Is there such a thing as affordable Flex Builder?

If there is one thing you’re going to battle to find fault in, its an Adobe Product, its true, and the pricing says it all.

I’ve had no motivation to buy an Adobe product mainly because Adobe Products are available via free channels and the main problem I have as a freelance developer is that even if I wanted to buy an Adobe Product, they’re expensive, and Adobe don’t have a “donation system” on their web site. Up until now I’ve been talking about my own personal budget, but even small design companies simply can’t afford Adobe Products, this is not to say they aren’t using them.

Recently I found a technology that I’m really interested in developing around. Yup you guessed it – Adobe Flex. While Flex might be free (the engine) the Flex Builder Application (The car) is not free at all, and what good is an engine without a car.

I’m not saying Adobe should give their product away, All I am saying is – think about the maths. While Adobe are trying to maximize pricing, Silverlight is getting better, and at least its priced realistically.Is Adobe heading in the same direction as JD Edwards?

For every 1 corporate that has to by law actually pay for licensing, there are about (thumb suck!) 1000 designers/ developers out there who are not paying for the Adobe Product, but still using it. Obviously its hard to tell, exactly how many users are actually out there illegally pirating PhotoShop or Flex, but its a sizable number, considering that Adobe Photoshop remains one of the most in demand P2P Applications.

So someone at Adobe might want to rethink the pricing. Someone at Microsoft did exactly that , releasing Express (free) versions of their products into the market place. Adobe remain vigilant with their $800 dollar price tags.

Would it be so bad if Adobe started offering software like Flex Builder out at $35-40 dollars. That’s suddenly looking affordable.

Why is the solution so easy to spot, yet the outrageous pricing continues?

1x$800 x 35 (Average Developers in a Large Corporate) = $28000

$35 x 1000 (Users on the street who would actually buy an Adobe Product if it was reasonably priced)  = $35000

Will I start developing around Flex, unfortunately not,  it’s overpriced, and the way I see it for something to catch like wildfire it has to be in the grasp of the average man. In the meantime I will stick to using plain old HTML / Ajax / JS front ends, until something changes in the market place.


Fly Headphones for Gaming and Music

I just bought a new set of these. Just have one thing to say – “Frigging amazing!!!”

If you’re bored and have some money lying around, you should consider going wireless. Here are some photos:

Sound: The sound that comes out of these speakers is really clear and the bass is deep. Its the perfect balance between tiny in ear (Ipod type) speakers, and Big Ass Club land type speakers. Its comfortable too, perfect for gaming or music. Good for Skype too.

Quality: Good looking and the quality is outstanding. Leather and slick looking plastics.Volume controls included on the headset.

Latency: Virtually 0ms, or so low, there is just no delay in sound. This is because its wireless, and not bluetooth.

What are they like to have?: Amazing, being free of that annoying cord is something pretty amazing. I think I’ve always had a cord, and so this is really comfortable. Another cool thing is the range, you can pretty much get up and walk around the house, without having to be interupted. This means you are more free to do stuff around the house. Stuff that was never possible before. A few ideas

  1. Keep your headset on while taking a toilet break.
  2. Have a snack, make the snack, and eat it without that annoying cord in the way
  3. Do housework with them on, pretty much anything your hands are free remember.
  4. Have a cleaner PC environment, 1 less cord.

Price: Not cheap, but you only live once right?

Guildwars vs WoW

This post could also be called – “Guild wars from a WoW Players perspective”.

I know a lot of the videos you see “Guild wars vs WoW” start off with a 20 minute talk about character customization. If you haven’t watched those vids, you can grab them here and here.

I think its important to mention the following to any WoW player who is interested in purchasing a copy of Guildwars.


Before you say- “oh that’s a good thing”. Just be sure you know exactly what is different. In Guild Wars – You don’t get a fully explorable seamless game universe. In WoW you explore the world, and while you’re exploring you just never know who you are going to meet up with, or if you’re going to get ganked, etc. The whole WoW universe is seamless without long loading times. You and everyone else in WoW play in the same game universe. Guild Wars works differently. Most WoW players won’t understand unless it’s explained like this:  Imagine if Cities like Stormwind or Shattrath were the only places you could hookup with other players and chat in world. Imagine if every time you left a city, you did not enter into the world, but into an instance of the area you visited, and while there world chat didn’t work. For example the whole of “Goldshire” would be an instance. This is exactly what its like in Guild Wars. The explorable areas (in WoW: the world) are all instances in Guild Wars, and only You and your team can ever enter these areas.

