18 February 1999 - Thursday

Corrections 23:48 pm - Wilfred
Thanks to Ken Hwee who popped me a note about the news I posted on NT4 Service Pack 4. Yes, the patch is available for download but the file is huge (at 32.7Mb) for many who might have to wait for the CD to be cut. Amended the portion.

Also about the 9/9/99 bug, it was made known to me that most freely downloadable Y2K testing software will check for this known bug. Yup, so better have your systems checked... especially banks and firms yah? You've 6 mths!

Armageddon Sooner Than You Think 19:00 pm - Wilfred
Urgent! Gotta think again if its the Millenium Bug you are fearing first. Seems like the geniuses discovered a "Four Nines" bug that's going to hit us sooner come 9/9/99!!!! Thanks to The Register once more for the warning.

The disaster recovery group Safetynet has warned that there could be problems in September when some older computer systems fail to cope with the date change between Thursday, 9 and Friday, 10 September.

The "Four Nines Bug" -- so named because it is set to hit on 9/9/99 -- is likely to affect systems that used 3GL and in particular, Cobol-based mainframes developed in the 60s and 70s. Larger organisations are particularly at risk including banks and insurance companies.

"It used to be the common practice to use a string of 9s at the end of a file when this code was originally written," said spokeswoman Piper-Anna Shields at Safetynet. "No one back then ever imagined that it would still be used today," she said.

To get round the problem, Safetynet is urging companies to check for this date anomaly during their normal Y2K testing and to talk with their software suppliers. It's a view endorsed by the UK's largest independent software testing consultancy, Tescom.

"Some systems may simply shut down," said Jordan Daniel of Tescom. "It's impossible to say how big the problem is but if it nothing is done, it has the possibility of touching everyone," he said.

Whoa! So is everybody ready for the 9999 bug? Are all our dumb PCs and software 9999-compliant? *[email protected]!#[email protected]!

NT4 Not Y2K Compliant 18:48 pm - Wilfred
The Register has it that Windows NT4 is not yet Y2K compliant UNTIL SP4 is patched on. At the moment, the 32.7Mb file is available for download from Microsoft. Microsoft is denying that they won't be able to re-cut the SP4 CDs for at least 3 more months. (Full story)

Anyone doubting that a delay in the release of SP4 CDs could be serious, should direct their gaze to the Microsoft's own Web site.

According to the site: "SP4 prepares the Windows NT 4 platform for year 2000 compliance by providing critical year 2000 system updates in a single source." The Web site goes on: "When Microsoft designed Windows NT 4, it did so with the year 2000 problem in mind. When developing software as complex as Windows NT, however, a few year 2000 bugs may creep into the product."

There's more: "Microsoft has identified the following problems with Windows NT 4 and the year 2000:

  • You can't set 29 February 2000 as a valid date to expire an account using User Manager and User Manager for Domains. These utilities don't recognise 2000 as being a leap year.
  • The Date/Time applet in Control Panel may jump ahead one more day than expected. The server's system date is correct but the applet displays the date wrong.
  • When the properties of Office files are modified from the Shell, only 2-digit years are allowed and they're assumed to be in the 1900 century.
  • The date entry fields in the Date Modified tab of the Find Files or Folders utility show non-numeric data if the year is greater than 1999."

As The Register went to press, Microsoft Connections was telling customers the delay would be between eight and 12 weeks.

Oops! A big rush for companies needing the patch for implementation and full-fledge testing. <Sigh>

IBM To Sell Linux-based Computers 18:37 pm - Wilfred
Noticed this info at CoolComputing that IBM will be offering computers pre-loaded with Red Hat Linux operating system. (Full story)

IBM and Red Hat will work collaboratively to optimize IBM personal system hardware for running Red Hat Linux, providing customers with powerful and reliable enterprise and e-business solutions on the Red Hat Linux platform. Both companies will work together to provide enterprise-level technical support and will conduct joint marketing to enterprise customers. As a first demonstration of high performing e-business solutions based on Red Hat Linux and IBM hardware, several high traffic Red Hat web sites will be powered by the award winning Netfinity line of servers.

Under the agreement, a development lab will be established to maximize performance, reliability, and security for Red Hat Linux on IBM server and client systems, including Netfinity servers, PC 300 Commercial Desktops, IntelliStations, and ThinkPads. In addition to contributing developer expertise, Red Hat will also perform hardware certification testing and provide dedicated customer training.

"IBM has long been a leader in powerful, reliable computing solutions," said Bob Young, CEO, Red Hat Software. "This is an important milestone in the rapidly growing acceptance of Linux."

Win for MS - Judge Allows Independent Java 18:26 pm - Wilfred
A piece of news that a federal judge has allowed Micrsoft to distribute Java technologies developed independently of Sun Microsystems. This is a win for the Redmond software giant. These are cuts off the full article:

"SEATTLE (Reuters) - A federal judge clarified Thursday a ruling against Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news), saying the software giant is free to distribute Java technologies developed independently of its rival Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq:SUNW - news)"

"In November, Whyte backed Sun and issued a preliminary injunction that forced Microsoft to modify slightly Windows 98 and other products.

As of the close of business Thursday, the judge's order was not available at the courthouse in San Jose. But representatives of both Microsoft and Sun said they had seen faxed copies of the order. "The court clarifies that it does not restrict Microsoft distribution of any Java technology that is not derived from any Sun material,'' Whyte said in the ruling, according to the faxed copies that were circulating among lawyers."

SimCity 3000 16:14 pm - Wilfred
Our buds at CoolInfo has written a fair bit on what they think of Maxis latest iteration of their incredible SimCity series - SimCity 3000. If you still cannot figure out what made your sis knock you out to play SC3000 on the PC, here's what:

The Simcity series now in its third installment has sold a mind boggling five million copies. I remember when the original Simcity came out. I became so addicted to Simcity that I lost a lot sleep did not eat, and homework was a mere afterthought. A few years later Simcity 2000 was released and boy were most of us were bamboozled by the game. Naturally when I heard Simcity 3000 was going to be released, I was skeptical and asked myself how could they (Maxis) possibly improve on a great game such as Simcity 2000?

My sis hogging the PC to play SC3000 is one of the reasons I'm unable to update Hardware One (yeah! bad excuse huh?)

