Starcraft II

I’ve been playing a bunch of Starcraft II lately.  I have to say the game is shaping up to be a classic. Most of the races have different units, though a few key units carry over from Starcraft. Such as the Zealot, Carrier, Zergling, Hydralisk, Marine, and Battlecruiser. Even though a few of the units are the same they’ve been tweaked slightly to fit in with the new units added to each race.

So far I don’t really have a favorite race as I’ve been playing all my matches as random. Of course this means I never really learn any one strat very well so I think it’s hurting my overall ability to play. But it’s fun to learn all the races. They also automatically record replays of all your matches so you can go watch what other players did to slaughter you :).

I’ve been doing 2v2 matches over the last couple of days with my brother, and in one memorable match the other team accused us of using “hacks” claiming we had more resources than they did. Which was really funny since they had totally wiped my brother out, and he had like 5 units left.

Also the recently sent out a wave of invite a friend Beta keys and I have an extra key. Anyone think they’ll play the beta a bunch and need a key?

Gmail Finally Adds Security

If you haven’t heard already Google has finally added a feature to gmail that allows you to use SSL (https) for all traffic from your browser to the site. Until recently while your login was secure everything you saw in the gmail page was sent over normal unencrypted http. As it turns out someone has found a flaw in gmail’s authentication which will let people get fairly easy access to your account if you don’t use https all the time.

So if you’re a frequent gmail web client user log into gmail right now, click settings in the upper right corner. Under here select “Always use https” under browser connection. Google claims your connection might be a bit slower due to the encryption but I haven’t notice any slowdown.

Video Game First Impressions

Today two tidbits of videogame fun were released.  Blizzard released the opening cinemetic of their new World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and LucasArts released their demo of “The Force Unleashed.”

Sadly neither of these exactly lived up to my expectations. On the WoW front the movie was sort of lame. They show a glacier, Arthas walks around in the snow, smashes the ground and raises an icewyrm. Whoop dee do. Sadly it made me less excited about the expansion than I was before.

Perhaps it’s just my time away from WoW and enjoying other stuff that has me bored with everything WoW. In fact I’m much more looking forward to Starcraft II and Diablo III than the new WoW Expansion.

As for the new LucasArts game I’ve been really looking forward to The Force Unleashed. This game sort of looks like the successor to the Jedi Knight series, and I’ve been waiting for a good lightsaber romp since Jedi Outcast. Sadly this game might not deliver.

The game is set just before “Star Wars: A New Hope” and you play Darth Vader’s secret apprentice who helps hunt down the Jedi. So far so good but there are a couple issues, firstly LucasArts in their genius have decided to NOT release a PC port of this game. Instead since it’s “really detailed” it seems that PCs are too weak to process all the graphics/physics. So this game will only be released on PS3, PS2, Xbox360, Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS, iPhone and some other cellphones etc.

Guess what? I think my PC can handle it. I think LucasArts has decided that the market for PC games isn’t big enough to warrant the port, or their afraid of piracy. Sadly while the game concept is cool it just doesn’t seem to fit well on a console. The controls are a bit convoluted and in my opinion poorly done.

Playing the demo I had problem controlling the camera even after I changed the default settings so that the x axis was properly reversed. It seems that the camera doesn’t stick very well to your character and I often found myself trying to kill a guy who was out of my view. Sure you can rotate the camera but it would be nice if it followed you a bit more tightly by default. Like with every other good 3rd person game (Ninja Gaiden, Uncharted, Splinter Cell etc.)

It’s also a bit disappointing since in the demo at least you don’t have any LONG ranged attacks except throwing stuff at people. This is sort of cool at first but as far as I could tell you couldn’t easily change what you were targeting with your force power. So when you’re trying to hit some Stormtroopers it can be hard to pick up the right box so you can toss it. I often ended up grabbing random crap and missing since the item was blocked by other boxes. They really need a way to toggle through force targets in your LOS without having to shift your camera/move about.

My only other real complaint about the demo besides the clunky controls is that the lightsaber fighting isn’t very satisfying. In fact it can take 3-4 or more chops with your lightsaber to kill a Stormtooper, and more sometimes to kill some random unarmored guy. Unlike Jedi Outcast where at least you could chop off some limbs while swinging the saber this game lets you hit a few times then the guy disappears. So the lightsaber combat just doesn’t feel like real Jedi lightsaber combat. In fact Knights of the Old Republic felt much better and it was TURN based combat.

