Yearly Archives: 2020

How to play Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved in 1920×1080 (Steam)

I’ve just picked up a copy of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on Steam. I used to love this twin-stick arcade shooter since I first discovered it in Project Gotham Racing. I had the Xbox 360 version too, and haven’t thought about it for many years. I didn’t even know it was available on Steam until today, and picked up a copy for $1.99 – happy memories!

I browsed through the resolution options pretty much immediately, since the game comes up with a default of 640×480, which is a tad low for today’s screens. By default though, the highest I could set it to was something along the lines of 1280×720 (or derivatives thereof), and truth be told, that’s troublesome for streaming. Was that as high as it went? Did I need a dodgy patch to go any higher?

Thankfully no, a 1920×1080 option is built in, but it’s not exactly obvious how to obtain it. Here’s how to do it:

  • head over to Help and Options
  • select Video
  • set Keep Aspect Ratio to YES
  • now select 1920×1080

The Aspect Ratio is the crucial part. Setting this to YES will unlock other resolutions that were not available with the default option of NO. Much easier than I thought.

Getting Started with Streaming – An Overview

I’ve been meaning to put this quick guide together, with helpful bits of equipment and software that you need to get started in the world of streaming. I also wanted to explain the principles in a not-too-technical way. Here’s what I’ve come up with! This guide includes some philosophy, general tips, some basic kit suggestions, as well as “extra credit” optionals with affiliated links to the products I’m talking about. I hope you get some information out of this list!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll try my best to help if I can.

Table of Contents

Continue reading Getting Started with Streaming – An Overview

How to build anchor links on the same page with WordPress

Anchor Links are internal links that can re-direct the user to a part further up or down inside a web page. This is a useful way to make a longer article better navigable, for example by starting with a small table of content, with each heading linking further down on the same page.

It’s been a popular strategy back in the early days of the internet, and it’s technically still how a table of contents in an e-book works, and I thought I’d bring the topic back to the table (I had forgotten how to do it, so here’s a handy reminder for my future self).

This is an example of an anchor link, sending you to the bottom of the page.

To create one, we need to have an ID of our choice that we’ll add to the beginning section of where we’d like to link. In my example, I’ll just call it “further down”. I’d like to use the link on my headline (called Example Anchor Link), so I’ll select the block and choose “Advanced” in the block editor.

That’s the destination of our anchor link setup. Now we can pick any passage of text inside or post, select it and pick the little link icon as usual. The difference however is that we don’t give the full protocol to our destination (like https://wpguru.tv), but instead we’ll start with the hash sign (#), followed by the anchor text we specified above. Like this:

Note how WordPress is telling us that it recognises this as an internal link. If you accidentally leave out the # sign, WordPress will (incorrectly) add http:// to the front and your internal link won’t work.

Example Anchor Link

Well there you are – you’ve been linked here from the example link at the top. If I wanted to, I could build another link to send you back up – but I don’t want to risk breaking the internet with an endless loop. I’m sure you get the gist of it ๐Ÿ˜‰

How to recover from a 6-beep BIOS error on a HP Z600 / Z800 Workstation

Funny story: I was setting browsing through the Z600 BIOS today trying to optimise an issue I was investigating, when I came across an interesting option I thought I’d fiddle with: the PCI-e compute option. You can find it under Advanced PCI options I believe. I thought perhaps it’ll turn my two GPUs on the system into even faster devices… but sadly that wasn’t the case. Instead I apparently BRICKED the whole system!

So my Z600 is beeping 6 times upon startup, which indicates a pre-video startup error (in other words, the system can’t communicate with an available graphics card). Turns out that when I enabled the PCI-e compute option on every slot, the BIOS disabled the ability to use said slots for graphics. Bit of a design flaw there, HP…

The Solution

Naturally I did this on both GPU slots, and sadly a regular CMOS reset does not switch these options back. What does work however is to use a regular PCI slot with an older graphics card to let us boot into the BIOS and change the settings back (i.e. disable compute option). The short top slot is ideal for that, because to my astonishment it’s open at the back. This means longer cards fit in without problems, and most GPUs can communicate on the front contacts.

