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Hack Allows Defiant Windows XP Users to Receive Updates Until 2019

Hack Allows Defiant Windows XP Users to Receive Updates Until 2019

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in News, Software | 0 comments

If you’re still on Windows XP (gasp) and are fretting over Microsoft’s discontinued support of XP, there is now a way for XP users to receive official MS security updates. All it involves is modifying the registry to make your system appear as a Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 system, which runs off the same OS kernel as Windows XP. As Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 has official support from Microsoft until April 9, 2019, Windows XP users can unofficially get security updates for another five years!

To make this registry change, you can create a .reg file with the following contents below and execute it.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA\PosReady] “Installed”=dword:00000001


Once done, the Microsoft Update website will be fooled into believing that your XP system is a POSReady system, making the latest updates available.

Thanks to ZDNet for reporting this. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft has issued a statement about the “hack” in that it is completely unsupported and that users are better off upgrading to Windows 8.1 instead. No word on if Microsoft will do anything to counter this hack, but for the time-being, XP users can gain access to the latest security updates for Windows Embedded.

SOURCE: ZDNet – Registry hack enables continued updates for Windows XP Read More

Cid’s Aerial Tours Updated to 1.02

Cid’s Aerial Tours Updated to 1.02

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Gaming, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

The latest update (1.02) for Cid’s Aerial Tours has been published onto Google Play! CAT now has  Japanese and Korean language support; Cid is multi-lingual! The worlds of Final Fantasy IV can now be viewed with Japanese and Korean location labels.

Here is the full list of changes in 1.02.

– Added missing Overworld map locations.
– Added Japanese and Korean language support. Cid is now multi-lingual!
– Main screen background now alternates between a sky and underworld background.

The latest update to Cid’s Aerial Tours can be found on the Google Play Store:

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Dragon Geo: 1.02 Update Released!

Dragon Geo: 1.02 Update Released!

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Gaming, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

I just posted an update (1.02) for DRAGON GEO on the Google Play Store! There are some rather large changes with this version, as it features many new maps, including the Dragon Warrior VII map that King Zenith from Dragon’s Den recently made. Here are the changes with the new version:

* Fixed a few audio-related crash bugs.
* Fixed a memory issue for LOW RESOLUTION mode.
* Added several new maps for Dragon Warrior III:
– Cave of Enticement
– Romaly Castle
– Noaniels
– Cave West of Noaniels
– Eginbear Castle
– Portoga
– Isis
– Isis Castle
– Cave of Jipang
– Port Town
– Haukness
– Shrine of Holy
– Shrine of the Poison Swamp.

* Added Gwaelin’s Cave for Dragon Warrior II.
* Added the Dragon Warrior VII PS1 map by King Zenith.

Many thanks goes out again to King Zenith and x_loto! DRAGON GEO can be found here:

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Announcing GO THERE NOW for Android!

Announcing GO THERE NOW for Android!

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

And now for something a little different. Today, I’m launching a simple Android called GO THERE NOW, which can create customized homescreen shortcuts that launches Google Maps in Navigation Mode immediately.

With GTN, navigation mode can be launched immediately and customized navigation shortcuts can be created.

With GTN, navigation mode can be launched immediately and customized navigation shortcuts can be created.



Ever since the introduction of the new UI found in Google Maps, there have been many complaints about the overall UX, in that the new Google Maps takes far too long just to launch Navigation Mode. The new Google Maps takes a minimum of three steps just to get Navigation Mode, but GO THERE NOW simplifies the process, by making it one step instead. GO THERE NOW supports several languages, including: English, Chinese (Traditional & Simplified), French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Vietnamese.

Many thanks goes to Joey for the app idea! Feel free to check out  GO THERE NOW in the Google Play app store and let me know your thoughts and especially if you run into any bugs!



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Launch of CAT: Cid’s Aerial Tours

Launch of CAT: Cid’s Aerial Tours

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Gaming, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

Today marks the launch of CAT, also known as Cid’s Aerial Tours!

CAT is an interactive map guide app for the Google Android platform, akin to Google Maps but for viewing world maps from Squaresoft’s classic 16-BIT RPG, Final Fantasy IV (aka Final Fantasy II for the U.S.).  Like Dragon Geo, users can zoom in and out on the map using buttons and pinch/tap gestures. Users can view the three world maps (overworld, underworld, and the moon) from Final Fantasy IV. Unlike Dragon Geo, CAT is a much smaller app and will focus solely on world maps, rather than castle/town/dungeon maps.

