Skyrim on PS3: Took an arrow to the knee

PS3 Skyrim

PS3 SkyrimFor the past few of months, there have been widespread reports of horrendous lag and framerate drops with the PS3 version of Skyrim. The lag gets gradually worse as the user continues to put in hours and their save file continues to grow. After about 60 hours and a save file over 6 megabytes in size, the game degenerates into an almost unplayable state. The game is said to perform infinitely better on PC and Xbox 360. Or so the story goes…

This week, Bethesda announced an upcoming patch to correct the problems. I’ve been playing Skyrim more than any married, full-time employed person should during the time that I’ve owned it, and just hit the landmark 60 hours the other night. Coincidentally, my save file is right about 11 MB now, well above the stated 6 MB size. I’ve experienced almost no glitches, and nothing to agree with the aforementioned issues.

If my memory serves me, I’ve experienced two game freezes and minimal framerate drops, and all of it has occurred while I was background downloading content from the PlayStation Store. Since running the game is I/O intensive on the HDD, as is downloading content from the store, this does not surprise me in the least. I’ve seen videos of the supposed problem, but I can’t help to think there’s a good explanation that doesn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of Bethesda.

My question is this: Is there really a problem, or are users complaining about nothing? I bring this up, not only because I have yet to experience any significant problems during my significant time spent in Skyrim, but also because Skyrim on PS3 runs noticeably smoother than Oblivion did on the Xbox 360. Even at the worst of times, Skyrim compares nicely to the previous Elder Scrolls title at its best.

I know, comparing Skyrim to a game released over 5 years ago isn’t fair, but it’s the best frame of reference that I have, and users were crying foul back then as well. Personally, I had more problems with Oblivion on the Xbox 360 than I did with Oblivion on PS3 (yes I did play through the entire game on both consoles), and I’ve yet to experience problems with Skyrim on PS3. Maybe my life experience has made me a skeptic, but I’m not buying it. At its best, Skyrim is an ambitious game on a grand scale. At its worst, it is a flawed game with an occasional glitch and framerate hiccup, but not unplayable by any means.

And now I open up the floodgates: Have you experienced problems with Skyrim on your PS3? Am I an idiot for insinuating that there is no issue? Let me know in the comments below.

Hello, 2012

Happy New Year!

From all of us at Techerator, we wish you a happy new year full of the scent of freshly unwrapped gadgets, the gentle hum of CPU fans, and that little unlocking sound iPads make when you open their cover.

I would like to extend my sincere personal thanks to all who contributed their tremendous skills and services to Techerator this year:

Kate Bedrick, Andrew Kalinchuk, Brian Nelson, Bryant Sombke, Carl Natale, Craig Lloyd, Daniel Chambers, Dave Parrack, Derek Johnson, Dustin Patterson, Jacob Bean, Jake Joraanstad, Kevin Ivanca, Kevin Schulte, Scott Nesbit, Sophronis Mantoles, Tristan Pollock, and Vanessa Vasile. It has been my privilege to work with you and I am incredibly thankful for all we have accomplished this year.

Most of all, I’d like to thank all of our readers, subscribers, fans, followers, and supporters of Techerator. None of this would be possible without you.

Here’s to a great 2012!

Image courtesy: Rampant Gaffer

Windows Phone 7 Alert: HTC Connection Settings app is bad for your phone

HTC Quietly Evil

Bad News Bears“HTC Connection Settings” is a free app from HTC which comes pre-loaded on some of HTC’s Windows Phone 7 mobile phones and can be downloaded from the company’s “HTC Hub” app or from the Marketplace. Unfortunately, this app suddenly decided that my phone didn’t need data access anymore – talk about bad news.

After enduring more than 6 hours without any data access, I decided to give Verizon a call and see what was going on. With a stroke of luck, Verizon’s Customer Support was very helpful and friendly (unlike some of my past dealings). The gentleman from customer support walked me through several troubleshooting steps, including reprogramming my phone on Verizon’s network, and was able to effectively rule out the idea that it was a problem on their end. He then told me to make sure I had all of my important data  backed up, because we needed to reset my phone to the factory defaults. After securing a backup, I went ahead and reset my phone.

I was skeptical that this would produce anything more than another headache for me, but to my surprise my 3G connection was then fully functioning. This led me to believe that it was either a glitch in Microsoft’s Windows Phone  7 OS (which is unlikely, since such an issue would be widely reported), or a problem with an app I had installed. After doing some internet sleuthing, I came across several forum posts about the same issue being related to the “HTC Connection Settings” app after installing the Mango update.

