Archive for January, 2008


Taking the “smarts” out of Vista’s Explorer

Posted in Shorts at 9:40 pm by jw

Saw this in Google today and had to post it – it’s the solution to the thing that’s annoyed me the most about Vista so far:

“cquirke (MVP Windows shell/user)” <> wrote in
> To me, these frills are almost more hassle than they are worth. I
> want List view everywhere, with a minimum of unsolicited content
> groping, but that is at odds with the direction of Vista’s quest to
> “make it easier” and be more effective/powerful.

Set the list view for a folder that’s using the ‘All Items’ template, then
use ‘Apply to Folders’. Then override content-sniffing with my ‘AllFolders’

Copy the text between the lines below into notepad & save as a .reg file.
Watch out for line wrap — [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\…\Shell] is all one line,
there is a space between ‘Local’ and ‘Settings’.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



Merging the .reg file will set the ‘All Items’ template for any folders that
don’t currently have a view saved with a different template. You can clear
all saved views by deleting the

“HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags”

key BEFORE merging the .reg file. If any folders open with a different
template after clearing the ‘Bags’ key & merging the .reg file, they most
likely have a template specified via their desktop.ini file.



Crysis, Hellgate, Orange Box, EQ2, Guild Wars and more

Posted in General at 3:01 pm by jw

Been a while since I’ve posted on the games I’ve been playing recently so here’s a long post in the making.  With my new-ish PC, things are pretty good in the gaming world!


After playing Far Cry for a long time a few years back, I was quite excited by this game as it approached release.  Strangely enough though, after I picked up my copy from Best Buy it took me quite some time to actually get into playing it – there always seemed to be something else taking up my time (usually Guild Wars or Hellgate, but more on those later).  Once I really started in earnest though, it was almost impossible to play anything else until I’d played my way through it.

In summary, this game is amazing.  The quality of the graphics is absolutely stunning – rendering trees right down to the leaves, being able to crawl through the underbrush, having enemies actually behave somewhat intelligently (retreating to cover and calling friends in to help) and the relatively common modern theme of regenerating health fits in very well.  The “special powers” you have with your combat suit are very well balanced and offer a bunch of different solutions to every problem you come across.  I think I’d be happy replaying this sometime in the future and the game almost certainly would play differently if I chose to focus on a different set of tactics.

Despite there being some negativity around about the game’s performance, I had no real issues (except for having to restart the game once the snow scene kicked in to clean things out for some reason and triple my frame rate).  I could run everything but shadows on the highest quality settings and it was good to see a real performance boost from running the 64 bit client over the 32 bit one.  It was interesting to see that it barely used the second core of the CPU while playing, though I read somewhere that it helped out when you had lots of particle effects flying around.

My only real complaint is that it seemed to end too soon.  Far Cry must have taken me weeks to work my way through and really seemed like it was never going to stop for quite a while, but Crysis only lasted for 4 or 5 days of playtime.  I was left at the end with a cliffhanger, and thinking “maybe there’s more after these credits roll”.  Oh well – I still look forward to a sequel.


Hellgate was the second game I’d been really looking forward to towards the end of last year but unlike Crysis which lived up to every bit of the hype put to it, I found Hellgate a little lacking. 

My initial choice of character was a Blademaster, and this was probably a little unfortunate as it seems to be one of the less enjoyable classes to play – you spend a lot of time worrying about your health and how you can afford the next round of medkits after taking a bunch of melee damage from the fact you have to get right up on top of your opponents to take them down.  Towards the end, things just became a little silly and I spent about four hours on the final level in a pure “take monster down 2%, die, run back, take it down another 2%, die, etc.” festival of annoyance.  Not at all a fun experience and I only put up with it because I really just wanted to finish the game by that stage.

Fortunately, I decided that not everything could be quite that painful in the game so I started up a new character as an Engineer and the whole game changed.  The Engineer was basically self-sufficient and I had a lot of fun this second time through creating swarms of robots that cleared out pretty much everything in sight.  As a strong contrast, I only died once in the final level and the whole thing was a much more enjoyable experience.  The game as an Engineer was fun!

Overall though, the limits to computer generated levels do show themselves.  Things looked very much the same was you went to “different” places in London.  While you’d expect to see certain landmarks, things were basically just a slightly different layout using the same tilesets as you’d seen before.  I guess I should have expected this from Diablo which did much the same thing, but it seemed more repetitive than what I remember of Diablo and you eventually just thought “oh, another subway level” instead of “hey – this really could be Whitehall in a post-apocolyptic future”.  Disappointing really.

