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* Posts by Ravenger

34 posts • joined 10 Aug 2010

UK games market clutches chest, bleeds out sales in 2012

Ravenger
FAIL

Re: Good times ahead

Retailers stopped selling PC games shortly after they shifted focus from new to second hand sales. Most PC games use DRM or product keys to prevent resale, which is much less profitable for retailers compared to console sales. They can resell a single console game over and over again making a large profit each time, (coincidentally cutting out the distributor, publisher and developer's share from the profits), whilst a PC game can only be sold once.

Of course they didn't reckon on Steam and the other digital distributors picking up their discarded ball and playing with it, leading to a resurgence in PC game sales, and a generation of PC gamers who have no need to walk into their overpriced stores again.

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HTC profits lobbed off a cliff by rivals Samsung and Apple

Ravenger

I wanted a HTC One-X but went for an S3...

I much prefer the solid feel of the HTC phones, and Sense UI over Touchwiz, so why did I go for an S3 over a One-X?

The main reason was a hardware fault on the One-X that cause problems with wifi and bluetooth. HTC rolled out a fix to its repair centres and production lines fairly quickly, but the postings on various android forums showed it was a lottery if I'd get a fixed phone out-of-the-box. I didn't want one that would eventually need sending back for repair. The various repair horror stories didn't help.

The non-removable, lower capacity battery, and lack of a micro SD slot were the final deciding factors, so I'm now the owner of an S3, and very happy with it, especially the battery life, which is excellent for such a powerful phone.

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UK physical game sales hit rock bottom

Ravenger
FAIL

Re: They've Done it to Themselves

The decline of PC gaming at retail is partly due to retail's focus on used games. Unlike consoles, PC games can't be easily sold second hand due to DRM and CD keys. Retailers can only sell a PC game once, while they can recycle the same used console copies over and over again making a large profit each time.

Ironic really, because it's the lack of PC product on the shelves that led to the rise of PC digital distribution, which in turn has inspired the console platforms to create their own digital distribution services - the main threat to retail.

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Tablet tech is really a Psion of the times

Ravenger

All I want

... is a modern Psion Series 5 with a decent colour screen, Android and 3G built in.

Nothing has come close to the Series 5's form factor for portability and usability since. I feel we really have progressed backwards in some ways.

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Ten budget inkjet printers

Ravenger
FAIL

I gave up on ink-jets years ago. I don't print huge amounts, and whenever I did the ink-jets heads were clogged or the ink dried up, so I moved to a cheap colour laser printer instead which always prints fine, even if I've not used it for weeks.

Like ink-jets the cost of the toner is more than a new printer, so I'll just get a new one when the toner runs out eventually.

The quality isn't good enough for proper photo printing, but I take my photos to the nearest photo printers on the high street for that.

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Windows 8: We kick the tyres on Redmond's new tablet wheels

Ravenger
FAIL

Tap? TAP?

I just tried installing a game on Windows 8 release preview. When I inserted the disc it put up a box asking me to 'tap' it to choose how windows handled the disc.

It's another sign of the ludicrous tablet and touch-screen focused of Windows 8, and it really, really irritates me. I have a PC, not a tablet.

I shan't be buying it, in fact I'm going to get another copy of Windows 7 for my spare PC just in case they decide to stop selling 7 to force people to go to 8.

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Fanboys excited by ancient Google Qwerty Nexus plan

Ravenger

What I want is...

... a modern phone in a Psion Series 5 (or even Series 3) form-factor. Android or symbian, I don't care - I just want a Psion like phone with a similar keyboard and size.

The Psion Series 5 was an amazing machine, and the keyboard was genius. No-one has produced anything so usable and versatile in such a compact form-factor since.

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Basic instinct: how we used to code

Ravenger
Thumb Up

My first BASIC computer program was written on optical cards.

Sort of like punched cards, except you used a soft pencil to colour in the 'holes' that represented the binary ASCII codes of individual letters in each program line.

