New Xbox 360 bundle with Burnout Paradise and Trivial Pursuit

Xbox 360 bundle with Burnout Paradise City and Trivial PursuitMicrosoft South Africa has just announced a new Xbox 360 console bundle that ships with the popular racing title Burnout Paradise as well as a well-known board game Trivial Pursuit.

The official press release follows:

Johannesburg – 25th March, 2009 – Microsoft today announces a limited edition Xbox 360 bundle, featuring an Xbox 360 60GB Pro with two games from EA – Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box and Hasbro-inspired TRIVIAL  PURSUIT.  Available in stores across South Africa from 1st April 2009, the bundle represents great value at an Estimated Retail Price (ERP) of R3, 799.00 a value add well in excess of approx. R800, 00.

Welcome to Paradise!

Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box, the latest offering from the Burnout series thrusts the player into Paradise City, the ultimate driving playground set in a vast open-world that will push your driving and riding skills to the limit.  The Ultimate Box features all the additional game add-on content and updates released following the games launch, all on one disc.

Nothing Trivial About It

Since its official launch in 1982, Hasbro’s TRIVIAL PURSUIT game has tested the wits of families and friends across the globe.  The bundled Xbox 360 version now brings the party to the living room TV with dynamic visuals, new questions and question types.  Players can connect with friends in classic TRIVIAL PURSUIT mode, hone their knowledge with the single player mode, and gather their friends and bet on their brains with the high stakes mode where every answer counts.

“This bundle offers families a great opportunity to bring the exciting multimedia entertainment capabilities of the Xbox 360 into their homes,” said John Press, Product Marketing Manager – Entertainment and Devices, Microsoft South Africa. “At fantastic value for families looking to save money by staying in, this offers high quality home entertainment right out of the box.”

Shorewall restart on PPP link change

I’ve found great joy running a Shorewall firewall on a Linux box but I came across the problem that when the PPP interface for an ADSL, WiMAX or VPN link goes up or down, Shorewall needs to be restarted to take the new IP address assignments into account. To this solve this problem I’ve written a few scripts to make it all work nicely for South African users.

Firstly put the following two scripts in the /usr/bin directory (or any directory of your choice):

/usr/bin/shorewall-flag-restart.sh (chmod u+x):

#!/bin/bash
set –e
set –u
RESTART_NEEDED=/var/lib/shorewall/shorewall-restartneeded
set -o noclobber
if [ ! -r $RESTART_NEEDED ]; then
    date > $RESTART_NEEDED 2>&1
fi

/usr/bin/shorewall-check-restart.sh (chmod u+x):

#!/bin/bash

set -e
set -u

RESTART_NEEDED=/var/lib/shorewall/shorewall-restartneeded
RESTARTING=/var/lib/shorewall/shorewall-restarting
RESTARTED=/var/lib/shorewall/shorewall-restarted

# The restart needed flag is put in place by the ip up/down scripts.  If
# it doesn’t exist or is older than the shorewall restart flag file, we
# don’t need to do anything.
if [ ! -r $RESTART_NEEDED ]; then
    exit 0
fi
if [ -r $RESTARTING ]; then
    exit 0
fi
if [ $RESTARTED -nt $RESTART_NEEDED ]; then
    rm -f $RESTART_NEEDED
    exit 0
fi

# Make a mutex – should exit the script if this file already exists,
# due to the combination of the set -e and noclobber options.
set -o noclobber
echo "$$: `date`" >$RESTARTING

## We only remove the $RESTART_NEEDED if the restart succeeds.
#if /sbin/shorewall restart >/dev/null 2>&1; then
#    rm -f $RESTARTING
#    rm -f $RESTART_NEEDED
#else
#    rm -f $RESTARTING
#fi

# Remove the $RESTART_NEEDED and replace if failure.
rm -f $RESTART_NEEDED
if /sbin/shorewall restart >/dev/null 2>&1; then
    rm -f $RESTARTING
else
    rm -f $RESTARTING
    if [ ! -r $RESTARTING ]; then
        echo "$$: `date`" >$RESTART_NEEDED
    fi
fi

Then symbolic link the shorewall-flag-restart.sh script in the /etc/ppp/ip-up.d/ and /etc/ppp-ip-down.d/ directories so that the firewall gets restarted when a PPP interface goes up or down:

ln -s /usr/bin/shorewall-flag-restart.sh /etc/ppp/ip-up.d/shorewall-flag-restart
ln -s /usr/bin/shorewall-flag-restart.sh /etc/ppp/ip-down.d/shorewall-flag-restart

Then schedule cron to check for the restart flag every minute:

/etc/cron.d/shorewall-restart:

MAILTO=root
*/1 * * * * root  [ -x /usr/bin/shorewall-check-restart.sh ] && /usr/bin/shorewall-check-restart.sh >/dev/null

These scripts were developed and tested on a Debian system. If anyone has any improvements or recommendations I’d appreciate to hear from you.

Silverlight 3 beta is available

Most of you knew it was coming and I’m really excited that its out now so I can talk about it. Silverlight 3 really is very cool and adds amazing performance improvements and additional features that people have been wanting.

My personal favourites are:

  • Hardware graphics acceleration – Our application just feels way more zippy than before.
  • Tighter XAP file compression – Everyone benefits from better ZIP compression ratios.
  • External styles – Now you can reference an external style. Great for skinning applications.
  • Out of browser/offline mode – Finally a competitor for the Adobe AIR platform.

If you are currently developing using Silverlight 2 I recommend that you install the new Silverlight 3 beta bits in a virtual machine. You can get them all from here.

Halo 3, Mass Effect and PGR4 on the cheap

They say all good things come to those that wait. Well if you’ve been waiting for Halo 3, Mass Effect and Project Gotham Racing 4 to drop in price then you should head to your nearest games store and pickup a copy as they’ve all been added to the Classics collection for Xbox 360.

