27 February 2014

Automated application installation or why I LOVE!

Yeah, that's a big image up there, but I wanted you to see how it looks like. One of my favorite websites out there, one that I mention to just about everyone I know that does software installations. Now I will share it with you.

So what does Ninite do? Imagine you just did a fresh install of Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8... doesn't matter), fixed all the drivers and are ready to install all those applications you may need: web browser (who uses Internet Explorer anyway? :) ), audio and/or video players, PDF viewers... whatever. Why do it one by one when you can batch select a whole lot of them and just let Ninite install them all? That's exactly what it does - it gives you an opportunity to install dozens of useful freeware applications that you would install anyway with just a few clicks. And it will automatically give you the latest versions plus it will detect if you are using a 32-bit or 64-bit Windows. Really, really useful. You can see the list of all the available apps on the screenshot above (I never installed the Microsoft Office package that is offered, I have no idea what it is actually. My guess is a trial version, but if you don't want that - there's always OpenOffice and LibreOffice available!) and there's hardly anything missing. With the exception of Adobe Flash - it used to be there (two versions: Internet Explorer and other browsers) but it was removed after Adobe no longer allowed outside sources to provide Flash downloads.

How does it work? You select what you need, whether its just one or fifty apps and proceed to download a single executable file. You run that file and watch its progress as it installs what you selected. It's that simple. There is no customization at all, it will install to apps default paths and give you a log at the end in case something was not installed (in case the app is already present on the system or any other error that may have occurred).

Ninite also offers Professional version of its service, the one I never tried so I cannot say how good it is. But it's really for a very limited number of users and most of you will never need that (Pro version is for system administrators that take care of multiple computers).

Ninite currently works only with Windows and Ubuntu Linux. And it's all FREE!

That's it! I hope I helped you with this text. Enjoy your one click installations!

19 February 2014

True Detective

Former Louisiana State CID partners Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle give separate statements to a pair of investigators about the murder of a prostitute, Dora Lange, 17 years earlier. As they look back, details of the crime, replete with occult overtones, are accompanied by insights into the detectives’ volatile partnership and personal lives.

That is really all you need to know about this show before you start watching it. And you should watch it. Period. It's a true masterpiece even though it's only been 5 episodes so far. The story, the production, dialogues, the entire cast... simply fantastic! Both McConaughey and Harrelson are incredibly convincing, completely in their own roles, I just can't find the words to describe them. Cohle is an amazing character with his unique philosophy, dark view of life, total alienation from other people. He could be a reason why some people might stay away from True Detective, he's not easily acceptable character, but I am sure he will soon (if not already) have a huge fanbase in the near future. Hart, on the other hand, is a simple southerner, with regular real-life problems and sins. A completely opposite kind of person, a cop who tries to life his life as he was told do, but also an unfaithful husband. A regular kind of guy, eh?

Mind that this show is kinda slowly paced, it might even seem too slow at times. But in the same time it will make you think about things you never even considered before, mainly due to Cohle's rather unique philosophy.

I don't want to say anything else so I don't spoil the joy of watching. I am sure you will like True Detective and if my text is not enough - think of Michelle Monaghan. Should be enough :)

14 February 2014

How old is my PS3, really?

Here's the deal: I finally got myself a PS3! That sure took a while, but they've just been to expensive and most of the games I'd play on it were also available on PC (God bless Steam, its games and the sales they have!). But this time I had a great offer, one of those too-good-to-refuse deals: an 80GB second generation PS3 with 2 wireless controllers, a HDMI cable (those tend to be kinda expensive if they are branded and this one is made by Microsoft) and FIFA 2010 which I am probably never going to play and finally, "some random papers, probably manuals... in a wrap" (I will get back to this at the end). All that for 100 Euros. Cute, eh?

I took it home, plugged it in, had a little trouble with HDMI that was set for full HD while I only had a HD-ready TV screen. Fixed that, then had some minor trouble navigating the menus since it was all in Danish language but I figured it out. After 30 minutes or so, I made a factory reset, signed into PSN with my brand new username and voila - I am a proud owner of a PlayStation 3. But one thing was still bugging me - how much was it used before I took it in and is it in danger of a dreaded YLOD (Yellow Light of Death)?

I used Google to find out if there is a way to read some kind of log from PS3, to find out how long it has been on. But no, nothing. Those people who had the same idea and asked such question on internet were told that there is no way to find that out.

There is.

PS3 has a hard disk. Hard disk has a S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) tech in it and one of its reports covers the power-on time. So, I removed the HD from PS3, connected it to my PC and powered it on. I used a software called Hard Disk Sentinel to find out what I needed. It reported 140 days and 1 hour. Voila, now I know how much my "new" PS3 has been used before it got to me.

Power on time report by Hard Disk Sentinel

(The timer on the screenshot is from another Hard Drive, not the one used in PS3)

Hard Disk Sentinel is just one of the possible solutions. There's another (Japanese and free) S.M.A.R.T. reader software called Crystal Disk Info that can do the same thing.