If your Windows Phone has “HTC Connection Settings” installed on it, I recommend that you remove it immediately. If you come across this app in the Marketplace, do not download it. It’s a pointless app that serves no real purpose anyway, so I doubt anyone would miss it. I know I don’t.

Has anyone else experienced the same issue? Let me know in the comments section below.

SharePoint 2007: Troubleshooting ‘Unexpected Error’ while editing web parts

One of the great things about SharePoint is the ability for non-technical users to update page content without the assistance of a development team. On the other hand, one of the terrible things about SharePoint is the ability for non-technical users to update page content without the assistance of a development team.

I recently had a client that was experiencing difficulties when attempting to edit web parts on certain pages in their Intranet site, running on SharePoint 2007. For starters, clicking on the web part’s Edit menu would make the browser window scroll back to the top of the page, rather than opening the Edit menu as it should. No big deal. Who needs to edit a web part, anyway?

If that wasn’t bad enough, any time they would drag and drop a web part to a different web part zone on the page, they would receive the wonderful “An unexpected error has occurred” error, preventing them from saving the changes to the page.

To add some madness to the mayhem, the issues only occur in Internet Explorer. Since IE is the only browser officially supported by SharePoint 2007, SharePoint uses a dumbed-down page editing interface in other browsers. While much less user-friendly, the simplified interface would allow my client to successfully edit and move web parts without encountering errors.

Troubleshooting the problem

As my first step in troubleshooting the problem, I edited the web.config file, turning off Custom Errors and enabling the stack trace output. The hope was that this information would point me in the right direction to solving the problem. While the new error message is much less cryptic than “unexpected error”, it was rather unexpected and perplexing at first.

Guid Error

GUID should contain 32 digits with 4 dashes.” Gee, thanks! I know what a properly formatted GUID should look like, but a GUID is never used as user input on the page. Why is it passing in an invalid GUID to the SPWebPartManager? Shouldn’t SharePoint be able to keep track of these GUIDs on its own? This got me to thinking that something must be preventing SharePoint from determining the GUID of one of the web parts, thus causing the error. Buy why?

The page contained Rich Content area at the top with user-defined content in it, as well as a couple of Content Editor web parts, so I decided to investigate. And sure enough, I found the culprit.

When the user pasted in the HTML content for the Rich Content area, it must have been copied from a Content Editor web part at some point. Unfortunately, not only was the inner content of the web part pasted into the content area, but the outer wrapping DIV was pasted as well, including the ID of the previous web part. This was creating a conflict of web part IDs, causing the JavaScript function to fail when determining the GUIDs of the web parts on the page.

After removing the extra wrapping DIV and the ID from the content area and saving the page, the web parts began to function properly. If I took one lesson away from this scenario, it’s that users aren’t always careful about their input, and SharePoint is not good at offering help to the non-technical user. As with any Content Management System, SharePoint is prone to user error, one of the most difficult types of errors to troubleshoot.

Posting to Tumblr from the Linux Desktop with OpenTumblr Client

Tumblr

TumblrIf you’re looking to publish online, but want a platform that’s somewhere between Twitter and a fully-fledged blog, then you might want to check out Tumblr. With Tumblr, you post tumblelogs, short posts that can be text, video, or audio.

The great thing about a tumblelog is that it’s simple to set up and use. While posting from the Tumblr site itself is fairly easy,  you can also post from your desktop. However, if you’re running Linux, there aren’t too many Tumblr clients for the Linux desktop. One worth taking a look  at is OpenTumblr Client.

Getting Up and Running

OpenTumblr Client is written in Python, which you should have installed by default on your system. If not, install it using your distro’s package manager.

There are two versions of this application. One only requires Python, while the other requires both Python and the following libraries:

Again, you should be able to install those libraries from your distro’s package manager.

The main difference between the two version is that the Python QT version is a bit more compact and visually attractive.

Note: This post focuses on the Python + QT version of the OpenTumblr client.

Download the archive containing the installation files and extract it to your hard drive. Then, open a terminal window, navigate to the directory containing the files that you extracted, and then run the following command to install OpenTumblr Client:

sudo python setup.py install 

Let’s Get Tumblelogging!

Once OpenTumblr Client is installed, it’s added to your Applications menu. For example, in Ubuntu you can find the shortcut under Applications > Internet. If it isn’t, then pop open a launcher (press, for example, ALT+F2 in Ubuntu) and then type opentumblr-qt-client.py.