This was in the 2nd. year of secondary school. We used to send the completed cards off to a university somewhere for processing, and if you were lucky you got a dot-matrix print-out on green lined computer paper a week later, saying 'SYNTAX ERROR AT LINE 40'.

In the sixth form at school we learned BASIC on Nascom 2's, RML 380z's and BBC Micros. I taught myself how to program mostly on my ZX81, then upgraded to a C64 where I wrote a simple game in BASIC that got published in a tape magazine. The C64's basic was so primitive however that it was a great incentive to learn machine code!

Learning BASIC was an extremely useful skill, as though I never became a 'real' programmer, I've scripted lots of different programs in various scripting languages in the IT related roles I've had over the years.

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Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Ravenger
Thumb Up

I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for Jack Tramiel and Commodore.

I started with a ZX81 - I wanted a Beeb, but couldn't afford one. Then a friend at college told me a C64 with Simons Basic was as good as a BBC Micro (not strictly true), so I sold the ZX81 and saved up for a C64 - I wish I'd kept the ZX81 now, as it was in mint condition!

I never did get the Simons Basic cartridge, but I really got into the C64. I taught myself assembler and also used paint programs to draw graphics in the low-res 160x200 colour mode.

It's the graphics that led to a career in computer games and I ended up working for some of the biggest publishers of that era. I'm still working in games today, 26 years later. That's an awful lot I owe to Jack and the people behind the C64.

My C64 and its 1702 monitor still works which is a testament to how well they built those machines back then.

So RIP Jack Tramiel, I'm eternally grateful for the chances you gave me via the C64.

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Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

Ravenger

I've got mixed feelings about this. On the one hand my Virgin media connection has previoisly become almost unusable for months due to students in my area on the previously uncapped tariffs torrenting 24/7, so if this measure helps prevent that, then that's great.

On the other as a PC gamer I download games via Steam and other services, so one download of a normal sized game would cause my connection to be capped. In fact this happens at the moment anyway. and I just have to schedule large downloads outside the peak times.

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Ten... gaming mice

Ravenger
Thumb Up

Re: Think of the lefties!

Seconded! I had a Razer DeathAdder left handed which died, and I replaced it with the Steel Series Sensai, which is much, much better - button placement is excellent, its comfy to hold and use, and is extremely accurate and sensitive.

The button macro programming is a welcome feature, especially when many games seem to get confused when you bind mouse buttons for some functions instead of keys.

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System Shock

Ravenger
Thumb Up

Mouselook mod is available

I love this game, it was way ahead of its time, but the UI is pretty awful as it was designed before Quake and Duke 3D made mouselook the standard FPS interface.

Luckily there's a mouselook mod which makes it much more playable for modern gamers, and the mod also lets you re-define the keys too.

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Virgin Media to push out nimble new broadband speeds

Ravenger
Meh

I'd rather they support the current speeds properly.

Virgin are great if your area isn't oversubscribed, but they have a lovely habit of selling more subscriptions than they have the bandwidth for.

I live in a student area, and when they're back from their holidays the internet speed takes a noticeable drop, and in some cases the connection becomes unusable except for basic web-browsing - and even that is slow.

When the connection gets really overloaded then Virgin will promise to upgrade the UBR, but it often takes months. The only way I've been able to get them to move faster is to complain to the CEO's office.

So though I'm happy I'll be getting 60mbits rather than 30, I'd much rather have a reliable 30mbit, or even 20mbit connection.

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The Commodore 64 is 30

Ravenger
Thumb Up

The C64 started my career

i bought a C64 back in 1983, and the tape drives were in such short supply that I couldn't get one for weeks. I was limited to typing in basic programs and losing them when the machine was turned off!

Once I'd got a tape drive, then later a disk drive I started to play with the machine properly. I bought a touch tablet called a Koala Pad I started drawing pictures, and managed to get some work doing loading screens. This led to a career in computer games, so the C64 is very special to me.

I've still got that C64, and it's still working over 25 years later. (apart from a joystick fault it had before I put it in the attic) The disk drive no longer reads disks, which is disappointing, but my 1702 monitor works fine. They certainly built this stuff to last!