I whipped out an ATI Radeon 2800 that’s been collecting dust in a box, slipped it in as my THIRD graphics card, attached a monitor and booted into my Z600. All went well, I could change the settings in the BIOS to non-compute, and the whole thing was solved.

I was even able to boot straight into Windows with the Radeon 2800 and the short slot, even thought the refresh rate wasn’t great (perhaps 20 Hz at best at 1920×1080), but at least I could fix the issue of the bricked workstation.

It goes to show that it’s always good to keep older graphics cards around! This works on both Z600 and Z800 workstations.

Further Reading

Here’s a list of links that helped get me to this solution:

If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

WHOLEV 12″ LCD HDMI / BNC Field Monitor Review

I was looking for a small portable monitor, the size of a laptop screen with a HDMI input. Most big brands offer sizes of 22″ and larger, but during the COVID crisis I needed something smaller for a streaming setup in my spare room. This WHOLEV model seemed to fit my needs (I got the 12″ version). 

The unit is as described, featuring four inputs at the back:

  • HDMI
  • VGA
  • RCA
  • and BNC ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The latter is of interest to professional broadcast users, for whom BNC is a standard composite video route). There’s also a USB port at the back, but I’ve not worked out what its use is (possibly software updates). We find an on/off switch at the back, as well as menu control options. Thankfully there’s a small remote control in the box with which switching inputs and working the menu is much easier.

Continue reading WHOLEV 12″ LCD HDMI / BNC Field Monitor Review

ASUS Monitor Comparison: VS228H vs VP228 – The Differences

I’ve been looking for a 22″ monitor to improve my setup, and I came across two ASUS models that both fit my budget nicely. They’re both under $100 with very similar features, yet one seemed to be the “newer model” according to Amazon. I was intrigued to know the differences, and dissatisfied with the descriptions, I ordered both! I’ve compared them side by side for a week and I can finally tell you the exact differences between

I’ll let you check out the sale page on the ASUS website on the links above in your own time, chances are that you already know these models if you’re reading this. Here are my personal impressions:

Continue reading ASUS Monitor Comparison: VS228H vs VP228 – The Differences

OBS NDI: Quick Setup Guide for Dual PC Streaming

I’ve been experimenting with OBS NDI recently, and although it may not be as relevant in 2020 as it once was, I thought it best to take some notes on how to make a dual-PC streaming setup work before I forget. It’s pretty straightforward. Here’s what we need:

  • two computers on the same network (wired for best results)
  • two installations of OBS, one on either computer
  • the OBS-NDI plugin installed on both systems

I should mention that this will with a wireless network, but it can lead to lower frame rates due to data throughput. Essentially the main PC will send its entire OBS scene more or less uncompressed over the network, at a very high data rate, only to be properly compressed on the second PC that will do the actual streaming. However, we can still switch scenes on the main PC in OBS just as we always do.

Let’s get this going!

Continue reading OBS NDI: Quick Setup Guide for Dual PC Streaming

How do Humble Bundle refunds work for Steam Keys?

I’ve recently seen what I thought could be an interesting game called Filament. It had just been released, and I thought I’d buy it. They had it on offer through Humble Bundle. They had it on sale, I was hyped, and I bought it. I even went via a friend’s referral code to support him. All was well.

Humble don’t make software available for download though. They give you a redemption key for another place, or a software key that makes whatever you buy operational. It’s a really clever system. In my case, I got a Steam Key that I duly redeemed, so now the game was in my Steam Library.

I played it later that day (in fact, I even streamed it so I could play it with friends and solve puzzles together), but it turned out the game wasn’t really what I had expected. Although a great effort by the team that made it, it was not for me. Thoughts of a refund came to mind. But since I bought it through Humble, the refund wouldn’t go through Steam… how would this work, I wondered?