Login window

You’re asked to enter the email address of your Tumblr account, the password, and the name of your tumblelog. The name isn’t actually the name that appears at the top of a page when someone visits your tumblelog. It’s the URL — for example, mytumblelog.tumblr.com. Then click the Log in button.

Once you’re logged in, you’re presented with the application’s dashboard.

The dashboard

It looks a bit like the dashboard in Tumblr’s web interface. Just click an icon to open the editor to post text (a traditional blog post), links, conversations, quotes, photos, audio, and video. The editor is tailored to the type of post you’re making. For example, here’s the editor for a text post:

Ready to publish a text post

Just type information in the main fields and add a tag or two if you want. If you’re writing a text post, you can also add formatting to the text, as well as insert an image or a link.

If you want to schedule the post to publish at a later date, click the Publishing options list and select publish on. Then, in the Date this post field, enter a date and time to publish the post. It defaults to next Tuesday, 10 am.

When you’re ready to publish, click the Create Post button.

Like Tumblr, OpenTumblr Client is very easy to use. If you want to post to Tumblr from the Linux desktop, you’ll find OpenTumblr client a simple and effective way to do just that.

Write Blog Posts From Inside Your Browser with ScribeFire

ScribeFire

blogThat seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? Blogging from insider your browser, I mean. That’s how most people do it — go to whatever blogging site they use, log in, and start typing.

But that’s not necessarily the best way. And it’s not the most convenient, either, especially if you have more than one blog. So, what is the best way? That depends on your needs. But a good choice is a browser extension called ScribeFire.

Let’s take a look at ScribeFire and what it can do.

A little about ScribeFire

ScribeFire ScribeFire is an extension for Google Chrome (it also works with Chromium, Chrome’s Open Source cousin), Safari, Firefox, and Opera. It adds a WYSIWYG blog editor to your browser that supports posting to most blogging platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, Movable Type, Posterous, and Tumblr.

Instead of logging into each blog, you can just pop open a ScribeFire window, type a post, and then publish that post with a couple of clicks. You can also save drafts on your computer to post later.

Now that all the background information is out of the way, let’s walk through how to work with ScribeFire.

Getting set up

The first thing that you’ll want to do is install ScribeFire. Just follow one of these links:

Once ScribeFire is installed, click the toolbar icon to open it. Then, click Add a New Blog. In the window that opens, enter the URL to your blog, select the type of blog it is from the Blog Type dropdown list, and enter your user name and password. After that, click Finish.

Adding a blog

Now you’re ready to go.

Writing posts

You’ve set up your blog or blogs. You probably want to start posting. To do that, select the blog for which you want to write the post from the BLOG list in the top-left corner. If you’ve only got one blog, then it’s already selected. Then, click Start a New Post. The WYSIWYG editor opens. Just start typing.

Editing a post

You can add various types of formatting to your post, like bold and italic text, indents, or highlighting. You can also add links, images, and YouTube videos as well as lists. You can’t add tables or actual headings in WYSIWYG mode, though.

But if you know some basic HTML, you can add a bit more formatting. Just click Switch to HTML Mode. In the HTML editor, add HTML tags (including the ones for headings and tables).

You can also add tags to your post by typing them in the TAGS field on the left of the ScribeFire window. You don’t need to do that, but it can help the folks who read your blog find posts on a specific topic faster.

Editing HTML

Once you’re done, click Publish to send the post to your blog. Or click Save Progress if you’re offline or still have some work to do later. ScribeFire saves your work to your hard drive and opens the unfinished/unpublished post the next time you start it up.

Moving your data between computers

If you’re using ScribeFire on more than one computer — say, your desktop and a laptop — and you have several blogs, it’s a lot of work to re-enter the information for each blog. Instead, you can back up your data. Click Transfer your ScribeFire data to/from another computer.

Transfer data

Then, do one of the following:

  • Click Export. A new browser tab containing some information opens. Copy and past that information into a text editor, then save it to your hard drive or something like your Dropbox account.
  • Click Choose File. Find the file that you saved, and then click Open. You’ll be prompted to close and then reopen ScribeFire.

ScribeFire is an easy-to-use and flexible tool for blogging. While it’s not a fully-featured as tools like BlogJet, ecto, or MarsEdit, ScribeFire is more than capable of handling most of your blogging needs. And you can’t beat the price.

Photo credit: svilen001

Support Techerator with Google’s +1

Google recently rolled out their +1 button for websites, which is their answer to Facebook’s near-ubiquitous Like button you see pretty much everywhere nowadays. By clicking the +1 button on websites you enjoy, you give them a “vote” in Google’s search engine listings.

