Designs | Resume | KamranAyub.com | email: ayubx003 (@umn.edu)

August 5, 2011

Just launched: Keep Track of My Games | Posted at 12:12 AM

I just launched a new website, Keep Track of My Games.

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It lets you add almost any game you want to a list where you can organize and track unreleased games. The app will email or TXT you when a game's release date changes, when it's released, or when it's about to be released.
Filed Under: Coding Gaming Miscellaneous Web & Internet

March 4, 2011

Getting the PlayStation Network (PSN) to accept your billing address [Bad Design] | Posted at 5:19 PM

It took me a day and 20 attempts but finally I got it to work. First, you're not alone… tons of people have this issue.

Why is this happening? PSN uses the Address Verification System (AVS) for your bank. If your bank doesn't provide this, it very well might not work at all. I use Wells Fargo, and they do have it.

For myself, I have an address like this:

1234 Street Name St
Apt 123
City, STATE 12345-1234

My statement looks like:

1234 STREET NAME ST
APT 123
CITY, STATE 12345-1234

However, PSN only accepted it in this format exactly:

1234 STREET NAME ST APT 123
CITY, STATE 12345

A few things to note:

  • Not shown here but I included my middle initial in the card name field (not sure if this affected it).
  • All uppercase. This is how it appears on my credit statement.
  • No 9 digit zip. I left off the last4 digits even though they are on my statement.
  • One line. It says in the FAQ you should keep apartment numbers on the same line, so I did.

The big things are: exactly as it appears on your statement (minus perhaps the zip), all uppercase, and one line address.

The fact that I have to do this is atrocious and is either the fault of PSN for not formatting my request properly to AVS or AVS itself and its terrible request processing.

Now I can finally get FF7.

Filed Under: How To Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks

October 20, 2010

Wow, Fallout New Vegas is Infested with Bugs [Disappointment] | Posted at 9:48 PM

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What has happened to the industry when a brand new game comes out and feels like it's still stuck in alpha?

It seriously took me 30 minutes trying to get the game to start since it would crash every time I tried to start it.

I noticed this happens when I tried to do fullscreen on most resolutions, but worked okay in Windowed mode. It also didn't work until I downloaded the latest Nvidia drivers (it wasn't a Geforce, so it didn't have to do with the driver release after the game's release, I was only one version behind). Maybe because I restarted my computer it magically worked, who knows? The VS debugger said that a memory address was denied access or something.

Then, after finally getting into the game, it crashes during the weird blur effect during the intro. Awesome. It doesn't just crash, no, it shuts down my damn computer. I tried this 3 times with the same effect, and I was on Medium quality at 720p.

So then, I turn everything to low and run in windowed mode and everything seems to work, although it still stutters intermitently when it absolutely should not.

Just for kicks, I turn up the settings to ultra, same resolution in windowed mode, then load up my save. Of course everything is stutterville x 10, even though when it doesn't stutter it runs fine. The game is unplayable.

I literally spun around in place about 40 times and the game crashed. Yah.

Sorry, my recommendation right now is to pass on this game until the 4th patch is released when it finally works properly.

If it's possible to look past the bugs, there seems to be a good game underneath. I want to be excited for this game, I really do, but I can't until it actually works.

Filed Under: Games Miscellaneous

September 19, 2010

Is your VMWare Player slow? Switch to VirtualBox. [Virtualization] | Posted at 12:20 PM

Mine was. I am on Windows 7 64-bit and I was trying to virtualize a Windows 2008 R2 server so I can transfer all my development tools. It had the benefit of cleaning off my computer and putting all my dev stuff into a neat little package I only had to run when I wanted to work.

I chose to use VMWare Player because of VMWare's fame. The problem was, it was sometimes much slower than my host machine, suspending state made it even worse, and shared folders caused issues with Visual Studio.

I had tried looking online at potential issues it could be but didn't find anyone with my issues. wPrime showed that the guest OS was using almost as much CPU power as my host OS so that didn't seem to be the problem.

So in the end, I switched to VirtualBox, an open source software from Oracle. It was wicked fast and easy to configure (make sure to enable IO APIC for Windows machines). Shared Folders even seemed to work better because when I created a sym link to my host OS development folder, Visual Studio didn't seem to have the issues it did on VMWare.

So if your VMWare Player seems like it's not pulling its weight, I'd recommend switching.

8GB of RAM now seems like a good investment to me. The CPU seems fine even under load; I usually only use one OS at a time, not both.

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Here is my configuration:

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PS. Is this a mindwarp or what?

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That's "Seamless" (Right-ctrl+L) where it will hide your guest OS desktop background and it will look like you have integration between both OSs. You can click any of the windows and they respond as they should. It's awesome.

Filed Under: Miscellaneous Technology Tips and Tricks

September 18, 2010

This is Pretty Sad, Isn't It? [Never Enough] | Posted at 1:00 PM

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OK, so I still have 437GB left… but still!

