31 December 1999 - Friday

Wilfred's Last Cough This Millennium
- 17:45 pm Wilfred
Well, going through final checks and I shall be porting my PC system down into Hardware-One's Y2k Command Center 23rd basement floor in another 10 mins. So the rest of you, be forewarned and ever alert , always take good care of your health while merry making. Will be back to meet up after the Millennium turn over (if nothing catastrophic happens). Meanwhile, God Bless and Best Wishes For You, World Peace and Happiness! Oh yes, Happy New Year!! ;P

The End Is Near & More... More? Duh! - 15:07 pm Wilfred
Nonononono... I'm not your prophet mm'kay? osOpinion updated me with several new editorials this last day of the 19xx year. First, Stanislav Kelman wrote an article both funny and potent regarding THE END. And lest you are one of the CONFUSED (like myself! =P), Jeff Neel posted a short blurb that I can mention in full here, check them both up, will ya?!

The End Is Near
Nineteen hundred and ninety nine was an insane year. Some go as far as to declare that it was a high point in the history of mankind. Others claim it brought irreversible changes to the way we think, the way we live, and the way we interact with each other. Maybe so, but I have yet to see any profound changes in my own life.

All year long, instead of simply enjoying the benefits of the "new economy," I was desperately trying to understand something that does not appear to make any sense whatsoever. With 1 day left before the Big Millennium Bash, I am still very much bewildered by this whole "Internet revolution" phenomenon.

Get OFF The Millennium Bandwagon!
I, personally, am very annoyed at the number of people that think that the new millennium will start on January 1, 2000... Sure, if the first year was "1," then it would be the new millennium. However, if you count 0 A.D. as a year, it is *NOT* the new millennium. We still have a year until the new millennium.

It's amazing how many people have jumped on the ignorance bandwagon. However, it is to be expected because most people are sheep and are led around by everything they hear or see, rather than forming opinions for themselves.

It will be funny to see how many people act like they never pretended the new millennium was upon us and say that they never said that the new millennium starts Jan 1, 2000. Just like this century, which started on Jan 1, 1901, the new century shall begin on January 1, 2001, as will the new millennium.

Please, do yourselves a favor and SHUT UP, because the new millennium is still a YEAR AWAY!

Videologic DigiTheatre & DVD Player - 14:51 pm Wilfred
Tech-Junkie has got 2 reviews of products from Videologic. Check out what they have to say about the DigiTheatre & DVD Player.

The DigiTheatre performs its job admirably, receiving a digital audio source either through S/PDIF coaxial or Toslink optic fibre, its onboard Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip churns through and delivers very good decoding results. Dolby Prologic is received through the stereo analogue line in of the decoder and processed.

The DigiTheatre can adjusts its decoding routine according to your room's existing speaker set up. For example if you have the full blown 5.1 speaker system installed then the decoding box can be set up to take advantage of a complete 5.1 speaker system. If on the other hand, you are missing a center speaker, the decoding box can be set up to create a "phantom" center speaker by channelling the center speaker's output to the two front speakers. On the other extreme if your strapped for cash, and have a plain 2-speaker stereo set up the DigiTheatre can be set for that configuration too.

PIII Mobile Chips To Come With 'SpeedStep' - 14:33 pm Wilfred
Sounds pretty cool eh? Over at ZDNet, a report says that come January, Intel will release new mobile PIII chips that will feature 'SpeedStep' technology. The processor will detect when the user is on battery power and lower it's core voltage and clockspeed automatically. With AC power, Maximum Performance Mode will be used. Cool eh? Of coz, if the user so chooses, he can opt for max performance 100% of the time via a software applet.

SpeedStep will keep battery life close to what users are accustomed to -- three to four hours, on average. When Intel made the transition from mobile Pentium MMX chips to the mobile Pentium II, a lot of notebook users lost 30 minutes of battery life.

All of Intel's new mobile chips will offer SpeedStep Technology.

Intel is expected to ship a 650MHz mobile Pentium III later in the first quarter. A 700MHz mobile PIII is expected to follow in the second quarter, with a 750MHz version arriving the second half of 2000.

The forthcoming 650MHz mobile Pentium III will run at 650MHz in Maximum Performance Mode and 500MHz in Battery Optimized Mode, Intel officials have said.

Intel also plans to offer a version of its SpeedStep Technology for mini-notebooks. Due in the second half of 2000, the feature will reduce the core voltage of those chips from 1.35 volts to 1.1 volts, Intel officials have said.

3dfx Assessed - 14:18 pm Wilfred
This is quite interesting. Chris of FPS3D.COM did an 'assessment' of the once great (still great in many's perception) 3D graphics card company, 3dfx Inc. On why he thinks the company is headed for a downward spiral...