So happy birthday C64! I wouldn't be where I am today without you, and for that I am extremely thankful.

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The BBC Micro turns 30

Ravenger

I wanted one, but got a ZX81 instead.

The BBC micro arrived at school when I was in the sixth form. During lunch-times we used to play the Acornsoft games Planetoid, Snapper, Arcadians and Meteroids - all very good rip-offs of well known arcade games. In fact Snapper had to be re-designed due to it being an almost perfect version of Pac-Man and Atari (who had the rights to the home computer versions) complained.

I really wanted a BBC Micro, but could only afford a ZX81, but my plan was always to buy one, until a friend persuaded me to buy a C64 instead, which eventually led to a career in computer games.

I still hold the BBC in very high regard, for being such an awesomely powerful machine, which gave birth to some landmark games, including Elite. Pity it was so expensive though.

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Punters even more dissatisfied by Virgin Media's package

Ravenger
FAIL

Highly variable...

I've been a VM/Blueyonder customer for years, and ever since VM took over it's been downhill from there.

When it works it's excellent, but VM have a habit of oversubscribing which can make the internet unusable at peak times.

Every time they increase capacity it's great for a while, then suddenly everything slows to a crawl because they've been on a subscription frenzy and signed up loads of student houses who max out their 50mb uncapped connections 24/7.

When this happens you can wait for months to get a usable connection back again. You can get discounts if service is poor, but I'd rather have a reliable 10mb connection than the dodgy 30mb I currently have. When it does work the usage caps on the capped tarrifs are so low that if you dare to actually use your bandwidth for a small amount of time you end up with a connection at a quarter of the speed that's unusable for anything except web browsing.

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O2 tries to explain its new prudish nature

Ravenger

My phone doesn't seem to be affected... yet.

I just tried going to the Camra site, and used Google translate on my O2 Pay Monthly Android phone and they weren't blocked. I don't believe I've done any age verification.

Isn't this blocking supposed to be on by default?

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Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

Ravenger
Thumb Up

My first computer

When I was 16 I wanted a ZX Spectrum - all my friends had them - but couldn't afford one, so I saved up my pennies and got a ZX81 instead.

I spent countless hours working my way through the manual, writing 1k games, or typing in listings from magazines. I saved up and bought a Memotek 16k rampack (fastened with velcro and much sturdier and elegant than the wobble-prone sinclair job) and then spent even more hours playing 3D monster maze and 3D defender from J.K.Greye software.

As has been said, the manual was excellent. A complete tutorial in how to use the computer and program it. It helped me learn to program, which meant I was ahead of the entire class in Computer Studies at school.

Later I got a C64, and sold the ZX81 for £25 to pay for it which I regret. Luckily a few years later I bought a battered second hand one from a school kid for a fiver, and I still have it today. It still works, though the 16k Sinclair Rampack is faulty.

The ZX81 was my gateway into computing, and I've worked with computers ever since, eventually getting into game development, so I owe Clive Sinclair a debt of gratitude. Even though I graduated to other computers like the C64, Amiga, and PC, I still have a soft spot for the ZX81 and Spectrum.

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Tainted ads punt scareware to surfers on LSE and Myvue sites

Ravenger
Stop

Adblock is a security feature

Another reason to block ads on sites. I know it's not good for website revenue, but malware served through third party adverts is one of the main reasons I use Adblock and Noscript in Firefox.

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Virgin Media to issue firmware update after Superhub slows to crawl

Ravenger
FAIL

Same old story

I upgraded from 10mbit which was stable, and gave me good pings for online gaming to 20mb with a Superhub because it was similar to what I was already paying, and I'd be getting the upgrade to 30mb for free later.

Big mistake. The superhub seems to work ok - but you have to turn off some of its default options to get decent speeds. That's right the default options don't work! Good luck supplying that to non-technical customers.

The real problem is that my area is oversubscribed again. I get fantastic performance in the mornings, but the evenings are terrible. Packet loss, erratic pings, Streaming video or playing online games is impossible. And a fix isn't scheduled until MAY.

