Wednesday, April 4, 2012


New blog is located at

See you there!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tech that WORKS: My Legendary IBM Thinkpad

A few years ago, when I entered my first year at the Karel de Grote college, all IT students had to buy their own laptop to use during the lessons. I bought an IBM (Lenovo) thinkpad. Not the sexiest laptop (damn, I swore to only use this word when referring to women, but now I failed). It's just a black, business-like laptop, and nothing else. It doesn't try to be anything else. But it's damn good at what it does, and that's the important part.

"Technology doesn't always need to be the latest brand new gadget stuff to be in my liking."

During the first years of its life, the thinkpad was really put to the test. For 3 years, it travelled almost every day from the rural town of Wuustwezel to the big city of Antwerp in my backpack.
Shamefully I must admit that I often moved it around while it was powered on. I can remember a few cases where it was dropped, or hit by something. Cables were constantly plugged in and out. Its videocard got pretty hot when I used it to play 3D games for hours. Its harddisk was under heavy load with every other install of school-related development software like IDEs, Database Servers, Webservers, and Virtual Machines. Its processor, RAM and motherboard were constantly working to get everything done.

Around me, laptops of my fellow students started to fail. Power cords and adapters got broken. Screens started to fall apart. Memory got corrupted. Keyboards started to break. Or their casing just got all messy and worn off. In some cases, the poor machines just got dumped by their owners, who wanted the newest and flashiest stuff. And who can blame them? Because obviously, times pass and technology advances. For quite a while now, I'm using a fancy new pc that runs on Windows 7.

But the old thinkpad is still in service. I haven't replaced it with another laptop. I carry it around the house, or my girlfriend uses it to do some work when she's here. The thinkpad still runs after 4,5 years without ever reformatting. It still has the same Windows XP installation, stripped of all graphical effects for maximum performance. It's still fast enough, and it even runs some "heavy" games of a few years ago. There are no signs of any wear and tear. No broken keys, no loose screen that sways in all directions.

There was one minor defect during its entire lifetime. Suddenly it started overheating. I solved this by opening the thing up, blowing some air into it, and closing it back up. Surprise, surprise, it worked! Probably something was blocking a fan.

In the video below, you can see a a guy that pours water over his thinkpad, which keeps on running fine. I obviously didn't try that myself, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. There are similar videos as well.

Anyway, let's hope this machine keeps on running for a while. But if it suddenly decides to cross the river and enter laptop-heaven, I totally understand. If not, this thing is very welcome to stay with me for eternity, as it will always have a place in my "tech that WORKS" memories.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

6 PC game install and menu annoyances

*UPDATE: Corrected some errors*

Time for a little rant. After playing some recent PC games, some things got on my nerves. No gameplay annoyances this time - They all have something to do with installers and menus.

Note: My own game failed on some of these points - my (lame) excuse is that it was a no-budget casual game.

English, please

Don't ever install anything in dutch on my computer. I beg you. Yes, dutch is my mother tongue. No, I do not watch any movies with dutch overdubs. In my opinion, movie-cowboys in Texas should not be dubbed in German and Nazi's should not speak English with a German accent... And for the same reason I will never, ever play a shooter in Dutch, where teammates yell "De Fijanden komen eraan" with a horrible accent. Just give me a list to select my preferred language when installing, and we're ok.

Note: If there was a "Matroesjkas" videogame in native Aaantwerps, I'd be honoured to play it. "Iedereen blijve staan of ik knal de cravate zen flosj eraf!" - or something like that.

Don't spam

Don't bug me about playing online, registering online, starting extra downloads, creating an online profile or any of that crap unless I specifically ask for it (by navigating to the multiplayer menu for example). Don't install any services, tray icons and/or download managers unless I command you to. I already bought the game - There's no possible gain in spamming and bugging me.