Well, I'm going to assume most of you have seen the parody auction on eBAY for the Voodoo 4 and 5 series video cards. Most of you probably laughed, maybe cried, and perhaps a select few even had an orgasm or two. The sad thing about this is - the author's comedic take on the 'amazing' motion blur technology that 3dfx is marketing is right on the money.

Motion blur capability is for the most part a cheap anomaly thrown into the usual 3D Rendering Arena. What value does it have? Games are certainly not at the point where such miniscule details of reality amount to much. 'Motion Blur' is really not all that great of a choice for marketing - especially since it can result in such cynical portrayals as that on the eBAY auction. We should really assess T-Buffer Digital Cinematic Effects and Full Screen Anti-Aliasing as whole...

Acer 10X DVDROM 40X CDROM - 14:10 pm Wilfred
CTNews delved deep into the workings of Acer's latest 10X/40X DVD/CD-ROM drive, writing a good 4 pages for it.

The drive itself is as capable as most 40X Cd-Rom drives for those chores. The drive has a quiet action and that can be good after listening to several 40 to 56 speed CD drives that sound like Helicopters taking off. I think that CD-ROM's are reaching the end of their livelihood. The DVD-ROM drive is coming into it's own as another piece in the PC's overall concept of being a Multimedia platform. The Acer DVD player does a pretty good job of all that is asked of it. I would like to see a hardware decoder card offered as an option for those people who have systems of less than 400 MHz CPU speed. Since the price of DVD drives is coming down you are starting to see them on all the high end systems. Even some of the middle stance systems have 2x and 3x DVD drives. The appearance of the DVD-Recorder drives is going to add another ripple in the lake of computers. I wonder how long it will take for them to filter down to our more price conscious level. So, the 1040A is a pretty good drive.

HardOCP's CuMine At 807Mhz - 14:05 pm Wilfred
Seems to me that the philosophy at HardOCP is to push things harder than their best, and further. Well, if they didn't risk destroying a perfectly good CuMine chip, the Y2k might do it... so hell, why not? 650 => => => 807Mhz!!

Here comes the fun bit. PIII-650ís only come in 100MHz bus. My BH6 and RAM will do 133MHz rock solid (tested with an unlocked PII-233 @ 1X multiplier). With an ambient temperature of 23.4 deg C the system would do 728 MHz (112MHz bus) no probs (no, not the PII butthead). Can you say 760MHz (117MHz bus) too ?  YepÖ solid with no special cooling or voltage tweaks.

Now here comes the madness. If I booted the system from cold if would start Win98 and run a little bit of Unreal at 806 MHz then crash. Well, fortunately, Iím a nut like you and I wanted more. More of that 806MHz goodness.

S2K In-Depth - 13:45 pm Wymun
The Sharkster himself, has posted an in-depth look at the Savage 2000.  So if you're considering S3's Savage 2000 to pass the New Year in 3D gaming frenzy, suggest you give this a read to make sure it truly is "Y2K graphically compliant" for your needs.  

On the other hand, SAVAGE 2000 always uses a 16-bit depth buffer in Quake III Arena regardless of colour depth. It is, therefore, to be expected that SAVAGE 2000 will have a performance advantage because of the lower depth buffer bandwidth. Comparing the trends of both GEFORCE and SAVAGE 2000 at setting 1, it appears that the smaller footprint 16-bit depth buffer, manages to prevent the displacement of locally stored textures to slower system memory significantly.

Cool That HDD - 11:30 am Wymun
Running too many 7200rpm drives in your casing?  Then check out GamePC's shoot-out between 4 top-bay coolers for that "over-cooked" casing today!

Athlon Overclocked To 850MHz - 11:20 am Wymun
The folks at 3D Rage had the privilege to test out a spankin' new 550MHz Athlon rig from Gen-X Tech, overclocked to an unbelievable 850MHz!  This makes me drool for my own little Athlon setup for the New Year!  Just need a sponsor...Hint...Hint...

The Athlon really needs no introduction, as everybody who is remotely interested in computer hardware knows the reputation of this processor. The Athlon that is being overclocked is at default 550Mhz, but with a little soldering and a gigantic Globalwin FKK32 cooler, the Athlon 550 will reach 864Mhz with complete stability, and believe me when I tell you, it's fast. If the system you buy doesn't make it to 864Mhz for some strange reason, then you could settle for the lower setting of 848Mhz(what you're paying for anyways), which brings in practically the same benchmarks as the 864Mhz system.

EPoX EP-USB66 Review - 11:00 am Wymun
The chaps at 3D Alpha have struck up their own little take on the EPoX EP-USB66 controller card for old motherboards, giving USB and ATA-66 support.  So if you're still chugging away with your trusty serial cum ATA-33 interfaces, check this out as a viable upgrade.

Unfortunately, many of these new drives use standards such as Ultra ATA/66 or Ultra2 SCSI. What happens to users who have older motherboards that don't support these standards? Often times, the user must either purchase a costly new controller card or even a brand new motherboard. For SCSI devices, the best option is a card such as the Adaptec RAID Card Model AAA-131U2. However, for ATA/66, the choices are less easy, as fewer cards are available to compare.

AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millennium Review - 10:40 am Wymun
Looks like reviews of this millennium marketed motherboard is popping up everywhere in conjunction with next year's celebration. Anandtech included, and they've just released their own views on this "Calvin Klein" of motherboards.  And of course, don't miss the chance to receive one of these beauties in our giveaway competition.  It ends on the last day of 1999 - that's today!! 

The Millennium Edition part of the equation is a series of modifications to the AX6BC Pro II design that go above and beyond the call of duty - almost into the realm of the ridiculous. This includes the use of a 24 karat Platinum-plated heatsink and monster 2200uF for better heat dissipation and enhanced stability, respectively. Those capacitors are the same low ESR (equivalent series resistance) capacitors from the AX6BC Pro Gold and further enhance stability. Emphasizing the limited edition status of the board is a, "special military grade" black PCB, Platinum-plated "Millennium Edition" plaque, and the names of the board's designers inscribed at the front of the board.

Gigabyte SlotKey Convertor - 10:35 am Wymun
Yup, HotHardware has news on yet another SlotKey Convertor.  But this time round, Gigabyte has come up with their own rendition that promises compatibility from a Celeron to Coppermine and even the Joshua. Sounds like the ideal benchmarker's dream to get one of these.

Supermicro PIIISCD Review - 10:30 am Wymun
Cool...Seems like the folks at IXBT-Labs have posted a pre-millennium review of the new Supermicro PIIISCD which features the I820 chipset with SDRAM.  So check it out to see how it stands against the BX and Apollo 133A counterparts... 

So, Intel had to think of a better solution for those who longed for AGP 4x and 133MHz bus support, which was by that time introduced only in i820 chipset. This solution turned out an additional MTH controller supporting SDRAM, which the mainboard manufacturers could easily install onto their products. As a result, i820 based mainboards with SDRAM support appeared the most popular ones and were the first to come into the market. Among those we have to point out Intel CC820, the first i820 based mainboard really available for purchase. Then come some products from other manufacturers, such as Supermicro P3SCD, which we successfully managed to get for testing.

AMD's Super Bypass - 01:44 am Wilfred
Whoa! Tom's Hardware has got a damn cool article about AMD's new improved 750 chipset that will feature "Super Bypass" - a something that will greatly reduce latencies between the CPU, PCI, AGP and memory buses. Gotta read this mm'kay?

Super bypass is a blessing because it more than balances out the losses they took from moving to the new cache setting. Why do you need to keep something like this so quiet? Well, there are thousands of non-super bypass chipsets out there that aren't sold yet. Who would want a non-super bypass if they knew about it? The results could be that the chipsets (and motherboards) without super bypass would become much more difficult to sell. It would be better to secretly insert this new feature and as soon as the old chipsets are flushed from inventories, begin talking about super bypass. This is just a theory of mine but it makes perfect sense to me.

Looking at the performance benefit the Athlon platform gains when removing some of the memory latencies makes me anxious to see what the next generation chipsets will have to offer, such as VIA's KX133 Athlon chipset. Given that the AMD's 750 chipset is quickly falling behind the times with their 800MB/sec memory throughput and 532MB/s AGP 2X performance, VIA's new chipset should breathe even more performance into the Athlon platform. The KX133 will offer 4X AGP (>1GB/sec) and a 133MHz memory interface (<1GB/sec). It's important to remember that the motherboards chipset is every bit as important in regards to performance as the CPU itself.

30 December 1999 - Thursday

MSI 6163 Pro Motherboard
- 23:37 pm Wilfred

Extreme Hardware sent word that they've got the 6163 Pro covered. This is certainly one of the most popular BX boards along ABIT, Asus, AOpen and Gigabyte. See what the chums have to say!

All the bus speeds in the world arenít going to help if you donít have control over the CPU and chipset voltage. Using the initial BIOS revision, CPU voltage selection was limited to an upper limit of 2.3 volts. The newest MS-6163Pro BIOS (version 3.3) enables support for the new Intel Coppermine processors, 37.5 GB IBM hard drives as well as increasing the CPU voltage to a maximum of 2.4 volts for Slot 1 CPUs, and 3.3 to 3.6 volts for the VIO chipset voltage.

Annihilator Pro Review - 18:27 pm Wilfred
nV News got their paws on the Creative Annihilator Pro and Mike Chambers liked it plenty! The performance doesn't disappoint, so if you think the price is right, get it!

The benchmark results make it quite obvious that the Creative Labs Annihilator Pro is an extremely fast graphics card that can extend the life of a gaming PC.  With an estimated retail price of $299 for the Annihilator Pro and $249 for the Annihilator, these cards aren't cheap.  However, if your systems feeling a little sluggish and you feel the need to upgrade, an Annihilator Pro easily offers a greater return on investment than upgrading to a faster processor.