CAT is the second Google Android app that I have launched onto the Google Android Store.

Many thanks goes out to my friends who helped beta test CAT, as well as these sites that provided the sprites, maps, and music/sound effects for Final Fantasy IV:

BETA TESTERS:
* Steve Chou
* Joey Dorpat
* Ashwin Kamath
* King Zenith
* James Spencer
* Dan Smoliak
* Jesse Thomas

RESOURCES:
* Videogamesprites.com
* Ian-Albert.com
* Zophar’s Domain


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Cid’s Aerial Tours is available for free on the Google Play Store. If you have an Android device, be sure to check it out! Read More

Android Studio: Disabling AAPT PNG Optimization with Gradle

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Software | 0 comments

For those that are developing Android apps and are using a lot of pre-optimized PNG images, you want to update to the latest Android SDK Build Tools 19.0.3:
 
0.9.2
  • Aapt-based PNG processor is now default again while we investigate some issues with the old one.
  • flavorGroups have been renamed flavorDimensions and the DSL has been updated. The old DSL is still available until 1.0 at which time it’ll be removed.
0.9.1
  • It’s now possible to include a file when there’s a conflict during packaging:
      android.packagingOptions {
          pickFirst ‘META-INF/foo.txt’
      }

  • New PNG processor.
  • Should be much faster when processing many files
  • Fix issue where crunched png are bigger than original file
  • To revert to the old cruncher: android.aaptOptions.useAaptPngCruncher = true
    WARNING: We’ve seen reports of the new processor generating PNGs that make the app crash on GB
  • The plugin now enforces that all library dependencies have a unique package name.
  • To disable this you can use android.enforceUniquePackageName = false
  • WARNING: The ability to disable enforcement will disappear in 1.0
  • Fixes:
  • Generated POM files now have the proper dependencies even if the pom object is manipulated in build.gradle
  • libraryVariant API now gives access to the list of flavors.
  • fixed issue where changes to the manifests of libraries didn’t trigger a new manifest merge.
  • BuildConfig.VERSION_NAME is always generated even if the value is not set in the current variant.
  • BuildConfig is now packaged in libraries. This requires that all your libraries have a unique package name.
  • If you are disabling enforcement of package name, then you should disable packaging of BuildConfig with: android.packageBuildConfig = false
  • WARNING: the ability to disable packaging will disappear in 1.0

For those that are unfamilar with aapt, it is the SDK compile tool responsible for packing your app into an APK package. As part of the packing process, aapt also performs file optimization on certain media files, such as PNG files. It uses a built-in PNGcrush to reduce PNG file sizes as part of the process.  Normally, this is a good step to perform prior to building the APK. However, when you have already optimized your PNG files with tools like TinyPNG and offer greater savings than PNGcrush, this step is completely unnecessary. Also, it greatly adds to the compile time for building your Android application.

While developing Dragon Geo, I was always suspicious on why my APK was much larger than it should be, given my already optimized PNG files. However, it now makes sense with the latest update notes on the Android SDK Build Tools, as it seems that for the longest time, the PNG processor in the aapt was not checking whether the ‘crushed’ PNG files were actually smaller than the original PNG files it was crushing! Google finally mitigated this issue by fixing aapt in 0.9.1. Along with this long-awaited fix, Google has now made it possible for Android Studio/Gradle users to use the new PNG processor in aapt with the following change in the build.gradle configuration file:
android {
    ..

    aaptOptions.useAaptPngCruncher = false
}

Although the new PNG processor is disabled in 0.9.2, it is still possible to use the new PNG processor in aapt with this command. I recently tested this Gradle configuration for the Dragon Geo app to see the difference in APK size from the older builds. In the case for Dragon Geo, the size reduction was dramatic; the APK size was roughly 4.8 MB smaller! Although a few Android developers have reported issues with the new PNG processor in aapt, I have found no bugs in Dragon Geo with this new build configuration. Read More

Microsoft Offering $100 to Switch from Windows XP

Microsoft Offering $100 to Switch from Windows XP

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in News, Software | 0 comments

If you’re still using Windows XP, you may want to take notice, as Microsoft is offering $100 USD to switch. The only catch? The $100 credit must be used to purchase a new Windows 8.1 PC/laptop.

