14 March 1999 - Sunday

Canopus Is Calling It Quits 23:59 pm - Wilfred
I'd kept a reader's mail about this in my mailbox for a long while till I finally shook myself and confirmed the reality - one of our most loved graphics card firm is calling it quits! Anguish rips through me...

The Spectra 2500, Pure 3D and Pure 3D II line of graphics cards are no longer in production. We have made a special arrangement with Alienware to sell our Spectra 3200 graphics card in the US. The VideoPort 600, the 5.25" drivebay video-in for the Spectra 2500/3200 will be available through the Canopus Factory Store beginning in April.

Due to the very short life cycles for graphics boards and the consolidation of the graphics chip and board industry, Canopus has decided to concentrate on our line of Digital Video Editing products. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you and we assure you that if you have purchased any graphics product from us WE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT YOU with technical support and the terms of our 3 year warranty! Driver updates will be provided over our web site for as long as the chip vendor updates their own drivers. In the future, Canopus may produce graphics cards again if the right chip comes along. Until then we will focus our efforts on our line of Digital Video non-linear editing products.

If you already purchased a Canopus product and are in need of technical support, please contact  our support team at [email protected] or you can reach them at 408-954-4506. We thank you for your interest in Canopus.

Anti-Mac Humour Site 23:54 pm - Wilfred
Here's a funny Anti-Mac site you should definitely take a look to lighten up (yeah, whether you're a Mac lover or not!). They've got some humourous stuff...

Lott Teases Gore On Internet Claim 23:51 pm - Wilfred
Haha! Here's a less high-tech political talk, but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott responded to Gore's claim by taking credit for inventing the paper clip! Here's what:

Firing off the latest salvo in a game of political tit-for-tat begun a day earlier, Lott issued a tongue-in-cheek news release saying he "created'' the paper clip.

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the paper clip,'' said Lott, R-Miss., echoing nearly word for word Gore's pronouncement about creating the Internet. "Paper clips bind us together as a nation.''

He also provided some "early designs'' for the paper clip, including a straight line and a V-shaped model. And the news release stated: "Lott refused to answer questions about whether or not he was also the Fifth Beatle.''

Wing Commander Special 23:44 pm - Wilfred
Feeling a sense of nostalgia as I read the special Wing Commander feature at GameSpot. It covered the rise of the original WC game into limelight, and the subsequent sequels which were all bestsellers... yes and they also have a large portion on the recent making of the movie.

Wing Commander was huge because it was unprecedented. At a time when 16-color EGA graphics were reluctantly giving way to a 256-color standard, Wing Commander made the difference in quality perfectly obvious and made those gamers with 16-color graphics cards make the switch. Likewise, because of its stunning dynamic soundtrack, Wing Commander helped establish the Creative Labs Sound Blaster audio standard. Few games merited owning a digital audio board until its release. The Wing Commander series would go on to earn a reputation for being so good and so cutting-edge that each new game in the series would make gamers go out and upgrade their machines with the newest hardware to achieve optimal performance.

It was the greatest evil! I'd plonged down hundreds of dollars with each new release of Wing Commander.

Twice Compression of MP3. Better Quality 19:12 pm - Wilfred
The Register reported that Microsoft is readying a MP3-killer digital audio format, which will have better quality than MP3 and twice its compression - MS Audio 4.0!

The new format, MS Audio 4.0, is believed to offer better sound quality than MP3's near-CD reproduction and twice the MPEG-based format's level of compression.

According to sources cited by MP3 distributor MP3.com, Microsoft's entry into the downloadable music business will contain the anti-piracy features that MP3 is usually criticised for lacking.

The format will initially only be supported by Windows Media Player, which could limit its acceptance, but one source claimed Microsoft is "not looking at this as a means to extend their world domination. They're just providing you with another alternative".

Anti-piracy? What an anti-climax! These people just don't get it huh?!

Serial Number In ALL .25 micron Intel CPUs 19:02 pm - Wilfred
Check this out at The Register who got hold of this dirty secret of Intel. Now will they continue to deny this and keep us in the dark?

An architect who currently works for Intel US has now confirmed what we were beginning to suspect all along -- every .25 micron Intel chip has the personal serial number (PSN).

The chip designer, who revealed the news under strict conditions of anyonymity, said: "Any .25 micron core including the PII, all Celerons and all current Xeons have had serialisation ever since .25 micron technology started."