Seagate Cheetah And Barracuda - 18:23 pm Wilfred
3D Alpha has reviews on two very fast Seagate HDDs. Builders of any high-end systems should definitely consider them, I think Seagates are pretty overclocking-friendly.

The Cheetah 18LP drive is a piece of equipment that's worthy of worship, and that's even an understatement. This drive sports an Ultra2 interface that has a burst rate of 80 megabytes a second. That alone is the enticing part, but the Cheetah drive is called that for a very good reason: It's top RPM speed is 10,000 rpms. Count 'em all. That's nearly 170 rotations to the second, with a stated seek time of 5.9 milliseconds. In a word: Fast. Fast as hell. There's no other word for it.

Reminder: AOpen Millennium Giveaway - 15:46 pm Wilfred
This is a reminder that the closing date for the above contest will be tomorrow, 31st Dec 99 2359hrs Singapore time +8 GMT. For the benefit of those who haven't heard, check the contest details NOW.

D-Link DHN-9100 Network In A Box - 15:43 pm Wilfred
LostCircuits wrote about their hot date with D-Link's DHN-910 phone network kit. If you don't need the exceptional speeds of a 100Mbps connection, then this home phoneline network kit could well suit your needs. Have a read!

The D-Link DHN-910 finally offers a viable Home Phone Network alternative to a common ethernet LAN setup. Quality of the components is at the upper end but could be slightly improved by a better finish of the PCI connector. The installation software and the instructions / manual are exceptionally well conceived and laid out.

At 10MBs, the Home Network-in-a-box offers about 150- 200 times the throughput of a 56K modem which makes it an attractive solution for any household connected to cable modem or DSL. For those still relying on old fashioned modem connection, but with several PCs in the same household connected to different ISP accounts, the modem sharing capability offers a great way of multiplying download speed by the number of modems connected at the time.

AOpen 10X DVDROM Drive - 15:39 pm Wilfred
Been looking for a DVDROM drive? I noticed that almost everyone is doing DVD these days, and you might be interested to know which drive will give you the most oooomph! AGN Hardware looks at the AOpen 10X today.

The AOpen 1040 Pro DVD-ROM drive is a pretty decent performer. Sure, it won't break any CD-ROM speed records, but its seek times are excellent, and its DVD performance appears to be top notch. It carries a pretty good price tag for a 10X DVD-ROM drive. The retail price is $130, but Buycomp has the drive listed for $94. If you are looking to upgrade your old 2X DVD-ROM drive, look no further than the AOpen 1040 Pro drive. If you have a 6X DVD-ROM drive and you are happy with its performance, then you won't find much that warrants an upgrade to a 1040 Pro.

GoldFinger Athlon Overclocking Card - 15:34 pm Wilfred
This is hot! Gary of Overclockin.com just informed me of a review he did on this cool device Boon Kiat would love to have (now, everybody with an Athlon will want one!). With the GoldFinger, he managed the 500 to 750MHz magic at default voltages, now tell me you don't want this!

The GoldenFinger card from Trinity Micro performed as advertised. I didn't have a single problem while using it or testing it out. The document that came with it was accurate and easy to follow. Just find the speed (or voltage) you want to try and check out the required DIP switch settings. Then it is just a matter of setting them properly. Very easy to do.  It is actually much easier than changing the DIP switches on the fully modified processor, because you can remove the card and change the DIP switches and then put the card back on the processor. The card seems to be built very well (although I'm not a soldering expert). Everything held together very well during multiply changes of the DIP switches and removing/replacing the card on the processor.

Best Games Of 1999 - 15:29 pm Wilfred
Just in time eh? FiringSquad issued a sum up on the year's best games giving credence to the best in each genre. Some 17 games made their list, perhaps you want to know what?

At times, consumers will inexplicably ignore a fantastic game. Battlezone was one example, but perhaps the most egregious instance of this phenomenon was System Shock 1. The original System Shock got amazing reviews and anyone who played it fell in love with the game. However, its sales were abysmal and it got relegated to the status of a cult classic, hardly what it deserved. Now we have the sequel to it, System Shock 2, the most involved first person shooter ever, with its elaborate plot, puzzles and RPG elements.

So its graphics aren't the best, right? It has blocky characters and the design is kind of bland for a spaceship - nothing special. But just the atmosphere in the game is utterly terrifying. This simple design seems to make it all the more real and that realism lends itself to believability - and if you believe, you're going to be scared. In the demo review we said Half-Life was a campfire ghost story compared to System Shock 2, and trust us, that's not an exaggeration.

Special Report: Windows 2000 Review - 13:11 pm Wilfred
WinMag threw up a detailed review of NT4's successor to come, the gold finish of Windows 2000, the OS many hoped will solve their every problem. So just how does it fare?

