Adobe finally supports 64-bit Web Browsers

With the release of Adobe Flash Player 11.0.1.152 The flash player Plugin finally supports Internet Explorer 64-bit. This is a useful feature for users of Microsoft Windows (Vista and 7) 64-bit.  I wonder when Firefox and Chrome will get around to releasing 64-bit versions of their software.

 

Additional Info:
http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/919/cpsid_91932.html


Replaying Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for PC

SW Rogue Squadron box art. Image source Wikipedia

With the recent release of Star Wars on Blu-Ray  I had the urge to Replay Star Wars Rogue Squadron for the PC.  I also chose this game to see if this game would run on a newer Windows Operating system. It installs and starts up just fine. I didn’t have to do anything special.   For a game developed with Windows 98 (and the Nintendo 64) in mind, runs stable enough. UAC doesn’t seem to affect the game after the initial install is completed.
The System Requirements are:

Quoted from www.roguesquadron.net

Operating System: 100% Windows 95/98 DirectX compatible PC.

CPU: Pentium 166 MHz or faster required.

Memory: 32 MB RAM or higher required.

CD-ROM: Quad speed or faster required.

Graphics Card: 3D accelerated video card required–PCI or AGP with 4MB or higher, Direct3D or Glide compatible required.

Sound: Supports 100% DirectX compatible 16-bit or better sound cards.

Input Device: Supports joystick, mouse or keyboard. Joystick recommended. Also supports Force Feedback joysticks. A joystick is not required to play, however, it is highly recommended that you use one. This is a flying game, after all.

DirectX: DirectX 6.0 or higher. DirectX 6.0 is included on the CD and must be installed prior to playing Rogue Squadron 3D.

 

I really do enjoy these Arcade space shooter games. Flying through Star Wars themed locations, and missions.  You play through the game as Luke Skywalker (who is not voiced by Mark Hamil.) Accomplishing various tasks during the course of each mission.  Having that medal reward system for completing levels  in the game adds some replay value.  The ships you would expect to be playable are here…

  • X-Wing
  • Y-Wing
  • A-Wing
There also other crafts that you can pilot:
  • V-Wing Air speeder
  • Millennium Falcom
  • Naboo Starfighter ( w/ update 1.2)

 

Using the Air/snow Speeder’s tow cable has caused me much frustration. They seem to break away from the target no matter how I adjust my ship’s speed. The terrain detail and draw distances in general are quite bad. Then again, this is a game from 1998, that just happens to be running on a  more powerful machine. The sound in the game is still good. Laser fire, and other sounds.

Overall, Rogue Squadron II is still my personal favorite.
I wonder why Lucas Arts hasn’t made  a new Rogue Squadron (X-Wing or TIE Fighter) game for the current generation of gaming consoles.


Apps of Interest: Audacity

Use : Audio editor and recorder
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current version:  1.2.6 (stable) , 1.3.13 (beta)
Website:  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Audacity for Windows

Audacity 1.2.6 on Microsoft Windows

Audacity is a freeware audio editor and recorder. It supports importing and processing of mp3, wav, ogg audio files. You can also use it as recorder, if you have microphones and/or headsets. Working on multiple tracks is possible, as seen in the screenshot above. Various effects can be applied to the audio. Fade, normalize, amplification.

The Memory usage for me was around 20 MB and the hard disk usage is just under 9 MBs v 1.2.6. Even though the Audacity website states that 1.2.6 is not supported on Windows Vista. I am able to run, process, and save/export audio files just fine. 1.3.13 (beta) is giving me a little trouble  due to compatibility issues with LAME.


Firefox 6 is out… Yup.

So Firefox 6.0 has been out for a few days now. Seems to improve security, stability, and a few other features. As usual, Just be cautious if you’re the type of user that has a lot of extensions. You may encounter extension compatibility issues,  forcing the extension (s) to be disabled/unusable.

