Monday, September 27, 2010

I miss Rock

This post is not going to be very thought out or long, but I can't fall asleep, and I wanted to test out Blogpress.

If you haven't heard, saurik bought Rock. Soon after, Rock had an update that basically killed it, redirecting users to use Cydia.

Personally, I don't CARE about the store. I haven't bought a JB app yet, I might never. What I do care about is true quality of the app. And Cydia. Sucks.

Why does Cydia suck? Hundreds of reasons. Maybe it's because it takes literally 3 minutes to load EVERY time you start Cydia. Maybe it's cause sections are divided poorly and are difficult to navigate. Maybe it's because it makes key sounds even if you have them turned off. Maybe it's because it is essentially unusable. When I first jailbroke my iPod touch, I wondered what I got myself into becaus I disliked Cydia so much. Then I found Rock, and it became awesome.

Rock is everything Cydia is not. It's fast, well designed, and caters to what the user wants. Now saurik got greedy and decided to try to control all the jailbroken stores. And in doing so, he destroyed the best living package manager available.

I am grateful to saurik for what he's done for the jb community. But not this. If he was actually going to improve on Cydia, like bring in features from Rock, that would be great. But I am 99% positive that Cydia will remain the exact same steaming pile of shit that it's been for years. (Hey, Cydia's icon is brown, right? Coincidence?) He claims that Rock was fast because it did some "incorrect/dangerous" crap, and I'm just calling BS on that. Yeah, I may be speaking from inexperience, but Rock never gave me any problems, and it was fast, and that's all I ask for.

Now to wrap it up, here's a list of the package managers I can find/have heard of, and their current state:
Cydia: slow and unusable; good only as a backup
Rock: lost to Cydia in 9/10
Pakage: discontinued before beta/release.
Installer 4: apparently very popular back in the day, but I can't find any mention past 2008.
Icy: created by RipDev, but discontinued late 2009
Icy Installer: a child of Icy, supposed to come out late October.
Euphoria: another child of Icy, though I've only heard of it in rumor
Kryptes: the only alternative alive, that I can find. Unpolished and biased, but I haven't used it much yet.

It's just plain depressing. I didn't even realize how much I loved Rock (or hated Cydia) until it was taken from me. I really hope I can find another, because I honestly will go insane if I have to use Cydia.

Let me know if there are any others, past or present (ATTOTP).
-Bry
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I just cleaned my keyboard/Dvorak

So after many months of using my keyboard, I finally decided to open it and clean it down. While all the keys were off, I decided to switch to Dvorak since Ive been wanting to out of curiosity. It's tough. It's taken me 15 minutes to write this post. On the plus side, it helped show me that I actually did know QWERTY pretty well, even though I don't type it "correctly." On the minus side, it's driving me insane.

-Bry

[UPDATE 10-2-10]
And if you think I've been typing any update since this in Dvorak, you're insane. I kept the language layout the same and wrote an AHK script to rebind every key to what it's supposed to be, so I can switch it on and off. I haven't had the guts to switch it on yet. I'll post in a post (and probably here) if  I finally start using Dvorak.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My video card driver just crashed

Weirdness of weirdnesses....after I wrote my last post, I was doing stuff when I decided to go upstairs and talk to my brother. (I'm currently giving him advice on building his first PC.) When I came back down a while later, I found that my PC looked weird and had a window about the driver "not being compatible with this version of Windows", or something like that. The weirdest part is that all my programs were still open, so that means my driver literally crashed while my PC was still running.

It just seems weird to me....it seems like if your video card is going to crash whilst running, it will result in a BSOD, and cause your PC to restart. Mine didn't it just quit and then my computer continued as normal. Just weird.

Come to think of it, I did install Electric Sheep a while ago, which is basically a screen saver on steroids. I rarely leave my PC on and unattended, so it probably hasn't done that much, so it very well could have crashed my driver.