The graphics and sound are pretty good and up to par for a current gen console game. It also looks like the game might have a good story. So despite the flaws in control (it’s not Obi-Wan bad) I’ll probably still pick this game up as I’m always a sucker for anything Star Wars.


Well I’ve done it, I canceled my WoW account. Sadly it’s because I really don’t have much of a reason to play anymore. Several of my friends stopped playing, then about 3 weeks ago my guild’s two tanks decided to take a break leaving us stranded.

On top of that one of the tanks was the primary raid leader and there wasn’t anyone really there to take his place. Even so we might have receovered but losing our two geared tanks sort of did us in. We were through Illidan and working on SWP and honestly you can’t just pick of a random tank to fill in when you’re that far. So people starting bailing pretty quickly and all that’s left in the guild are the super casual players, and people who got a bit tired with the whole raid grind.

I guess I could have joined a different guild but I myself was getting a bit tired of raiding especially without my friends around. Plus there’s always the fun of trying to apply to a new guild, and hoping that you don’t end up with a bunch of people you can’t stand. I just don’t enjoy playing with $random people I haven’t met enough to go through all that effort.

So despite having some of the best raiding gear in the game, I’ve pulled the plug on my account. Perhaps I’ll return with WotLK and start raiding again but who knows.

RIP Edge of Eternity

How to fix a Corrupted Time Machine Backup

The other day time machine decided to stop working for me and kept giving me errors about mounting the backup image. After firing up I found that the sparsebundle which time machine stores the backup data in was corrupted. This is a bad thing since if I couldn’t find a way to fix the image all my backups for the last 6 months would be lost :(.

My first step on the road to fixing the problem was to open the bundle with “Disk Utility” and see if repair disk would work. To do this you need to drag the back image (the .sparsebundle) and drop it on disk utility. Then you can select the image and press “Repair Disk”. Usually if if you have some disk corruption this would fix it, but not for me.

After working for a couple minutes Disk Util would fail at repairing the disk since it found an “Invalid Sibling Link”. It seems the disk was corrupted and the disk repair utility decided it wasn’t going to repair it. Worried that my backups were gone for good I did some Googling and found that this problem isn’t totally uncommon. It seems that Disk Utility is just fairly bad at repairing disks and that using the “real” disk repair utility fsck_hfs might actually fix the problem.

Of course there’s one problem fsck_hfs has to be used directly on a block device not a “sparsebundle” disk image. Not only that but the volume you run the util on cannot be mounted and OS X always tries to mount the image when you click on it. The solution? Use the command line tool hdiutil to “attach” but not “mount” the image. This makes OS X create a /dev/ device for the sparse bundle but doesn’t actually mount the filesystem.

So combining hdiutil and fsck_hfs we might have a way to fix the disk image. Note: Make sure you turn off Time Machine in the System Preferences panel. We don’t want Time Machine trying to mount our image and back up to it until we’re done making all the repairs.

First I ran hdiutil:

hdiutil attach -nomount -readwrite Bhaal_0011247e3338.sparsebundle

After a minute or two of thinking we had success:

/dev/disk1              Apple_partition_scheme
/dev/disk1s1            Apple_partition_map
/dev/disk1s2            Apple_HFSX

The next step was run fsck_hfs on the main volume.

fsck_hfs -rf /dev/disk1s2

-f is required to force a check since this is a journaled file system. I also used -r to have it rebuild the filesystem catalog for the “invalid sibling link” this is required (thanks Dan). At this point I went out for breakfast since I was running a disk repair utility over my wireless internet to my Linux SAMBA server. After coming back from breakfast we had success!