After all the waiting, the beta-testing, the revising, rethinking, and re-engineering, Windows 2000 is done. Microsoft delivered finished "Gold" code to Winmag.com a couple of weeks ago, and we've been testing it ever since. Cut to the chase: Win2000 was worth the wait. There's a lot to like, and also a lot to get to know, because this is a very different version of Windows. And it's not for everyone. Still, it might surprise you how well it could work for you.

Wilfred Coughs - 13:06 pm Wilfred
Those of you following the forums might have learnt of my recent scanner woes. Here's a little rant. Ok, so today I went to HP's Customer Care Center and sent in that disobedient Scanjet 4200C.

The guy at the center was pretty decent and very polite as he took in the item for servicing. I seized the chance to question if it was a common problem (judging from a zillion threads posted at HP's forums by fellow consumers using this particular model). Was told that perhaps 2 out of 10 pieces get returned for a problem (huh?! 20%????!!!!) on a "low-end model like this" (as he puts it).

I was a little stunned and probed further, "No doubt this is an end-user scanner, but by no means this is 'low-end' IHMO when competing products only cost between SGD100 to SGD200. I remembered paying good money for HP brand and quality."

"I'm really sorry. There could be many reasons. We'll have it replaced as soon as we can establish the problem." He apologized.

At least he was nice and polite (I got a bag of sweets and candy cane as well). I spared him. ;P

Official Quake III Arena FAQ - 12:55 pm Wilfred
It is heard that the official FAQ for Q3A is out at the Quake III Arena website. If you face any issues or problems with the game, you might want to see whether it has been addressed on that page.

Tail-less Mice - 12:51 pm Wilfred
Dan's Data did some funny experiments with 2 freakish rodents and you might want to find out if Logitech won A4 Tech's representative. Here's a blurb:

I still have to say, though - is a cordless mouse really necessary? The batteries last well, and the mouses aren't very big or heavy, but I think a lot of people that buy these things do it just for the cool-factor. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Linux, NT - 12:48 pm Wilfred
You've had enuf of the antagonizing Linux Vs NT banter, but what can we do? osOpinion has got a new editorial on just THEM.

2000's face brightened with the light of a devilish grin. "Maybe, maybe not. That's the beautiful thing. Everybody thinks those tests were a fiasco, but they weren't. By the time everything was said and done, most folks thought that NT was faster than Linux for some things, but less reliable. Picture this. We let everybody know how much more reliable W2K is and then we compare its performance to NT 4.0. Of course, we don't use the MindCraft results, we use "real world" NT 4.0 numbers to show that W2K is twice as fast as NT, but much more reliable. People put 2 and 2 together and W2K is twice as fast as Linux and much more reliable than NT. We won't fool the techies, but the suits'll buy it." 

Kan Yawns - 08:27 am Kan
I know, I know. Tomorrow is New Year's eve. Lots of girls are calling to ask me out but I'm just too busy yawning away (see, loser again). Sorry babes, perhaps another time. So, what's your new year resolution? The same one you made last year? ;)

The ADSL bills finally came. The old woman was pretty shocked (I was shocked too). Hmmmph....gotta do some explaining and explain to her what exactly is ADSL (she thought I called some overseas babes or sex hotlines). This will be tough.

Seriously, I will be busy for the next 10 days trying out something funny (hope you don't end up in jail, Kan!) and will be away most of the time. So I will leave it to the clowns (*cough* err, editors??) Wilfred, Yingzong and gang to continue to entertain you while I'm away.

Okay, so run along and buy some rice, canned food, store some water as well as purchase those portable gas stoves. You may need it tomorrow. :)

Maxi Sound FORTISSIMO - 07:50 am Kan
Speedy3D reviewed the Maxi Sound FORTISSIMO. This one is based on the Yamaha YMF744 audio processor and is able to handle A3D 1.0 as well as EAX. Do you realize that soundcards are dirt cheap lately? The only lucrative business is video cards and I can't imagine myself spending $300 bucks (stingy) on a good video card. 

Guillemot has made it a well-known fact that the FORTISSIMO is the first sound card on the market to accelerate DirectMusic through hardware. DirectMusic is, as you can probably guess, a part of Microsoft's Direct X API. To make a long story short, DirectMusic works with message-based musical data, which is converted into wave samples, either in hardware or in a software synthesizer, in this case, through hardware.

Guillemot Prophet DDR DVI - 07:45 am Kan
GamePC posted their thoughts on the Guillemot Prophet DDR DVI. Oh boy, we sure love to get our paws on this one.

Just as the name clearly states, this is a long-awaited DDR GeForce board, truly capable of Nvidia's 480 MPixel/second fill rate. DDR stands for "Double Data Rate" SDRAM, which simply means that data is sent on both the rising and falling edges of a processing clock cycle, which theoretically doubles the memory bandwidth that the GeForce chip can utilize, hence the name, "Double Data". It seems early on in the GeForce's development cycle, Nvidia's engineers saw that current video memory technologies couldn't handle the bandwidth that the GeForce chip needed, and therefore have relied on DDR as a way to give the best performance possible from the chip, not being limited to a small memory pipeline.