This means that Intel is and was shipping products with the serialisation number switched off. The only exception is the Tillamook P5 .25 micron parts, he said.

But why didn't Intel tell us and the whole world what it was doing then, and why?

Doesn't it irk you to know that you are under constant surveillance?!

Who Needs To Wait For The TNT2? 18:41 pm - Wilfred
GA-Source has this article for those of you planning to hold off buying a graphics accelerator until the TNT2, well read it to see if you ought to wait!

So what does this mean? For the frugal buyer, the next month or two would be an excellent time to buy any of these cards. For the most part, it will cost you less than 2 software titles, and a new 3D accelerator card can breathe new life into old games. Myth looks tons better on a 3DFX card than without one, and many other games change dramatically as well. If you want to wait a little longer, the only cards that I believe will drop significantly in price out of this bunch are the Voodoo 2s and Banshee. I would expect to see both the 8mb and 12mb Voodoo 2 drop by another $10-$20, and the Banshee about $15-$20 within the next 3 to 4 months. I don't really see the Savage or G200 dropping much at all, and the TNT by maybe $10 in the same time frame. If any of these cards interest you at all, you may as well get them now.

Yup. Good time to source for real good steals now... Creative TNT OEM is really attractively priced at approx S$150. Cool!

Preview of MS MidTown Madness 18:30 pm - Wilfred
IGN.PC has got a preview of Microsoft's MidTown Madness. Oh ok, it sounds like a terribly, crazily, fun game to play.

In the end, what makes this game so damn addictive (Tal and I have been fighting over the beta all morning) is the little details you see everywhere. Every car has the appropriate horn, from the subdued beep of a Beetle to the mighty roar of the Century. When you back up the bus or the big rig, you'll hear that familiar beeping sound. When you unlock the Mustang Cruiser, you can run the sirens. Newspaper machines throw out newspapers when you hit them, telephone poles will wreck you if you hit them at low speed, but snap when you hit them quickly. Everything in the game is designed to give you the feeling of actually racing in city streets.

I'm looking forward to this one man! I told you I'm not anti-Microsoft. Why should I be? We all deserve to play the best games and use the best software... since we pay for them, we have to complain loudly so they listen and get it RIGHT for us! =)

Flashman's Random Flashes of Thought 16:50 pm - Wilfred
Read the fourth issue of Flashman's Toy Garage titled "Random Flashes of Thought". Listen to what he has to say about 'establishment' sites and more!

"They're too vague, inaccurate, have competing and contradictory agendas, and downright useless. Imagine, to be a reporter for such a website as Cnet - you have to clear the news with a whole hierarchy of editors and they have to clear with their bosses before you can publish."

Savage4 16:21 pm - Kan
Fresh3D posted some info on the coming Savage4 chipset.

S3 also did very well in increasing the amount of on-board memory, allowing up to 32 Megs RAM. Coupled with their patented S3TC texture compression and AGP 4X support, this allows for some pretty damned large textures to be loaded without slowdown. But they are not forgetting the lower end of the ladder either. The Savage 4 comes in 2 models, the Savage 4 LT, with 8 Megs RAM running at 110MHz, a 250 MHz RAMDAC and AGP 2X support, aimed at the same sub-$1000 PC market the Savage 3d did so well in, and the Savage 4 Pro, sporting 16 or 32 Megs RAM at 143MHz, a 270 MHz RAMDAC, and AGP 4X support, which is targetted at the power user.

Rantings 16:20 pm - Kan
Lots of things to rant today. One thing I hate most is to use slow computers. I guess we need a more powerful server (maybe the Sun Enterprise 10000) to replace the 2 * UltraSPARC 300 MHz Sun450 with 1 GB ram.

33 users, load average: 302.02, 278.27, 269.38

Face Off: Stylus 750 Vs Stylus Photo 13:51 pm - Wilfred
Our editor, Kok Leong sent word of a Face Off article comparing the 3rd Generation Stylus 750 photo printer with the 1st Generation Stylus Photo. Visit Kok Leong's specialty site and read what Greg has written for you.

Dan Regenberg, in Japan, had a brand new Epson Stylus Photo 750. He made a print of a test pattern image downloaded from the web, and sent it to me. I printed the same file on my Stylus Photo (original version). 

