Androidified backflip

After a long period of reading, learning and researching I’ve finally made it and customized my Android phone. The customization included things like the simple rooting of the device, upgrading to a newer version of Android, overclocking and getting rid of some factory default applications. But, first things first. I got a Motorola Backflip (MB300) last year’s October and it was my intention from the very beginning to use this cellphone as a “learning device” to get into the whole Android stuff. Unfortunately did I figured out that this phone wasn’t able to be upgraded by simple clicking “update” here in Europe. The cellphone was shipped with Android 1.5 as factory default. It was more than clear for me to get this device to Android 2.1 which is officially only available in the U.S. for AT&T customers. A lot of theory followed after getting this phone though. Worst thing about this, I had to get back to Java coding.

It took a while but I finally found some ROMs with Android 2.1, also one version without the Motorola BLUR applications that slow the phone on factory default setting pretty direful. I’m not going into detail nor do I offer a tutorial at this point. I tried every ROM I could find for my cellphone and tried to figure out which one has the best performance, which one has the lowest number of bugs and most importantly, which one looks nice the most. Finally I found disturbing bugs in every ROM and none of these ROMs had all the “optical features” I was looking for. The solution for this problem was simple and trivial at once. I picked the ROM with the lowest number of bugs and errors and merged the features of the other ROMs into it. As expected, the system was buggy and unstable the first time but after flashing the phone the fourth or fifth time with debugged ROMs I finally had the Android 2.1 version I actually wanted.

The most important applications from the Android market for me were ADWLauncher, SetCPU, TitaniumBackup and Android Task Manager. The first one was to get rid of the Motorola look. SetCPU is used to overclock the phone and to increase the battery life at once. TitaniumBackup was my companion to figure out which of the applications of the ROM can be disabled and removed. Last but not least, Android Task Manager was and is my RAM cleaner on the phone.

My media centre – A field report

It’s been nearly 9 month since living with a media centre PC in my living room and it has become a regular part of my daily life. The balance between the simple watching of TV broadcasts and the common use of a PC, like surfing the internet, playing games has changed. Nowadays I do watch more and more content that is streamed and published via the internet and old school TV makes only a minor part in my daily life. The point actually is, that I don’t have the time nor the will to watch specific contents on TV at a special time and nor do I have the will to spend like half an hour to setup the HDD recorder that I don’t miss a show on TV. This is old-fashioned in my opinion, especially by regarding the fact that if I use the media centre I can watch whatever I want and what I subscriped to at any time I want. If I watch TV I’m bound to a fixed schedule and like I previously said, I’m not going to waste my rare free time to TV programs.

Another, and in my opinion, very important point that the media centre has become so popular for me is, that the content it offers is mainly customized to my needs and interests. As you may know, I’m a gamer and I love to watch broadcasts with videogame content, so I watch like GameTrailers.com, GiantBomb or GameSpot contents any time I want. If I’m more in the mood to get a little relaxation and enjoy earth’s beauty I lay back and watch the marvellous shows of Earth-Touch.com. I’ve also got tons of subscriptions on Youtube, mainly gaming content but also channels with subjects like sports, news , photography or simply comedy. As you can see, I’ve got this large variety of things to watch at any time I want, I’m near the point to think about cancelling my cable provider subscribtion because it makes barely sense.

Besides simple watching of different contents the media centre also offers another ability to serve me well, it’s a gaming platform. I had to make a compromise between ultra silent media centre PC and gaming PC. This PC serves in both ways and is not as quiet as a media centre usually used to be, but this doesn’t really matter, because while watching movies or anything else like this, you can barely here the PC and it’s not as disturbingly load as a regular gaming PC. This case, where the hardware was built in, is a silent case and I also avoided the use of unnessecary fans the gain a low noise level and I’m pretty happy with the final result. I can’t deny that there’s still some room for tweaking the system to gain a little less noise, but it’s fine the way it is.

Anyhow, the media centre is a well balanced and efficient gaming PC as well and I use this PC very often for some relaxed gaming sessions. I used to play a lot of games that are played console style (with a gamepad) on the media centre PC and left the FPS and RPG to my main game system. It’s way more fun to play a soccer or a basketball game on the couch watching the stuff on a giant TV instead of seeing this on a small 24inch PC monitor. It also fulfills some social aspects because I personally play much more games with friends visiting me as I’ve done before by just having the “normal, regular” gaming PC. Another important point for me is, I don’t have to waste money on an expensive console, even though I would like to have a PS3.

As a final conclusion can I say, that the media centre was a good investment. Ordinary TV becomes less and less important for me and like I said, I’m near the point cancelling my cable provider subscription. I gain more information in a much smaller space of time and most importantly information that I actually need instead of getting tons and tons of crap information, e.g. celebrity stuff. Some of my “gaming habits” have changed too because I’m more willing to play “casual games” like sports games and games regularly played with a gamepad. Yap, I like the media centre, everyone should have one.

