Syobon Action

Syobon Action (also known as Cat Mario or Neko Mario) is a platform game with a similar gameplay experience as Super Mario Bros, except it’s more difficult and was written by a psychopath.

We improved the SDL version and made a Windows port.

Notable changes (see the README.txt in the archive)

  • fullscreen mode
  • improved sound quality
  • english translation
  • joystick support
  • bug fixes

Downloads:

Syobon Action for Windows (if you get a DLL error you need to install the VC2010 redistributables). Was tested on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Syobon Action for Linux/BSD/Unix (contains the source code, you need sdl, sdl_image, sdl_gfx, sdl_mixer and sdl_ttf to build it). If you want to help building distro specific packages (eg. deb) feel free to provide them. Many thanks to Christian Birchinger for testing and improving the build.

Dell Inspiron 9400 ATI x1400 driver

Update: this driver is reported to work under Windows 10

Since Dell is unable to provide a recent Catalyst release for its Dell Inspiron 9400 for Vista or Windows 7 and explicitly forbids ATI from distributing one, here it is.

Download Catalyst 8.12 for Inspiron 9400 (32-bit)

Note: The Inspiron 9400 is also known as Inspiron E1705 in some countries.

Catalyst 10.2 has a bug related to laptop panel scaling which is why I’m providing 8.12.

Street Parade 2010

On the 14th of August, held the Street Parade in Zürich with the many love mobiles and techno music. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very great with a few rains from time to time. I didn’t find it very crowded at first but then people started to arrive. All in all an excellent event as usual.

N95 unlocking and battery extension

Following up on Vodafone’s inability to unlock my Nokia N95 I bought from them, I decided to use other ways.

First, there are tons of “online unlockers” websites who claim to be able to unlock phones but nobody explaining how they do it. I tried 2 of them and they weren’t successful, even though they advertise handling the N95.

The first one was E Distributions UK Ltd. They reimbursed my Paypal payment the same day with “unlock code cannot generate full refund”. Fair enough.

The other was a bit more problematic. I ordered an unlock code for my girlfriend’s LG KU990i from MobileUnlocked which is really Unlockingonline. After 2 days they claimed to have found the unlock code which was: “NO UNLOCK CODE”, which obviously was of no use for me. I complained to them asking for a refund and 2 days later they did so.

My guess is that those online unlockers probably work for older phones which have key generators available for them, but these companies also advertise that they can handle new phones for 2 reasons:

  • be indexed by search engines
  • be able to provide the service as soon as a keygenerator appears

Unfortunately this is just going to waste your time. You can try, but if you do make sure you always use Paypal as they have a reimbursement policy if the merchant fails to provide the service (make sure you keep copies of mails and website results).

I ended up unlocking both phones from a local store. No problems whatsoever.

Now on to fix one of the most annoying problem of the N95, and any modern smartphone: the limited battery life.

The N95’s original battery is a 950 mAh li-ion battery and has the amazing property of lasting about one day with moderate usage. Even worse, if you use your N95 to listen to some music, it dries out in 2 to 3 hours.

So I ordered a 2400 mAh li-polymere battery from mobiltec24. Unfortunately the phone was constantly switching itself off and crashing.. weird! I mailed them and they quickly sent a replacement battery which works fine so far. The phone lasts about 4 days with moderate usage, at last! This was the N95’s biggest problem and newer phones seem to have that problem as well. The battery is bigger and heavier (needs a modified battery cover, which is supplied) but the trade off is really worth it.

Voipbuster sucks

For years I used the services from voipbuster.com on my Nokia phone for international calls. They had good pricing and it worked fine.

2 days ago I had to make a call from my laptop. I went to their website and downloaded their VOIP client, which seemed to work ok.

Now comes the problem. Their client has an option to import contacts from MSN and Skype, the contacts appear in a list and you press ‘Ok’ to import them.

What the client doesn’t tell you is that it does the following in the background, without you noticing:

– sends a skype message to all your contacts with:

<your_voipbuster_login> wants to talk to you with VoipBuster!

get this free software to instantly communicate online with friends, family, coworkers or anyone you choose! click here to download VoipBuster to get started.

It also sends an email which is faked as coming from you (including the headers) with a similar content to all your MSN contacts.

Was it so hard to have a checkbox with “Invite friends to use voipbuster”? Why do they have to do that silently in the background?

Let’s see, voipbuster is owned by betamax.com, their website says:

Betamax was founded in 2005 in Germany by a group of marketing experts.

Marketing experts? More like a bunch of morons.

So that’s it. voipbuster.exe can be classified as a spyware, sending advertising spam without telling you.

Gnucash sucks

So I just tried Gnucash, the accounting software. After spending some time reading the docs on how it works, I started creating some accounts and populating them. Then I close the program and open it later.

There was an error parsing the file c:\users\zapek\gnucash

What the.. I try to open all 4 backup files it did.. Same error message. Great, so gnucash 2.2.9 cannot open files it writes itself. And all my work is lost.

I try with gnucash 2.3.5 then, which is marked as unstable. I create just one account to test, saves and it does a wonderful crash “error in sqlite3 blabla”.

Maybe I should just use a pen and paper.

Vodafone sucks

About a month ago, I switched from Telefonica to Vodafone because the former was starting to get expensive, 75 € / month for a 10 mbit/s link, and their uplink was only 300 kbit/s which is really annoying as I also upload stuff to my servers from time to time.

Anyway, so Vodafone sent me the following piece of hardware.

It’s an Huawei EchoLife HG553

At first, vodafone offer you to connect through their 3G network for free until the ADSL link is working. So far so good. Once the ADSL link was up, I switched to that.

