Stuff wot I bought: Saitek Back catalog

Saitek are a company who have both impressed and bewildered me for many years now. I think I can honestly say I’m a fan and follow any new projects in the pipelines. They have shuffled around in to madcats recently but they seem to be in a good place at the moment. Saitek and their sub brand Cyborg and putting out some good products at the moment. Over the next few days I hope to share my thoughts on some of their newer ones with you.

Stories in my ears

After a couple of months of debating it I finally got an Audible subscription today. To put it bluntly it really does sum up why DRM just doesn’t work.
For those not in the know Audible is a subscription service for audiobooks. The basic plan gives you one audiobook a month for £8 a month and a discounted rate if you want to buy more (usually £4). Considering the cost of physical audiobooks this is fairly good value, no complaints there.
The problem is the format it comes in. Audible uses its own DRM file format which a few select players can play. Now this isn’t a problem when you have an Android or iPhone which have native Audible apps but what if you want to play it in the on a Windows Phone 7 handset?
There is a way to convert the files to MP3, the Audible website even tells you how to do half of it. Burn them to CD and rip them back to MP3.
So after downloading the files to my computer I then have to download iTunes which is the only player which is actively supported. Then you can make a playlist of the audio books and burn the to disc. That said you are best checking that you have a lot of spare CDs or a virtual ISO program as an audio book in CD audio format is going to take up half a dozen discs. Once that is done you can then rip the discs back to MP3.

OR you could download a pirate copy and save yourself a couple of hours of pain. If I wanted to I could have found a pirate copy in minutes and saved myself some time and money. When will companies learn that DRM like this doesn’t work. It punishes paying customers and does nothing to stop people who want to steal it doing so.

Audible you make me want to steal

Stuff wot I have bought – 3DS

I purchased my Nintendo 3DS after the price dropped to around £115. Although I was aware the software line up was extremely limited I nabbed mine from Tesco. I was well aware of the reason it is so cheap, they fudged up the launch. This is an attempt to get a larger install base after Nintendo realised they had a hand-held with more or less no games of any value available for it. I’ve bought it on a future promise that one day there will be games that will make it worthwhile, I also did this with my Wii….and Playstation Move…this doesn’t look good.

So now I have a hinged lump of three tone blue plastic with only Star Fox for it but somehow it is still in my coat pocket. I’ve had it for about 2 months but still haven’t had any streetpass interactions apart from when i went to Eurogamer Expo, or Mii Expo as it is now known. So every day it comes out with me to count my foot steps and every day I collect my Coin rewards for doing so. This lets me get hats for my Mii’s , this is my life now. I walk around to dress digital characters up in cat ears.
I really want to love this thing but Nintendo seem to be bad choices with it constantly. So far there are 3 games that might be interested in buying. However 3DS games are £35 RRP, #WHATAREYOUTHINKING. Talking of stupid pricing, the eShop is even more deluded. Super Mario Land, you know, from the gameboy with the Lions that spit at you, Evil Clouds and Submarine action? The one that came out in 1989, that’s the best part of £5. I’m afraid that’s well beyond the price I’m willing to flutter away on a whim, at that price I need to justify it.

The hardware itself is good. It’s up to the usual Nintendo standard, it feels like thick chunky plastic that you could drop without it making much of a dent. The 3D aspect works very well once you get lined up, I only wish there was something to look at. There are 3D videos available, oddly they only seem to have 4 available at a time…I don’t know why. I loved the “OK Go” video with the Dogs, it was fun and really showed of the 3D but that’s gone now so I can’t show anyone. I hope you like magic tricks and lizards as those are the only ones that seem to be updated regularly.

I can only hope that the up and coming titles like Mario Kart, Mario Land and Luigi’s mansion are up to scratch otherwise this is doomed to failure. The recent confirmation of the second circle pad strap-on worries me deeply, this is Nintendo panicking.

A games console is only as good as the games you can play on it. I’m currently playing Star Fox 64 3D so things aren’t all bad. As long as that can keep me interested until November when the Mario whoring starts they should hopefully be able to keep the 3DS dream alive. Thing are bleak at the moment but there is a silver lining.

Age of Empires: Online – Butchered

Age of Empire Online finally emerged in to the wild, boy have they hacked up the free version.

A most of the payment structure which I talked about in my last Age of Empire’s post is now wrong. Gas Powered games, what the hell are you guys doing there? You can’t play for 5 minutes without being reminded that you are on the crippled version. You guys seem to have made the best attempt possible to butcher the game up to limit the free to play players. You can’t even equip most of the drops you get it chests.

