Archive for the ‘software’ Category

3th person point and click adventures

January 21, 2009

I totally love the classic 3th person point & click adventures, since the days of Larry 1 and Monkey Island. I’ve played all the games I could get in the genre, there have been just a few games which I didn’t finish till the end. They must be really really bad for me not to finish them. Of all those games I’ve played I’ve only found a few remarkable. So today will be about those gems, which I thought stood above the rest. Of course I loved the Monkey Island series. They were fun, particularly because of the weird humor and I actually liked and played all Lucas Arts adventures. They’re good, but not the best.

The best and most compelling adventure I ever played would be “The longest journey” Man, what a story, It’s revolving around you and you don’t know where it will lead to untill it ends. You start as an art school student with weird dreams and a really strange old man outside your student house, who knows about your dreams and you end up saving the world in a parallel universe. The main character is a sweet but very sceptical girl, which brings a bit of humor into the story and you comprehension of the world (the world of the adventure you’re in) slowly changes and she has a very hard time accepting that. Great puzzles, mostly logical and a few references of the classics they loved, like a rubber chicken with a pully from Monkey Island and you can buy a flute, which plays the melody of the bird in KQIV (if my memory serves me right). Great voice acting, and rather good facial expressions.

Speaking of Kings Quest, I found part IV and especially part VII the best. Part IV is one the first with different ways to solve the adventure, a short path and a long one. And part VII is like a Disney story, complete with title song and ending song. It’s also just as colorful and romantic as the old Disney stories. Just wonderfull. If you’re a KQ-fan I can also advise de fanware remake of KQII, by Tierra Studios. They’ve created VGA-graphics, added puzzles and changed the story to make it more logical and best of all you can download it for free :). KQ is one of the best series of Sierra, not that lame humor found in the Larry and Space Quest series.

Gabriel Knight though is an even better series, renewing their technique in every game. The first one is a classic point and click, the second one uses small movies to tell the story and the third one uses a 3D engine. The compelling thing about the games is the story though, each game takes a paranormal theme (first voodoo, next werewolfs and the third is about vampires) And you’re the hero who has to solve the mystery and get the bad guys, doing a lot of research in the game to learn about your subject. Doing the research is a part which really helps in feeling involved in the games.

Another great series is from Revolution, the broken sword series, with the 3th one being the best. The first two are in the classic 2D, semi 3D perspective. The 3th one is 3D and has semi-action sequences. The semi action, makes it not too hard for hardcore adventurers like me, but still gives you the feeling of being more involved in the game. And it has some quite good voice acting.

I’m getting tired of writing, so I’ll end this article with just one more great game. It’s an action adventure with 3D shooter sequences and streetfighter like fighting in the game. They’re not too hard though, since even I could finish them. It’s the one of the few games, I’ve finished without hardly consulting a walkthrough. Not that it was so easy, but it just was logical enough and gave you enough hints to continue. But let me tell you the name of the game: Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Another great extra in the game is the David Bowie music. In each level you can go to a show of a band, which plays one of the Bowie songs, written specially for the game. In the beginning of the game, there is an Omikronian policeman asking you, to leave your dimension and put your soul in his body, to help to save their world. There you start, not knowing who and where you are in a world you know nothing about and slowly start to find out what’s going on around you. As you progress in the game, you keep discovering, that things are different from what you thought and learned before.

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Picard – automatic mp3 tagging

January 8, 2009

You probably know the problem. You’ve got mp3’s from all kind of sources, some are tagged nicely some terribly. There are some good programs to do it by hand or semi-automatic, but it’s quite a laborious process.

Musicbrainz has a far bether solution though: Picard. You can either use the tags you have to search in their database or create a fingerprint and look it up in their database. This means that even if you have no tags at all you can still retreive the correct ID3 tags. It’s semi-automatic, so if your results are not correct, you can easily correct it (like if there are 3 different versions of the same cd, you can easily choose the version you have). And it has a huge database. It even found several of my more obscure albums.

It’s available both for linux, mac and windows. So you m$-fanboys and apple-fans can use it too.

iTunes doesn’t like me

December 17, 2008

I have this weird notion of computers that I want them to perform the tasks I have in mind. I’m reasonable,  I know what they can and can’t do. I mean, I don’t want them to drink coffee.  It’s not good for them, so I can handle that. But when they can do it, they should or I get pissed off. That’s the main reason I don’t use xp, xp doesn’t like me either.

But yesterday I had to do the unavoidable. I had to boot the one computer that’s normally never used, the one running xp. Because I wanted to buy something on iTunes and I just couldn’t get it to run under wine. Probably because I messed to much with it. Since it ought to work with certain versions of iTunes if you patch wine. Anyhow I installed it and turned of the virusscanner, since iTunes needs all the resources it can get to run on windows. And virusscanners are for noobs. I used to run a virusscanner once a year when I still had windows installed and I never had a virus. Just once I’ve had a virus on it, when I did something really really stupid, but that’s a different story. And I never needed a virusscanner to clean it. I did it myself.