Of course, this report is useful ONLY if you are 100% sure that this is the original hard drive used in the console since it was made. The same technique can be used on Xbox 360, PS4 and any other console that uses hard drives, whether they are HDD or SSD.

Oh, and that wrap filled with random manuals and whatever? It was actually a special edition of The Last of Us. The guy who sold me PS3 had no idea it was there :)

11 February 2014

Gravity (2013)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 7/10
Verdict: It's good, but not as good as you may have heard about it!

I really hate it when I have big expectations from... well, anything. I usually don't look at trailers (I've been fooled by them too many times so I just don't care for them any more), I don't read up about upcoming movies and I follow just one rule: look at the critics opinion before watching a movie or playing a game. So when I heard of Gravity and looked up at the critics reviews... Whoa! Metacritic has an average score of 95%, Rotten Tomatoes is at 96% and IMDB is at 8.3! Well that sucks... Seeing scores like that makes you expect a new Godfather, a movie that will stand a test of time and will be enjoyed by generations to come. Is it really THAT good?

Gravity is fun. A lot of fun. Not Indiana Jones fun, but alone-in-space-where-you-can-die-any-moment fun. It really gives you a good impression of how dangerous space is. It tells a story of a NASA mission on Hubble Space Telescope gone wrong after an error made by Russian space agency or whatever. It's a story of ultimate survival in near-impossible situation with low-fuel space suits, low oxygen, constant danger of debris that moves at the bullet speed... I love George Clooney's character (Matt Kowalski), a veteran astronaut who remains calm throughout the entire situation. Such characters are often very annoying because they just don't seem real, but Clooney is just too good to bore you. He does his best to calm down Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock who does an amazing job in this movie, a class act!) and help her survive.

The visuals in Gravity are stunning. It really makes you feel like you are right there with them. I don't usually care about special effects since they've become more of a distraction and a cover for bad stories, but these are too good to be ignored, even by me. I'd be surprised if Oscars avoid this picture, it's really well deserved. I haven't seen the movie in 3D (another thing I usually avoid) so I can't say how that feels.

So back to the "Is it really THAT good?" question. It's hard to say. It is excellent! Very enjoyable, very fun, it didn't get boring for even a minute. It's a 90 minute movie which is another plus in my book. You could also say its unforgettable due to its rather unique nature. But it's not legendary material. And that's my main objection to critical reviews. I'd give it 8/10 or 80% because no matter how much I liked the movie, it's still missing that little something to make it deserve such high scores. 

Oh, and an update to Black Sails: it's been 3 episodes so far and almost nothing has happened. I hope it gets exciting soon; after all this show has so much potential it's impossible to screw it up. I will keep updating my thoughts on it since I've been covering it since first episode anyway.

07 February 2014


Honestly, I am not sure of this show's popularity, mostly because most of my friends have never heard of it. It might be due to the fact that it's shown on History Channel and not on one of the "usual" networks. 

Anyway, I love this show! I love how producers from History managed to mask a history lesson inside a TV show and present it to its viewers. I love how cruel and ruthless the main characters are, just as the real Vikings were at their time. I love how the morale in it is presented in a very specific way, something that is not easy to understand for a current-day civilized person. Children are quite aware of what their parents are doing in the bedroom, neither of the main characters are standard goodie guys who would do the right thing no matter what and not a single person in this world is truly good nor evil. Well apart from the Christian priest probably, he's a God-fearing guy for sure.

Each episode kind of covers a certain subject, although it's not very obvious to an untrained eye (like mine is :)). The viewers will get to see Viking raids and plunder, their ruthlessness and complete lack of compassion, Jarls and their power over the people, their court and ruling, unauthorized raids, exploration of the west and its riches, single combat for leadership, bravery and betrayal, brotherly love and hate, burial rituals, burial ships, warrior women (shieldmaidens), elderly warriors who WANT to die in combat since dying of old age is shameful, religion and legendary Gods, sacrifice, blood rituals... Did I forget anything? Ah yes, the importance of male children, the fight for power and land, Viking domination over other people.

The protagonist is... well, a young warrior Ragnar Lothbrok, an actual historical figure whom, according to the legend, became a real menace at his later age. I am not sure if this show will cover all of that, but at the start he's just a "simple" raid leader with big plans and even larger balls. His plan to travel to the west soon puts him, his crew and his family in danger since true leaders never look well at potential competition. Fortunately, Ragnar has a band of loyal warriors and... you see where this goes.

I am trying not to reveal much because I really want you to enjoy the show if you decide to watch it. That leaves me without much to talk about, but I can say one thing - watch this show! It's fun, it's different and it will make you keep asking for more.

So far we've had just one season of Vikings, made of 9 episodes. Season 2 is coming on February 27 so there's enough time to see the entire first season before the second one is here. Don't miss it!