Transitioned

After a period of transition I finally decided to fully go with blog.tsukasa.eu and redirect requests from tsukasa.jidder.de to here.

That way links won’t be broken and I can finally utilize all the modern shennigans I’ve installed.

Future ahoy!

Edit 2013-06-15: The missing comments from the transition period are also on board now, me hearties!

The 80s called, they want their Hulk-Hogan muscle shirt back.

Bitcasa Everywhere Chrome modification for infinite queue

Addendum 2014-05-21: I received a mail from Bitcasa informing me that this modification polls Bitcasa’s services so much that it has undesired side effects. Contrary to what you might believe it was not a threat or any sort of lesson in legal issues but a simple request backed by very reasonable, technical arguments. If you are not familiar with how the modification worked, here is the short version: BCE Mod created a background timer that would poll Bitcasa’s endpoint every x seconds to update it’s internal status, log you in, trigger new downloads and so on. One person using this method is not a problem. Add an undefined number of people and the trouble starts. Every user with this mod increases the stress on Bitcasa’s web interface considerably due to the unending stream of requests. Now here is where my dilemma starts: I was out to improve the user-experience and show that it does not take much to do so, not to harm the service I want to prosper for years to come. Unfortunately though, that seems to be the case now, making the life of the good folks at Bitcasa harder – not cool. So please understand that I will not offer or work on this modification anymore. I do recommend that if you still use the modification, you should uninstall it immediatly because it will not work as intended anymore; all it will do at this point is lock you out of My Bitcasa for a few minutes due to the number of requests. If you are interested in…

  • An infinite queue for your Bitcasa Everywhere downloads
  • Automatic login to My Bitcasa
  • Tighter integration with 3rd party services
  • A more up-to-date Bitcasa client update check (possibly an official announcement for each new release via Twitter?)

…please vote for these features on the official feature request section! The more votes a feature gets, the better! If a feature is not feasonable you will receive official word on why it will not make the cut. Also consider voting for the addition of some kind of file-download extension to Bitcasa’s API, giving third-party developers more freedom to interact with Bitcasa without having to play the “middle man” for file caching. Again, sorry to everyone at Bitcasa for the inconvenience caused and sorry to everyone who came here expecting a turbocharger for their Bitcasa Everywhere!

Quick note: Bitcasa + prepaid credit-cards

I’m not a fan of credit-cards. Personally speaking, I think Paypal, despite all it’s flaws, is the slightly lesser evil.

Paypal gets the one thing right about payment online: Don’t allow charges without user authorization. That’s where credit-cards fall short, in my opinion.

Needless to say I was quite disheartened to learn Bitcasa only allows credit-cards as their method of payment (although the legal page hinted strongly towards that during beta). Luckily enough, services like Kalixa, Wirecard or Neteller seem to work fine with Bitcasa. While not a perfect solution, this does at least postpone the problem a year for me.

Once again, Wuala gets it right while others seem to fail miserably with the same tools at their disposal: Paypal recurring, Paypal subscription (usable without credit-card) and even Bitcoin are offered as payment options.

Bitcasa releases new client – to infinity… and beyond?

Remember Bitcasa? The guys who started last year with the daunting promise of infinite cloud storage for a fixed price of 10$/month? I tried the service back in February and wasn’t exactly thrilled, it felt more like a half-assed Dropbox clone with a truly dreadful software to manage your data. Another turn-off for me was that, at the time, it was available for Windows only, which is a no-go in this day and age.

Simply put: I did not care for the service in a long time until I got a rather interesting newsletter from Bitcasa a few days ago, highlighting their new range of clients.

Bitcasa now calls itself the “Infinite Drive”, a clever spin to highlight what their new client is all about. Instead of pestering me with a confusing GUI that makes no sense whatsoever I get what I have always wanted from the service: A Wuala-esque file-system integration via a virtual drive (on Windows).

Bitcasa Infinite DriveA client I can understand also means that I finally had a chance to actually use and test Bitcasa. Trying to upload Ubuntu resulted in me having to upload the entire ISO, so unfortunately there seems to be no Wuala-esque pre-upload check for file availability.

Bitcasa gets a big gold star for making the stupid sync/mirror thing the old client did by default an optional feature. This means files I upload will not automatically be downloaded on every connected machine (which, quite frankly, is the only sane thing!).

One gripe I have with this simple new client is that it does not offer to pause uploads. You can either use Bitcasa and it will block your upstream with it’s jobs or you quit Bitcasa and cannot use it.

