September 2009 - Gadget Victims


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Coding Horror: Adventures in Rechargeable Batteries

Triops: the living gadgets

9/25/2009 03:38:00 PM 2
I would have tried this earlier but simply didn't know about triops existence until recently and, to me, they look like the best invention since the mogway!

So first, a short description for the late discoverers like me: the triops are small prehistoric crustaceans whose eggs can dry and stays viable for many years. They hatch in temporary water pools formed by rain, generally under warm climates. Their short life (around 3 months) is spent at eating almost anything small enough for them (including their siblings), and laying eggs. When they die of old age or because the pool dried, the eggs are waiting there, ready for the next shower.

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Homebrew and DSi v1.4

9/09/2009 10:39:00 AM 0
Nintendo has to do something against piracy, and unfortunately, the collateral damage is that homebrew initiatives are impacted too.

Now don't get me wrong, I buy my games for DS, which is no big deal since there's hardly more than 10 titles worth owning (and DSiWare won't change that obviously).

While I don't feel the need to "chip" my Wii for the same reason above, it is convenient for a portable console like DS/DSi to have all the games and emulators in a single cartridge.
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Yet another firmware for Foscam fi8908w!

9/04/2009 02:19:00 PM 234

Following the feedback on the updated firmware released a month ago, I took the liberty to send a recap of the remarks and suggestions to Foscam.

As before, they replied almost instantly and once again with some great stuff!

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What freeware would you bring on a desert island ?

9/04/2009 11:44:00 AM 2 other words, what are the absolutely necessary applications that you should install first on a fresh OS, or better, merge in your installation "master" (using nlite, vlite, PE Builder, ...) ?

Here's my top-10 list:
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FSX, and now ?

9/02/2009 02:58:00 PM 0
There is one gaming area where computers still beats the dedicated game consoles hands down: Flight Simulators.

Times have been tough for Flight Simulator makers. The first noticeable disaster was the end of the excellent Flight Unlimited series from Looking Glass Studios in 2000, then, the best Air Combat simulator for jets (IL2 still rules for WWII fighters) that was Jane's USAF showed unusable under Windows 2000, XP and above.

With Microsoft closing the ACES studio, makers of FSX, and while there's still a big enough community of contributors to keep it going for some time, I could not help wondering if any decent modern alternative existed.
Well, there's still the multi-platform X-Plane (there's even an iPhone version!) whose development has proven very dynamic throughout the years.

But, what about freeware ?

Since developing Flight Simulators is so demanding in resources and heavy weight software companies don't have time for fun anymore, it's seems to be the end of such games...
Well, not entirely, in Armorica one village bravely resist the Romans, and with success...(*)
A well advanced project exist (started around 1996) in the SourceForge community called FlightGear.

This ambitious open-source flight simulator wants to offer features comparable to the big ones: realistic flight dynamics, wide choice of civilian and military aircrafts, IFR, GPS support, advance weather rendering (like fog and dynamically configurable 3D clouds), various viewpoints, ATC, world scenery, aircraft carrier landing, ...

And did I say it is multi-platform ?

So start downloading it here and have fun!

There is also something nice cooking here: The Combat Simulator Project

Not to forget: Orbiter (space flight simulator)

Next big flying thing for game consoles:

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Gmail offline backup tools

9/02/2009 11:32:00 AM 0

Server outages like this 1st of September are rare but always bring back some fears like "what if it doesn't come back online ?", "did I loose everything this time ?", "has a hacker managed to crack my inbox ?", and while "real men don't do backup", you kind of regret that you didn't.

There are other good reasons to consider an offline backup: in case you reach the generous online storage limit, but also to store your emails with private information (memberships, passwords, ...) away from a potentially hackable place.

While the Gmail offline feature can store your content locally, it is only ment to synchronize emails (that are less than 5 years old) so you can work offline until a connection is available. If you want to delete the older emails online, they get deleted offline too upon synchronization. So you have to look elsewhere for a backup solution.

A simple and yet powerful approach exists: MailStore Home edition.
This freeware will archive emails from about any source (Outlook, Thunderbird, ...), including POP3 and IMAP services and let you store the backup on CD/DVD or USB storage afterwards. The archive can be searched and emails viewed directly from the application (which is faster than using the original client).

Adding to the product power, and to your freedom, MailStore can also re-export your backup to any of the numerous supported formats! So if Gmail had to disappear or become a payware one day (remember Yahoo POP3?) you could still re-inject your part of all your data into Outlook, Exchange, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, or another POP3/IMAP server.

The new MailStore Home v.4, features a portable version and improvements detailed here.
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Free code editor and notepad replacement

9/01/2009 09:54:00 PM 0
If you are constantly dealing with different formats of text files (txt, jsp, html, log, ...), the simple notepad.exe needs to be replaced by something more powerful,with line numbering, syntax highlighting, large file support, ...

Here is another ultimate freeware that can compete easily with many commercial equivalents.

Notepad++ is an open source text editor with features found normally in €50 software.

One of the strengths of NP++ is simply its integration into the contextual menu: by right-clicking on any sort of file, the option "edit with Notepad ++" appears, which make the editor very accessible, even for files with unknown or no extension.

Languages: HTML, XML, PHP, C++, Flash, Perl,...
Macros: the macro recorder will automate repetitive actions, like fastidious manual line formatting.
TextFX: offers a wide range of powerful functions, from tidying up an HTML page (re-indenting XML for instance), to converting EBCDIC to ASCII, or just counting words.
Plugins: allows to interface with a spell checker, a FTP server, export to a different format, ...

Give it a try, you may not need any other text editor after that!

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