As a WoW player its very important you understand this before you rush out and buy Guild Wars, it might not obvious, but it gets worse.


Some guys have gone as far to say that PVP doesn’t exist in Guild Wars, this is not true. Guild wars does have PVP action, but you can only PVP in arenas. Its impossible to just meet someone in the wild and because of this, the game world feels more like a LAN party game, rather than a true MMORPG.


Its true the graphics are a lot better, I’ve never really liked the bubble gum WoW graphics. Just don’t confuse better graphics = better game play.


WoW mobs are pretty damn stupid, no doubt about this. In Guild Wars, the mobs have been better programmed. Its mainly to do with the way they patrol and group, but the overal PVE action is better in Guild Wars.


Guild Wars has a max level of 20. In the time it takes to get to level 10 (thats 1/2 way through the game), you can get there with only upgrading your armor once, and weapon twice. This is because its unlikely anything good is going to drop from the environment during these levels, and so your best bet is just to buy from the vendors. You can craft, but you don’t get professions. In my experience the crafting is clunky.


WoW might not be cutting edge, but it can be fun, and at least you know exactly what you’re getting with WoW. An epic, and long MMORPG with crafting, fighting, lore and items. Guild Wars on the other hand, is hard to explain, because I get the feeling even the game is confused. It’s a game that doesn’t know if its diablo or an MMORPG. But it tries to be both. The best way to describe Guild Wars would be like this: “Guild Wars is a game where you level up to a max level 20 by doing PVE Quests and exploring, once you get to level 20, you can then take part in Arena PVP Battles”.

7. Lastly, Blow for blow guild wars has better PVE combat action

Don’t think the PVE is revolutionary because its not, if anything its just average. The point is blow for blow, WoW action leaves a lot to be desired. In WoW, depending on your class,  it’s nearly impossible to retreat, if for example, you’ve gone with being a warrior. WoW combat is kinda boring too (No combos, no parry moves, strafing and moving around is almost a waste of time. Its best just to stand there and try do as much damage as quickly as possible, while at the same time monitoring your health. Guild Wars doesn’t do much better, except that for some reason the mob AI is better, and it feels more rewarding when you win.  Please don’t take this as a reason to go out and buy the game, I stress again we’re talking about an old game with an old combat system. If you want real action, try Assassins Creed 2 (not an MMORPG, just a single player action, but certainly gives you a lot of fun while involved in combat).


Most people who review Guild Wars tell you how great a game it is, and how it “Doesn’t have a monthly fee”. Every single GW player review I have seen starts off with a guy holding the CD, this is great I am happy these guys have a sense of permanent ownership over their game. But if cost is not an option there are better games out there, games better than either GW or WoW.

Some people might like the game, but I can’t help feeling a bit robbed by spending money on the game. It provides an average gaming experience. Its not bad, but I wouldn’t rush out and buy it. Having said that I am sure in the next 5 years someone is going to bring out a game that combines all the good MMORPG elements, with some decent PVP combat too, and PVE action. But sadly WoW is not that game either. If you’re tired of WoW and looking for something better, sorry it aint GW.

Can you upgrade a Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S to have 4GB RAM?


So I was proven wrong by Claude, and thankfully so, because thanks to his discovery, I went out and bought 4GB of RAM (2x2GB DDR2 667 5ms latency), it also just happened to be Kingston. Came home booted it up, and ofc, only 3GB available (because its a 32Bit OS). So I thought what the heck, I’ll install Win7 64Bit RTM (Because I got this from MSDN). Everything I need worked fine. I don’t use the built in web cam much, so I haven’t installed a driver for that, but the rest of the Sony works perfectly. I found a graphics driver on Awesome stuff…


Huge thanks to Claude, who has pointed something out. Although Sony tell you, its impossible, it is possible to add 4GB’s of RAM. I did a system scan using this excellent utility, and as it turns out, the real chipset is Intel PM965 Revision C0. I then found the Intel tech specs for that chipset here (point 1.1.2) Notice this time 4GB. Claude has already upgraded to 4GBs. So now I know what I’m doing next pay day – buying more ram.

