Month: December 2006 (page 1 of 2)


So I was going to get a Macbook, I’d already decided I didn’t need more than a gig ram and the black Macbook would be the one. But then I saw the Macbook Pro next to the Macbook and I gave in to temptation.

Macbook Pro

One day I’ll learn!

Wii Thoughts

So I’ve been in Peterborough for three days now – every night has been in the Wii. The short verdict is it’s brilliant.

At first I felt a little bit self conscious waving the controller around but that quickly disappears. The simple graphics don’t matter – it’s just not important. The games are all about fun and having an HD output doesn’t make any difference to the Wii. Four player tennis was just great. The bowling actually feels very realistic. Although you don’t actually have to bowl the ball and get down on bended knee it just didn’t feel right without doing it. At first I felt the games were all a bit arcadey but there is some depth there with certain features not explained allowing you to find out these through experimentation and further play.

We also played some Super Monkey Ball. The party games included were a bit hit and miss but some were hilarious. You do need quite a bit of room for anything more than one person though. I managed to skelp the wall a couple of times (left a bit of a dent) and one of Shakeel’s models took a bit of a bashing and was moved before any permanent damage was inflicted. You just need to make sure that you’ve got plenty room to swing. Hopefully I’ll get some photo’s online over the weekend – some are hilarious.

Like the DS Nintendo have an absolute winner with the Wii. They’ve made something different that the competition just doesn’t offer. This has been the most fun in years that I’ve had on a console and whats key is that the console isn’t just for gamers – anyone can pick up the remote and play. Will I be getting one – maybe. Firstly in Glasgow I hardly do any real world multiplayer – it’s all online so some of the fun would be lost. Secondly I’ve said maybe as I have a habit of backtracking on not getting gadgets so this gives me a bit of leeway. However I’ve no doubt that if you’ve got kids or there are two or more (potential) gamers in your household then the Wii is a must buy console, certainly ahead of a 360 or PS3 in the purchase list. Enough of this – time for some baseball…batter up!

Old Faithful

Over the last few months I’ve been loving Flock due to it’s integration with Flickr, RSS feeds and while delivering Mozilla rock solid browsing. However a wee bit of instability meant I returned to Firefox. That return is now permanent as I’ve not had one Firefox issue, browsing feels snappier and it’s quicker to launch. Also, I’ve found some better replacements for Flock’s built in features.

Google Reader has been out for a while and recently had some updates. I didn’t pay much attention as I used Flocks built in RSS manager. However using Google Reader for the past couple of weeks has been great. Far easier to manage multiple RSS feeds, quicker and no checking locally of every RSS feed has meant this is now my RSS manager. RSS feeds now available on the move as Google Reader has a mobile version for use on phones.

Sharing of bookmarks has always been a bit of an issue for me. I’ve tried different services over the years and never got one I liked. Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer for Firefox looks to be the answer. Once installed it allows you to sync your bookmarks between multiple machines with the sync happening silently in the background. You can also visit their website and see your bookmarks meaning your bookmarks should no longer be out of reach or sync.

Web Development Evolved is the bold claim for the Firebug extension. The length of features it offers is vast – inspection/edit of HTML, CSS editing, CSS metrics, debug, logging and editing for Javascript and the one I’ve used so far – Network Activity.

Firebug - Slow site load

This site is fairly sluggish and using Firebug I’ve found three Javascript files that the theme loaded but never used. So that’s trimmed some time out of the load. I’ll be visiting some of the other pages round this site to see if I can trim any more fat away. A great tool, especially for having a nose at other people’s sites to see how they were constructed.

As for Flickr uploading, I’ve went back to the Flcikr uploader which is a universal binary and works a treat. So goodbye Flock – a nice browser that’s been too slow to develop with too many superior competitors.

Xbox 360 Network Issues

I know a few folk that have recently or are about to get a 360. While it generally works a treat without much issue, getting on Live for the first time can be problematic depending on your router or use of Internet Connection Settings. Annoyingly it may work and you think everything is OK but it’s only when you start playing games with others that you really find out if it’s 100%. The following steps should help make the experience a little better.