The installation went like a charm. I logged into iTunes and the credits I got for my birthday from a good friend of mine, were still there. I had tried iTunes in februar when I got the credits, but I just couldn’t decide what to buy. But now I knew. I wanted blueprint from Suphala, since I haven’t found a place to download it from the internet. I bought the album, downloaded it and that’s when the fun began.

I wanted to be able to listen to the album on my laptop, with xubuntu installed. It has windows networking. So I opened the network and copied the album to my laptop. But alas it has no support for m4p. No problem, I thought, let’s find a program to convert it. I used my friend google and it told me that apple had banned these programs from existence on the public internet. Everybody who mentioned where to find them, was threatened with a lawsuit. I know this is a bit oversimplified, but after hours and hours of trying to be able to listen to the album I bought, I just feel a bit simple. And I don’t think it’s that far from the truth.

I also know that if I would have read a bit more before I installed iTunes and I would have downloaded an older version, there would have been working solutions. But I didn’t because that’s not how I work on my own computer. I just start, try something, get frustrated, do some stupid radical actions, break the system, then I stop, calm myself down, think and I fix the problem. And in the end every computer almost always does what I want. I just prefer it to do it immediately. He is my humble servant and should obey my commands.

But I still had the windows computer, with the music on it. Then google showed me a windows solution, a virtual burner. That’s fine, the windows pc has the files on it anyway. Download, install and burn the iTunes-songs to the virtual burner, which in it’s turn would convert the audio to mp3. O joy, it seemed to work like a charm. I copied the files and they played, O happy me. That was, until I saw, that all the songs where 3 minutes long, hmmm that couldn’t be right, could it now. Ah, it’s a trial version. It just doesn’t show it anywhere when installing, neither was it posted in the how-to on the internet, which was probably posted by the people of tuneclone themselves. Maybe I should have checked that before, me stupid.

Ok different solution, just burn it to a cd. We happen to have a whole pile of them, just standing there. Wait 15 minutes, for iTunes to burn the CD. And then I can just pop the CD in my linux PC and rip the CD. That should work. I put the CD in the stereo, and yes, it played. Perfect. Let’s just listen. Electronics with tabla-drums, lovely combination. The only thing missing is Suphala herself,  I mean she’s jummy. But suddenly I woke from my dream. Hey, that’s a strange sound. That shouldn’t be in it, and again … and again. Just great, the burner is broken.

Let’s try tuneclone again and find me a serial. Bit hard to find, but found one, just one. But one’s enough. It should be for the version I have installed, but it doesn’t work. But I just happened to have downloaded an older version, which should be a full version, according to the description. But it’s a trial too. Let’s try the serial there and yes, yes yes! After hours and hours of trying this and that and this again in a bit different way, it works. Right now I am finally listening to the music I bought and I love it.

I could say that iTunes sucks, which is actually what I still think, but that’s personal. But that’s not really fair. iTunes is great if you have a mac, it integrates seamlessly in the OS and no huge extra systemload there. Or if you’ve got a standalone PC which you want to use for the sole purpose of playing music, while not using it for anything else at the same time. You can also burn a CD or buy an iPod. iTunes presents plenty of solutions for you to listen to your music and it offers it for a pretty fair price. It just hasn’t got the solutions I want. Or maybe it does, it can also burn a mp3-cd’s. I could probably listen to those, I haven’t tried it though, not much use with a broken burner. And while downloading I agreed with their terms, which I haven’t read and probably have broken now, by doing what I did. But I don’t care I can listen to it, and that’s the most important part. Me happy 🙂

Songbird

December 15, 2008

Take the firefox source, add a music player and you’ve got songbird. So what’s so special about it ?

To begin with, it uses various sources on the internet to show information about the artist which is currently playing. It’s open source which is alway great and since it’s build on the  Firefox-source it’s ultimately extensible. You could actually use it instead of your current browser and have a browser with a built in music player. And a major plus of course is that it natively runs in linux. 🙂

Its basic skin has a I-tunes feel to it without the slow reaction time an huge resources.  (That is if you try to run I-tunes on anything but a mac.) The basic skin is quite okay, it gives you a good overview and did I already mention that I love the artist information shown in the bottom, I did, didn’t I. You can also show artist pictures there (taken from flickr.com), view concert info and watch video’s from the selected artist. If you want, you can add lastfm support to give you suggestions for other artists you might like. The media library is also good, just let it scan your music directory and you can just select any combination of ID3-tags to filter the list. (like genre, artist, album, bpm just name it)

I really think it brings something new to your music listening experience. It’s not completely bugfree at the moment. I have it running almost constantly and at random times, after being on for hours and hours it starts to stutter and if I don’t skip to the next song, it hangs completely. It’s not depending on the song, a song which normally plays perfectly can suddenly start to give problems. But killing the application with a maximum of once a day, is not a huge downer for me.

update: I just found out the crashes (not playing sound anymore) are a problem of my soundcard driver. Yesterday I experienced the same thing in firefox, while I was watching youtube. It’s probably just because I use songbird all the time, that I noticed this problem.

Go give it a try:http://getsongbird.com/