Thursday, August 15, 2013

Humble Origin Bundle makes me sad

So the new Humble Bundle went up and this time it's the Humble Origin Bundle, made up entirely of EA games. Sigh. Let's make a list shall we?

Why I have a problem with helping out EA generally:
  1. Let's be clear about this: EA's history is one of buying up well-regarded gaming franchises and software companies and then grinding them into the dirt while pumping out ever more generic and repetitive garbage. They are the precise opposite of what any Indie-affiliated organisation or event stands for.
  2. Origin is a lousy attempt at a digital distribution platform. It brings absolutely nothing new and is essentially a desktop interface to their store that happens to also provide a list of your games. Heck, even Uplay managed to innovate in a space that Steam have done their best to dominate.

Why EA were a bad fit for the bundles:
  1. There is nothing Humble about EA.
  2. One of the major selling points of the bundles when the scheme started was that you got a bunch of indie games with no DRM to play whenever and however you want. We now have a bundle composed of games that can only be played on Origin (or Steam for all but one) and are linked to your specific account.
  3. That thing where EA are donating all the money to charity? They knew people would be favouring the charity over them anyway, so they might as well get the extra PR by being the ones to make that choice for us, right?
  4. This bundle is costing them absolutely nothing and they are donating absolutely nothing. They are donating our money to charity, not theirs. The fraction of bundles sold that represent lost sales to them? Too small to even bother thinking about.
  5. I'm reasonably sure the choice of games was marketing driven. For example, Dead Space and Dead Space 3. Notice a game missing? You'll have to pay for that one ($12 from Amazon or $20 from EA direct) if you want the set. The Sims? That's an infinite DLC revenue stream right there.
This was just a cynical move to quickly increase the install base for Origin and push sales of other items, and frankly I'm shocked that the Humble Bundle team went along with it.

One last thing I want to point out. They say the games "would normally cost around $215". Yeah, maybe if you let EA rip you off by buying direct. Take a look on Amazon - you can pick the lot up for $136 new without even bothering to look past the first result for each. Not that I'd suggest giving EA $136 of your hard earned money of course. If you really do want the games, I'd suggest buying the bundle if only so that your money goes to somewhere that actually needs it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Schrodinger's Dropbox

kemp@desktop ~ $ dropbox start
Dropbox isn't running!
Dropbox is already running!

How do I collapse its wave function?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Network switch buying attempt

Firstly, there does not appear to be a single place in Coventry city centre to buy a network switch. Not a single one. I do have to highlight two of the responses we got though when asking around if anyone knew of a place to get one.

Gamestation: "No, it's illegal. People use them to hack their consoles."

CEX: "You mean, for like, power?"

Sometimes it's hard not to facepalm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mindcraft FTB modpack comparison

I am in the process of setting up a Feed The Beast (FTB) server, and in doing so I am required to choose which edition of the pack I want to use. The FTB site has a comparison page, and from that I've assembled a quick comparison between the Direwolf20 and MindCrack packs (the two that seemed most interesting to me).

First, the mods included in both packs:
Buildcraft 3Thermal ExpansionChickenbones Core
ChickenChunksEnder StorageNot Enough Items
Wireless Redstone CBEComputerCraftMiscPeripherals
IndustrialCraft 2GraviSuiteMFFS
Nuclear ControlInventory TweaksIron Chests
Obsidian Pressure PlatesOmniToolsPortal Gun
RailcraftRedPower 2Rei's Minimap
Soul ShardsSteve's Carts 2Thaumcraft 3

Now the mods only included in the MindCrack pack:
Extra Bees *Advanced MachinesAdvanced Solar Panels
Twilight Forest **VoxelMenuXyCraft ***
* Extra Bees is due to be added to the Direwolf20 pack in v5.
** Twilight Forest is due to be added to the Direwolf20 pack in v5.
*** XyCraft is not listed for the Direwolf20 pack on the comparison page, but is listed on the wiki page for the pack itself.

The mods only included in the Direwolf20 pack:
NEI PluginsEquivalent Exchange 3Gravity Gun
Compact SolarsMystcraft

And (for completeness) the mods mentioned on the page but included in neither:
Forge IRCLogistics PipesMinecraft Forge *
Music BoxYUNoMakeGoodMap
* Minecraft Forge is not listed for the DireWolf20 pack on the comparison page, but is listed in the pack's forum thread.

Is this enough information to figure out which is the best FTB modpack? Probably not, as it depends entirely on your definition of "best", but hopefully someone will find reading these tables a little easier than scrolling up and down the big comparison list on the site.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moving on from Ubuntu

After receiving the suggestion from several people I know, I finally made the plunge and installed Mint at home to replace Ubuntu. I'm very glad I did - I'd almost forgot what it was like not to have to fight against your OS. Looking back, I can't believe what I came to accept as "normal".

I've found the experience with Mint to be much smoother than with what Ubuntu has become. Even the install was easier than I expected. It took a moment to get used to the new package management and updating tools, but I didn't find any problems there. The only issue I've had is that you have to remember not to do a dist-upgrade from the terminal - if you have the Ubuntu repository enabled then it'll pull in things that you don't want (Mint relies on variations of a few core Ubuntu packages, but the Ubuntu versions are seen as newer).

Maybe over time my opinion will change, but for now I would definitely recommend Mint over Ubuntu.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Minecraft and regressions

So I know Notch publicly stated that he hadn't written tests for the Minecraft code and didn't intend to because it's too hard to do, but the problem (other than your mind blowing when you read things like that) is that every release introduces the most stupid regressions possible. Let's take the recent 1.2 set of releases as the example here:

1.2.1: After a lot of preview builds, we have a whole mess of bugs. Fair enough, there are a lot of changes. One of these is that big trees are far rarer than they're supposed to be.

1.2.2: Big tree generation is fixed. The game now crashes if you look upwards at the sky, and mobs don't burn in sunlight anymore.

1.2.3: Mobs burn in sunlight again. Silk touch no longer works on glass.

These aren't even related things. I can't imagine there being any shared code between the thing being fixed and the thing that gets broken. At least Jeb is actually trying to improve the game, but seriously man... get some regression testing implemented. Let this be a lesson to you all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Obscure problems

This has happened to me so many times.