The only catch is that you have to upgrade to a new Windows 8 computer.

Those who are eligible for the promotion can redeem the credit at Microsoft’s online store or their retail shops — and the fact that you still use the 13-year old Windows XP is subject to verification by Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500). The offer is good for PCs ranging in price from $599 and $2,299 and will run until June 15.

The promotion is part of Microsoft’s plan to get the last remaining Windows XP users off the operating system before the April 8 end of life date. After April 8, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates to address viruses and exploits to the operating system.

Given that Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, it is highly recommended to either upgrade to a newer version of Windows, or switch to a more modern operating system. Otherwise, you risk being exposed to a multitude of security vulnerabilities.

Source: CNN Money – Microsoft will give you $100 to buy a new PC Read More

Game Developers Conference 2014 (GDC 2014) – Wrap Up

Game Developers Conference 2014 (GDC 2014) – Wrap Up

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Gaming, General, Hardware, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

GDC '14 - Bustling with activity at the Career Center.

GDC ’14 – Bustling with activity at the Career Center.


This past week, I had a chance to attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a huge annual conference for game producers & developers. As this was my first GDC, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet professionals in the gaming industry, attend seminars on game development, as well as seeing the latest games and technology on display. 

GDC '14 - GDC attendees getting an opportunity to try out Oculus Rift.

GDC ’14 – GDC attendees getting an opportunity to try out Oculus Rift.

GDC ' 14 - Unity promoting the Unity gaming engine to game developers.

GDC ‘ 14 – Unity promoting the Unity gaming engine to game developers.


While the first two days of GDC came and gone with little fanfare, things became a bit more interesting when the Career Center and the Expo Floor opened up on Wednesday. Companies like Oculus and Unity were in full force on the floor. Oculus, riding on the growing interest into virtual reality technology, were demonstrating the full capabilities of what the Oculus Rift VR headset had to offer for the next generation of games. As for Unity, they were heavily touting it’s capabilities as a versatile gaming engine that supports most (if not all) current gaming platforms, as well as high-profile games that were developed with Unity.

GDC '14 - The Sony PlayStation exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – The Sony PlayStation exhibit at GDC.

GDC '14 - Valve's exhibit at the GDC.

GDC ’14 – Valve’s exhibit at the GDC.

GDC '14 - Valve's SteamBox, a PC running SteamOS.

GDC ’14 – Valve’s SteamBox, a PC running SteamOS.

GDC '14 - The controversial SteamOS controller.

GDC ’14 – The controversial SteamOS controller.


Some of the biggest announcements at GDC included Sony’s Project Morpheus, a VR headset similar to the Oculus’ Rift headset.  Another large announcement was Valve’s unveiling of the latest version of the SteamOS controller, considered to be controversial due to it’s unorthodox game controller layout. Along with the new controller, Valve was also demonstrating the SteamOS and the SteamBox PCs over at it’s booth.

GDC '14 - Intel at GDC, promoting it's Iris Pro GPU's abilities.

GDC ’14 – Intel at GDC, promoting it’s Iris Pro GPU’s abilities.


Hardware companies like Intel, AMD, and nVIDIA were also at GDC, demonstrating what their hardware can do for game developers. With Intel, they were promoting Iris Pro (Haswell’s integrated GPU) and it’s gaming performance. The message that they wanted to deliver was that the Iris Pro was capable of running the latest games (albeit at lower settings compared to nVIDIA & AMD’s GPU solutions).

GDC '14 - AMD demonstrating EyeInfinity with Battlefield 4.

GDC ’14 – AMD demonstrating EyeInfinity with Battlefield 4.

As for AMD, they were focused on promoting EyeInfinity, their triple monitor solution for gaming, as well as Mantle, an AMD API that allows developers greater access to AMD’s GPU capabilities on a lower level.

GDC '14 - nVIDIA's exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – nVIDIA’s exhibit at GDC.

GDC '14 - nVIDIA's GRID rack server on display.

GDC ’14 – nVIDIA’s GRID rack server on display.


Over at nVIDIA’s booth, they were promoting their latest Tegra 4 SOC solution, as well as nVIDIA GRID, a cloud game streaming service that nVIDIA is currently promoting.

GDC '14 - A GDC attendee playing Crypt of the Necrodancer with a DDR mat.

