Friday, 24 June 2011

Adventures in Blockspace Episode 2

Second episode of Adventures in Blockspace. Featuring more explosions and more horrible mispronunciation!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Adventures in Blockspace

The secret of Canthuris

Grindboy and Vendroma are back for our 1st episode of Adventures in Blockspace. A weekly playthrough of adventure maps.

We awake one morning to find 3 paths outside our log cabin. Where do they lead? How many times can we possibly die in one map? And will we ever pronounce Canthuris correctly?

Got an adventure map which would work with 2 players tweet it to @michaelgomes or @vendroma or find me on the Minecraft forums (Grindboy)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Easily run Napster in Ubuntu

I was drawn into the streaming music services by the Spotify Free system. This required you to be invited by someone who paid for Spotify. You then got unlimited free access to the Spotify streaming catalogue with adverts (which never bothered me). The Spotify desktop software ran pretty well in wine as long as you updated a DLL file everytime WINE updated and all was right with the world.

Then Spotify committed the heinous crime of trying to force free subscribers to pay for the service by reducing all the free accounts (both Spotify Free and Open) to 10 hours of listening a month and a maximum number of plays of an individual track to 5, total, for the life of the account.

So, the solution? Move to another streaming service! The hero of this story comes from an unlikely past (an anti-hero as it were). Napster used to be the biggest name in music piracy, if you wanted to contaminate your computer with trojans, worms and general malware whilst downloading music illegally you went to Napster (the stupidity of copyright law when it pertains to an infinitely copyable medium is a different rant!). In recent years (after being sued and legislated into the ground) Napster has returned as a legitimate streaming and download service.

Napster drew me in because for £5 a month ($10) you get unlimited streaming and 5 free MP3s a month. This second bit allows me to wean myself off of streaming services. The only issue with the service is that there is only a Windows client (not even a Mac one!). Thankfully they do offer a web interface. After a couple of days of testing I've found 1 and a 1/2 ways to run Napster in  Ubuntu.

Starting with the 1/2 we have WINE. This compatibility layer enables Windows programs to run in Linux. Napster requires WMP10 to run correctly so the first step is to install WineTricks and install WMP10. Then the installation of Napster can take place the same way you'd install any other program.

Napster installs and runs fine, as far as I can tell. This solution is 1/2 a solution because it stalls at the login screen meaning you can't actually play any music. It does this because Napster requires cookies to be enabled in Internet Explorer (something I am yet to figure out).

The fully working solution involves the use of the web interface. The interface runs with numerous bugs in Chrome on Ubuntu but runs perfectly well under Firefox. This is a problem for people who don't run Firefox. However the Mozilla team has provided a solution. Prism is a application created by the Mozilla team which turns any web app into a standalone application (sort of!). For our purposes it allows us to run the Napster web app as if it were the native client.

So until cookies can be enabled in WINE, and there is no guarantee that there won't be yet another problem to be solved after that one, using the web app though Prism is the simplest and most reliable method for running Napster in Ubuntu. If necessary I'll update this post with specific installation instructions if there is a call for it, although I'm busy with exams for most of the month.

[edit] Just tested the music download feature within Prism and it works perfectly using song credits, I haven't tested buying them using a credit/debit card.

Monday, 6 September 2010

What would a Geek take to the Jungle

Anyone who has read this blog before knows that I am an unashamed geek. With my university I'm lucky enough to be going to Borneo on Thursday. So as a geek what am I taking to the Jungle?

Final Borneo equipment
Click to see a larger tagged version.

So I'm taking;
  • 1x iPod Touch (1st Gen) filled with music and games for the 8 hour coach journey to Heathrow, the 4 hour wait at Heathrow, the stupidly long flight (God knows how long it really is my itinerary goes on local time!?!?!?), and all the journeys back again!
  • 1x pair of Sony MDRNC7B Noise Cancelling Headphones For previously mentioned journey! I've also got 2 airline adapters just in case the in flight movie turns out to be something good!
  • 1x Nokia 6300. One of the downsides to owning a smartphone is battery life and while having the internet with me on the coach would be awesome I'd rather not get to Heathrow and have my battery die just when I need to call people so we can meet up! My 6300's battery comparatively will last me about 8 days and will charge from just trickle of power.
  • 1x Kodak PlaySport Camcorder. I bought this camcorder specifically for Borneo. The damn thing is waterproof, drop proof, humidity proof and leech proof. It shoots in 720p at 30 and 60fps and 1080p at 30fps, has an excellent low light sensor and only a 4 second start-up time so I won't miss the action because I'm waiting for my camera to switch on.
  • 1x 6.3mp Fujifilm Finepix A610. This little point and shoot has kept running for years and years, it takes excellent photos and with a firmware upgrade now supports SDHC cards meaning I'm not going to run out of room (16GB SDHC card = 10,000 photos)
  • 3x 16GB SDHC cards. Enough storage for my camera and camcorder.
  • 6x USB powered AA Batteries. Found these at but discovered that Tesco and some service stations also sell them. The positive end of the battery comes off revealing a male USB port allowing these batteries to be charged from any USB port. I'm probably going to take a backup pack of normal AA batteries but hopefully these will work well
  • 2x Wind up torches. Torches always have a habit of dying right when you need them. I'd rather not be walking to the toilet at night in the rainforest and have my torch give out. One is a head torch the other is a hand torch which includes an DC out port for charging mobile phones.
  • 1x FreeLoader Solar Charger. The Freeloader is an awesome emergency battery pack combined with a large solar panel. The panel charges the battery in 4 hours of direct sunlight and can then be used to charge anything using the included adapters. It also has a female USB adapter meaning that if a device will charge off of USB it'll charge off of this solar panel.
  • 1x Platypus 3.0 litre water container. This thing is just plain cool. I can fill it full of water at the beginning of the day, shove it into my backpack and sup all day long.
  • Non-tech gear/other essentials. X Large Trek Towel, folds up very small, dries very quickly and is antibacterial. Buff Headband, its the rainforest I'm going to sweat this'll keep it out of my eyes. Various waterproof bags filled with silica gel. Pen knife. Handlens. Sun hat. Sun cream. Small first aid kit. A bar of shampoo soap, awesome product from Lush, its shampoo but solid! Autan insect repellent, as good as DEET but without the risk of an allergic reaction. Compass. Alcohol Gel handwash.
So that is what a geek takes to the rainforest. I'll be filming the entire time and will probably put together a review of what worked well and what didn't when I get back. See you all in 2 weeks :-)

Friday, 3 September 2010

In Search Of Tux Episode 2: T-mobile Pulse Unboxing

Episode 2. I think I'm getting better at editing these videos. Let me know what you think in the comments either on this blog or at the YouTube page.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

In Search Of Tux Episode 1: Xbox 360 S 250gb unboxing

Sorry for the lateness of this video. The title and credit sequences took longer to sort out than I expected.

Friday, 16 July 2010