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 Copyright Eric Pietrocupo


E-Mail: ericp[AT]lariennalibrary.com


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News: Reinforcement has arrived! (New Computer)

Page: News.News201308181009AM - Last Modified : Sun, 18 Aug 13 - 558 Visits

And there was much rejoicing, Yeaaay!

I finally have, almost, finished installing my new computer which should allow me to start designing and programming again. I am starting my vacation, so I am not going to work on anything for the next 2 weeks. I rarely talk about my personal life, but here it's somewhat related to my work since a computer is what I use to design those games.

I always say that it takes at least 1 months to install a computer for me. Most people don't understand why and my girlfriend only said I was a freak. But it went worst, I had problems with the hard drive and UPS, which delayed the installation and since me and my girlfriend needed to download 2 different version of windows 7, it eat up most of out bandwidth forcing me to delay the installation process.

I decided to take some picture of my computer and my "Office" which is an Ikea Secretary. This is why I decided to buy a laptop again. Anyways, I always find that desktop computers are too big, makes too much noise and too much heat.

A picture of Sylph and Sypha.
A picture of my desk with the computers, writting pad and game project files.

So to the left, we have Sylph (a fairy) which was the computer I was using before buying the new one. You might be impressed that I have been working with this netbook all this time. while the computer to the right is Sypha (a Castlevania 3 character) which is the computer I just acquired. I can already see you asking for specs, so here they are

Sylph (HP mini 110-1030CA)

CPU1.60GHz Intel Atom Processor N270, Dual Core
Memory1 Gb DDR2
Hard Drive120 Gb
Graphic CardIntel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Screen Size10.1 (1024x576)

Sypha (HP G6-2240ca)

CPUAMD A6-4400M APU, 2.7 Ghz, Dual Core
Memory6 Gb DDR3
Hard Drive500 Gb
Graphic CardAMD Radeon HD 7520G
Screen Size15.6 inch (1366x768)

Besides more ram and CPU speed, the important differences are bigger screen, which is now much more important when doing graphic design. I can run 64 bits OS, still I don't think it makes much a difference for now. I have a good video card, allowing me to play steam video games. So more opportunity to waste time. the keyboard is also bigger and I now have a num pad, but I liked compact keyboard because I did not have to move my hands around the keyboard to type (my hands are not that big). I still like Sylph, but for doing graphics Sypha Should be much more convenient.

So what will happen with Sylph, well my girlfriend needs it, but I am going to reinstall it with another distribution of linux (probably debian) to explore various distribution. But that will probably be done after Christmas, because installing to many computer in a row can drive me mad. Fortunately, my girlfriend install her computer herself which saved me a lot of trouble. But now my dad wants a computer so I'll need to install this computer too, but I think It will be a pretty basic installation.

How to install a computer ... my style

So you might be wondering why it takes me so much time to install a computer? The answer could be summarized as: Dual Operating System and Configuration Freak. The computer came with windows 8 ... yes I can already see the grin on your face. It's good if I want my grand mother to place her camera picture on f..king face book, but I hardly see how it could be used in a work environment. So I explored the OS with my girlfriend and we laugh a lot when they said that it was useless to close apps. I got my replacement HD and now it was the time to install from scratch, and there was reason that would let me install an atrocity called windows 8 when I consider that DOS has a better interface.

Once every 10 or 20 years, computer changes generation, this is why we now have 64 bits computer. But they also changed the way partitioning and booting is done with the GUID, UEFI and the controversial Secure Boot. So a lot of the installation time as actually searching for information to set my knowledge up to date. But I decided to install my computer with the great old Master Boot record to avoid any complication. So I installed windows 7 64 bit and used the windows 8 drivers which in the end, the usb 3 port does not work, and the Ethernet card does not work either. But wireless seems to be faster.

Now one of the thing that consume time is configuration. IN windows, there is no way to save your configuration. In linux, the config text files could be saved, but since some things changes to much, you should rather copy paste configuration entries. Just to give you an idea of ho much configuration I need to do, just for the "Control Panel" I need to set up more than 80 parameters. It took me at last a day to pass through the control panel. To make the process easier, I log all the options I change during startup so that I know the options to look for when reinstalling a new computer. Here is a same of my installation log only for the control panel, it exclude the app configuration, the services to disable and some other tweak like dual start menu blocking.