On Hand Testing of FIFA '99 Patch 16:07 pm - Wilfred
Well if you haven't applied the latest patch (posted earlier on), you should definitely use it if you got a V2/Banshee or an EAX compatible card. Some workarounds to the problems I encountered with the patch and my Creative V2 12Mb...

During the installation, the readme file clearly stated that Glide 3.X MUST be installed else your game won't work. I did. They said to look for WinGlide 3.x Driver in the System Information tab of your V2 Display Properties. It was there.

To play safe, I rebooted the PC before going to FIFA '99 3DSetup, I upped the resolution to 800x600 (the highest I can go on my 12Mb V2) and checked the Triple Buffering checkbox. Then I started the game - but it would hang with Triple Buffering On.

After some trying, I went to do a SWEEP and renaming of invalide Glide drivers... ta da! It worked beautifully after that! So this is something you might wanna try if you have the same problem as me.

And yes, the patch supports EAX! As a whole, it sounded more stadium-like to me with the crowd roaring and players' shouts heard with some echo/reverb effect. But I thought the echo of the stadium was a little too much for my comfort.

Yap, this patch is a great leap forward to all V2 owners. You have to play the game again at 800x600 with Triple Buffering turned on. See the sharpness and vibrance with the new resolution.

Apache/Havoc Review 16:04 pm - Wilfred
Games Domain Review has put up a nice review on Apache/Havoc. If you are into heli-simulations like Kan, you will probably want to check this out!

Apache/Havoc is a dual helicopter sim developed by Empire Interactive and Razorworks. What sets it apart from the rest is the fact that you can pilot two distinctly different combat-helicopters into battle: The American AH-64D Apache Longbow and the Soviet Mi-28N Havoc-B. Throw those two against each other, add a load of computer-controlled craft and dynamic campaigns in three different arenas, and you’ve got a damn good sim. There are, however, a few gripes as well.

BroodWars Review 16:00 pm - Wilfred
Avault has a review of Blizzard's StarCraft BroodWars. If you haven't played it, there'd better be a damn good reason!

The Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss are at it again in Blizzard's expansion set for Starcraft, Brood War. Spread over three distinct campaigns, Starcraft fans have more missions, new units, new maps and tilesets on which to try their hand. In addition to the three new campaigns, there are also a ton of new multiplayer maps to try. Of course, currently there is no shortage of good multiplayer maps from other players or Blizzard. Still, if you are looking for some variety and new challenges, Brood War awaits.

Kert Relooks At The SB Live! 14:14 pm - Wilfred
I'd been late on this. After a series of enhancements brought about by new driver releases as well as developments at the competition's side (namely the release of MX300), Kert had found it necessary to relook at the SBLive! So here's a snip of goodness:

Future improvements fall into two categories:
Enhanced control of environmental acoustics: Programmers can adjust room size and manipulate early sound reflection parameters on a per source basis separately from the later reverberation decay.

Occlusion and obstruction effects: EAX's occlusion properties simulate a sound source located in another room on the other side of a wall. The properties provide parameters that adjust transmission characteristics to simulate different wall materials and thickness. Obstruction properties simulate sound diffraction around an obstacle to create the sense that a sound source is in the same environment, but behind an obstacle.

Summing Up:
Thanks to the powerful EMU10K1 chip, SBLive! is an effects engine, DirectSound3D and EAX hardware accelerator all rolled into one. In terms of sound quality, it is unsurpassed. Its low CPU utilization permits smooth gameplay with all bells and whistles turned on. For games supporting EAX, SBLive! is the gold standard for EAX compatibility. To achieve greatness, 3D positioning needs to be fine-tuned to match the accuracy of Aureal's algorithms.

New FIFA '99 Patch! 13:45 pm - Wilfred
Very freshly ripped off the news vine is that Electronic Arts released a patch that supports Creative's PCI-64, PCI-128, Live! and EAX. The patch (downloadable at 3DFiles) also adds support for Voodoo2 SLI and Banshee cards. Thanks to 3DSoundSurge for the info.

Microsft & Rage to Make Soccer Game 13:30 pm - Wilfred
Received this Media Alert late in my mailbox, that Microsoft will be partnering Rage Software (of Powerslide fame) to develop a soccer title for you people. Here's the scoop:

SOCCER IS ALL THE RAGE AT MICROSOFT - Microsoft and Rage Software Partner to Develop Soccer Title for the PC.

Microsoft and Rage Software PLC today announced that they have entered into a partnership whereby Microsoft has acquired the rights to publish a soccer title for the PC, currently under development by Britain's Rage Software.

The game will be available worldwide later this year. In addition to English, the game will be localized into French, German, Italian, Spanish and Brazilian-Portuguese.

"After looking at a number of developers in this category, we felt Rage had the most talented development team and leading-edge technologies to create an excellent soccer game that will appeal to a broad audience," said Haresh Ram, product/retail development manager for Interactive Media Group, Microsoft Singapore. "We are committed to our sports line and soccer, being the largest participation sport in the world, presents a great business opportunity for us to extend it to a wider sports gaming community."

"We look forward to working closely with Microsoft over the coming months to build an exceptional soccer title," said Paul Finnegan, managing director of Rage Software."With our strength on the development and creative side and Microsoft's marketing and distribution capabilities, we are confident we will deliver a game that consumers across the world must have."

Wilfred Coughs 13:23 pm - Wilfred
Hmm.. loads of things happening in the background lately at Hardware One. Of course on the personal side of things there's CNY visitations and stuff, but more like you already know - waiting for the move of our servers to complete, tweaking the pages for display faults, adding a new Q&A web board, adding the new polls corner, uploading the files to the new server... blah.

And after a bout of fits smashing my ADSL modem on my bed post, I was fortunate enough to have the technical support guy knocking at my door (to my surprise and horror! I was still in bed at 10am with a messy mob of hair!). Well, he's diagnosed the problem to be - NOT MY EQPT FAULT! Arrghh! New finding? No! And they FINALLY agreed that they had to check out their multiplexers, which meant MORE WAITING!

On the happier side of things, well my SingTel MobileData service was activated last evening and I'd successfully ICQed a friend using PalmICQ through the Palm III, Options GSM Modem and Nokia 6110 combo. Yeeaah! (Don't remind me that the Palm V, VII will be hitting the streets soon! =P )

Pentium III Review - Revolution or Evolution 13:15 pm - Wilfred
Andy of BXBoards popped me a note that he's posted a fresh review on Intel's Pentium III. Well, he's pitted the PIII (Katmai) against the Celeron (Mendocino) and the Pentium II (Deschutes), obtaining some clever findings.

