Tag Archives: Windows

Would You Like to Play a Game of… DEFCON?

DEFCON is short for Defense Condition, on a numerical scale, with 1 being the highest level of alert or readiness. It also happens to be the name of a video game that lives up to the origins, the movie WarGames, which was released in 1983. The movie is based on the premise that an teenager war-dials every telephone number in his city trying to find the computer system of a video game publisher. One of the telephone numbers goes straight into a military computer, and he thinks it’s actually a computer of the video game company. He figures out the password to the system and starts a “game” of Global Thermonuclear War, which unbeknownst to him, triggers the computer into starting a not-so-video-game nuclear war military simulation.

A large portion of the film takes place in the most expensive movie set ever created at the time, a full-scale replica of the underground NORAD headquarters Command Center. After inflation, the set would have cost nearly 2.1 million dollars to create today.

What’s equally impressive is Introversion Games (or simply, IV Games), the developers of DEFCON (the real life video game) had about 18 months and something like 8 employees to present the world with their version of the movie set turned into a video game.

IV has definitely had it’s share of difficult times, as this forum post goes into detail. Not many independent game developers can say they’ve gone from spending tens of thousands of dollars on speedboats and cars to living on government benefits. Thankfully they kept making video games instead of giving up after going bankrupt. :)

The game seems ludicrously simple at the beginning. You’re automatically assigned a territory, and you place radar dishes, silos, carriers, battleships, subs, and much more around your territory as you see fit. The game proceeds at up to 20x normal speed (most games would take 8 hours in real time), meanwhile counting all the way up to DEFCON 1 where you can actually launch nukes. What starts out as simple ends up being a rather complex strategy game. The “winner” of each game depends on the mode being used, but the goal is to nuke other countries’ population centers while fending off nuclear attacks on your own cities.

Instead of going into more detail, here’s a video I made of three computers playing each other. It’s a pretty good introduction into the DEFCON stages – watch the white text and red countdown timers. I’ve dubbed the video over with some appropriate music to speed things along, but the actual game soundtrack is absolutely epic – just like the original movie. The graphics are wireframe based (much like Darwinia) and they look great, while helping the player focus on what is most important – the gameplay itself.

Each of their previous games, Uplink, and Darwinia have native Linux clients. I would imagine that their next title in development Multiwinia will also support Linux, as well as Windows and OSX. The Linux demo is pretty fantastic, it was simple to install and run. I’ve been reiterating over and over lately, supporting companies that support Linux is very important, and if you check out the demos and enjoy them, send some money their way. They can probably put it to good use getting their fast car polished or something. ;)

If you need instructions, to get all three games running, here they are:

1. Install a couple common files you might need from a vanilla Ubuntu 7.10 installation:
sudo apt-get install libgtk1.2 libstdc++5

2. Install Defcon
wget http://download.introversion.co.uk/defcon/linux/defcon-v1.42.tar.gz
tar xvfz defcon-v1.42.tar.gz && cd defcon-v1.42 && chmod a+x defcon

3. Install Darwinia
wget http://www.introversion.co.uk/cgi-bin/countdowndarwinia.cgi?darwinia-demo2-1.3.0.sh
chmod a+x darwinia-demo2-1.3.0.sh && ./darwinia-demo2-1.3.0.sh
chmod a+x ~/darwinia-demo2/darwinia && cd ~/darwinia-demo2

4. Install Uplink
wget http://www.introversion.co.uk/cgi-bin/countdownmemset.cgi?uplink-demo-1.54.sh
chmod a+x uplink-demo-1.54.sh && ./uplink-demo-1.54.sh
chmod a+x ~/uplink-demo/uplink

If you don’t need instructions, you should be doing one of two things: reading Linux Journal (see below), or downloading the demos. Both options are free (as in beer) to those of you in the USA, and that LJ promotion has been putting enough money in my pocket each week to buy a cup of joe coffee-flavored-milkshake from Starbucks, along with a muffin or other tasty treat.

