Archives for: "April 2010"

My HTC HD2 game recommendations

I'm going to be posting about some of the software I use on my HTC HD2, there are a lot of Windows Mobile games out there, but what really works well on the HD2? Hopefully this will give you some ideas.

Out are games like Wolf3D and Doom, games I've been playing on Windows Mobile phones for 6 or 7 years, they're just not fun trying to control with the on-screen controls. The good old days when people would just take the source code for a game and port it to Windows Mobile seem to be a fading memory. You didn't have official versions, people just made their own. Nowadays of course with so many phones using a single marketplace as a source for all software, where any software listed must be pre-approved before being sold has stunted such creativity, an application that made farting noises, or changed the colour of the screen would be someone's first applications while getting to grips with developing on the platform, nowadays such applications are products to be sold, with Apple taking a 30% cut. Anyway, on with the topic at hand.

Electopia screenshotElectopia

To showcase the HTC HD2's graphics ability, there's no better game than Electopia. Developed at Southend, you take control of some weird robot thingy and wheel him around the world exploring and shooting stuff. Best of all it is free and can be downloaded from Southend's website. When we'll ever get a full commercial version of the game is unknown. But either way, its a little fun game and it shows off the power of the HD2.

Experiment13 screenshotExperiment13

Experiment13 is a puzzle game, you can almost say it's similar to portal in that you have to make your weird character guy go through portals (without making them yourself), the cool thing is you have to rotate the world to achieve this making it somewhat unique when upfront it looks like it could just be a platformer. It's rendered in 3D and the graphics aren't too bad. It can be downloaded from XDA-Developers.

Hunting screenshotHunting

Hunting is a tower defence game, I don't know about you but I love tower defence games. It's set in a stone-age sort of time so out are the funky missile launchers and cannons, in are weird guys with clubs and bows. The only bad point is it doesn't run in widescreen, and there isn't much variation in the maps. That said, its cheap at £1.19. It can be downloaded from the Marketplace, or there's the demo Hunting Lite.

Meon screenshotMeon

Next up is Meon, this is actually probably the game I've played the most on my HD2. It's another puzzle game where you have to send beams of light to their destination. Sound boring? It's not and is highly addictive. The graphics aren't great, it doesn't make use of the WVGA screen very well, but either way the gameplay is good enough to overcome this. The game itself will set you back £1.69 from the Marketplace, but there is a demo available to called Meon Lite.

Picanrium screenshotPicranium

Picranium is next. Another puzzle game, vaguely similar to minesweeper in that you have to work out what blocks are the actual blocks you need to identify to build the picture, hence the name I assume. But unlike minesweeper you get told the number of blocks in a row or column, you then have to mark them out. Got a little tricky on some levels. Graphics are alright, but would be cool to get a 3D version like on the Nintendo DS. It does make use of multi-touch on the HD2 which is a cool addition. It'll set you back £2.19 from the Marketplace, or there's a demo version called Picranium Lite.

Pocket Lemmings screenshotPocket Lemmings

Need I say more? It's Lemmings. Don't get conned into buying the official versions like Lemmings Tribes, which are slow and rubbish. Go with the original versions. This is a clone resembling the original PC/Amiga/Acorn etc versions made by Johannes Zeppenfeld. Best of all the actual application is free. Like Wolf3D and Doom you do need to provide your own content files, in this case the Lemmings main.dat file which you can find on your old DOS copy. :-) The only problem really is it doesn't support widescreen, but at least it stretches to fill the screen, it's not that noticeable but something that could be improved. You can download the application itself from Johannes' website.

Brain Games 2009 screenshotResco Brain Games 2009

The interface in this game is fantastic, probably one of the best I've come across, makes a change from people using the bog standard and ugly forms found in many Windows Mobile applications. It's got pages and pages of different games, from mathematics, to sorting colour patterns and shooting things, it'll will keep you busy for more than a while and records all your stats, which annoyingly makes you want to complete more and more of it. If you're going to buy it, it isn't cheap at $19.99, but you may be able to find it cheaper from other sources. Here's the official Resco page for it.

Snake screenshotResco Snake

Another Snake game, you control the snake using the accelerometer in the HD2, eat fruit, other snakes, and don't get hurt by the bad guys. Loads of levels, all with different themes with a gradual increase in difficulty making the game quite challenging later on, great user interface, but kinda pricey at $9.99. Official website here.

Xtrakt

One of the better games out there, basically a rail-shooter, although you do have control over the characters location either left or right. Race through a fancy futuristic city on a motorbike type thing and shoot these weird robot thingies. Graphics are pretty good, audio is pretty good. Originally bundled with the Xperia phone but can be found over on XDA Developers.

Time permitting I'll share the handful of other applications I use, which aren't games at a later date.

Microsoft backs Web Open Font Format

In some rather good news, it seems Microsoft have backed the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).

Previously Microsoft have supported Embedded OpenType (EOT), which they developed back in the 1990s, and was supported by Internet Explorer 4 onwards, although no other web browsers bothered implementing it. However back in those days adding an extra 100KB download was a heavy price to pay for embedding fonts into a website, and so it wasn't widely used. The release of the Core Web Fonts which Microsoft released for free back in 1996 were quite honestly better than a lot of fonts people were wanting to embed, or were allowed to embed, as the Core Web Fonts were designed for screen readability, and weren't just quick ports of fonts designed for printing.

