Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why free?

Why is Microsoft giving away Visual Basic Express and other Development languages in the Visual Studio Express Suite (that is, apart from any conspiracy theories).

There are a number of Editions of Visual Studio 2005, and the Express Edition is the most limited (it's really basic).

The other editions, according to this link are:

Visual Studio Standard Edition
Visual Studio Professional Edition
Visual Studio 2005 Team System

So, why the free Express edition? Simple, apart from trying to attract first time programmers and hobbyist programmers to Visual Studio .Net. There are still a large number of hobbyist programmers using Visual Basic 6. This is one way Microsoft is trying to entice them to get into .Net Development. They will of course need at least the Professional Edition to develop full blown applications, but the Express Edition is a free introduction.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Microsoft gives away Visual Basic!

Well, Visual Basic (.Net) 2005 Express that is.

It was announced some time ago that Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition would be free (MS's attempt way to counter MySQL, FireBird and all the other free database engines).
Now Microsoft is giving away the Express Editions of Visual Studio free for one year.

Of course there is a catch - these development tools will only run on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista (previously known as Longhorn).

The free Visual Studio Express products which are available are:

Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition
Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition
Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition
Visual J# 2005 Express Edition

Friday, November 25, 2005

Multimedia in my hand

No, I'm not talking about movies on ridiculously small cellphone screens or the Sony PSP and UMD format movies. Instead, I'm referring to the Tapwave Zodiac Palm with it's incredible 3.8-inch display (480-by-320 pixels and 65,536 colors).
I simply copied an AVI file (a recorded episode of a "Lois and Clark") to a directory on the SecureDigital Card and the freeware TCPMP (The Core Pocket Media Player) played it without a problem.
The test of course will be how long the Tapwave Zodiac can play on one battery charge.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Flavors

(or - two flavours, for non US English readers)

It was only today that I learned about the 2 different models of Xbox 360

Xbox 360 Full System including 20GB Hard drive etc (see GameSpot)

Xbox 360 Core System (stripped down, no extras) - also see GameSpot

Interestingly enough, the Sony PSP also comes in two flavours: with and without the Value Pack

Monday, November 21, 2005

Microsoft does a 360

Microsoft has done a 360 degree turn on its plan of domination with the XBox 360 according to this article in My Way News

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Didn't take you for a gamer

That's been the response from two different people after I mentioned that I had bought a Sony PSP. What does a gamer look like?

All I know is that despite the amoral story line, GTA LCS
(love these acronyms!) is one incredible game to play on the PSP. It's really challenging, and forces you to think ahead, you'll get "Wasted" if you don't.

So, I in my alter-ego as a gamer I browse around in PSP411, 1UP and GameFAQs.

Still, this guy is someone I'd really call a gamer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting around it

I managed to HotSync my Tapwave Zodiac 1 with a Windows XP VMWare Virtual Machine running on a Windows 2000 partition. Why would I want to do this? Because the Palm Desktop software which comes with the "Zod" is almost certain to clash with the Treo's Palm Desktop. There are other reasons as well, like keeping the same Palm user name for the Tapwave Zodiac so my registered software will run on both. I can only use one handheld device at a time (I'd use more if I could), so I'm not going to buy another set of the registered software I use. For other family members Palms its a different story - I buy another license.
By the way, Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 lacks USB support which effectively rules out doing things like this.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Goodbye, C Drive

I managed to mess up my second machine. Updating Debian Linux was taking ages, even though I have a fast Broadband connection. The Synaptic updater was not very friendly, and kept asking hard to understand questions. I got to thinking "Fedora Core 4 Linux's updater (called yum) is far more friendly."

Then, just to prove how unfriendly it is there was some warning message about updating LILO, but it said not to answer yes if there were other Operating Systems on the PC. There are a number of others, so I said No, which apparently wasn't the right answer. After the next reboot Debian Linux was no longer working...

Now I needed another Linux Distro, preferably one a bit more up to date than Debian Linux sarge - but not as "cutting edge" as Fedora Core 4 - because of hardware limitations on my older PC.
I looked at the highly rated SUSE Linux but the hardware requirements were to heavy. I also looked at Slackware Linux but a review said it needed configuration files to be hand edited.
Finally I downloaded Ubuntu Linux 5.10.