GDC ’14 – A GDC attendee playing Crypt of the Necrodancer with a DDR mat.

GDC '14 - Bit Bros., a 2D fighting game that plays similarly to Nintendo's Smash Bros. series.

GDC ’14 – Bit Bros., a 2D fighting game that plays similarly to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series.

de with the large game & hardware companies, part of the Expo Floor was dedicated to Independent Game Developers, where the latest and greatest indie games like “Papers, Please”, “Crypt of the Necrodancer”, “The Stanley Parable”, and many others were on display. GDC has always had a large focus on independent game developers, but this year, indie game developers were definitely in force, as many of the indie games on display were quite intuitive and most importantly, fun to play.

GDC '14 - The Videogame History Museum Exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – The Videogame History Museum Exhibit at GDC.


Outside of the Expo Floor, I encountered an interesting exhibit, the Videogames History Museum. It was an exhibit dedicated to the history of arcade and console gaming, with classic consoles like the NES, SNES, Atari, N64, Genesis, GameCube, Game Boy, Virtual Boy, etc. on display. There were several stations where gamers could reminisce and play these classic consoles; I was able to get a chance to play E.T.: Phone Home (a game that was largely responsible for the 1983 video game crash), as well as a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. Melee. The exhibit was definitely a trip down nostalgic road for me.

GDC '14 - Game Developer's Choice Awards

GDC ’14 – Game Developer’s Choice Awards


On Wednesday night, the Game Developer’s Choice Awards 2014 was held. It’s similar to the People’s Choice Awards, except that the winners here are games and their developers. A significant portion of the GDC Awards were dedicated to indie games, showcasing how far indie games have come in recent years. What I found surprising is that a large amount of the awards were given to the indie game “Papers, Please”, winning five awards for categories such as Best Narrative, Visual Art, etc. Another big winner was Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us”, a great game that rocked the gaming world last year.

With GDC ’14 concluded, I am still in awe over all the announcements, games/tech that were on display, and more importantly, the advice I received from game designers and professionals. As I have started the journey back into software development in the past year, I was initially overwhelmed, as I felt at times if I could ever get back to speed with what game companies are looking for in developers these days. However, I also gained insight and a better direction of where I should focus my software development skills on.

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Project Geo Unveiled! Introducing Dragon Geo

Project Geo Unveiled! Introducing Dragon Geo

Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Gaming, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

Project Geo, now unveiled as DRAGON GEO today, is an interactive map app akin to Google Maps, but displays maps from Square-Enix’s lesser known RPG series, Dragon Quest. Those of you that have been playing RPGs since the early days of the original NES will better recognize this series as Dragon Warrior. DRAGON GEO allows for viewing world, region, castle, town, dungeon, and shrine maps from Dragon Warrior / Quest I-VI. It also includes maps from the remake versions that later appeared on the Super Famicom, Game Boy Color, and Nintendo DS. As an added nostalgic touch, the entire interface uses the old Dragon Warrior command window style, complete with music and sound effects from the original Dragon Warrior / Quest games. If you’re a Dragon Warrior / Quest fan, you’re in for a big treat!

More about the origin of DRAGON GEO: Project Geo was originally used as a way for me to get familiar with Android development, roughly four months ago from today. During development, I’ve learned quite a bit about developing on the Android platform, such as programming gestures, loading and playing media files, displaying large images, UX design  handling memory optimization issues, and much more. Although I still have far to go in terms of Android development (and mobile development in general), I’m proud to have been able to put out a quality first app that I quite enjoyed working on in the available spare time I had. I’d like to thank the sites & people that have made these maps and sprites available online.  Without them, DRAGON GEO would not be possible:

  • D-Navi
  • Dragon’s Den
  • FlyingArmor
  • King Zenith
  • NES Maps
  • NES SNES Sprites
  • Realm of Darkness
  • RPG Legion
  • Sprite Database
  • x_loto
  • Zophar’s Domain

Also, many thanks goes out to my friends who have dedicated their time to beta testing out DRAGON GEO:

  • Ashwin Kamath
  • Steve Chou
  • Joey Dorpat
  • King Zenith
  • James Spencer
  • Dan Smoliak
  • Jesse Thomas

DRAGON GEO is now available for download on the Google Play Store. If you have an Android device, be sure to check it out! I’ll be making improvements to the app from time to time.
 
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