My C: and D: partitions are on two 200GB drives. I was thinking about swapping my C: drive with this monster and then using the extra GB for another storage (media) drive. Then I can move my virtual machines to C: to speed them up. It's cheap but will hopefully speed things up without costing me the price of a PS3.

Filed Under: Miscellaneous Technology

July 23, 2010

User Experience Changes in Outlook 2010 [FTW] | Posted at 8:11 AM

I wanted to make a list of changes that I really appreciate from a usability perspective. Thank you Outlook team!

  • Reordering Accounts: You can finally reorder your left pane accounts any way you want; now my archive folder is properly at the bottom and my accounts are ordered by importance.
  • Auto-detect Outgoing Mail Account to Use: It used to be in 2007 that when you composed a new mail, it defaulted to using your main email account. Now, however, it properly detects what account the current folder you're viewing is associated with and uses that. YES. Now my hack of an addin is no longer needed!

I will keep this list updated as I discover new features.

Filed Under: Miscellaneous Reviews Tips and Tricks

Upgrading Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2010 [FYI] | Posted at 7:58 AM

I couldn't really find a straight answer on this. I wanted to know if I had to backup my mail and whether it would get deleted if I upgraded to Office 2010.

The short answer: no! It migrates all your email and settings perfectly, didn't run into any problems!

To save you the trouble, make sure to get the correct version of Office 2010 (32-bit or 64-bit). You cannot upgrade to 64-bit from Office 2007 32-bit; the versions must match.

2010 is so much faster than 2007. I have at least two mailboxes that have between 1GB-2GB of size and 2007 would crawl opening them. 2010 starts up in 5 seconds with all the mail loaded; it's so much faster.

The best feature (so far) is the ability to reorder your mail accounts and favorites in the left pane. THANK GOD.

Now to check if I can combine internet calendars into one calendar, or at least get them to show up in the right-hand agenda list.

Filed Under: Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks

June 18, 2010

Go to Gamestop and Get a Shiny New Xbox 360 for $150 [Deals] | Posted at 6:38 PM

My new Xbox 360!

Kotaku to the rescue. Here's my experience:

After reading the article, I called my local Gamestop and they said they had 1 new Xbox left. So I quickly backed up my profiles, themes, avatars, etc. on my 4GB flash, and only about 50MB worth of stuff was backed up. Didn't transfer videos, etc.

Stuffed my Xbox Elite 120GB (no wireless adapter) into my backpack with cables and grabbed about 10 games (X360, Wii) I've been wanting to get rid of.

I drove to the Gamestop and asked if they still had it in stock, they had, and I gave them my stuff. After going through everything, they took everything except the old Xbox originals.

"Where's your controller?" Uh… crap.

I forgot a controller! So I either had to trade in everything and NOT get to apply it to my new Xbox purchase (because the trade was incomplete) or gamble and come back (traffic was about 25 mins each way).

BUT WAIT. The nice woman said that she could sell me a used controller and that'd count, I'd just be paying that much more. So that's what I did... unfortunately, but I didn't want to come back later.

The moral of my story: REMEMBER TO BRING EVERYTHING. They need wires and controller but not an HDMI if you have one; the new Xbox doesn't come with an HDMI cable. I almost gave them that, too.

So, in the end, my receipt was:
Trade-in + Edge Savings: -$198
Used Wired controller: $27
New Xbox 360: $300
Edge + GameInformer 12mo: $15
Tax: $9

This brings my total to only $153. If I had remembered my controller, I could have had the bugger for $126! But now I have an extra wireless controller, letting me use my wired for my PC... so whatever I guess.

I am very happy not only because I have a new pimp Xbox but also because I no longer need my network switch all the way across my apartment just for the Xbox. Now my Wii, Xbox 360, and laptop use Wi-Fi. So will my PS3 once I buy one.

READ ON FOR IMPORTANT TRANSFER INFO

I found out too late that the USB transfer didn't go as smooth as it said it did. It didn't transfer about 4 gamer profiles (my girlfriend's and my friend who play A LOT) and it didn't transfer most (any?) of my save games (even though it did transfer a few saves from other profiles)!

So now I have 0% in Red Dead (although I beat it) and no savegames in all my other games. At least I have my achievements, which my girlfriend unfortunately can't say.

The reason I believe this happened is because of a stupid "feature" that when you transfer, it actually MOVES the information to the other device instead of copying. I had initiated a transfer before that I canceled about 25% of the way through, then deleted whatever was on there because I assumed it just copied. Nope. I deleted my own save games.

Double check your transfer to make sure everything transferred correctly and DO NOT just format your USB drive; transfer everything over first.

Filed Under: Gaming Life Technology Tips and Tricks

June 3, 2010

Controlling Multiple Computers Using One Keyboard and Mouse using Input Director [PC] | Posted at 8:50 PM

I recently upgraded my old Pentium III server to some hand-me-down hardware I got from my brother's old PC. It's an Athlon XP 2700+ with 512MB of RAM and an ATI X1600 512MB video card. I'll be slapping 2GB of RAM into it and adding some more hard drive space.