500Mhz!! It has a nice ring to it! However for us Overclockers 500Mhz is really no big deal. I've been running at over 500Mhz for some months thanks to my trusty P2-300 SL2W8. Many people have also had good luck with the P2-333 SL2TV, which will often reach 560 Mhz with excellent stability! So 500Mhz really is no big deal...

For those who must have the latest, shinyest and brightest the P3 may well prove irrestible - but don't expect performance improvements to match the financial outlay.

Baldur's Gate Review 13:12 pm - Wilfred
Computers 'R Us sent word of a huge review which they'd done on everyone's favourite RPG game - Baldur's Gate.

"Marvellous ground terrains throughout and the characters are brilliant (some say a bit small), a nice but simple feature is that you characters actually hold what they are equipped with, if you give them heavy armour and a sword, that’s what they have, a nice touch compared to Diablo’s three armour, five weapon routine. The monsters are good and look the part, and there are colour differences and some slight changes between classes (a Hobgoblin and a Hobgoblin Elite look different) so it’s easy to tell who to kill first. The spells even in the sofware mode look nice and the weather effect is very nice, the day to night changes could have gone a bit smoother but are nice just the same."

Kan @ Rantings  04:23 am - Kan
Do you know it's mandatory to read my rantings? Nothing seems to work these days. We got locked out from our account, we couldn't check our emails and we couldn't do any updates on our US mirror.

We are in the process of shifting to a new server and the DNS transfer is taking ages. :( In the meantime, our address is http://216.92.36.16.

Sleep is a privilege, not an entitlement. Here's some true life blurb from my bud Uncle Chua.

'...For what seemed like hours we waited, under the cover of the night, the rain had grew steadily worse, we struggled to stay alert despite the cold and fought the sleepiness that had began to creep on us through sheer endurance. It was a delay battle.....'

- TVMA, 0530hr, May 1997

Footnote: Apparently, Kan was suffering from a caffeine overdose and is now in the hospital. Send any donations (no wreaths please!) to [email protected]

Thoughts about Voodoo3   04:06 am - Kan
FullOn3D had posted their thoughts on the Voodoo3. Is it really worth it? Take a look.

The V3-3500 pricing on the other hand is just plain silly. While I can see the beauty of the idea of hooking it up with a LCD screen which isn't capable of 32 bit color display (just as the V3 isn't capable of 32 bit 3D display), the use of a proprietary interface is a presumptous move and might kill that idea before it even gets off the ground. Either people don't want a LCD screen they can't connect to non-3dfx boards at a later time or they will be sold at a premium for the odd interface.

Interview  04:02 am - Kan
3DSoundSurge sent note on their exclusive interview with Stuart Denman and Tim Ebling of Surreal. These guys are the programmers for Drakan.

Tim Ebling: Deciding on a musical format was certainly a difficult choice, as there are distinct pros and cons for each of them.  Although still an attractive choice, redbook was turned down as an alternative primarily for two reasons: first, the inevitable seek time problem when changing or looping tracks, and second, limited space on the CD-ROM (Drakan is after all quite an epic game!)

DirectMusic offers a number of advantages including low memory overhead, high performance mixing, easy integration with DirectSound, and a great degree of control of the music's playback.  In Drakan we use this control primarily to create smooth transitions between musical pieces, based on the player's actions and movement.

Turtle Beach Montego  04:00 am - Kan
Thresh's had another fantastic review, this time on the Turtle Beach Montego II soundcard, which is based on the Vortex 2 chipset.

The Montego II is heir to that throne, built with the latest and greatest Aureal chipset-appropriately enough, the Vortex 2. Unfortunately, it cannot yet be found on store shelves. In fact, the review card we have is NOT the retail version, but the OEM version that can only be ordered directly from the Turtle Beach website. The only Turtle Beach 'consumer' audio card you're likely to find on store shelves today is the original Montego.

Celeron Super-Cooling  03:55 am - Kan
There is a Celeron Super-Cooling Project going on over at the house of porn, HardOCP. If you want to learn some drastic measures to cool your processor, do take a look.

The Celeron CPU running at 300Mhz, has a total heat-dissipation of 18.4Watts, OC’d to a whopping 558Mhz, that boils down to a heat dissipation of 34Watts. This is when the CPU load is 100%. So its safe to say we can use 30Watts as a nice average, because we won’t be stressing it that much all the time.

So if we solve the equation for a Tc = -10degrees, Th = 25degrees and Qc = 30Watts we end up with at TEC needing to pump 72Watts of heat. The current drawn from the power supply will then be I = 72/12 = 6 Amperes.

Half-Life  03:52 am - Kan
CRUS had a review on the popular game Half-Life. Okay, so what I am still playing Space Invaders?

However it didn’t last long in single player, it didn’t pack the rush of Doom 1 or 2, after this it took until Jedi Knight came out to capture me again and while it was brilliant with excellent levels it still didn’t have the same feeling, even after the Add-on. However now we have Half-Life, here to make up for Sin’s horrible curse of bugs. Now while Multiplayer is always more fun overall than single, if a game has a bad single player mode most of the people I know will ignore it multi too, With the exceptions of Quake and Quake 2 (which should have been like Arena in the first place, I.D. used all their single player talent in Doom it seems?).

AOpen AX63 Review  03:51 am - Kan
HardwareCentral had a review on AOpen AX63 motherboard. One thing to note is that the AX63 is based on the VIA Apollo Pro Plus chipset.

The AX63 features a 5/2/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) layout with 3 DIMM sockets. The layout is exactly the same as AOpen’s AX6C, which is the Intel BX version of this board. Since this board is so similar to even AOpen's own Intel BX offerings, most people will be wondering if there are compelling reasons to change chipsets. The VIA Apollo Pro Plus chipset does offer some interesting features, but at what cost? We'll see.

ASUS V3200 Banshee  03:48 am - Kan
OptimumPC sent note on their latest review on the ASUS V3200 Banshee AGP card.