I didn’t subscribe to the online thing.  I already have a subscription to EQ2 and I’m not about to subscribe to more than one game at once.  I’m not really sure I would get the same enjoyment out of it that I do from a true MMOG.

Orange Box

Whatever you think of first person shooters, Portal and Team Fortress 2 make this package amazingly good.  Portal is essentially a puzzle game where you use your portal gun to solve problems.  It has beautiful graphics, a quirky and fun plotline, closing credits that are absolutely worth sitting all the way through and challenges you can work your way through after finishing the basic game.  This game itself is a revolution in first-person gameplay.

Team Fortress 2 is one of the few online multiplayer games I can handle playing.  It’s completely tossed the realism out the window for cartoonish fun, and I really do mean “fun”.  You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re a cartoon figure that runs around beating up, shooting, healing and generally causing mayhem with other cartoon figures – and that make a massive difference to someone pretty casual (and pretty poorly skilled) at first person shooters as I am.  It may have been seven years in the making, but it shows because it’s worth all seven of them

To add to those two gems, Half Life 2 Episode 2 is also a lot of fun and a worthy sequel to HL2 itself and HL2ep1.  The plot moves forward, it takes some thought to work your way through a few of the levels (as opposed to mindless blowing up aliens) and overall things are quite challenging but not over-the-top difficult either.  Achievements add an extra bit of fun to the side while playing, so it’s another good part.

Overall, a great combination but a little annoying that I feel I’ve paid for HL2 and HL2ep1 twice now.  I still have to find someone to “gift” my extra copies to – will probably see if any of my family wants them when I get back to Australia.

EQ2: Rise of Kunark

Rise of Kunark is without doubt the best Everquest 2 expansion to date.  For those of us who were around in EQ1 for the Kunark expansion, this new release for the EQ2 world contains a ridiculous amount of new content but also does an excellent job of drawing the feel of the original Kunark zones into the EQ2 world.  A tiered raid system gives those of us that are no longer hard-core raiders a nice long progression of challenges to look forward to as we move through the world, and the number of single group and solo quests gives a lot for everyone to do.  A must for any EQ2 player!

Guild Wars

I know this is an old game, but since my wife saw it on my machine and demanded her own copy, she hasn’t been able to stop herself from playing it.  As a result, I’m playing it a lot more too and it’s definitely good fun for a solo or small group of people to hang out and mess around in.  If you’re looking for a good online and persistant world that doesn’t require subscriptions but has a wealth of content then it really would be hard to look past Guild Wars.  It’s really just a lot of good and simple fun!

So far I’ve completed the Prophecies missions and have started working on Factions with a different character.  I got Nightfall for Christmas and have to work on that sometime as well (in between everything else), and Eye of the North is just way out there at the moment.  Plenty of time though and I like the idea of being able to do it all solo or duo at my own pace.

Guitar Hero

I know this isn’t my usual PC game, but I picked up Guitar Hero (80’s version if you must know specifically) for the Playstation and it’s just great fun.  Feels more like playing a bass than a real guitar (more fingering than chords) but for a lot of fun in a very non-traditional context for video games, this is a hard one to go past.  For anyone who remembers back to their school days and the rock bands they may have been in or wished they were in then this is something great to kick back and enjoy.


For variety, I’ve been messing with some older games on my system.  Dragged out Lego Star Wars for a quick game just because I was having fun with it over at a friend’s place.  Spent a few evenings playing around with Galactic Civilizations II and its two expansions – a fun turn based space strategy game, and have been spending too much time messing with Grobots and not really getting anywhere much.  I’ve been thinking of trying out a 14 day test with Eve Online, but not entirely sure about it yet – the space simulation bit interests me but I’m not really into the whole PvP thing.

The Future

Moving back to Australia is probably going to cut into a lot of my time, but with a month off work and my wife heading back before me, I’ll probably manage to dig out some spare time between packing and inventorying to play a few games.  I still have a lot of real time strategy games to complete and just as many flight simulators that I always seem to want to play but never make the effort to find room for my joystick lately (stupid small apartment).  I can’t think of anything new on the horizon that I’m looking forward to, so probably just a good time to catch up on all those things I meant to do but never did.