February 10, 2015

[Linux] Create a Hotkey to Switch to / Run an Application with AutoKey

Posted in Intermediate at 6:07 pm by gloriouscomputing

I’ve been using hotkeys to make applications appear, weather running or not, for a long time in Windows. AutoHotKey makes that easy. It’s also built into Windows 7+, as long as you like the default Win+number hotkeys.

Recently, my OS of choice has been the excellent Arch-based Netrunner (Rolling) flavor of Linux, and I wanted to accomplish the same thing there. Thankfully, there is AutoKey.

HowToGeek has an article to get you half way there. If you follow along, you will end up with a hotkey to switch to an Application, as long as it’s already running. But if it’s not running, your hotkey does nothing.

Here’s the script to have your hotkey switch to your Application of choice if it’s running, and launch it otherwise:

import subprocess

title = “KeePass”
location = “/usr/bin/keepass”

exists = window.wait_for_exist(“.*”+title+”.*”, 0)
if not exists:

Warning: As usual, WordPress has replaced all quotes. You will have to replace all those if you wish to copy-paste this script. Instead, just download it:

Download Source


September 8, 2011

Hassle-free ISO Mounting with WinCDEmu

Posted in Beginner, Games, Intermediate at 8:31 pm by gloriouscomputing

Want to mount an ISO on Windows? The conventional wisdom is to use Daemon Tools, but if you don’t need DT’s video game copy protection emulation, you can save yourself a lot of bloat and get a better user experience using the open-source WinCDEmu.

Once installed, just click .iso files to mount them as a drive. To unmount them, just right click on the corresponding drive in Windows Explorer, and click “Eject”.

Even if PC game backup is your thing, you generally use cracked executables that remove the CD check anyway, so there is no need for your ISO Mounting tool to emulate that protection in most cases.

WinCDEmu Homepage

August 31, 2011

Trying out Google Code

Posted in For Developers at 12:43 am by gloriouscomputing

I just uploaded my first project to Google Code. I’ve often come across projects hosted there, but it never popped out to me, until recently. Someone on Reddit mentioned that it now allowed online code editing, and check ins. This intrigued me, so I tried it out. That part does work a lot like Google Docs (although I haven’t tested editing with someone else on the same file…).

Especially nice is that Google Code supports SVN, HG, and GIT. So an HG fan myself, I feel at home. Just note that they only support open source projects, so if that’s not you, stick with BitBucket.

August 29, 2010

Your Elusive Game Collection – Or: Why You Should Think Twice about Trusting Steam

Posted in Commentary, Games at 4:21 pm by gloriouscomputing

I’ve been a fan of Steam for years. I love the convenience of going to virtually any PC and having my games install on them without needing to carry any disks with me. I’ve been buying more and more PC games on the service. Their sales are amazing too. Games whose entertainment value for me don’t justify their full price, do justify prices like 3 or 4 dollars.

I didn’t immediately like Steam. My first experience with the service was a bad one. I bought Red Orchestra in a physical store, but the Steam activation requirement prevented me from playing the game (due to a faulty internet configuration on my part). Years later, I gave Steam a second chance via my purchase of the Orange Box, and it’s been a love affair since then. That is, until June 2010.

By using SteamCalculater.com, I determined that my Steam account is worth about $550 now. That’s not exactly how much money I have spent on Steam games, nor is it exactly how much I’d have to spend to obtain the same games today. Point is: it’s pretty close. Of course, saying the account is worth anything is a fun game to play in your head, but little more, since it’s against Steam TOS to sell your games or your account. But that’s another story.

I’m here to tell you about a policy that Steam is very adamant about, which should send shivers down your spine. I’ve been a user of Steam for years, and it never happened to me before, so of course I thought this would never effect me; And I was right until Steam contacted me to threaten me with stealing all my games. Stealing something that would cost over $500 to replace isn’t exactly a threat to ignore.

