Archive | May 2008

Imperialism on Ubuntu

One of my favourite games ever is Imperialism (you can find a review of this old game, [here], from the title you can guess the idea. Its Civ like in some ways but completely different in many ways, its turn based and you aim to conquer the world – so I guess its similar. The units don’t have quite the same freedom but it brings so many different and cool things. Anyway after my experiments with getting more recent games working on Ubuntu I thought I’d give and older one a go. Now I have this working though a few things aren’t quite ideal and I’m yet to properly have a game. To wet your appetite here is a screenshot…
If you have a copy of Imperialism then follow the below, if you don’t skip down a bit (it might actually be quicker… but you lose movies and sound if you don’t have the disk – nothing much really though and it makes the installation quicker).
So does it install straight out of the box with Wine, answer nope. There are a few issues and I reckon I could have probably gotten around them, the most important is the 16-bit issue, but you can around this by setting,
sudo sysctl -w vm.mmap_min_addr=0
before you run wine. This is not ideal and still the installer crashes, you need to run it in Windows 98 compatibility mode but it still doesn’t work… bloody windows. So the solution – like with [installing football manager 2008] it is much easier to just boot up a virtual machine with XP (or some other windows installation) on. Make sure you run the setup.exe in Windows 95 compatibility mode. You should then be able to install the software. Don’t worry with Directx 5! You won’t need this. Once installed copy over the install directory to your ./wine/drive_c/ area. In Ubuntu now run the program, does this at the command line. It should now run, it might ask you to change the screen resolution. I did not. I have tried this install procedure a few times and it seems that you need to run the game twice after install to get it to work (not sure if it needs to create some files…). It then seems to work like a dream. Oh you might want to install the patch (probably best to do this in the VM before you copy it over… you can find the patch [here] or [here] (after thought: It’s much quicker to grab the files with the patch applied as suggested below…).
Currently I can’t get it to work with a menu item, but I don’t mind using the command line, its fairly easy to just type:
wine /home/me/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Imperialism_1/Imperialism/Imperialism.exe
How to get a copy? Buy one – well that is not that easy now. So see: [here] – follow the links to the yahoo group and join. You will find a nice patched copy. It is all installed, so you should have to just type wine Imperialism.exe in the correct directory (I quickly tried this and it seemed to work well).
If you want to learn more about Imperialism I suggest looking at either [this site] or [this one] though the later is in French and mostly aimed at the Mac version of the software (which I’ve run on my powerbook before, great fun!). Oh and don’t forget the Daily Imperialist and the attached yahoo group
Oh I also remembered a nice “tip” (yeah a cheat effectively): Balanced Resources
In the new game screen, ctrl click on the globe and type “Pippin”. The red country will start out with balanced resources.

IYA2009 Trailer…

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 has a trailer… so be prepared…

Explosions on the Moon

According to NASA over the past two and a half years 100 “explosions” have been detected on the Moon. I think explosion isn’t quite the word to use as they are really talking about impacts from meteoroids.. but still its pretty cool and slightly worrying (yes in that order, I am a physicist!). If you want to read more, and of course I suggest you do, and want to see a couple of cool photos of these events take a look at [].

Simple image resizing in Ubuntu

I quite often process my images before I stick them online and so don’t often need to bulk resize them, but occasionally it is quite useful. When I had both Ubuntu and windows installed I just revert to using IrfanView, a great little program. I do actually have it install through wine but being me I wanted a better solution. Then it dawned on me, why don’t I just use ImageMagick – I do this on a couple of websites. The first thing you need to do is get the package:
sudo apt-get install imagemagick
After ImageMagick installation, you can use mogrify.
Make sure you are in the correct directory and then just use:
mogrify -resize 640 *.jpg
which will rename all the files (assuming they have the extension .jpg) to a width of 640 NOTE THIS WILL OVERWRITE YOUR FILES, so it worth copying them to another directory first so you don’t lose your high res images, but if you can use the commandline then you probably can figure this out!
Oh you can also fix the size but this will of course lose the aspect ratio…
mogrify -resize 640×480! *.jpg