If enough loyal readers out there check out the free LJ offer, I might be able to buy… speedboats or fast cars come to mind. Last but not least, I’ve received word that the interview with Ken VanDine of Foresight Linux is about halfway done. He’s apparently a rather busy guy, I’m REALLY looking forward to it. If you had subscribed to my Twitter feed you would already have that delivered to your cellphone.

notepad.exe vs vi: Which Is More Difficult To Learn? The Answer Isn’t Quite What You Expect.

Migrating from Windows to Linux is no simple task. One of the things that some people complain about is the difficulty of text editing in console mode.

You may or may not know that Notepad.exe is actually pretty damn complicated. Just take a look at all the documented keyboard shortcuts:

New Ctrl+N
Open Ctrl+O
Save Ctrl+Save
Save As Alt, F, A
Page Setup Alt, F, U
Print Ctrl + P
Exit Alt+F4

Undo Ctrl+Z
Cut Ctrl+X
Copy Ctrl+C
Paste Ctrl+P
Delete Del
Find Ctrl+F
Find Next F3
Replace Ctrl+H
Goto Ctrl+G
Select All Ctrl+A
Time/Date F5

Word Wrap Alt, O, W
Font Alt, O, F

Status Bar Alt, V, S

Help Topics F1
About Notepad Alt, H, A

Here are some some undocumented keyboard shortcuts:

Goto Beginning of Next Word: Ctrl+Right Arrow
Goto Beginning Previous Word: Ctrl+Left Arrow

Select From Current Position To Next Word: Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow
Select From Current Position To Previous Word: Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow

Select From Current Position to Beginning of Line: Shift+Home
Select From Current Position to End of Line: Shift+End

This list of undocumented keyboard shortcuts for notepad are pretty long, that’s just a start from memory. If you count all the extra undocumented keyboard shortcuts, notepad has tons of functionality that is under utilized.

Did we ever notice or care that notepad had that many shortcuts? Most power users simply knew these shortcut commands by heart and never even had a second thought that notepad was difficult to learn, or poorly documented.

Using the vi editor is not complicated. I think most people just assume at first glance at a huge list of commands that it’s really hard to remember everything. It’s not that hard! Remember how ‘easy to use’ notepad seemed at first? Apply that attitude to learning vi!

The hard part about learning vi is that it doesn’t have a graphical interface for training wheels. You get right dropped right into a window that doesn’t necessarily want to help you get up and running quickly. So here are a few keyboard shortcuts for vi starting from the equivalents for notepad that are listed above:

New vi newfile
Open vi filename
Save :w[Enter]
Save As :w filename[Enter]
Exit :q
Undo u
Cut y
Paste P
Delete d
Find /text
Find Next n
Replace :%s/search/replace/g
Goto :linenumber
Help F1

Here’s where you, my readers come in. I’ve been looking all over, but I just can’t seem to find replacements for the following commands that have similar function without making things difficult:

Copy ?
Select All ?
Time/Date ?
Word Wrap ?
Font ?
Page Setup ?
Print ?

I assume since these were something I couldn’t find really easily that they are probably configuration settings, somewhere, but I’ve been looking for awhile and no luck.

Also, here is a pretty fantastic cheat sheet for vi (or vim) that I’ve found pretty handy:

vi-vim cheat sheet


Few more announcements: Friday is my birthday, and I’ll be out of town. The the next several days will be pretty quiet. I’ll probably do the 6th edition of Linux Nation tomorrow morning, but that should be all you see from me until Monday, and I’ll be back with a vengeance.

Good news if anyone is keeping up with the times here, girlfriend has been quoted as asking, “can’t we just take off Windows?” Needless to day, that experiment is also going much better than I expected.

Also check out the right sidebar, Atlas carrying the Firefox icon was an idea I came up with, it was all done using Inkscape and GIMP. Let me know what you think of it. If you’re too lazy to scroll up, here it is:

atlas with firefox

See ya next week,

Unlocked My iPhone Using Windows, Not Possible In Linux

This terrific wiki describes in detail the “tried and true” method of manually performing pretty much every step. Unfortunately, the Wine Application Database shows that iTunes has no maintainer, and is rated as “garbage” by most people.

