macOS New App Release – Demise of Nations 1.0.37

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Product Announcements – Noble Master Games of Tokyo, Japan has released Demise of Nations 1.0.37, a simultaneously executed turn-based grand strategy wargame. The game covers the rise of Rome till the fall of modern civilization. It’s a mix between Civilization and “Unity of Command” featuring deep game-play including diplomacy, research, building, trading and resource management.

A player commands his armies in one of the many ancient to modern countries including the Roman Empire, the Greeks, Carthage, Sparta, Britain and the United States. From Rome to Celtic nations, one creates his own warring experience, wages colossal wars solo, against the AI, or takes on gaming friends in multiplayer games. One can form alliances and fight co-op style with the AI and other players for ultimate victory. The game supports cross-platform multiplayer matches against players on Mac OS X, PC, Linux, iOS and Android.

Features:

  • Turn-Based Grand Strategy covering Ancient to Modern Times
  • 4X Strategy: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate
  • Diplomacy, Research, Trading and City-Building
  • Maps including Ancient and Modern Europe, the Pacific or the world
  • 50+ unique troop types
  • Random Map Generator
  • Challenging AI for single player
  • Cross-platform multiplayer & hotseat including co-op games
  • Modding support with integrated map editor
  • High scores, playing statistics, achievements and rankings

The dev. team is a global affair, with contributors from Tokyo, London, Ohio, Boston, St. Petersburg (Florida), Switzerland and South Africa. The artist on the project, Tony Hager, a 2D/3D artist has worked alongside Nick Lee and Dan Malone from the Bitmap Brothers. He is a veteran of the 2D-era and previous titles include Sims 2, The Incredible Hulk and Transformers mobile. Sean Beason (EA) brings his industry experience to provide professional music scores to games. Dr. Holger Mauch helped draft the AI for the game.

Demise of Nations 1.0.37 is available in the English language (other languages in the works). The game can be downloaded directly from the official website or via Steam (Mac OS X/PC/Linux). Demise of Nations comes with two maps provided for free. Additional maps can be downloaded for $3.99 a piece or $19.99 (USD) for all. Multiplayer games are free to join. However, to cover server costs, there is a fee for custom online game setup or custom avatars. Demise of Nations is not pay-2-win.

macOS New App Release – Pages Automator Actions

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Product Announcements – Ghostotter Software of Nafferton, United Kingdom has launched Pages Automator Actions. It gives users a set of Automator actions, allowing users to create apps, scripts and workflows to control Apple’s Pages word processor for macOS.

Historically, Pages has shipped with no Automator actions. This has meant it’s not possible to create Automator workflows, apps, etc. Pages Automator Actions from Ghostotter has filled this gap by providing third party actions for use with Pages. Users can create Automator workflows to open files, convert then to other formats, find/replace text and more, without needing to know any kind of coding.

The actions can interact with actions from other applications to build powerful workflows to save users time, for example batch converting Pages documents to PDFs, zipping them and uploading them via FTP.

Included actions are:

  • Open document(s)
  • Close document(s)
  • Export as ePub
  • Export as PDF (with optional password protection)
  • Export as formatted text (rtf)
  • Export as unformatted text (txt)
  • Export as MS Word (doc)
  • Find and replace text (body text of word processing documents only)
  • Make new document
  • Save document(s)

Priced at just $12.50 USD (or near local equivilant), Pages Automator Actions provides an easy way to start automating your work in Pages. Pages Automator Actions can be purchased from the company website.

Is a ‘Warp’ Drive Feasible?

We have all heard of Warp or other Faster Than Light (FTL) drives in science fiction, but are they really possible?

This short (11:54) video goes into the details of the Alcubierre Drive. While so far this drive is just theoretical, there is a strong technical basis for the drive. Certainly there are several barriers to building one of these today, but there are new achievements and discoveries every day that may break down some of these.

There has been some experimental results out of NASA that tends to support some of the aspects of the Alcubierre Drive, but at this point the Alcubierre Drive is mostly theory.

Short Science fiction Film “Amendment 10/60”

Short Films – This short (20:43) film was published on YouTube in June of 2017 and was produced by DUST. The synopsis:

In a post nuclear era where owning books is a felony and the intellectual community is persecuted, a group of scientists is trying in vain to find a way to save the world. A Professor’s assistant will be called upon to make the most difficult decision of his life.

There is not much dialog and what there is isn’t in English, but the film has English sub-titles. This is an Alternate History which split from our own in 1947 when the US and Russia declare war on one another. A battle of nuclear warheads between the two wreck the world . The war ends in 1950 and the scientists of the world are blamed for the war. Scientists prove Einstein’s Unified Field Theory in 1951, making ‘curving’ of time a possibility.