-Tony


Apps of Interest: Cyberlink PowerDVD 11

Use: Media Player/Blu Ray & DVD player software for Windows PCs
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current version: 11.0.1719
Website:  http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd/overview_en_US.html?fileName=overview&r=1

PowerDVD 11 main view

It’s been a long time since I used this application. I believe it was PowerDVD. A lot has certainly changed since that release. Tabs are used to separate playback functions (Movie Disc, local video file, audio file, and even photos.) After testing various  formats, it was able to play every single one. One really nice feature is the ability to playback music while also viewing photos/images at the same time, without interruption. Switching from Music to video or movie tabs will automatically stop playback as well. Two features that are still present are the bookmark and screen capture features.

For the Home theater enthusiasts, the player supports DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD ( of course, you willl need an audio card that supports this.) I’ve been listening to Dolby Headphone and I found it to be a pleasing sound experience when watching  Hollywood films and the like. Video enhancement technologies are also available (Tru Theater.) It can affect brightness , sharpness and motion. Unfortunately, You will not be able to use Graphics hardware acceleration (DXVA w/nVidia Pure Video) at the same time when True Theater technology is enabled.

The software seems to lean more towards the nVidia graphics (with Pure Video, Cuda, and 3D vision support as shown in the  image above.) I’m not really a user of fan of 3D vision or Blu-ray 3D so I can’t really comment on how well it works.

One nice new (to me at least) feature for those with iPhones and Android phones is the ability to use your devices as a “remote control” for PowerDVD. The application can alos link with your youtube account (for viewing favorites and playlists) and Facebook and/or Flickr for your photos.

What I don’t like about the software is the fact that application volume slider synchronizes with the Windows Main volume slider. If you raise the volume in Power DVD, all the other running apps get a volume boost as well.  Not a feature I like when I’m surfing a flash video site like GameTrailers or Youtube. I had hoped that it would only control it’s individual volume slider in the newer OSes (Vista and 7). I found memory usage to be around 200-300 MB of RAM for a local video file and the Installation folder takes up 230 MBs of Hard Drive space.

If you have (or plan to install) a Blu-ray drive on your computer, then I would reccomend you give this app a try.

Additional Info:
Video Screenshot source: Video Game Orchestra's performance

Repairing an Intel Pentium 4 PC

Some time last month I took  on the task to repair a computer that belonged to a friend of the family. The specifications are as follows:

Specs:
Intel Pentium 4 @ 2.8 Ghz
1.0 GB DDR
160 GB 7200 RPM
DVD Writer
Onboard Intel graphics
Onboard Sound
Windows XP Home Edition

I haven’t regularly used a Pentium 4 powered computer for a few years now, so I kind of wondered how it handled today’s websites and other tasks.

The user already started repairing the computer, software-wise at least, reinstalling MS Windows XP  with Service Pack 1 and a few of their favorite applications. I  continued from that point bringing Windows up to Service Pack 3, downloading  98 additional  (post-sp3) updates. One of the key updates was the Installer for Internet Explorer 8. version 9 is not supported for Windows systems running anything earlier than Windows Vista. XP SP2 also adds the Windows firewall to a little more security. For free anti-virus software, I decided to go with Avast! free 6, but Microsoft Security Essentials would have been fine as well.

The temperature  and fan speed readings looked fine for a system of this kind. Ran diagnostic utilities and they didn’t report any  errors either.

I took some to to test IE 8 and Mozilla Firefox on this system and while it’s still usable on the Internet for web surfing, streaming audio and Youtube. The low amount of memory  and old processor doesn’t leave you much computing power for anything else. Having more than one user logged on at one time would be a terrible idea. The user only does web browsing, music listening, image viewing and office productivity tasks.

There were a few other pieces of software I installed for them…

iTunes
Microsoft Office 2007  (they provided their disc and product key)
Windows Live Photo Gallery (Far better than what’s included with Windows XP)
Upgraded Windows Media Player to 11
Upgrading IE  to 8 from the included 6
VLC Media Player

After a few final checks, I decided to hand in back to the user to take home. This experience just shows me how great even lower clocked (more power efficient)  dual core processor  can provide a better computing experience. Versus this system.

-Tony.

 


Firefox 5 Beta 2: I don’t notice anything different

I decided to Jump on to the Firefox 5 Beta testing wagon. Can’t say I notice anything different in terms of the UI. A few of my plugins are incompatible and every time I run the Acid 3 test, I get a 97% rating. I’m guessing it’s just improvements for HTML5 and general browser performance.

-Tony