Then I scanned very small areas of each of the two prints. The results were quite surprising. The 750's dot is tiny. Very tiny. It is very difficult to see the dot with the naked eye, I can only see a dark dot on a relatively light background, while on my Photo Stylus, I can see the dot much more easily.

Poll Results 13:41 pm - Wilfred
Ok, thanks to all of you for your enthusiastic participation in our last poll. I'd just plotted a simple chart and here's the results.

Ahem! There's actually some 415 freakos who surf the web more than me? More than 8 hrs a day?? Wah!

Thoughts On Daikatana 13:12 pm - Wilfred
Here's a rant from Boon Kiat after he played the Daikatana demo released yesterday. Catch this:

OK guys, have you downloaded the HUGE 35MB Daikatana yet? If you haven't, do yourself a favour and DON'T!!

Unlike my normal rants, this one will be short. If you have been reading the newsgroups, you might have already heard the criticisms of the game, and I am so sad to say, "It's all true!"

Imagine playing a third party map of Quake. Yup, you heard right: Quake! No additional numbers at the end! Not Quake 2.. not Quake 3. Just Quake.

The textures are incredibly bad. They look washed out and blurred and yup, you guessed it, a turd shade of brown! (say Wilfred, am I allowed to say turd in our family oriented website?) =)

Coloured lighting? What lighting even??!!

The only "new"-ish thing they implemented was decals for damage. So if you shoot a missile against the wall, there is some semblance of a burnmark on it.

OK, so the framerate is top-notch, but then, so was Quake, remember?

To quote some other dudes on the Internet: "It took them THREE years to come up with this pile of SH*T??!!" or "Geez, a college student could write a new map for Quake in three months"

And to think I downloaded the entire 35MB twice cos the first copy got corrupted! Caveat Emptor!

Glacier 4500C/ Artic Cap Cooling Review 12:57 pm - Wilfred
Quite a number of sites got their hands on the Net-N-Dude Glacier 4500C cooling fans. BxBoards, too, did a review on it. A mighty fine cooling system.

The Glacier 4500C can either by installed as a standalone product or in combination with the Arctic Cap. Unlike full-blown sandwich coolers, the Glacier does not take up too much room, although I did find that the Arctic Cap was rather too close to comfort to the capacitors on the Abit BX6-2. There are similar problems on the AOpen AX6BC which positions its capacitors very close to the CPU slot. On its own the Glacier requires 3 power connectors, 1 per fan. 2 of the fans are "intelligent" and report RPM to the BIOS. The fans rotate at around 4,500 RPM.

TNT2 Preview 06:32 am - Kan
Gamespot also squeezed out a preview on the TNT2, in particular, the Diamond Viper 770.

According to Nvidia, there have been some other changes to the TNT as well. The TNT2 supports up to 32MB of SDRAM (there's no longer any support for SGRAM). In addition, the TNT2 is AGP 4x capable, ready for the day that Intel ships the Camino motherboard chipset. Finally, according to Michael Hara of Nvidia, there have been optimizations in the 3D pipeline. So the TNT2 is a bit more than a smaller, higher clock rate TNT.

Monster MX300 06:30 am - Kan
ExtremeHardware also posted a review on the MX300. Just on a side note, anybody managed to get their Linux to support the MX300 ?

Wavetracing is the other important feature of A3D 2.0, one that calculates different sound reverberations. When a human ear hears a given sound, it usually hears it a few times. First the direct path of the sound from its origin to the human ear. Secondly, the ear hears the sound after it has been reflected off one or more walls. By combining the delay and tonal differences between the two sounds, the human ear can more accurately place the sound’s origin than if just the direct path coming to both ears was heard (technically all that is needed for sound positioning).

Diamond Viper 770 06:23 am - Kan
The gals over at FastGraphics have a specifications comparison between the Diamond Viper 770 based on the TNT2 chipset vs the Stealth III S520 and S540.

The good thing about the internet, or the bad, depending where you come from, is the fact that nearly all confidential information leaks out on it. I just recently got an email with three attachments: The specs of Diamonds new consumer level products, the Stealth III S520, the Stealth III S540 and the flagship, the Viper V770. The specsheets had the word "confidential" written all over them, and I must also emphasize that the (preliminary) sheets were dated Feb 27 1999. I'm pretty confident however that these specs are reliable and that they represent the final products (can't tell exactly why I'm confident about it). I've spoken with Diamond's European marketing director Andy Brannan last Thursday and unfortunately he couldn't answer all my questions on the record, so there are still a few things we have to guess about.