The board itself looks basic though. No extra input or output ports except for the required VGA port. The only thing extra is the heatsink/fan combo on top of the Banshee chip. I noticed that the fan was also thicker than the one used in the V3400 board so I got a little excited thinking to myself.."this card should overclock better than the V3400 since it's got a fatter fan on". Well, we'll get to the second half of that story later. Anyhow the heatsink and fan is mounted the same way as the V3400, spring loaded and easily removable if you prefer your own parts.

Abit ZM6  03:46 am - Kan
Anand whipped up another review on the Abit ZM6 ZX Socket 370 motherboard. This baby is based on Intel's new ZX chipset, which is basically a "scaled down" version of the more powerful BX brother. If I am to choose, I will get a BM6. If I'm really to choose, I will get a BX6 2.0 anyway. 

ABIT was all dressed up with no place to go with the BM6, the reason behind this being that ABIT's ultra stable, ultra overclockable BM6 was utterly wasted on one of the most unoverclockable CPU platforms Intel offers currently, the Socket-370 Celeron.  Although the 300MHz PPGA (Socket-370) Celeron apparently functions quite well as a 450MHz performer, the newer 366, 400 and upcoming 433MHz Celeron CPU's are about as overclockable as the old Cyrix 6x86 processors were, meaning that they aren't the world's best overclockers.  So with the ABIT BM6, you were essentially spending $100 on a motherboard whose features were about as useful to you as a heatsink on your BIOS chip. 

Microsoft SideWinder FF Wheel Review  03:32 am - Kan
Purified3D done a review on the Microsoft ForceFeedback Wheel review. Is this type of thing really fun?

At first glimpse, Microsoft’s SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel is an item of beauty, with its sleek, compact design and black finish. The wheel unit itself rotates 270-degrees, and is host to six buttons on the wheel’s face-- three on each side in thumb’s reach, and two buttons on the wheel’s backside for easy access, via your fingertips. In the middle of the wheel sits a "force feedback" labeled button allowing you toggle the force feedback, a useful feature if you become tired of being constantly thrown around.

18 February 1999 - Thursday

Pentium III 550 MHz  21:00 pm - Kan
Read from the daily blurbs from Sharky that Intel is going to announce the 550 MHz version of the Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon during the Pentium III launch on 26th Feb. Did I read Xeon?

Pentium III vs AMD K6-3  20:55 pm - Kan
Do we even need to compare? Anyway, The Techs again did an article on an analysis between the two processors.

Slated for release next week, AMD's K6-3 will be the follow-up to the popular K6 and K6-2 chips. The K6, released on April 2,1997, was revolutionary in that it was a viable alternative to the Intel Pentium MMX, and even the Intel Pentium II, released a month later. Originally running at 166-233 MHz, it was cheaper than Intel processors at equivalent speeds and sold well. Only manufacturing problems, which caused the K6 to always lag behind the Pentium II in speed, kept AMD from making the K6 into a major success.

How to Install your Hard Disk  20:47 pm - Kan
Another article from The Techs teaching you how to install a new hard disk.

First you have to consult your motherboard manual and find out which IDE cable slot is your Primary one (sometimes called IDE 1). Then you go ahead and attach the IDE cable and the power cable to the hard drive. Make sure you have the power cable facing the right way, otherwise it won’t go in right and you will look dumb (don’t worry happens to the best of us).

Cool your Celeron  20:45 pm - Kan
The Techs had cooled up an article on how to cool your Celeron by using the Global Win fan + heatsink. Lots of pictures are included as well.

There is an extreme need for cooling when you are overclocking an Intel Celeron processor. Whether it is the 266Mhz with no cache or the 400Mhz with 128KB cache, this Slot I beauty overclocked is an amzing site. People that do not want to pay $500 for a Pentium II/450Mhz can get the same speed (minus the 384KB of Cache difference) processor for $70. This article will teach you how-to efficiently cool your Celeron processor.

Kenwood True 52X  15:43 pm - Kan
The babes over at Ars-Technica had done a review on the Kenwood True 52X drive. Check out the drive performance when reading CD-R medium. Interesting...

CD-ROM drives are getting ridiculously fast. I'm not just talking about transfer rates, but rotational speeds. The newer drives are tornadoes stuffed in a 5.25" drive bay that spin at 10,000 RPM or more, faster than nearly any hard drive. While the performance is better than ever, there are some problems with this approach.

The first is potential noise and vibration problems caused by all that motion. Some drives are better than others about this, but generally, if you have any rattles hiding in your case, a fast CD-ROM will expose them quickly. Even without a rattling case, spin-up can sound like a muted jet engine, and unbalanced discs can sound like they're going to exit through the side of your PC.

Problems Contacting Us & New UBB 00:49 am - Wilfred
We'd been experiencing some difficulties checking our mails at hardware-one.com, so please bear with us if you haven't received any response to your mails. We'll resolve this soon once we made the move to our new host. More details will be announced shortly.

Due to the move, we had to reset the web board. So please re-register yourselves to make use of the fantastic web board service from The Ultimate Bulletin Board. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

New Tom's Monday Blurb 00:43 am - Wilfred
Tom has just made available his latest "Monday Blurb" for your consumption. I glanced through it and thought this particular portion about "logo planting" to be a tat tasty:

I’d also like to mention another thing I came across when looking for ‘benchmarkable’ 3D-games. I know that this is a pretty old story, but it was never slapped into my face as much as in the last days when I bought numerous games and spend major time in Fry’s and the likes. It is incredible as well as ridiculous how many 3D-game boxes are displaying the 3Dfx-logo and even saying that this game would only run properly with a 3Dfx chip. As much as I could congratulate 3Dfx for a beautiful and merciless marketing strategy as much am I disgusted about the amount of wrong information that is given to the potential buyers of those products. In the most cases it is simply FALSE that a game would require a 3Dfx-chip to provide full 3D-gaming pleasure, it’s just the same as if a car maker would tell you that your car would only drive with one special set of tires. Whilst some seriously envious people are guessing how much NVIDIA pays me for the display of their ‘approved’-logo on my front page, which I never received and never would have taken even one penny for, am I wondering how much money those game developers receive from 3Dfx for displaying this competition-twisting logo. Maybe it’s about time that we start asking this question loudly.

