Category Archives: Windows

Laptop Alchemy

[links for all programs at the end of this post]

There’s a really popular game for Android called Alchemy which Gillian’s eldest took quite a shine to on my phone. It’s a really simple game, involving dropping icons of the basic four elements onto each other to create newer items. These can then be used as blocks to make more complex ones and so on.

For example, mixing fire and water gives you alcohol, earth and air gives dust, dust and water gives mud… and so on. This version currently has 370 items to develop and discover. There is a “competing” program going by the name of Alchemy Classic which is the same but different. The programmers of this have also developed a PC version, but it’s a pain in the backside to install. There is also a new version from another developer called Alchemy ~ Genetics which does much the same thing with genetic traits of various creatures (wonderful gift to send to your Creationist friends – assuming Creationists have friends).

And, finally, there’s an excellent version for the PC (sorry Mac users). It’s programmed by Marius Bancila and the most recent version (2.0) can be downloaded from his blog (link below). It’s a small install and this new release has been re-jigged so that it works better on netbook screens. The old one kept expanding so that controls dropped off the bottom.

I’m giving this a plug partly as it’s such a good game and also because Marius has proven to be an excellent supporter of his own product. He happily listens to feedback both for bug fixes and new combinations of items. His Alchemy currently sports 444 different creations!

POINT TO NOTE – the game downloads as a single file within a ZIP archive. Just drag the file out of the archive and pop it somewhere to run it. For those who like things near and tidy, you can’t put the game into your Program Files folder where you’d normally store executables. For some reason it won’t then have permission to create and update the separate progress file so you’ll lose all your work each time to leave the game. Store it pretty much anywhere else! This may only be an issue under Windows 7/Vista, though.

A quick list of links for all four versions listed in this post:

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Lost your Windows/Office install key?

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...
Can't reinstall?

I’ve located a very useful piece of freeware. When re-installing Windows on a machine, the only things you need are a working CD/DVD (or USB version) and the installation key. The key is supposed to be stuck onto the machine which is fine is a) it is and b) it’s not been rubbed off by wear and tear.

Such is the case with both my laptop and my netbook.

Thankfully, a company called Mayhem Development have a handy utility available for a free download that, in seconds, presents you with your Windows install key. It states that it works on XP, but I gather it’s also useful if you’re stuck with the bulbous penile pustule of operating systems that is Vista. It may even work with Windows 7.

In addition, it will also recover your Office install key for versions up to and including (to a Beta level) 2010.

The package can be downloaded from Mayhem’s website. It’s tiny, portable (i.e. it doesn’t install – you just run it) and as mentioned, completely free.

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AVI Chunk Viewer – how to remove it

I’ve had this annoying popup for ages. When you highlight an AVI file and hold SHIFT it often appears. This is most annoying when you want to move files (SHIFT+mouse) or force-delete (SHIFT-DEL).

I did some digging online and the best solutions I got were pointing me to a settings or configuration program within some XVid codec installs. Thing is, I don’t have those particular codecs so that didn’t help.

A bit of a dig later, courtesy of Process Explorer (formerly by sysinternals, now Microsoft) and I found that the program being used was one avisplitter.ax which can be found in C:/Windows/System32. I renames this (popped a “.bak” on the end)… and problem solved.

As far as I can tell, this has had no other effects on the system. Everything else seems to be working fine. However, I’ll leave the file in place rather than delete it just in case.

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Speedyfox

Speedyfox
Speedyfox

Recently I’ve been having problems with Firefox taking an age to boot up. I’ve more or less fully migrated to Google Chrome, but still need Firefox for some pages that don’t quite work properly in Chrome. Thing is, it’s taking about a minute to load what used to be a quick browser.

After a dig, I found this little solution called Speedyfox. It is a tiny download (0.3Mb) and essentially all it does it optimise the Firefox database. It’s Windows-only at present but it’s knocked my load time down to nearer 10 seconds. Much more acceptable!

Oh, yeah. How much does it cost?

Nothing. My kind of price point.

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Zoomquilt

I just found this by random and it’s well worth a look if you like whacky artwork and clever computery stuff. Essentially it’s a big Flash animation, but it’s very hypnotic. A series of images by various artists have been layered together. As you dive into one you move to the next and so on.

It’s also available as a downloadable screensaver, I think just for Windows.

Linkety-link: Zoomquilt2

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