Archive for August, 2010

Why Internet Explorer still rules

Dear Google, Apple, Opera, Mozilla and others:

If you would like to win really big market share in the corporate world, do two things:

  1. Make your browsers deployable in MSI format, with no toolbar installations and other hidden hooks.
  2. Make sure that you can control every inch of the browser through Group Policy in officially supported and maintained templates.

Reason 2 is why I will never let another browser run on a general basis on a network I control. The amount of centralised control in IE is beyond belief. I know that I could tie down Firefox in roughly the same way locally, but there is no easy way to do it centrally, if at all. All projects that started out to create Group Policy templates and so on have fizzled out, and there is no support from the vendor themselves.

I’ve been playing with the 4th Developer Preview of IE9, and I can say outright that I can feel the speed. Combined with the sudden adherence to just about every major web standard out there, and the reasons to switch to another browser quietly vanish. Combined with the control of Group Policy, IT departments are going to feel less need to roll out Firefox or other browsers when IE is capable of doing the job just fine.

Security in IE is still somewhat wobbly, but at least you can manage the patch process with WSUS. Other browsers need you to download a whole new version to update themselves, something which can be a huge bandwidth hog over time.

The browser wars have reignited the spark over at Microsoft, and I for one am very glad to see it.

Categories: Software

BioWare: my favourite games studio

I don’t post too often on this blog about gaming, due to the fact that I don’t get enough time to truly play games anymore. When I do, it’s usually small bursts of a few hours, slotted in amongst the events of real life. I was looking over my game collection the other day and it struck me that I own most of the games BioWare have developed over the years. I found myself smiling when I thought of this, because BioWare games have consumed more hours of my life than every other game company combined.

IMG_0067 My collection of BioWare games

When I first got into computer gaming, I only played first person shooters. I really enjoyed them, in fact I still do, but after a while the games started getting repetitive. Back in 2002 I think it was, I got my hand on a PCFormat magazine from the UK, where they had reviewed Neverwinter Nights. It made me quite interested, so I eventually got hold of a copy. It took me a while to get into the game, especially the lore of the Dungeons and Dragons universe, but before too long, I was hopelessly hooked. I played until the wee hours of the morning, questing, saving people, destroying evil. Over 60 hours in total, it was a stunning introduction to role playing games. I later bought the two expansion packs for the game, but I have never finished them. I keep promising myself I will one day.

IMG_0070Here are hours of my life

After that, I got Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which I haven’t played for longer than 10 minutes. Will get around to that as well. I never got Jade Empire, as I don’t think it was too widely available in South Africa. I may pick this up off of Steam one day, to see what it is like.

The next game I got was Mass Effect 1, at the end of 2009. I had reviews about it, but I hadn’t thought to buy it. I got a copy on a budget sale, and I was sorry I hadn’t bought it full price. The game was epic in every single way. Music, art, action, role playing, characters. I played though it twice, spending roughly 100 hours on the game.

Mass Effect 2 followed in February of this year. This time I pre-ordered the Collectors Edition, and it was worth the extra cost. ME2 as a game is shorter than ME1, but I’ve played through it twice, spending about 60 hours so far. I will be making one more run through it just before ME3 comes out, to do a canon run through to import into ME3. The added DLC so far has been of mixed quality, so was nice, some was “meh”

BioWare had released another game before ME2, Dragon Age: Origins. I ignored this, as I was too absorbed in Mass Effect. However, I bought Origins and the expansion pack about 2 months ago, and I was ever sorry I didn’t buy the Collectors Edition. This game has already sucked up almost 100 hours of my life, and with some of the mods I’ve downloaded, it’s going to keep going up. The game is awesome in so many ways I can’t even begin to describe it.

IMG_0072 Can’t wait for Dragon Age 2 to add to this collection!

I’ve learnt my lesson for the future. Buy all Collectors Editions of future BioWare games and be prepared to be sucked into whatever story they are telling. These guys know how to make role playing games, so much so that I’m not afraid to admitting that I am a nerd when it comes to their games. Roll on Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age 2 and whatever else!