13 March 1999 - Saturday

ThrustMaster Rage3D 23:20 pm - Wilfred
Vince sent mail that he's got a new review on the ThrustMaster Rage3D gamepad over at Extreme Hardware.

Tomb Raider 2 performed quite a bit better than 1st-person shooters, and the control/button combo of the Rage3D especially suited arcade shooters like Gex 2. Car racing or motorcycle games are a different control story but I actually found the Rage3D well suited to this genre. The 3D mode performed quite well with games like Ultimate Race Pro and Motocross Madness, and the Rage3D's lightweight feel and heft made it very easy to maneuver with. It won't replace my steering wheel, but the Rage3D can provide a great racing experience for the wheel-less gamer.

Games like Flight Unlimited 2 are a mixed bag with the Rage3D. The control is great and you can easily duplicate flying maneuvers using the 3D mode. The problem is in the lack of any sort of throttle or coolie hat functionality. Even in games like XvsTIE or Descent: Freespace, I felt like I needed more controls to actually make the game enjoyable. Mapping some of the buttons in certain games was also a bit of chore, though I don't know if it was game programming or the Thrustmaster drivers that were at fault.

Driver 18:00 pm - Kan
Coolinfo sent note on their latest game review on Driver. Talking about cars, I can't even afford a bicycle in this puny country where I am stuck in...

Driver isn't another racing game; it's an all-new gaming experience.  Each of the four cities are modeled in full 3D with accurate maps and landmarks of their real life counterparts along with the amazing realism of a working traffic light system, motorists, pedestrians and cops on patrol.  Once you accept a job you'll have to make you're pickup at the exact time - arrive too soon and risk being spotted by the cops, too late and you'll have the mob after your ass.

Wicked3D eyeSCREAM 16:34 pm - Kan
The lubs over at VE did a review on the Wicked3D eyeSCREAM. Check it out.

Stereoscopic vision works in a way that it tries to trick your eyes into seeing depth in the monitor. By placing objects closer or farther away in the rendered image, your brain, along with the help of the LCD shutter glasses, perceives the image to have "StereoVision". On the screen, two different interlaced images are displayed one after another. One is seen with the right eye, the other is seen with the left. The two images are also separated horizontally, the width depending on how far away you sit from the screen.

Net-N-Dude Glacier 4500C 16:31 pm - Kan
Overclockers also did a review on the Net-N-Dude Glacier 4500C with Arctic Cap.

Now, Net-N-Dude also offers the "Arctic Cap" (MSRP $12). This is a socket 7 cooler with a clip which allows you to attach it to the back of a Slot 1 CPU - in effect a poor-man's celery sandwich. The Arctic Cap requires a 4 pin hard drive connector. Now, a word of caution here: An anodized heatsink will not conduct electricity as long as you don't scratch the back - so make sure you put thermal grease on it and don't grind it around the back too much. Me, I'm leery of doing this but I tested the back of the Arctic Cap with a circuit tester and it does not conduct electricity - as long as you don't see any bright spots you should be OK.

K6-III vs K6-2 16:24 pm - Kan
A friendly reader sent us a note on some benchmark results comparing the K6-III 420 MHz vs K6-2 420 MHz. The website is in Japanese, but I guess you can read the benchmarks straight.

Contest @ The Techs 16:22 pm - Kan
The Techs is back with their official opening on 12th March. To celebrate the opening, they are giving away a free Microsoft joystick. Click here for the contest rules.

Tyan Tomahawk 16:20 pm - Kan
That's another new motherboard review over at Socket370. The Tyan Tomahawk is a Socket370 based on the BX chipset.

To tell you the truth there really isn't anything that is bad about this board, except for maybe one design error. The motherboard for some odd reason, requires a two pin Power LED connector. Now why they would do this I have no clue being how all three cases of mine all have three pin Power LED connectors. I shouldn't say requires the two pin connector but you will have to fool around with the power connectors to get your computer to turn on, hopefully in future motherboard they will change this.

