MySpace and Valve Open to Small Developers

In general, the world is evolving and leading developers are opening up to small time developers big time in the mist of recession. The web and applications are becoming more open source every day.

On February 5, MySpace will open its system to developers so that they can begin building applications (similar to Facebook applications). MySpace intends to offer advertisement-revenue sharing to developers while avoiding the feed/request pollution that Facebook has. If you want to write apps for MySpace, you can pre-register on their developer site now.

Valve reveals Steamworks for Developers.  Steamworks will provide game services, development tools, and retail backend services for free. Steamworks can be used whether a game is distributed digitally via Steam or in traditional retail stores. This will open up revenue share for amatuer developers wishing to distribute their games and applications via the Steam network.

Retail Mac vs. the Hackentosh

EDITORS NOTE: Techtronic has been replaced by Not Just Gaming (http://notjustgaming.com). NJG features all of the great posts from Techtrionic, as well as articles, blogs, social profiles, forums, downloads, videos, and more!

While becoming deeply admiring Mac more and more, I have also become more and more curious to as how much an OEM Mac system would cost, which would make my Hackentosh experience a laughing piece of the past.

I had in mind that it would be so cool to have official drivers for my audio, video, net, and USB the first time I run OS X. It would be cool to benefit from the officially supported updates. It would be nice to run Leopard instead of Tiger.

All my thoughts on this issue have dropped. Upon investigating the prices for an OEM Mac (the complete system, not stand alone operating system), I have decided that yes: I would actually rather have a Hackentosh.

Why? Because I can probably do more with hacked drivers and unsupported hardware than I could with an officially manufactured Mac. With an OEM Mac, we are able to run Windows XP and Vista via Boot Camp emulation, however we are not able to install them as their own fully functioning operating systems. And the most important reason: I can build myself a more powerful system capable of Hackentosh for less than half the price it would cost for a powerful Mac.

Here are the details. There are only 6 classes of Mac systems currently sold (excluding the Hackentosh efforts). The 3 desktops are

  • Mac Mini (a very limited, non-upgradable box set)
  • Mac Pro (the monster performer desktop that cost too much)
  • iMac (the one piece system; again very limited and non-upgradable)

The Mac Mini is neat as it is built for TV display, very similar to the Windows Media Center models manufacturers flopped to deliver several years ago. The most powerful Mac Mini is nifty but weak only supporting a max speed of 2 GHz (Intel Duo), 2 GB of memory, and 1 x 160 GB hard drive. This little box (no mouse, no keyboard, no monitor, does include remote control) will cost you $1024 + tax + shipping and handling. The included graphics chip is only an Intel GMA 950 with 64 MB of memory…. that will never play a game and there are no PCI-E or AGP slots for future upgrading. So I do not suggest Apple’s affordable solution.

For $2000 the iMac has everything (hard drive, dvd drive, memory) built in to the monitor. This also means there is no option for future upgrades. The graphics are better for all multimedia tasks and gaming as they are powered by an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128 MB of memory. My opinion: you are stuck with what you have (and lost a lot of money in the process).

The Mac Pro would be a tasty, jet fueled, graphic pumping, performance driven system if I didn’t feel like I smacked a brick wall reading the price. Here is how bad the cheapest solution will rape your bank account:

  • Mac Pro Custom for $2299.00 (the CHEAPEST one)
  • One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (quad-core) Processor
  • 2GB (2 x 1GB) Memory
  • 320GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB (Two dual-link DVI) Graphics
  • 16x double-layer SuperDrive that burns both CDs and DVD
  • Keyboard, Mouse, Mac OS X Leopard

After sight shopping, I have decided is is both nicer and cheaper to buy an Apple Mac OS X replacement keyboard for $39.95 and build my own Hackentosh…. Then again I can just continue to use my own keyboard that has my custom made stickers on the keys to remind me what the commands are and save a few more dollars 🙂

General Tech Headlines

Microsoft News: Microsoft has confirmed that there are no plans to release “Windows 7” in 2009, saying that it would be at least 2010. Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh 2 has been released to beta testers, gearing for a full service pack release in Q1. Windows XP SP3 RC Refresh 2 has been released to Microsoft Connect participants. Microsoft Update will automatically force Office 2003 SP3 for installation for detected Office 2003 products February 27.

