Civilization 5 Tactics and Strategies

This post will outline and detail strategies, tips, tricks, cheats and tactics for Sid Meier’s Civilization V (Civ5/CivV). Call it an FAQ of sorts.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Some quick observations:

  • Open borders allows you to surround an enemy, then attack. This works wonders later on.
  • The trebuchet seems a bit overpowered, and is definitely the best way to attack cities.
  • The easiest way I know of to skip the first intro movie is to simply rename “Civ5_Opening_Movie_en_US.wmv” to something else.
  • Alternatively, edit the “usersettings.ini” file found in “My Documents\My Games\Sid Meiers Civilization 5\”. Make sure to change “SkipIntroVideo=0” to “=1” on line 15.
  • For a copy of the English manual for Civ5, head here
  • How to turn on workers automatically keeping improvements
    In the My Documents folder go to the Civ V folder and then look for the “usersettings.ini” file.

    There is a setting called AutoWorkersDontReplace. Change the value from 0 to 1.

Installing WordPress MU on a Dreamhost Server

Blandname is currently hosted with DreamHost, and we’ve been here for years. It’s cheap, offers lots of goodies, and one-click installs allow us to easily install and test web-based software. Not to mention that they also support Ruby on Rails, and give you SSH access and the ability to run a Jabber server as well as unlimited MySQL databases. If you are wanting to host your own website then choose a UKservers.

You’ve also probably gathered that blandname is currently running WordPress. Dreamhost Circulo Marketing has had a one-click install for WordPress just like ipage has for a while now, and since it was handy at the time, we went for it.

But things change, and one-click installs often are not enough to satisfy most webmasters, which is how we got where we are today. Since my goal with blandname is to create another multiuser blog similar to what has already been running for years at yottabite, but instead of having one big weblog, we’d like to have multiple subdomains like string.blandname.com, which WordPress MU allows you to accomplish, automatically.

Unfortunately DreamHost doesn’t support WordPress MU‘s subdomains by default yet (you can always send them an email), but we can still get away with subfolders, which is more than good enough for a test.

This guide will require familiarity with DreamHost’s control panel, as well as common Bash shell commands as we will be using SSH.

The first step is to make a test domain for you WordPress MU install. In my case, I navigated to the “Domains” section of the left-hand menu, then to the “Manage Domains” section of the DreamHost panel, and created the new subdomain test.blandname.com. You’ll want to make sure to select PHP5, and enable extra security. This typically takes about 10 minutes to complete, but we still have the database to add, so let’s get to that at the same time.

In the “goodies” section of the DreamHost control panel, select “Manage MySQL”. The default view is to set up a new MySQL database, which is what we’re going to do. Create a unique database name, the subdomain you would like it to use, as well as the data base username and password. Make sure to keep note of all of these settings as we will need them when installing WPMU.

DreamHost will have by now created a folder in your SSH root that will allow you to place files there and start some of the work while we wait for the subdomain to be created and propagate. Login to your server using SSH (you’ll need to use either your DreamHost hostname here or another web address for now – you can use the WordPress Mu domain later). Now we’ll navigate to the new subdirectory that was created when we setup the new subdomain by typing: cd test.blandname.com Change the folder name to whatever is pertinent in this case.

Now that we’re in the correct folder, we’ll grab the latest using the always-handy WGET. Here’s the code:

wget http://mu.wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz

gunzip latest.tar.gz

tar -xvf latest.tar

cd wordpressmu-1.0 (this will probably change, ls -al will tell you the dirname)

cp -rf * /home/YOURUSERNAME/test.yourdomain.com/

cd ..

rm -rf wordpressmu-1.0/

Now we’ve got a clean directory structure in the root of our test domain, and we’re set to go ahead with the WordPress MU installation.

By now the subdomain has probably propagated because DreamHost is getting faster and faster, so using your web browser, navigate to test.yourdomain.com

Next you’ll want to retrieve the soiled napkin, SubEthaEdit file or whatever else it was that you used to jot down the database settings, and plop them in here. They are very straightforward, and this is typically the most problematic so check them twice but have no fear: if you mess up WP MU will tell you, and you can retrieve the settings from the “Manage MySQL” section in the DreamHost web control panel.

The rest is quite simple: you’ll be met with a typical WordPress installation page, but instead it’s for WorPress MU. The first question that needs to be asked is whether or not WordPress MU users will be using subdomains or subfolders of the root WPMU installation. As previously stated, DreamHost currently does not support subdomains by default (I’ve put in a request, here’s hoping), so we’ll select subfolders here. WP MU will have already placed the domain name you will be using in the yellow textfield, but if you had decided to use subfolders instead of the webroot, you’ll want to specify that here as this will affect all links as well as your RSS feeds.