Anyway, weird bug. I'm scanning for rootkits now, but I'm not sure if I want to invest any more energy than that.
-Bry

[UPDATE 10-2-10]
I thought of something the other day....it could be that my video card is overheating. My comp does run a little hot, but I don't think it would overheat from just running idle. I could possibly understand in the middle of running a resource-intensive game, but when idling? Hmm....

WIP: BestInstaller

I mentioned before that I wanted to write an installer that asks the user everything, and I did. I kinda stayed up way too late and wrote almost the entire installer in one night, then later I started working on a GUI to create a custom one.

It's a pretty simple concept, which is why it was so easy to write. A BestInstaller installer will ask the user about the following:
  • The destination
  • (Optional) A license
  • (Optional) A standard vs a portable install
    • A customized config file for the portable install
  • (Optional) The Start Menu shortcuts
    • Either a group (folder) or just an individual shortcut
    • Either for the current user or all users
  • (Optional) What filetypes to associate
    • Either for the current user or all users
  • (Optional) A startup folder shortcut
    • Either for the current user or all users
  • (Optional) A Desktop shortcut
    • Either for the current user or all users 
  • (Optional) A Quicklaunch shortcut
  • (Optional) A "Donate to the author" button


The cool thing about it is that it basically uses a "template" file, and let's the user define variables/options. So each individual file has only 25 lines of code, and then it just includes the template, and boom, you have a working installer.

The only "problem" I've really had is trying to get Autohotkey to include a variable as a script name. That's not possible, but it makes sense in this case. The "FileInstall" commands can't be in the Template file because the Template doesn't know what the names of the files are to install (and if I made each per-install config edit the Template, then it's not a Template, is it?) So I basically ended out appending to the per-install config files with a ton of labels like "InstallFile1", "InstallFile2", and so on. It's not too big of a deal, it just makes the per-install config files a little more junked up.

So yeah, it's coming along well. Here's what I see I still need to do:
  •  BestInstaller:
    • Figure out an elegant way to set the Program and Readme.
    • Actually be able to WRITE all the variables to a file.
    • Read from an existing config ("Open")
    • Compile! (Possibly using a slightly modified AHK...for the icon)
    • Try to fix the license background (it's currently gray, I'd like it to be white; I might just replace the current control with an HTML control)
    • Try to fix the hidden Donate controls from vanishing when you switch tabs
  • Template:
    • Add file association
    • Give the welcome screen a makeover
    • Edit which file the script detects as the program
  • per-install ahk:
    • Edit the labels that install the files, since my ideas for how the config would save the file list has changed.

 I already mentioned it, but I threw in some hidden controls, for kicks. Like I said, an installer can optionally have a "Donate!" button at the very end of the install which can be used to send the user to a Paypal URL or some such. But in the config, when you enable "Donation option" on the last tab, it shows a little donation button of my own, plus a little message about why they should donate to me. But the funnest part for me is that I made the button enormous, for kicks, and it picks a random word to stick in the space of "BIG DONATE BUTTON OF ______". I have about 40 words so far from one brainstorming session, and they range from all out seriousness about why I need money ("COLLEGE TUITION") to references of things I like ("MAXIMUM RIDICULOSITY") to just plain silliness ("DOOM"). I'm hoping the silliness of the button makes the user forgive me a little for so blatantly asking them for money.


Anyway, I'm really, REALLY hoping to release BestInstaller in the coming weeks. It's definitely the cleanest program I've written so far, but even so, after I finish the things I mentioned about, I'll need to give the code a scrubdown, but then it should be good. I might take a breather, since -like I said- I wrote it basically in two sittings and it usually helps me get new ideas if I spend a little while away from the code. But anyway, thought I'd give you a heads up.

PS - I would include a screenshot, but an installer has so many pages it wouldn't do any good.....and the front welcome page of the installer so far is hideous.

-Bry

PS - Wait, the post-script is supposed to after I sign my name, right? gah.

