How to fix the FEZ loading freeze/crash issue

The Xbox live arcade game FEZ is an beautiful and unique game. But it has had a couple of unfortunate bugs – the first one could wipe out your save game completely, and the latest patch introduced a new one which could prevent you from loading if you saved/exited in the waterfall level.

This is documented at http://polytroncorporation.com/fez-issues:

‘There is one known crash with the patch : if you save in the “waterfall” level and exit and restart the game, it freezes.

The only workaround for this issue is to clear your system cache, the patch will be uninstalled, and your savefile will load correctly. Then after moving to another level and saving, you will be able to reapply the patch and continue your game.

 As far as we know this problem only happens in the waterfall level. Should it happen somewhere else though, this workaround is still valid.’

However, this didn’t work for me, to do with the fact that my save game was on cloud storage, and Fez would not load any local game saves. I noticed this when I stopped my xbox gold subscription, I could no longer play Fez as it wouldn’t use the local copy which was synced, and I couldn’t access cloud as that is part of gold.

So in my case, I couldn’t implement the fix, because that meant clearing the cache, so Fez was not updated and couldn’t sign into Live, and it wouldn’t read the local game save. Even when deleting any local save and copying to local storage, it only offered to start a new game.

But, I found that my 2nd Xbox was loading an old local save game with no issues. So what I did was this:

On an xbox which is loading local saves no problems and does not have the patch, copy the cloud save game to local storage (from System/Storage). Use the clear cache trick to remove the updates if it is already updated.

  • Run the game, and do not update
  • Load your broken/waterfall save from local storage, which should work.
  •  Go to another level, and exit, which saves.
  •  Now copy the local save back up to cloud storage
  •  Then update
  •  Now run, and I can load from cloud again!

Obviously this requires having access to another xbox, but you could always try this on a friends. I hope this helps someone, let me know if this works for you in the comments.

Using a custom domain with outlook.com

If you have your own domain, you can use the new Outlook.com web interface to access and store your emails. This also works with the old hotmail interface of course.

You will need an admin live ID. So if you have a live ID, use that to setup the custom domain. You will then sign in using that account if you want to manage the custom domain.

  1. Go to http://domains.live.com/
  2. Click on Add domain.
  3. Enter your domain and click Continue.
  4. Set the MX record as instructed using the DNS tools where your domain is hosted.
  5. Once you have created the MX record, go back and click on Refresh. I found I could do this immediately, seconds after creating the MX record.
  6. It then takes you to Member accounts. Now you can create user names @ your custom domain.
  7. Now you go to hotmail.com or outlook.com and sign in using your custom domain.

The interesting thing is that this also means you can use a device with activesync support to now easily get push emails on the move – you don’t need to configure anything else on the domain. Autodiscover even works – it is like have a cloud based Exchange server for free, you just have to put up with a few ads. For instance on a Windows phone or iphone, just add it as a hotmail type account with your custom domain email address, simple.

Note when creating the MX record: with some ISPs you will need to put a . at the end of the record, for instance:

982059051987e84fasdasdasd5d44.pamx1.hotmail.com.

Notice that it has a period or full stop at the end. To check if it has been created correctly, do an nslookup as follows:

  1. Start Command Prompt.
  2. At a command prompt, type nslookup, and then press ENTER.
  3. For TXT record, type Set type=txt, and then press ENTER. For MX record, type Set type=mx, and then press ENTER.
  4. Type the domain name that which you are trying to verify, and then press ENTER.

From <http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2515404>

 It should end in hotmail.com, and not have e.g. domain.com at the end.

Non-authoritative answer:

domain.com  MX preference = 10, mail exchanger = 982059051987e84fb9118ff625d44.pamx1.hotmail.com.domain.com

That is wrong! If you get this, add a period at the end when you add the MX record.

It should be:

Non-authoritative answer:

domain.com   MX preference = 10, mail exchanger = 982059051987e84fb9118ff625d44.pamx1.hotmail.com

Another problem I encountered was where users had already created a Microsoft account using the email address. So if they were already using this email address and created a Microsoft account for some reason, when you try to add the account, it will say that the users already exists, and asks if you want to import it. This is fine, but it means that the user has to know their password! If they don’t, they won’t be able to logon  obviously. So I would suggest before moving to outlook.com or hotmail.com, if the mail domain is already in use, you check with all users if they have created a Microsoft account. You could also test by trying to logon using any old password – it will say ‘the Microsoft account does not exist’ if there isn’t one.

The problem I had was that it asked me to import an existing account for someone, who didn’t have one! This confused me for some time, no one had ever set a password, so it was impossible to login. There were no password reset options (e.g. secret question etc.). In my case what I did was remove and re-add the account 3 or 4 times, and suddenly it added it without importing and asked me to create the password.