Here’s what happened. It was June 29th, and it was the middle of a Steam sale week. Steam holds these once in a while, and as usual, here Steam was offering high discounts on games in 24 hours periods. So 24 hours after a sale is introduced, it is removed again. Just as I have done with every single purchase I ever made on Steam over the years, I used my Paypal account. The same Paypal account every time. Nothing new or different… except that Paypal was feeling coy.

So on June 29th, I purchased the Commandos Pack for $3.75. This games collection never caught my eye before at the usual price, but at this price, a friend was able to convince me. The transaction appeared to go through; At least Steam seemed to think so, because Steam gave me the game. And well it should go through, because I actually had a Paypal balance of $15, which was enough to easily cover this payment without Paypal needing to get money from my credit card. However, shortly after, I receive an email from Paypal, explaining that my Paypal account has been put on hold as part of a routine check. Paypal had put the transaction on hold. Banks do this all the time when your account activity level changes, so this is nothing special, and should be no problem.

Here’s the issue: Steam already gave me the game*. Paypal has not actually given Steam the money for it (Paypal’s decision, not mine). Steam then decides to disable my account. This is already inappropriate. Yes, they didn’t get money for one of the games (The Commandos Pack) that I have on this account; So they should have removed that, pending payment. Remember, I have over $500 worth of other games on that account. There is no dispute that all payments for all of those other games were received by Steam. All those games are 100% verified and paid. To hold these games ransom is an outrage. But it’s a temporary inconvenience,right? All I need to do is make sure Steam somehow gets those $3.75 that I owe them, and everything is fine; right? Wrong! I contact Steam to ask why my account is disabled (they don’t bother to contact you), and this is their reply (emphasis mine):

Thank you for contacting Steam Support. The purchase of [Commandos Pack] has been disputed by Paypal. The Paypal account holder will need to close the dispute and have the funds returned to Steam. If the account holder is unable or unwilling to drop the dispute and let the PayPal know that the purchase is valid, and in turn have the funds returned to Steam, we will not be able to reactivate the account. All games on your account are locked to the account and can not be transferred to a different account. A different payment method can not be used for this game; the money must be returned by the PayPal account that made the original purchase. If the dispute is closed and the funds are released back to Steam, the account will be reactivated. However if PayPal closes the dispute by “Reversing the Payment”, meaning they send the funds for the purchase back to you, the Steam account will remain locked and you will lose access to all of the games on the account. There are no options to resolve a dispute once PayPal has closed the case, so we suggest that you contact them immediately. PayPal Help Center https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_help-ext Please let us know if you have any further questions. We are not able to do anything further with your account while a PayPal dispute is still pending, please remedy this issue with PayPal before asking for the account to be reactivated.

Well, shit. Last time I checked, I didn’t own the company Paypal. I don’t have any say in what they do. So seriously, if Paypal decides at their whim to reverse the transaction, you will not accept payment from me in another form? You don’t want my stinking dirty money? No credit cards? Nothing? And seriously, you doubt that this Paypal account is mine, after I’ve been using it to buy every single one of the games that make up over $500 in purchases to your company for many years? You really think I stole this Paypal account, and slowly spent $500 over multiple years without the owner noticing?

So I was told that unless Paypal makes this very transaction go through, Steam will steal all my games. Well, I better talk to Paypal…

In trying to get the issue resolved from Paypal’s site, the best option that they seem to accept in my case involves them sending a physical letter to my physical address with a code I am to enter. Well, this takes around 2 weeks, and I end up figuring another way out that satisfies Paypal.

My account with Paypal is reactivated. Unfortunately, this happens a few days after the 10th of July. Since Paypal now re-verified that I am who I claimed to be and my Paypal account was fully activated again, I expected Paypal to have allowed the transaction to Steam to go through. Imagine my shock when I found out that Paypal had reversed the transaction on the 10th of July. Why would they do this? I called Paypal right away to find out.

