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16. September 2012

 

So this weekend, my ultra-portable laptop gave up the ghost.  That machine dual booted Windows 8 and Ubuntu and I found myself using it more and more often, mostly because I’ve been travelling a lot and my primary laptop ( an Asus G53sx ) weighs slightly more than a small moon.  Well yesterday morning, I got the Windows 8 sad face of death I didn’t even know exist:

 

image 

 

That wasn’t my actual error, it was something to do with rdyboost.sys, which is somewhat odd, as it was disabled.  Anyways, it rebooted once, gave the exact same error counted up to 100% of something ( I don’t recall what ), then hung with interlaced video.  After about 20 minutes, I tried the power and…  nothing.  Machine wont even post, but it will get really really hot.

 

After trying the standard series of fixes ( pulling the battery, holding power down for 30 seconds, unplugging CMOS battery ) I promptly declared it dead.  Granted… it’s been two years, the battery life was fading and I was ready for a change, so perhaps there was more I could do to fix things…….  As a result I spent Saturday laptop shopping, one of my favourite activities, much to my wife’s chagrin.  The end result of what I purchased was a bit shocking… at least to me.

 

This is my old machine, may it rest in piece.

 

1830t

 

It’s an Acer Timeline 1830T and even with it’s relatively early trip to the laptop graveyard, I heartily recommend this machine.  It had 7 or 8 hour battery life, an i3 processor, 4 gigs of RAM and an HD3000 integrated GPU.  Nothing to write home about, but at the same time, a solid portable machine.

 

More to the point… I spent less than 500$ on it! 

 

So when it gave up the ghost, I decided “hell, Ill just buy the new version of the same thing”.  So basically I figured I’d toss out another 500$ for an updated ( maybe an HD4000 instead ) version of the same thing.  How wrong I was.  They don’t exist anymore.  I found machines with basically identical specs to this laptop I bought over 2 years ago… for 300$ more!  The equivalent Acer TimelineX now, with modern hardware is pushing 1000$.  This is insane!

 

And the kicker is, nobody makes good spec’d affordable ultraportables anymore.  There were lots of entry level crap machines, or if I was willing to spend 2 grand, there were some nice HP Envy’s.  Even Dell was a pretty heavy failure, the Alienware 13” seems to no longer exist, nor does that sexy 13” magnesium model they used to sell.  On top, their website is complete and utter crap ( they all were, far too much clutter, but Dell’s was particularly terrible… someone should get sacked for allowing this to happen, it reminded me of a Geocities made page for a mom and pop computer dealer ).

 

In the end I purchased…  A MacBook Air.

 

Unlike the MacBook Pro’s, the MacBook Air is actually reasonably priced ( just over a grand ), has the best screen for the price in a 13” ( 1440x900 ), plus gives me the added flexibility to do iOS development on the go, instead of being tethered to my iMac as I am now. 

 

This is an odd choice for one particular reason, I don’t particularly like Apple.  I find most of their products over-priced, I am not a huge fan of the OS ( the first thing I did was install Bootcamp and Windows 7 ) and I really disagree with their recent actions ( suing over rounded rectangles… walling every garden they see… ), but at the end of the day, on just straight hardware requirements, the MacBook Air 13” ticked all my boxes, often better than much more expensive Windows machines (HP Envy, I’m looking at you!).

 

So… if you are in the market for a medium end ultra-portable Windows machine… consider buying a Mac, bizarrely enough.

 

That is my only issue…  this isn’t by primary machine and I have a NAS at home for storage, as well as a Dropbox account I use on the go, so space isn’t a gigantic deal.  However, once you take a 125GB solid state drive, split it in half and install two OSes, XCode, Visual Studio and a dozen other dev tools… well let’s just say space get’s really tight fast.

 

If you were wondering at the lack of posts the last couple days, well, that’s why.  If there are a few more Mac/iOS related posts in the future, or Mac OS screenshots, that is also why. Smile  It has only been two days so far, and almost all of that time spent installing software and operating systems, but I have to say, I am very impressed thus far.  It sucks I can’t find an blogging program on OSX that comes even close to Windows Live Writer ( amazingly enough considering it’s freeness ) and the function key being where Control should be is aggravating, but those are small sacrifices.  The keyboard is awesome ( I use a Mac keyboard with my PC so… ), the screen is probably the best available at this resolution ( that was the biggest drawback to the Timeline, screen was horrid for glare, almost unusable outside ) and it’s snappy.  Not earth shatteringly fast, but I was pleasantly surprised when I ran the Windows Experience Index:

 

image

 

Now I just need to discover if turning off the PageFile is a bad idea in the age of Windows 7.  I have a feeling it might not actually be all that important anymore, and a 4GB pagefile is like 8% of my partition!  In retrospect, I kind of wish I made the Windows partition bigger, I don’t really need all that much space on the Mac OSX partition.  I wish I had a bit more space, but in classic Apple style, they really do screw you on upgrades.

Totally Off Topic


3. September 2012

 

 

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate

 

a) developing for Android

b) using Eclipse

c) developing for Android using Eclipse?

 

 

Well, I do.  So often you spend more time fighting the tools than you do fighting with code, and today was yet another example.

 

I have some Moai code that worked perfectly well, both in the Windows host and on my device.  I made some alterations to the Lua code testing it to work on iOS ( by the way, the process of getting Moai running on iOS is 10000000x times easier than getting it running on Android! ), so other than some scripting changes, I haven't changed a thing.

 

I load up Eclipse click Run and…

 

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

[2012-09-03 14:54:20 - DeviceMonitor] Failed to start monitoring 84ef7369

 

WTF?

 

So I kill off adb ( adb kill-server ) and restart it ( adb start-server ).  Still no luck.

