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'What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?' said Pooh. 'For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.'

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Sunday’s Drinking Game – uninstall

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Download and install a Windows application. Doesn’t matter which one (optional, do a brief test run).
Uninstall it, reboot, get a bottle of your favourite alcoholic beverage (alcohol percentage of 40% and above, please).
Click on Start> Run> type “regedit”> hit F3 and type the name of the app (or the executable name e.g. My Cool App => mcool.exe), run the search. Take a swig for every registry key not removed.
Go to your Documents and settings, take a swig for every item left there. Start menu items is a bonus swig.
A large gulp if files are left at Program Files.

Try a search throughout the system for anything else related. You’ll be probably on your second bottle, so this is highly up to your taste.

Written by Erez

Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 12:13

Posted in Uncategorized

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Don’t pass “Go”

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I’ve just seen the following howto about how to rearrange Firefox toolbars, and most importantly, how to remove the silly “Go” button. Here’s a quick explanation:

First, find “userChrome.cs” in the Firefox profile, then you need to edit it with the following:

#go-button-stack, .search-go-button-stack {
display: none !important;

Nice, isn’t it?
And if you want to do something else? You need to find the relevant variant of that button/toolbar, and edit the css accordingly, ad nauseum. To restore it, you need to find the line you edited, and remove it, so that’s not exactly user-intuitive either.

Let’s check how you do the same thing in Opera.
To remove a button (any button), right click and choose “remove from toolbar”. To return it, right click and choose “customise”, click on the buttons tab, and drag the button to wherever you want it (and there is no “Go” button by default. You can add it, but it’s not an icon, just a button with the word “go” on it, so that’s an incentive for not including it).

Much better, nu?

Written by Erez

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 20:38

Posted in Uncategorized

Let the Games Begin!

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Woo hoo already, the 2006 Interactive Fiction Competition is finally underway, as announced by the Brass Lantern. Games galore (44 of them) are available to task your mind and your wits.
In case you’re wondering, not all games are needed to be played for being eligible to vote, only 5 or more and with a maximum of 2 hours per game, that means 10 great hours are all you need to make your vote counts. Granted, you may miss on some glorious offers, but for that, we have the previous years’ winners. Enjoy.

Oh, and an interview with Stephen Grande is available here

Written by Erez

Monday, October 2, 2006 at 13:11

Posted in Uncategorized

Seven Dudly Sins

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Off the bat, I didn’t think Kotaku‘s post about Destructoid’s Gamer sins post was going to add up to anything, seeing as they are two competing gaming “blogs” (comment marks to indicate that said blogs are actually gaming news/articles sites with paid employees). However, reading into said post, I found this interesting line:
For my own part, I despise the tendency of gamers to regard the personal tastes of themselves or others as wrong. Liking or not liking something is not immoral, because it has no effect on others.

But, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Just think of the last commercial you’ve seen, doesn’t matter which. I can almost guarantee that it either showed you doing something “right” or something “wrong”. Car commercials, for instance. Either they show the driver comfortable, relaxed and enjoying the safety of his car, or they show him cutting through side roads, taking risky turns, running through fences, etc.
Basically, if they can’t make us feel good about purchasing their product, they’re going to make us feel “bad” about it.

So, in a sense, having gamers feel that they “sin” when they play games, is actually a good sales pitch.

Written by Erez

Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 21:47

Posted in Uncategorized

Good news come in bundles

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Another chain in what seems to be Nintendos “All the Right Moves” Wii launch is the announcement that the new console will come bundled with a first-party sports game. This means, that for the first time in decades, a company releases a console in a state that actually allows you to use it without having to resort to more purchases. This, naturally, got all the game publishers up in arms.
There are some very good reasons for Nintendo to pull that one off. First, they are the only company out of the three (along with Sony and Microsoft) that isn’t selling their hardware for a loss and compensating for that by putting a high price tag on the actual games. This “razor blade” business model (also known as the “Loss-Leader” model) has dictated the stripping of the console out of anything but the actual hardware and one controller. Any “peripherals”, such as memory cards and added controllers are to be bought separately. The console manufacturers also charge a “licensing fee” from game publishers for the priviledge of allowing them to run the game on their console, kicking the games’ price tag to new levels with each release.

