Is everything going to web based?

Yeah… Mr. Obvious, am I not?

Check out this web Word processor. Neat toy… not sure why would I use it but still…

One of the gazillion Google web apps.

Let me remain sceptic – editing belongs to desktop if you asked me.

Posted in Blogging, Software, Web applications
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Those that met me more than once know what a geek I am, my eyes basically glow on a sight of a cool new gadget. My wife on the other hand, couldn’t care less, she is as far from a geek as it gets. An email? Something needs to be found on The Web? Why learn anything when you have a guy next to you doing it all for you when you need it, and being hapy about it too!

That’s probably the essence of the presence of an Xbox in our house. This little toy (ok it’s not quite little, in fact it’s huge when you compare it to any other console on the market) is basically a fully featured computer connected to a TV. But you won’t see us gaming on it, nor enjoying any Xbox live action. With a little help of google and some creative hacking you can turn your Xbox into a fully fledged media center for the family. Why should I juggle the DVD’s when I can have them conveniently stored on the Xbox (it’s got its tine 8GB hard disk replaced with a 120GB one) when you can conveniently lay on a couch with a remote in your hand and enjoy your whole DVD and music collection being just a remote control click away?

Check out the cool things they’ve done with the old Xbox.
And a review on Tom’s Hardware.
It’s got my music, it stores all my digital photos and I even ripped a few movies to it. And the most important thing that was actually the key for the purchase of it is – it’s completely maintainable by all of my girls! Heck even the youngest (2.5 year) play cartoons on it.

The key was to make the XBMC the dashboard (meaning it’s the app that’s shown when you start your Xbox).

And although the original Xbox was protected against using third party code by means of only running an MS signed code, this protection was quickly removed and there seems to be a galore of semi-legal apps being available for it.

Now it’s essential to mention that MS really seemed to have little incentive to let us do it. The Xbox division has been a total money sink for them since day 1. They literally lost billions on the deal. The model was to make money on licensing the platform to game developers and take a cut out of any game that’s being sold for it. Obviously it didn’t work. The division had only a single quarter profitable (when they shipped the highly succesful Halo2).

Now it turns out that they no longer intend to go with that model (at least for the moment) as reported in those articles:
XNA game development platform will be free for Windows, $99 for Xbox (Tom’s Hardware)
Microsoft Opens Up Xbox 360 Game Development to Everyone (Paul Thurot)
Play your own Xbox game (ZDNet)

Tom’s hardware says:

Microsoft developers report the first beta of XNA Game Studio Express will be made available on 30 August, with a final edition released – still for free download – before the holidays. The product requires Visual C# Express, but that’s also free.

Now how cool is THAT!?

Microsoft is no longer going to limit the development of the games to the few chosen but rather will open it to anyone. Is is bad for giants like EA or Vivendi? Not likely, the indies don’t really have the capital to give them any serious competition in the supper production games like halo2 or NBA stuff. It is however great for the wide range of developers that used to make PC games. The PC games marked has been on decline for quite a while. While console games sell in hundrets of copies, a PC game is lucky to sell a few thousand. If Microsoft will not charge them a hefty price for distribution, this may be a great move for XboX 360 since they can still make a lot by the volume of sales for the platform and it’s good for the platform since it will make lots of new titles made available for it.

Let’s see whom else does it benefit… how about the other most succesful to date gaming platform from Microsoft? Yes – Windows. I think one of the not so many true platform locks for Windows users are games. while people buy computers for their home to work and browse and send emails they definitely want to be able for their kids to be able to play on them, or actually, since the target audience for the majority of games seems to actually be people in their 30’s, they buy them to game themselves. Let’s see… how many big game titles got released for linux last year? Anyone? If any you would probably be able to count them on the fingers of one hand. That definitely locks quite a few people in the Windows platform. And if that’s going to be a platform majority owns at home, they will actually demand them at work, so the circle closes.

But whom is it targeted against? I would say the whole push has been engineered to hurt Playstation 3.

