Steam’s Family Account Sharing: A Poorly Named ‘Feature

So, I’m researching how we can get Deus Ex: Mankind Divided so that we may both play it. Steam’s Family Account Sharing sounds like just the answer, right?

Wrong.

It’s not too much to expect that if I’m playing Mankind Divided, T can’t, and vice versa. I get that. One copy of the game means only one of us can play at a time. If we both want to play, we need two copies. It bums me out that this is true, but hey. If you wanted to play Final Fantasy X, and your brother/sister/husband/wife/mother/father was playing, you either had to ask them to surrender the game or wait until they were done with it. So, get the other PS2 out and fire up Kingdom Hearts on the other TV while they play FFX, right?

In the era of Steam, no. You see, when your partner borrows the game they are playing, they don’t just borrow that game. They borrow your entire fucking library! To use the analogy above, it would be like when you want to let your friend borrow FFX, you have to give every fucking game you own to them, because Sony insists that’s how it must be done.

What the fuck is wrong with these people!?

And if that’s not bad enough, if someone who is borrowing your library gets a ban for cheating, that ban applies to your account. I don’t worry about my wife cheating, but seriously…a ban for something someone else does? It’s almost like Steam is trying to discourage Family Sharing. Almost like they would rather you buy another copy of the game, so they throw all sorts of artificial bullshit in your direction.

So, I’ll have to see if there’s another alternative to Steam if I want to share games with my wife. Guess I’ll have to start researching that.

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Windows 10 Release Imminent

Hello, everyone. Thought it was time for another post, now that Microsoft almost has Windows 10 ready to go.

Microsoft has been working on a new version of Windows pretty much since they pushed Windows 8.1 out the door. They’ve been paying attention to criticism of the tool by mainstream users and tech blogs alike, and have decided that their new version of Windows needs to address the needs of both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. Their new OS, which you might expect to be called Windows 9, hopefully does just that.

Here’s a screen cap of a typical Windows 10 (not 9, they decided to skip 9) desktop, with start menu displayed.

You'd see a Windows 10 desktop here, if you were using something from this decade. :)

Daily Tech’s capture of Windows 10.

Prominent in the above screencap is the one thing that Microsoft had to do to get Windows 10 right. Yes, the Start Menu is back, with a few modifications. The Live Tiles from Windows 8 are visible, with the updates you would expect from them, but so are the old Windows 7isms of the recently used apps list and the pinned apps list. All Programs exists as a small link at the bottom of the Start Menu called All Apps. Finally, Microsoft realized that on a desktop, we want our OS to behave like a Desktop OS.

Another key way that Windows 10 fixes the Desktop Environment is realizing that all apps need to run in windows, even Modern apps. Here’s a Screen Cap of Windows Store running on the desktop.

You'd see Windows 10 Store in a window if you had something that was built in the last 15 years. :)

Windows 10 Store running in a Window on the Desktop.

Modern apps running in windows, and a Start Menu that doesn’t take over your screen, are both useful things on desktops. Mind you, the tablet experience hasn’t been ignored. There is a Tablet Mode that changes the look and feel of the UI completely, forcing all applications, including Desktop Apps, into full screen mode. While desktop apps are not forced into a tablet paradigm (you’ll  need a stylus to interact with their user elements…), they still become ‘tablet apps’, and you only interact with them one at a time. Here’s how that view looks:

Stop using Lynx to view my articles, already!  :P

Windows 10 can run in Tablet Mode as well, giving a slate the ability to run like a full slate.

There are other noticeable changes. The circle on the Task Bar belongs to a Siri and Google Now competitor, called Cortana. This VI personal assistant functions much like Siri and Google Now do, offering you assistance in your daily tasks (setting reminders, doing tasks, etc.), and running programs for you. She’s both text and voice enabled, also

The Action Center is a notification bar like what you’d find on a mobile OS, where things like ‘your Java is outdated, do you want to fix that’, ‘you just got an e-mail from so and so’, and ‘The Stock Market lost A MILLION POINTS, everyone panic NAO!!!!’ pop up. It’s also useful in letting you know if there’s bad storms in your area or someone has shot up a store. This leverages other apps, so theoretically anything that pops up a notice to Windows can use the Action Center.