Now, along comes Nintendo. They have “lost” the console race 2 times now, and need to put a firm foot at the door with their launch. They also have a truly innovative product (probably the first major innovation since the Atari 2600 days) which, as with any innovation may become the new de-facto standard or it may vanish in a puff of smoke. They also have a product which they sell without a loss, so for them, any console sold is not just another unit with profit potential (when games will be sold for), but a real profit for the company, making any game sold for an immediate profit as well. So they want to encourage people to buy their console, even if they won’t ever buy another game for. For Sony or Microsoft, a customer buying only the basic hardware with no extras is suicide. In this sense, they try to do everything but make their console usable out of the box.

There is another reason for this behaviour by Nintendo. If this works, more people will buy a Wii, making Nintendo’s market share bigger than it might’ve been had they used the Loss-Leader model. Bigger market share will mean that more companies will develop games exclusively for the Wii. Launch numbers are always fine, but the true test comes with the second year releases, when companies look at the launch numbers and decide who is the leading horse they want to bet on. Companies will still create games for all three, but the losing horse usually get less third-party exclusives, and the release catalog tends to be cluttered with ports of dubious quality.

Another angle that most articles forget to mention is that Nintendo isn’t contending with the Wii alone. Under the company’s mantle lie the market dominating handhelds, such as the GameBoy Advanced in its many flavours and the Nintendo DS. This allows Nintendo to not develop a “lose all/win all” attitude and keep their products in the sane zone when it comes to pricing, and quality, and to introduce innovative features that other companies run away from, such as the motion-sensor controller for the Wii or the touch screen for the DS. Game publishers may not like it (although they’ll forget all about it if the bet pulls through), but it does seem to be another Good Thing that comes courtesy of Nintendo.

Written by Erez

Sunday, September 17, 2006 at 20:49

Posted in Uncategorized

Chess Variant – Duel Chess

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Second in the series of Chess Variants I’ve designed, here’s my probably most successful one:

Duel Chess

This variant is played on two boards, the Main board, which is a 5X7 board without the middle square, and the Duel board, which is a 3X3 board.

The Boards and Setup

There is no square c4.

         7  |:d:| n |:k:| b |:r:|         
         6  | p |:p:|   |:p:| p |     
            +---+---+---+---+---+       +---+---+---+ 
         5  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|     3 |   |:::|   |
            +---+---+---+---+---+       +---+---+---+ 
         4  |   |:::|###|:::|   |     2 |:::|   |:::|  
            +---+---+---+---+---+       +---+---+---+
         3  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|     1 |   |:::|   |
            +---+---+---+---+---+       +---+---+---+ 
         2  | P |:P:|   |:P:| P |         X   Y   Z
         1  |:D:| N |:K:| B |:R:|

              A   B   C   D   E


The game on the Main board is played like FIDE Chess, except for the changes described below.