Number 9 SR9 Series and Savage 4 00:38 am - Wilfred
Caught this bit off VoodooExtreme that Number 9 had announced that they will be hopping onto the Savage4 bandwagon. Here's the snip:

The SR9 delivers 3D rendering capabilities that surpass today’s best high-end 3D gaming accelerator boards, yet is strong enough to satisfy the needs of those who need powerful 2D and video acceleration as well. Full details of the SR9 product family will be forthcoming.

Built around S3’s Savage4 128-bit super pipelined 3D engine, the SR9 supports trilinear-filtered, single-pass multi-texturing for high performance 3D special effects, S3 texture compression (S3TC) for photorealistic image quality in gaming, entertainment and business applications, true 32-bit 3D rendering and support for Intel Pentium III and AMD K7 3Dnow!-based systems.

"S3 clearly outpaced the competition by bringing industry-first AGP 4X technology to market with its Savage4 accelerator," said Ken Potashner, president and chief executive officer of S3 Incorporated. "This, in turn, is enabling our strategic partners, such as Number Nine, to secure AGP 4X design wins with major PC OEMs."

17 February 1999 - Wednesday

Participate In the Poll! 11:53 am - Wilfred
I hope you people noticed the new poll set up on the right side of this main page! Yeah, questions will pop up from time to time and we hope to see lively participation! Poll results will be compiled weekly!

Palm V Debuts!!  11:49 am - Wilfred
Whoa! Cool! Take a look at this exclusive preview of the Palm V device! Smaller, better screen and a new rechargeable battery!

The Palm V seems to be a step in the right direction, continuing the evolution of the original Palm Pilot concept. There is no-doubt, the technology hipsters will love it's new case and reduced size (now if they could only fit a Montblanc pen into the extra stylus slot :)

However, some will certainly see the Palm V as nothing more than a marketing ploy to exploit another segment of the market by simply repackaging an existing, proven product.

Personally, I think it's a cool product. Looks aside, the smaller size, better screen and rechargeable battery make it an attractive upgrade path from my Palm Pilot Pro - However, not as attractive as if they had taken a revolutionary step forward and incorporated some truly innovative features like wireless connectivity (in the Palm VII) or integrated MP3 storage and playback.

Permedia3 Sampling 11:38 am - Wilfred
Again, skimmed off Voodoo Extreme is this new press release from 3DLabs about their Permedia3 chip. Yeah, this could be one of the primary 3D accelerator chip to be found in your system this year!

PERMEDIA 3 provides a comprehensive implementation of the 2D, 3D, and video components of the Microsoft® DirectX® 6.1 API. In addition to triangle setup processing, PERMEDIA 3 also has a multi-stage rasterizer that implements advanced features such as bump mapping, alpha blending, tri-linear mip-mapping and Direct3D® 6 blend mode operations. For optimized digital video performance, PERMEDIA 3 has a complete video subsystem including filtered hardware overlay, colorspace conversion, and motion compensation for software DVD and MPEG2 playback.

Additionally, PERMEDIA 3 has a Triple-Blend texture core that can deliver unprecedented realism at full performance. With the ability to render up to eight Direct3D Texture Stage operations in a single pass, the PERMEDIA 3 Triple-Blend core can be used, for example, to apply a bumpmap on a surface texture map with a glossmap all in a single pass operation. This capability will enable application developers to deliver extremely realistic content to consumers while still maintaining fast frame rates at high resolutions and color depths.

``AMD is very excited to have 3Dlabs support our 3DNow! technology in their new PERMEDIA 3 chip. With the combination of 3DNow! and PERMEDIA 3, users will have available to them an unprecedented level of performance at great pricing,'' said Ned Finkle, director of Infrastructure Technology Development for Advanced Micro Devices.

``PERMEDIA 3 has been designed to deliver extremely high-performance graphics and includes a number of innovative features such as Virtual Textures and Triple-Blending that will enable delivery of ever-more realistic content and applications during 1999 by our software partners,`` said James Carrington, vice president of desktop products at 3Dlabs. ''We expect PERMEDIA 3 to enable 3Dlabs-based products to further expand their presence in the consumer PC and game enthusiast markets.``

Spiteful Microsoft May Drop Java 11:33 am - Wilfred
I dunno if this is gonna happen, but I read this story off Jesse Berst's Anchordesk that Microsoft may abandon its own Visual J++Java development tools. Here's the scoop:

Stung by recent court reversals, a petulant Microsoft may abandon its own Java programming tool. If the courts uphold Sun's first-round victory in the battle over Java purity (click for more), Microsoft may cease further development of Visual J++.

What's more, the company may promote a new technology as a direct competitor to Java. Click for more. Microsoft has been working on project COOL (C++ Object-Oriented Language) for years. Now it may position these C++ improvements as a Java alternative. Click for more.

New Detonator Based Spectra Drivers 11:29 am - Wilfred
Ok, VE has it that Canopus has released a new set of drivers + software for its Spectra TNT cards. So grab the stuff here:

Driver set plus software (5MB) for Win 95/98:
http://www.omp.canopus.co.jp/download/spec_app.exe

Or the driver files alone (900KB):
http://www.omp.canopus.co.jp/download/spec_drv.exe

Wilfred Coughs 11:38 am - Wilfred
Yeah, seriously coughing after taking too much fried foods and CNY goodies! I'll be off visiting relatives this afternoon. I'd also given up on getting my ADSL into action this festive season. Arrghh! Ok.. have lots of fun all of you!

ATI Rage Magnum 09:58 am - Kan
FullOn3D done a review on the ATI Rage Magnum. Nah, I prefer my M16 anytime.

The current running temperatures of the RAGE 128 GL do not introduce any potential for premature failure of the part, or any surrounding components. Based on an examination of the thermal impedence characteristics of the RAGE 128 GL package, an ambient temperature of 25 degrees C and the RAGE 128 GL operating in the normal range of power consumption (measured by ATI to be 2.5w to 4.0w), we expect the component to remain well below maximum operating temperature allowed by the fab's spec.

Viewsonic VP150 15" LCD 09:56 am - Kan
Our pals over at CoolComputing done a review on the Viewsonic VP150 15" LCD display. If only it's cheap, or rather if only I'm rich?