=== Control Panel ===
> Action Center
 - Set updates to "Check with you before downloading and installing"
 - Change Action Center Setting
   . Uncheck all check boxes
 - Change User Account Control Setting
   . Set to Never Notify
> Autoplay: Deactivate autoplaying (Uncheck "use autoplay for all devices")
 - Sometimes it forget, can set all device to "Take no action"
> Desktop Gadget: Add Weather Gadget
> Display: Set to medium 125% size
 - Adjust Resolution: 1366 x 768
 - Custom DPI Settings: 105% (Meassure with a ruler)(this is optional, it changes global display size)
> Flash Player
 - Storage: Ask me before allowing new site to save information
> Folder options
 - General
   . Navigation Pane
     - Check Show all folder
     - Check Automatically expand to current folder
 - View : Advanced Setting
   . add "always show menu"
   . add "Display Full path in the title bar"
   . add "Show hidden files and folders"
   . remove "hide empty drive in the computer folder"
   . remove "hide extension for known file types"
   . remove "hide protected operating system files"
 - Searches: What to search: option 1: Indexed= name and content, non-indexed= name only  
 - Open a folder explorer, set in list mode and click apply to all folders in the view pane.  
> HP cool sense: Turn on if does not affect too much Hard Drive clicking.
> Indexing Option: Select all C drive for indexing (will have do disable indexing sercives. So index building will be manual)
> Internet option
 - General: Start up page : Blank
 - Programs: Uncheck "Tell me if explorer is not the default browser"
 - Security: click custom level
   . set "Launching application and unsafe file" to Enable
> Keyboard : Set repeat delay : fast
> Mouse Properties
 - Buttons : 
  . Invert mouse buttons on external mouse
 - Pointers : Standard large pointer scheme OR aero large
 - Pointer options
   . Accelerate pointer speed
   . Enable show pointer when press CTRL.
   . Disable "hide pointer while typing"
 - Wheel
   . Vertical scrolling: 5 lines at a time.
> Network and Sharing
 - Setup the wireless device to connect on Wireless router
 - Change advanced Sharing setting: Turn off all sharing options in Home/Work group 
> Notification Area Icons
 - check: Always show all icons in the notification bar
 - Turn system icons on and off: remove action center
> Performance options and tools
 - Adjust Visual Effects: Variable to computer performance
   . Visual Effects
     - Disable "Enable Transparent Glass"
   . Advanced
     - Virtual Memory to disable.
> Personalization
 - Windows color
   . Enable transparency : no
   . color Intensity : 100% (Alpha Level)
   . Color palette: Drop Brightness
 - Desktop Background : Build a a library of background (Check Wallpaper backup)  
 - Sounds: Use the no Sound scheme
   . Unckeck "Play sound on windows startup"
 - Screen Saver 
   . Select screen saver (ribbons)
   . Wait for 3 minutes
 - Change desktop icons : Disable all icons ( normally recycle bin )
> Power Options : Change current plan or Make a custom plan setting
 - Change Plan Settings -> Change advanced Plan Settings
   . Sleep: 
     - Hybernate after: Set all time to 0
     - Allow Hybrid Sleep: Turn off
	 ( can also use command line "powercfg /hibernate off" )
> Programm and Features
 - Turn windows features on and off (windows programs)
   . remove tablet PC optional components
   . remove windows DFS replication services
   . remove Windows meeting space
   . remove XPS services
   . remove Windows Search (optional for indexing)
   . remove Print and Document Services (See if affect PDF printing)
   . remove Remote Differential Compression ( if do not sync data between computers)
   . remove Media Feature
   . remove Internet Explorer 8
   . add Games (except internet games and Purble Place)
> Regional and language options
 - Formats : set to "Canada (English)"
 - location : set to "Canada"
 - Keyboard and Languages : add "Canada Multilingual standard" for english and french
> Synaptics Touchpad
 - Tapping: Deactivate
> System
 - Advance system settings -> Performance : settings
   . Set virtual memory size to twice the RAM on OS partition or to 0
 - Remote Settings
   . remove "Allow remove assistance connections to this computer"
> Task Bar and menu
 - Taskbar:
   . Task bar Buttons: Set to "Combine When task bar is full"
   . Check use small icons
 - Startmenu:
   . Disable the 2 privacy options
   . Customize button
     - Uncheck "Connnect To" (don't know the purpose)
	 - Set Control Panel "Display as a menu"
	 - Uncheck "Default Programms"
	 - Uncheck "Device and Printers"
	 - Set documents to "Do not display"
	 - Set downloads to "Do Not Display"
	 - uncheck "Help"
	 - Uncheck "Highlight New installed Programms"
	 - Set Music as "Don't display this item"
	 - Set Personal Folder as "Don't display this item"
	 - Set Pictures as "Don't display this item"
	 - add "Run Command"
	 - set Search other files and libraries to "do not search"
	 - Uncheck Search programms and control panel
	 - Set "Administrative tool" to "Display in all programm and start menu"