  • When a piece is captured on the Main board, that piece is removed from the Main board and is positioned on any empty square on the Duel board by the player who made the capture. (i.e. If the captured piece is White, the player who plays with the Black pieces chooses where to position the piece on the Duel board).
  • A piece positioned on the Duel board cannot move until there is at least one piece of the opponent’s on the Duel board.
  • Once both players have pieces on the Duel board, a player can choose to move a piece on the Duel board instead of making a move on the Main board. Pieces move and capture on the Duel board in the same manner as on the Main board.
  • If a piece on the Duel board is captured, that piece is permanently removed from the game (a dead piece), and the apturing piece is immediately returned to the Main board by the player who made the capture (a returned piece). This piece can be placed on any empty square on the Main board, with one restriction, a player cannot drop a piece on a square if the returned piece places the opponent’s King in check.
  • If the Duel board is full (meaning there are nine pieces on it), and a piece is captured on the Main board, the captured piece will be placed on the Duel board instead of an opponent’s piece which will be declared dead and will be removed from the game. The replacing piece stays on the Duel board and can be moved immediately.
  • A captured Bishop can be placed on any square on the Duel board, regardless of colour. This also applies to a returned Bishop.
  • Captured Pawns move in the same direction on the Duel board as in the Main board (Towards the opponent’s rank). Returned Pawns can move only one square, even if positioned on the second rank.
  • There is no castling move.
  • Pawns are allowed an initial double move, but cannot be promoted. Pawns that reach the last rank on the Main board or the Duel board cannot be moved.
  • En passant capture is allowed on the Main board.
  • Pieces cannot move through the middle square or leap over it, except for the Knight.
  • The pieces are a King (K), a Knight (N), a Bishop (B), a Rook (R), a Dabbabah (D) and four Pawns (P). The pieces move the same as in FIDE chess, apart from the Dabbabah.
  • A Dabbabah jumps two squares orthogonally regardless of whether or not there are any pieces on intervening squares and captures by displacement.
  • A stalemate results in a draw, a lone King on the Main board losses, regardless of whether the player has any pieces on the Duel board.

Board Notes

The concept of this variant came when I imagined the way the boards are positioned, with the Duel board located above the Main board (positioned on a supporting column which is based on the Main board’s middle square), while my art skills are heavily limited, here’s an ASCII diagram of what the Duel Chess board should look like:

           /   /:::/   /
         /:::/   /:::/-+---+---+---+  
        +---+---+---+  /:k:/ b /:r:/
       /   /:::/   /-+---+---+---+
      +---+---+---+p:/   /:p:/ p /
           +- | | |-+--+---+---+       
          /:::| | |:::/   /:::/
        +---+-| | |-+---+---+
       /   /::| |  /:::/   /
     /:::/   /:::/   /:::/
   / P /:P:/   /:P:/ P / 
 /:D:/ N /:K:/ B /:R:/

Another way of playing Duel Chess is by using an orthodox 8X8 board (placing a border between the Main and Duel boards), with an upside-down Rook as the Dabbabah.

Duel Chess was designed for the 43-squares contest. However, it could be also played on 7X7 board with 6 Pawns, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights and a King; or on a 9X9 board with 9 Pawns, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Queens (or a Marshal or a Cardinal instead of one, or both Queens) and a King. The Duel Board is always 3X3. As a side rule for the larger versions, a player that manages to fill the Duel board with 9 pieces of the opponent’s colour, wins.

Written by Erez

Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 18:56

Posted in Uncategorized

Lie less, do more

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I’ve just noticed the following marketism in a certain unnamed customer, I searched it and found that it common enough for me to dwell on: “Promise Less… Deliver More!”

The impression here is that company X who deliver product/service Y promises a “Y-” (Less than Y) but actually deliver a “Y+” (More than Y, where Y usually refers to quality, but can mean quantity, price, etc). The actual meaning is that, when you have a product/service Y, once you promise Y-, just deliver Y and you’re all set, as Y > Y-. So if I can, say, deliever in a week, promising a 10 days delivery will means that by simply keeping to my standard quality, I’ll “deliver more”. It’s not what one would call a blatant lie, as they do, in some twisted, perverted sense of the word “deliver more”, but not the “more” that everyone’s been thinking of. Actually, since they promise “less”, they are disguising the true value of their product. It may be larger than what they’re promising, but that’s smoke and mirror. No one can deliver “more”, regardless of what they promise. If I can give you “Y+”, then that’s my product. Y+ is my Y and that’s because, (which is the part most people tend to forget), to get “more” one needs to invest “more”. More developing hours, better transporting equipment, more operators, whatever. You want “more”? Get prepared to pay more. If you pay the same, you get the same, but probably you were conned by their sales guys to believe it is “more” by promising “less” to you.

Written by Erez

Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 16:17

Posted in Uncategorized