I was transferred to lady who specialized in this sort of thing. I explained my peculiar situation to her; And let me pause to reiterate just how peculiar it is. Here I was calling Paypal and trying to get them to un-reverse my transaction. That’s right. I didn’t want to just transfer $3.75 to Steam from the same Paypal account. No, that is logical and reasonable. No, I wanted to transfer $3.75 to Steam with the exact same transaction that failed. Why am I so unreasonable? Because Steam had sworn to steal all my games if this insane requirement was not met. Right then.

The lady was very nice and did everything to understand my situation. She asked the obvious question: “So if this Steam company wants $3.75 from you… why don’t you just send them $3.75?” I felt brain cells dying as I had to recite Steam’s ridiculous policy. “They will take all the games I have purchased away from me if THAT old transaction doesn’t go through”, I said. So she looked into it and pulled up what had happened. When Paypal decided to investigate my account, they had sent an email to Steam also. Paypal had told Steam on June 29th that my payment was on hold, and they asked Steam if they had “shipped the goods” (generic email sent to all sellers in such cases, I assume). Lastly, Paypal had told Steam in this same email that if Steam did not reply to Paypal’s email, Paypal policy was to automatically reverse the transaction. The date Steam was told to reply by was the 10th of July. With other words, the reason Paypal reversed the transaction is because Steam failed to reply to Paypal’s email in a timely manner.

This is a very reasonable policy. Paypal held a transaction because an account was under investigation; Paypal tried to work something out with the seller; The seller didn’t care to reply to Paypal, so Paypal assumed the seller didn’t “ship the goods” and aborted the transaction. Any reasonable person would assume that if the buyer and seller want to do their transaction later, there is no logical reason why they couldn’t do it in a new transaction. If the seller did have an issue with it for some obscure reason, they should have replied.

“Transactions can not be un-reversed”, I was told. However, she did offer to send an email to Steam on my behalf, explaining that I had no part in reversing that transactions, that it was all at Paypal’s discretion due to Steam’s failure to reply to them. I thanked her profoundly and ended the call. Note that my tone throughout the entire conversation with the Paypal representatives was one of pleading and understanding towards their side. I place no blame on Paypal. They acted reasonably in all affairs and were as helpful as possible. I can’t say the same for Steam.

I replied to Steam:

I just got off the phone with PayPal.

On the 29th of June, they decided to investigate my account, which is why that transaction was put on hold. I provided them with proof of address, and they re-enabled my Paypal account today.

I was shocked to see the transaction had been reversed, which is why I called them today. They said that on the 29th they had sent you, Steam, an email: They had told you that my Paypal account was being investigated, and asked for your reply, saying that if they did not hear from you by the 10th of July, they would automatically reverse the payment. So it was your inaction that caused Paypal to reverse the transaction. I had no say in the matter.

I asked them if they could un-reverse the transaction, but they said it was impossible due to technical reasons. However, they said what they could do is email you, Steam, (to your Paypal email) explaining my situation and goodwill, and verifying that I did everything possible to make sure that the transaction went through ok, and that it was completely out of my power that the transaction was reversed. Additionally they will offer you to invoice me so that I can pay you the [$3.75] via a new transaction.

I have bought games via Steam with this same Paypal account for many years now. Paypal themselves have confirmed to you that I had nothing to do with that transaction being reversed. Please don’t keep my account disabled.

Reading what I wrote now, I read a sincere but stern tone with a hint of pleading. I intentionally wrote the email in such a way that I would have been able to release a hell storm of negative PR had Steam chosen to stick to their policy. Fortunately, their actions weren’t quite that insane, but still unreasonable. Their reply:

I have contacted PayPal directly on your behalf regarding your case. I needed to confirm with them that they have verified your account and that the PayPal account was not being used fraudulently. Our standard policy is to have PayPal reverse the chargeback before we reactivate your account. Since this is not an option in your case, I have reactivated your account with the expectation that you repurchase the chargedback title, Commandos Pack, within the next 5 days. If you do not complete the new purchase in that time, your account will be disabled again. Your account is now activated. You will need to use a payment method other than your PayPal account. When a chargeback happens, the PayPal account is banned automatically; since the chargeback has not been reversed the ban on the PayPal account hasn’t been reversed. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to do this manually. Please note, this is a one time exception to our policy, any future chargebacks or payment reversals will result in the account, and all the games therein, being permanently locked.