Anyway, my dilemma was that I only had room for one keyboard and one mouse but I had two monitors. Some might have used a KVM switch (I actually have a USB switch I used to install the OS and configure the BIOS on it). You could also use remote desktop, which I did with my last server. However, switches and remote desktop are too manual for my taste.

Desk and computers

As you can see, my server is on the left of my desk and my PC is on the right side. The left monitor is my PC and the right monitor is my server.

Input Director to the rescue! It effectively handles all the screen switching for you so you can use your second computer as if it was connected to your primary monitor. When you move your mouse to the side of the screen where the second computer's monitor is at, it will automatically switch your keyboard and mouse focus to that computer. It even handles copy/pasting! You could try Synergy as well (I've used it previously) but it didn't play nice with Windows Server 2008 which is what my server runs.

Filed Under: Miscellaneous Technology Tips and Tricks

June 2, 2010

One Sentence Review: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time [Movie] | Posted at 2:15 PM

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Title: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
Blurb: An "adaptation" of the Prince of Persia video game with pretty "Persian"-ish actors.
Review: Yes, Hollywood, British accents definitely equal Persia in my mind.
Grade: B+

Filed Under: Movies Reviews

May 25, 2010

One Sentence Review: Red Dead Redemption [X360] | Posted at 4:45 PM

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Title: Red Dead Redemption
Platform: Xbox 360
Blurb: You're the most bad-ass cowboy in the wild west.
Review: Any game that lets you hogtie people and throw them on train tracks causing them to be run over by said train is an A in my book.
Grade: A+

Filed Under: Games Reviews

May 12, 2010

Goodbye, College! | Posted at 2:46 PM

I graduate next Monday with my degree in management information systems. I am pretty darn excited but there is one thing I will miss…

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My university's internet backbone.

Goodbye sweet, sweet speed. I managed to order 12Mbps/5Mbps high speed DSL for my new apartment but it will never match the speed I've been accustomed to.

Filed Under: Life Miscellaneous

April 12, 2010

MinneWebCon 2010 – Informal User Testing | Posted at 5:33 PM

I just finished up with attending this year's MinneWebCon. I was excited because it was my first time being apart of a presentation at such a large event and I hope it's not the last. Our topic was about informal user testing and how that helps drive design and creating a usable application. The main speaker was my old supervisor, Zach Johnson, and then those of us who currently work at Student Unions & Activities: Ken Loomis, Ethan Poole, and me.

Presentation

Filed Under: Life Miscellaneous

April 2, 2010

Jumpstart Your .NET Web Application Development - $12 [Marketplace] | Posted at 4:51 PM

I've been exploring the CodeCanyon marketplace for a little while now and I am pretty impressed. It's an opportunity to monetize some ideas I've had and to gain some portfolio work and possibly more customers. I've been a proponent of free software (I provide some on my development site) so I won't be selling everything I make, but I think it's nice to put some product out there as a web designer.

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I've just released my Web Application Template package for .NET web applications (and it's only $12). It's basically what I would prefer to start with every time I work on a new web site… in effect, a "Web App in a Box."

It supports .NET 3.5 and .NET 4 and offers a slew of features (ELMAH integration, compression/minification of CSS and JS, etc), the to-do list ever growing. You can be sure I'll keep it updated because I will be using it myself! I'm already using it for a new version of Intrepid Studios (not a total redesign, more enhancement-like).

I was sick and tired of all my projects using different file/folder/solution layouts and having to duplicate code across them all the time. I wanted a way to easily get started without spending time configuring everything. While I was working on it, I thought it would be useful for other developers. Will it really save you six hours? Well, it took me a solid 6+ hours of development time to set it up… and then some. Six is a safe bet, possibly more if you aren't that familiar with some of the components I integrated.

As always, let me know if there are bugs and improvements you think of.

You can also check out my previous CodeCanyon release, Google Picasa Gallery + API.

Filed Under: Coding Technology

March 25, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Quick Tip: Disable Hamachi [Tips & Tricks] | Posted at 8:59 PM

I ran into a problem while playing with the Windows Phone 7 CTP the other day. I was trying to use the Google data services via the WebClient object. It was throwing exceptions no matter what I did. I noticed it threw exceptions on ANY Google-hosted URI.

Long story short: disable Hamachi or any other potential virtual network adapters. VMWare seems to not interfere but Hamachi enjoys taking over connections sometimes and will hijack your phone emulator.

You can view the details of my adventure right over yonder.

Filed Under: Technology Tips and Tricks

About the Author

Kamran
Divide by Zero is Kamran Ayub's personal blog. Kamran owns and operates Intrepid Studios, a web design and development firm based in Minneapolis. Despite the above picture, Kamran is usually an intelligent person. Please forgive him.

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