteps of the latter though in how your choices actually do alter the course of the game in a tangible way and aren’t just concentrated to that particular bit of the story.

Suffice to say, this game is all that I wanted, even if I didn’t know what it was I wanted when I got it.

Windows and Mac sitting in a tree…

October 9, 2009 at 07:56 | Posted in Apple, games, Microsoft | Leave a comment

I’ve started to appreciate Microsoft products more and more. That being said, same thing goes for Apple. The only logical choice is of course to combine them.

When I was a young teenager I despised Microsoft. I viewed them as the bane of all software development and thought their operating systems were rubbish. Apple was not much better, having at the time been sent into the lower recesses of the market for normal consumers (this was before the iPod). Simply put, they weren’t even an option at the time.

Image by Toxaz through FlickrOver the years though I’ve started to change my mind more and more about both companies. Apple has sleek and intuitive designs, both hardware and software, whereas Microsoft seems to have learned a thing or two from past failings and have been listening to the public. In Apple’s case I belive it has lately just been a matter of gaining a bigger market share to show of their products, but I believe Microsoft has actually improved some of their the past few years. I’m not saying Apple hasn’t, just that Microsoft had a bit bigger ground to cover.

The only problem I’ve been having lately is the interaction between the two. iTunes is a decent music player and I love the genius mix function, but the lack of support for multimedia keyboard bindings on Windows is just ridiculous. I guess the use for manipulating your media player even when it’s not in the forefront (i.e. while playing a game) is lost on the Windows iTunes team.

Lack of playable games on Apple has also been a big downer for me when it comes to their computers. The never Macs have pretty decent graphic cards, at least with the top segment laptop models, so they possess the hardware possible to accomplish this. But as long as Microsoft sits tight on their DirectX library, I don’t see many games being made for Macs, unless some other API takes over (won’t happen anytime soon).

Enter virtulization. In my case, VMware Fusion.

I’m sure some of you went googly eyed at this last paragraph (if you hadn’t already), but to break it down, VMware Fusion let’s you run Windows inside running Mac OS X. It boils down to the fact that you can use Windows programs on your Mac. VMware supposedly has support for DirectX 9 as well, which in turn will let you play games.

I say “supposedly” because I’ve yet to try it out. At the moment I’m attempting to install Windows 7 on my girlfriends Mac, and to be honest, it’s going rather slow. I belive (and hope) that the performance will increase once I’m actually logged on the virtual machine and install the “VMware Tools” that comes with the software. Mostly because it says this is what it’s for.

Hopefully I’ll be able to have it up and running before my significant other gets home tonight. If she haven’t been able to get her hands on that other game by then, at least she’ll be able to play Prototype. Yes, she did actually asked me if I could install a violent “superhero” game where you can consume your enemies and slice bodies in two on her shiny Mac so she could play it. Have I mentioned that I love her?

Wet Joy

October 1, 2009 at 20:14 | Posted in diving, games, iphone, kayak, water | Leave a comment

A great past week, all in all. Loads of new toys and experiences, moreso than expected.

So last week I told how I had just gotten Batman: Arkham Asylum installed and last night I managed to complete the story mode and all the Riddler’s challanges. To make it short, it’s a great game and I really enjoyed it. I’ll probably keep playing it even though I’ve already completed it. The setting is great and there’s some nice twists on it all. If you’re interested in Batman and like videogames, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and pick up this game.

So I’ve already fallen in love with my new iPhone. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d use it after I got it. My Twitter has surely been invigorated many-fold since I got it. The app I use, Twitterrific, makes the whole thing a snap, both posting and reading. Especially when it comes to “tweeting” pictures and videos. Also, oh great flying spaghetti monster, how sweet it is to finally be able to listen to music and podcasts on the go. I could go on how much I like my new fancy phone, but that brand has already been hyped to kingdom come.

Mine is the red one. Photo taken with my iPhone As if those two things hadn’t been enough for me to have a great week, Karro and I went to buy a kayak this Friday. Unbeknownst to me, she had already planned ahead and bought not one, but two kayaks! One for her and one for me! We got a great price on them as well, and they’re worth every krona (easy for me to say though, I didn’t pay for them). We’ve already been out with them a couple of times.

The first trip, Sunday, there was quite a bit of wind. Very fun, but hard to paddle in. We only got halfway from Framnäs to Östra Holmen out here in Mälaren before we were to tired to go on and turned back. On the other hand, it blew so much that we could literally surf on the waves on way back, and that was awesomeness in a bucket! We made another trip yesterday with a bit less wind, and this time we managed to get all the way out, much thanks to the lack of wind compared to the first day. So of course it was a given what vessel to take today when the scouts arrived: we both grabbed our kayak and paddled on while the other sailed. The wind waned as the evening went on, and as the moon shone out over the lake we could quietly glide next to the boats with ease.