Monday, September 13, 2010

E-mail back in the day

Does anyone else remember when you actually had to ask people if they had an e-mail address? Man, that's weird. I'm pretty young, and even I remember when it wasn't assumed that everyone had e-mail. And even if they did, it usually ended in "@aol.com," "@hotmail.com," or even "@juno.com." *shivers*

Nowadays, the question "What's your primary e-mail?" is more often asked (that's my guess, anyway). Because most people don't just have 1 e-mail address, they have several, not counting the separate ones they have for work and personal. Like me, I have 3 Gmails (counting FreewareWire), an AIM, 2 Yahoos, an Inbox.com (if it hasn't been deleted), a Hotmail, a Comcast, one for my community college, and one for my new college; so that totals 9 addresses, only 2 of which I actually check daily. (My main one and FreewareWire.)

Getting off topic....anyway, I just found it funny that "Are you on e-mail?" (whatever that even MEANS) or "Do you have an e-mail address?" were actually once valid questions. I think they've been replaced with "Are you on Facebook?"/"Do you have a Twitter?", and it looks like those two questions are going to be moot very quickly as well.

Right about now is the time a popular blog would say "What do you think? Do you still hear these questions? Do you think social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will be the next questions to lose meaning?", but then this is not a popular blog, and asking a question to readers on it is like excusing yourself after farting in an empty room: it's expected in the presence of others, but pointless when all alone. But just as well, if you actually have your own opinion about this, go ahead and feel free to leave a comment.
-Bry

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Steam sucks

I've been sick the last few days, so I've spent all of my time at home, and it's gotten pretty boring. So today, I thought "You know what sounds good right now? Left4Dead." Not 2, just the original Left4Dead. So I fired up Steam, and guess what: it froze. So I fired it up again: it froze again. I figured it's probably having troubles with bbLean since bbLean doesn't seem to play nice with some programs *coughDropboxcough*, so I quit bbLean and launched Steam from the task manager. Now that it's open and not freezing, I took a look at my library. About 5 games were in the state "Download starting", except they never started. One of those 5 was Left4Dead.

So I tried to fix it. I paused and unpaused it. I restarted my PC. I tried to defragment the game cache: Steam froze. I tried to verify the cache integrity: it sat their for 15 minutes, not moving an inch. Then I figured "Screw this, I'm going to just play Left4Dead 2, rather than waste my time trying to get this working." Well, guess what, I try to launch Left4Dead 2: "Preparing to launch Left4Dead 2..." End. Stop. Doesn't start.

Seriously Valve, what the hell? I love Steam for several reasons, but honestly, I'm just about getting fed up over this. I haven't touched Steam in weeks, and when I want to do something simple: play a game I already own and have played before, it crashes. The saddest part is that I can remember the last time I wanted to play a game, I had to fix Steam too. I have to back up all my games, since I have no clue what I'm going to have to delete in order to get it working again, then reinstall and install again until I get it working.

Valve, get your act together. Seriously. Do you know what I could do in 2 minutes? Walk over to my Xbox 360, pop in my Left4Dead disc, and play the damn game. Instead, I have to fix software that broke itself. Seriously. What the hell.

Fixing something that wasn't his fault (for once),
-Bry

[UPDATE 9-13-10]
Ok, I've cooled off. I'm still mad at Steam, but I've got my games working. I actually jumped the gun and uninstalled Steam entirely, which I didn't need to do, so I still have to install most of my games. But honestly, Steam is just dissapointing sometimes. I love it because in-game, it's great, and the store has amazing deals, but the client just sucks. Updates to games break them half the time, the client itself can break itself with an update, it freezes when doing things like verifying integrity or defragmenting game cache, and when all you're talking about doing is launching a game (not even installing, just launching) it's pathetic that you have to figure out what the problem is, google for answers, try this, try that, etc until it actually works. Like I said before: my brother owns Left4Dead on the Xbox 360, and I actually played through half a campaign while waiting for Steam to fix itself. That's pathetic. Steam is supposed to be easy and attract people to gaming on the computer. How is going to do that if consoles take 2 minutes to put the disc in and go (disregarding hardware failure) and Steam takes 3 hours of troubleshooting to fix? I mean really.

