mandag den 16. november 2009

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on Linux

I own Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack in the Linux edition from Loki. However, it unfortunately does not seem to run on a modern Linux distribution.

So I decided to make a virtual machine image of an old Linux distribution to make it work. That way I will never have to reinstall it, as long as I save the virtualized image.

So the procedure is:
1) Download Red Hat 8 (in 2 disks): and

2) Create a virtual disk image:
emu-img create -f qcow2 smac_redhat8.img 5G

3) Optionally install kqemu kernel module to accelerate qemu (Red Hat 8 didn't work with kvm,presumably because my CPU is not known by Red Hat 8).

3) Install Red Hat 8 in virtual image:
qemu -cpu pentium2 -hda smac_redhat8.img -m 1024 -soundhw ac97 -cdrom psyche-i386-disc1.iso
(You change cdrom in qemu by CTRL-ALT-2 and then "change ide1-cdrom psyche-i386-disc2.iso")
Inside the redhat install just selected a generic monitor, which happened to have a default resolution of 1024x768, which happened to be the max resolution of SMAC.
Inside the finished installation you need to add "options i810_audio clocking=48000" to /etc/modules.conf , otherwise the sound will play too slowly, and in a very low pitch.

4) I think you need to tell qemu to use ALSA instead of OSS:
export QEMU_AUDIO_DRV=alsa

5) Install SMAC inside the virtual machine by putting my SMAC cd in the cd drive, and booting qemu with "-cdrom /dev/cdrom". I just installed SMAC as root inside the virtual machine, as the default install settings expected that. SMAC will be in the main menu under extras->games->smac.

6) Update SMAC. Since none of the mirrors the loki update tool knew worked (and I did not want to set up virtual networking), I manually fetched , made it into an iso image ("genisoimage -o smac_patch.iso"), and mounted smac_patch.iso as a cdrom in qemu. You can then run (as root) to patch the SMAC installation.

7) You can the virtual machine in full screen mode by hitting CTRL-ALT-f

søndag den 10. maj 2009

Hardcover Books and Market Segmentation

New books are usually only available in hardcover for about a year.

Wikipedia writes that
Hardcover books tend to cost more than paperback versions of the book. This is due to price discrimination by booksellers who observe that consumers are willing to pay a premium for hardcover editions over paperbacks beyond the extra costs in materials and production.
This bugs me. I think that for most for-fun reading where you aren't taking notes, paperbacks are ergonomically better. So not only do I have to pay more, I am paying more for an inferior product. If they do insist on charging more for new books (fair enough), at least make it an expensive paperback.