Don't pretend

If I need to manually restart the game after configuring my video resolution etc ingame, why even bother putting that option there? Just make a pre-config windows dialog or something. It may not be as fancy, but it saves me some time.

No labyrinths please

It's cool to have a fancy menu screen. But the main purpose of a menu is to be easy to navigate. Both with mouse and keyboard. So keep all your rotating 5-layered labyrinth clusters for your own entertainment, don't put them in a consumer product!

Try first, enjoy later

I like cool intro movies and intriguing stories. But before I immerse myself in the game experience, I want to make sure the game runs smoothly, that my controls are correct and just try out the gameplay for one minute. So if you don't plan to include a skirmish/freeroam/practice mode, at least give me the option to skip those intro movies! Preferably by pressing escape, space or enter. This prevents me from bashing my keyboard and other hardware.

The way out

Finally: If I press Escape, this means I want to pause the game and/or go to the menu (or go to a higher menu level). Nothing else. Ever. If I'm in a hurry, and I press Alt + F4, this means I want the game to exit immediately. Without warning. Without saving. If that doesn't work, I'll go with ctrl-alt-delete, uninstall the game and eat both the dvd and the packaging with ketchup.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mission successful!

Newsflash: The game/experiment is over!

We had 99 participants... Damn, so close to 100! :) Anyway, the minimum of 60 was easily achieved.

This means my work is over... Which is not the case for my partner in crime Laura: The experiment was part of her master thesis, and she's currently processing all the data and writing the paper. Since all the data is looking good, "mission succesful" is the right thing to say.

Now the experiment is over, it's no longer possible to submit the survey or your highscore. I removed the download from moddb to prevent people from trying to fill in the survey in vain. But in a couple of days/weeks, I'll have a version of the game online with all the survey stuff stripped out.

Again, thanks to all the people who played and/or told others about the game!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

So how's our online experiment going?

So far, we've had 36 survey participants in the past 4,5 days. Not a huge number, but not bad either... Let's just hope we can keep up the pace and get around a 100 participants over the next three-four weeks.

Of course, we still can't give away what the survey is all about. Let's just say, the collected data is looking good so far. 

Additionally, we've had 772 pageviews on moddb and 140 game downloads.

You can view the highscores here: To get yourself in that list, you have to complete the game on 'hard'. To be the best, you need to beat Sheldor The_Conquerer, who has an impressive highscore of 445 points. Difficult, but not impossible... 480 points is the maximum!

Our thanks go out to Davy for giving us some publicity from his blog, and to all other people who participated and told others about the game! We really appreciate the effort.

If you haven't had the time to play yet, hurry to and give it a try! And spread the word to all your friends, family, coworkers, neighbours, facebook friends, blog followers, twitter followers, myspace buddies and random people on the bus and on the street.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You can finally play it!

Well, after some delay (exactly one week), the game is ready!

You can download the game from Check out the screenshots and other info, or navigate straight to the 'downloads' section. After downloading, unzip the archive and follow the instructions in the readme (or just click Setup - next - next - next... if you can't wait any longer).

One more important note: Please do not give away the 'clue' of the survey to other people after you've played the game, and answer the questions as honestly as possible. We need as many 'good' participants as possible.

Thank you for participating, and have fun! :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BDM vs the bug from hell, episode 1.

Just a short note. My little XNA Game was planned to be released... today. Too bad, in the last few days, a new bug has emerged. Not just *A* bug. The most horrific bug I ever faced. Almost impossible to debug and real bitch to test. And so damn annoying it kinda ruins the fun of the game.

Although I tried everything, from changing every possible parameter to bashing my keyboard until it started to continuously produce 'qkqkqkqkqkqkqk' until I rebooted it (I didn't even know that was possible!), it's still not fixed.

Which implies that the release is delayed until that bitch is fixed. The bad news: no clue how long it's going to take. The good news: once it's fixed, everything is immediately ready for the release.

Well, let's hope I'll have more luck tomorrow. :-)