Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review: Fishbowl - Facebook Desktop Client

I recently had the opportunity to test out an interest bit of software called Fishbowl (www.fishbowlclient.com).

Fishbowl is a Facebook desktop client designed for Windows. User are able to logged on to Facebook and view their Friends updates, photos etc via this neat little application.
While this software looks complete, uniquely this is only concept software simply just showcasing the potential of Windows 7 software development. However, it will not only run on Windows XP and up, it is usable software (see system requirements). According you the official MSDN blog, it has been developed using Microsoft Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation, which is similar to the now popular Adobe AIR platform.

Visually, it is very similar to the standard Facebook website. The familiar blue setting and similar layout will help user feel right at home.
Although this software DOES allow you to change its colours, it's nothing to get excited over. The colour selection is as follows; Facebook Blue, Blue, and Dark (or Navy Blue). If you like your blue, this app is for you. Again the general layout and design of Fishbowl is simple, familar while at the same time being quite elegant.

There is a "Mini-Mode" which transforms the standard looking interface into a small and tidy, Windows Gadget-looking thing that can be simply tucked into the corner of your screen and watch the status updates roll in. However this doesn't actually streamline into Windows' actually gadgets.

Photo uploader is simple enough, offering a drag-n-drop facility and allowing you in the same step to create a new photo album or import the photos into a existing album. Works well.

They have stuck with the traditional News Feed for listing status updates, in contrast to the actuall Facebook pages' News and Live Feed pages. I found this easier to deal with.

Problems I did have with this application was that it did NOT have chat support. Surprising as there are plenty of Facebook chat clients available (i.e. Digsby) and has become an essential part of Facebook.
Also, when updating your status, although Facebook has registered you just updated you status, the client failed to refresh your last status update line in the application which does make it confusing whether it worked or not.

Overall, this is a nice simple application and does accomplish 90% of what users do on the Facebook website, but obviously as concept software they haven't included everything.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Top 10 First Person Shooter Tips of the Web

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I have recently really gotten in to play the very popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 first person shooter game on the XBOX 360 (also available on other platforms) and finding that I was really sucking. My girlfriend has also become interested playing. That got me thinking what would be the best advise I could give her and everyone else when it comes to play most first person shooters online with multiplayer.

So what I have done is gone out on to the web and tallied up the top 10 tips that others believe are important when it comes to playing First Person Shooters (FPS) online/mulitplayer.

(Please note here that I am assuming that you have SOME First Person Shooter experience.)

Number 1: Learn your maps

It's agreed upon all over the web that it's important that you know your maps. Understanding and knowing your maps like the back of your hand will give you a huge advantage when playing. Knowing where the places to not only hide and killing your enemies, but to also collect and regain your health during tence moment can help save your life, and prevent yet another notch against your death tally.


Number 2: Weapons

In at a close second was tips regarding your weapon(s). First, like your maps, make sure you know what you can do with you weapons (more than just point and shoot). Know they're range and accuracy and it will help you with you kills. Pick the best weapon for the job.For example, leave shotguns for close range and sniper rifles to long, accurate shots.
Also, make sure you have plenty ammo at the ready. Reload when you can while also not wasting your shots.

Number 3: Don't stand still

Best advise ever. Keep moving. Never stand in the same place for too otherwise players will soon learn your location and hunt you down. Again. KEEP MOVING.

Number 4: Check your back

While you may have a nice, juicy target in your sights, you might be in someone elses. Always check you back, before you find a knife in it.

Number 5: Keep cover

Nothing better for keeping you alive than hiding behind something that bullets and explosive can't penertrate. When reloading or waiting for the shooting to ease, crouch down behind a wall, car or some sort of solid object that might just protect you. Very important.

Number 6: Learn your controls

This one might seem a little obvious. I mean, how else will you play the game? No. Learn every corner of you controls. Learn combos, learn how you can manover in the game. The better your are at controlling, the better you will be overall in the game.

Number 7: Practice in Single Player

This tip was surprisingly common while at the same time overlooked. The best way to become good at Multiplayer FPS, is to become really good in the Single-Player mode of the game you're playing. If you can finish the game at least once on a hardened level, then you will be well prepared for Multiplayer. However, this is not a Rule. If you want to just get straight to the online mulitplayer, f*cken go for it. It's a game, just have fun.

Number 8: Keep cool

Doesn't mean turn on the air con. No. In the great words of Douglas Adams, Don't Panic. Stay calm. If you are getting hammered or somehow just getting into a panic, just find a dark corner and chill out for a moment.
Like in real life, you make more mistakes when you panic and not thinking. Stop, collect your mind and then, unleash hell.

Number 9: Learn from you mistakes

One of the best ways for you to improve is to correct your mistakes. Often games will give you a replay of how you died. Watch that footage and watch and learn what went wrong and how you can not make that mistake again. Maybe you thought you were hiding, where in fact you were standing in the open. Maybe you for Tip Number 4 and you got shot in the back. Watch and learn.

And Finally...

Number 10: Headshots

There is nothing more rewarding in a FPS. A headshot is the title give to a single bullet to a players head killing them instantly. These shots will often reward more points as they require more skill incomparison to standard body shots. Sniper rifles will help make these shots at long distances but it is possible with other guns. The more headshots you get will not only get you points, but respect with other players as it proves your skill with you gun.

Again these tips were taken from a variety of site across the web. These are all important in becoming a true player. Good luck.

Defrag Progress Bar? You don't need one!

For some stupid reason, I decided to give my laptop a Disk Defrag using the built in Windows Vista defrag utility (which is still going by the way).

But... Where the f*ck is the progress bar? I see this as a big design flaw.

Microsoft (and other software developers for that matter), give me some idea how long this process will take.



This is a screenshot of the Windows Vista defrag window. Can you tell how long its going to be? Around a few minutes to a few hours is not good enough.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: XBOX 360 update

For a while now I have had the latest of the xbox updates particpating in the trial. Overall I have generally welcomed the update however there are a couple of design features that bother me.
The biggest thing about the update is the Twitter and Facebook as from the XBOX 360 console. Users are mow able to access and communicate directly from their Xbox. However typing your tweets or status updates can be a task in itself if you do not have the chatpad.

The Twitter and Facebook clients are run as separate applications. In other words, once you click on the Twitter screen it loads up a dedicated application. You are unable to tweet or upadte your facebook status anywhere else but within the applications. My problem here is that I was expecting to be able to tweet during game play. Or the xbox might be able to tweet when I have unlocked and achievement. But sadly no.

Users also gain access to the Zune video market place. Here users can rent and stream down a wide selection of movies. Don’t bother if you don’t have a solid broadband connection. Standard definition stream will average out to be about 4gb. High definition will cost you about 8GB in downloads per movie. To rent a movie you do have the choice of either entirely downloading the movie or instantly streaming. If you’re in a hurry, stream it. Each movie will cost you anything from 200-800 Microsoft points. Fair deal when a standard definition movie will convert to about AUD$4.

I imagine the update will be available for all shortly as most of the true issue are ironed put however it currently is only available to those who registered and accepted for testing with Xbox live gold members given priority.

Again overall it’s well done and about time but missing the obvious like updates during gaming is a major disappointment for me.