TransMeta Processor - 07:40 am Kan
CTNews published a blurb on the TransMeta  processor as well as some background info on the company. This processor is due out in January 2000 and is supposedly Intel compatible. 

Transmeta is known as one of the most secretive companies in Silicon Valley, and it's current website confirms this. After being intrigued by the few lines on the Transmeta website, I simply had to find out more about this processor. Please note that information contained within this article is based on second-hand information found in the references mentioned (including several less-than 100% reliable sources, including TheRegister). In this article I will try to share some of the knowledge I have gathered about Transmeta.

Ask the Dev's - 07:35 am Kan
Exxtreme3D started a new section in their site called Ask the Dev's in which users themselves can shoot questions to the developers. Sounds kinda fun, here's an extraction:

Exxtreme3d is proud to present our very own Ask The Devís. This is your chance to ask the developers whatever you want (besides info that is still at company classified level) when you want. If you have a problem with the industry and you want to see their side on it, go on and send it in. Chances are, if it is a smart question, it will be answered and posted on the site.

SCV May Apply for ISP License - 07:32 am Kan
Okay, the truth is out. With the cut-throat prices and capped bandwidth, SCV finally released the cable modem prices ($96 per month) for this cowboy country.

SINGAPORE--Singapore Cable Vision (SCV) said it might apply for a domestic Internet service provider (ISP) licence.

"The traditional access market is not saturated yet. We are talking to a couple of possible partners but so far there are no firm plans," said Thomas Ee, vice president of SCV's engineering division.

Ee declined to confirm if SCV was in talks with Gateway.net, the ISP arm of US-based Gateway Computers, to establish an Internet presence in Singapore.

Thrustmaster Nascar Charger Driving Wheel - 02:21 am Wilfred
So everyone's into wheels lately? Are these what they got for X'mas or something? So it seems 3D Alpha also did a review  of a wheel from Thrustmaster (a division of Guillemot). Anyway, this piece doesn't come with a motor inside...

The accelerator and brake pedal unit is fairly small, but has full-sized pedals. The base is very light, and, unfortunately, is the biggest drawback to the Charger. In heated racing sessions of Need For Speed III, I would have to slam on the brakes to get through a turn, and found that the pedal base would move along with the pedal. Naturally, I had trouble locating the accelerator again, which made it much more difficult to continue the race. The solution to this was to get a large piece of cardboard and use duct-tape to fasten the pedal unit down. This is hardly an ideal solution for most users, however.

The Charger's wheel was very responsive, and, unlike other wheel's I've used, wasn't bulky. Thanks to the clamp, it stayed securely in place during the marathon racing sessions I put it through.

Guillemot ForceFeedback Racing Wheel - 02:15 am Wilfred
Maximum3D took Guillemot's FFB racing wheel for a spin (literally!), and posted a short take on it. Have a look if you're into the racing genre. Here's the snippet:

I jumped back into the game, and went full throttle down the freeway in the wrong direction. Suddenly the wheel came alive in my hands. Every thing from the bumpy grass to the harsh impact of a guardrail at 120mph was accurately and realistically telegraphed through the wheel, and the whole driving experience was elevated to a new level. Now this was racing!

After several laps around the windy city, I loaded up Star Wars Racer. Again the wheel was detected, and worked flawlessly. The hum of the pod's motors was the first indication of things to come. Flying through the desert at 500mph was exhilarating with my old wheel, but now it was almost unbelievable. G-Forces pulled the wheel as I banked around corners, and the pod shook violently whenever I smashed into another racer.

Finally, I ran a few laps in Need For Speed High Stakes. Here the subtle effects of traction and road texture were even more clearly defined. This is what really makes Guillemot's Racing Wheel shine.

Aureal Vortex SQ2500 - 02:08 am Wilfred
Extreme Hardware just told us they reviewed the Aureal's Vortex SQ2500 sound card right here. You cannot but expect the best gaming experience from any Vortex 2 card.

In terms of 3D positional audio accuracy, the SQ2500 is identical to any Vortex 2 sound card on the market. In other words, the SQ2500 offers excellent 3D audio for headphones and two speaker output, as well as a good four speaker output, although itís not the best available at the moment (which is a toss up between the SoundBlaster Live! Series and Sensauraís 3D algorithms). Furthermore, its unique Wavetracing technology helps to create a realistic sound environment for any game setting.

29 December 1999 - Wednesday

Guillemot Jet Leader FFB Joystick
- 22:06 pm Wilfred
AGN Hardware delivered a short writeup on Guillemot's ForceFeedback Joystick. If you need some feel and tactile response in your gameplay, this stick's got 8 out of 10 stars so be sure to read this!