Decisive day

Today’s like one of these days where everything gets decided and it’ll show me the way. If it’s going to happen today, it’ll never happen. I speak of gym, like I mentioned in a post before, the Straight edge project is complete desaster until now. I actually do not care about the sports rules except the ones that got something to do with hand-eye coordination. It is set for this very afternoon to finally make it to the gym and get back into the vicious circle of fitness. To be honest, I gained a few more pounds and my love handle has grown seriously. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I feel the lust for sports again and I don’t think, that I’m getting as lazy as I’ve been the last couple of weeks again. It’s curious to see how much these deary, pale winter days affect your mood and how tough it is to break out of it. Like I said, today’s the day, if it’s not going to happen today, Straight edge 3.0 will be cancelled.

Game of the week #5/2011 – Borderlands

Actually, this week’s game of the week is not as “indy-ish” as the games before and one could say that this is mainstream. Well, it may be mainstream and it was very succesful in 2009 and 2010, but I still know a lot of people saying, “Yes, I heard of this game before, is it truely that good?” and I can answer “Yes it is, try it, you’ll love it”. I’m talking about “Borderlands” by Gearbox Software that delivered a great piece of software and a brilliant mixture of first-person shooter, RPG and brawler. The story of the game is simple too, but nevertheless  really entertaining. You play one out of four characters that land on the planet Pandora to unveil the secret of the “Vault” that grants wealth, fame and honour to its owner. These four character have different abilities and skills, like “sniper”, “rogue”, “soldier” and melee fighter, so you can play this basicly in a FPS style that suits you the most. I personally decided to play the hunter which is the previously mentioned “sniper”, he can also control a pet that can attack enemies. The pet control is pretty basic and only available for the hunter, all three other classes have different special skills like a phase walk, gaining more bullets for you and your team, just to mention a few.

Team? Yes, and here’s the thing, you can play “Borderlands” completely in a single player mode, but you can also switch to cooperative online play at any time. The coop is a lot of fun, even though it lacks a few features like an interface for simply sharing loot or a roll mask to decide who’s going to get the loot. When it comes to booties of the prey, “Borderlands” has got a lot to. The developers can’t to mention it as often as they can, that they have included a “bazillion” of guns and tons of other goodies, like shields, grenade kits, class mods, to improve your character. This is also a positive catch of the game, you can’t stop playing, because you always want to get new guns and new guns and new guns and new guns. And of course new guns. Urm, and you also want to reach the next level to spend a skill point in your skill tree.

The AI in “Borderlands” is not the smartest one, but does its job and that is what counts, I mean, this is not a high intelligent tactical shooter, this is a fun shooter with a couple of RPG elements and a nice taste of humour. The characters in the game are developed very well and the bosses you meet in your encounters are challenging and not this standard meal you have to choke on in every other game. It’s also not a game with lots of moments of frustration, when you die in the game you can revive by simply killing an enemy in your phase of dying, which is about 15 seconds, and if you die anyway, you revive at a spawn point next to the fight not too far away. I enjoy “Borderlands” for more than a year now, I also bought the GOTY edition of the game, that includes all four DLCs. The DLCs are worth every penny, except “Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot”, which feels a little like a hoax compared to the rest of the game. So if you like FPS, a little of amount of RPG and have some friends to join you in coop, then “Borderlands” is the game of your choice and why it’s my “Game of the week”.

Links:

Official website

Wikipedia

Straight epic fail

It turns out these days that I’m real lazy guy. I mean, reeeaaal lazy. As you may know, I was announcing “Straight edge 3.0” a couple of weeks ago and had so many great plans and goals in mind, and now apparently NOTHING is happening. The biggest bummer is, that I don’t really feel the need for a project like this. On the other side, this is not a 100% correct. I do feel like a fat cow these days and it’s much more than just obvious that I completely lost shape. I’ve got around 104kg of weight, which is 12kg higher than my lowest weight in the very first straight edge project. It’s a kind of distracting to have these rules once again and till now does it take a lot of overcoming to get to the gym. The will to get to gym actually overcame me not at all till now, but the positive thing, I feel like I have to, I also feel the lust to finally do some fitness and sports but as mentioned before, I’m a kind of shy or afraid to finally go there. Not sure where this fear actually comes from, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to disappear as soon as I’ve been to gym for the first time again. When it comes to nutrition, I also fail, but not as badly as I did a couple of days ago. I was near cancelling Straight edge 3.0, but I guess, I leave it in this kind of a waiting position before throwing everything finally away.