Lastly, we’ll want to name our multi-user WordPress MU blog, and specify the email address that you will use for things like spam reports, and replies to your comments on the parent blog.

Click on that small “submit” button, and let’s see what happens!

Hopefully on the next screen you’ll see this message:

Creating Database Config File: DONE
Congrats! Your WPMU site has been set up and you have been sent details of your login and password in an email.

Click on the link provided, and get with customization, as we’re all done.

blandname whitepaper published on Silicon.com

Sometimes, I send articles from blogs or sites that I post to in order to have them published as white papers with business sites to see how well my content will fare. I typically don’t check up on them, and normally forget the logins shortly after submitting. However, I was just crawling through my Mint stats referer information, and noticed that one of the blandname articles got accepted to be published as a whitepaper at Silicon.com.

While this isn’t extremely exciting news, I was impressed nontheless that they didn’t edit the artcile at all – the whitepaper is wholly taken from my article on installing Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 3 on VMWare Server (if you haven’t read it yet check it out).

Alright back to work!

Allow Multiple Logins/Users for Mint Stats Tracker

I have been testing the Mint PHP web statistics script for my development sites lately, and though I love it and the modular plugins you can get for it, one feature is sorely lacking – multiple user logins.

This quick hack is by no means revolutionary, but it certainly does get the job done.

A new feature in Mint 1.2.x is to allow what’s called a “client mode” where anyone can access the statistics without the need to login. While this works for locally hosted Mint installations, the is definitely sub-optimal when it comes to a production site.

The solution? I’m sure you may have guessed it already, but by using .htaccess, you can easily set up multiple logins to Mint!

In my case I use subdomains like minttea.mytestsite.com. Using SSH, I logon to minttea.mytestsite.com, and issue this command:

pico .htaccess

In order to add user to the file, you must append the .htaccess file with lines similar to this htaccess guide.

You’ll need to encrypt the usernames and passwords, but once it’s done you will have logins enabled.

Please note that this method is susceptible to a brute-force attack, but it will keep most people from poking around with your stats.

Once I have figured out a better way (using PHP for example) I will post it here too.

Use RDP Client 6 (from Vista) on Windows XP

UPDATE! The newest client found in the release candidate of Vista does not require MUI files at all. There is some speculation that this may in fact end up as the Windows XP RDP 6 client. Download RDP 6 Client for Windows XP using this link.

I’ve been trying to get the Remote Desktop Connection v6.0 client from Vista to run on Windows XP for months now. Microsoft has announced many times that it’s available tobeta testers through the Connect site, but try as I may I still can’t find it (I’m not alone). So I went ahead and popped the new RDP 6 client from Vista onto Windows XP and tried everything from dependency walking to regsitry hacks to get it going but to no avail. So i kept testing, and set up a Google alert to let me know if anyone had found a method or any information that I could use to get this done.

I got results from the hook today, and what a big fish it was. It seems that I had probably fixed it early on, but hadn’t followed the proper procedure of changing one setting, testing, then moving to the next. I had simply set up all the hacks I thought were needed and plowed ahead. This is what happens when you test with a bottle in hand.

So here is what I found out today: originally from a thread by Caelum over at AtomicPC, this quick hack allows you to install the Microsoft Vista RDP v6 client on a Windows XP computer. Caelum was trying to get widescreen working in RDP on XP, and most of you know that works fine already. But Caelum, you’ve solved another problem in the process!

The 6th iteration of the MSTSC binary has a bunch of outstanding feautures. The biggest one for me is better support for sound and video over terminal services, but also includes ClearType support for those with LCD monitors so fonts look much nicer now.

Let’s get cracking.

1. Download this MSTSC zip(1.3MB)

2. Unpack the ZIP file to a folder

Vista MSTSC Folder

3. Run the “Install.cmd” file

4. Once the installation has completed, press any key to close the window

5. The script does everything but copy the MUI files to SYSTEM32, so we’ll do that now: open your Windows folder, then SYSTEM32, and then en-US. Copy the *.MUI files from your unzipped folder to the en-US folder

6. Run your remote desktop connection application the same way you normally would

RDP 6 Screenshot

Note: If you use Windows XP 64bit Edition you’ll want to grab the 64bit bit files from a 64bit version of Vista.