Political Tech Talk: Al-Gore created Internet 12:43 pm - Wilfred
If not for the link at Ars-Technica, I would have missed this hilarious bit from Wired. Ok, listen to this. Al-Gore created the Internet. Buahuahua! Buahuahua!

That's what the campaigner in chief told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an interview Tuesday evening. Blitzer asked Gore how he was different than other presumptive Democratic challengers, such as Bill Bradley. "What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?"

Replied Gore: "I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins, and it'll be comprehensive and sweeping, and I hope that it'll be compelling enough to draw people toward it.... I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years."

Then came the kicker: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Huh?

Sony Scores Restraining Order 12:38 pm - Wilfred
Over at CoolInfo, it is heard that Sony was granted a temporary restraining order to prevent Connectix Corp from selling a Playstation emulator for the Windows platform. *sigh* so no PlayStation games for us.

Sony Computer Entertainment last night said it was granted a temporary restraining order preventing Connectix Corp. from selling a forthcoming Windows program that would let PC users run Sony PlayStation games.

Sony claims the $49 program infringes on its copyrights and intellectual property. The Macintosh version of the Connectix software is not affected by the order. Connectix could not be reached for comment.

Socket370 Motherboard Comparison 12:26 pm - Wilfred
Hardware Upgrade has posted a big big comparsion of Socket370 motherboards. So if you're intending to get a new socketed Celeron, be sure to take a look here.

We're waiting to test some more Socket 370 based motherboard before giving our reccomendations; after all the tests conducted so far we believe that Abit BM6 is, at the moment, the best ATX Socket 370 motherboard, and Epox LX370B the best AT one.

Check out our very own Flashman's Abit BM6 Presskit for more details on the motherboard.

Office for Linux? 08:34 am - Kan
Ha ha. There's rumours that Microsoft is thinking of porting Office to Linux. Hey! I think the guys over at Redmond better don't do it, or else my Linux will be unstable!

"These [Microsoft] techies are programmers in the dev [development] group. They are running Linux on boxes at Redmond and most have Linux on their home computers. I don't think that MS is afraid of Linux but they ought to be," said the developer, who requested anonymity.

TNT2 08:31 am - Kan
Toms Hardware also posted a lengthy review on the coming TNT2. Wow! If I save $2 a day, hopefully I can get one by Y2K ? Hmm...

So what has Nvidia done? TNT2 is indeed the brother of TNT, shrunk down to .25 micron, but several other enhancements put TNT2 significantly apart from TNT. First of all, the rendering pipelines were improved, making the TNT2 some 10 - 17% faster than TNT at the same clock speed as shown in the graph below. The next difference is of course TNT2's ability to run at much higher clock speeds than TNT could, 175 MHz is so far the highest that I have seen, which is almost double the 90 MHz default clock speed of TNT. TNT2 supports AGP 4x, but that's not too important right now since Intel's Camino chipset with AGP 4x-support won't be out until mid 1999.

Remarked? 08:28 am - Kan
That's some info here for finding whether your P2-450 MHz is a remarked prcoessor or not.

Any sounds while shaking your processor is another good indication of a remark. Below you can see the back side of a remarked PII 450. You will notice a small lose device connected to the chip with four small leads. This is part of the counterfeit. The device can be heard by slightly shacking the processor back and forth.

Daikatana 08:25 am - Kan
For those who play games, the Daikatana demo is available for download from here.

Viper V770 08:24 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme had posted a exclusive Viper V770 preview. This card is the upcoming TNT2 card by Diamond. So, have you saved enough money for it?

The 3D feature set is as you'd expect similar to Nvidia's TNT chipset. The main benefit of the Ultra TNT2 over any past or present 3Dfx board lies within its ability to utilize larger texture sizes. The Ultra TNT2 is capable of handling textures up to 2048x2048 as opposed to the Voodoo3's more limited 256x256. The 16-bit image quality of the TNT2 is clearly superior to that of the any 3Dfx based product- including the Voodoo3 (see composite screenshots below). The TNT2 also has the ability to shift these larger textures with its full support for AGP texturing (the Voodoo3 doesn't support this feature and uses its own proprietary DME).

12 March 1999 - Friday

Thoughts on Alive! Interview 23:21 pm - Wilfred
I'm not about to rant a rant like Boon Kiat, but I just got terribly excited reading part 2 of Alive!'s interview with Dave Rossum. A tremendously good read if you haven't clicked the link posted earlier today! Some snips and what I think of them:

Will Creative implement HRTF routines on multiple speakers (4/6/8) in the near future?