Bitcasa announced that they will go into paid operation starting early 2013, I’m curious what payment methods they will accept and what payment providers they will work with (hopefuly at least one that does not require a credit-card!).

Bottom line: 10$/month for infinite storage (limited by your very own upstream capacity) is pretty sweet, the new client is a definite improvement over the old trainwreck.

I’m excited to see how this will work out for Bitcasa and whether or not the business model will survive over time. Because that’s what I expect from a cloud-storage provider: To actually stay in business and to keep my files safe. Whether Bitcasa will pull this off… we will see. 🙂

Pochi to Nyaa Soundtrack

Didn’t I just write about the Neo-Geo? Yes, and I realized that this year (or next year, depending on your interpretation of things) Pochinyaa celebrates its 10th anniversary.

In case you don’t know the game: Pochi to Nyaa is a puzzle-game like Sega’s Puyo Puyo; you align coloured “cat blocks” and send them away with a boom – much like Puyo or Tetris. The twist is that you can control how long you want hold off firing the chains. Want a 20 block chain? Do it… or at least try. Big chains send “concrete cat blocks” to your opponent’s field (again, much like Puyo or Tetris).

The game starts off calm und cute but quickly starts biting you in the bottom after the third or fourth round with a vicious AI that retaliates mercilessly.



What makes Pochinyaa great – apart from the gameplay – are the quirky visuals and the incredible soundtrack. In honor of its 10th anniversary I looked for my Playstation 2 version of the game, extracted, converted, tagged and uploaded the music for you.

pochinyaa

Nyaa and Pochi, the two mascots of the game

Whoever has the rights for the game now: You really should re-release it on newer platforms, Pochi to Nyaa is awesome and exactly the way a puzzle-game should be: cute as buttons and hard as nails.

Anyway, here is the soundtrack. Thank you ~nya!

Launching FBA’s MVS Mode

FB-Alpha is an awesome piece of software. For the games I play (mostly NeoGeo games) it’s damn near perfect because it has an emulated MVS mode where you can queue up to 6 Neo-Geo cartridges and cycle through them after inserting a token. The only thing that urks me is the absence of a dedicated MVS switch to start the emulation directly, without me pressing enter first.

Lucky enough that’s where AutoIt comes in handy:

[code language=”ahk”]
; +——————————————————–+
; | |
; | FBA NeoGeo MVS Launcher |
; | |
; | Launches FBA in MVS mode and automatically applies the |
; | last cartridge configuration used. |
; | |
; +——————————————————–+

Global $executable = "fba64.exe";

If FileExists("fba.exe") Then
$executable = "fba.exe";
Else
$executable = "fba64.exe";
EndIf

If FileExists($executable) Then
ShellExecute("fba64.exe", "neogeo");

While Not WinActivate("Select cartridges to load…");
Sleep(500);
WEnd;

WinWaitActive("Select cartridges to load…");
Send("{ENTER}");
EndIf
[/code]

Simply compile the script, drop it into your FBA directory and pre-configure the MVS slots in FBA. Launch the script afterwards… and yeah, that’s it.

For your convience there’s also a precompiled version available.

Be sure to set the Neo-Geo BIOS to the correct 6-slot system, otherwise you obviously cannot cycle through the games.

ZNC – Cannot see messages with multiple clients?

If you’re using ZNC 1.0 and connect with multiple clients you may have noticed that under certain circumstances you cannot see messages sent from one client on another.

The cause could be your module configuration, in my case I had to deactivate the CRYPT module to correct the behaviour as the module seems to block the message from being broadcasted to all clients. Bummer.

Relocating databases in Progress OpenEdge

One way to do it, if procopy is not an option, would be like this:

  • Copy the database and all it’s files (d*, b*, st) to the new location
  • Edit the .st file in a text-editor, replace the old path occurences with the new one
  • Open a ProEnv prompt and navigate to the database’s directory
  • Run: proutil <database name> -C truncate bi
  • Run: prostrct repair <database name>
  • Check whether all went well: prostrct list <database name>
  • If your admin server already knows the database, try to start it: dbman -db <database name> -start

A thing I noticed is the difference in output between dbman and the old Progress Explorer Tool. While the Explorer gives you some meaningful output, dbman often responds with DBMan022 which the Progress Knowledge Base refers to as a database error… duh.

Maxivista v4 Mirror Pro Review

Monitors don’t cost a fortune anymore. I remember buying my iiyama 21″ TFT in 2004 and I also remember that it wasn’t cheap.