But before I had arrived at Framnäs I had went on a trip to meet up with my sister and her husband. Last year they had given me a card for a free test-dive that I had yet to cache in. This was mainly due to the part that I had been unable to find it the last two months, but just as I gave up on every finding the envelope it was held in it showed itself to me. As of now it’s still warm enough to dive outside, so we drove on to a lake after picking up some gear at their local diving center. Once there Manuel (my brother in law) briefed me on how to use the equipment and various safety instructions, we put on the gear and went into the lake.

Some of you might now think “Holy bovine, wasn’t that cold? We’re in October!” and to that I can only say that, yes, the air is cold, but the water is still warm enough. Besides, the neopren suit I put one kept immediate water warm and cosy and I wasn’t troubled at all by the temperature until I actually got on land and had to actually take it off.

The diving itself was a blast. There was the initial trouble of actually facing downwards and not go belly-up, but that was hindrance quickly overcome after a tip of putting my weight downwards. Then there was learning the right way to breathe and adjust air in your vest for buoyancy, something that was made harder that one of the weights fell out of my vest. Twice. I’m still amazed that Manuel managed to actually find them. After a while I started to get a hang of it though and could start looking around.

The lake was fortunately rather shallow where they had taken me. No more than 4 meters at the most, perfect for the occasion, as I had some water to maneuver in but not deep enough to get diver’s disease. The visibility was about 3 meters, so I was able to clearly purvey the bottom of the lake, and it’s inhabitants. We saw loads of crayfish, some perch and even a couple of pikes, one of them about half a metre. We ended staying down there for a total of 56 minutes, with a few breaks here and there to go topside of course.

It was a great experience and definitely something I am going to do again sometime. Hopefully I’ll have both the financial leverage and time required to start doing some more diving come spring. Here’s for hoping.

All in all it’s been a great week with a lot of ups. This is life as it should be. On Sunday we’ll helping the scouts in taking the boats up on land, but that won’t stop me and Karro for taking more trips with our kayaks. I feel another good week is coming up.

The Joy of New

September 24, 2009 at 11:35 | Posted in games, iphone, rant | Leave a comment

There’s something special about getting something new and fresh.

Today I’ve been lucky. Not only was I able to go and pick up my own copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I’ve also finally gotten the mail that I’ll be able to pick up my iPhone today. Double joy!

I know that neither of these are really new as such. The iPhone 3GS has been out for almost two months, longer outside of Sweden and Arkham Asylum has been out for over a month on the Xbox 360 and PS3, but they’re still new to me.

It’s the joy of opening a new package knowing that you’ll have fun with the contents inside. Especially Arkham Asylum (which I’m installing as I write this) that so many have praised, amongst those a friend of mine who I trust dearly when it comes to Batman.

The only downside I see to this is that now I have two things that I would both like to give my full attention to. To add insult to injury I’m working the next 4 days and have some school work to finish in the meantime. Ah well, at least I’ll have something to fill the time with the coming days.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe that the installation of my game has just finished.

Fat Princess Reviewer Rant

September 9, 2009 at 21:29 | Posted in games, media, rant | Leave a comment

Watching a game review on TV stirs up some feelings about the political climate of games when it comes to sensitive subjects.

So this morning I had the glorious opportunity to watch the Swedish public service morning broadcast, something I haven’t had the means to to a lot until lately. A sudden lack of working TV-box had played it’s part in this, but now we have a magnificent new means to see what used to be sent over the airwaves, this time with a harddrive for recording real time as well. But I digress.

At was during this viewing upon which I managed to turn on my television only a few moments before they weekly game review. From a long forgotten cache of knowledge in the back of my mind I remembered the reviewer as a well renowned man in his field of work, having a background in some Swedish gaming magazine. Much to my delight he set out to review a game which I have been loosely following although not bought as it was a PS3 exclusive and my wallet and bank account have fiercely prevented me from buying on as well as food. Nevertheless, only a day or two had gone by from when I showed my partner a trailer of Fat Princess to which she seemed to glee as much as myself over the concept.

“It’s good but…”

The reviewer quickly booted up the game for everyone to show and joined a single player game and the camera shifted over to a full screen view of the game. The brightly coloured graphics showed well even on an old an battered TV as mine and the reviewer praised it for the cartoony look and yet stylish look. He then set out to explain the basics of this game, a team based capture-the-flag with fantasy classes, and soon after he had picked up a warrior with a sword. He then ran out through the gate and killed a passing enemy who which then promptly exploded into a bloody cacophony and littered the ground with a blood stain that could match the French revolution.

Fat Princess is a bloody game and not a game for kids. The developers themselves has said so many times, but for some reason an appropriate age wasn’t mentioned, a bit to my surprise. The reviewer merely grinned gleefully and told us how fun he thought it was with all the blood.

He then went on to explain the game mechanics lightly and why he thought it was a great game. He lavished praise on a lot of things and drew several parallels to other games which he thought Fat Princess had outdone in some cases. He said it probably would have deserved a 4, maybe 5 out of 5 if it hadn’t been for one thing.

I Can Haz Cheesecake?

I of course were wondering what this flaw could be that would drag down the gameplay. Nothing I had heard of hard said anything particular about the game not being fun and enjoyable, but perhaps this man had some insight I had yet to purvey I thought. Alas, such were not the case.