Yes. The upcoming driver enhancements available through the Live!Ware program will provide up/down discrimination and overall improved 3-D positional audio over headphones, two loudspeakers or multiple loudspeakers. These improvements involve binaural techniques (based on HRTFs) and other proprietary methods developed at the Tech Center. We will also make available in the near future some new driver enhancements to handle a wide variety of loudspeaker configurations involving up to 8 output channels.

Cool! As a Live! owner myself, I love the fact that Creative is able to inch even that much closer to perfection given that it's already such a strong competitor to the MX300.

Aureal has stated they will be supporting EAX. We're flattered, but thus far there's been no sign of them delivering on this promise. Keep in mind we would require them to provide samples for compatibility testing, and would expect them to comply with the necessary disclaimer requirements to recognize our technology, so I think it's unlikely we'll see EAX support from Aureal anytime soon.

Oops! Dave's making it sound as if they are going to make it difficult for Aureal to support EAX. Haha! Can't be true right?

There're complaints that the activation between different EAX settings in games are too sudden, giving them an unnatural feel. Will there be an improvement in this area?

This was one of my own biggest complaints in the early EAX games. This issue is addressed in the upcoming driver enhancements. Additionally, developers are becoming more skilled in working with the EAX API, and are starting to use some of the more advanced parameters to control the transitions between environments...

I'm eagerly waiting for the latest driver LiveWare package! Oh yes, hone your skills developers! Give the sound to me, the way I want to hear them! I'll end here, but I seriously urge you to read this interview word for word! =) 

Software Claims To Undo PIII Fix. Damn! 22:32 pm - Wilfred
NEWS.COM reported that a Canadian software developer was be able to obtain the processor serial number in the PIII via a program they created. This was possible despite Intel's fix and it just proved that our privacy cannot really be protected!

Zero Knowledge's control essentially exploits the approximate 15-second gap between the time a Pentium III computer is turned on and exposes the processor serial number and when the software repair kicks in and covers it up.

The control tricks the computer into crashing. Then, as the machine is rebooted, Zero's software grabs the number before the software utility has a chance to disable it again.

"It simulates a crash and could be attached to a virus, hidden inside an email attachment, shareware--anyway that people get hostile code onto your machine," Zero Knowledge president Austin Hill said. The ActiveX control grabs the serial code upon reboot, Hill said, and places it in a cookie file that can be read by Web sites.

Dear! Dear! Intel will have a lot of explaining to do regarding this possible exploit.

Hand Cranked Laptops 22:26 pm - Wilfred
Cool idea! Your incredibly fast laptop PC runs laps around others... but it only lasts 400m. Wired News has an article about the innovative idea to produce wind-up laptops (ala the hand-cranked radio in South Africa)

Freeplay Power Group said Wednesday that it is working with General Electric on a small "clockwork generator" that will power laptops with the turn of a hand crank. The power pack is also expected to include a solar panel.

"We expect to have it ready to power up computers in the year 2000," said Rory Stear, joint chairman of Freeplay.

Stear confirmed that Apple Computer has been talking with his Capetown-based company about using the technology in future Macintosh products. But don't expect a windup PowerBook this spring.

PC133 SDRAM To Debut In June 22:19 pm - Wilfred
Go over to EBNews for this article. It says that PC133 SDRAM will be expected to debut in June this year.

The June launch of single data rate PC133 SDRAMs and interfacing chip sets positions the technology for a head-to-head confrontation with high speed Direct Rambus DRAMs, whose debut has slipped to the end of Q3.

The PC133 offers a faster interim memory chip threatening to push back the market ramp for Direct RDRAM, which is expected to debut with at a higher price. The single data rate PC133 can also be upgraded easily to an even faster double data rate version, expected to come on the market about the same time as Direct RDRAM.

Last Day of Poll Tomorrow 22:01 pm - Wilfred
This is to say we'll be compiling the poll results tomorrow and a new poll shall be up. Meanwhile, it won't take you more than a minute to vote if you haven't. Thanks!

Productiva G100 MMS 21:43 pm - Kan
I actually missed this one out. Matroxusers posted a review on the Productiva G100 MMS card This is a multi-monitor card supporting dual or quad monitors.