With the advent of technologies like Eyefinity even non-professional users crave for more screen estate – and the industry is happy to oblige. But there’s one big problem: There’s no room left on my desktop. Mobile phones, laptops, trinkets, joypads of all sorts as well as beverages fight for their spots. But hey, what if we could just recycle some of the screens we already have on our desktops?

Enter Maxivista, a software that allows Windows systems to extend their screen estate by utilizing other Windows/OSX|iOS systems’ screens. The idea isn’t new and there’s also a free program called ZoneOS ZoneScreen that basically does the same (minus the OSX|iOS compatibility) plus a few mediocre solutions geared towards tablet/smartphone compatibility.

Papers and tech demos are fine – but does Maxivista really work well in everyday use?

Let me write up front that I tested MaxiVista v4 Mirror Pro which is the latest and greatest version with all the bells and whistles. If it’s not in here, it ain’t there. With a price tag of 99 EUR the software is not exactly a bargain, add a few more Euros and you could get a nice new monitor.

There are a few limitations with MaxiVista:

  • Aero will not work while MaxiVista is active.
    I don’t really care for blurred windows and transparency, so I’m fine with this. However – this also means that kinky stuff like overlays or accelerated graphics operations won’t work either. So while you can watch a movie on your host’s screen, you cannot drag the window to a MaxiVista screen and continue; there’s no cpu-based drawing fallback. This means that applications like XSplit will not work on MaxiVista screens.
  • You can use a maximum of 3 machines as slaves.
    If I interpret the FAQ correctly each of these machines can have up to 2 screens connected to them, giving you a maximum of 6 additional screens. Personally I wouldn’t exactly call this a limitation since this gives you a lot of extra screen estate to play around with.
  • There’s an OSX/iOS version but no Linux/Android port.
    While I understand perfectly well that supporting a variety of platforms can be tricky, I’d really love at least an Android version of MaxiVista.

Bartels Media states these limitations on the MaxiVista homepage, so they don’t come as a surprise and we know what we’re getting into.

MaxiVista features a WDDM driver, enabling the program to work perfectly on a 64bit Windows system and is just so much more comfortable than ZoneScreen. Once the software is installed you can generate a viewer program for either 32bit or 64bit systems. Copy the viewer program onto the target machine (i.e. your laptop), run it and you’re pretty much done, Aero gets disabled automatically – zero configuration is required.

There is one thing that makes MaxiVista absolutely great: There are plenty of compression options to ensure you get the best performance out of your network. Whenever you feel that an applications displays too sluggish you can run an integrated optimization tool that really does a wonderful job of adapting the compression options to suit the application.

In the default settings MaxiVista isn’t much of a killer, this is most apparent when you’re trying to scroll through webpages on a MaxiVista screen for the first time: The scrolling is choppy, there’s tearing and general slowdown. Optimize the application by following the process’ instructions and you will barely notice that you’re working over the network. The screen will get a little choppy if you fill it completely with dynamic content which is expected and still above your average RDP, NX or VNC performance.

The performance and quality is good enough to watch videos fullscreen on a 1680×1050 screen over network in very good quality – if your CPU is powerful enough to handle the decoding in software.

While MaxiVista always gets demonstrated with WiFi (see demo videos on their homepage and on YouTube), I highly recommend a wired connection to get sharp, crisp images.

On the topic of picture quality: There is absolutely nothing to complain about. From your usual JPEG-artifact-ridden compression up to lossless, there is a setting for everyone. I got great results just optimizing for Google Chrome with great sharp fonts and bright, vibrant colors that do not bleed into neighbouring areas.

One thing I noticed during my test period are some infrequent crashes on the viewer. If you opt to install the viewer as a service that’s not much of a problem since all your programs still reside within the MaxiVista screen but annoying nevertheless.

There seems to be some weird outage whenever the resolution on the host machine switches (think: games starting up) that result in the MaxiVista screen losing connection, applications flying back to the host’s screen and immediatly back to the MaxiVista screen. Yuck!

For some reason applications will always start up on your host’s screen and migrate to the MaxiVista one. Again, it’s an annoyance, not a problem.

MaxiVista allows you to hide the expanded screen on a client so you can continue to use the machine. While the idea is a good one it does miss an option to disable the client’s keyboard/mouse and also lacks an option to prompt for a password before hiding the expanded screen.