Yay, I got my account back. But wait! Of course, I did purchase the Commandos Pack, so I will honor our transaction, but there’s a huge problem here. I bought this game on sale. I only bought this game because it was on sale. Never would I have spent the full price on this game. This was a 24 hour sale. If I buy it now, I have to pay full price. Well, it’s a small bribe to pay vs. losing $500+ worth in games… So I do it, but this is not right. My reply to Steam:

Thank you for being reasonable in this matter. I have repurchased the Commandos Pack with another payment option as soon as I read your message as I sign of my goodwill. I would like to note though that I purchased the Commandos Pack on 29th of June, when it was on sale for $3.75. The only reason I bought it was because of this low price; I would not have purchased it for the full price of $14.99. But that’s what I had to do today. So I paid $11.24 extra that I wouldn’t have paid if these events, all of which were out of my control, had not transpired. It was a small fee to pay to get the threat of losing all the games that I purchased over years behind me. However, to make things right, I would appreciate something like a $11.24 store credit or a complimentary game of similar value.

Their reply:

Hello [MyName], I understand your frustration with the matter, however, it was not our fault that the chargeback was processed. You would need to contact PayPal for any compensation that you are seeking.

Here’s the problem with this logic. I made a decision to buy a game from Steam for the advertised price of $3.75. I want to honor that. In the ideal case, Steam gets the $3.75 and I get the game. If my money doesn’t go through, and the sale ends, then Steam doesn’t get my money, and I don’t get the game. That would be fine! I could be mad at Paypal if I had missed this sale, and I had made the decision to purchase the game regardless, for $14.99.

But I never made a decision to buy this game for $14.99. Steam held $500+ in my purchased games ransom. I only paid the $14.99 to get them to return my already purchased games to me. If I had been given a choice to either pay $14.99 for Commandos Pack or not buy it at all, I certainly would not have bought it! That’s why this argument of “Oh, you missed the sale, so of course you have to pay full price if you want to buy the game now” argument is bullshit. I don’t want to buy the game now, for $14.99!

The agreement we made was that I would pay $3.75 and Steam would give me the game. Paypal prevented that deal from occurring. Now another deal is available: Pay $14.99 and get the game. I’m not interested. It’s too much. It’s not worth it for me. But I have no choice. I must pay this, else Steam will steal all my other games that I purchased over the years. I basically had to bribe Steam with $11.24 to get them to safely return the hostages. Their quote from above [clarification mine]:

If you do not complete the new purchase [for $11.24 more than agreed upon originally] in that time [within 5 days], your account will be disabled again.

Does that sound like I’m making a decision based solely upon the game and its new price to anyone? Or does that sound like if I don’t pay up, something will be taken from me? Namely, $500+.

Steam has abused their power. There is an unwritten understanding when you trust a company with your games collection. The understanding with Steam is that all the games you pay them for are yours to play until the company goes bankrupt; Furthermore, there is an expectation that Steam will not abuse the power they hold over your purchased games.

You wouldn’t tolerate Gmail intentionally preventing you from accessing your email over a $4 dispute about a payment (to Google Adwords, maybe). By entrusting our game collection to Steam, we are trusting them not to abuse their power. Instead, Steam freely threatens to abuse their power by taking from us games that we paid for, for arbitrary reasons they decide at their leisure. In virtually every response from Steam, they boldly stated their policy of stealing all our games should a transaction fail (which, as in my case, can be completely out of the buyer’s control). Thankfully, that was not the result here, although I have heard from others that this has destroyed thousands of dollars worth of their games. Not as bad, but just as unreasonable for any legitimate company: I was threatened to have $500+ worth of games stolen from me lest I pay an extra $11.24 that I would never have agreed to pay had I not been threatened.