Next little annoyance I found with it was that you could only buy items from the shop using MS Points. Points which you can only buy in bulk. Bulk which is larger that a Premium Civilisation but not large enough for you to actually buy anything else with. I’ve never really had a problem with Games for Windows Live before but you guys really are a crafty bunch of jackals.

I was really hoping the AOE:O was going to be the return to form of the RTS genre. The game itself is solid, classic RTS with a spattering of RPG and gear elements. If you are willing to pay for a premium civilisation it is still well worth playing but don’t fool yourself in to thinking this is free. It’s a demo that unlocks when you feed it money.

ChromeBook Thoughts

I have recently had the chance to get my hands on a ChromeBook. I have to say I was impressed but do still have a reservation or two.

I understand the ChromeBook and its market. It is aimed at people who want to access the web, web apps and nothing more. It it is a perfect replacement for Netbooks which are something of a stopgap solution. They are aimed at your parents, they want to turn on, check ebay, upload pictures to Facebook then turn it off. They don’t have the knowledge or inclenation to do anything else.
In this respect ChromeBook’s cover all the bases and have been well designed to fill this niche. At around £350 for the Wifi only version and £400 for the 3G version they are also very attractively priced. They start up extremely quickly and provide a good browsing experience in a tightly controlled environment. There is very little for the end user to maintain, break or update. You could quite happily give this to your granmother and not have to explain how to use it. Even the battery is a integrated and sealed in to the bottom of the laptop. In one word: Focused

Being such a focused device it does have several trade offs. Offline support is still very limited, even most 1st party google apps don’t allow you to save the content to use when you can’t access the internet. I’m sure this will change as time goes on but it will cause problems for a lot of people. Printing is going to be a issue as well as most printers aren’t currently cloud enabled so if you need to print you won’t be able to use this as your only computer.

As a tool for accessing the internet Google and Samsung have nailed the concept and Chrome as an OS works well. Its a simple system for a user who doesn’t want to be concerned with anything else. It actually strikes me as a product Apple could have produced, the feature set is controlled but the trade off is a simple and slick experience. So would i buy one? No. Its a great device but I’m not the target audience.

SBS2011 – Changing default accepted domain breaking OWA

After recently installing an SBS2011 server for a customer I started setting up Exchange ActiveSync and IMAP on their iPad’s, Phones etc.
It soon became apparent that there was a problem. Although the devices would connect to the server they would come up with errors relating to not being able to download 0kb of a message, not being able to update folder lists and OWA would give you the following error if you tried to forward anything.

User host address: (Public IP Address)

User: (Username)

EX
Address: /o=First Organization/ou=Exchange Administrative Group
(FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)/cn=Recipients/cn=(Username)

SMTP
Address: mailto:Username@Domain.Com
Username@Domain.Com

OWA
version: 14.1.218.13

Mailbox
server: server.domain.local

Exception

Exception
type: System.ArgumentException

Exception
message: imceaDomain must be a valid domain name.

Call
stack

Microsoft.Exchange.Data.Storage.InboundConversionOptions.CheckImceaDomain(String
imceaDomain)

Microsoft.Exchange.Data.Storage.InboundConversionOptions..ctor(String
imceaDomain)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Core.Utilities.CreateInboundConversionOptions(UserContext
userContext)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Core.ReplyForwardUtilities.CreateForwardItem(BodyFormat
bodyFormat, Item item, ReplyForwardFlags flags, UserContext userContext,
StoreObjectId parentFolderId)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Premium.Controls.ItemForwardPreFormAction.Execute(OwaContext
owaContext, ApplicationElement& applicationElement, String& type,
String& state, String& action)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Core.RequestDispatcher.DoFinalDispatch(OwaContext
owaContext)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Core.RequestDispatcher.InternalDispatchRequest(OwaContext
owaContext)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Core.RequestDispatcher.DispatchRequest(OwaContext
owaContext)

Microsoft.Exchange.Clients.Owa.Core.OwaRequestEventInspector.OnPostAuthorizeRequest(Object
sender, EventArgs e)

System.Web.HttpApplication.SyncEventExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute()

System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep
step, Boolean& completedSynchronously

The problem is that if you change the Default domain in Exchange the external accepted domain has spaces in the name, it is “Windows SBS External Domain. You can get around this by either changing the Default domain back to *domain*.local or if that isn’t an option do the following:

Open Exchange PowerShell and run the following cmdlet: Get-AcceptedDomain

We now wanted to ammend it to a name without spaces or special characters. Run the following commend let inserting your external domain name in at the end: Set-AcceptedDomain -Identity “Windows SBS External Domain” -Name “Domain.co.uk”

Then run the get cmdlet again: Get-AcceptedDomain

You should now see that it has updated. Close the PowerShell

Final thing you will need to is Restart IIS.