If you’re planning to get the most basic of MaxiVista’s editions you can stop reading here because that’s all there is to it. The bigger editions come with some sort of Synergy-slash-InputDirector-slash-Multiplicity-esque software KVM feature that allows you to share a single keyboard/mouse plus the contents of your clipboard across multiple machines. While the idea of integrating this feature is a good one, the execution lacks the flexibility of the former programs. An option to switch machines via hotkey is not available, neither is sound transfer to the controlling machine (Multiplicity shows how to implement these features in a sane manner, imho).

Now if you remember the title of the post, you probably wonder when we get to the “Mirror” part. Well, additionally to the main screen-extension and software-KVM feature you also get a small feature to display the contents of your host’s screen on the client. It utilizes the same technology as the screen-extension feature so the image is crisp and the refresh rate is still good. A nifty feature would have been to integrate the option of actually controlling the MaxiVista/host screen from one of the clients (think of it as a reverse KVM) – but sadly that’s not possible, thus making VNC a more affordable and flexible option for these use cases.

Bottom line: is MaxiVista worth the money? The answer is a big “yes” with a small “but”. If space on your desktop is limited or you are under constraints by your device (old laptop or desktop machine) and you keep the limitations of the software in mind you’ll find that MaxiVista is a fantastic piece of software with a few minor annoyances. The extra features you get with Mirror Pro are nice but not really a big deal, especially considering that there are other solutions that outperform MaxiVista in the aspects of KVM and display mirroring. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a software that works as easy and well as MaxiVista’s core.

If you’re on Linux you’re out of the game. MaxiVista is proprietary software and the protocol is not open.

Windows 7 – Enable concurrent RDP + multiple sessions per user

Let’s all admit it: Microsoft is still a bitch. Nowadays they try to push Metro down our throats, in the past they artificially limited the number of concurrent RDP sessions – and what’s worse: Limited the sessions to 1 per user on their client operating-systems. There’s no reason for limiting RDP on client systems (except for making it a premium feature) but a ton of scenarios where I need to be able to log-on more than once [with the same username] onto my workstation. Now, if you’re on a non-Ultimate version of Windows 7 you might be out of luck, but if you run Ultimate the following might be just what you’re looking for: Enter Concurrent RDP Patcher. Applying the patch is simple: Download, unpack and run it. Afterwards you’ll need to make a small change to your registry. Navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server

and create/modify the following DWORD value with the value 0:

fSingleSessionPerUser

After a simple reboot you’ll be able to connect to your machine – multiple times. As usual when putting your fingers where they don’t belong, make sure you keep a backup of your original termsrv.dll (can be found in your system32 directory) before getting started.

Softsubs and XSplit

One of the things many people miss from XSplit is the ability to add a subtitle renderer like VSFilter to the graph. It simply doesn’t work – no matter how much you force HaaliSplitter to load VSFilter or ffdshow to enable the subtitle renderer – the subs won’t show.

As with so many other things in life there’s a workaround that sort of works: You can use Dxtory’s virtual camera to capture the window of (for example) MPC – including the already rendered subtitles. That way you can get the subs to show up.

Getting Unreal Tournament (1999) working on current Linux distros

Let’s be honest: Unreal Tournament, or UT99, is not only a piece of gaming history – it’s also still a very vibrant and active game. What’s even better: The game has a native Linux client, so there’s no shortage of fun to be had.

But there’s a problem: The client was made around the year 2000 and Linux has evolved since that time. There are a few guides around to help installing and troubleshooting UT on Linux but I didn’t find them particularly helpful. So here’s my attempt, maybe some will find it somewhat useful.

Please note that this is specifically for the original version of the game, not the Game of the Year or GOG editions.

What we need:

1. Insert the CD-ROM into your drive and be sure to mount it to /cdrom.

2. Install UT by using the Loki installer:

$ export _POSIX2_VERSION=199209
$ chmod +x ut-install-436.run
$ ./ut-install-436.run

If the installer won’t run because you’re on x86-64, simply start it by using ./ut-install-436.run –keep, browse the new ut-436 subdirectory and edit the setup.sh’s DetectARCH to look like this:

DetectARCH()
{
echo "x86"
return 0
}

Other errors can be ignored.

Now install the UTG patch 451 by unpacking it into your UT/System directory.

Open ~/.loki/ut/System/UnrealTournament.ini, find the line:

AudioDevice=ALAudio.ALAudioSubsystem

and replace it with:

AudioDevice=Audio.GenericAudioSubsystem

Now you should be able to start the game by typing:

padsp ./ut