At the other two supported resolutions, 800x600 and 640x480, anti-aliasing reduced the jagged edges of fonts which made text very readable although the overall picture does not look as satisfying as 1024x768.  Note that some LCD monitors in this price range do not even have the anti-aliasing feature meaning very ugly text at the lower resolutions.   Although featuring anti-aliasing, the VP150, however, cannot accommodate those of you who prefer to view 800x600 or 640x480 in a reduced image area at the center of the screen

MS Force Feedback Wheel 09:52 am - Kan
The Techs done a review on the MS Force Feedback Wheel. Hey! Is there a Ferrai Force Feedback Wheel? What?! Okay okay, you didn't get my joke.

Finally, the force feedback effects were a mixed bag. At first they were amazing and impressive, but as I used the wheel more, the novelty started to fade off. Luckily, there is a force feedback button on the wheel that lets you turn off the force feedback. Also, the wheel itself is top class, with an ergonomic feel and responsive and realistic controls.

Intel Roadmap 09:45 am - Kan
This time round, Sharky brought us the Intel Roadmap for 1999. Take a look and start savinig for those 600 MHz Coppermines...

Intel has already disclosed the Intel Pentium III Xeon(tm) processor brand name, which is targeted for the server and workstation market segments. And even though the Xeon 500/550Mhz will still be available until the end of this year (again for servers), autumn should see the initial rollout of the Pentium III 667MHz (so what's wrong 666Mhz? Everyone knows that the devil punches his time clock over at Microsoft!). Speeds will be rolled up even further and Intel's plans indicated that 800MHz would be introduced in the year 2000.

Pentium II Overdrive 09:43 am - Kan
Anand finally completed the Pentium II overdrive article. A very interesting processor, but I guess you will be better off buying a new motherboard + Slot 1 processor. The overdrive is only for Socket 8 people.

By using the 0.25 micron Deschutes core of the Pentium II, Intel managed to put a quick end to the 16-bit weakness of the Pentium Pro, and in doing so, they also managed to double the amount of L1 cache on the processor. If you recall, the Pentium Pro, like the original Pentium processors, was only outfitted with 16KB of L1 cache split evenly between Data and Instruction Set caches. The Pentium II OverDrive, like the Pentium MMX, the Pentium II, and the Pentium III, features a full 32KB of L1 cache, once again, split evenly among its Data and Instruction Set caches (16KB + 16KB).

Adaptec 2940U2W/Cheetah 9LP 09:41 am - Kan
Another review is by The Sanctum is the Adaptec 2940U2W and a Seagate Cheetah 9LP. Yummy...this is what I call high quality hardware.

Ultra2 LVD (Low Voltage Differential) moves at blistering speed. LVD send’s signals utilizing two wires instead of one. The transfer Rate is almost doubled and the sound is lowered in the process. You must purchase a Ultra2 LVD drive to take advantage of this Feature. The 80MB/s speed throughput moves at rocket speed. In return Ultra2 drives run hot, and are louder then Your everyday IDE drive. You don’t need a hard-drive LED light on your case, the Noise emitted is enough to tell you when the drive is being used. The 2940U2W is backwards compatiable with prior SCSI releases.

AOpen AX6BC Revision 2.20 09:40 am - Kan
The Sanctum done the AOpen AX6BC Slot 1 motherboard. One interesting thing about the motherboard is that it does not use a battery to store the CMOS information.

The biggest feature that splits the Two boards is AOpen’s battery-less feature. The AX6BC implements EEPROM And special circuits that save the CPU and CMOS setup configs without using The battery. A battery comes with the board, so you have the option of using Either feature you wish. Hopefully other board makers will follow with the Battery-less design down the road. The down side is the power cord must Always be plugged in.

16 February 1999 - Tuesday

Users Demand Refunds for Windows 22:33 pm - Wilfred
This made headlines on quite a few sites I visited today, so here I serve it to you. About 100 computer users marched to Microsoft's offices in Silicon Valley demanding refunds for the Windows software they said they didn't want do buy or use.

“I GOT STUCK WITH this software because I couldn’t buy a laptop without it,” said Charles Lingo, a retired maintenance engineer from San Jose. “It’s a ripoff by a monopoly.”

About 90 percent of personal computers sold these days come pre-loaded with Microsoft’s Windows software, which runs all the other programs on the computers.

But Lingo and most of the demonstrators are among a growing minority of computer users who don’t care for Windows. They have chosen to operate their computers with Linux, a system with a cherubic penguin mascot that has risen to the forefront among the relatively unknown products that are alternatives to the Windows operating system.

Media Lab ML-1 Speakers Review 22:24 pm - Wilfred
FiringSquad did a review on Parasound's Media Lab ML-1 speakers. Well, though arrived from a power amp company, neither the speaker's design nor sound were inspiring - enough.

The ML-1s are a solid, no-nonsense pair of PC speakers. They're quality-built and reproduce sound more than competently, but mainly due to their slightly muddy characteristics, they weren't remarkable. In the areas where Parasound paid much attention too - clarity in treble and smooth, roundedness in the bass, they succeeded flawlessly, but the inherent problems with midrange in satellite/woofer systems could be averted so easily. While the midrange was warm and notably present, it sounded muddied and somewhat muffled, primarily due to the non-ideal size of the drivers required of small-space satellite speakers.

Upstart Linux: Not Just for Geeks 22:12 pm - Wilfred
In the March 99 issue of PCWorld, I just came across this interesting article about Linux - about the momentum and support it gartnered.

System administrators and developers seeking alternatives to NT 4.0 or the long-delayed Windows 2000 tout Linux's stability and open source code, which simplifies customization and debugging. Red Hat Software and other commercial Linux distributors have made installation simpler than ever, layering graphical configuration tools over the basic OS's minimalist command-line interface. Red Hat's costly around-the-clock tech support is intended for system administrators, but the vendor is reportedly negotiating an agreement with IBM that could result in free support for IBM PCs with Linux preinstalled. Though UNIX lacks a standard graphical user interface, both Red Hat's upcoming Gnome and the freeware K Desktop Environment make Linux look a lot like--surprise!--Windows.

Linux is also acquiring the feature users care about most: applications. In December Corel started giving away WordPerfect 8.0 for Linux Personal Edition for noncommercial use. Later this year, it will offer WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux as a free download. Computer Associates, IBM, Informix, Oracle, and Sybase have all pledged to port server apps to Linux.

Sound Comparison: MX300 & SBLive! 21:31 pm - Wilfred
Just read this nice sound comparision writeup after noticing the link from Alive! Civerb, a Hollywoord sound engineer, gives his thought about the 2 cards. A must read!