Windows 10 also features many under-the-hood type changes, including a new version of DirectX (yay gamers), improved security (don’t we all need this), and the latest updates. If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should be getting a notification about this new OS over the next few months. Once you get it, I strongly recommend you make the move. It’s free for the next year, but after that year, you’ll get stuck with buying a new license, which has a $119 (Home) or $199 (Pro) price tag. Move quick.

To lay this idea to rest, however, there will be no “Subscription” to Windows 10. The free upgrade to 10 offer means your 7 or 8 license will become a 10 license at no charge if you move before 29 July 2016. After then, it’s like upgrading from XP to 7 — you have to pay for it.

Soylent 1.4 Review

So, I decided to take the plunge and order Soylent 1.4. This is my review of it.

First, some interesting background. Anyone who has watched the movie Soylent Green is probably thinking the obvious thought right now. Fortunately, Soylent shares nothing in common with the fictional ‘food’ beyond its name. It’s not a wafer, it’s not green, and above all, it’s not made of people. 🙂 Instead, it’s made of a mix of oils, carbs, and proteins, with vitamins and minerals added, designed to be a well-balanced nutritional shake that is designed to stand in as food. It is a creamy-white color liquid with a consistency of a smoothie, with a vaguely flour like smell and a taste that is quite distinctive. The makers claim you can survive on nothing but this without health issues. Whether or not this is true is beyond my level of skill analyzing, but I can tell you, anyone who eats this stuff will quickly appreciate real food in their diet simply because of the taste.

Soylent was made by software developers as a side project to a software project they were working on. Frustrated by how much effort it took to make the food, and the cost of poor-quality food, both on the pocketbook and at the doctor’s office, these developers sat down to design the perfect food, and have been refining their formula ever sense. As they are software developers, it is no surprise that they refer to their updated formulae using version numbers, and Soylent has seen four revisions since it ‘went live’ at version 1.0. Earlier versions of the shake had some…issues, including what has been called the ‘horse-killing fart’, which you can imagine is rather disturbing. This problem took two revisions to solve, and all but disappeared in version 1.3. However, I got in at 1.4, after they solved their supply problems. That will be the version I review.

Ordering Soylent is remarkably easy. Head over to Soylent.me, place your order, cough up to $300, and then wait. It used to be that that wait was a multi-month affair, but Soylent seems to have fixed their ordering problems, and what was a month-long wait is now a week long wait, and within the week, we had four boxes of brand-new soylent mix. The items were shipped to us in a giant, heavy box, so that may be an issue for you, but once the box was opened, a stack of smaller boxes, each with a week’s supply of 7 bags of Soylent, plus a box containing measuring implements, ended up stacked in our kitchen. A relatively painless process, costing about as much as you’d pay for a month of food, ready to be mixed with water. And this leads to the next part, preparation.

To prepare Soylent is as simple as emptying a bag of the stuff into the stylized pitcher, adding enough water to fill it to the top, and then shaking it up real good. This is a drawn out process and an excellent arm workout. Alternatively, you can just pour the stuff in your handy blender and then add water, and let the mains do all the work. End result? A beige concoction that smells strongly of flour. Previous versions of Soylent depended on a vial of liquid oil to add the necessary lipids for a balanced diet, but they managed to package the oil in the powder this time, eliminating the need to have both a powder and an oil vial. This vastly simplifies the process of making the Soylent, especially if you are making sub-day portions.

Now that we’ve talked about ordering and making the stuff, let’s talk eating the stuff. The first time I made the Soylent, I did so exactly by the instructions. What I got was a barely tolerable concoction that had a strong taste going down, and left a strong after-taste. I’d describe it as oily and pungeant, and others have pointed to the sunflower oil as the culprit. Initially, it has a gritty taste, but as the oils dissolve into the drink, the grit is replaced by an oily aftertaste. Regardless, you need a nice bottle of water handy.

So, I quickly hit the internet to find out what other people were doing. The answer seems to be the peanut butter or banana smoothie — add in PB or Bananas and blend the stuff together. This makes the Soylent lose much of its taste, and be easier on the aftertaste as well. Peanut butter seems to work well for this, so that’s what I’ve been using.