So right there, my article I had planned about unlocking the iPhone using Linux – simply not possible, as of right now. According to Martin Aumueller, a moderator at the iPhone amarok forums,

“If you manage to get it working it won’t be easy at all:

Other than a regular ipod, the iphone does not work as a ‘usb mass storage device’. This means you can’t just mount it as a hard disk. However, it appears that people have managed to hack their iphone so that they are able to install arbitrary software on it, in particular a ssh server. Then it is possible to expose the iphones file system and mount it via fuse as sshfs. On the gtkpod-devel mailing list you could read that the format of the data on the iphone is very similar to an ipod. So they might be able to handle that shortly. As soon as the gtkpod guys have libgpod working with the iphone, you could try to compile Amarok against the updated libgpod and try to get it working.”

So I checked out the libgpod SVN, and found they had a version that worked once you had SSH running on the iPhone – which means it’s kinda pointless to use a Linux box to try and get things unlocked, because to get SSH running, you need Window or Mac, which is confirmed by Eric Betts (who also has a quick guide how to get gtkpod working), a CS major at OSU – go Beavers!

benanzo has some interesting information over at the ModMyiPhone forum:

“Linux users have been able to sync with the iPhone for awhile now. We just mount the iPhone’s FS wirelessly via sshfs, load GTKPod and sync …wirelessly.

The current SVN version of libgpod (the backend that manipulates iTunesDB) has recently implemented full support for artwork, video, calendar, contacts, podcasts etc. for the iPhone, iPT.

You can also use gnupod. In fact, with that I’ve written a script that runs on my phone that checks what wifi network i’m connected to and if it’s my home network (where my computer is) it automatically initiates syncing.

That means that whenever I get home, I don’t have to sit down at my computer, or even take my phone out of my pocket — everything syncs back and forth automatically. Beautiful.

I’m currently in the process of porting libgpod to the iPhone environment so we can integrate over-the-air downloads into iTunesDB. That basically means we can then write a GUI frontend to bashpodder (podcast client) and automatically download/sync podcasts on-the-go.

My next project will be to get internet radio running…

Shoutcast on-the-go will be sweet.”

That’s it from me, for now. Here are a bunch of links that should get you started unlocking your iPhone. I’m going to detail later on how to get the sshfs and libgpod svn working on Ubuntu.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and lastly, how to remove the iPhone AT&T SIM card. That threw me for a loop.

So far I’m enjoying the iPhone, it’s a beautiful machine – even better when running on T-Mobile.

The REAL Fix For Comcast BitTorrent Throttling

First, a little explanation may be needed as to what is happening in between our computers, Comcast and the Internet.
Comcast is using a packet filtering platform called Sandvine. This platform is a at its core, a Quality of Service system that has legitimate uses, such as giving high priority to Xbox Live communications and VOIP packets. 

Unfortunately, Comcast has decided to use Sandvine (some say illegally) to impersonate us and send a reset packet (known as an RST flag), which is exactly like the Chinese goverment filters the internet!  (PDF)

TorrentFreak hinted on August 22nd, is that someone was working on a fix for Comcast users.

“…we know that at least two BitTorrent client developers are including this fix in their next update.” -TorrentFreak 

It’s two weeks later, where is the fix!?  And just exactly how do you find out if you’re being throttled by Comcast?  And how can we figure out how to avoid this traffic shaping? Continue reading

Ubuntu Forums Firefox Plugin – Finding Answers To Stupid Questions Was Never So Easy

Attention Humor Disabled Digg Visitors, the tagline of this article is actually a joke!  HDDV is a serious disease which effects approximately 23 million Digg front page visitors per month.

I remembered awhile back that I had installed a plugin for the Steam forums that gave me a little menu item up at the top inbetween Tools and Help in Firefox that allowed easy navigation of the Steam forums. I thought about it for a bit and thought,

“Hey! Why not make one of those for the Ubuntu forums?”

Well thankfully someone else already has. I present to you, the Ubuntu Forums Menu for Firefox.  If you don’t have Firefox already, click the button below and install it today!

Install and then goto the Addons settings in Firefox. Click Preferences:
screenshot-add-ons.pngCheck the appropriate boxes:
screenshot-ubuntu-forums-menu-settings.pngMenu at the top:
ubuntu_forums.pngRight Click Context Menu:
ubuntu_forums_context1.pngThis is an “insanely great” plugin. Kudos to Adam Smith.