Sun Micro Systems (whom publishes JAVA) purchased MySQL for $1 billion. It is yet unknown wether the server application developer will drop the open sourced MySQL database to help promote their commercial server applications, support it with development, or leave it open source.

Joomla version 1.5 is released as a stable and final edition. Joomla is perhaps the leader in content management systems. Expect many sites to upgrade to the new Joomla framework.

14% of 2007 game sales were PC titles. Within the top list are World of Warcraft, the Sims 2, Call of Duty 4, and Sim City 4 (despite that it is 4 years old!).

Hey!Spread has launched an extensive video uploading service enabling one video upload to automatically be distributed via Sclipo, Sumo, Sevenload, Youtube, Google, Dailymotion, Blip, Metacafe, Yahoo, Facebook, Myspace, Vimeo, Revver, Veoh, Vsocial, Photobucket, and Putfile.

Best Free Software for Mac OS X

Most of these recommendations are for system utilities, to modify features or include features that are not present in a default installation of Mac OS X. Other recommendations are for application alternatives to what is included with a default Mac OS X installation (iTunes, Journal, Safari, Finder).

Play

Play is an application for playing and managing audio files. Play currently supports playback of FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, Musepack, WavPack, Monkey’s Audio, AAC, Apple Lossless, MP3 and various other audio file formats.

ecto

Similar to BlogJet or Windows Live Writer in the Windows world, ecto is a blogging client for supporting Blogger, Blojsom, Drupal, MovableType, Nucleus, SquareSpace, TypePad, WordPress, and more.

TranslateIt!

TranslateIt! is a real time system wide translator. Just hover the pointer over an unfamiliar word (in any Cocoa Application), and you will see its translation in a pop-up window. Instantly.

AppCleaner

AppCleaner is an alternative to Add / Remove Programs from Windows. It includes separate tabs for Applications, Widgets, and other options. Unlike other similar programs, AppCleaner searches for left over files in your OS X installation.

AllBookmarks

AllBookmarks adds a new item to your Mac OS X menu bar giving you quick access to all your bookmarks. All your Safari, Firefox and Flock bookmarks are shown and can be selected.

macam

macam is a driver for USB web cams on Mac OS X. It allows hundreds of USB web cams to be used by many Mac OS X video-aware applications. The aim is to support as many web cams as possible.

TigerLaunch

This is a great little launcher since there is very little space or customization ability within the dock. It displays an Apps menu at the top of your screen listing all your applications in alphabetical order no matter what folder they appear in. You can easily configure it to exclude applications you rarely or never launch.

Macintosh Explorer

Mac Explorer is a great alternative to Finder, for those of us that are used to Windows Explorer. It includes tabs, photo previewing, hierarchical overview of all files and folders, and more.

OnyX

OnyX is a multifunction utility for Mac OS X (PowerPC and Intel). It allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure the hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.

Firefox

Of course I would recommend Firefox for any operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux). For Mac OS X, Firefox is a better alternative to Apple Safari for internet browsing.

City of Rauma

City of Rauma is an open source adaption of Sim City. It is inspired by the town of Rauma in Finland.

Adium

Since there is yet an official version of Trillian for Mac OS X (Trillian Astra X is in alpha testing), Adium is the most profolic solution. Adium handles Yahoo, MSN, AOL, ICQ, and more as a multi-chat client.

VirtueDesktops

VirtueDesktops is a virtual desktop manager for featuring, eye candy and configurable options that no other desktop manager on the mac has added yet.

Windows XP to Retire June 30, 2008

Microsoft has decided to retire support for Windows XP on June 30, 2008. This comes after official support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 was dropped on January 1, 2008. Extended support is set to end in December 2013.

To retire official support means that sales of OEM, retail box, and shrink wrapped editions are to be prohibited. System builders will be prohibited to distributwe Windows XP after December 31, 2008. This is in a move to urge users to migrate to Windows Vista.

Many IT Professionals are petitioning against the life cycle, as they do not believe Vista is an alternative to security and stability. InfoWorld’s petition asking Microsoft not to discontinue Windows XP after June 30 has more than 65,000 signatures collected since Jan. 14.