So while I still love Steam, I want Valve to do one thing: fix it. It's not even the updates that break the games, it's how they're being installed. Fix the method, and get it done right. Period. No excuses.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Free Amazon Prime for students

Just thought I'd shout this out: Amazon is giving Amazon Prime for free for a year to students. All -literally all- you need is an e-mail address from an approved college. I actually haven't taken any semesters at a university that is not a community college, but I applied and registered to one, so I have an e-mail address there.

Anyway, I use Amazon so much, I jumped at the chance. From what I can tell, Amazon is not one for trying to scam you, but I'll post here if anything seems fishy. Still, a year of 2 day shipping is amazing, which will help out intensely at the start of next semester when I will be buying textbooks.

To sign up, go to www.amazon.com/student. You're welcome!
-Bry

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Installer Collector

Am I the only one who keeps installers? Right now, I have a folder in my Downloads folder that is 2.7GB and contains 522 files, all installers to programs I've installed in the past or do have installed. I think there's three reasons: 1. When I started FreewareWire, I wanted to keep track of every freeware I'd used; 2. I like having every installer available to me on my disk, so if an installation goes wrong or even if I have to reinstall my OS, I can quickly install all my programs again; and (3) I've seen one too many freeware programs go shareware or just abandoned, and I like to make sure I have an installer/zip for it.

Anyway, I just thought I'd get that out there. I just went through and sorted all of them, whilst watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles by renaming them to a certain format (*Program Name*_setup-*XX.YY*.zip/exe) and it's now completely sorted, but it really made me think, "Iiiiiii must be insane."

Craaaaaaazy,
-Bry

Shoutout: NoSleep

A while ago, I got absolutely fed up with dealing with paper homework managers. Do I write the assignment on the due date or the day it was assigned? If I write it on the due date, I forget about it until then. If I write it when it's assigned, it's hard to see what's going to be due first. Overall, I just thought it was a very, very inefficient way to manage my homework and study load. My very first thought was to write a software that I got about 50 lines of code in (I called it "StudyBuddy"), but I quickly decided that it would be loads better if it were a program for a handheld device (at that time, my Palm Zire 31) so I could pull it out at any time without having to only check it at home on my desktop or constantly be bringing my netbook out of standby.

So I stumbled on an absolutely amazing app called "DueYesterday". It was for the Palm OS, exhibited every feature I could want and more, and it was free. I quickly nabbed it up and installed it, and it saved my butt through several semesters of college. Eventually I decided to check out the other software by whomever made DueYesterday since the easiest way to find good freeware is check the software developers for the apps you already know are great. I discovered that DueYesterday is developed by a group called NoSleep, who also have several other apps.

I don't even know how to begin describing NoSleep. Sometimes you just run across a software company that you know is great, and you just know. You can tell that NoSleep is determined to please the user. All of the apps I've tried are so amazingly well designed and thought through, and best of all, they aren't frilly.

I really don't want to post much time-sensitive stuff because my point is not to say "NoSleep is great right now, September 2010;" I'm trying to say "NoSleep is awesome now, and will continue to be awesome for years to come. But I guess I'll mention some other apps that are available right now to kind of entice you to visiting their website. FileZ is a clear, straightforward filebrowser for PalmOS. I've tried several, and I can say that FileZ is simply the easiest to use. Super Analyzer provides amazing insight to your iTunes library like stats that aren't available in iTunes. On top of that, it provides charts and graphs to make it look interesting (because it is interesting!); it's one of the few programs written in Java that I love.  IdeaSketch is a great app to make mind maps, to lay out all your ideas in a visual manner.

Yes, I will admit right now that 50% of their apps currently ATTOTP (At The Time Of This Post) are for PalmOS. But I personally heard straight from one of the developers that they are shifting more toward iOS apps. In any case, just check them out, they are amazing. In a world where you can sell anything -even the crappiest crap that is an insult to dog crap- in the App Store, NoSleep continues to give free apps -not trials, FREE.