** /dev/rdisk1s2
** Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.
** Detected a case-sensitive catalog.
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
** Rebuilding Catalog B-tree.
** Rechecking volume.
** Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.
** Detected a case-sensitive catalog.
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
   Incorrect number of thread records
(4, 13716)
** Checking multi-linked files.
** Checking Catalog hierarchy.
   Invalid directory item count
   (It should be 0 instead of 1)
   Invalid directory item count
   (It should be 3 instead of 4)
   Incorrect folder count in a directory (id = 3795486)
   (It should be 0 instead of 1)
** Checking Extended Attributes file.
** Checking multi-linked directories.
** Checking volume bitmap.
** Checking volume information.
   Invalid volume free block count
   (It should be 37267681 instead of 37310834)
   Volume Header needs minor repair
(2, 0)
** Repairing volume.
** Rechecking volume.
** Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.
** Detected a case-sensitive catalog.
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
** Checking multi-linked files.
** Checking Catalog hierarchy.
** Checking Extended Attributes file.
** Checking multi-linked directories.
** Checking volume bitmap.
** Checking volume information.
** The volume Backup of Bhaal was repaired successfully.

iPhone 2.0, now 10% more expensive!

Well today Apple announced the new 3G iPhone which I’ve been waiting for. I had planned to pick an iPhone up but unfortunately Apple has raised the price. Wait you say, didn’t Apple also announce a $200 price cut starting the iPhone out at $199 for an 8GB and $299 for a 16GB.

You’re right they give you a small discount, only they didn’t mention that ATT has now increased the data plan cost from $20 to $30 a month. This means you now pay $10 a month more for your iPhone than before. Since you need a 2 year contract over 24 Months you now pay $40 more for the iPhone than you did prior to this “price cut”.

I guess you now get 3G speeds, and GPS so perhaps the $40 increase is worth it. But given a year of time I’d expect costs to go down so more features for the same price should be what we get. I don’t think the dollar’s dropped a whole 10% against the rest of the world in the last year.

Now after seeing AT&T’s price increase I’m not sure I want to get an iPhone. $70 a month is a lot for phone service. I pay $40 or so for my 6MB/s DSL including the phone line so this cell cost seems a bit pricey.

Nerdfest 2008? Should I go?

It looks like Blizzard has decided to host a Blizzcon convention for the year 2008 down in Anaheim Oct 10th-11th. As I’m currently fairly active playing WoW at the moment I’m tempted to go to learn about their upcoming games, try out Starcraft II, and maybe meet some WoW guildies in real life.

I’ve never been to a convention like this and I’m not sure I want to go by myself. My “real life” friends who play WoW are all still at school and hitting up a convention is probably out for them. Anyone out there ever been to something like Blizzcon (Comic Con, GenCon or some other ConCon)? Is this something that’s worth going to by oneself or does it need to be experienced with friends. Something tells me it’s not worth going unless I can drag convince someone to come with.

Is the war almost over?

There’s some big news on the whole next gen Hi-Def DVD format. It appears that since Warner dropped HD-DVD the red camp is being hit with a massive attack of bad news.

Ars Technica and others are reporting two pieces of bad news for those of you who support the red discs. Firstly, Best Buy has decided to recommend Blu-Ray over HD-DVD to customers. While they won’t stop selling HD-DVD players/discs at the moment their sales associates will advise people looking for High Def content to head Blu-Ray’s way. While this probably doesn’t directly effect anyone reading my blog as most of you probably don’t take Blue Shirt advice (want a service plan)?

The bigger nail in HD-DVD’s coffin is that Netflix has decided that it will no longer carry HD-DVD. As of now they will not be buying new HD-DVD discs and will be removing the current HD-DVD’s from circulation in the coming months.

Both of these pieces of news mean that people have even more reason to go blue and not red when buying their movies. This will likely drive more consumers into the Blu-Ray camp which is probably a good thing overall. Honestly, neither standard will really catch on as long as both still exist. Hopefully, Universal and Paramount give up their silly ways and start releasing Blu-Rays so I can get Bourne and Serenity in High-Def.

As for those of you who bought Laserdisc 2.0 I hope you enjoy your collector’s items.

Make Time Machine Backup To Any Volume

After a long search around the net I found a simple way to make leopard enable time machine for any backup system. This includes backup up to a NFS or Samba share over a network. Simple open and run the following command:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

That’s it, after that you should be able to choose your mounted volume in time machine for backup. Now I just need to figure out how to force time machine to backup to a subdirectory rather than my linux home directory. I might have to make an explicit Samba share for that.

Edit based on someone’s comment

If the above command isn’t working for you try using sudo:

sudo defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1