I used to be a fairly fervent World of Warcraft player. This obsession ended when I realised how much money (about £100 per year) I was wasting on a game which wasn’t enjoyable for me anymore. However, this enlightenment didn’t mean that I suddenly lost my nerdy streak and wanted to give up on MMORPG games forever. For this reason, I went on an quest to find a free or cheap replacement. After trying a few free options and trials of a couple of paid ones, I gave it up, assuming that I could never find an alternative to satiate my former love for Warcraft. However, today I may have found a game that can fill the void in my soul – Crowns of Power.
Whilst I think it’s a rather smashing game, my first impression was one of melancholy. There is very little choice when it comes to character customisation – you can only play as a human who is either male or female, and your only choice when it comes to customisation is the hairstyle. You can’t choose hair colour, facial hair, or face characteristics as you can in just about every other MMORPG under the sun. This is a shame as you end up with most characters looking very similar. I, like most players, like to have more control over my characters. A slightly miffing fact is that you can pay real money to further customise your character. Money can also be used to purchase other upgrades to your character; seems slightly unfair, but it’s understandable that the game needs a source of revenue.
Despite this, I was impressed with the class customisation – or lack of. Bear with me on this. In most MMORPGs you’ll need to choose a specific duty for your character – warrior, preist, mage, etc. However, Crowns of Power differentiates itself in this aspect in that you don’t need to choose a specific duty for your character. You do, however, choose a spell path. You can then use the spells which you can buy and inscribe into your spellbook as you level up to complement your more traditional combat with a weapon.
Another thing which miffed me whilst I was playing is the lack of maps for each zone. Being used to the cotton-clad World of Warcraft, I expect a mini-map which shows my surrounding area, coupled with a large map which shows the whole world, with new areas appearing as I discover them. This lack of maps left me a little bit confused. I’ve an awful sense of direction in real life, so it’s even worse when I’m trying to navigate around pixels in the shape of hills and trees. Therefore, wandering around and looking a bit confused became one of my character’s favourite hobbies.
The graphics aren’t awful, but they won’t blow you away either. Considering the game has a very small development team, they do a fantastic job of making things look good. You can alter the video settings – such as increasing the resolution and level of detail to make the game look better. Another setting I instantly changed was ticking the ‘full-screen’ box; I like my games to splodge the entire screen rather than live in little windows, since I don’t plan on multitasking whilst saving the virtual world from bears, undead, and any other evils which come my way.
Despite my criticisms, it’s still a very fun game to play. It’s currently managing to provide a good alternative to the Warcraft which I once loved. The download was fairly fast considering the large file sizes that are associated with games, so even if you don’t like it, a catastrophe will not ensue. It’s also still in active devopment, with features and other such jazz being added fairly often. You can download it to give it a try at www.crownsofpower.com.
Software companies always seem to be updating their programs with new releases. New features and security improvements are usually added, which is of course spiffing. However, you may have downloaded a new version of software and found it bloated, slow, or simply broken. Therefore it’s always nice to be able to download older software to use instead. Whether you pine for the rustic days of iTunes 4, or you’re in need of an old version of Firefox for testing purposes, you’ll be covered at oldversion.com and oldapps.com.
Both sites contain large directories of different types of software, ranging from web browsers to graphics software. Each category contains various software, all with a number of different versions. You can choose one of these to download and install. If you already have a newer version of the software installed, you’ll probably need to uninstall that first, or it will likely detect it and refuse to install.
Both websites contain forums where you can request software which isn’t currently in the archives, or discuss with like-minded people the ancient software which you’re using. You can also receive support for things that might have gone wrong with your software or PC.
Whilst older versions of software can bring back memories of simpler times and be useful, you should exercise caution when choosing to use dated versions; there are likely to be security holes which haven’t been filled and will therefore potentially put you at risk from attacks. However, if you’re convinced that newfangled software isn’t for you, older versions will go well with your pennyfarthing. Since newer isn’t always better, you can get yourself over to www.oldversion.com and www.oldapps.com to sample the delights of software from years past.
Most of us download a lot of stuff from the Internet – ranging from free trials of software, to handy little widgets. We’re also likely to do a fair bit of shopping online too, ranging from buying doorhandles to DVDs. However, if you’re looking to buy something obscure – stuff that’s not stocked by the usual trustworthy sources – you may find yourself on a more obscure website, and unsure of its integrity. McAfee SiteAdvisor and Web Of Trust are ready and willing to help you out of such situations.
For the purposes of keeping this article clear and preventing either me or you from getting confused, I’ll try to focus on the two separately, reviewing and giving a brief guide to both of their websites and the browser addons.