I think all of you need to be reminded that interactive four channel sound is here truly for the first time! This was "unheard of" just a short time ago and we are all on the cutting edge of technology with either card . I make my money in Hollywood as a sound engineer and this IS the wave of the future. All Digital in Hollywood is passive participation. Both Aureal and Creative should be applauded for there pioneering work in this field. Honestly people we ARE living in the future NOW.
Im in Heaven with both cards.

Mistake! Sorry! 21:24 pm - Wilfred
Dear! Just got home from some visiting and realised I left out the URL of GamesMania's Turok 2 review. It's just fixed! Sorry!

ATI Rage128 Review 14:48 pm - Wilfred
ATI World has done a review on the ATI Rage128 card. All right, check out the details here:

To say the least, the Rage 128 boards have everything going for them. The best 32 bit rendering in the industry (very important for future games). The best DVD/MPEG2 decoding technology, built in. 32 MB of local memory (SGRAM or SDRAM). The best quality and compatibility for LCD display technology (important for 1999). You can arguably say that it currently has the best 3D performance available today. It has the most value. Another thing you might not have considered is the compatibility. It has drivers for every platform imaginable. Linux, MacOS, OS/2, all flavors of Windows, even the BeOS has upcoming support.

Turok 2 Review 14:42 pm - Wilfred
Check out GamesMania's review on Acclaim's Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Yap, so what's good and bad about it? Seems like poor level design is still bugging the game:

The level design was somewhat poorly executed in the sense that the levels didn't make a lot of sense. I guess you could argue that the game is gear towards a younger audience who doesn't care for such things, but good level design is something that I always look for in any game. The placement of levels, ladders, doors, teleports and such made the levels all but unrecognizable as real environment. The way in which one moves through the levels can either be viewed as being done rather well, or not very well at all. You can either argue that it breaks up the level into sections which makes it easier to complete, or you can argue that it breaks up the levels and makes them less believable as actual environments. I guess it's a bit of a coin toss.

Slot One Battle Royale 14:30 pm - Kan
Ars-Technica just put up a new article called Slot One Battle Royale. The processors compared were like the 300A, Celeron 366, PII 450 as well as the new PIII 500 Mhz.

The newcomer to this party, obviously, is the Pentium III.   It's distinguished visually by its half-cartridge enclosure, more exposed than the utterly encased Pentium II, but not bare nekkid like the cheap-seats-style Celeron.  The PIII has a black plastic enclosure covering only its back side, so it gets better cooling than the PII, but Intel still has a place to put its hologram sticker.  Also exposed in the Pentium III is the striking, bluish-colored processor core.  Without a metal cap like the Celeron, the PIII core can cozy right up to a big ol' heat sink for cooling. 

1998 Shooter Shootout 05:33 am - Kan
That's also a 1998 Shooter roundup over at Sharky.

1998 was no different. Almost every major genre was represented by at least one banner game, in many cases more. Blizzard's Starcraft and Bungie's Myth II stirred the stagnant waters of real-time strategies while titles like Falcon 4.0, European Air War and Jane's WWII Fighters broke new ground in the combat flight simulator genre. The sports category was especially refreshing this year with the graphically impressive FIFA 99, the technically accurate Madden NFL 99 and the outrageous NFL Blitz. The RPG genre was bestowed with two absolutely gripping yet completely different games in the form of Final Fantasy VII and Baldur's Gate while amateur racers everywhere were mesmerized by the likes of Need For Speed III, Indycar Legends and Viper Racing.

Skywell MagicTNT 05:28 am - Kan
New review from Sharky on the Skywell MagicTNT.

As the Magic TNT is based on nVidia's reference design, there's no TV-out at all. Neither is there any resemblance of a fancy onboard fan, or any Witchdoctor capabilities to speak of. But don't let these facts deter you from the MagicTNT. It's not an undesirable product- the TNT doesn't really require a fan and who cares about TV-Out anyway? What you do get it a rather small AGP card with 16Mb SDRAM spread out over eight 2Mb memory chips which are capable of memory speeds of up to 125Mhz and of course the TNT processor itself which still has a heat-sink slapped on it.

Apple OS Server X 01:20 am - Kan
Ars-Technica had a first impression on the new OS Server X by Apple. This sure looks cool!

Let me describe how it works (in a very watered-down style).  Grab yourself an OS X Server and some (stinkin') iMacs.   Yes, you heard me right - iMacs.  NetBoot only works with the new, white and blue Macs. Obviously, right now you'd be a fool to NetBoot anything but an iMac.   Anyhow, buy a bunch of these, and setup a little LAN or workgroup.  Now, on the server, setup the applications and the default system image you want these machines to have (say, with MS Office, Netscape, and QuickTime).   Define some users.   Boot the machines holding down the 'n' key, and voila -- the machines pull everything off the server, including the preferences

15 February 1999 - Monday

Windows Networking Setup 22:21 pm - Kan
FiringSquad had an article on Windows Networking Setup. If you want to know how to setup your computers to network with each other, go and take a look. Maybe I should come out with an article on how to configure IP Masquarding etc er?

Your 200 ping over modem just doesn't do it for you anymore; you need that 20 ping. So now you've bought all the necessary network components and connected all your systems, but where do you go from there? How do you configure the network in Windows? We covered all the LAN basics in our How to Set up a Small LAN guide, and now it's time to follow that up with the really tricky part - Windows networking configuration. It's not too complicated, but it's certainly a situation where a little preparation and patience can make up for long hours of frustration.

Pentium III Review 22:16 pm - Kan
PlanetHardware whipped up a review on the Pentium III 500 MHz processor. Damn, they are expensive and not worth it.

Let's talk temperatures for a second. The Pentium III comes as is with the new SECC-2 processor packaging, which is quite odd to look at. On one side of the processor, we have the protective black casing that was seen on the Pentium II, and on the both side there is the processor core and memory chips exposed with no casing (see the pictures for a better understanding). This seems to be some hybrid of the Pentium II and Celeron ideas, it has some advantages as well as some disadvantages though. The side of the processor without the casing allows for direct contact of a heatsink or a fan to the hottest part of the processor, the core. This was a good idea on Intel's part, but for some reason they decided not to ship a fan or heatsink combination with the processor itself, you have to go buy one on your own

Abit ZM6 Review 20:14 pm - Wilfred
Confused already? GA-Source has completed a review on Abit's latest (or 2nd) Socket370 offering - The ZM6. It uses Intel's ZX/100 chipset which only supports up to 256Mb of RAM (BX supports 1Gb) and 4 PCI slots. But...