For those of you, who were missing the “Game of the week #5/2011” I can only say, there wasn’t actually a game that totally deserved this title. I played a lot of StarCraft II and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and I haven’t really found the time to get into something more indepently. “Magicka” still looks promising for a title like this, but I would like to wait until the major bug fixing period is over and the game is getting playable without distracting bugs. I’ve got some feedback from other “Magicka” player telling me, that their game runs perfectly fine, maybe, I can’t share this point of view and will wait until I can tell the same. I’ll hopefully be able to announce and shortly review the new “Game of the week” at least on Friday.

20 years of id Software

Today’s the day where we gamer’s have to bow down and pay some respect to one of the best software studios that we’ve got the last two decades, it’s “id Software”. Today’s the day where “id Software” celebrates its 20th birthday. When it comes to push gaming technology to a bleeding edge limit “id Software” always had the leading role. The game engines John Carmack created and developed are absolute masterpieces and it does not matter if we talk about “Commander Keen”, “Doom” or “Quake”. They set the marks everybody else has to compete with. They have never been great story tellers in games, but what they did and still do, they take the gameplay to a level where everybody can handle it with fun and without any unnecessary complexity. It’s truely like John Carmack said, “Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.” When you look back in time their games were more like tech-demos put in a tiny game shell. Especially “Quake III Arena” was one of these games, there’s no story, just a few maps, a couple of opponents and that’s it, and this concept survived for years. Now, twelve years later “Quake III Arena” is still alive in the online remake “Quake Live”. The id Tech 3 engine that was used for “Quake III Arena” is one of the most popular game engines so far, if not to say THE most popular. “American McGee’s Alice”, “Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.²”, “Return to Castle Wolfenstein”, “Medal of Honor:Allied Assault” and sequels, are just a few of the famous branches based on id Tech 3.

I personally had millions, no, billions, no, bazillion hours of fun with games by “id Software”, it started for me with “Commander Keen” way back in 1992 (it was actually released in 1991, but 1992 was the years where I switched from the C64 to a PC). Then I played “Wolfenstein 3D” and “Spear of Destiny”, which was actually forbidden for a young kid like me and after these games I had the first LAN experiences with “Doom”, mainly in 1on1 deathmatch. 1,000,000,000 frags later a “Quake” came and me and my friends heard of these crazy people doing the whole aiming with a mouse and we started playing FPS that style. Those people still stuck to cursor keys and pic up and down keys were just the victims of us. I actually skipped “Quake II” right on its release, for one simple reason, I wasn’t gaming (— SHOCK —). I finished “Quake II” sometime in 1999, but I never played the multiplayer, because as you might know, 1999 was the birth year of “Quake III Arena”. Q]|[A also lead to a new era of how to handle your game. Lots of people started to tweak their game to gain highest rate of frames per second, they started overclocking their PCs, modded their PCs, tweaked their internet connection to get the best ping and more and more people played in clans, esports was going to become drastically bigger and more and more important to the whole gaming industry. There sure were tendencies in this direction in the nineties, but it was nothing of importance and just a sideshow.

As you can see, “id Software” not just only influenced the coding and the designing style of games, they also created a new kind of community and a brand new way of how to compete with each other, in another kind of sport, the electronic sport. There’s a reason why the most popular gamer’s communication net on IRC is called the “QuakeNet”. Although they lost I little of their undisputed leading role, with competitors like “Crytek” and “Epic Games”, “id Software” still sets the standards and every new product is a blast and I am very sure that this company, as long as whizz-kid Carmack develops, will be able to survive another 20 years, and I’ll be an grey haired old man and look back on a great chapter in gaming evolution.

QuakeLive IEM European Championship final

I’ve found this footage of the Intel Extreme Masters European Championship final in QuakeLive and especially the first match is, in my personal opinion, one of the best Quake matches that I’ve seen since the era fatal1ty. These three matches also show, that the Quake gameplay, or the way Quake is played today has improved and tends to a much more tactical way. It’s not only the pure fragging game that it was in the late nineties, it’s also a game that needs a strategic mind too.

The laziness of being edge

It’s been three days now in the new Straight edge project and not much has changed in particular. Right now I’m just find to get away from the gluttony that was possessing me over the last few weeks. I also changed my daily schedule a little bit, I started to get up much earlier in morning with the simple goal to recently have more of the day. Actually I am very tired these days, but I guess it’s a circumstance only for the time being and I guess I’m done with this by the beginning of the week. When it comes to sports I have to announce that I haven’t made it to the gym yet and I’m not sure if I can make to the gym this week. It’s not because I don’t have the time for that, it’s simply that I don’t have the lust for gym. I don’t want to fall into a strict day schedule where I have to do things I actually don’t want to do. My weight has increased drastically since my last vacation and I honestly don’t feel like I can go into public with all that fat on my hips. I should lose some weight by simply changing nutrition and then go to gym. Otherwise do I feel that urgent need to go swimming, while underwater no one can realise how fat I truely am.