I'd have left them long ago if I could get faster than 2mbit ADSL in my area.

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Disabled dude demands EA improves gaming access

Ravenger

He's got a point

The problem he's having is that the control binding screen is needlessly restrictive. It won't allow you to, for example, bind 'run' to mouse button 1. The best PC games allow you to bind any function to any button or key, mouse button, or joystick button/Axis.

I'm left handed and like most left handed PC gamers I use the arrow keys for movement. I had a very similar issue with the original Dead Space where the game won't let you re-bind the arrow keys, which is something all my other PC games let me do. i had to resort to hacking the game's config file to use those keys.

The thing is the game code itself actually supported using the arrow keys for movement, but the control input screen wouldn't let you re-bind them. There was no logical reason for the restriction. It just seemed like the game wasn't designed with left-handed gamers in mind, so I can easily see his point of view as what he's complaining about has affected me too, though obviously to a lesser degree.

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Speedlink goes gold for Competition Pro silver jubilee

Ravenger
Alert

Not as good as it looks

I bought the non-gold painted version a while back, for playing emulated C64 and Arcade games, and though it has the look and feel of the original joystick, the version I've got has a fundamental flaw - it doesn't handle quick responses well at all.

It's ok for general use, but if you play any game that uses rapid joystick waggling or rotation (and many C64 games used this, as the sticks back then only supported one button) it often won't register the movements, and I believe this is down to the USB controller used.

Wizball on the C64 is a prime example - it's very difficult to reliably activate the pickups with this stick. Maybe they've fixed it for the new version. Let's hope.

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Virgin Media kills 20Mb broadband service

Ravenger
FAIL

Wonderful...

I've just found out that my UBR is overloaded and they plan to fix it in... April!

So another two to three months of evening internet that's unusable for streaming or gaming.

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Ravenger
Thumb Down

Sort out the packet loss first!

I recently upgraded to 20mb from 10mb, and I'm now getting erratic pings and packet loss in the evenings. Looks like the DOCSIS 3 UBR in my area is overloaded again. I'm seriously thinking of going back down to 10mb, as that's on the older network which isn't oversubscribed.

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California's green-leccy price system will stifle plug-in cars

Ravenger
Black Helicopters

This is one reason they're pushing smart meters

One of the uses for smart electricity meters would be to allow different prices for different appliances - so a unit of electricity to charge an electric car would cost more than the same unit of electricity used to power a refrigerator.

Of course in the UK, where transport fuel is so highly taxed I reckon they'd use smart meters to charge us extra tax on electricity for road use. After all they have to make up the loss in tax revenue from traditionally fuelled cars from somewhere.

Black helicopters because of my paranoia about smart metering.

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Video games go off quicker than tomatoes

Ravenger
Thumb Down

PC games have no resale value...

because of DRM, so that's a 100% depreciation rate.

I believe that's partly why you don't see many PC games in high street retailers - they can't sell them second hand over and over again making a huge profit each time, which makes them less profitable than tradeable console games.

As much as I like to see the retailers prevented from making a quick buck at the expense of developers, the DRM situation with PC games stamps on PC gamer's consumer rights and I wouldn't want to see it repeated for console owners.

Try getting a refund for an opened PC game and see where it gets you, even for something as buggy and broken as the latest COD game was at launch.

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Gamers demand CoD: Black Ops money back

Ravenger
FAIL

I do

Well, it's sort of working for me now, but it still lags, especially at the start of matches, and I've got a custom built i5 760 with a GTX 460 that I put together myself.

However there are many others who are still having major lag problems, and some users have reported that the new patch makes it worse, not better.

This is the only game I've ever bought that I wish I could have had a refund for. On launch it was an unplayable lagfest - in single player! Seriously,it had multiplayer style lag in a single player game. On a machine that can run Crysis at max detail at around 50-60fps.