While this is a dark film, it is well done. My only wish is that it had been made in English and it was longer.

macOS New App Release – Haste

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Product Announcements – Plastic Software Inc. Akashi, Hyogo, Japan, an indie software maker, has released the public beta of a macOS utility app named Haste, hoping that it helps us all Mac users power to search the web faster. Main Characteristics of Haste are as follows:

  • Search on your favorite sites with customized configurations instantly: Double-hit the command() key to open the Haste Search Window anywhere, anytime. Enter your search text and select a Custom Search to open the results pages in the web browser.
  • Find & Select your Custom Search with Hotkeys: Assign up to 3 Hotkeys to a Custom Search. Once you have entered your search text, hit the Hotkeys to reduce the Custom Searches to the one you want.
  • Auto Search-Text Insertion:
    1. “Copy and Haste” – Copy text into the clipboard and open the Search Window within 5 seconds. The text will be in the search field.
    2. Drag and Drop – Select text and start dragging it, the Haste icon will show up. Dropping the text onto the icon will open the Search Window with the text.
    3. On Safari, just select text and go – If you have enabled the Haste Safari Extension, just select text on Safari and open the Search Window.
    4. Right-click via Services – Select text and right-click on it. Then select “Search with Haste” under the Services.

Other Useful Features:

  • Add/Edit/Export your Custom Searches
  • Light/Dark Appearances
  • Sync Custom Searches across different Macs
  • Works with your favorite browser

The public beta can be downloaded from the Haste product site now. Haste supports Mac OSX 10.11 or above). The dev team is planning to submit the app to Mac App Store within a few weeks. They are looking for anyone who would be interested in beta-testing the app. Any comments/suggestions/bug reports would be very much appreciated.

Review of “Attack of the Seventh Carrier”

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Book Reviews – “Attack of the Seventh Carrier” eBook was published in 2017 (original paper edition was published in 1989) and was written by Peter Albano. This is the fifth book in his “Seventh Carrier” series.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the late 1980’s. The World War II era Japanese aircraft carrier Yonaga lay frozen in the ice for over 40 years. Finally they broke free, attacked Perl Harbor per their original mission then returned to Tokyo only to find that the war was over with Japan having surrendered.

Soon, though the Yonaga and her crew have a new war to fight. This time with terrorists led by Muammar Gaddafi. But the Yonaga does not fight alone. Now they are allied with Israel. The US and other countries are assisting and providing some personnel. Due to the failure of a Chinese weapon platform launched into orbit, satellites, jets and rockets of all nations are being shot down.

Now though over 40 years old, the Yonaga is the most potent military weapon on the planet and the only thing that stands in the way of the terrorists. The primary character is US Navy Lieutenant Brent Ross. Initially assigned to the Yonaga to represent US Naval Intelligence, he has become an integral part of the crew. His mission in this book is to be part of the joint American/Japanese crew of a World War II era US submarine that is being added to the Yonaga’s task force.

I spent 10 hours reading this 297 page Alternative History novel. I have read several of the books in this series and have enjoyed each of them. I haven’t always read them in the correct order and in the case of this novel, it reads pretty well on its own. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Star Wars Fan Film “Fade”

Star WarsFan film – This (1:10:21) fan film was published on YouTube in October of 2012 and is a sequel to the film “Immolation”. The synopsis:

The Jedi Civil War rages on, engulfing the planet Ruusan in conflict. The stalemate exhausts Jedi and Sith as hope fades. A Jedi Knight discovers a threat greater than the Sith Brotherhood. He must venture forth to uncover the secret of the threat. To succeed, he must quell the doubts of the Jedi Order as he again confronts the terrible truths of Darth Ansia’s past.

The film seems to be a mediocre production for the most part. The acting seemed a little flat to me and the special effects a little primitive. I’m not sure why there are lengthy stretches of only loud music and no dialog while the action in the film continues. The most I can say is that this film has is length.

Science Fiction Short Film “The Brain Hack”

Short Films – This short (18:18) science fiction film was produced by DUST and was first published on YouTube in December 2016. The synopsis:

“The Brain Hack” by Joseph White
Is there a scientific path to god?

Two film students set out to document their attempt to use science to communicate with god. Have their experiments made them crazy or have they truly found the answer?

