Showing posts with label Computer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Computer. Show all posts

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Recent purchase of old games on Steam...and labor required to actually get them running

I recently purchased a game package that consists of Railroad Tycoon II Platinum, Railroad Tycoon 3 and Sid Meier's Railroads! on Steam.  Two of these games needed a human (me) to get into the game files to fix them so the games can be run on Windows 10 (or even on Vista or 8).

Railroad Tycoon 3's issue is that it crashes on startup.  The fix is to turn on an option called "Disable Hardware T&L" in the Settings dialog.  The problem is that you cannot turn this option on in-game if you cannot get the game started.

For this, the solution is to replace the engine.cfg file which is found in the game's Steam folder (example: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Railroad Tycoon 3\Data\Configuration).  The source of the replacement engine.cfg file is here:  More information about this fix can be found on Hawk & Badger Railroad (backup link).  This video also covers more information about patching RT3:

Sid Meier's Railroads!'s issue is that it crashes constantly, like in minutes.  The fix is to directly edit the game's executable file with a hexeditor to change a specific bit.  You never know when you'll need a hexeditor, so I always install one on one every desktop PC I've owned.  Even still, I've literally not used a hexeditor on game files in over 2 decades.  Anyway, the bug fix description is too involve for me to repeat in this article, so I'll just point to the source article on Steam: Fix Crashing/LAA manual fix (backup link). 

The Steam article employs a particular hexeditor, so if you aren't experienced hexediting files, you may wish to use the recommended app.  Despite the lengthy article, the actual fix is very quick once you find the bit you need change. So far, I've not had a crash since implementing this fix.


When Steam gaming platform first came out, I was not a fan.  I tried to avoid it like the plague, but eventually, AAA games that I wished to play were only available on Steam, so I had to commit.  The game that finally snared me was Civilization 5.

One cool thing about Steam is that they have a ton of old games from as far back as the early 90's (maybe even earlier).  The old games are typically porteddosboxed or patched to run on modern systems.  Although you have to rebuy old games that you wish to play (for rather small prices), it is typically worth the cost to avoid the trouble of working out how to configure a modern PC to run those games.

The problem with Steam is that their updates are often half-hearted efforts.  For example, no efforts are taken to maintain aspect ratios of the original games.  This makes many of the old games appear uglier than the originals.  However, this is typically OK, as you play old games for their game mechanics and functional design more than their outdated graphical design.  A bigger issue is demonstrated earlier in this article.  Some games are so badly adopted by Steam, you, the user, have to manually configure the game files in order for the game to even run (or at least run without a ton of crashes).  

Not all games are fixable.  An example of this is Independence War (a game I loved).  Both Steam editions (original and sequel) appear to have unfixed game-breaking bugs with no community solutions.  These games are only $6, but it's $6 too much for a game that cannot be finished.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Machine Learning is artificial, but it's not necessarily intelligent

Machine Learning is "artificial", but it's not really intelligent from a certain point of view. There appears to be a trend going on in the industry right now that uses the terms "Machine Learning" and "Artificial Intelligence" interchangeably (or at least sees Machine Learning is a type of AI).

Intelligence is the often measured as the ability to see connections between different things.  Machine Learning doesn't see connections.  It just uses CPU time for brute-force analysis to find connections based on many iterative cycles of failures and successes in stages.  Early failures are often permanently disregarded, and early successes given too much value, even if they follow deadend paths . Machine Learning typically is not able to see that future success could actually come from pathways where it experienced early failure, unless there is human intervention of some sort.

This video should scare all of us, and not because of the wolves

Amazon learned a similar lesson on its own regarding Machine Learning, as detailed in the following article. The article describes how Amazon had to scrap their Machine Learning program for hiring people. The program's purpose was to remove gender bias in hiring of new employees. However, their program developed gender bias on its own, despite the development team's best efforts to remove bias. Article: Amazon scrapped a secret AI recruitment tool that showed bias against women [].

This article on Volt DB (6 Reasons Why Your Machine Learning Project Will Fail to Get Into Production []) goes into common problems with Machine Learning projects. It boils down to data quality. The problem is, data from the real world will always be of poor quality.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fake Geek Girls Vs. Real Geek Girls? Really, this??

An interesting meme is making its rounds on the Internet. There seems to be a bunch of hoopla about “fake geek girls”. What’s a fake geek girl? Apparently Urban Dictionary doesn’t have an entry for it yet (as of today, anyway). Umm, I did find a definition at some site called Geek Feminism Weekly (whatever that’s supposed to mean…kinda sounds like random words thrown together that only vaguely represent what it really is, similar to California Pizza Kitchen.) Anyway, their definition for fake geek girl is:
Fake geek girls - allegedly women who show up at geek events, possibly while hot, with not enough geek cred for you.
This all seems to have started with an article on Forbes (Really, Forbes? Yes, Forbes.) called Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away. In this article, the author talks about being a “geeky girl” growing up and how she now sees “pretentious females” now posing as geeks when they haven’t put the time in to justify the claim.

