New Firefox Title Bar Bug

Recently Mozilla released its newest version of Firefox which is great but I ran into a bug.

The default settings have Firefox take over the title bar which can cause some issues.  In the computer I looked at, the Window would not auto-resize when you dragged it to the edge of the screen (a feature in Windows 10)

Title Bar Example
Title Bar Example

[The area where the title of the window and the “X” button is located is referred to as the Title Bar]

If you want to change the setting you will need to right click on the title bar and click Customize.  Then on the bottom of the Customize Screen there is a checkbox for Title Bar.  Make sure that is checked off and the Windows Title Bar will reappear and functionality will be restored.

Firefox Customize Screen
Firefox Customize Screen

Final Thoughts

I’m not 100% sure what triggers the bug, I tried it on my own Windows 10 machine and the bug didn’t present itself.  However, I know of multiple machines that this has happened to.  You can download the new browser here

If you have any other problems related to the new version of Firefox, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to assist you!

The Truth behind HDMI Cables Revisited

It’s been 3 years since I posted my first post about Monster HDMI Cables and it’s gotten a lot of good feedback and I thought I should revisit the topic and maybe update some thoughts. (You can read the original post here)

Since typing the first post 3 years ago I have since gotten a 4K TV and with the proliferation of 4K, this is the perfect time to revisit this topic.  I will start out by saying, my initial thoughts on the different types of cables remain the same: I still would not purchase a Monster Cable or other overpriced “name brand” HDMI Cables.

I think I should explain a little about the Types of HDMI Cables that I didn’t get to do last time.

Currently the main standards of HDMI Cables you’ll see are 1.4 and 2.0.

HDMI version 1.4 2.0
Date initially released May 28, 2009 September 4, 2013
Maximum pixel clock rate (MHz) 340 600
Maximum audio throughput (Mbit/s) 36.864 36.864
Maximum color depth (bit/px) 48 48
Maximum consumer resolution over single link at 24-bit/px 3840×2160p/30 Hz

4096×2160p/24 Hz

4096×2160p/60 Hz
Maximum consumer 3D resolution over single link at 24-bit/px 1920×1080p/24 Hz 1920×1080p/60 Hz

4096×2160p/24 Hz

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI)

 

I removed some of the other rows but if you want to see them go over to the wiki page that I pulled this table from.  Essentially, without explaining too much about the specifications, you can see a lot of the numbers are either the same or close.  The 2.0 standard will support 60 Hz at 4K, which in TV talk means that it’s displaying your picture at 60 frames per second (FPS).  Something to note though is that movies are recorded at 24FPS, and not 60.  So technically you aren’t going to get any better quality picture from the increased ability on the 2.0 standard if you are watching movies or TV.  Where the 60FPS becomes important is if you do gaming on your TV.  That being said, if you are buying HDMI Cables, definitely look for the 2.0 standard and not the 1.4 standard.

The other difference you’ll notice is the Pixel Clock Rate.  Pixel Clock Rate is the speed at which the pixels are transmitted over the HDMI Cable.  The clock rate has to be fast enough to fill the entire screen within the refresh cycle.  So the 2.0 standard moves the pixels at a maximum speed of 600 MHz (or 600,000,000 pixels per second). For comparison purposes, a 4K screen has 8,294,400 pixels.  So you can see, HDMI 2.0 can handle 4k without blinking an eye.

The HDMI Cable Bottom Line:

As long as the cables you are buying adhere to the HDMI Standards, they will work to that specification.  So a Monster Cable, while being super flashy in its packaging, won’t perform any better than a non-name brand cable that meets the HDMI Standards.  In fact, if you read their website (https://www.monsterproducts.com/support/learning-center/hdmi/differences-in-hdmi-cables) it is VERY vague on why their cables are better.  The only thing of any substance is that if the standard is not met, the cable may not work correctly which is true, but doesn’t make Monster Cables any better or worse than any other cable that meets the standards.  

Have any personal experience with the different types of cables?  Let me know below!

Storytelling in Video Games

Video Games allow a player to transport themselves to a different world and do things they wouldn’t be able to do themselves.  Unlike a movie, the player becomes part of the story, watching it play out and directly impacting the game world.  Technology is finally reaching a point where sometimes you can’t tell the difference between a game and a movie and when we reach that point, that will be the pinnacle of storytelling.

I like to make the analogy of the “choose your own path” books from back in the 90s.  You would start a story and then the page would give you options.  If you wanted to go down one path, go to page 9, otherwise, go to page 10.  Essentially, that is what you get in a video game.  Early games and even some games today have a very linear story.  What that means is, you are acting in a story and it is already predetermined and the things you do won’t change the overall story or the ending.  A popular storytelling method now is to go toward an open world or dynamic storytelling.  This allows for the player to dictate the story and to make up their own way through a game.