Now we can connect to Vista and Longhorn Terminal Server using the most up to date client and test the new features offered by Remote Desktop Client 6. I’ve tested this out on both using my VMWare Server virtual machines and the results are very favorable so far – it’s faster than before!

Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 3 on VMWare Server

More and more people are turning to virtualization these days. One of the main reasons is in order to test pre-release, beta, or alpha software. When it comes to Linux, the operating systems are in a state of constant flux so there’s always something new to test. People routinely want to test beta versions of KDE and Gnome and other desktops before comitting, or simply want to see what features are in development.

We’d previously written an article about installing Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 2 (it IS a long name) on a Mac Mini, so to do the same would be batty. Instead, this guide covers testing the newest Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 3 on Windows XP using free (as in beer) virtualization. This guide would also apply to anyone testing on various flavours as well, as long as they can run our free virtualization software: VMWare Server 1.01.

Setting up the Ubuntu virtual machine in VMWare server is very easy (click the pictures for larger versions):

Connect to your local VMWare Server installation if you run it locally, or connect to your remote VMWare Server.

We’ll select “typical” for this virtual machine as VMWare Server includes a configuration for Ubuntu already.

And, speaking of which, here it is! Make sure to select the plain “Ubuntu” option, unless you are running a 64bit host, and downloaded the 64bit version of Edgy Eft knot 3.

Name your virtual machine and select the location. The defaults should be fine here but feel free to tinker.

I typically use bridged networking, but for added obfuscation you can use NAT (which creates a virtual network based on your host’s network connection). You could also select host-only if you only want to be able to contact the host operating system. In fact, if you really wanted to make sure the machine is isolated from the wiki wikid web, don it with a nice tinfoil hat and disable networking completely. Ubuntu won’t be happy, but it looks pretty nice in a tinfoil hat.

8 GB of diskspace is fine for testing.You’re not going to be leeching full seasons of Lost… at least we hope so.

Since we opted to allocate diskspace now, VMWare Server will start creating the 8GB file. This can take some time depending on your computer’s hardware. In my case this took a few minutes – I use SATA2 NCQ hard drives and have 2GB of RAM. Your mileage may vary.

You now have a default virtual machine set up, but it will need some slight tweaking in order to install Edgy Eft Knot 3 as fast as possible. Click on “edit virtual machine settings” and remove the floppy drive – we don’t need it. Set the memory to at least 512MB, but it really depends on your total amount. Since I have 2GB total RAM on my host I select 1GB normally. Edit the CDROM settings and point it at your Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 3 CD image. Click “OK” – we’re set for lift off.

Press start and drool over the new llivecd boot screen. Note the reflection on the logo. How original.

Now we’re at another original boot screen – the progress loader. Note the gradient progressbar, and the Crystal-esque Ubuntu logo. Reminds us of 3 years ago, doesn’t it precious? Yes, yes it does.

We’ve landed at the desktop. You may stop here if all you wanted was a secure browsing solution with no cookies and passwords to worry about. Should we wish to continue, our mission involves double-clicking that obvious “install” icon. Let’s go for it.

This is an easy 6 step process. Step 1 – select your language.

Step 2 – Select your location or timezone.

Step 3 – Select your keyboard layout. I normally recommend you test the layout just in case. We’ve typed in “blandname” here for demonstration purposes. You may wish to try typing “Ubuntu”, but nothing else lest ye be stricken down.

Step 4 – Identify yourself. This information will be used later in life to incriminate you. Be choosy with naming and passwords. Harry MacDonald that means you! Try typing in something other than your real name here – it works, I promise.

Step 5 – We’ve pre-allocated our diskpace, so no need to worry about this one. Just click the “forward” button.

Step 6 – There really isn’t a step 6. The Ubuntu team has decided to waste our time by confirming the already tedious and easy task. Onward, ho!

Installing – took me 30 minutes. It may take you an eternity, but with hardware prices where thet are, I seriously doubt it will take you long to be rolling with a virtual Edgy Eft install.

The eternity has passed, and we’re going to reboot. Don’t forget to disable or otherwise change the CDROM settings so you don’t end up installing again – that would be embarassing, right?

There you have it – the pretty login screen. Note those options. XDMCP looks very intriguing doesn’t it? We’ll get to that later…

And presto! What have we got here? Firefox 2.0b1 – Bon Echo Beta 1! Try it out and see what you think, I’m impressed so far to be honest.

So that’s it, you now have a working Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 3 test virtual machine (edit: let’s make the name longer). And it weren’t hard neither! When Knot 4 comes out you’ll be able to do it in your sleep. If not, well we’ll see you searching for it again.

