Starcraft 2 patch, reviving Brood War (Free-to-play SC1 remake?)

Blizzard’s StarCraft II patch to v2.1 released earlier this week introduces certain free-to-play features (map editor, Arcade access, access to additional races, etc.) but also two nice tips of the hat to SC1/Brood War players:

1: Big Game Hunters is finally back, and official! (Click here & scroll down a bit.)

2: An HD remaster of the original StarCraft soundtrack has been added to the Options–>Sounds menu.

Let the good (old) times roll!

Also: Amazing the difference the soundtrack makes to the StarCraft 1 remake, StarCraft Mass Recall. Still an open question as of this post as to whether or not it works for free-to-play players, but I’d bet it works.

Have you tried, or are you ready to download the free-to-play edition of SC2 and give it a go? I’m dying to know – Please comment below.

Windows key mapping – Scancode map

I’ve now held on to a beautiful old IBM Model M and used it as my primary keyboard for 13 years. Came from a school district auction, along with a Commodore 64 monitor that became my first dorm television. This keyboard’s likely seen every major build of Windows since 3.1.

For this and any other device that lacks a Windows Key, however, the need for its addition is feeling ever more pressing. The keyboard-heavy interface in MetroUI greatly benefits from finding some way to fake it. Luckily, the need for others is rapidly dwindling. (Many use Caps Lock, I prefer Scroll Lock.)

In particular, check out Windows Key+Q, a Search Charm being used throughout the MetroUI environment. The Windows Key on its own handily toggles between MetroUI and the conventional desktop, as well, although that much can also be accomplished with CTRL+ESC. Other new or updated shortcuts are listed here by the Aussies at Lifehacker.com.

Luckily, while the need has grown, the fix has stayed the same since Windows 2000. To reiterate, this fix works in Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and all builds of Windows Server.

Software-free automated fix: Download either of these Registry Editor files to remap the Caps Lock or Scroll Lock to the Windows key. Open them, say “yes” when prompted by the Registry Editor, and reboot.

Manual fix – If you want to edit or undo this, here’s how:

Step 1: Run Regedit. Hit CTRL+ESC to enter MetroUI, type “regedit” and select it from Apps.

(Already have a Windows key, or running an older version of Windows? Just Windows Key+R or Start–>Run Regedit)

Step 2: Within Regedit, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlKeyboard Layout.Regedit on Windows 8 - Essentially unchanged

Step 3: If creating a new mapping, go to Edit–>New–>Binary Value. If changing or erasing an existing mapping, knock yourself out. Double click or right-click–>Delete away.

Step 4: After making any changes, reboot.

The syntax can be a little tricky, but I recommend either this excellent ExpertsExchange.com post on the same subject. Great detailed per-key scancode list at the bottom of his original post. (Alternatively, this post covers longer registry keys, adding a second and third remapping key-pair.)

Hope someone out there finds this useful!

Update:
Tested in Windows 8.1, and works fine in Windows 10, too, if you run Regedit from the Start Menu or a normal Run dialog.

I’m back!

I’m back online, and more importantly, so’s MrZaius.com – Now being edited from Pristina, Kosovo. Not much warranted talking about after leaving Nepal and arriving in Santiago (and not much warranted talking about in Nepal, judging by the old posts restored here), but hopefully I’ll have an insight or two worth spamming folks about now that I’m back out in the real world.

It’s strange how much of a difference it makes, having an international border between you and the nearest McDonald’s. Definitely makes life a great deal more interesting.

This site was once hosted gratis by my former employer, the late great GSI Hosting – Sadly, my server there is long deceased & offline, but I’m starting anew on EC2 & moving some content back to NearlyFreeSpeech.net. Highly recommend NFS, but still have a lot to learn about EC2 before saying the same.

Hey: There’s a decent thing to write about. Hmm… That’d be original and everything, right? Well, maybe not, but at least I might be that guy that finally posts a decent “here’s how much a low/no-traffic WordPress site costs to host” post.