The official press release follows:

JOHANNESBURG – 17 March, 2009 – Microsoft today announces the expansion of its Classics collection in EMEA to include three blockbuster titles, as it continues its strategy of offering high quality experiences at outstanding value. On 20 March, Halo 3, Mass Effect and Project Gotham Racing 4 will join the elite selection of Xbox 360 Classics, with each game available at an Estimated Retail Price (ERP) of just R299.00

The Ultimate Blockbuster

Halo 3 made entertainment history when it launched in 2007, setting sales records that smashed those set by all previous video games and blockbuster movies.  The award winning action series has sold more than 25 million units worldwide and its third instalment sees Master Chief, the last known survivor of a secret military project, fight to save humanity and uncover a secret so incredible, it will change the galaxy forever.

Lose Yourself in a Living Galaxy

Mass Effect, developed by BioWare, is an immersive, story-driven experience coupled with awe-inspiring visuals, exclusive to Xbox 360.  As one of the first human beings to step onto the galactic stage, players must face a grave threat that may destroy all of civilization.  Travel across an expansive universe, exploring the uncharted corners of the galaxy, searching for pieces of the truth in order to discover how to defeat the coming destruction.

Racing to the Fore

Project Gotham Racing 4 is the latest instalment of the legendary street racing series.  This time motorbikes join the action and the weather elements push you to the limits as you tear up the stunning tracks in the best of racing machines.

“We are delighted to add three of our finest titles to the Classics range, adding to the exceptional entertainment offering available on the Xbox 360 at outstanding prices,” said David Gosen Vice President of Marketing, Xbox Europe.  “As we see more and more families looking to save money by staying in, Xbox 360 continues to offer high-quality home entertainment at fantastic value and consumers are clearly recognising this as we sail past 8 million console sales in EMEA.”  

ASP.NET MVC 1.0 Ships

Microsoft .NET logo After months of community beta testing the first release build of the ASP.NET MVC (Model View Controller) framework has been released. If you are a web developer and don’t know what I’m talking about, head on over to the ASP.NET MVC site where you can find a wealth of tutorials, videos and oodles of samples to get you started.

What excites me about the ASP.NET MVC framework is that web developers will hopefully be moving away from the legacy forms based approach while sticking with the familiarity of the ASP.NET framework. Scott Hanselman pointed out at the talk he gave SA Developer .NET in December 2008 how ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET WebForms merely build on the rich plumbing framework that is ASP.NET. Most people tend to get confused about that.

You can download the ASP.NET MVC installer from here.

Travel Diary – Getting to Seattle (Part 2)

So its a little after 6am UTC+1 as we touch down in Paris, the city of love and classical romance. It was a pleasure to finally be off the plane as I was seated next to this really big dude that managed to encroach on the personal space of both me and the dude on the other side of him. He also took the cake for wearing his team colours as he was dressed from head to foot in ANC party colours. If he wasn’t taking up my sleeping space then he spent the rest of the time waxing lyrical about how he has a US tertiary education and that the whites just don’t get the whole affirmative action thing and why its so good for the country. Also something about the ANC just not explaining it all properly. At least he was flying economy not business class!

The Charles de Gaulle airport has changed considerably since my last transit in 2001. Its odd, I’ve flown through Paris about 29 times now and not once have I had time or a visa to visit the Eiffel Tower and see the rest of the city. I have been outside the airport but that was on a temporary visa that was arranged for me and my colleagues when our Air France flight from Paris to Johannesburg was delayed 12 hours due to a technical fault. So alas I only got to see the inside of the Hilton at the airport.

One thing I found really impressive in CDG airport was the laptop power jacks and tables outside the boarding gates. Coupled with fast wireless Internet access at 10 Euros an hour made the 4 hour long wait between flights a bit more pleasant. To top it off, they even have these really comfy chair type beds littered around the terminal which are surprisingly comfortable when you have a while to wait for your next flight. Quite a few people were actually catching a few minutes of sleep – as a South African I’d be too afraid of my hand luggage getting nicked from next to me to be able to fall asleep. For the life of me I can’t seem to find a photo of them on the Internet but I’ll be sure to take a photo on my way back through next week.

The flight from Paris to Seattle was pleasant even though it was a daytime flight. I left at 10h30 Paris time and got to Seattle the same day at 11h55 Seattle time. Very odd as I think I had 5 meals on Friday and I even skipped supper in Seattle. Its odd but every flight I’ve had to Seattle I’ve always sat next to an MVP. Yeah last year it was a fellow Xbox MVP and this year it was a French Office Groove MVP.

Landing in Seattle I was quite surprised to see sunshine as the weather forecast predicted wet weather. Immigration was an absolute dream this time as there were practically no queues and the officers on duty were extremely friendly and pleasant to deal with. Customs followed suit and the one dude even asked me if I had biltong on me. LOL.

As the 2009 Global MVP Summit only technically starts on Sunday the 1st of March I decided to book myself into the cheaper 3 star Sixth Avenue Inn in downtown Seattle for the first two nights. I must say its quite comfortable for overnight stay but I wouldn’t stay here unless I was trying to save some money. Everything is acceptable except for the bloody shower. I’m a person who likes to shower and this shower just doesn’t cut it. At least it has free high-speed Internet access although I’ve been hooking onto the Westin Hotel over the roads wireless network as well.

Here are a few photos of the Sixth Avenue Inn:

Sixth Avenue Inn sign from my room Sixth Avenue Inn room View of the Westin Hotel from my window Sixth Avenue Inn view at night

Sixth Avenue Inn wired Westin Hotel wireless
Sixth Avenue Inn wired connection. Westin Hotel wireless network I’ve been testing.