8:00 pm
I installed Ubuntu Linux 5.10 but initially it wanted to install the GRUB Boot Loader - which doesn't work with XOSL, which I use to boot between the multiple Operating Systems - Windows XP, and 3 separate instances of Windows 98 (don't ask why). Anyway, I fiddled around for a bit but couldn't get Ubuntu Linux to boot so eventually I left it for later..

Okay, to continue the saga. Now when I booted into my main Windows 98 partition it showed Drive D: as Drive E: and an unreadable FAT partition as Drive D: This unreadable FAT partition on Compaq Presario Desktop was possibly a bootable Linux partition - so deleted it with Partition Magic 8 from bootable floppy.

To be continued...

(Sorry, General, no cell phone stuff to blog about - you could have a look at Mikan Moblog or MobileBlog.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

General question

Today I got asked the general question: "What is that (Tapwave Zodiac) you were blogging about?"

I apologize for assuming my reader(s?) would know what I was referring to.

The Tapwave Zodiac is fairly unique, a Palm handheld computer crossed with a gaming console. There are two Zodiac models, the Zodiac 1 and Zodiac 2, and all that separates them are their storage capacities (32MB and 128MB, respectively) and their colour (grey and black). The Zodiac has a 3.8in, 480 x 320 16-bit color transflective LCD. The screen is surrounded by an anodized aluminum shell that gives the Zodiac a solid, robust feel. On either side of the screen are stereo speakers and the controls: a console-style analog joystick, and on/off and Home buttons on the left-hand side, and a circular cluster of four game buttons on the other.

The above is adapted from a review in the Register

According to this PC Magazine review from June 2004 "The Zodiac 1 is not a perfect fit for the traditional business PDA user. But for anyone else who wants to play games and stay organized, the Zodiac is an entertaining device worth checking out".

Unfortunately Tapwave, the company which made the Zodiacs, is no longer around. There is still a rather active support community, Games - mostly freeware or Open Source - are still being made available for the Zodiac, and the Zodiac 2 version with accessories regularly sells for over 300 US dollars on eBay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


A few months back I thought I was quite happy using the Mozilla Suite instead of Firefox.
Now I've realized that somehow I've switched to mainly using Firefox. It must have been when I reached the stage of customizing Firefox with just the right set of Extensions. One of the other factors was when the security updates were coming thick and fast. Firefox would advise me of an update whereas the Mozilla Suite wouldn't. Also keeping both browsers up to date on four machines, with two of them having more than one flavor of Windows was just getting too much.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Yet another handheld!

Yes, another Palm handheld. This was a deal I just could not pass up on eBay. I'd always wanted a Tapwave Zodiac. Instead of the more expensive Tapwave Zodiac 2 I got the Tapwave Zodiac 1. The only difference is the color and that the Zodiac 2 has more RAM, almost 100MB more.
The Tapwave Zodiac 1 handheld - it calls itself a "console" - has a different default launcher from standard Palm launcher. Its slightly easier to understand than Sony's Jogdial driven one on the Sony NX60, but you don't have the option of switching to the default Palm launcher. As well as being a Palm computer the Zodiac has a dedicated graphics card and features gaming console type controls.
If I hadn't played Ridge Racer on the Sony PSP before playing Stunt Car Extreme on the Tapwave Zodiac I might have been more impressed. Then again this game comes free with the Tapwave Zodiac.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Handheld of a different sort

Okay, so now I got me a Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable).
The morning after I got it I went through buyers remorse. Since I bought it on eBay I couldn't return it. What the heck am I doing with this gaming device (the value pack didn't come with any games, just demos)? It can play music sure, but I got 2 other devices which do that too. As for movies - a movie is something I want to sit and enjoy watching with someone.
Anyway, I also got the "Ridge Racer" game - also on eBay and for an extremely good price, and it arrived today. After 5 minutes with that game I don't feel so bad. The gaming experience was incredible - graphics, sound, speed.
Even though I'm not really a gamer (the last PC game I bought and played was "Redneck Rampage" - I enjoyed it more than Duke Nukem 3D), and I don't fit into the target demographic for the Sony PSP, I'm hooked.
So what if it can't sync with my contacts or appointments..