But once windows is installed, it's not over, I need to install Linux. Now the way I installed my new computer is that windows is used for Gaming and browsing the web while Linux is used for working. I tried to use linux more with Sylph but windows remained available to use. Now, I pushed it even forward because the data is no on an ext3 linux partition which makes it invisible to windows, so even if I wanted I can use a windows program on my personal data.

Fortunately, I started synchronizing data between computers and external HD before I got my computer, so the data was ready to transfer. as for linux, I wanted to install kubuntu, but I changed my mind at the lat minute for ubuntu. Still I am not sure if it was a good idea. I installed gnome 3 and added the "application menu" extension to have a start menu because I hate searching for apps all the time ... that goes for you too windows 8.

I still had more problems with linux than I had with while installing Sylph. First, the software manager crashed all the time. So I needed to check what did not install and install it again. I had many technical problems like the computer does not wake up or the mouse randomly freeze which asked me to search on net to find a solution, requiring additional time. Finally, the "A la carte" to manage start menu was not working correctly, neither their replacement software, so I have to manage start menu by hand by manually editing the text files. So it seems that linux gave me more configuration work than expected.

How does it works!

The computer works relatively well, I did not make intensive test and did not try all the apps, but I am confident with it. I tried for fun using inscape filters and see if they slow down the computer and it did not. Which mean some time could be saved when graphic editing since they won't be any slowdown to display stuff, load app or apply certain filter operations. They are small speed up that in then end might worth it. Scribus was very slow on Sylph so I expect it to run faster on Sypha. One thing is that those application does not take advantage of the graphic card functionality, so even if you have a super powerful graphic card for video games, regular software does not take advantage of it. You have to reply simply on your processor and I think this is why they are trying to optimize regular processor for doing specialized tasks.

As for programming, it could reduce compilation time. It not much time wasted, but a 30 sec here and a 15 second there could easily make me save dozens of minute. I failed to compile allegro 4.4 on my computer, I might resign to use 4.2 instead. I'll try to compile wizardry on both computer and both OS to get 32/64 bits version and ubuntu/debian versions. I'll see if I can cross compile, else I'll try to supply the source code with make files to allow linux user to compile it since it's much harder to distribute binaries on linux. Hopefull, I am going to switch to java which will avoid all those problems.

So what to expect in the next 6 months:

  • Fallen Kingdoms second revision that will be released ... for FREE as print and play.
  • Another Wizardry Programming session. Not sure if 0.4 will be released, but hope to finish the editor and basic maze event to make the game finish-able.
  • I printed cards for Ratcraft so I should make a playtest, but I just lack of motivation.
  • For my Pacific wargame I am starting to get new ideas from the endless space video game that I have started to play. So new developments could be brought to this game.
  • If I could design some cards for my designable Card Game, I could start playtesting the rules. But the biggest part is to design the cards.
  • Finally, I'll try to play test once my Compact Mystery game I developed on the fly since I have most of all components, but I don't want to put much time on it since it's not in the active project list.
  • Test some Java programming with libgdx. I don't want to invest much time, but I'll make some test programs to see how it works. I already have a video game idea if I ever decide to start the machine, but since I have no OUYA, cell phone or tablet, I rather not push too much.

Things Not to expect

  • Master of magic board game needs almost a complete remake ... again if I want to focus on magic. The system I made would work well for a civilization game, but I do not want to make such game yet.

Of course, many unexpected events will occur to change what has been "planned", so the list above is not absolute.

I hope you enjoyed this news blog even if it was pretty long. If everything goes well, come back in a month or two and fallen kingdoms 2nd revision should be ready.

Enjoy and have fun!


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