Rather than having multiple standard monitor connectors on the back plate the Productiva MMS employs the use of a specialised connector and a Y-cable, this was the only time that the manual needed to be referred to in order to identify which connector was the primary and which the secondary. Once the minor problem of manoeuvring such a large card into place had been negotiated installation was typically Matrox (easy). Power up, card is detected, install the drivers from the CD provided and reboot, no problems at all. Initially, even if you have 2 or more monitors already connected, you will only get output to your primary monitor, the secondary monitor needs to be enabled via software.

Descent 3 Preview 21:39 pm - Kan
FiringSquad has a new preview on Descent 3. Come to think of it, it's been a long time since I play any games! MUAAHH...

The original Descent came out in the hey-day of Doom II and all the Doom clones. It attained quite a respectable following by billing itself as the only game with true 3D play. Indeed, the game was ahead of its time - you could fly, strafe, turn, and fire in any direction. The original Descent even featured 3D graphics, directional sound, and of course, 8 player multiplay capability. Pretty good stuff for a game that predated 3D accelerator cards and certainly 3D sound cards. Basically it was like playing indoor Wing Commander. Soon after, a sequel was made, which was basically more of the same, with new weapons, updated graphics, and an AI sidekick called the Guide Bot.

X-Wing Alliance 21:38 pm - Kan
For those Star Wars fans, Gamespot posted a preview on X-Wing Alliance, the newest X-Wing game which will start shipping in a few weeks.

For a good portion of the game, you'll fly your family transport, a modified Corellian transport that looks like a distant cousin of the Millennium Falcon. And even after you join the Alliance, you'll still occasionally return home to fly the family transport and engage in rescue, smuggling, or undercover missions for your family against the increasingly violent overtures of the Veraxo family. The entire game, and the two storylines - family business and the traditional Star Wars conflict - will come to a head during the Battle of Endor, where you will actually get to fly the Millennium Falcon into the Death Star.

New Unified BIOS 21:34 pm - Kan
Matrox released a new v3.49 unified BIOS. Changes include:

Fix corruption problem occuring on Windows boot up.
- Support for ATMEL chip
  
MakeDisk.exe
MakeDisk.exe will create a backup of the board's BIOS onto a floppy disk.
This requires a blank bootable diskette. If the bios on the graphics board is corrupted, use this disk to restore the BIOS.

Disk Cleanup 21:31 pm - Kan
PCVelocity posted a review on Windows 98's Disk Cleanup program. Do you know this program exists in the first place? :)

Disk Cleanup searches your drive for temporary files, Internet cache files, and unnecessary program files that you can safely delete. Files that end up taking space on your hard drive can be created in several ways. For example, programs create temporary files while running; scandisk will leave behind .CHK files after finding problems. In addition, the large number of temporary Internet files created while you surf the net usually occupy the largest part of your hard drive. Temporary Internet files store elements of web sites you surf so that those sites can be accessed quicker the next time you come back. The price for the faster access however is lost disk space. Disk Cleanup makes it much easier to find these files automatically.

Final Fantasy VIII 18:49 pm - Kan
Tech-Junkie's new sushi chef (they have a sushi chef!?) whipped up a review on Final Fantasy VIII.

By the time I finished watching the dance sequence, there were tears in my eyes. Screenshots don't do theanimations justice. The body motions and facial expressions are so human-like that you seem almost able to reach out and touch the characters through the TV screen .

Kenwood 40X 18:46 pm - Kan
High Performance PC Guide did a review on the Kenwood 40X drive. Check out how this drive fares, lots of benchmarks included.

The Kenwood 40X True X CDROM drive is new type of CDROM drive using a whole new technology. Instead of spinning at the reading speed and use a Constant Angular Velocity (CAV) with a single laser ray to read the data from the disk, the True X CDROM drive uses to read multiple tracks in parallel by a patented multibeam and Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) technology. Let's see together if this new technology really does a difference compared to standard CDROM drives.

Mx300 18:45 pm - Kan
Diamond MX300 review over at Avault.