However in 2009 the Web Open Font Format starting gaining support, like EOT it kept font foundries happy by preventing the font being downloaded to the computer and used in other applications, which had been the main stumbling block for all other font embedding technologies. Mozilla implemented it Firefox 3.6, Opera also have plans to implement it. The three have recently submitted it to the W3C. It isn't known if support will make it in for IE9, but it seems likely in my opinion. There's no date yet for when Opera plan on implementing it, and Chrome, Safari and the WebKit developers haven't decided who, let alone when is actually going to build support for it.

Internet Explorer and Firefox support would I think be enough to roll this thing out. As many of my readers know the second Windows Vista and Office 2007 came out I switched to using the 6 new fonts included with those on my blog and several other websites, because Segoe UI is gorgeous. Having a font embedding technology will really make the web a lot richer, maybe not for body text (frankly Segoe, Calibri, and even Verdana are hard to beat) but for headers the new choices and variety will really shine and best of all, it will cut down the need for images of text which many websites still use for headers, which don't scale well with high DPI screens and aren't easily search engine readable.

Hopefully in a couple of years web designers won't have to worry about what fonts people have on their machines, and we can just use the fonts we want to use and embed them and count on support across all, or at least most browsers.

Lee Skevington, Yeovil candidate, answering some questions

If I still lived in Yeovil, I'd be voting for this guy... He has a cool bookshelf.



Answering some questions put forward by the Labour Representation Committee.

Tory national insurance "tax on jobs" rubbish debunked

The Tories would like you to believe that a planned National Insurance increase of 1% for workers earning more than £20,000 a year will cause job losses. They haven't actually gone on to say anything specific about it. In the computer industry there's a little saying we have, FUD it stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Essentially the Tories are guilty of spreading FUD. They're trying to scare people into thinking this will lead to mass unemployment.

However a 1% increase in National Insurance is not statistically significant. Based on my calculations with estimates provided by the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales (which are probably high estimates at that) such an increase would only cause an effect of less than 0.2% on what companies spend on employing people. And that figure is probably inflated as I don't have the exact breakdown of workers earning more than £20,000 so instead it takes into account the entire UK workforce, so in reality it is probably closer to 0.1%. That's taking the Tories at face value.

The rise doesn't happen until 2011 - after 12 months of growth

An increase in employment costs of between 0.1% and 0.2% will get absorbed by a year of growth. A report out today from OECD states that the UK will grow an annualised 2% in the first quarter of this year, and that they expect the UK to be growing faster than any developed nation other than Canada with a massive 3.1% in the second quarter of this year. The bottom line is the UK is well on track for a solid and rapid recovery before 2011, business can easily afford the planned rise in National Insurance. Business should pay more, they caused the recession, they chucked people out of work despite being profitable, now they can at the very least least help pay for it.

The Tories said the same about the minimum wage

Let's also not forget that the Tories claimed introducing the minimum wage would also hurt employment, they claimed it would lead to a million more unemployed - in reality the numbers in employment grew. Just like employment will be growing in 2011 - not shrinking like the Tories claim.

More people in work, despite just coming out of recession than in 1997

Labour's track record on employment has been solid. In the 1980s the Tories chucked millions of people out of work. Even with the biggest recession in a century, there are more people employed today than when Labour took over in 1997. That's not down to chance, Labour continued spending to keep the economy running, the Tories if they had their way would cut spending and cause a deeper and longer recession, just so the rich wouldn't have to pay a penny more. At the end of the day government spending is money in the economy, it doesn't dissapear into a black hole, it pays for teachers, nurses, doctors, civil servents and so on, those people inturn spend money to keep the economy going. Cutting spending, is cutting jobs. It isn't something that can be done likely or willy-nilly just to fund tax breaks for the rich.

Workaround for Audigy 2 ZS recording problems on Windows 7 64-bit

Those trying to record on systems with 4GB or more of RAM with an Audigy 2 ZS, possibly X-Fi and other models too, have probably come across the problem with distortion, noise, or choppy sound (like talking through a fan). This affects the microphone, line-in and also 'what u hear', important for capturing audio that is currently being played.

The trouble stems from Creative's drivers not being entirely 64-bit compatible, Creative have no date for any fix to be implemented, and haven't even announced if they're working on any such fix.

As it does require 4GB or more RAM for this problem to show up, it only affects 64-bit systems. For those with similar issues on 32-bit systems, this is not a workaround.

There's a few different options, none of which are particular pleasant. First up, you can pull RAM out of your system, or enable a memory hole feature if your BIOS supports one, enabling the memory hole in the BIOS will cause your RAM to max out at around 3GB.

However there is an easier solution, that doesn't require you to open your case like removing the RAM physically but it does still require a reboot. This involves setting the operating system itself to set the maximum amount of RAM.

Press Start, type in msconfig and press enter.

System Configuration tool

This will launch the System Configuration tool. You'll want to click on the Boot tab, then click on Advanced, and set the maximum memory to a number under 4096. Unfortunately setting it to a figure like 4095 in practice will probably limit you back down to about 3GB as it looks like it disables an entire channel on the RAM.

Then reboot, record what you need to, then when you want your RAM back, just undo the change and reboot again. Not the best workaround but it'll have to do until Creative fox their drivers.