Copy Files From a Mac to Windows Using SCP

Whenever you start adding funny-flavored operating systems to a network, you eventually run into filesharing problems. Even if you only have a few machines, coming to a consensus on how to get files from point A to B can be quite taxing – especially if there’s work to be done.

Over the years I’ve tried FTP, Samba, NFS and a host of others. When configured well they work like a charm. However, when a new node joins the network (that shiny new Mac Pro of yours), things need to be reconfigured and can generally be a royal pain that´s why i always chose the best web hosting.

That has changed, though. We now have an acceptable solution that is free, easy to use and above all, secure. Introducing… SCP.

SCP has been around for a while now, and is gaining quite a bit of traction in the hosting world where it is (albeit slowly) starting to replace FTP for upload and download tasks. SCP stand for Secure Copy (CP being Copy on *nix variants). SCP works a lot like FTP in that you require an address to connect to, a username (login) and a password (we won’t get into stored keys today).

Now that we’ve decided what to try in our ad hoc network, how do we set it up? If you’re blessed with any variant of Linux or Unix, the work has been done for you already – the tools come with the operating system, and are generally found under the network tools in your fancy menus.

Fugu on OS X Server

It’s a different story on Apple Macs and PCs, though. For example, Tiger comes with an SCP server, but no client. Right, about the Mac server. In order to activate it in Panther, Tiger and even Leopard, head on over to the System Preferences pane, and choose the Sharing applet (the folder with the caution sign on it). Once it has opened, check the Remote Login checkbox. This will enable SSH, and in turn, SCP. We’re halfway there. You can connect to an SCP server by using the Terminal on a Mac, but from what I can tell most Mac users are frightfully scared of it. But that gives me the oppurtunity to tell you about one of my favorite applications – Fugu (japanese for blowfish – and sporting a suitably cute icon to boot). Fugu allows you to connect to an SCP server to both download and upload files. Fugu is quite easy to use, so we won’t get into that, but will save it for another time if need be (just like stored keys). Oh, and as the screenshot shows you, it works with Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 too! (as well as Leopard)

WinSCP Screenshot

In the PC world, WinSCP is Fugu’s sibling. You get an extremly easy to use interface, complete with drag and drop. Installation is a breeze, and best of all it’s free as in both beer and speech. Just like those soapbox ramblers. Getting a Windows SCP server is a bit more difficult, but currently exists in the form of BitVise WinSSHD. WinSSHD is slightly complicated, but most of the configuration is done during the installation procedure. They supply you with the needed variables, and one you have finished you will have set up an account you can use to test from your other workstations. The screenshot above was taken with the wonderful WinSnap – it comes highly recommended.
Let the cross-platform filesharing begin!

If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, head on over to the blandname contact page and we’ll see what we can do!

Oh, and by the way, since you’ve noticed I always talk about virtualization, this certainly applies to getting files to and fro from your virtual machines in VMWare Server, Virtual Server (Virtual PC if need be) and Parallels – I have even found it to be faster than any other technique!

Where’s my Mac BIOS? (How to get into OpenFirmware Easily)

A lot of people these days appear to be under the impression that Macs have a BIOS, which is unfortunate because they actually have something much better – Macs have OpenFirmware. This is true for G4 Mac Minis, PowerBooks, iBooks, iMacs, eMacs, and Dual G5s… I could go on and on.
I got most of this info from experience and the Apple Developper Connection – if you’re not a member yet, sign up, it’s free.

You can get into OpenFirmware using this key sequence:

CMD-OPT-O-F

In detail, this means using two hands, holding “command”, “option” and “f” on the left and “o” with your right hand. Do this while booting your computer and you well hear two chimes. At the end of the chimes you will be greeted with an

On my G4 Mac Mini, for example, I can hold down the power button for roughly 10 seconds and I will hear the chimes – this should work for iMacs as well.

The OpenFirmware prompt that looks like this:

ok

0>

Congratulations, you’ve accessed your “BIOS” you switcher!

Now that we’ve passed this glorious milestone, we have some work to do. After all you came here for a reason right? (and not just to click on the ads, wink-wink nudge-nudge)

Some useful commands that save me time and time again, and enable reparation of the G4 Mac Mini:

Boot your Apple computer using the default boot device:

0 > mac-boot

Boot your Mac using the inserted CDROM at the yaboot directory for linux CDs:

0 > boot cd:,\install\yaboot

To eject a CDROM from your Mac:

0 > eject cd

If you have any other OpenFirmware tips to share, feel free to comment!