I swear – If one more guy had posted instructions to reach EC2’s pricing calculator instead of just giving a basic answer about real throughput & storage requirements, I’d have just given up and tried to see for myself. Matter of fact, that’s precisely what happened.

Enough rambling. Time for sleep.

Old posts follow

What follows are what I could recover from my old, long lost site. Not much missing, except a hotel review or three. Locked for comments.

Two stories made for each other

From el Reg:

Colonel: US Army has working electropulse grenades

From The Washington Post:

Lost U.S. Weapons May Be Going to Taliban, GAO Says

Is this what safety feels like? Brings to mind an awesome idea for a finale to Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Using time travel, future humans who were somehow affected by the events of the first three Terminator films (for continuity’s sake) return to the past and loot US Army munitions stores, feeding the Taliban and leading to an Afghan-led victory over the machines. Yay!

(To the overly pedantic: Yes, I’m aware that the latter is about lax controls over gifts of arms to tribal militias. Still, these stories make for one hell of a set of neighbors sitting one tab apart in Firefox.)

Climate change – Unavoidable through passive means, but what about more active measures?

Ship stranded by the retreat of Kazakhstans Aral Sea
Ship stranded by the retreat of Kazakhstan's Aral Sea

NPR reports that a scientist at NOAA, Susan Solomon, says that the damage done by our CO2 emissions has already reached the stage that a considerable amount of future damage is unavoidable, going so far as to use the term “irreversible” to win some new and much needed press coverage. While the soundbite above hardly breaks new ground, one must wonder if Solomon studied active methods to combat this phenomenon. She seems to have a lot to say about the relative inadequacy of cutting emissions now, but I wonder what she’d say if queried about the possible role of devices like those used by the fictional teraformers of Mars in Kim Stanley Robinson’s award winning novels? What possible role should orbital mirrors and the like play in trying to mitigate the impact of these changes?  To tone things down to the realm of something not just possible and plausible but something that she might feel free to approach with more of a straight face, what role can solar radiation management in the broad, general sense play in mitigating the impact of global warming? These questions really need to be asked more often if the necessary but apparently grossly inadequate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that currently drive international debate ain’t going to cut it.

Anyone know enough to simply dismiss those options out of hand? I’m not familiar enough with the topic to tell the crazy fringe from the unpopular fringe. They do seem to get some coverage in the pop-sci press, ala New Scientist. See Sunshade’ for global warming could cause drought by Catherine Brahic.

Via: Global Warming Irreversible, NOAA Scientist Finds on Slashdot.org

Via’s Nano still missing

It’s official – Via’s not going to come to market anytime soon. Considering the raging success of Intel’s Atom, it’s hard to imagine how (even in this economy), Via can’t get the only viable competitor to market.

I’ve previously written (maybe not here, but *eh*) about my desire to pick up a Via Isaiah/Nano/C-Vapor processor-powered HTPC, to do the job of running my storage, media player, and firewall apps on a single box, isolated from my main desktop. Unfortunately, however, Tom’s Hardware reports that the dual-core version is still more than a year out (More details). Combine this with the simple fact that Via claimed to “ship” the product almost a year ago, but it’s still not available on the open market.

This sucks. The Atom is hardly as inspiring, lacking any real muscle but also lacking any sort of functional GPU component. Boxed into the crappy Intel graphic chipsets, and without any sort of hardware-level extensions for media decoding, encryption, or compression, it is an incredibly lackluster component in comparison. Yes, it may benchmark pretty well against the shipping-but-missing Nano, but noone buys a netbook to run Quake – People buy netbooks to run software that can be very, very heavily optimized for the right kind of processor. Tying in the gzip decompression of Firefox, full-disk encryption requirements for laptops, and hardware-assisted decoding of digital media with a processor designed to take the load would result in a much better product.

That said, though, I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to buy an Atom based mini-PC rather than wait 13-14 months for Via to finally make their parts available. An Eee w/HDMI would fit 2/3 of the needs outlined above and, in this particular case, have an incredibly compelling design. With integrated UPS, HDMI support with sound (thanks to a discrete AMD GPU), and a stylish design, this box is one of the most compelling devices I’ve seen in a long time. Now if only it was had the hardware-level instructions necessary to also run my VPN on this boring little processor.