SiteAdvisor is run by McAfee, the renowned and largely trusted security software company. The website allows visitors to type in a website address, and it will pull up a page with information about the site requested. This will consist of the company’s own tests, which includes testing the links and downloads, and reviews from users. A rating will also be given which gives you overall advice about the trustworthiness of the website. You can also add your own review to help other users who check the same URL as you. If the site is not listed, the submission will be placed in a queue to be checked by McAfee’s systems. Unfortunately this can take quite a while, so it’s not worth waiting around for it to be checked before your very eyes.
A browser addon is also available. This places a mark next to search results
which either notifies you that the website is fine and safe, potentially risky, or dangerous. There will be a faded grey icon if the item has not been checked. The SiteAdvisor item will also sit at the bottom right of the browser’s status bar, notifying you of the safety of the website you’re currently on. It can be clicked for more information.
The second website and addon which I’m looking at is ‘Web Of Trust‘ (WOT). This alternative to SiteAdvisor is far more community-based, relying on the reviews of consumers. These reviews consist of sliders where the website is rated on different categories, namely: trustworthiness, reliability, privacy, and child safety. In addition, users can submit a text review of the website to provide any additional feedback or information. These reviews are aggregated to provide an average rating in each of the above listed areas.
WOT’s website works in a similar way to SiteAdvisor’s in that they both allow the user to input a website address to have it checked. However, WOT does not use testing systems to determine the safety of downloads and links. It does, however, have a large number of users who rate websites. The system of a linear rating in each area is also a far better method that McAfee’s mainly text-based reviewing system.
Like SiteAdvisor, Web Of Trust also sports an addon, which can be installed
into your browser. It also checks results from search engines against its database to give you an overall rating. However, it surpasses McAfee’s offering in terms of making it incredibly simple and easy to see other users’ feedback and add your own. A simple button is added to the browser. This will remain green when the website is safe; will change to orange when there’s a risk; and turn red when there’s real danger. Upon clicking this button, a box will pop down which shows the average ratings in the different categories. Sliders are also present to allow you to add your own rating of the website, in addition to an optional text review.
Overall judgement on which is better is quite tough. McAfee is better in the sense that it they use systems to check the websites – scanning downloads and checking the websites which it links to. However, Web Of Trust is much better on the community front. It’s easier to check websites on the fly and add your own rating by clicking the button to check the average ratings of different people. Overall, I would suggest checking webistes with both before downloading or buying anything. However, if you’re going to use one of the addons, I would highly recommend opting for Web of Trust over McAfee.
Before you groan and trundle back off to wherever you were going, this isn’t a review of some obscure, naff browser. Despite its name, Backstreet Browser doesn’t serve the purpose of being another browser which vies for your usership when browsing the Web. Instead, this application is a rather nifty way of keeping a copy of a website on your computer (or CD, USB key – anywhere you desire.)
I’m preeempting that you are thinking one of the following two questions: ‘why would I want to save a copy of a website’ and ‘can’t I just save the pages as I normally would?’ Starting with the former. You might find a website which contains some rather smashing information or content, but you fear that it won’t be around forever – it might be a really old website which is likely to be taken offline soon or have its domain name registration run out and not be renewed. Keeping a copy of the entire website would be rather snazzy way to avoid this problem. As for the latter question – you could indeed save the webpages individually, however, this is likely to be a long and rather difficult process. I tried it, and organising the various saved webpages into a reasonable order in a folder is a bit of a difficult process. You might also end up losing images or other content this way or missing certain pages.
In addition, what sets BackStreet Browser apart from the manual method of saving the pages is that it retains the links. If you were to save each webpage separately, the links that page would still go to the original location on the Internet. This would force you to open each page you want to visit from your files. With Backstreet, you can simply open up one of the pages that it saved, and all the links will point to your own internal copies of the site. It’s like browsing the website on the Internet, but from your own local storage. There’s no risk of it disappearing unless you delete it or something goes kaput on your beloved computer.
You tell the software which website you want to download by clicking ‘New’ and then telling it the URL. You can then tell it how far to drill down into the links. For example, you may only want the top, most important layer of a website – the ones which are linked to from the homepage, so you would just choose ’1′ for the link depth. Alternatively, if you want to nab everything, you could set the link level to a higher value. You can also choose whether you want the software to save copies of external pages to which your chosen website links to – eg, if a website links to a Wikipedia article.
I think my only criticism would be that the software is a bit dated; the interface has the potential to be confusing and difficult to use. In addition, the datedness of the application shows more clearly in the fact that the choices for the way the software identifies itself to websites consist of ‘Backstreet Browser 3.1′, IE 5.1, Netscape 4.5, or Opera 6.05 . This causes me to wonder whether things will display correctly when it downloads them. I think anything you download from newer, more advanced websites should be fine provided that you open the downloaded pages in a modern, capable browser.
This is a great bit of software for keeping backups of websites which you think might dissapear sometime soon, or something which you think might prove useful to you in the future, but you might not be able to find again. You can download from the official website at www.spadixbd.com/backstreet, or from Download.com.