1) Check your NAT
Whether you connect to Live first time or not, visit the System blade on the dashboard, then Network Settings and finally Test Xbox Live Connection – here’s a link to the official Microsoft help page detailing this step. The key setting I’ve found is NAT. There are three possible values for NAT settings – Strict, Moderate and Open.

  • Open NAT means that either the port-assignment policy is minimal or the device has a fully compliant version of UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) enabled by default. This is the ideal setting and should give mostly trouble free online gaming.
  • Moderate NAT means that the port-assignment policy is minimal, but the device is filtering addresses or ports. Will work with most people but can lead to conflicts.
  • Strict NAT means the port-assignment policy is aggressive. Can lead to lot’s of issues. No voice, disconnects from games.

A more detailed explanation of NAT can be seen in this Microsoft help page.

2) Fixing NAT
If your NAT is open then your fine. If moderate or strict then try the following, but don’t mix and match and try a few of these in parallel. Try them in order as they are presented here, switching back to where you started before trying the next option. Also, reboot router and 360 after making changes to make sure that the changes are in place and have been detected by both router and 360.

  • UPnP – Universal Plug and Play. This networking standard should allow the router and the 360 to open the correct ports and communicate efficiently. If your router supports this then enable it.
  • If that doesn’t work then try forwarding the Xbox Live ports to your router. The ports that require to be forwarded are 88 and 3074. Every router works differently but there’s an excellent website called PortForward that allows you to select your router and the application or service (Xbox 360) you want to use. It then provides step by step help in how to configure your router.
  • If that fails then try putting your 360’s IP address in your router’s DMZ. DMZ stands for Demilitarized Zone and means (for me) that a device in the DMZ is taken out of your protected network, allowing it to connect to the internet without restriction while maintaining your PC and other devices behind a secure firewall (Wikipedia DMZ explanation). Couldn’t really find many guides on the net so this looks like a ‘consult the manual’ job.

3) Still Having Issues?
The best advice from Microsoft and others is to go and buy a new router, or if your using Internet Connection Sharing, definitely go and buy a router and make sure it’s one on the Microsoft Xbox compatibility list. In fact this is Microsoft’s first step but I reckon this is always a last resort if you’ve already got a router and it works fine for everything else. Still, if your mad keen on gaming this may be the only choice. Note that the list contains those routers that have been tested and certified by Microsoft and also those that have failed and been deemed incompatible. If your router isn’t on the list it doesn’t mean it won’t work – just that it’s not been submitted and tested by Microsoft.

If your on cable broadband try connecting the 360 directly to your cable connection, cutting out any router or other equipment. This will at least tell you whether the issues your getting are down to hardware or your broadband connection.

Finally, a link to a really good site – Xbox Live – The Guide. It contains lots of useful information and has some guide’s on NAT settings and DMZ setup’s for popular routers. An excellent site and I should probably just link to that site and remove all the other text here, but it’s written now. Hope this helps.

Ruby Monday

The inner geek has been satisfied today. Since getting the Mac I’ve had an urge to do a bit of programming. Nothing fancy but I really wanted to play around with Ruby on Rails to see just ow easy it was to get a nice web app up and running. The only problem was getting a development environment. My web host offers Ruby skeleton and I couldn’t get command line access. No worries – install it all on the Mac. Todo that meant installing MySQL also. Firstly I followed the excellent post on Hivelogic, Building Ruby, Rails, LightTPD, and MySQL on Tiger. This takes you through everything you need to get Ruby up and running. This was also my first proper use of Mac terminal. I loved the following warning…

We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local System
Administrator. It usually boils down to these three things:

#1) Respect the privacy of others.
#2) Think before you type.
#3) With great power comes great responsibility.

Anyway, the install went well and I’m now at the point of starting to dabble but that will have to wait until later in the week. One final tip – there’s an excellent set of MySQL GUI tools available from the MySQL developers. Handy if your not familiar with command line MySQL.

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