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Steam and GamersGate now offering games for both Windows and Mac

I always liked how Blizzard offered both PC and Mac versions of its games on the same CD / DVD. Now it appears that is what some digital distributors are doing. A friend of mine told me about Valve offering some of its games for the Mac on Steam like Half Life 2. I found this out when I installed Half Life 2 and registered it on Steam. I immediately had the ability to download the Mac version of the game as well

Just recently I noticed the same thing was happening on GamersGate. GamersGate had started offering Mac games, but now it appears that if you buy a game that is available for both PC and Mac you can download either version whenever you want. It is even retroactive because I bought a game for the Mac from GamersGate and now I can download the PC version as well.

I think this is a great trend for computer games in general and Mac gamers in particular. Keep supporting these sites and ask others (like Impulse) to support Mac gamers too!

First order from Good Old Games

I made my first real order from Good Old Games a couple of days ago (a few days prior I had downloaded the free game Beneath a Steel Sky).  The ordering process was straightforward and games purchased go on a faux shelf in your account.  By clicking the game box you are given a variety of things to download (game, manual, etc) depending on the game.  You can download these straight or add to a downloader (I just did them straight).  No DRM to worry about, just the games.

I purchased Spellforce Platinum and The Guild Gold because they were on sale as a combo package for $13.98.  The Guild came as one setup file and Spellforce was 3 files (one setup and 2 compressed files.  It looks like this site is doing well as they keep adding more games everytime I go back.  Check them out and support this business if you see something you like.  No DRM and compatability with XP and Vista, even for older games, is great.

iTunes to offer DRM-free music

As a follow-up to my December 23rd post about Amazon music, I recently read that iTunes is supposed to offer its entire music library DRM-free by April.  They are also going to a $.69, $.99, or $1.29 pricing stucture I guess meaning they will be reducing the price of some of the music.  This is great news since DRM sucks and who wants to get screwed if your music provider shuts down their DRM servers like MSN music is going to.  I say good call Apple.

Amazon MP3 Downloads

I’ve been reading for a while in Maximum PC about how much they like Amazon for buying digital music, not least of which because the music is DRM free MP3 files.  I received an email from Amazon today about free MP3 holiday music so I checked out their store.  After downloading a small memory resident app downloader, I was ready to purchase.  As I just said, I knew their music was DRM free and high quality (256k bit rate), but the downloader app even puts the music in your iTunes or Windows Media library.  Sweet!

Purchasing tracks is painless – click the buy button, agree to continue with the purchase of that music (which can be disabled, but is a nice accident-proof way to buy what you want), then watch the download.  Amazon used my account and credit card on file info to complete the purchase – your mileage may vary depending on if you have these setup already or not.

This definitely looks like my new preferred music purchase method.  I may use iTunes if Amazon doesn’t have what I want or if they go completely DRM-free.

GamersGate

I stumbled upon GamersGate.com over a year ago when my son wanted the full version of Mount & Blade.  The site is run by PC game maker Paradox Interactive, best known for their Europa Universalis series and related historical strategy games.  At the time, the site was mostly just Paradox games, but since has grown into a huge repository of downloadable PC games.

After creating an account, you can buy games and immediately download them through the GamersGate downloader software.  After downloading, the downloader software has an install button to click to install the game.  Even though you can always redownload games later (whenever you log into your account, you can see what games you have purchased), I like to make my own personal backup of software that I digitally download.  GamersGate makes this a tad difficult, but not impossible.  Apparently, they want you to always use their downloader to install the games because what they do is hide the setup.exe of the game by renaming it to launch.dat and putting it into a folder called ggdata under your downloaded game folder (you specify where to download the games in the downloader app).  The work around is this – run the game install from the downloader app; as soon as you get to the first screen of the setup routine, copy the downloaded game folder to a different location.  The game folder will have the actual setup.exe file as it has been reconstructed so you can run the game’s installation.  With this accomplished, you can then backup the game and install it whenever you like without the GamersGate downloader.

Other than the game setup hiccup, I have had no problems with any games purchased through GamerGate.  Check it out – you may find a game you like for a good price.

Iomega Jaz Drive Still a Viable Backup Solution – Part 1.5 – Interesting eBay Events

Well now I’ve just about received all of the parts for my Jaz Drive solution. Just waiting on a batch of disks to arrive. A few interesting things happened during the acquisition stage of this project:

As mentioned previously, I bought a USB to SCSI adapter thinking this would make it easier to connect the Jaz to a PC since it would eliminate the need for a SCSI controller card. Going generic may have been part of my problem here. But I figured why pay $60-70 for a brand name adapter if I could get one for around $20 with shipping? Here is the adapter in question (I bought mine from DigiGear).

