Hello Ubuntu 11.04

Today is the big day. A new release of Ubuntu Linux is out. Version 11.04 or “Natty Narwhal” is the first to ship with the Unity desktop and I’m very impressed! If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Ubuntu website or this handy guide.

I like:

  • The auto hiding sidebar of icons. When a window is maximised it hides. Long click on an icon to move it around, and right click for a context dialog to remove it.
  • Control Center is 2 clicks away in the top right where there appears to be a light switch. That menu also has a lock screen item and various session controls.
  • Apps with multiple windows show a corresponding number of dots next to their icon on the sidebar. Click on the icon and you see all the windows of that application.
  • Application menus are in the top toolbar ala Mac OS. Some, like Chrome, aren’t however.
  • Long press Windows key and the sidebar icons are highlighted with numbers 0-9 to quick choose them.
  • Click the Ubuntu logo in the top left and you get a nice applications dispay.
  • Speedy alt-tab previews of each Window.
  • Left and right maximising of windows like in Windows 7. I think you need to drag it a bit further than in Windows 7 however, no bad thing. Full screen maximise on dragging a window to the top of the screen.
  • Painless upgrade from 10.10.

And what I didn’t like:

  • The window display for multi window apps requires you select a window. It’d be great if I could click the app icon again to return to the same window. ESC does the job though.
  • GIMP tear away menus are still broken, but this is likely an issue with GIMP. It was present in the last release of Ubuntu too and I just found a work around this evening.
    The menus you are looking for are no longer part of the drop-down menus, but rather part of a right-click menu visible when clicking on the canvas.

    I found using the space bar after clicking the menu option worked on torn off menus. This may be a bug.

  • The lack of formal application menus is off putting initially but it’s actually easy enough to find things with the new launcher.
  • I doubt I’ll ever like the thin scrollbar. There is a way to change that, must find out how.
  • Why does Ubuntu keep installing Evolution every time I upgrade? I’m fairly sure I uninstall that each and every time ..

In previous versions of Ubuntu I always felt the eye candy was there just to make things look pretty. With Unity they’re actually putting that graphical horsepower to good use. If you haven’t tried Ubuntu yet, give it a spin! You can even try it without installing anything simply by booting from the install disk (or usb drive) and opting for that. Check out the download page for further details.

Not got Portal 2 yet

I guess last week was a good time to go on holiday. Portal 2 was released early in the week but it didn’t come out in Europe until Friday (and retailers broke that embargo by a day or two). My copy from Amazon.co.uk should hopefully arrive today. Woohoo!

I ordered the PS3 version like a few of my gaming friends who also have gaming PCs. Unfortunately PSN has been down for the last 5 days and there’s no indication it’s coming back any time soon. This post on Joystiq (and this reddit post has more details) suggests it’s because a custom firmware allowed users to add money to their PSN wallet using fake credit cards. Odd that since they boasted that the latest firmware update was supposed to stop all firmware hacking …

Well, it also turns out that some people over at NGU found out that you could provide fake CC# info and the authenticity of the information was never checked as you were on Sony’s private developer PSN network (essentially a network that Sony trusted). What happened next was extreme piracy of PSN content. Sony realizing the issue here shut down the network.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to playing Portal 2. I know several of you have already finished the game so no spoilers please! I’ve avoided every single review of the game so far except for the glowing tweets from friends. Hopefully when PSN comes back up I can connect my Steam account to my PSN account.

While away from my consoles I’ve been digging into Half Life 2 and I think I’m near the end of the game. What a ride! Such a good game. If you haven’t got it yet, grab the Orange Box on console or login to your Steam account on PC and go buy this beautiful game!
I have to admit I’m playing it on easy setting. I just want to enjoy the experience in the small chunks of time I have available to play games.

In other news the Minecraft server has been updated with the latest version of Bukkit so the Bukkit plugins are back and working!

Update: Late this evening Sony announced that personal information, possibly including credit card details, may have been stolen. If that’s true, Sony will be in a world of hurt with the authorities for their lax security.

PS3 support appears in Steam

This is cool. Support for PSN has appeared in the latest Steam update. If you logout, next time you login you’ll see a dialog like the one above with an option for “Playstation Network Players”. If you click the “FIRST TIME SIGNING IN” button you’re brought to a page asking you if you have played the PS3 version of Portal 2, and if you have you can login using your PSN credentials.

If you have already played Portal 2 on PlayStation®3, you can sign in using your PlayStation®Network login.

Once you have signed in, you’ll find your profile on the Steam community includes information about what you have been doing in Portal 2. You’ll also be able to play your copy of Portal 2 on your computer by redeeming the code provided in your PS3® Portal 2 box.

Nice…

Friends vs Friends on Bad Company 2

The other night we played Bad Company 2 on PS3 for a few hours with almost a full team of us on Skype! Unfortunately due to the match making system in the game not everyone could get on the same team despite repeated attempts to do so.

A couple of others were off Skype and missed the hilarity of inter-team communication but they also didn’t have to mind that enemy players were within ear shot and could take advantage of spoken comments..

Regardless, it was a great night. Here are some clips I put together from a few of those games. Thanks to everyone who could make it. Xbox Night next or PS3 again?

Make sure to check out the summary post Paul made on the Bravo 2 Company website too. He linked to David and Gavin’s videos too!

The Gamer’s Craic #3

Episode 3 of The Gamer’s Craic podcast is now live, with the “guest this time is NGT director and Hupit bod Gary, AKA Hypermole and also mole237 on YouTube.” David did a great job of editing it as always. Thanks Gary for coming on the show!

It was a laugh doing it, but DO NOT listen past the end. No good will come of listening past the end jingle. No, do not do it. Really!

Also this morning episode 14 of the Don’t Revive Me Bro podcast was released with Daniel Matros, aka zh1nt0 who talked at length about Battlefield and other things.