But I experienced frequent problems with DNS queries, that is, from time to time I would get the famous “host not found” error, and from all my computers. I first thought that there was a problem with Vodafone’s DNSes so I changed them in my computers, but it didn’t work any better.

Strange! At the end I started to suspect that Vodafone might be filtering DNS requests on their network but I didn’t see why, as hosts like ‘mail.google.com’ or ‘mail.live.com’ failed all the time.

I called their (useless) hotline. They made me change the DNSes on my local machine, without results of course, then changed the DNSes in my router and rebooted it. Hum.. So they’re accessing the router eh? ‘mail.google.com’ resolved once after that.. Then it failed again. They seemed clueless about the problem. They also said something that got my attention: “when I’m pinging mail.google.com from your router, it works fine”.

All right.. How are they accessing the router? And most importantly how can they ping from it as the default web interface doesn’t allow you to do so.

I remembered I was once able to access the router through SSH using admin/admin. So I did that and to my surprise, it didn’t work! So they must have been tampering with my router since I got online?

So, after hacking around, this is how to solve the problem.

First, you need to reset your router to default settings. Turn it off, insert a pen into the ‘reset’ hole, turn it on, wait 10 seconds, turn it off, remove the pen.

Disconnect the ADSL link, you don’t want your modem to reconfigure itself and remove the admin account again. I’ll shortly explain how they do that.

Turn on the modem. Its IP is 192.168.0.1, the admin account’s login is ‘admin’ and its password is ‘admin’.

Go to the web interface using admin/admin then reconfigure what you need to. You’ll see that you have much more options available than with the vodafone/vodafone login. Don’t touch the ADSL stuff, it is preconfigured properly.

Here’s a list of a few stuff you might want to do:

  • Advanced Setup/NAT: Enable UPnP. This is useful for Peer 2 Peer applications or stuff like MSN Messenger, Skype, VOIP or file transfert in chat programs
  • Advanced Setup/DNS/Dynamic DNS. If you want to use services like dyndns.org to have your router available anywhere
  • Important: if you don’t want vodafone to reconfigure your router and remove your admin access as soon as you go online, go to Management/SNMP Agent and Disable it
  • Management/Access Control: Here you can disable vodafone’s ability to access your router from the WAN interface. Just turn off everything except ICMP on the WAN side, and enable everything for you on the LAN side
  • Management/User Management: Change the password of your admin account. support is used by vodafone and the password is ‘support’ as well. Their access only works for telnet and ssh, not the web interface

Now do a SSH to the modem (with the admin account). If you need an SSH client for Windows, I can recommend PenguiNet.

Type the following:

iptables -t nat -D PREROUTING_IN 1

And that’s it! The DNS screw up is gone. Now make sure you configure your computers to use some other DNS than your routers because it is bugged and doesn’t work properly. You can use the vodafone DNSes:

89.6.239.4 212.145.4.98

You can now plug your phone line into the router’s ADSL port. If you disabled the SNMP services, the router won’t be reconfigured and rebooted by vodafone.

There’s still a caveheat, though. You’ll have to type the iptables command everytime you reboot your router. I’m trying to find a way to change it permanently.

I wonder if the vodafone support people realize how silly it is to tell users to change their DNSes when the router will intercept the queries anyway… Oh well.. Big corporations…

Armin van Buuren at She Discoteca, again

Armin van Buuren

So there I was again on the 5th of December to see Armin mixing at She Discoteca in Vilassar de Mar.

For the review, just read the previous one I did last year. It’s almost exactly the same except it took place on a cold night of December, but the place was just as crowded. Warmup was done by Blake Jarrell and was quite good. Armin showed up at 3:00, just like last year but this time he started with more punch. It was closer to hard trance than trance. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. A funny thing is that the visuals were synchronized to the music as you can see on the video (Sharon den Adel singing in In and Out of Love). Pretty neat VJ feature.

I didn’t check the hip hop room this year. Why people would go in that room when there’s such an event is beyond me 🙂

Here’s the video I took and edited to give an idea of the whole event. The sound is not perfect, blame Nokia.

The party ended at 6:00. And that damn train again on the way back.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

A few days ago, Google released its own browser, Google Chrome. As the author of a web browser (Voyager), I think they did it right. Here’s why:

Multithreaded

This is something I always wanted to implement within Voyager but it was too difficult because of GUI issues (the toolkit used was a mess to use from threads). As far as I know, the first browser implementing rendering in its own process was Internet Explorer but when they implemented tabs, they left that out. Apparently they fixed that in IE 8. The advantage to such a design is that the main GUI isn’t locked anymore when rendering CPU hungry website, and you can even switch to other tabs meanwhile. It is tricky to implement such design and I noticed some refresh problems in Chrome when writing in TEXTAREA fields for example. Scrolling speed can also become slow because the refresh is asynchronous then. But overall this is a very good idea.

Fast

Well, I’m impressed by the speed. The browser chews tons of HTML without problems. This is not just a minor speed gain but it’s really noticeable on usage. And most important, the browser launches in less than a second, without preloading files or anything. I was quite getting fed up of MSIE and Firefox taking more than 5 seconds to launch. Their JavaScript engine uses JIT techniques, which is the first time it is in a browser I think. Although I don’t think JavaScript execution speed is really a burden in most common webpages (yet) this is a nice addition.

Nifty features

The tabs drag & drop, search in the address bar (without search words being recognized as URLs or other nonsense), uncluttered GUI, automatic fullscreen mode, URL completion that actually works, all plugins working without hassle.

Stability

Not a single crash as of yet. Perfectly usable as a main browser.

So there, Chrome is now my default browser. I was getting fed up with Firefox’ bloat and MSIE had too many annoyances. Nice job Google. Chrome is how I always wanted to make Voyager like. Now good luck fixing all the quirks 🙂