A well produced and very different film.

macOS New App Release – DriveDx 1.6.0

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Product Announcements – BinaryFruit of San Francisco, California has released DriveDx 1.6.0, its latest solution for SSD and HDD health diagnostics and monitoring. As macOS does not have a comprehensive drive health indicator, DriveDx fills a critical role in measuring the overall health of both SSD and HDD drives. Because DriveDx tracks more indicators of impending failure than any other product on the market, users will get an advanced warning before their drives fail. This will allow them to take action to avert the failure and save themselves from resulting data loss and downtime.

Unlike many other drive health diagnostics utilities that simply check built-in S.M.A.R.T. status, DriveDx performs overall drive health diagnostics using drive health indicators (like SSD wear out / endurance, reallocated bad sectors, offline bad sectors, pending sectors, I/O errors, and more) that most closely correlate with drive failures according to the statistics reported in the latest researches focused on identifying drive failure trends. This gives a user a comprehensive picture of a current drive health status and enables foreseeing potential problems with drive failure and loss of sensitive data. Moreover, DriveDx shows this information on a user-friendly Mac-style interface in an easy-to-understand format.

“Here’s a DriveDx triumph. DriveDx showed my just out of AppleCare iMac with two pre-fail conditions for the hard drive. Made appointment and took it to Genius Bar yesterday. Tech looked at DriveDx and was very impressed. Even though out of warranty – they replaced the drive without question,” said Michael Sidoric, CapMac User Group Treasurer, ex-Vice President of CapMac.org. “God knows how many dollars and troubles DriveDx saved me since I had several vital FinalCut projects on it.”

DriveDx is a combined drive health analysis and forecasting tool. It monitors and analyzes changes to S.M.A.R.T. attributes in order to continuously evaluate drive health status and predict drive failures. In addition to “Failed” and “OK” drive statutes DriveDx supports “Warning” and “Failing” statuses indicating that a drive is in a pre-failure status and backup of sensitive data is highly recommended.

DriveDx performs both SSD and HDD health diagnostics. Moreover, it uses a separate set of indicators for SSD and HDD to monitor drive health status. This is particularly important as SSD works different from HDD, and requires a different algorithm to check its health status. Also, SSDs typically are more dependent on firmware than HDDs, and DriveDx has been programmed to support many versions of firmware (please see our website for a complete list of supported firmware).

DriveDx allows configuring the delivery of customized drive status and free space reports by e-mail and therefore does not require user presence to inform about drive status changes. In addition, DriveDx can launch built-in drive diagnostics self-tests. Drive self-tests will help to quickly identify if the drive is faulty.

DriveDx is the first utility of its kind to have a real user-friendly Mac-style interface. It is organized in a way that allows a user to view and understand drive status and its performance at a glance. User can switch between different view modes to drill up or down data related to drive health, including S.M.A.R.T. indicators and attributes, drive statistics and errors.

What’s New in DriveDx 1.6.0:

  • Improved SSD and HDD health diagnostic algorithms
  • Added clipboard support (user can copy drive related info)
  • Improved support of macOS High Sierra (10.13)
  • Improved support for Apple SSDs
  • Improved support for Samsung SSDs
  • Improved support for Crucial/Micron SSDs
  • Added support for recent Intel SSDs
  • Improved support for Kingston SSDs
  • Improved support of recent Seagate HDDs
  • Improved support of recent Western Digital HDDs
  • Added support for HP Enterprise (Intel-based) SSDs
  • Many stability improvements
  • Many cosmetics tweaks and fixes

DriveDx feature highlights:

  • Support of modern SSDs and HDDs
  • SSD lifetime left indicator
  • Different routines for SSD and HDD health evaluation and diagnostics
  • Real-time SSD & HDD health status monitoring
  • User-friendly and intuitive UI
  • Multi-tier warning system that will inform the user about deviations from the normal state of drive attributes
  • Diagnostic Knowledge Base online auto-updating
  • Drive overall health rating
  • Drive overall performance rating (if drive supports this subset of indicators)
  • Device statistics
  • I/O errors monitoring
  • Drive free space monitoring
  • Support of drive short and full (extended) self-tests
  • Sending a warning whenever a problem with a drive firmware exists
  • Saving detailed drive status reports to a file
  • Warning a user with pop-up notifications about errors and failures
  • Displaying drive status on a macOS status bar
  • Runs natively on macOS

System Requirements:

  • macOS 10.6.8 or newer

Pricing and Availability – DriveDx 1.6.0 has 4 types of licenses that are currently being offered on promotion:

  • Personal License – $19.99 (USD)
  • Family License – $39.99
  • Business License – starting from $99.99
  • IT-Consultant License – starting from $49.99

DriveDx can be purchased from the BinaryFruit website. A fully functional 15-day trial version is available for download at our website.

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