Thanks again Claude for clearing this up!

For those of you still interested, here is the original post:

I decided I would create this post for those of you who own this model notebook (Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S) and are wondering whats the deal with upgrading the RAM.

After hours of searching the web, I have the answer, unfortunately its a bit of a low blow. If it makes you feel any better, I own one too, and I am equally dissapointed.

You’re not going to get more RAM in there because of the chip set – Mobile Intel GL960 Express Chipset. You can read the full specs here or I will save you the time, and here is a screen shot of the interesting bit.


So yeah sorry to be the one who has to bring you this bad news, it seems the VGN-AR41S will die alongside the rest of 32Bit computing. I would not recommended upgrading the motherboard either, because along with this you’re no doubt going to end up having to upgrade / replace the graphics card. Not to mention, I doubt very much you’re just going to find a compatible laptop for sale.

I’ve decided that after this notebook finally kicks in I will buy a desktop computer and in the future only have a Netbook for portability. Desktops are a more long term answer to computing. They’re generally much cheaper, and when they get older can easily be upgraded.

Why I love Steam

Steam is a good way to buy and keep your games. I know Steam is not for everyone, but I will tell you why I really like it.

Over the years, I’ve bought a few games. Mostly the original CD’s or DVD’s went missing, and I guess its questionable if I still have legal access to these games. I’ve also given away a lot of games I got tired of, only to think later on, “heh didn’t I used to own that game”. But the few games I purchased with Steam years ago, are still mine, still available to play and get game updates, and yes its fully legal.

Now I know that in the PC gaming world, a lot of people like getting games for free mainly because of the high pricing of games. I guess you can also contribute a lot of piracy to the fact that the culture of piracy was born long before the digital age and e-commerce. “Buy a cassette tape, here have a copy!” , things were just different in the 80’s and 90’s. Piracy only really caught on and started to rob from software and gaming profit margins in the late 90’s, but still the whole “why pay when you can get stuff for free” culture prevailed. Let’s not beat around the bush, most gamers who have at least 20 games in their collection more than likely paid for none of them, or just a few of them.

I’ve come to a point where I would rather have an ALL legal collection. Maybe its because I have a conscience, it has nothing to do with the law or being a “good citizen”. It has everything to do with living with myself, and at least trying to be a good person.

On the flip side, if you’re pirating, because you’re not paying any money, you can try and play any game you want for free. If the game sucked ass, you can uninstall it and move on, all you’ve lost is some bandwidth and time. If you walked into a shop and excitedly bought a game you thought would be cool, because the cover looked great, or the marketing hype said it would be great, and it sucks ass, you’re the loser. The worst case scenario is the game might not install, well then you still have to take it back to the shops, and beg for a refund.

That’s what I really like about Steam. Steam offer a lot of trial versions of the game, so you can try before you buy. Excellent variety too.

You will need a good solid internet connection to use Steam, no point in trying to download on a 56k modem.

I still wish the prices of games would come down. But I am sure that for legal gaming, steam is the way to go.

Will Google Caffeine suprise us?

Google are at it again, revamping their search engine, this time the development is code named ‘Caffeine’. You can find a working demo here

I think most of us starting to see a trend with Google. The start something and um…. its rare to see anything complete come out of Google. What ever happened to the promised G Drive? Why are we waiting for Betas of Wave? How about Google OS, any chance of that coming out sometime? Not to mention the scores of other promised products we’ve been told Google are developing.

Yet somewhere and somehow, someone at Google decided it was time to revamp their search engine, I guess their core offering. Perhaps its wrong of me to question, but surely these resources would be better off spent completing other outstanding projects?

Why the revamp? Is Bing really putting that much pressure on Google? Somehow I can’t see this being possible, but if you can think of another reason, please be my guest. An offering that has the monopoly, only needs to improve if its threatened.

