I'm not posting to this site anymore. For continued nerdiness, head on over to thomasborowski.de.

Just a quick note to anyone still subscribed to Man, Dog, Machine: I’ve moved the blog over to http://thomasborowski.de, or rather I’ve started a new one. This blog will no longer be updated. See this post for details. And don’t forget to subscribe to the new blog.

June 1, 2013

Is PC Gaming Broken?

After a hiatus of a couple of years, I recently started gaming on my PC again. I have an XBOX 360, a 3DS and an iPad, but I play mostly on my Windows 7 PC now since the selection of games is the largest and some games are best played with a keyboard and mouse.

Having been used to mostly console and iOS gaming for the last couple of years, I’m quite baffled by how much fuckery you still have to go through to play a game on Windows. Compared to how easy it is on iOS or a console, the whole experience on the PC is ridiculous and I wonder how many people without an IT degree actually regularly play games on the PC.

Just for fun, I made a list of the steps you need to take to play a game on an iPad compared to those required on the PC. The list is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely. While not every experience on the PC will be like this, some are, I can attest to that first hand.

Play a game on an iPad

  • Open the App Store
  • Buy game (entering your App Store password)
  • Tap the icon
  • Play

Play a game on Windows

  • Boot PC
  • Log in
  • Wait for Steam to launch
  • Buy game
  • Enter credit card info or check out via Paypal
  • Wait for game to download and install
  • Launch game
  • Wait for C++ libraries, DirectX and other crap to install
  • Enter 20-digit license key
  • Log in to some stupid online service (Games for Windows Live, uPlay, etc.) or be forced to create an account
  • Wait for server connection before you can play
  • Download updates for your game
  • Relaunch game
  • Enter credentials for online service again
  • Go into the game’s options and fiddle with the graphics settings until the game runs adequately
  • Update your graphics card drivers, rebooting several times
  • Configure game controls
  • Play (maybe)

Conclusion

If you wonder why people buy iPads or gaming consoles, this is why. This is 2013. Electronic gaming has been around since the 70s and PC gaming has been around since, well, the PC. While the gaming experience in terms of ease of use hasn’t improved much over the last 30 years, consoles and especially mobile platforms like iOS and Android are leading the way. Sure, the PC still has superior graphics and the games are often a lot more complex and rewarding than your typical iOS game. But does that mean I have to go through all this crap before I can finally play?

Gabe Weatherhead and I had a little chat about selling stuff on the internet in general and the GroovBoard in particular. It was my first ever interview and first ever podcast. And it was fun. Go check it out. Or even better, subscribe to Generational for interesting interviews every week.

An app called “TV Deutschland” is currently (January 20, 2013) the 4th best-selling paid app in the german iOS App Store. And people seem to love it, almost 5000 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars can't lie. Or can they?

It turns out that this app is promising buyers more features if they rate the app with 5 stars. I highly doubt that Apple is OK with tactics like this, especially since, judging by some of the reviews, the app doesn't even deliver on its promise. I wonder how long this app will remain available…

 

Ever since Apple updated Safari to version 6.0.2 it has been crashy as hell. Sometimes it crashes several times within a couple of minutes, then it runs without any issues the rest of the day. And it’s apparently not just behaving like this for me, Twitter is full of similar reports.

As a result of this mess, some users have switched to Chrome, at least until Safari gets updated again. Me included. On a lark I whipped up a quick shell script that launches Safari only if its version is not 6.0.2. If you have Safari 6.0.2 installed it launches Chrome instead.

Just copy the code below into a file, save it as plain text to your user’s home folder somewhere and hop on Terminal and run chmod +x filename to make it executable. Use it at your own risk.


#! /bin/bash

sv="$(mdls -name kMDItemVersion /Applications/Safari.app | grep -o -e '6.0.2')"
if test ${sv}="6.0.2"
then
echo "Safari still sucks. Launching Chrome instead."
open "/Applications/Google Chrome.app"
else
echo "Safari version other than 6.0.2 installed, giving it a try..."
open "/Applications/Safari.app"
fi

I use a dual-monitor setup and often move some of Safari’s windows over to the secondary screen, for example to reference a web page while I work on something on my main screen.

It always annoyed me that Safari seemed to open new windows on the screen where the most recently opened window was. So if I opened a new window and moved it to the second monitor, new windows would always open there, even if the currently active window was on the primary monitor.

My assumption was that Safari determines the position to open a new window at by the position of the most recently opened window. Turns out, it actually determines this by the position of the window that was last moved. So, to force new windows to be opened on the primary screen even though the most recently opened window is on the secondary screen, just move a window on the primary screen a bit and a new window will open immediately on top of it.

December 8, 2012

Macgasm’s iPad mini review 

Joshua Schnell for Macgasm:

The spec problems reveals itself the best in Apple’s own App Stores. Responsiveness is sluggish when scrolling between the App listings on Apple’s front page of the iTunes, App, iBook, and Newsstand Stores from time to time. There’s stutters when navigating stores, stutters when changing the tabs in Safari, stutters, stutters, stutters. All of these things could be updated and smoothed out in a future iOS update, but right out of the box, it’s a noticeable problem.

General App Store performance problems aside, I doubt an OS update will fix these issues. As I said before: 512 MB RAM just doesn’t cut it.

November 25, 2012

MacSparky’s review of the GroovBoard 

David Sparks gives the GroovBoard a thumbs-up.

Artisinal Pencil Sharpening 

This guy is really serious about sharpening his pencils. And in case you’re wondering, he really did write that book.

 

November 18, 2012

Dave Caolo reviews the GroovBoard for TUAW 

Dave:

The GroovBoard is a great device. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into its design and construction. The fact that it can accommodate the iPad in a variety of ways, hold a stylus for a lefty or a righty and secure an Apple keyboard so well makes it a very useful lapdesk/stand indeed. Plus, it’s just good-looking.