A great example of dynamic storytelling is Quantum Break.  On top of allowing the player to make choices that directly affect and change the game, they tied in a live action TV show into the game.  The game bounces you back and forth from in-game playing to watching like a TV show.  Another good example is the Game of Thrones Game from Telltale Games.  Again, the game allows you to make critical decisions (just like they have to make in the TV Show) that will have long lasting effects on the characters and the story.  

All of that being said, there is still a place for a Linear Story, as long as that story is done well.  Battlefield 1 is one of those.  The campaign in Battlefield 1 is very linear but it unfolds in a way that gets you invested in the characters and situations.  If you watch the Campaign Trailer for the game, if I didn’t already know it was a video game, I might think this trailer is for a movie.

As we continue into the future we’re going to be seeing more and more games that are like traditional forms of entertainment, movies and TV.  I for one cannot wait.

Is it time to end Game Reviews?

Overwatch is broken… very broken, yet by reading the reviews you wouldn’t know it.  The game launched back in May to high acclaim and gamers were hungry to get their hands on it.  There was one gaping flaw though, the game released only half completed.  The entirety of the competitive mode was nowhere to be found.  For those people who are fine with a casual, light atmosphere this probably was not a huge issue but for those who hunger for competition and want a way to measure themselves against other people, the launch version of Overwatch hugely under performed.  One of the mind boggling things was the ratings the game received on review sites:

9.4 / 10 – IGN.com

90% – Metacritic

Even giving the benefit of the doubt, if a game releases with basically half of the game not completed right off the bat that should lower the score by at least 10 if not 20 points.  It really gives pause when large review sites such as IGN are able to give a game a 9.4 without being able to even play a large chunk of the game.

One thing that is glaringly obvious is the fact that the outcry on games is directly related to the publisher.  If EA were to release Battlefield 1 with no planes and then told the gamers that they were tweaking it and planes would be released in a month, there would be riots in the streets.  However, Blizzard was able to tell the public that they were still working on competitive mode and still release the game to near perfect review scores.

The other problem is the subjective nature of reviews.  This is not a new problem and there is always going to be a level of subjectivity.  However, recently I watched an interview on IGN with the reviewer of The Division before the game was even released and before he had a chance to get his hands on the final release.  This guy destroyed the game based on what he saw in the beta and alpha builds of the game.  How did this affect the final review?  Who knows but you know at some level he went into that review with a sour taste in his mouth.  

There is also no accounting for personal taste.  There are some people who love shooters and hate MMORPGs but what happens when that MMO gamer is made to review a game like The Division or Destiny?  I personally like both genres and found that none of the reviews I read for either the Division or Destiny helped me decide if the game was good or not.  

So what should be done?  The first thing that needs to go is rating them with a number or even rating them at all.  To give something a score out of 100 or a percentage it usually means you can quantify it.  Giving a score of 9.0 based on your “gut” doesn’t help anyone.  The other problem is that my 9.0 may not mean to me what a 9.0 means to you.  You can even say Good, Bad, Worst but even that has a certain level of interpretation to it.  If you’re going to give a number score to anything, I want to see how that score breaks down with a graph of the factors you rated it on (ie. Graphics, Gameplay, etc…) but even then it’s still too subjective.

The second thing that needs to happen is that a single person shouldn’t be able to review a game.  A way to remove some of the subjectivity is to have a group of people review a game separately and then come back together to write one combined review but again, I think our reliance on numbered scores needs to end.

A quality review in my opinion would just summarize the experience without the need to give it a number.  The biggest thing would be to not say anything is bad or good, just let the reader come to their own conclusion.  If we take Overwatch as an example the review would just let the reader know that the entirety of the competitive mode was not finished and in the game yet, then let the reader decide if that matters to them or not.

Bottom-line is that something needs to change.  The system that has been used for years is no longer working and holding up in a world where people need to know what to buy and spend money on.

Fallout 4 PC Crash Fix

Fallout 4 came out today and if you have it on PC you might have run into some issues.  One big one is a bug where the game will crash right to desktop after you hit START on the start menu.  Here are some things to try:

  1. Make sure your nVidia and AMD drivers are up to date.
  2. Uninstall ANYTHING that is running that could mess with the game.  Unfortunately, I found that McAfee was causing a crash on a machine I fixed this morning.  As a general rule I would recommend not using McAfee and using something like AVG (http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage)
  3. Try running in Windowed-Borderless Mode

 

These are just some quick ideas and I’ll be updating this with more information once I get some time.