There is no way Sony can pull a stunt like this. They have absolutely nothing to gain from opening their APIS and even if they did… Xbox OS is basically a fork off of Windows 2000, while PS3 is a totally different infrastructure, if it was even possible, it surely would not be fun. Add to that the stupid things Sony does with their DRM and the patent they filed on tieing a game you bought to a specific console and you’ve got the picture. The Playstation series is dead. DEAD!

So, up till today it was hard (and not-quite-legal) to make any unauthorized software for the Xbox, and as far as I know impossible to make it on Xbox 360. This is going to change, and soon enough we will have things like XBMS available for the x360

I guess what I wanted to say in the end is – I cannot wait to replace the old and clunky Xbox with a new shiny 360 one… and there are rumours that for only an additional $200 I can get a HD-DVD for it soon enough!

Posted in .Net Framework, C#, Lifestyle, Software Development
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Spying upon myself

I’ve not been to the site for a while, so I figured I’ll check if I have not written anything new in the mean time…

Nope, it does not look like I did.

Nothing to see here… Move along…

Posted in Lifestyle
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Let me start by digressing… I’ve got this Desktop Sidebar installed (wich by the way seems to be one of those viral softwares since a lot of people in the team started using it upon looking at my screen) and on the daily comic roll I’ve got the Mother Goose & Grim displayed in it among others. And looking at todays comic made me roll on the floor laughing (not that it does not usually do it anyway) since I realized that I can totally relate to it in the sense how I feel when I log on to my computer at home.

Let me elaborate. I am someone that you could generally put in a drawer with a sticker “early adopter” attached to it. Being one and wanting to be able to write software for it and test my old wares, I signed up as a beta tester for the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista uperating system. Overall it’s been a really good experience with an examption of a few bugs that are inevitable for a beta, but as one of my friends say “Nothing on earth forces you to run beta software, for it may end up on the bleeding edge” so I’ll just ignore those.

The things that really is annoying there is not what is there by mistake, it’s what has been put there intentionally.

So this is basically how you will feel on Vista after the first 15 minutes…

Vista security?

The system goes out of its way to make your life miserable whenever you actually try to do anything other than write a mail or browse web a bit.

Whenever you run any installer, whenever you want to delete anything from desktop, or even purge your recycle bin, the screen goes dark and it pops up an administrative allert from User Account Protection allerting that there might be a problem. Riiiight… Fortunately you can disable that in msconfig.

Similarly if you want to enter “Documents and Files” folder, you will hit a wall on anything but the lowest level. Fortunately you can take ownership and take the control back.

“Program Files” folder virtualization is particularly interesting stuff. Aparently there is action going behind the scenes whenever a program wants to save anything to its folder in “Program Files” after it’s been installed. If you installed a 2P2 app that downloads to its folder, good luck finding the files after you’ve downloaded anything… the folder is buried within a new structure of folders. Aparently there is a new fiolder called “UserData” or something similar in the main folder on your %SystemDrive% (usually C:\), deep within the belly of that monster there is a Virtual folder that contains your precious new mp3 files you’ve just downloaded.

Registry Virtualization was particularly annoying to me since some of my apps set registry Associations for some file types, and guess what? No love for me. The app can save it, sure, but it will get fed its own little chunk of registry that only it will see whenever it wants to read it back, but no data that saves to HKLM or HKCR seems to be be handed to other apps. Now I realize that there probably are ways of circuimventing it although I’ve been told that this is not to be done in anything but the installer… oh well…

So Vista may be the best thing in security since the private firewalls (which I don’t really use any longer since I’m behind a NAT anyway and I tend to be careful about what sites I visit, not opening mail attachments and so on&#823 ;) for the general users like my dad which indeed need to be driven-by-wire, but power users will really generaly feel like Grim on this strip, till… they go and disable it wholesale, which I am pretty sure will be a standard practice after you install the system.

It’s just like in the above mentioned firewalls, you will always finally check the the “OK STOP BOTHERING ME ALREADY!” checkbox and be done with it.

Posted in Rants, Software
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