So I finally got everything up and running, Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) support is great – much easier to setup on iPhone, iPad etc. – just choose a new Hotmail account and enter the custom email address.

The one caveat with doing this, is that you cannot use the mail client on OSX to sync using Exchange – Hotmail or outlook.com doesn’t support direct Exchange connections, only EAS connections from mobile devices. This means you can only use POP or IMAP from Apple Mail, which won’t do contact or calendar sync. It is rumoured that Office 2013 on OSX will support this properly, akin to Outlook 2013 on PC.

If you need that, I would suggest using a custom domain with Google. Personally I just prefer the outlook.com interface.

The interesting thing is that this also means you can use a device with ActiveSync support to now easily get push emails on the move – you don’t need to configure anything else on the domain. For instance on a Windows phone, just add it as a Hotmail account with your custom domain email address, simple.

I would recommend this for anyone wanting a first class email solution for a personal custom domain, or even a very small business solution for zero cost.

Download Backinfo – desktop background computer information utility

If you have been on Microsoft training courses, you may have seen computer information displayed on the desktop. This isn’t done using the publicly available bginfo from sysinternals – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897557.aspx – they have another tool called backinfo.exe. This is much better in my opinion, it supports higher resolutions without repeating and generally looks nicer, I use this as standard now on all my servers. This is included in the WSSRA Virtual Environments for Development and Test (see http://blogs.technet.com/b/johnbaker/archive/2006/02/15/where-can-i-find-the-backinfo-utility.aspx for more info), but you can download it below for convenience. Customise the ini file as required. You can also use a bitmap file with both tools.

Download Backinfo

Also see my other post for a quick PowerShell script to configure a machine to load backinfo on logon: https://www.msdonkey.com/server/backinfo-powershell-script.

Of course you could also deploy this using Group Policy or another software delivery tool. Create a Computer Preferences Policy to deploy BackInfo, copying Backinfo.exe and Backinfo.ini to %ProgramFilesDir%\BackInfo\ via a Files Preferences Policy, a REG_SZ registry key under HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run called “BackInfo” with value %ProgramFilesDir%\BackInfo\BackInfo.exe, and a folder replace to create/update the folder for BackInfo to live in.

Here is a comparison of bginfo vs backinfo.

Backinfo:

Bginfo default:

Bginfo custom:

 

And with a custom background bitmap:

backinfo_2012R2

 

To get the bitmap to display, I edited the default desktop background C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg in paint, saved to the same location as a 24-bit bitmap file, and then added this to the .ini file:

BackgroundBitmap = C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\Windows\img0.bmp

Microsoft Wedge Mouse review

The Microsoft Wedge Mouse is an interesting mouse for sure. The first thing you notice is that the thing is tiny, if you have big hands, basically you can forget about using it. Here are a couple of pictures of it next to a Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse 5000 and the old faithful so you can appreciate the size:

WP_000430

WP_000431

Ergonomically you might think this thing would be a disaster. And you would probably be right – I have average size hands, but it doesn’t feel that good to hold. An hour of fallout 3 and my hand was hurting. Having said that I did 2 full days of work with no issues, because there I am mostly typing and using the mouse less. So it is OK for occasional use, but I would not recommend it for prolonged periods of mouse activity.

I really wanted to like this device, it ticked a lot of boxes for me:

  • It is very portable – small and light, ideal to complement my small notebook and keep travelling weight down.
  • It uses 1 AA battery, so I only need to carry 1 spare.
  • Bluetrack technology – excellent tracking and nice and accurate. Much better than my Bluetooth mouse 5000.
  • Generally it looks nice and has a quality feel.
  • It does vertical and horizontal scrolling, made for Windows 8 apps and start screen, although Horizontal scrolling doesn’t work in normal desktop apps – e.g. Microsoft Expression Design. I miss this feature with a normal mouse.

However, there are some crucial flaws with the device that meant I just couldn’t live with it. My major issues with this device are:

  • It frequently left clicks when you mean to right click. This happens when a finger is (lightly) resting on the left button. You try to right click, but for some reason it left clicks. This is the first deal breaker for me. Just try playing Minesweeper on Windows 8 on the largest screen – it doesn’t work, you will loose because of this mouse. This is pretty fundamental functionality for a mouse, left and right click.
  • You cannot right click and left click at the same time. This doesn’t sound like much of an issue until you come across a situation when you need to do both. For instance a game where you zoom with right click, and shoot with left. You can no longer play the game.
  • It’s too small and too damned awkward.
  • It doesn’t support Windows 8 gestures. No multi touch, no pinch to zoom, no charms etc.

So unfortunately it is back to the shop for this mouse. I’ll wait for another one which actually works….