It worked great actually, let me share my experiences with you here.

Different Refund Policies

I remember back in the day of physical discs, you could bring your overpriced Playstation games (and DVDs in fact) back to the shop within 30 days, sometimes 60. Those days are long gone of course, unless the product is defective. Since the dawn of the online game distribution marketplaces, things have changed. But still, most places have a refund policy.

Steam for example state that you can get a refund for your purchase within 14 days if you haven’t played more than 2 hours. EPIC have the same refund policy. They review this case by case though, so they may give you a refund outside these criteria. Which is nice!

Humble on the other hand, selling a lot more than just games, state that they’re happy to give you a refund within 60 days of your purchase in principle, evaluating requests on a case by case basis. Between the two of them I was covered: I had played the game for less than 2 hours, and I had only bought it earlier in the day.

So if Humble would give me the refund, what would happen to the game?

The Humble/Steam Refund

Here’s what happened: a lovely lady named Becca looked at my case and refunded the money right back into my PayPal account, no questions asked. Only a few hours after I had asked and explained my situation, I had my money back and the case was closed.

To my surprise, the game itself though was still in my library. Would they let me keep it? Could it be somehow removed from my account, as it would with regular Steam refunds? Nothing seemed to have happened immediately, nor did I see anything on days 2 or 3. Filament remained in my account.

Then came day 4 (today) and I see this notice popping up in my Steam client:

That answered my question: the refunded game was indeed removed from my account, and now I no longer have it available. So that’s how they do it:

  • Humble give you the refund
  • Steam remove the game a few days later

Another puzzle solved! Given the complex nature of such a case, I’m super happy to tell you that it all worked flawlessly, and thought I’d share the “how” with you.

How to get the URL to your next Live Stream on YouTube (stream now)

YouTube’s Studio “forever Beta” interface is in a continuous state of disarray. At the time of writing, and since 2018, we’re seeing a partially upgraded interface with plenty of deep links into the older YouTube Classic experience. 2020 is almost half over, and YouTube have upgraded half of the Live Streaming experience (Events). However, the Stream Now option is still Classic, and as such has a few issues that won’t be fixed (until we see the rest of YouTube’s upgrade… at some point in the indeterminate future).

The issue that I sometimes have is to find the URL to my new Stream Now live stream. With events it’s not a problem, but Stream Live Classic will often show us the generic live URL to our channel (say https://youtube.com/TheWPguru/live) rather than a direct URL with an ID. It entirely depends on the channel. On some you’ll see this (generic):

where you’d really like to see this (direct ID):

The latter is preferred because you can start chatting with people before you go live, and you can give out this link before the event begins. Although the generic live URL will work, the event will not be accessible when you start streaming the next time.

Thankfully, there is a way to extract the correct direct URL from the new YouTube Studio interface, but it’s not entirely obvious. Here’s how to grab it:

Continue reading How to get the URL to your next Live Stream on YouTube (stream now)

How YouTube trimmed my 3 hour video to a 6 second clip – Funny Fail Story

I wanted to share a tragically funny YouTube story with you. It has to do with a copyright claim I’ve received on one of my recent Twitch streams, and a “helpful” tool YouTube offer to alleviate such a problem. Grab a coffee and prepare to be amused.

I was playing Cube Escape: Paradox on Twitch, and we really got into it. It’s an exciting TwinPeak-esque game with a very atmospheric soundtrack. In fact, the first part is free to play, and there’s a free movie you can watch too. Twitch only saves game broadcasts for up to 60 days, so I transfer them to YouTube for posterity, and to reach another audience at the same time. In fact, I upload my Twitch streams both to my Main Channel for a few weeks before making them unlisted, and also to my Gaming Channel for good. It’s a strategy that keeps my main channel tidy going forward.

Continue reading How YouTube trimmed my 3 hour video to a 6 second clip – Funny Fail Story