Aside from some high-end business server configurations, I do not see needing more than 256Mb for at least a year and a half; based on this, the ZM6 is a decent choice, as -- in any case -- you would probably need to replace your motherboard by that point to use newer processors. For more information on this, see my article on upgrading. The 4 PCI slot limitation is overcome by ABIT by allowing slots 4 and 5 to share a bus master line. The net affect of this is that slots 4 and 5 cannot both have bus-mastering cards in them. Since quite a number of expansion devices do not need bus-mastering ability, this is usable.

And the all-important part on overclockability.. whoppee!

Something that I am sure many of you are wondering, given the fact that Intel has stopped production and shipping of the Slot 1 Celeron 300a, is whether the PPGA version is as overclockable as the Slot 1. I can wholeheartedly say yes. Requiring 2.1 volts to reach 450 mhz, this motherboard/processor combo was as overclockable as BX/Slot 1 combinations.

3DSS Interview With Aureal's Toni 20:10 pm - Wilfred
The good people at 3DSoundSurge scored an interview with Aureal's Toni Schneider. This is one impressive chunk (off the war of words between Aureal and Creative!):

3DSS: Again from Creative's Q&A we have the statement that:

"The exhaustive calculation of sound reflections for multiple sound sources off many objects is complex. Although the underlying physical principles of the geometrical model are simple (and provide only an approximation of real reflections), it requires serious computing resources."

Based on my experience and the experience of others, this is quite correct. Wavetracing calculations are currently resulting in anywhere between a 10 and 20 percent hit on the overall game performance (typically measured by FPS). While acknowledging that these statements as they pertain to A3D 2.0 are stemming from one title (Half Life) can you comment on your progress in bringing Wavetracing CPU usage down to the 5 percent level that has previously been stated as your goal?

TONI: Yes, Wavetracing requires a lot of computation. Our first working prototype of A3D 2.0 (spring 98) used most of a PII233 to do a single 3D source with 6 reflections. Today, we do 16 sources with 60 reflections using just a few percent of a PII233. In other words, brute force Wavetracing takes lots of CPU, but we have found lots and lots of ways to speed things up dramatically. Half-Life was the first shipping example of Wavetracing 3 months ago. It sounds awesome and uses up to 15% CPU on certain machines. We have since improved the efficiency by another factor of 10. With all the latest drivers, we have reached our target of sub 5% with the latest A3D 2.0 title, Heretic II. On today’s average gaming rig (300-400Mhz CPU), all you’ll ever notice is that your audio just got amazingly better. And we're not done yet...

US Mirror Login Problems 20:06 pm - Wilfred
Nah, not much luck lately. Now we can't seem to login or check our mails on the server. Hmm... once the thing is up, we'll start mirroring our updates again.

Benwin Flat Speakers Review 20:01 pm - Wilfred
Flat is good! Purified3D sent word about a new review they'd done on the Benwin BW2000 Flat Speakers. Here's a snip of their audio test:

Our audio tests produced mixed results. Generally, all types of audio CD's tried sounded terrific, with the exception of classical music. Not that it is real bad, but there are better options if that is the type of music you're listening to while computing. The only drawback is that the overall sound is a little drowned out by a weird, slacky bass tone, almost as if they needed an enclosure box, yet that would make no difference on this type of speakers.

Wilfred Coughs 19:57 pm - Wilfred
Almost vomitting blood today... as I'm suffering from the 5th day of ADSL outtage! Arrggh!! What the heck! All the working days, Magix didn't solve my problem... I even bothered to bring the big black modem down to their cramped up service center (Nope! Not my equipment problem!). Now their technical folks and all are home celebrating Chinese New Year! Arrggh....

Kenwood TrueX 52X CD-ROM 06:28 am - Kan
HardwareCentral also bashed up the Kenwood TrueX 52X CD-ROM.

As HardwareCentral discussed in our Kenwood 40X review, the main difference between conventional drives and the Kenwood TrueX drives is that conventional drives are CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) drives while the Kenwood drives are CLV (Constant Linear Velocity) based. What's the difference between the two? CAV drives have a constant CD spin rate which means that CAV drives read the fastest on the outer track (because of the larger circumference) and slower on the inner tracks (because of the smaller circumference).

UltraPlex 40max 06:26 am - Kan
HardwareUpgrade tested out the Plextor Ultraplex 40max SCSI CD-ROM. This CD-ROM drive had a maximum rotation speed of 8,590 rpm and 512 Kb of cache.

The construction is very detailed. On the frontal panel there is the box for the player, in plastics and with guides which allow to retain the CD even when the player is on a vertical position. A the bottom, from the left to the right, there are the jack for the headphones with potentiometer, two led showing respectively when the disk has been introduced and the reading of the support, a small hole which allows, through a small key, to force the ejection of the support in case of problem, the forward-playing and stop-ejection buttons.

Unofficial Vortex II FAQ 06:25 am - Kan
3DSoundSurge had updated their unofficial Vortex II FAQ. Read on to find out how powerful the Vortex 2 is.

"Late order reflections will be handled with reverberation. The rationale is stated in the white paper: humans are capable of individually perceiving first order reflections while second and higher order reflections usually combine to form late field reflections, or reverberation. According to Toni, reverb works best for very large spaces that require long decay times. A good example is a cathedral or large cave that you move around in slowly, exploring as you go along, hearing everything echo for a long time. Late order reflection parameters constitute a part of environment properties:

Increase Cooling Power 06:23 am - Kan
HardOCP had an article on how to increase your cooling power by increasing the voltage of your fans. Damn, we are now overclocking fans to cool your overclocked processor.

First, cut the 0V (ground) wire [usually black colour] of the fan at the connector end. The connector end being the end which has the small plastic connector which plugs into the mother-board. With this loose wire from the fan you need to connect it to the White wire from the power-supply. This is the tricky bit. I did it by carefully shaving off some of the insulation of the White wire with a razor-blade and then soldering the black wire to it. Then re-insulate it by wrapping some electrical tape (or heatshrink) around the joint.

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