Archive for January, 2010

Lady Gaga is a no-talent hack (my views in 2010, but maybe she got better in 2015)

January 31, 2010

There, I said it! The thought that she is up for a Grammy is an insult to every real singer in the history of music. Is “Poker Face” really the best we can do in the song-writing craft these days?

UPDATE: OK, now five years later I see her trying to redeem herself by singing real songs with real singers. Better still, she seems to be doing it well. So, to be fair, I want to link to a recent review of a show she did with Tony Bennett:

Hey, if she is moving from trash to treasures, that deserves encouragement.

Bioware channels GFWL in HORRIBLE system for getting DLC

January 24, 2010

I have just returned from another exercise in frustration caused by trying to buy a piece of add-on content for a game. This time it is Bioware that has erected multiple hurdles to what should be a simple transaction. Let’s see, to buy Dragon Age extra content I have to (a) create an account on their BETA social network site with a username and password, (b) enter the password again when I try to buy the DLC, (c) buy points instead of just paying cash, (d) not be able to buy points in quanities that match the amount of the DLC I am buying or (e) be able to buy enough points at once to buy it all at once, so I have to come back and buy more points.

Of course, I am also going through the site locking me out when it decides that my password (which I wrote down) is no longer good. It was the EXACT SAME PASSWORD I used one minute earlier to log into the site, but now it is not sufficient to let me go to the checkout. No DLC for you!

Did Bioware hire someone from Microsoft Games for Windows Live to create this mess?

Hey, I just want to buy a stupid piece of add-on game software. I don’t want to go through a multi-step process to do it. Take me to a place where the software is for sale (without having to create an account), give me a price in DOLLARS and a standard online checkout, and then let me get back to playing the silly game.

Once again, I bet I could search on Google and find dozens of pirateware torrent sites that would be happy to let me download the full game, the extra content, and everything else for free. But, being honest, I pay for my games. Or, I would do so — if Bioware’s $@$# website would let me in to hand them the cash!

Microsoft being Evil: Part II (the Show Desktop icon)

January 23, 2010

Another useful stripped away from Windows 7 was the handy “Show Desktop” icon that resided happily in the taskbar. As before, there are ways to restore it that you can find on the Internet. Most involve having to undergo a multi-step process that is a bit above the novices. Again, what is the harm in leaving this popular option for the Windows 7 users to decide if they want to add back? Each time Microsoft strips out a popular little feature, the users who want it back go hunting for ways to restore it. Doing so means exposure to what may be buggy or even infected files. If would be much easier, safer, and a little less evil for Microsoft to simply allow us the USER OPTION to restore the classic start menu and handy icons we knew and loved.

Beware of software vendors why try to set up purpetual payments

January 22, 2010

I decided to try RegCure for registry cleaning and payed for it with PayPal. PayPal then sent me a note that I had also just set up to make repeating payments each year for infinity.

OK, the product apparently has a license for a year — but that does NOT mean that the average user will conclude that they are setting up to automatically have money taken out of their account for eternity to keep it licensed.

I have other software that has licenses that expire and they remind me to renew. While some fine print somewhere may have told me that RegCure wanted to tap my account automatically for these renewals, I didn’t see it — and shouldn’t have to pore over documents to look for it. It is sneaky and they shouldn’t do it. Period.

I also believe that another vendor of a software utility program did the same thing, as I got a strange notice a few months back that my payment to them for some software had not gone through on an account I had closed. I told them I hadn’t ordered the software, but now wonder if my original purchase of an earlier version created a renewal a year later that was trying to debit my account.

So, watch for vendors who try to set up automatic license renewals that attempt to debit your funds. If I want to renew, I will renew. Don’t assume that I plan on giving you money forever. Hey, I might decide your software is junk and have deleted it off my system long before then.

So, buyer beware.

Stuff that doesn’t like Windows 7 64 bit

January 22, 2010

I have played with it for a few days now and have discovered some software from my old Vista 32 bit machine that will not work with Win7/64.

Adobe Flash: It won’t work with the 64 bit version of Internet Explorer 8. An update is reportedly in the works. This one kind of surprised me. The workaround is to launch the 32 bit version of Explorer for sites that use Flash (or just use it all the time).

The versions I had of Registry Fix, O&O CleverCache, and O&O Safe Erase also were not compatibility with Win7/64. Some of them have version that are compatible out now.

Steam seems to be working well most of the time, though I do NOT recommend using the standard methods of cutting-and-pasting your SteamApps folder over into the new install. It seems to not work consistently and may create an issue where Steam launches and then shuts down. Do a clean install of Steam from a fresh download and then have it download and reinstall the games.

Steam had a strange glitch where various desktop icons for the games were not located and placeholders were used instead. I pointed them to the correct icons and this is fixed. However, when Steam is running, it shows the taskbar icon for Fallout 3. If I try to change it to the one for Steam, it changes my desktop Fallout 3 icon to the one used for Steam. Strange…

Once in a while my Fallout 3 launcher pops up with no text displayed on the desktop panel. It typically is the first launch after a reboot. However, it has always worked fine the next attempt, so I haven’t fretted it about it much (yet).