My enthusiasm with Steam has been curbed, to say the least. Steam owes me $11.24. I’m not saying I’m boycotting Steam, but my purchase rate has gone way down; I haven’t bought anything from the Steam Store since the Commandos Pack. I think way harder about the ramifications of giving Steam control over another game purchase of mine. I suggest you do the same.

*  Update: To clarify, when Steam gave me the game, I downloaded it, and launched it. I only went to the title screen before I closed it, because I didn’t have time to play that day. It was only after I exited the game that I saw the email from Paypal stating that the transaction was on hold.

So while I did get the slightest of tastes of the game, this changes nothing about my willingness to pay for it, it also changes nothing about Steam’s policies aimed at preventing payments in these situations, and it changes nothing about Steam’s threat to take games whose payments went through undisputed years ago away from me.

May 20, 2010

On Piracy and Value

Posted in Commentary at 2:14 pm by gloriouscomputing

This is in response to an article entitled “PC Game Piracy Examined“.

I just spent a good amount of time reading this article. It started off sounding unbiased, but that quickly faded. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m much further aligned with the opposite side of the stance that the above article took. So let me reply to the initial article:

The author forms his conclusions about the loss of sales due to piracy not from data, but based on opinions of companies. ~”All these companies noticed lots of people downloading game ISOs, and they all think that a substantial quantity of those downloads are lost sales, so that must be true!”

He had absolutely zero facts on the ratio of lost sales based on known torrent downloads. If you look at the recent study saying only about 1 in 1000 ISO downloads would have been an actual sale, it is impossible to form the conclusions he arrived at.

I can imagine he is right about the following: 1) Console games are purchased more 2) Piracy on consoles is less. 3) Some fraction of piracy is actually lost sales.

However (on points 1+2), console gamers buy more console games because that’s just the sort of people they are. iPhone people buy more Apps than Android people. It’s not just the ease piracy. It’s the mindset/environment.

Consoles have more sales and less piracy partly because of the audience. Consoles exist solely for gaming, but gaming PCs are still PCs. I myself had a gaming PC for a while, while only playing few games for years. You can’t conclude that because there are as many gaming PCs as Xbox360+PS3+Wii that the most significant reason that the PC edition of games sell less than their console counterparts is piracy. That’s just an opinion, not based on any fact.

I believe console people just buy more games. PC people might just buy less games. Simple as that. Console people are like iPhone people: They live in a happy bubble which encourages rapid buying. The fact that it’s super easy to pirate iPhone games is not a deal breaker. iPhone people buy lots of games despite how easy it is to pirate on the platform.

Which brings me to my final opposing point (3). If rather than the author’s lack of any figure, you consider the recently given ratio of 0.1% (that only 1/1000 downloads of a game was an actual lost sale), the damage is still real, but not a deal breaker. Taking the author’s figure that 830,000 copies of CoD4 were pirated and assuming 1.5 million sold (his average, not sure what the actual number was), the lost sales that would have come on top of that are only 830, a tiny fraction of actual sales. It’s a loss, but nothing to lose sleep over, even if it was twice that.

— tl/dr —

None of this really matters. There is only one thing to consider: What is the worth of the benefit of playing the game legit, vs playing the game illegitimately? How much money are your customers willing to pay for the benefit you are providing them with for paying for your game, as opposed to getting it for free?

— end of tl/dr —

If your game is providing services such as support (which by the way should only be given to users who register with their serial key… the whole issue of pirates getting tech support can easily be avoided), such as the ability to download and play the game on any PC world wide, the transparent streaming of official updates and free extra content over time, not to mention multiplayer, you are giving your customers a lot of value which pirates have to struggle for.

Bittorrent is still slower for me than Steam downloads. If I want support, I’d have to deal with all the middle men who got the game to me, and rely on them, being cut off from official forums (since I have no valid serial key, don’t let me ask for support on your forum, stupid). If I got word of an update having been released, I wouldn’t get it automatically applied, I’d have to search around torrent sites, and probably also find a new crack. You also have to consider the risks of viruses.