What exactly is Bing? Only Windows Live Search with a face job. Bing is to Live Search, as lipstick is to a bulldog. Underneath its still ugly, and unless you don’t mind sifting through tons of irrelevant crap results, most people use Google.

There is a very good reason for this. Google is more than a search engine, its an era. Either be first or be the best – Microsoft Bing may be new, but its not the best, arguably the image results do look way more prettier than Googles, for this it adds some value. I guess its thanks to the developers of Bing its possible they’ve created some more jobs at Google,

Anyways – this post is not about Bing.

I’m interested in exactly what Caffeine has install for us, I had a look at the sandbox demo, and didn’t find anything remarkable, just yet!

I’m getting a bit tired of of all these prototypes and unfinished or rumored products, Google say they have. Most of us were more than used to the old Google search. I’m also wondering exactly what new value Google intend to roll into ‘Caffeine’. Yet another part of me is wondering why Google are investing development energy into “Yet another unfinished Google product” instead of finishing off and actually producing one of the other countless products they’ve been promising.

Right now I’m more interested in

  • Google Wave
  • G Drive (If it exists)
  • Google OS

I know Google have a whole lot more open projects on the table right now. So why the heck did Google j

Techsmith, could you possibly have anything bad to say about this company?

Yes, their pricing model, that’s about it.

Techsmith is one of my all time favorite software companies. Over the years they’ve produced some really great products. My all time favorite being “Camtasia”, the best screen recording and casting solution available.

I’ve used Camtasia before, and its always a joy when you work for a company that can afford licensing for Camtasia, unfortunately its expensive, I mean really expensive. If you’re not feeling rich, you can always download their 30 day free and fully functional trial. If you want something more permanent then you can always try Jing, its 100% free, but its not quite as polished as Camtasia.

The guys at Techsmith also are the proud creators of another really polished solution for uploading, storing and sharing your screen casts. I’ve used this as a freelancer, and it really impresses clients when you send them a screen cast link.

What I really admire about Techsmith is that they actually care about their customers. When Techsmith schedule server downtime, they inform their customers. For example:

TechSmith will be conducting scheduled maintenance on Saturday, August 15, 2009, between 12:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., EDT.

This type of personal care is so uncommon lately, most online providers NEVER inform their users, but you can be sure BIG Apologies later, and BIG excuses. Techsmith on the other hand never need to apologize to anyone, because they are well organized, and like I’ve said they keep their customers informed.

Really wish they would bring down the price of Camtasia, always wanted to have a legal copy of that software, but its just too damn expensive.

Stackoverflow Sucks

It might surprise you but my favorite blogger is without a doubt, Jeff Atwood, the creator of

Sorry Jeff, you’ve created a monster. Its not all bad, and I will admit its a great technical achievement, but I can’t help being left with the feeling that my overall user experience was a bitter one.

I registered on stackoverflow and asked some programming related questions. Only I didn’t know that Stackoverflow is full of Nazi users who moderate all questions, almost in minutes my questions were getting shutdown as not programming related or not a real question.

Questions like:

“Where is HTTPd.conf located?”

My Logic: This question is programming related because I as a programmer also need to set configuration values for my application to run correctly.

Stackoverflow Nazi Logic: This question is NOT programming related, because configuration is the job of a server adminstrator.

This really annoyed me.

Stackoverflow also has a reward system and rating system, so it gives more abilities to people who “live” on stackoverflow, at the expense of casual users. Members actually get given rank for shutting down questions. You can be sure, some of these users are so obsessed with their rating, they go crawling looking for questions to shutdown to gain rank.

Questions also get voted up quickly before a selection of answers are provided. So this encourages up voting trends. In other words lazy pattern scanners quickly scan and just lazily agree to the last persons up vote.

The terms of use actually encourage users to ask questions that can be concisely answered, rather than opening discussions, unfortunately life is just not that easy, sometimes there really are more than 1 acceptable answer to a question, in this case, you might find your question getting shutdown – because – its “not a real question”.

Jeff, full respect for what you’ve done, unfortunately you have no control over the types of people who use your site, but you should have anticipated how the “Karma” system you’ve implemented will leave people with a bitter taste in their mouths.

An Example: