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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Supreme Court Decision and the State of Video Game Ratings Now

On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the video games are protected as a medium of free speech (or expression) under the first amendment of the Constitution and that the government cannot pass laws restricting the sale of any video game to minors.

To give you a summary of the law (parts taken from the Supreme Court opinion):
The law "prohibits the sale or rental of “violent video games” to minors, and requires their packaging to be labeled “18.” The Act covers games “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being, if those acts are depicted” in a manner that “[a] reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors,” that is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suit-able for minors,” and that “causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.” §1746(d)(1)(A). Violation of the Act is punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000. §1746.3."[1]

The law attempts to put violence into the category of obscenities. One of the main reasons that the state of California lost is because "it acknowledges that it cannot show a direct causal link between violent video games and harm to minors."[2] Using the definition of video games as free speech, the court said that "the curtailment of free speech must be actually necessary to the solution".[3] From what I can see, this law is separate from the ESRB ratings system that all (or most?) video games are judged by before they can be put on the market for selling. The ruling only affects any laws that a government has already made or could make.

To my knowledge, the standard ESRB ratings system is still in effect even with this ruling. Further, this ruling does not apply to a store's company policy if it has one. For example, Walmart (and a few other stores which sell video games) has a policy that that restricts the sale of M-rated games to those 18 (or is it 17?) and older. If a 12 year-old tried to buy a M-rated game (such as Grand Theft Auto), he or she would be denied because they do not meet the criteria in company policy for the sale of mature-rated games.

As Christians (and good people), we have an obligation to shield the young from obscenities and other harmful material. Parents are the ones that play the main role in doing so. Therefore, parents are the ones who should call the shots as far as which games their kids may or may not play. As the article says
"No doubt a State possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm, Ginsberg, supra, at 640–641; Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U. S. 158, 165 (1944), but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed. “Speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them.” Erznoznik, supra, at 213–214.3"[4]
 However, with the (sad) moral state we are currently in as a society, many parents do not take their job as a parent seriously. Many parents don't care about what kind of games their child gets into and/or do not know enough about video games that are out there. To help that, you have the ESRB ratings system which rates video games and helps parents make an informed decision as far as which video games their child is allowed to play. Parents, before your kids buy a video game, do your homework and try to find out what is actually in the video game (this can be done by methods such as game reviews, asking other gamers, or even asking the person who works at the video game store; much of the time, people who work at video game stores have knowledge of the games that are already out or going to be released) so that you can make an informed decision.

If you have any thoughts or comments on this, please share them with me and the other readers via the comment box below. You can also find me on twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

[1] Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 U.S. 3 (2011)
[2] Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 U.S. 14 (2011) 
[3] Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 U.S. 14 (2011) 
[4] Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 U.S. 9 (2011)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some Games I would like to see be ported to Windows Phone

If you didn't know already, a Sonic the Hedgehog game was recently released for Windows Phone and is on the marketplace for your gaming pleasure. The much-anticipated Mango update Windows Phone is coming soon in the Fall, and is slated to be the best update yet to the Windows Phone operating system. Wouldn't it be great if some other games we know and love got ported to Windows Phone? With this, there are many games for other platforms that I would like to see a Windows Phone version of. Here are some of them, in no particular order of importance:

  • Halo
       I'm sure many fans of the Halo series have wanted a mobile version of Halo for quite some time. With Halo being part of Xbox Live and Xbox Live being part of the Windows Phone operating system, there is a potential for mobile to mobile playing and mobile with Xbox playing as well, with Xbox Live integration not being a problem.
  • Final Fantasy
       Who wouldn't want a few of the games in the Final Fantasy series being ported to Windows Phone? Final Fantasy I has already been ported to Windows Mobile, so we know it is possible, and some of the other Final Fantasy games deserve to be ported as well.
  • Pokémon
      Little needs to be said for this one. Unfortuately, with the Pokémon games being in the hands of Nintendo, I don't think we have much chance of seeing any native ports. Now if someone would make an emulator that can play them and Microsoft (actually) lets it go on the marketplace, that would work as well.
  • Duck Hunt
       This little gem from the Nintendo NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) caused people to spend endless hours playing this game. Now I know that you can't hook up a gun (if you didn't know, to play Duck Hunt on the NES, you used a "gun" controller to shoot the ducks) to your windows phone, but I can see touch input functioning as the "gun".
  • Orions: Legends of Wizards
       This game was a Windows Mobile gem, winning many awards for gameplay. It is a mix of a card game and real-time-strategy. I'm sure that those of you that had Windows Mobile devices remember this game. Unfortunately, the Windows Mobile version never got an update so you could play it on HVGA resolution devices (in other words, devices with 800 x 480 resolution). This games deserves an update, a port to Windows Phone, and maybe some more expansion packs.
  • Arvale
       This is another game (series) that was big on Windows Mobile. This one is sort of an RPG with dungeon crawler. Anyway, besides breaking the 4th wall much of the time, this game was enjoyable and I spent many hours playing them (the first full version that I actually played was Arvale: Short Tales; I just played trials of the Arvale games before).
  • (Super) Mario Bros.
       Again, one of those games that don't need much said about it. However, like the Pokémon games, I doubt we will be seeing a native port of this from Nintendo.
  • Angry Birds
       This great game is a hot seller on the iOS and Android operating systems. The only one out of the picture is Windows Phone. Many people have been asking for a port of this to Windows Phone for some time now, with me being one of them, and it is currently unknown (to me, at least) whether we will get a port of Angry Birds to Windows Phone or not.

I'm sure that I left out a couple of other games that deserve a port to Windows Phone. This is just a short list of some of them. I am curious to hear what games you think should get a Windows Phone port and if you agree (or disagree) with any of the items on my list. You can make your thoughts known via the comment box below.

Friday, June 24, 2011

'tis the Season to Imagine

Well, it's that time of year again. Summer has started and the Imagine Cup World Finals is just around the corner. Here, all the finalists from each country's own Imagine Cup competition will come from all over the globe to (this year) New York City to see who is worthy of winning the Imagine Cup.

In case you don't know what the Imagine Cup is, it is a technology competition with five categories, each with its own rules and objectives, tied to a particular common theme: Software Design, Embedded Development, Game Design, Digital Media, and (with the advent of Windows Phone 7) Windows Phone 7. The goal of the Software Design category is to come up with a software (and maybe hardware if need be) solution that solves a big problem in the world today. The goal of the Embedded Development category is to build a hardware and software solution that solves a big problem in the world today using embedded hardware and software. The goal of Game Design is to come up with the best game for either PC/Xbox, the web (via silverlight), or for Windows Phone 7. The goal of the digital media category is to make a video that conveys your view of an issue or issues in society that exists today which is visually and audibly interesting and stimulating. The goal of the Windows Phone 7 competition is to make the best (non-game) program for Windows Phone 7.

The US finals were held back in April at MS headquarters in Redmond, with the winners of Software Design being Team Notetaker from Arizona State University and the winners of Game Design being Team Bloom from Tribeca Flashpoint Academy for Windows/Xbox and Team Big Impact Bear from University of Houston for Windows Phone 7 Gaming. You can find the rest of the US winners here.

The Worldwide Finals will take place on July 8-13 in New York City. The winners from all of the categories in each country will be judged there to see who will take home the Imagine Cup.

Now, your vote is needed for the People's Choice Award in each category. You can find the voting site here. Your vote counts!

Now after reading this, some of you might be inspired to start an Imagine Cup team at your college/university or high school. This is good. You can find everything you need to get started for next year right here and all the tools that you (might) need can be found on Dreamspark.

Would anyone reading this article who has participated in the Imagine Cup competition before like to share there experience with other readers who haven't heard of the Imagine Cup before or have been considering it, but haven't entered before? Do you have any other thoughts on the Imagine Cup you would like to share? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. I am also open to people following me on Twitter as well (username is @rctechgeek).

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Example of Anglican Mass Settings in the Roman Rite

A while back, I did a post (found here) on how it's possible for Anglican Mass settings to be used within the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (with some modifications). Well, now I (finally) have an example to back this up.

The piece I did was Healey Willan's famous (Anglican Rite 1) setting of the Gloria. I would consider it to be the "Missa De Angelis" of the Anglican world. Please keep in mind that because this uses the new Mass translations, it cannot officially be used in Mass until Advent, when the new Mass translations go into effect.

Link for download (file is pdf file): Healey Willan Gloria Roman Rite Download

For those of you who want to get (somewhat of) a feel of how it sounds, you can listen to the original version on YouTube

Choirmasters, priests, and choir members, I would like to know if you would ever use this in your parish, given the chance. If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts about this or liturgical music for the new translation in general, I would like to hear them. You may make them known via the comment box or on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

A Boy Scout's Examination of Conscience

I've been thinking about the boy scouts a lot lately. For most examination of conscience forms I have found, they seem to include a bit for every kind of person (young kids, parents, senior citizens, etc.). However, I haven't really been able to find any that are geared toward young people, particularly young and teenage Catholic boys. So with that, I decided to try to make my own to help boy scouts everywhere make a better examination of conscience so they can make a good confession. I have tried to fit everything as best that I can into the context of the scout laws.

  • Trustworthy
    • Have I lied during Confession?
    • Have I broken the law?
    • Have I stolen any goods?
    • Do I pay off my debts within a timely manner?
    • Did I intentionally fail to honor any promises or contracts made?
    • Have I been a good example to others in living out the Catholic faith?
    • Did I fail to keep secret what should be confidential?
  • Loyal
    • Have I knowingly missed Mass on Sunday or any Holy Day of Obligation?
    • Have I joined another Christian denomination, practiced any non-Christian religions, or fallen away from the Church?
    • Have I engaged in anything Occult?
    • Have I joined any group forbidden for Catholics to join (such as the Freemasons or Communists)?
    • Have I put material goods first before God?
  • Helpful
    • Have I helped others to sin by scandal (or other means)?
    • Have done my part to use my time, talent, and treasure to further the good work of the Church?
  • Friendly
    • Did I intentionally lie to ruin a person's reputation?
    • Did I spread gossip or rumors about another person?
  • Courteous
    • Have I treated all members of the opposite sex with respect and not thought of them as sex objects?
    • Have I been prejudiced, or unjustly discriminated against others because of their race, color, nationality, sex or religion?
  • Kind
    • Have I knowingly belittled others with my words?
    • Have I ever wished evil on another person or wished that bad things would happen to a person
    • Have I unjustly inflicted bodily harm on another?
    • Have I intentionally abused another person either verbally or emotionally?
    • Did I blaspheme or insult God?
  • Obedient
    • Have I listened to the requests of my parents and ignored them?
    • Have I listened to the requests of those in authority other than my parents?
    • Have I kept fast and abstinence on the days required?
    • Did I do my Easter duty to receive Holy Communion at least once during the Easter Season?
  • Cheerful
    • Did I give in despair about my salvation or the forgiveness of my sin? 
    • Did I ever get angry at God?
  • Thrifty
    • Did I eat too much in 1 sitting?
    • Is food all that I think about?
    • Did I intentionally misuse resources allotted to me?
  • Brave
    • Did I deny that God does exist?
    • Have I failed to speak out and defend the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church?
    • Have I failed to speak out in the defense of another person?
  • Clean
    • Have I neglected personal hygiene?
    • Have I been looking at dirty pictures either in print or on the internet?
    • Have I looked at a pretty girl with lustful eyes?
    • Have I masturbated?
    • Have I used illegal drugs?
    • Have I dressed modestly?
  • Reverent
    • Have I remembered to leave sufficient time for prayer and to engage in daily prayer? 
    • Did I receive the Blessed Sacrament in a state of Mortal Sin?
    • Did I commit a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament?

With all this, there is probably some stuff that I forgot. If you can think of some more that I missed, be sure to let me know what they are and where they fit so that I can add them to this list (eventually, I plan to make this a sticky on the blog).

I'm curious to see what priests, religious, and laypeople alike, think of this version of an examination of conscience. I am open to any and all criticism. If you have anything to add to the list or have any comments on this list, please make them known via the comment box below or on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

    What if Microsoft made a Linux Distribution?

    My how much operating systems have progressed. Around the start of June, the first release candidate of version 3.0 of the Linux kernel was released. We all know that Windows has been around since the 80s. With Linux as one of Microsoft's great adversaries, I thought it would be fun to try to visualize what would happen if Microsoft did a complete 180° turn on Linux and made its own distribution of Linux.

    For one, Microsoft would probably have the whole explorer shell as its desktop environment. Since it is Linux, the customization options here would be a little looser, but Microsoft would probably make it difficult for users to install another desktop environment or window manager, although the use of the console would not be limited in this way. Microsoft would probably modify the kernel to include (and also build, as kernel modules) some drivers that would normally not be included in a Linux distribution by default.

    For the package manager, Microsoft would have it's own proprietary package manger + package type. This would, no doubt, tied into some online store that you would use to get programs. However, Microsoft would probably have some sort of way of installing packages locally. If you wanted to use packages for existing systems like rpm or deb, you would probably be out of luck because Microsoft would most likely tweak the system so that only packages in its proprietary format can be installed (but someone would eventually make something like the utility called Alien, which lets you convert packages from one format to another, like from deb to rpm).

    For programs that would come with it, Microsoft Office would probably either not be bundled by default or have some sort of basic version of Microsoft Office bundled. If you wanted the full version, you would probably buy it through the online store and have to download it. Other programs, like paint or notepad, would probably be included, but would either be made totally by Microsoft or have Microsoft branding on it.

    For those of you who like to use WINE to run your Windows programs under Linux, Microsoft would probably come out with something that serves the same purpose that would blow WINE (and also Cedega Crossover Office, the "paid, with support" version of WINE) out of the water.

    Since the Zune player and Windows Phone 7 devices are so popular right now, Microsoft would include (or free download from online store) a Zune client that could interface with the Zune player and Windows Phone 7 to modify your mobile media library with few problems. Xbox Live would probably make a debut on the Linux platform as well.

    Internet Explorer would get a native port to Linux, with all (or most) of the features that you would find on the Windows version. Windows Live would also get full Linux support as well. Samba support would be native, with Microsoft coming up with it's own version/implementation of SMB/CIFS (and NETBIOS too?).

    There's probably a whole lot more that can be said about this. However, this is all that I could come up with for now. If you can think of some more things that weren't mentioned that would happen if Microsoft made it's own distribution, I would love to hear about it. If you have any other comments about this, make your thoughts known via the comment box, or on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Microsoft makes porting programs from Android and iOS to Windows Phone easier

    To help get more programs on to the Windows Phone Marketplace, Microsoft has recently been targeting developers of Android and iOS programs. To make things easier for those developers to port their programs to the Windows Phone platform, Microsoft has come out with documentation which maps the APIs found in Android and iOS to the applicable ones in Windows Phone. It even links the applicable Windows Phone API to the documentation page on MSDN. What's more is that if you see something wrong, missing, or you know of something better than what's given, you can tell Microsoft and the documentation will be changed.

    This resource also has the reverse effect as well. Mobile developers who are starting out in the mobile world programming for Windows Phone or are students can use this resource to make programs for Android or iOS, assuming you have all the needed hardware and tools to make them. I know that once I finish my BSA Eagle Tracker program, I am going to work on porting it first to Android, and then to iOS. This API mapping guide makes it a lot easier for me to find the applicable API in the new platform and use it.

    With Mango coming, I think that Microsoft is trying to make this the best update yet, complete with many feature updates and additions, bug fixes, and many new programs making their way onto the marketplace (in this case, from Android and iOS to Windows Phone).

    The link to Android to Windows Phone documentation:
    The link to iOS to Windows Phone documentation:

    As an Android or iOS developer, do you think this is useful and will use this to start making programs for Windows Phone? Windows Phone developers, do you plan on using this resource to port your programs to Android and iOS for maximum exposure? Feel free to tell me via the comment box or on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek)

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    A Short Update on BSA Eagle Tracker

    A while ago, I told you that I was making a program for Windows Phone 7 (my pet project for the summer) that allows a boy scout to track his progress to Eagle Scout (here's the link to the first post). Well, I have another update, in that I finished what is probably the hardest part next to saving everything, the merit badges. Trying to coordinate merit badge usage between Star, Life, and Eagle ranks was a pain, but I think I have everything under control now. I still haven't implemented saving yet because I want to get the user interface under control first. The User Interface for Star rank has now nearly finished and Life and Eagle ranks are next on the list. In case you're wanting a screenshot, here's what I have for the homescreen (which is the first screen that you see when the program loads). It would be great if you could give me some tips on how I can improve this.

    Update 6-17-2011: Saving your progress is partially implemented now. I am still working out some (big) saving bugs though. Also, a few UI parts got updated to fit certain requirements better. More screenshots coming later. Your comments and criticisms are still needed to help improve this app.

    For helpful tips or general comments, please put them in the comment box or send them to me on twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Who says that Microsoft always copies from Apple?

    With the announcement of iOS 5, the fanboys and other sheeple are going crazy as usual. As for me, I'm not impressed with the new features. We've all heard the old accusation that Microsoft always copies Apple, right? Well, in this case, the tables are turned, where many of the new features Apple is including in the next version of iOS are already present in Windows Phone. Perhaps if I explain myself more, you will see what I mean.

    With this new version, Apple is touting the new "independence" from the laptop or desktop. Part of this is with their new iCloud service. Well, Windows Phone already has integration with Windows Live, with full integration with Windows Live coming with Mango. IOS devices can now update only the parts of the os + utilities that have updates instead of the whole thing. From the beginning, Microsoft has implemented a system for Windows Phone 7 which only update the parts which have updates (and analysis shows that parts of this update system were part of the os even as early as Windows Mobile 5, although in an inferior form).

    The next one, Apple's new Game Center. Well, with the popularity of Xbox Life on the Xbox, adding Windows Phone to the mix can only make it better, giving you Xbox Live capability on the go. With the Game Center, Apple is trying to copy Xbox Live.

    Apple is also touting the ability to sync over wi-fi. Well, you can already do that with Windows Phone 7 and the existing desktop Zune Client.

    Apple has finally integrated tabbed browsing into Safari, about time(!). Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 7 has had this capability (standard) from the start (and I believe Android has also had this too).

    Integration with Twitter is apparently coming in iOS 5. As for Windows Phone 7, this is coming with Mango, along with full Facebook integration as well.

    The iPhone can now see things in year view. Microsoft already had this with made agenda, day, week, month, and year views being part of the calendar in Windows Phone 6.5 (and in versions of Windows Mobile from Pocket PC 2003 (SE?) on). Windows Phone 7 has all of this implemented in the calendar, but year view is very obscure. iCloud will allow you to share calendars with friends and family. I believe Windows Life already lets you do that.

    One feature that Apple (I admit) does have that Windows Phone does not is the capability to mirror your media so that you can show it on a television. I do hope that Microsoft includes this capability in the future.

    With the latest version of iOS, Apple is touting many new features. What many people don't realize is that a lot of these features aren't as new and "groundbreaking" as Apple (and its fanboys) makes it out to be. What I am doing is merely doing is highlighting some of those differences and showing where some of them can be found in Windows Phone. My hope is that this will dispel some of the hype and make people do their homework to see if this newer version will meet their needs or not (and if it does meet their needs, is getting it really worth it?).

    So do you think that Apple's newest version of iOS is worth it? Do you have any other thoughts as to the reality of this update to iOS? Make your thoughts know here (in the comment box) or on Twitter (url for twitter is @rctechgeek).

    Why I still have Windows Phone 6.5 even in the age of Windows Phone 7 (Part 2)

    After I wrote the piece on some reasons that I still have a Windows Phone 6.5 device, I happened to think of some other reasons why Windows Phone 6.5 is still useful that I forgot to include in the last post (if you haven't read it yet, here's the link to part 1. So here are some more reasons why Windows Phone 6.5 is still useful (even with Windows Phone 7).

    The first four have to do with bluetooth support. The first one has to do with the profiles that are included by default. According to Microsoft itself, the bluetooth profiles that are supported are Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP 1.2), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP 1.0), Hands Free Profile (HFP 1.5), Headset Profile (HSP 1.1), and Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP 1.0). One thing that is definitely missing is bluetooth keyboard support. I don't know about anyone else, but aside from maybe the phones with a built-in hardware keyboard (like the LG Quantum or the HTC Arrive), it can be cumbersome at times to use the onscreen soft keyboard. Having a hardware keyboard can be a big typing error preventer and allows text to be typed faster, meaning you get access to it faster. The iPad has this capability and the any Windows Phone 6.5 device (whether running the Broadcomm bt stack or the Microsoft bt stack) has this capability.

    The next one also has to do with the file explorer, but with Windows Phone 6.5, I can do bluetooth file transfers. Since Windows Phone 7, does not implement the OBEX File Transfer protocol, this is not possible under Windows Phone 7. This means you can't use your laptop's bluetooth to send a file (like a word document or a new ringtone) to your Windows Phone 7 device. I do admit that this is a feature that I don't use a lot, but it's very handy when I do need to use it.

    The next one is external gps support. With Windows Phone 7, I am limited to the gps that is included in the device. With Windows Phone 6.5, in addition to using the gps my device may have built-in, I can use bluetooth to connect to an external (hardware) gps with bluetooth and access functions in the external gps. I realize that many people are fine with what's built-in or with no gps at all (I will admit that I still use the old-fashioned paper "map" when I go on vacation trips in the car), but I have gotten reports from many people that a certain external hardware gps (there is no one specific external, hardware gps that I am referring to), performs better than the gps that may be built-in with the Windows Phone 7 device.

    The next one is the ability to transfer a contact from one device to another via bluetooth. With Windows Phone 6.5, I could use bluetooth to choose a contact from my address book and send it to another Windows Phone 6.5 device and the contact would be in the second 6.5 device's address book. In Windows Phone 7, you cannot do this. I don't know much about the Phone Book Access bluetooth profile, but I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to use this to enable you send a contact (preferably from "People") from one Windows Phone 7 device to another, as long as the two devices are paired. This would definitely be useful in a case like Microsoft's TechEd conference (Microsoft, I hope you are reading this), where you have many people present and the giving of contact information is a normal activity.

    The next one is lack of VOIP support in Windows Phone 7. With the advent of Mango, skype support will be (supposedly) be built-in, but what if you do not use skype? What if you use a 3rd party voip service? If this is the case, you are out of luck. With Windows Phone 6.5 (and even 6.1), you can use your device to make voip calls, and the best thing is that you can use the address book that's built-in to the os (configuration was a bit advanced, but there are utilities out there that make it easy).

    The next one is the ability to make playlists on the device. With Windows Phone 6.5, Windows Media Player mobile allowed you to save a new playlist and edit existing playlists (there was one 3rd party program out there, called PlaylistMgr, that made making playlist on the device a lot easier than doing it from within Windows Media Player mobile and you could even include media files which were on the device, but weren't part of the Windows Media Player mobile library). Under Windows Phone 7, you have to make the playlist in the Zune (desktop) client first, and then transfer the playlist to the device. This can be annoying at times when you don't have your desktop or laptop handy and you still want to make a playlist. Add to this, my wish that Microsoft gives you the capability to add a youtube video to a playlist in the zune player as well.

    The last one is the ability to do p2p multi-player gaming either via bluetooth or via wi-fi (and even cross-platform multi-player gaming). Under Windows Phone 6.5, it was possible to do both, and it made gaming on the platform even better (Orions: Legends of Wizards, anyone?). Under Windows Phone 7, this is not possible (mostly due to lack of socket support in the os currently), but I hear that Mango will fix this. Big things will come when things work like they do on the Xbox, you can either "link" other devices together or go multi-player on Xbox Live. You will still need a good internet connection though, for gaming on the internet (either wi-fi or 3G, EDGE will not cut it).

    These are some more reasons that I thought of that I still use Windows Phone 6.5 in the age of Windows Phone 7. I hope that Microsoft will be reading this and fix (most) of these issues with future versions of Windows Phone.

    Do you think that Windows Phone 6.5 is outdated or do you think there is still some worth to it even with Windows Phone 7 (and Mango coming)? Feel free to let me know here (in the comment box) or on Twitter (url for twitter is

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Why I still have Windows Phone 6.5 even in the age of Windows Phone 7

    In case you are wondering what Windows Phone 6.5 is, it's just the renamed form of Windows Mobile 6.5. Anyway, with Windows Phone 7 out right now and Mango just around the corner (termed version 7.x), some might wonder why I still keep a device handy that runs the older version. Why is this? Well, there are some aspects of Windows Phone 6.5 that I still use and I can't find in the newer Windows Phone 7 (or even Mango).

    The first one is WP6.5 has a file manager and access to the file system. What's more is the fact that a 6.5 device can act as a SD card reader in a desktop or laptop. I'm sure it's not above Microsoft to add this to Windows Phone 7 (I found a post on the internet with an early rendition of Windows Phone 7 with a file manager, so it's possible), but you must admit that sometimes, the isolated storage concept can get in the way. This is true especially when you have e-mail attachments which requires a certain program to open it.

    The second one is that with Windows Phone 6.5, I can take my media library on my SD card and transfer it to any other device as long as it has the right size SD card slot. With Windows Phone 7, you have to sync your media library on each device, taking portability right out of the equation. I do realize that some phones, like the Samsung Focus, have an external SD card slot in them, but the majority of phones only use the SD card as a sort of "raid storage" (which is how the os works). The portability also goes with the file manager in that I can store documents on the SD card and (assuming I have the right reader in my desktop or laptop) I can open up that same document on my desktop that I just had open on my mobile device.

    The third one is lack of console emulators with Windows Phone 7. I do realize that you can you write an emulator with managed code (such as C#), but all of the good emulators seem to be written in native code (using C++, something that Windows Phone 7 lacks). I can think of a few times where I've been on trips and I wanted to play a console game on my device (such as Pokemon Yellow), but I had to use my 6.5 device to do it. Some of the games written for Windows Mobile were really good (such as Orions: Legends of Wizards), but they can't easily be ported to Windows Phone 7 due to lack of native code support.

    The fourth one is the capability to "sideload" programs under Windows Phone 6.5. With Windows Phone 7, you can only install programs using the marketplace (developers know a way around this though). 6.5 allows you to keep the installation file handy on your device (sd card is preferred) and if something happens where you need to reinstall, you have the installation file ready with no waiting for downloads. With Windows Phone 7, you only are allowed to get what is "approved" for the marketplace and you can't install programs (normally) that are useful, but but wouldn't pass marketplace approval for certain reasons. With Windows Phone 6.5, you can install programs from local storage in addition to the marketplace (few to no restrictions as to what you want to install, in other words).

    These are just a few of the reasons why even though I have a Windows 7 phone, I still keep my Windows Phone 6.5 device handy. If I think of any more good reasons, I will start a new post with those ideas.

    Do you think that Windows Phone 6.5 is outdated or do you think there is still some worth to it even with Windows Phone 7 (and Mango coming)? Feel free to let me know here (in the comment box) or on twitter (url for twitter is

    Edit:  If you haven't read it yet, part 2 is here

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Anglican Mass Settings Use in Roman Rite

    As Roman Rite Catholics who follow the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it's no secret that we are moving to new translations of the Mass text come Advent. With this coming, we need new Mass settings. Is it possible to use parts of Anglican Mass settings in the Ordinary Form of the Mass?

    The answer to this question is: out of the box, No. However, they can still be used in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but you must first modify the text to fit the text of the new translations. The Mass text between the "Anglican Mass" (Rite 1) and the new translations is strikingly similar. For an example, let's look at the Gloria (minus the part that the priest intones):

     " and on earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

    O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.

    For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen."

     From what I see, just change some of the archaic English to modern English (like "thee" to "you") and some phrasing on some parts of the passages to fit the new translation text, and you can reuse the most of the melody of those Anglican Mass settings. The one that comes to mind for me the most is Healey Willan's setting of the Gloria (in Excelsis).

    On a side note, it's amazing how the Anglicans had an older form of the new Mass translations up until the 1970s-80s, when they moved to a newer form of the Rite which takes much from the Novus Ordo form of the Roman Rite.

    Do you think this would work in a normal parish Mass? Do you have any other thoughts or comments on this? Feel free to share it via the combo box or on Twitter (username is "rctechgeek", link to profile is in the "About Me" section).

    Update 6-17-2011: I have an example of this (a setting of the Gloria) uploaded and ready for your viewing     (here's the link to the post).

    Can we please have some Holy Day of Obligation Uniformity?

    As many of you know, yesterday was the Feast of the Ascension, a Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Rite. The normal day of this feast day is Thursday, but in recent years, the USCCB (US Catholic Conference of Bishops) has allowed the feast of the Ascension (for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite) to be moved to the following Sunday instead of having it on the original day of Thursday. Furthermore, it is up to the local bishop to determine this, leaving much confusion with the laity as to when this is. This is normally made known before this day, but travelers are left out of the mix as a result of this "option". In order to be safe and avoid this mess, you could go to an Ordinary Form Mass on Ascension Thursday, go to an Extraordinary Form Mass on Ascension Thursday, or attend any Divine Liturgy (the name for Mass in the Eastern Rites) at any Eastern Rite church (in communion with Rome) on Ascension.

    I have noticed that in recent years, there has been a decline in the handling of Holy Days of Obligation. For many feasts, they have become "optional" (you don't have to go, but it's highly recommended that you do go) or become "movable" (such as Ascension Thursday). This, I think, has partially to do with the busyness of society and how it views church. People have become too lazy or too busy to take time out to go to church on a day other than Sunday. In the Eastern Rites, there's not exactly Holy Days of Obligation, but there are days where the laity are expected to come to church to celebrate a particular event in the life of Christ and the Church. In some Catholic churches, if there's a holy day of obligation that's optional, the Mass schedule isn't changed to accommodate the feast day. Besides, those Holy Days of Obligation are only a handful of days out of the calendar year, so is it too hard to take some time out to go to Mass on those days?

    We need to get back to viewing Holy Days of Obligation as days where you always go and be part of the Mass with joy. Those days that are "optional" still need to be promoted as days where you attend Mass. You always get something good and helpful out of the Mass, so why would you want to skip Mass on those days? If there's a feast day in the Church, make some effort to go to Mass.  Those Feasts are on those days for a (very good) reason, so why must we mess with their dates while confusing the laity at the same time? It would be nice to have the Holy Days of Obligation uniform throughout all the dioceses in the US so that you don't have to inquire which day this Holy Day of Obligation is actually on in this Diocese. The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and all the Eastern Rites seem to not have this problem, so why does the Ordinary Form have it?

    If you have any thoughts of your own on this, I would like to hear them (just put them in the comment box below). Feel free to tell me on Twitter as well (username is "rctechgeek", link to profile is in the "About Me" section).

    What Windows 8 has taken from Windows Phone

    If you didn't get the news recently, Microsoft has started to unveil some of the details of the the next version of Windows, Windows 8. The shell (strangely) looks like the one you find in the Windows Phone operating system. Rather than the traditional desktop with icons and the start menu, the desktop is now comprised of "live tiles". While there is support for the traditional methods of input such as a mouse or hardware keyboard, Windows 8 has a new soft keyboard for tablets and slates, which takes up quite a bit of the screen. If you don't have a touchscreen, there will probably be a way to disable it.

    If you're wondering about compatibility with programs written for older versions of Windows, fear not, for Microsoft has built a "compatibility mode" into Windows 8 for those older programs. This compatibility mode looks just like the Windows 7 shell, but it's integrated with the overall look and feel of Windows 8. This, I'm sure, will be a big need of enterprise users if they are ever going to adopt Windows 8.

    Unlike Windows Phone, Windows 8 actually has a File Manager (unlike Windows Phone, which does not have a file manager)! However, the file manager has changed a bit to fit the new interface (particularly with music, pictures, and videos). If you don't like it, you can still go back to the traditional look of the file manager. Windows Media Player has taken up the Zune interface that is present in the Zune itself and Windows Phone, with (probably) no option to take the old Windows Media Player interface. There is also no word on whether Windows Media Player will be the only way to play media or if 3rd party media players will be allowed, but I'm guessing that there will be some 3rd party players allowed because of the compatibility with older versions of Windows.

    From the look of the new Start screen, we see an icon for a "Windows Marketplace". I assume it will work just like the Windows Phone marketplace. However, I am glad that the marketplace will not be the only method to load programs on to the system (as it is in Windows Phone), and you can install programs the traditional way too.

    Multi-tasking looks like it will work just like it will in Mango, the next version of Windows Phone. The window manager allows you to change the screen so that you can have more than 1 program on the screen at a time. This is true even with the programs for older versions of Windows, but the compatibility mode
    counts as a "program".

    There is a new emphasis on programs written in HTML5 and Javascript, which might allow for some speed increase. There's probably going to be an engine service running in the background that will parse all of the instructions when you run a program written in HTML5 and/or Javascript.

    There is no official word yet (that I know of) on support for Windows 8 with ARM processors. If computers with ARM processors CAN run Windows 8, those computers will not be able to run programs designed for older versions of Windows (due to the processor that those older programs were compiled for and you can't change unless you compile those programs for an ARM processor) unless Microsoft builds some kind of emulator into Windows 8. If anyone knows of some official word on this, please enlighten me.

    With Windows 8 still in the labs, there isn't a whole lot that I can tell you about it, but I know that it will definitely change the Windows shell forever (just as Windows 95 did). I can say that the system requirements to run Windows 8 will probably break the "new version of windows so you need better hardware to run it" mentality that has been with every new major version of Windows since Microsoft is also trying to target the tablet and slate crowd as well as the desktop and laptop crowd. Stay tuned as I will be coming out with more details in the coming weeks as Microsoft makes things known to us.

    Edit: Here's the video so you can see some of the changes for yourself