If you provide good service, and the prices of your games are reasonable, then enough people will be not just able, but also willing to pay for your games. Not everyone, but enough.

Ask Valve why they aren’t discontinuing Portal 2,  TF2 or Left 4 Dead 2 on the PC. They understand how to give value to legit buyers. Pirate if you want, but the water’s warmer in this pay-only pool.

On the other hand, if your added value for your customers is negative, like limiting them to installing the games on only so many PCs or requiring constant internet, versus pirated copies having none of these limitations, it’s actually the pirates who should be charging for their copy, not you, for you are offering an inferior product to the illegitimate one.

This is of course ridiculous considering you spent a lot of money to make this product, but you can’t forget that the technology to copy bits does exist now, and won’t go away, meaning the consumer does have a choice, so you must offer additional value unless you wish to depend solely on your consumer’s morality.

I agree that piracy just is. It doesn’t need to be justified; it exists, and it won’t go away. But if you give paying consumers a choice between the hassle of piracy and a seamless experience that just works, people who can afford the latter will choose it, just out of selfish reasons, or perhaps even because they want to support your product and actually like you (the opposite of what punishing paying customers with intrusive and dumb DRM results in).

February 14, 2010

Is it possible to be happy?

Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized at 7:59 am by gloriouscomputing

Not often enough, is the question asked, is it possible to be happy?

Yes. 🙂

February 11, 2010

Disable Microsoft Security Essential’s SpyNet with AutoIt

Posted in Intermediate at 4:47 pm by gloriouscomputing

My previous AntiVirus was Avira. I really didn’t like the ad it poped-up, so I showed you how to disable it with AutoIt. Well, not disable, but automatically close virtually instantly.

When I switched to Security Essentials, the promise was that this was an AntiVirus that would just work behind the scenes and not get in your way. Well, after getting my full screen game minimized the 3rd time, I decided the SpyNet pop-up’s time was up.

Here’s the Auto-It script to instantly close the PopUp (by hitting Cancel):

WinWait(“Microsoft Security Essentials Sample Submission”)
ControlClick(“Microsoft Security Essentials Sample Submission”, “”, “Button3”)
Until 1=2

WATCH OUT: Do not copy/paste this code. WordPress has replaced the normal quotes with special quotes that AutoIt does not understand. I have linked to the source code (AU3) below.

To automatically say yes to uploading whatever file it wants instead, change the code to say Button2 rather than Button3.

Download: EXE or AU3 (Source Code)

Remember, this program needs to be running in the background for it to disable SpyNet. This program just works. It has no GUI. Set it to run at start up if you want it to keep working after you reboot your PC.

January 15, 2010

Cell Phone Tracking in Europe – piCOS Review

Posted in Beginner, Smartphone at 1:21 pm by gloriouscomputing

There are tons of different ways to track the location of your cell phone by installing software on the device (Like Google’s free Latitude and Apple’s pay-per-month offering), but this article is about cell phone triangulation. The location of any cell phone with a SIM in it can be determined with help of the SIM’s network operator. This subject fascinated me since I went to The Last Hope conference in New York, because it’s something that’s not really in the consumer sector in America.

Europe however, sees this quite differently. Here, many providers exist which will triangulate any cell phone for you. The generally accepted way to add a cell phone is that the company will SMS you, and require you to SMS them back from the SIM you want to track. There are laws against tracking someone else’s SIM without their written consent, so this ensures that you’ve at least held this cell phone in your hand.

Once you have added a phone, you can triangulate it at any point using the company’s website. Of course, this is generally done for a fee per triangulation. Today, I have tested Germany’s piCOS, since I’m currently studying in Germany.

So how accurate is this service? In case of a stolen cell phone, will you be able to track down at least the building it’s in? Well, looking at my first (and only) test, costing 0.50 Euro, the answer is probably not:

The big green circle you see is the area on the map where my phone could potentially be. As you can see, it’s about the size of a small city. Here, my actual location is on the very edge of the circle, so if you thought this big area was exaggerating the inaccuracy, that’s not the case.