The paper-thin story of Fat Princess is that one day two princesses went into the woods and found an enchanted cake (of humongous proportions I might add) which they both ate with great delight. This cake in turn made them very fat, thus the naming of the title, and then they were both kidnapped by the other faction. The goal is to storm the enemy castle, free the princess and carry her over to your castle. The enemy can make this harder by feeding her cake which will make her bigger and harder to carry.

This did not sit right at all with the reviewer. He kept going on how this would impose on young minds how obesity wasn’t good and how ridiculous it was with a king trying to ban sugary goodness. The fact that the princess had to be carried across the battlefield was in itself very appalling to him as he thought it degraded the role of women. In the end he used to to justify the score of 2 our of 5.

Political Correctness Isn’t Always Right

I find it rather aggravating that a game, especially a good game as this obviously was, can be so tarnished by the personal nitpicks of a reviewer like this. One could argue that nitpicking is what reviewing is all about, to find the flaws and lift them out for all to see. The same thing is true about the opposite though, and in the end I stand by the belief that these should be weighed against each other when it comes to determining the quality of a game, movie or whatever the subject in review is. This is especially true if said review features a numerical score of the review.

Fat Princess has had a lot of talk in the blogosphere and other places of the internet due to the featuring of an obese royalty. Intriguing enough I don’t believe this would have happened if the kidnapped in question had been of the male gender instead of that of a girl. But nevertheless, headlines has been made about it on the internet. I can’t shake the feeling though that a lot of the people who complains about these sort of things aren’t subjected to them at all. There seems to be mostly concern about how this game pictures women, but the women I’ve heard talking about it haven’t expressed any objections against the content. Usually it is quite the opposite, probably because they get the satire.

See games for what they are

Fat Princess isn’t supposed to be a proposed utopia for all men in the future. It’s suppose to be a silly little game with cute and bloody graphics as well as good team game play. It’s not supposed to be used as a way to raise orphan children with, but for grown ups and adolescents to sit down with and have fun at.

If all games were to be judged based on small episodes, art or titles and how neurotic soccer-moms views what’s appropriate then most of today’s greater games would probably not be deemed worthy of even putting on a disc, optical nor magnetic. Don’t worry though, the kids could then sit down and watch a really good movie instead.

First Rant

September 6, 2009 at 16:12 | Posted in games, league of legends | Leave a comment

Right, so I’ve been told by my friend Beldak that I should start typing down my various rants and thoughts on a blog. I did after all register this blog name while I was at his place in Holland. So here goes.

So I just got accepted into the League of Legends Beta testing. It’s not the first time I’ve been beta testing, but probably this early into development. That being said, the game itself seems mostly done.

For those of you who don’t know League of Legends (or “LoL” as it’s precariously abbreviated) it is basicly a stand-alone version of Defense of the Ancients or DotA with some carry-over elements between the matches. Now that I’ve confused you even more, I’ll get into the explanation of the game.

There are two teams. Each team’s goal is to destroy the other team’s main building. To get to the other team’s base there are three roads or “lanes” as they’re commonly called, all of them riddled with defensive towers that protect each teams base by firing at the enemy.

The game has it’s roots in RTS (Real Time Strategy) games and it shows by the wave of minions that are spawned in each team’s base at certain intervals and then goes of rushing down each lane towards the enemy base and to a glorious death (or in the rare case, victory). These minions cannot be controled by the players.

With me so far? If so, you’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to influence the game if you can’t control the units. That’s where the champions come into play. They’re you’re average roleplaying character, gainins levels, gold, loot and skills as the battle progresses, and each player gets to chose one of these to control.

One of the biggest ways it differs from DotA is that the result of your matches carries over to the next. As you win and lose matches you yourself gain experince and can gain “masteries” (read: talents in WoW), runes and access to a few spells. I’ve yet to see how much impact these will have on actual gameplay, but it seems that the further you get into the game the less it matters. Somewhat.

It’s basicly a team based RPG in an RTS game. And so far I’ve also found that it’s a lot of fun.

I’d love to post some screenshots or whatnot to let you look at the game or at least make the explanations easier, but unfortunately the NDA doesn’t allow me to. It was only a few days ago that the beta testers were actually allowed to even talk about it, so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much.

I never did get into DotA. I Bought Warcraft 3 pretty late (och which DotA is a mod) and never got to play DotA against actual humans. So I was quite intrigued when I saw a preview at Gametrailers about LoL and how it was supposed to be easier to get into as well.

I was surprised of finding just how easy it was to learn. After only 3-4 matches I knew all the basics and was beginning to be useful. And the fact that even if you loose you gain XP, you usually have fun and progress no matter what the outcome. That being said, you get more if you win. I prefer winning. And it’s easy as pie to get into a new game.

So that’s the end of my first rant. So for those of you out there, sign up for the Eurpoean beta. I need people to play with! My nickname is of course “Kroax.”

Also, it works with Macs.

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