The Jet Leader FF comes with twelve programmable buttons, an eight-way hat switch, dual trigger buttons, a rudder function, and a built-in throttle wheel. A cool feature of this controller is the fact that it can be used comfortably by both left-handed and right-handed players. This means that the joystick is not built for maximum comfort for a particular hand, so you might need to get used to its button placement. Once you do though, it simply becomes second nature. Another cool feature of the Jet Leader is the fact that the handle is made out of high-quality Kevlar. You know, the stuff used to make bullet-proof vests.. :) The handle simply feels great on the hand, and for a joystick made for left and right-handed players, its fit and form are superb. Smaller hands will have a tough time handling this baby though, as the handle is quite big. Still, you can adjust the height of the hand rest, so you can also correct this problem without much effort.

Intel & Rambus' Relationship Distancing? - 21:52 pm Wilfred
For all that we know, we didn't hear that the two partners had some friction between themselves. The Register has a story.

A US electronics wire service is reporting a further distancing of the relationship between Intel and its memory design partner Rambus.

According to Electronic Buyers' News, Intel has not invited Rambus to join a new consortium of memory manufacturers which are bidding to thrash out the specs of the next generation of synchronous memory.

Diamond Viper II Review - 21:47 pm Wilfred
Gamers Depot has got a review of the Savage 2000 based Viper II board from Diamond. They've got some very interesting numbers in their benchmarks. Want to know if this card is worth your SGD$300, perhaps it's a relief to know it performs competitively against the GeForce SDR.

As we can see from the Benchmarks the Viper II's drivers are obviously optimized for Quake III, especially under 32bit mode where the SDR GeForce is lacking as usual.  Although the drivers seem to not fair as well under Direct3D, they still don't do too badly, and I'm sure they'll get better with time.  Notice that under Unreal Tournament (D3D Mode) the Viper II starts to surpass the SDR GeForce at the higher resolutions because of the SDR limitations.  Overall I was pleasantly surprised by how well this card did, I mean after all it's an S3 chip, and it's great to see them finally come out with a product that can compete on the high end scale.

JPEG2000 Compression Spec Approved - 17:01 pm Wilfred
Saw over at Phil Askey's Digital Photography Review that the new JPEG2000 Wavelet Compression algorithm spec has been approved.

The International Standards Organization's JPEG2000 committee has finalized specs for a new algorithm that compresses images up to 200 times with no appreciable degradation in quality. The JPEG2000 spec, which will become ISO 15444 when it's officially approved in 2001, uses wavelet transformations instead of Fourier transforms to achieve the performance gain.

Wheel Of Time - 16:58 pm Wilfred
3DSpotlight posted a review on Legend Entertainment's WOT. As you already know, this is not your typical FPS game but one with storyline and adventure. May be your cup of tea!

The story is where The Wheel of Time sets itself apart from the rest of the crown. While Half-Life may have also had a very good story to back it up, it did not have the story already wrote and made into highly successful novels.

If you are unfamiliar with The Wheel of Time, getting use to the game is made easy by the intro sequence that sets the story in place. You donít have to know anything about the story in order to understand the game. For those who have read the books, The Wheel of Time conveys the story into a detailed graphical adventure.

Kyrotech SuperG 1000MHz - 16:53 pm Wilfred
AnandTech's review notification system just beeped us about a review they did on the SuperG 1GHz. If you don't live in harsh coldness of the Antarctic, at least you can imitate that environment for your CPU.

The Cool Athlon 900 was actually a bigger step than it seems like for Kryotech.  While the slower 500 and 550MHz parts are having tremendous success overclocking to 700 Ė 800MHz frequencies, the faster Athlon parts arenít having nearly as much success.  The 700MHz Athlon is having difficulty making it higher than 800MHz and the newer 0.18-micron cores are seemingly stuck at around the 800MHz mark.  We have been able to get an Athlon 800 (0.18-micron) to run at 900MHz with a core voltage of 1.80v using a 78W Peltier but the operation was not nearly as stable as we would like it to be.  This will change as the yields on the 0.18-micron parts improves, but, for now, donít expect these 0.18-micron cores to go much further.  So pushing 900MHz definitely shows off exactly how sophisticated and powerful Kryotechís cooling system is. 

The next step in this progression was the release of the true monster, a 0.18-micron Athlon 750 running at 1000MHz, dubbed the SuperG.  The reason for the name change is because the SuperG actually uses a more powerful compressor and a slightly altered design from the original Cool K6-X and Cool Athlon series of systems to allow for an Athlon 750 to be pushed to 1000MHz (and no, using an Athlon 800 doesnít allow for much higher clock speeds to be achieved).

Quake III Arena Game Guide - 13:46 pm Wilfred
GameSpot whipped up a game guide for id Software's Quake III: Arena. They offer some hints and strategies to poor fraggers like me wanting to improve the game. Have a look!