What’s with all the hate? In fact, why are girls singled out as being fake geeks (especially by other woman) for being posers? I think a commenter on a recent article by @Mikeynerd says it well (article: Fake Geek Girls),
The Fake Geek Girl thing bugs me. Because I do feel there is an underlying sexism at play.
If someone is a poser, then it doesn’t matter if they are a woman or man. But, is it even bad to be a poser? Isn’t a poser just someone whose trying to figure out what everyone else already knows? Aren’t they really an outcast too? As outcasts trying to fit it, doesn’t that make them more geeky (since being a social outcast is technically a major component of geekdom)? The answers to this series of rhetorical questions are as follows: no, yes, yes, and yes.
May your journey to higher geekdom find much success!

Friday, December 04, 2009


In this special edition, I hereby give the Epoch-Fail award to AT&T for their recent nonsensical lawsuit to stop Verizon from advertizing a truthful comparison between their respective 3G network coverage areas. Needless to say, this lawsuit did nothing but highlight the pathetic nature of AT&T's 3G coverage.

According to Paul Thurrott,
AT&T, of course, is the exclusive US carrier for the Apple iPhone, and—as any iPhone user will tell you—AT&T's 3G network is tiny, ill-equipped to handle the iPhone's voluminous data traffic, and often completely unavailable.
There has been several news stories in the Silicon Valley area (home of Apple and Google) which have highlighted AT&T's much complained about network, including non-3G problems, such as frequent dropped calls (issues that may have been carried over from the Cingular days). Among 3G complaints, speed (slowness) is one of the major issues. AT&T has said they are in the process of upgrading their network right now. However, why would a company put forward such a poor product at the heart of one of the world's technological centers?

It almost goes without saying that the lawsuit was thrown out of court (already!). Can't sue the truth away from the public eye!

Paul Thurrott concludes,

[AT&T's] 3G network is widely considered the be the shoddiest of the major wireless networks in the United States, a fact that was coincidentally confirmed this past month in the latest issue of Consumer Reports, which rated AT&T's overall cell phone network as the worst of the major carriers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Identification of years

How many people actually know that there is no year zero on the common Western (Gregorian) calendar. This creates logical problems that are hard to deal with in the lay population. Most people assume an understanding and use of zero. I would even catch myself thinking in terms of having a year zero had I not known a little more about our calendar than the average bear. Bottom line, on our calendar, the year 1 BC is followed by 1 AD.

Just as there is no year zero, there is not zero century. Our 21st Century is 2001 to 2100. The last year of the 21st Century is 2100, not the first year. That's fairly counter-intuitive. This does force me to think when I talk about periods in the 16th through 19th Centuries. It is very easy to think that 18th Century is the same as the 1800's.

So, there is no year zero, no matter how confusing that ends up being. Until we choose another calendar system, this will be a contentious issue.

Another point to discuss is how to identify years. The most common method for years counting backward is B.C., and A.D. for our current era (years that count forward). These two abbreviations refer a previously accepted date for the birth of Jesus Christ. It is now commonly agreed that if Jesus Christ did exist, his birth was more likely between the period of 8 and 4B.C. This means the start year of our calendar is pretty arbitrary, as it is not associated with any particular event. Yet, we still use terms that directly reference Jesus' birth. Alternative terms that have been proposed are BCE (Before our Common Era) and CE (our Common Era). This turns the arbitrary date away from being Christian centric, but in a way, it still attempts to enforce that old world calendar on others. I see BCE/CE used more frequently these days, but I do not believe it will ever become the norm.

To accept the arbitrary nature of our calendar and to establish some Information Age standard, those Europeans have come up with a supposed standard ISO-8601. This document is meant to be an international standard, but isn't really in common use. The problem with ISO-8601 is that is renumbers the years that count backwards. 1BC becomes 0000 and 2BC becomes -0001. Unless every history book ever written is updated to this new attempt to renumber the years, I doubt ISO-8601 will ever be in common use by anyone other than software programmers.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It finally came. My voucher from Microsoft to buy anything I want for my computer use. The question is now this. Do I support the economy and buy something new with this voucher, or do I apply this voucher to a purchase I've recently made? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Trouble with Treo

Well, my old Treo 600 has now been replaced with a new Treo 600. I'm sync'ing all the software onto the new device. It's all hella easy. Not like trying to restore a Windows machine or anything. Just put the button, and everything is loaded on the new device in working order, same as before. Thank you PalmOne. lol

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Original MS Write program

This may be a rarified issue, but I've come across the fact that Windows no longer supports the old Write (.wri) file type at all. Wordpad pretends to open the .wri files, but it doesn't understand Write formatting. Unfortunately, I've also come across the need to open old Write files properly. There's a fake WRITE.EXE file included with Windows, but that program open Wordpad, not Write. Luckily, I was able to find a copy of the old Write program file (write.exe). For anyone that wants it, here it is: Write.
Advice: To open Write files embedded as an icon within another Write document, you will need to associate .wri files with MS Word (default setting is Wordpad). Then, open the other Write document with Write. When you double click on the embedded icons, Word will open the embedded document. If you don't associate .wri with Word, Windows will try to use Wordpad even though you have Write open. If you try to associate .wri files with Write, the embedded iconed Write files will not open at all.