Civilization IV on Ubuntu

Following on from installing Football Manager 2008 on my ubuntu machine (see: [here], I decided that I would try and install another of my favourite games… Civilization IV. I have to say it was probably slihtly easier than Football Manager (in that it did not need a virtual machine to install it) but it did involve actually doing a few different things. All good fun, especially when the game works. So what to do? (oh this is all on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS)
1. Get Wine, sudo apt-get install wine and set it up, fairly simple – keep the defaults if unsure.
2. I have the DVD version of Civ4 but some people might have a CD version, if so copy over the CAB file to your hard disk off CD2.
3. Insert the DVD (or CD1) and run the installer with Wine. Cancel the DirectX setup. If you have the CD version, when it asks for the second disk just use the CAB file. The installer should finish successfully.
4. If you try and run the game it will not work. It will moan about you not having the correct dvd, guess why? Yep good old of copyright protection. The solution is first to patch the game to the latest version (I used the patch 1.61) – get from: [here]. Do not install Xfire. There should be an error pop up at the end, this is safe to not worry about.
5. You now need to grab a few directx related files – d3dx9_26.dll, msxml3.dll, msxml3r.dll (you can get them [here] or [here].)
6. Copy the DLLs into the Civ 4 directory. (something like /home/user/.wine/c_drive/games depending on where you installed it.)
7. You will need a cracked executable, i.e. one that will avoid the copy protection. I’m not going to post a link here but a google search should easily allow you to find one.
8. Now replace the Civ 4 executable with the cracked one.
9. Run winecfg, and add an override for msxml3 (native, builtin). Turn off “Emulate a virtual desktop”, set vertex shaders to none, and turn on pixel shaders. You might need to change a few of the other graphics options, especially if you want to make it go full screen.
10.Run Civ4 biggrin.gif but only so it can create the config files, once it gets to the menu exit. Don’t worry we are almost there.
11. Open the CivilizationIV.ini file in a text editor (probably located in /home/username/My Games/). Change the EnableVoice = 0 to fix the audio. Set the ScreenHeight and ScreenWidth to your screen’s height and width.
12. Play Civ4! biggrin.gif (just don’t change the resolution settings in the game).

Football Manager 2008 on Ubuntu

I knew the day would come. I love the football manager series and I’m ashamed to say that it was probably the reason I hung on to having Windows installed on my machine for so long. If you have no idea what I’m talking about [the game’s site]. Its a pretty addictive game. Anyway, I’ve been missing it. So I decided to try and figure out how to install it in Ubuntu. Installing games in Ubuntu is all about the WINE. So after popping the disc in the drive and typing wine setup.exe and it crashing I knew I was going to have to do some playing. This is not a bad thing, I’m a geek, I like playing. I read a post ([this one, post 39]) which gave some very good background info and suggested that there was a problem with the copyright protection. So I booted up my windows virtual machine, [see this post] about how to install Virtual Box and get Windows running like any other application in Ubuntu, and installed it in there. This is when the confirmation of the securerom (?I think) protection was obvious. The game wouldn’t run. I downloaded the latest patch from the FM site and there you go it ran! Wooh!. It is just a simple process of then copying over the files from the virtual machine into the .wine/ directory and running the task, like: wine “C:Program FilesSports InteractiveFootball Manager 2008fm.exe” –fullscreen_width=1280 –fullscreen_height=1024
I’ve been happy able to play the game and beat West Brom U18’s!

Astronomical Chocolate

How cool would it be to eat a chocolate planet… and no I’m not talking about your bog-standard Mars bar…
astro chocolate
astro chocolate2
They look really cool, shame I doubt we can get them here… but you can in Japan – see [here], ok, it’s all in Japanese, but you get the point…

Joe and the Moon

The other night I was presented with a great chance of taking a picture of Old Joe (the University of Birmingham clocktower) and the crescent Moon…

A cake!!!

Oh yes, I made my first cake from scratch on my own… at the grand age of 25, oh well. It was a marble cake for Lizzie’s birthday. Two problems occurred… the first was me hitting the egg to hard when breaking the shell so it fell and shattered in the bowl (doh!) and then me getting our stupid cooker slightly wrong.. I had it too hot and so it didn’t cook through properly meaning I had to put it in for a bit longer and burnt a slight amount on the top. Still though it was yummy, if I don’t say so myself… and Lizzie was happy cool.gif

Make your own pinhole camera

Now how cool does this sound… and make it out of paper!
I must give this a try soon!