Soylent has been a good replacement for the unhealthy quick food that plagues the American diet. It gives decent levels in Vitamins and Minerals that are hard to get in most diets. It is not perfect (obviously, the perfect diet is a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other wholesome foods), but for someone who can’t afford the time to fix his own meals, this is a better replacement than McDonalds. I’ve noticed my energy levels to be healthier than eating out, and while it’s too early to know what this stuff’s health impact is, I have noticed a slow decrease in weight. Where 1000 calories of SlimFast left me a wastrel by the end of the workday, 1000 calories Soylent leaves me feeling energized. Instead of binging a 1000 to 1500 calorie dinner, I feel much better on 600 to 900 calories of dinner on Soylent. I don’t feel dead at the end of the day, which is good.

I’ll update as I can.

Technology and Asshattery, Disrespect of a Different Sort

Late last week, rumblings began on the Internet of an issue that would explode within a week into a massive shit-storm of epic proportions. What is it? A piece of scumware installed on Lenovo computers that not only annoys you with ads in every place, but does so by installing a certificate that allows for Man in the Middle Attacks. If you have a Lenovo computer, you might just want to either take it back or blow away its OS for something clean.

I’ve mentioned a few things about respect and the lack there-of. But this takes the cake. Because they want to inject ads _everywhere_, including into your HTTPS traffic, they have poked a massive hole into your security framework and exposed you to scummy jerks out there who want your HTTPS traffic for lots more than just shoving ads in your face. Lenovo has put all of their customers in jeopardy, forcing them to either spend money to undo the damage or risk exposing themselves to threats on the web. And for what? To shove a crappy ad in your face? Lenovo saved how much on the cost of their laptops for this shit?

Once again, we get screwed by utter disdain for each other.

DLC and games

Kotaku has an interesting article on DLC and how it’s a hated aspect of modern gaming. That spurred some interesting thoughts on DLC in my own mind.

DLC for those not familiar with the term is ‘DownLoadable Content”. DLC happens when you buy a game, and find that something that’s part of the game has its own charge. Gamers tend to rile against this, with terms like ‘pay to win’. It’s most common with Free to Play games — you can play the base game for free, but if you want the best gear, you either grind for hours upon hours, or you drop cash and play immediately.

Recently, Star Trek Online has been in the crosshairs for F2P/P2W shenanigans. A pack of 3 ships, for instance, can cost upwards of $60. On one hand, I don’t mind subsidizing a game’s price with DLC. A new ship breathes new life into a game I might put down, and new ships are new strategies and new things to learn about. But ship design takes effort, and it will cost money that might not have been spent if the ship was just added free to the game. On the other, $60 is a new boxed game. I should be getting a whole new game, clean out of the box, with whole new stories, for my $60, in addition to a set of shiny new Command Cruisers.

Scale? What’s that?

DLC doesn’t kill a game. Ridiculous DLC. That is what kills a game. And given how the PVE queues struggle to put together a single team for the vast majority of queues? STO is suffering that fate. Sad for a game that I paid for a Lifetime Sub to…

Reputation Management

Reputation Management is the process of manipulating social media systems to present yourself or your product in a different light. For most of us, Reputation Management is as simple as climbing through the internet and deleting previous posts you’ve made and cleaning up your online image. For developers, however, it extends to the products you make. Here’s one example of how Chinese developers are manipulating the app market.

So, next time you see a program that’s 5 star 1 million download good, yet when you install it, it’s craptapolistic, well, now you know how such a crappy app got such a good review and download count.

Ignorant Gits And Pedestrians: A Solution For Our Ongoing Car-On-Pedestrian Violence

Another day, another pedestrian being run over in the city of Denver. Again, the perp decides she’s gonna run from the consequences of her actions, forgetting that in today’s world, it’s all to easy to catch her.

As a pedestrian and bicyclist, this of course worries me. Getting hit while on a bicycle is a real problem, and I’ve had assholes cut me off, blow stop signs, and so on. So, I see this article this morning, before they caught her, and I’m like, “here we go again.” Then the article is updated as the perp got caught.

Vehicular Homicide (the hit victim died).
Leaving the scene of an accident.

All things she must answer for. If it’s proven she did leave the scene of an accident, I’d love to see this punishment enacted, and enacted against anyone who hits someone then flees. Here’s to her, standing on the corner of Colefax Avenue and Fox Street, holding up a sign that reads, “Hi. I’m the assholish git that hit someone at this intersection and then fled the consequences of their action. Don’t leave the scene of an accident, because if you do, you’ll be the next assholish git holding this sign.” Let’s bring on the public humiliation for this…see if that stops it.