Now, the adapter does work, but I had a little trouble with it initially. I connected it to both one of the Jaz 2GB drives and an external SCSI CD-ROM drive, and although both showed up in device manager, they both said there was a problem with the device and would not work. Now I know I set the Jaz drive to auto and on with termination and the CD-ROM drive was set to on. Ultimately I was able to make the adapter work with my Jaz 1GB drive; I checked its termination, which was set to off. So termination may have been a factor here. During the troubleshooting stage I thought I needed a driver. I found out the driver for a Microtech International USB to SCSI adapter works for this one, but it only has drivers for Windows 98 and 2000. I did test it in Windows 98 successfully, though. I found the driver on driverguide.com here. The only thing that really bugged me was when I found out the adapter was USB 1.1. I looked back at the auction and could not find any mention of this fact there. Although I’m not sorry I bought the adapter, I don’t think I’ll use it with the Jaz drive because of speed issues.

Second issue I faced, and the reason why I have not received all of my items yet, is I had my first ever problem with a seller on eBay. His eBay id is johannas2 and he looked ok because he had about 1600 positives and only a few negatives. Unfortunately the negatives started rising while I was waiting for my disks to arrive. I had purchased 3 Jaz disks from him and paid immediately for them via Paypal. I waited about 2 weeks and sent him an email since I had not received the items yet. After waiting 3 more days without a response, I sent another email requesting information on the items. After 3 weeks and 2 emails, i figured I’d ask for a refund since it was obvious he wasn’t going to ship the items. Luckily, he promptly responded and refunded my money via Paypal.

Last issue was the final purchase of disks I am currently waiting on. A guy had 50 Jaz disks for sale at $9.95 each Buy It Now or Make an Offer. The shipping listed at the top of the auction was $12.95, so I figured 5 disks plus shipping would be about $63. Then I decided to check out the Make an Offer, which I had never used before. It says a person can make an offer at any price and the seller has to respond within 48 hours if he agrees to the offer. If so, the person making the offer has won the auction at the offer price (plus shipping and any other fees) and must pay according to the seller’s listing. Since this might only set me back a couple of days, I figured it was worth it. Since he was selling 50 disks, I thought he might go for $5 per disk if I said I’d buy 10 disks, still thinking this would put me at the same price as 5 @ $9.95. A few hours later, the seller ok’d the offer, and I thought I just scored another good deal (my other good deal will be mentioned shortly). Unfortunately, when I went to pay for the items, I noticed the shipping was about $66. Thinking there must be a mistake, I asked the seller to confirm the price (which he did later), but meanwhile, I looked at the auction again to see if I’d missed something. Sure enough, at the bottom of the auction, the shipping said $12.95 first item, $5.95 each additional item. Funny that the seller didn’t mention this at the beginning of the auction. Even though I thought this was just a little sneaky on his part, I made the purchase happy that I still bought the disks @ about $11.60 per disk. The lesson here is read the fine print or at least thoroughly check for all shipping and other fees throughout the entire auction listing.

Now, I don’t want anybody to think this ordeal totally stunk, because it did have some good turns as well. The first (and only) Jaz 2GB drive I planned on purchasing came with free shipping and a free Adaptec SCSI card if I did Buy It Now (which I did) for $75. Considering some of the shipping people charge to make a product look like it costs less than it does (as mentioned previously), I thought this wasn’t a bad deal.

Now the super deal I scored was on an auction for 3 Jaz 2GB drives (government surplus) going for $9.95 plus $27 shipping (there’s those shipping charges again). I had previously bid on another lot from the seller (Myers Computers) but lost at $62. The only bad thing about these auctions was that the product was not guaranteed even though these drives were NIB (new in box). But I figured (correctly) these drives had been sitting on a shelf somewhere and would be fine. So when another similar auction from the seller came up, I watched it, coming on just a few minutes before closing. I was shocked to see no one had bid on the auction yet. I waited until about a minute left, hitting refresh to see the price. Refresh was taking a while, so it was very tense. On the last refresh, I almost hit refresh again because so much time was passing, but finally I saw 18 seconds left and no bids. I entered something (maybe $60) and bid asap. Well, I came through with the only winning bid, getting this incredible deal at $9.95 plus $27 shipping for a whopping total of $36.95 for 3 brand new Jaz 2GB drives!! Needless to say I was pleased with this, even more so since they all work. I figure, worst case, I have some spares and, since I now will have 13 total disks, can put another drive in service at another office sometime down the road.

Hopefully, with these disks arriving in the next day or so, I will be able to setup the drive within a week and can report on the final stage of this saga.