In 2006, Microsoft stated that support for Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Media Center Edition would be dropped on December 31, 2006. The set date was scheduled before Windows Vista was ever released for retail or OEM sales.  Microsoft rebuked this decision after much revolting criticism.

With much protests against the retirement date, the fate for official support for Windows XP is in the hands of Microsoft reguardless.

Better Blogging

Here, we will explain the key differences between the MySpace, Blogger, and WordPress blog engines to gather a better understanding of possible differences between the options.

There are many blogging services offering features of their own, ranging in complexity and professionalism. Many sites all over the interact are converting to blog engines, due to the simplicity, professionalism, and structured organization. Blogs can be used for personal diaries, link directories, electronic magazines, estores, adult marketing, and more.

MySpace:

The MySpace engine does offer useful resources like font customization (font, size, color), indentions, character inserts, hyper linking, image linking, categories, and podcast enclosures. It also comes equipped with personal amusement such as smiley charts, current moods, privacy, comments, and is able to display what you are listening to in a marketing manner. However, advanced customization can not be added via the MySpace interface or HTML hacks.

Blogger:

Blogger offers more advanced features than the MySpace blog, or many other alternative choices for that matter. Templates can be customized via HTML code. Most template designs are very simple and do not offer full screen support or two column layouts. Blogger does support HTML widgets. Posing options are very comparable to the MySpace editor, however Blogger does offer bullets and numbering. Advanced features include photo uploading with advanced editing options like alignment. Video uploads are also supported, but Blogger does not allow video linking. Blogger is recommended for those that would like more than MySpace offers and less than our next presentation: WordPress.

WordPress:

Techtronic is hosted via the WordPress engine. The reason we chose the WordPress engine over other alternatives is simple: there is total control over presentation and features. The average user can create a free account at http://wordpress.com, or more advanced users owning their own servers can download the WordPress engine and many customizations for free at http://wordpress.org. Features of the hosted WordPress account include:

  • All accounts come stocked with over 60 themes
  • Posting features include Spell-check, Previews, Autosave, Words, Photos, and Videos
  • Integrated stats system which gives you up-to-the-minute stats on how many people are visiting your blog, where they’re coming from, which posts are most popular, and which search engine terms are sending people to your blog.
  • Automatic Spam Protection with Askimet
  • Privacy Options, including Members-Only Blogs
  • The ability to import from Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal, and More
  • Sidebar Widgets for Flickr, del.icio.us, Meebo, and More
  • Multiple Blogs and Multiple Authors

Self-hosted versions of WordPress include the ability to create or upload custom templates, the ability to create or upload custom widgets or HTML toys, and more.

Microsoft Leaks Windows 7 Details Through Blogging

In the Microsoft world, there is a small team of developers with access to Windows 7, the follow up edition of Windows Vista.  Therefore under NDA (non-disclosure agreement), it would be very unlikely that any of them would risk their employment posistion to reveal details about the Windows 7 project.

Surfacing through blogger.com is “Shipping Seven” with the tagline “Random thoughts from somebody working on the next Windows OS”.  It is maintained by the alias Soma.  One visitor commented: Doh. So this is an anonymous blog? At first I thought “Soma” was “S. Somasegar” of the Developer Division at Microsoft 🙂

There are reasons to believe that this employee may be real or fictional.  Detailed technical aspects of previous versions of Windows are examined intelligently.  The most recent posting (as of Jan. 17, 2008) includescomparison that Microsoft and Mac run circles to copy each other, especially as many Microsoft employees started out developing Apple.  There are claims that Soma was developing a feature for Windows 7 that has made it’s way in to Mac Leopard, in which he only noted that the feature is included in this list.  His personal note on the similarity of development is “seriously, it is not the most headline-grabbing thing in that 300 list. It is a pretty handy feature, though”.  IT Professionals can only wonder if it could be UNIX integration (as with Vista Enterprise), virtual desktop emulation, or full speed Mac emulation (as Mac does for Windows XP and Vista).

Highlight postings include:

Overall I feel that this blog movement is too friendly and revealing to be real… It seems more like a new approach to marketing and developing IT professional interests, as recent XP and Vista movements have been un-popular with the tech communities.  Time will tell, and official details will be released.