 

I exit and restart Eclipse.  No luck

 

I reboot my computer and phone.  No luck

 

I switch devices and try a different Android device.  No luck

 

 

Want to know what it is?  USB3.

 

Seriously, ADB doesn’t play well with USB3, or at least Eclipse+ADB don’t play well with USB3.

 

I plug into a different port and everything is just fine.  Well, except a few more gray hairs that is. Sad smile

Totally Off Topic


29. July 2012

 

I recently completed work on a tutorial series A Simple JavaScript Game using Node, cocos2D, YUI and Heroku, which followed the creation of a simple app for my own use.  It was a pretty complete application with one glaring fault…  there was no persistence.  The application was hosted using Heroku’s free tier which doesn’t keep files for more then a few hours.  This obviously leads to a bit of a problem.

 

So I have been looking into the myriad of options for persistence with Node. There are a few options, all of which have various advantages and disadvantages.

 

The easiest solution would probably be some persistent storage like Amazon’s S3 or even my local file system ( and move the application from Heroku to my servers that are running on Windows Server ).  There is nothing wrong with either solution, but I don’t really want to add more load to my servers with a technology I am still learn learning, least of all to minimize security issues.  Also, I started thinking I wanted a bit more database functionality as I may be adding more functionality.

 

Once I start thinking Database + Node, that changes the landscape quite a bit.  I am already running SQL Server, and amazingly enough Microsoft has been embracing and contributing to Node, including a driver for MS SQL Database with Node.  However a) it is extremely early in development b) the syntax looks… wordy and crude, hopefully this improves massively, because accessing data values by offsets seems so very… retro.

 

In the world of Node, there seems to be 3 front runners:

 

Redis

MongoDB

CouchDB

 

All of them have strengths and weaknesses.  All three are part of the NoSQL movement, but each approaches things quite differently.

 

Redis is stored entirely in memory ( but syncs to disk ), and works with key/value pairs.  It is not ideal for file storage, but is wonderful for quickly storing away JavaScript objects.  Also, Heroku has Redis support as an addon.  Now the downside, Redis isn’t available on Windows, at least not in a supported capacity.  As I develop using both Windows and Ubuntu, this was pretty much a deal breaker for me.

MongoDB is another NoSQL option and to be honest, I forget why I didn’t go with it, at least not initially.  I know I didn’t particularly want to install the underlying DB server, but it was at least supported on Windows.

CouchDB is what I ultimately went with.  It is another NoSQL database, but it could probably be best considered a document store, that stores JSON documents ( and other files ).  Given the nature of my application ( serving lots of files that don’t often change ), this is actually a very good thing.  That said, my SQL trained brain is having a whole lot of difficulty dealing with the change in mindset.  Storing “data” in documents that aren’t in fact documents seems horrifically unnatural to me.  Worse, I am really having trouble coming to grips with the idea of not being able to delete versions!  The idea that every time I change data it creates a new document, there is no update, only inserts.  These seems horrifically inefficient, but I have to assume I am thinking about things wrong.

 

What ultimately sold me on CouchDB was the low barrier of entry in the form of Iris Couch, which is a cloud hosted Couch DB, with a very generous free option.  Like Heroku, having someone else handle the heavy lifting is always enjoyable.

 

Being new to NoSQL, I am still going through the learning curve, so there is nothing to say I will stay with CouchDB, but I will say, I have gotten some impressive results very quickly.  I really wish Redis was available on Windows, as I would probably use redis for “data” and Couch for documents.  Anyone have alternative suggestions?

Totally Off Topic


26. June 2012

 

Just a quick note, I may be a bit silent in these parts.  One of my main machines decided that it no longer liked life as a Ubuntu laptop and decided to end it all.  It sadly took my Windows 7 partition with it.

 

So I am in the rebuilding process.  I am bring it back to life as a Ubuntu / Windows 8 machine, so expect more Linux and Windows 8 content in the future, or at least, testing on bot of those platforms.

 

Anyways, if things seem a bit quite around here… don’t worry, I’m still here, just a bit distracted!

Totally Off Topic


6. June 2012

 

I can always tell when Diablo 3 servers are being patched as I get an influx of visitors viewing this page.  I wrote that when I was experiencing crashes when they last patched the Diablo 3D3Boom servers.  It would appear the server patch crashes are still occurring.

 

To people having this problem, this post is a much more concise description of the problems I had, and the fix.  So if you are unable to log in to Diablo after a server patch, or the patcher is giving you “Diablo III is already running” or “Diablo III has stopped working”, this might be the fix to your problem.

 

Basically what it boiled down to is the Blizzard installer gave me the en-GB ( Great Britain ) installer instead of the en-US one.  This is all fine and good, until Blizzard releases a patch.  The problem is, the US patch is released first, causing all the people connecting to the US servers with a non-US client to crash until the other servers are patched.

 

It may be possible to work around the problem by manually editing the patch_url in your agent.db file, I had some initial success this way.

 

However, the *best* solution, is to reinstall using the client native the server you are playing on.  Granted, this is a giant pain in the backside, especially if your internet connection has usage caps!

 

That said, the actual BEST solution, is for Blizzard to fix this problem, or failing that, roll out all the patches at once!

 

Hopefully this helped a few of you get over the Diablo 3 patching woes!  If nothing else, it allowed me to create that Diablo mushroom cloud graphic. Smile

 

 

EDIT: For those that don’t want to re-install, you can try editing the patch_url manually.  Worst case scenario… you will have to re-install! Smile

 

To do so, follow these instructions.  Of course, these instructions are for switching to the Asian server, so substitute en-US for American, and en-GB for European servers.  Also, be sure to note that there are multiple copies of the file you need to edit, not just one!

Totally Off Topic


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