Here’s a picture of me attempting to measure just how big this circle is.

The radius of the circle is over 1km, so we’re talking about a ~4.5km area where my phone could be.

If you dropped your phone and you want to use this map to try and locate it, godspeed!

The service is cheap though, requiring a minimum refill of only 2EUR, and at 0.50EUR per location tracking, it might be fun to do this in case you ever forget which city you forgot your phone in.

January 5, 2010

Games for Windows Live fail

Posted in Commentary, Games at 9:20 am by gloriouscomputing

After downloading a game from Steam and running it, I was told Live had an additional update for the game. OK, no problem, except the update installer simply popped up an error message saying something like “Check a log.txt in your temporary AppData folder for the error message”, and then failed, with no GUI way to fix it.

This is unacceptable. By default, Windows 7 users can’t even see the AppData folder. Gamers shouldn’t be required to debug the game’s update installer. Well, I ventured to the log, and here’s what it said:

Launching Title Update: /p 450 /r “rfg_launcher.exe”
Could not get ARPINSTALLLOCATION property from MSI with product code {A357EF4C-2B6F-4980-ACA9-B1E42A74D7F3}.  This property must have been set using a custom action. HR:0x00000000
Could not find game install folder
To manually set folder, run: “C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\XLive\Updates\54510837\Content\rfg_updater.exe” /f “<path to game folder>”

Little Johnny isn’t going to know how to do this, but if you actually run this from the commandline, surely enough the update installer relaunched and worked. I can only hope Windows Live took note of the path of the game for next time.

I don’t care who installed the game, if your game EXE is running, it knows its own path. If the game launches an updater, there is no excuse for the updater to ever not know where the game is located. I don’t care if I just copy and pasted the whole game install directory, you better be self aware enough to know your own file path without having to resort to registry nonsense.

Updaters made using Dispatcher don’t have this bug. 😛

December 9, 2009

My new favorite free PC Remote Control Application: TeamViewer 5

Posted in Beginner at 4:55 pm by gloriouscomputing

Until now, LogMeIn has been my primary choice for remote controlling my own machines. And for that purpose, I’d still recommend it to friends, because it is just barely easier to set up than TeamViewer, and LogMeIn Free allows Remote Access via your Web Browser, which TeamViewer charges money for.

However, for every so slightly more effort with TeamViewer, you can start a Remote Control session considerably more quickly each time you need it, plus you can swap files with ease (A feature which LogMeIn charges money for).

So what is this slight annoyance when setting up TeamViewer? After making an account with TeamViewer, and logging in at both my PC here as well as the PC I wanted to remote control regularly from now on, the PCs did not automatically appear in each my account’s “friends” list. If I log in on two PCs, the program should detect this. However, this was easy to fix by adding the PC’s ID (shown in TeamViewer) to my friends list manually.

Starting a Remote Control session with TeamViewer takes about two less mouse clicks, and skips some loading times which LogMeIn makes you wait through. I just start TeamViewer, click the PC I want to control, and I’m in. It takes seconds.

So if you insist on remote controlling via your browser, stick with LogMeIn, but if that’s not required, go with TeamViewer. TeamViewer has also long been my choice for one-time remote controlling random people’s PCs who need your help.

I’ll also give an honorable mention to Live Mesh, but after installing it I haven’t really used it much. It’s mostly some awkward interface decisions, like requiring ActiveX (making you use IE-Tab with Firefox) that made it less than ideal to use.

Update: After using TeamViewer5 together with LogMeIn for a while, I have found LogMeIn to be much more stable. Even when my remote PC was semi-crashed and unexcessable from TeamViewer and LogMeIn, LogMeIn was able to remotely reboot the machine to fix the issue. So my recommendation is: Install both, or just LogMeIn. However, I still try TeamViewer as my first choice, when I have both installed.

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