Vanity is the downfall of many a competitor - not vanity in your looks, but vanity in your graphics. If you are really bent on becoming a killing machine, turn down your graphics settings until you can run around the busiest of rooms without taking a big framerate hit. Sure, ejecting brass and 32-bit color look good, but if you're looking at them from a puddle of your own remains, it's not going to help your score.

Guillemot Fortissimo - 13:41 pm Wilfred
There's a review of the Fortissimo sound card at Beyond3D. Based on Yamaha's YMF744 chip, this is one underrated sound board. While many focused on the numbers game, trying to outdo each other in the number of MIDI voices etc, the Guillemot Fortissimo uses a chip that does it job well for at a very affordable price.

Overall, the Fortissimo is really a good board. As I said before, like with all sound cards, the Fortissimo has things both going for it and against it. When you consider that the price is only $50 though (compared to $99 for just about everything else), the Fortissimo becomes a much better value. So, if you're budget-minded and in the look for a new sound card and the lack of internal amplification isn't important to you, I'd have to say that the Fortissimo certainly won't do you wrong.

Elsa Erazor X - 13:36 pm Wilfred
FPS3D.COM threw out a review on the Erazor X GeForce card. Bet many of you have seen the cool blue box, now are the contents any good? It seems like this company's attention to detail paid off.

Although the Erazor X is one of the most expensive SDR-memory GeForces (as opposed to the faster DDR versions), with a sleeker board design, great software utilities, and the best onboard cooling that can be found on any GeForce it can certainly be justified. Especially becuase we have found it to be the fastest SDR GeForce 256 available. Still the lack of DVD software, T&L supporting games, and the fact that those tempting DDR GeForces are shipping in full quantity may give reason to look elsewhere.

Last Minute Guide To Surviving Y2k - 13:29 pm Wilfred
Hey boys! The optimists probably haven't done zilch and the pessimists are already in bunkers stocked with food and livestock. The Ars personnel has prepared a last minute guide for the procrastinators amongst you. You don't have much time left!

So, here it is, the last week of 1999, and you haven't done a blasted thing about this whole Y2K mess.  "I'll do it later," you reasoned.  But suddenly, you realize that there isn't much "later" left.  So, we're offering a quick and dirty guide to getting your Windows machine into a compliant state. 

1999 First Person Shooter Shootout! - 13:20 pm Wilfred
Over at Sharky Extreme took 10 FPS games and rated them against each other. Whoa! Yingzong will be glad to know who made it first on Sharky's list! Wymun, Q3A's not 2nd either?! Check this!

As you may have worked out we like Unreal Tournament a hell of a lot. It has devoured much of our spare time and even a bit of our work time (damn you Epic). While there have been some outstanding and highly recommendable titles this year such as Outcast (which Jon loved), System Shock 2 (which Pete loved) and Quake 3 Arena (which everyone loves despite CD key problems), the sheer variety, entertainment and extensive polish applied to Unreal Tournament by the Epic boys has convinced us to give it the Sharky Extreme Game of the Year Award. It's that good. And if that isn't a high enough recommendation we don't know what is.

Utility For Enabling Sidebanding - 13:11 pm Wilfred
Thanks to Julio of 3DSpotlight who scoured the newsgroups for this piece of information, that Creative will be making a utility to enable sidebanding support in their Annihilator GeForce SDR and DDR cards.

Elsa 3D Revelator - 01:12 am Wilfred
PC Mechanics posted a review on Elsa's 3D Revelator shuttles and it's presently one of the best stereoscopic glasses to get, so how does it rate? Here's a blurb:

I think the 3D Revelator by Elsa is a superb product. It has some stiff requirements for the average computer user, but for a die-hard gamer, this is a must-get. Especially at a retail price of around $80, this is cheap for 3D.

I guarantee that once you get used to this thing, playing a game in 2D will seem like sitting in the yard watching the grass grow. I would definitely recommend the 3D Revelator to anyone interested in getting the most out of their games. For this, I give the Revelator the Maximum3D Editor's Pick Award.

Poll #37 - What You Frag In? - 01:08 am Wilfred
Rightos. Results of poll number 37 is out! Whoa, the numbers between Q3A and UT are so close, it led me to believe Yingzong voted more than 1000 times (for UT?!). 434 frags in Wolfenstein 3D, 919 are using 286s... =P

Intel Coppermine FAQ - 00:41 am Wilfred
Elliot from AsiaComp mailed about an FAQ they posted on Intel's Coppermine processor. Bet the latest lines of CuMines must have stirred your interests? Well, they made some good attempts to answer some of the questions you might have, like "Should I buy an Athlon instead?". Check it out!

Should I buy AMD's Athlon instead?
Again, yes and no. I had both personal and corporate experience with the Athlon and to tell the truth, I'm VERY impressed with the CPU, but the rest is a nightmare. The motherboard chipset is still pretty far from mature.

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