It looks like the lag on the PC was a combination of several different problems, only some of which have been fixed. Initially it was probably overloaded backend servers, but then it was also due to CPU optimisations, and the general consensus now is the remaining lag problems are a sound issue, as turning off the sound fixes it completely. Except of course you have no sound.

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Ravenger
Thumb Down

PC gamers can't get refunds...

...due to DRM and locking games to accounts.

We don't often get demos, so we can't try before we buy, (unless we do something illegal) and of course we can't trade the games in either due to DRM. At least console gamers can trade in their copies and get some money back if they're not happy with them.

When PC gamers buy a game like this which is completely broken for over a week after release we are stuffed.

There really needs to be better consumer protection for this. Companies shouldn't be able to get away with a no refunds policy when games are so obviously broken or of poor quality.

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Virgin Media introduces P2P throttling

Ravenger

About time...

A while ago my Virgin internet connection became unusable due to high upstream utilisation. I live in a student area, and they were buying the uncapped 50mbit service and torrenting 24/7.

It was partly Virgin's fault for overselling the network, but also the fault of those who were behaving like gluttons selfishly gobbling up all the food in an all-you-can-eat buffet, leaving crumbs for everyone else. My connection was eventually fixed, and has been fine since.

Though I'm not glad to see this P2P throttling being introduced, I can appreciate why Virgin have decided to do it, given my past experience.

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Most smartphoners don't give a flip about apps

Ravenger
FAIL

Bloatware one thing uninstallable bloatware is another

I've got no problem with manufacturers putting their apps on the phone as long as I can uninstall the darn things.

The thing that really irritates me about my HTC Desire is the pre-loading of apps that I can't remove, as they're installed to the system area.

I have no interest in the stockmarket, yet the Desire comes pre-loaded with a stockmarket app that I can't uninstall, and which can use bandwidth from my extremely generous 500mb data allowance that O2 think is ample for an internet centric smart phone.

O2 also have an unusable german navigation app installed on UK phones which you can't uninstall either, which is even more irritating given that the Desire doesn't have a lot of internal app storage.

It's enough to make me want to root my phone just so I can remove the bloat. So much for Andoid being an open, user customisable platform.

Love the phone otherwise though.

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ZoneAlarm slammed for scarewarey marketing

Ravenger

Your wish is granted...

I use Windows 7 Firewall Control. Adds a decent user interface to the built-in windows firewall. There are both free and paid editions, and the free one has worked fine for me so far.

http://www.sphinx-soft.com/Vista/index.html

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Intel confirms HDCP copy-protection crack

Ravenger

Steam isn't about DRM

Steam works because it's massively more convenient than pirating, not because it has uncrackable DRM (It doesn't).

It's a lesson that the big media companies would do well to learn from.

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Half of UK road users support usage-based road charging

Ravenger

Why do you think they want us all to have smart meters?

So that when electric cars become widespread you won't be able to charge them using normal household electricity, as that's not taxed enough.

Instead the smart meter in your house will communicate with the smart charger in your car and automatically add 'Electric Vehicle Charging Duty' to the cost of each unit of electricity you use to re-charge your vehicle.

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Accenture denies British Gas 'millions of errors' billing system claim

Ravenger
FAIL

My experience...

I left British Gas due to their billing system problems. It was a total farce and caused me immense hassle and stress.

I first noticed something was amiss when British Gas wrote to me saying my monthly gas direct debit, which as normally around £30 a month was going up to over £100 a month. Their system had decided that was a fair figure despite me being in credit on my DD payments.

I rang them and they agreed the assessment was wrong and dropped the debit down to its previous level.

The next month the system did the same again! I rang them again, and questioned them about why my bills were getting so expensive and they had no idea. They agreed my gas usage hadn't gone up and that I was in credit, but couldn't explain why the system wanted to up my direct debit. They put the debit back down again, and I waited in trepidation for the next letter.

Guess what - a few weeks later another letter appears, this time increasing my direct debit to £150 per month!

By this time I was really stressed out, I'd been dreading letters from British Gas, so I complained to their customer services department and did the best thing I could - left them for a different supplier.

I will never use them again.

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