Portfolio

Feature: The PCs that saved science

Did you know that the idle processing power of your PC could be harnessed to shape the future of scientific research? With Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (or BOINC, for short) we can all help to change the world, one PC at a time. This feature,  including an interview with Dr David P. Anderson, research scientist at the Universitry of California, Berkeley and creator of the BOINC system, highlights the amazing work being done by scientists all over the world that wouldn’t be possible without the continued support and commitment of tens of thousands of ordinary people (and their computers).  

PC Plus 295 - The PCs that saved science

'The PCs that saved science' by Tom Baines, written for PC Plus Magazine (issue 295)

A copy of this article is available upon request. 
Written for PC Plus Magazine issue 295 (May 2010)  

Feature: Create persistent backups (Install a time machine)

Everyone has experienced that sinking feeling when something has gone wrong and they have no idea how to recover from it. Windows System Restore is nearly useless and file backups protect you from data loss, not total failure – but luckily there is a third way. This technical feature/tutorial guides users through protecting their PC from failure and data loss using Comodo Time Machine, a free piece of software that allows you to recover and roll-back any computer as if you were running a virtual machine with snapshots instead of a physical one, and could save everyone a lot of trouble and trauma. 

PC Plus 295 - Create persistent backups (Install a time machine)

'Create persistent backups (Install a time machine)' by Tom Baines, written for PC Plus Magazine (Issue 295)

 A copy of this article is available upon request. 
Written for PC Plus Magazine issue 295 (May 2010)  

Feature: Build your own PVR

Based around the MythBuntu Linux distribution of MythTV software and a standard TV tuner card, this cover feature/tutorial on making a homebrew PVR (Personal Video Recorder) guides readers through configuring your device, installing the OS, setting up the software and getting the best out of TV on a PC. This includes the specifics of recording, streaming and managing your system remotely from the web, as well as a few general tips on installing and using Ubuntu-flavour Linux. 

PC Plus 293 - Build your own PVR

'Build your own PVR' by Tom Baines, for PC Plus Magazine (issue 293)

A copy of this article is available upon request. 
Written for PC Plus Magazine issue 293 (March 2010) 

Feature: Manage your network like a pro

Based on the principles and techniques used every day as an IT Support Professional, this technical feature/tutorial utilises a software package called Spiceworks that allows anyone to manage their network as an enterprise organisation would, without any of the cost. The article covers installation and setup, scanning your network for devices, managing your inventory, setting up alerts, mapping your network and supporting your machines remotely. 

PC Plus 293 - Manage your network like a pro

'Manage your network like a pro' by Tom Baines, for PC Plus Magazine (issue 293)

A copy of this article is available upon request.
Written for PC Plus Magazine issue 293 (March 2010) 

Review: Mario Kart Wii

Some games are very, very serious indeed. There’s plenty to be said for true-to-life physics, painstaking motion capture, and AI so frighteningly realistic it’s hard not to believe that the game’s developers haven’t been going around stealing peoples’ souls and storing them on little silver discs, but deep down, we’re all glad that for every Tiger Woods there’s an Everybody’s Golf, for every Final Fantasy there’s a Kingdom Hearts, and for every Gran Turismo, there’s a Mario Kart. 

From the moment you pop the disc in and the Wii menu triumphantly yelps ‘Mario Kart Wii!’ at you like an excited puppy that’s desperate to be played with, you know this is going to be fun, but the scale of the fun on offer here is truly something else. As anybody who has ever played any prior incarnation of Mario Kart will tell you, all the game modes are great, but multiplayer rules all, and with this in mind, I made certain that when I got my hands on a pre-release copy there was a second Wii wheel on hand… 

Read the full review here. 
Written for AceGamez.co.uk in April 2008. 

Review: Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

There used to be feeling among the hardcore Final Fantasy fans that you weren’t truly hardcore unless you had played Final Fantasy Tactics. The main Final Fantasy series was widely available and spin-offs such as Mystic Quest and the SaGa/Legend series were considered watered down. Tactics was just plain hard to get your hands on and so it became a badge of honour to have a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSOne on your shelf, especially in Europe – Final Fantasy Tactics was never released outside of Japan and the US, so ‘mod-chipping’ your PlayStation to play NTSC format and importing the title (or obtaining an illegal copy) were the extreme lengths that European gamers had to go to in order to get their next hardcore Final Fantasy fix. Was it that good? Was it worth breaking the law over? That remains to be seen, but such mystique and power over the fans is potent, so when Square-Enix agreed a licensing deal to bring games back to the Nintendo formats, it would have been an opportunity squandered not to bring Tactics to the party… 

Read the full review here. 
Written for AceGamez.co.uk in June 2008. 

News: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Confirmed

For the past couple of months, rumours of a Wii remake of the original Silent Hill have been flying around. Ironic, then, that the article by Nintendo Power magazine confirming these rumours was published on April Fools’ Day. I didn’t believe it myself, especially after seeing Kojima’s ‘Metal Gear: Pensioner’ video, but some helpful souls have posted a few photos of the article – an interview with Silent Hill producer Tomm Hullett – by way of some proof. 

Those of you fearing yet another rubbish remake can relax though, as it would seem the only thing that will be giving you sleepless nights will be the game itself. “This is a reimagining of the first Silent Hill, it’s not a remake or a port,” explains Hullet. “That’s an important distinction. It really feels like a new game.” Welcome words, I’m sure you’ll agree… 

Read the full article here. 
Written for GamerLimit.com in April 2009.

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