Due of the sheer popularity of Facebook and the Like button, sites like Google, Amazon, and YouTube have hustled to get on board with the trend. This level of social integration is an especially significant move for Google, since it will directly impact search listings outside of your own personal browsing history. Search is Google’s baby (and original product, let’s not forget), so it’s safe to assume they take new features pretty seriously.

You can help support Techerator with a +1

If you’ve enjoyed reading articles and guides at Techerator, please consider giving us a +1 by clicking the button below. It’s an easy way to show your support, and it helps us continue to grow.

Thank you for your support!

Image credit: Bradley Horowitz

We’ve found a new home!

Over the weekend, we undertook a major site migration to a completely new web server. I’ll go into details on why we moved in a later post, but in short, we were having technical difficulties with our previous hosting provider and our site performance was suffering. That wasn’t acceptable, so we moved!

Besides changing physical machines, we’ve switched from the ubiquitous Apache HTTP server to the high performance new guy, Nginx (pronounced “Engine-X”). In addition to serving you pages even faster, Nginx is more efficient and keeps our new machine very happy.

As with any major change, things can break or behave unexpectedly. Because of this, I’d like to call on you to help notify us of any problems or changes in Techerator. If you experience any unusual behavior, please send an email to tips@techerator.com with as much information as possible (i.e. what error you saw, what were you trying to do, and include information about what browser and operating system you’re using). We’ll do everything we can to make sure the site works as it should.

To help me gauge the performance of the new server, I’d greatly appreciate your feedback in the following poll. If you have extra details you want to share, please post in the comments below.

[poll id=”10″]

Thank you for your patience with our intermittent downtime over the weekend!

Image courtesy: Mayhem Chaos

Welcome to Techerator v3

You might have noticed that things look a little different around here today, and you’re right – I got a haircut. But besides that, we’ve launched a completely new version of the site, Techerator v3!

Faster, Cleaner, Better

Techerator v2 was all about adding features, so the goal of Techerator v3 was to take those features and streamline them. Starting from the ground up, we put the focus on content and then tightly integrated our best features around it. This means that pages will load faster, content will be displayed better, and you’ll be able to find the information you’re looking for faster. Our source code has never been prettier.

Even though things look a little different (especially brighter!), you will find that everything is exactly where you expect it to be. We hope you enjoy the new version of Techerator, and if you have any comments, questions, or would like to report a bug please contact us at tips@techerator.com.

Subscribe to Techerator with Email, RSS, and Social Networks

It can be tough to keep up with the constant flurry of information websites produce, especially on a daily basis. Subscribing to Techerator is free and one of the easiest ways to stay up-to-date with our newest tips, guides, and reviews. Here are some of the ways you can stay connected:

Get Techerator sent to your Inbox

If you sign up for email subscriptions, you’ll get one simple email daily with our newest articles. If we haven’t published anything that day, we won’t bother you! Your email address will be kept completely private and we will never spam you or sell your address to a third-party. If you ever change your mind and want to unsubscribe, it’s as simple as a single click!

Follow @techerator on Twitter

Every time we publish an article, we automatically send out a link on our Twitter account, @techerator. Following us will send you a very short message when we post new material, like so:

Midweek Fun: Nuke the Undead in Atom Zombie Smasher http://goo.gl/fb/wGNtV
@techerator
Techerator

One downside to Twitter is that it can be easy to miss new posts as tweets come in a constant stream, but it’s a great way to get our articles as soon as they’re available and to share them with fellow Tweeters if you like what you’ve read.  You can also interact with us by sending an @ reply to @techerator, and we’ll post important news to our Twitter account before announcing it on the website.

“Like” Techerator’s Facebook Page

With more than 500 million active users, it’s safe to say that many of you have accounts on Facebook. Techerator has one too, and we’d love it if you visited our Facebook page and clicked the “Like” button.

Liking Techerator on Facebook lets you post comments on our wall and new articles, and interact with the other Techerator fans.

Subscribe to Techerator’s RSS Feed

RSS feeds are a super-convenient way to get our articles just like you’d subscribe to a magazine or newspaper. You can use free services like Google Reader to add all your favorite websites in one place, or you can subscribe right through your browser and have a link in your toolbar.

Many browsers display an icon when a site has an available RSS feed, so just look for this symbol to subscribe:

RSS subscriptions in Firefox

You can subscribe directly to Techerator at http://www.techerator.com/feed

Image courtesy: draggin