*le sigh*

Fallout3 – The RIGHT level cap solution.

Complete review here.

I’m 60 hours in to the 80 hour game, and I’ve already hit the level cap. While fan patches exist (http://www.fileplanet.com/194463/190000/fileinfo/Fallout-3—Skill-Level-Cap-100-Mod) they aren’t the right approach:
What the creators should do is:
1: Slow the development of all experience by 10-25% or drop the benefits from leveling by a similar amount.
2: Raise the level cap by two
3: Clearly warn the user when they’re hitting the level cap.

This last is extremely important, as the user currently isn’t warned anywhere about the impending level cap, but there are compelling multiple traits that can only be added at the final level-up. Warn the user and let them make an informed choice with their final choice.

The level cap is a valuable thing, keeping you reasonably in line with the rest of the world but at a high enough level that the game is quite a bit easier. If this can’t be done in a mod like the one linked above, it should be done by the developers. As it is, the game is out of balance, and far more so than….. say…. StarCraft or Company of Heroes, when they shipped and then got multiple patches that rewrote the stats of substantial numbers of character classes.

Illinois: Who should I vote for – OR – Ballot access

Being registered in Illinois where Obama won the Senate race by a 30-point margin (and lost in my home county by the same), there seems to be next to zero chance that the state will vote Republican for the first time since Reagan. As such, I’d be throwing my vote away if I vote for a Democrat or a Republican. The only goal I can hope to reach with my senatorial and presidential votes is to help ensure future ballot access for a third party or two. Disregarding certain joke candidates and the rather scary Socialists and Constitution types, should I be voting for crazy tree huggers or crazy capitalists?

The old hippy lady runnin’ on the Green ticket for the Senate seems a little, well, odd. Is the party dead in Illinois? Is the Libertarian party any more or less likely to lose ballot access than the Greens in the near future? Should I split the vote and go for a lib Presidential candidate and a Green in the Senate?

Please keep in mind that I don’t give the slightest bit of a hoot about any of the following when formulating a response:

  • Abortion
  • Gun ownership

And I do care rather a lot (obviously) about consumer, privacy, and fair use rights. I’d love to see the borders opened up to substantially higher numbers of immigrants, and I wish to see barriers to international trade continue to be chopped away. I’d like to see poverty abated in the third world, and feel that the problem in the United States is miniscule in comparison. Obviously neither the Greens nor the Libs are a good fit, but neither are the (D)s and (R)s. Any thoughts?

Pontificating

Here’s what someone should build (Tom – Are you listening?):

It seems patently obvious that there would be a market for an entirely self-contained, easy to use SOHO inventory management device. Call it “Library in a Pocket” or something like that, but all you need is a cheap little ARM based Linux handheld with a barcode and RFID scanner. There are people who have cludged together similar systems for PalmOS and Linux, but most commit a number of common sins:

A: Expect some other backend to be used alongside the handheld package.
B: Build it around add-ons to existing PDAs and PC hardware.
C: Lack of polished, focused design targeting the real potential users of these products.

When you eliminate any notion that another device or computer is a relevant part of this system and make it so obvious that no training is necessary to bring in and check out an item from the device itself (picture IN & OUT buttons that are as easy to use as the thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons on a Tivo), you create something simple enough that pack rats, small rental firms, small shops, etc. can reliably keep their entire inventory on that single, portable, easy-to-manage device. Add a numeric keypad to allow manual entry of barcode numbers and invoice numbers for associated POS systems, and you find yourself stripped of any need to maintain a seperate scanning device for it.

Obviously the user needs the ability to generate certain reports based on this data, but there’s no reason that can’t be done in the device: A little 200mhz ARM would be far more powerful than necessary to generate CSV data for manipulation in common database and spreadsheet applications and to turn it into one or two basic ODF or PDF reports.

/End of rant