To infinity and beyond, NoSleep software.
-Bry

Friday, September 3, 2010

Qt windows are 2x the size of my screen

I've noticed this really weird bug, especially recently. When I open windows that are Qt, they are twice the size of my screen, so that half of them hang off the screen. I only have one monitor (regrettably) and although I have two more monitors available in my Display dialog (ZoneScreen and I guess the VGA/HDMI of my video card), both of the other two are disabled and aren't working, i.e., I don't "lose my mouse" to any sides of the screen so they aren't active.

But still for some reason, Qt opens some windows twice the size so I have to draaaaaaaaag them over to see the other half. It's really annoying. I guess it could be Qt, but I've noticed it with more than one app (Launchy, Rockbock Utility, and Win32DiskImager, to name a few), and I believe each one has their own copies of Qt, so it seems more like either a bug, or just something specific to my system.

Prepare for trouble and make it double,
-Bry

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Secret

Psssst.....wanna hear a secret?

One of the reasons I'm so hesitant to get a Mac is.....

...I'm afraid I'll like it.

-Bry

Windows minus Windows

I've always been a Windows guy. I've been raised on it and never had the money (or desire) to switch to Mac, and I still have not found a Linux that has enough features that I want and will not break on me. I've used Windows, mostly XP, for my entire tech lifetime and a while ago, I had a small epiphany: I don't think I really like Windows.

It came to me when I was using n-Lite to try to create an installer for my netbook. As I went through each step stripping more and more of the crap that Microsoft tries to include, I began to wonder, with all of this stuff gone, is it really Windows I like? I don't use Internet Explorer, I loathe Search 4, I don't use Windows Explorer as a shell and I'm currently looking for a replacement for the file manager. Literally the only programs that I ever use are the Task Manager (which is actually a decent program), Notepad (which I can't really find a decent replacement that matches what I want, besides SciTe), the Calculator (which has alternatives I should look into), and occasionally the Character map. But quite honestly, I hate pretty much everything about a fresh install of Windows, even XP.

I'm not quite sure, but I think I like the other aspects. I like the look and feel, even with TrueType turned on using an alternative shell with a theme, it feels still 100% different than Linux and Mac (the minutes I've used it). But I'm sure if I looked around long enough I could find a theme that comes close in Linux.

I thought for the longest time that it was maybe the programs, but honestly, I love checking out new programs, but that's not what I do most of the time. I don't even use the programs in my Rocketdock all that often; I use Firefox, SciTe, OpenOffice, Chrome, GIMP, Steam, and *coughiTunescough*. But the point is even though I have probably ~400 different programs installed, I really only use a few on an everyday basis. (Plus, 5 of the 6 listed above are supported on Mac, and 4 are on Linux.)

I'm still kinda confused as to why I like Windows, or rather, why I don't like Linux or don't feel the desire to change. Maybe it's because Windows' problems are fixable 99% of the time. (I think I've only run into 1 problem I could not fix over the years, and a reinstall would probably have done it.) Or maybe it's the familiarness, that all the KDE and GNOME apps scare me, and mounting drives as folders instead of letters makes me scream and run away. Or maybe it's a bit of everything.

I suspect that it's a combination of me liking how everything looks, feels, and acts on Windows, including problems, and also things like installing software, configuring X.Org, and other things on Linux are freaking scary, and I project that onto all other OSes. It's alot of Tech Inertia, since I've used Windows for so long and will most likely always be a Win boy deep down, but I still can't help but wonder....what is it that I love? If I remove or tweak everything that Microsoft defines as Windows, what makes it something that I'm still drawn to as opposed to Linux or Mac?

It's more of a self-searching question than anything else, and it kinda runs hand in hand with the running question "What makes a distro?", except this time it's "What makes an OS (Windows) my favorite?" It's intriguing to me because I've slowly been switching from all of the stock programs, most notably from the shell and the file manager, but I'm hoping to find a good search, calculator, task manager, and text editor that suite my fancy sometime soon. But this has implications since my next laptop is going to be a Mac (since it's about time I owned a Mac, since I want to call myself a nerd), and it makes me curious, how will I feel about it?

Still searching,
-Bry