I like the power savings features, but note that the machine will NOT detect operations like Steam file downloads, ongoing defragment activities, etc., and will go into deep sleep mode. So, if you tell a huge game file to download when you go to bed, you may find little progress made by morning. The workaround is to turn of the sleep mode in the power settings when you have operations to run when you are away from the machine. Turn it back on when you are done. It is a nice power-saving feature and is the most bug-free version I have yet encountered.

I will post more as I find them. One thing I would like to find is a way to get bug reports to Microsoft. They need to add a driver that Asus motherboards need to the standard Windows 7 driver package, as I ended up with an “unknown device” error and discovered that it is pretty common with multiple motherboards from various vendors impacted. The driver file is a tiny 5.5 KB, so surely they can find room to squeeze it in.

Mass Effect: Bring down the Sky DLC won’t install fix

January 21, 2010

There is a problem getting the DLC for Mass Effect to install with Windows 7 64 bit. It locks up at the point where you enter the key code for the DLC. I found a fix here:

Originally Posted by Lord Yod
Found a solution to the problem on the Bioware forum. Run the BDtS installer as administrator, but when it pops up the screen asking for your license key, open the task manager and kill that process. The installer will then open a new screen ‘verifying license files’ and after a few seconds will pop up a second window asking for your license. Put in your serial here and hit done, and it will install. Success!

So, on top of the horrible hassles on faces in locating and installing this piece of DLC that I blogged about already, we now get buggy install programs that won’t let you install it at all unless you run multi-step work-arounds.

Bioware, please FIX THIS!!!

3D Mark Vantage scores on the new ATI 5979 home-built gaming rig. WOW! I am in love!

January 18, 2010

I got a CPU rating of 17,888 and a GPU of 21,409; the 3D Mark was 20,306, with nothing over-clocked on a 24″ monitor. This blew away by a mile the scores for my old rig.

This is on an i7 920 rig with an Asus P6T v2 motherboard, a blazingly fast HIS brand ATI 5970, six GBs of Corsair XMS 1600 speed RAM, and two 1TB Western Digital 24/7 certified hard-drives in a striped RAID array. A 1200 watt Thermaltake supplies the juice to power all this stuff (and anything else I want to add later).

The operating system is Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. The sound card (not used in the benchmark) is a Creative Fatality X-FI Titanium.

Believe the hype: the new ATI 5970 cards just churn through game graphics like nothing I have ever seen. WOW! Fallout 3 has never looked so good and ran rock-solid stable last night for better than two hours with everything set as high as it could go.

If you have the bucks to spend on your dream rig, consider the ATI 5970. It is expensive, but it simply leaves everything else in the dust when it comes to generating detailed frames of video. It has no peers on the high-end market.

Windows 7 start menu is Microsoft being evil

January 16, 2010

I have been playing with Windows 7 64 bit Ultimate and am finding much to like.

However, for all the good MS did by LISTENING TO THEIR USERS who loathed Vista, they have screwed up by forcing us to use their new default start menu.

I am one of the folks who liked the clean classic start menu from Windows 95. I haven’t seen anything that the following versions of Windows did that worked better, so I always went back to the classic start menu using the option to do so found in both XP and Vista.

Windows 7 takes that option away and tries to force us to use what I regard as a bloated and butt-ugly start menu. It takes up too much desktop real estate and has some stuff too big and other things way too small. It also just has too much stuff for my minimalist tastes.

Apparently I am not alone in my distaste for the replacement start menu and my disdain for MS in telling me I must use it or lump it. I found protests all over when I Googled “Restore classic start menu Windows 7”.

Well, guess what? The Internet is full of little utility programs to give us all back our beloved classic start menu. Some add extra features and charge a little, while others are freeware. I tried on that was a bit too beta for my tastes, another that wanted too much for a fancier version, and then found a piece of freeware that gave me back what MS tried to take away.

Hey MS, why argue with your customers? Why should you get your knickers in a twist if lots of folks still like the good ol’ classic start menu? What you should worry about is that we keep plunking down bucks to buy your OS.

Totally useless feature of the day: Asus Express Gate SSD

January 16, 2010

This silly utility that comes with your Asus P6T v2 motherboard pops up a splash screen during your bootup. It allows you to do some stuff like access Skype or play some games and stuff like this.

Question: Uh, Asus, why do I want to interrupt my boot sequence to use a gimped version of my computer’s functionality? Answer: I don’t! Nor can I imagine that very many other people will find this anything of practical use.

Fortunately it is easy to disable in the BIOS. I would rather see the time spent on it devoted to trying to design a motherboard that will actually work well with dual big video cards and still leave room for a sound card.

Norton Utilities 14 will DESTROY your Windows 7 install!

January 16, 2010

I used Norton Utilities 14 with Vista and went to move it to my new Windows 7 build. I tried the registry defrag program — and left my computer wholly unable to boot. It was BSOD beyond all hope of recovery. The only option was to completely reinstall Windows 7 and all my programs. I discovered this is a known bug and that I am not the only one to have faced a complete system destruction as a result. I am beyond disappointed with Norton’s for allowing something like this to occur. My only stroke of luck is that my stuff was still backed up on my old system and a backup drive, so I don’t think I lost any critical data.

NOTE: I have been assured by Norton tech support that this particular bug was fixed in the latest and patched versions of Norton Utilities. However, I have been too nervous to try it and see.