Installation of the PCI board holds no surprises, although the drivers curiously refer to the Monster Sound MX300 as the Monster Sound II. Internal connectors for CD audio, auxilary (such as DVD or a TV tuner) are provided, just like on the Montego II OEM. There are two outputs, however; output 1 is used in a 2 speaker configuration, or for the front speakers in a 4 speaker configuration. Output 2 is used for the rear speakers, or for a single set of headphones. Unlike the Sound Blaster Live! which requires you to identify a 2 speaker configuration or a 4 speaker configuration, the Monster Sound MX300 automatically detects the configuration depending on which outputs are being used.

Shuttle HOT-649A 18:42 pm - Kan
Shuttle HOT-649A motherboard review over at HardwareCentral. This is a dual motherboard based on the BX chipset and comes with onboard U2W SCSI controllor.

Their current high-end motherboard is the HOT-649A. The HOT-649A is a dual CPU capable motherboard using the Intel 440BX chipset. The motherboard has 4 PCI slots, 3 ISA slots (one shared), and 1 AGP slot. The HOT-649A has great memory expansion capabilities with 4 DIMM slots. Included on the board is an Adaptec 7890 Ultra2 Low Voltage Differential controller with the 3860 chip that allows the use of UltraWide devices.

HP 8100i CDRW 18:39 pm - Kan
Warzone posted a review on the HP 8100i CD-Writer. This one is a 4W/2RW/24R drive. Anyway, be sure to check our reviews on the Yamaha drives.

The 8100i CD-Writer is a 4x2x24x drive that’ll give you the speed and reliability that you need in a writer. The internal writer’s specs state the drive can write CD’s at 4X speed, rewrite at 2X speed, and read at 24X speed. It’s one of the few 4X drives that use an IDE connection instead of a SCSI interface. So, if you’re like me with no SCSI card in the computer, this drive is usable without buying an extra peripheral. After connecting the drive to my computer through an IDE cable and setting it as a master drive, Windows 98 detected the writer without any hassle and the correct drivers were automatically loaded. Installation and setup was painless and simple.

Cyrix Socket370? 18:35 pm - Kan
According to The Register, Cyrix will announce the new Cyrix 370-pin processor called MXs which will be available on 6th April.

No wonder Cyrix is keeping quiet about its product plans. There's no point us asking Cyrix about any of this, because this week has shown us it won't tell us...

According to the Japanese text, which one of our readers kindly translated for us, the product uses the Cayenne core and comes with 256K of level two cache in the chip.

CPU Overclocking FAQ 18:31 pm - Kan
WickedPC had finally posted their overclocking FAQ. Covers possible hazards from frying your processor to frying your motherboard (how about some eggs? I'm hungry...)

For a Celeron you actually have two choices. You can either choose Intel’s soon defunct, but easier to install, Slot 1 model. Or their brand new PPGA (plastic pin grid array) model, which uses Intel’s proprietry Socket 370 socket. Either one can fit in a Slot 1 slot thanks to the "Slocket" technology introduced by many motherboard manufacturers recently. Expect the performance to be the same between the Slot 1 and Socket 370, but the socket version to cost less.

300A PPGA 18:29 pm - Kan
Socket370 had written a new article on how to overclock those 300A PPGA version processor.

The Celeron PPGA processor premiered a few months ago, as a future replacement for the Slot One Celeron processors. The reason for this was to preserve Intel's price, by using the cheaper PPGA chips. This might have been good for the industry, instead of bad. It seems that I have had more overclocking luck with my Malaysian manufactured Celeron 300A PPGA chip, than I have with my Malaysian manufactured Celeron 300A Slot One chip.

Volume Rendering 18:20 pm - Kan
That's an article over at EETimes on Volume Rendering which enables more realistic layers to be added to 3D graphics. 

Volume rendering has been bandied about for more than a decade in academic and R&D circles. The idea is to capture an image — say a CAT scan of someone's brain — and assign the correlating data into a set of cubes. That breaks from the conventional 3-D rendering approach of placing polygons on flat wire frames that can be twisted, rotated or otherwise contorted but can never truly simulate the interiors of an object. In essence, 3-D rendering itself goes 3-D with volume rendering. Now, a new generation of hardware is reviving the old concept.

MultiDrive 18:17 pm - Kan
3DSoundSurge had an article on Sensaura's latest developments, especially on the upcoming four speaker system called MultiDrive. Check it out.

So here’s the first – MacroFX. DirectSound3D uses volume as a distance cue. And for distances greater than 1 metre, that’s fine. And since the standard DS3D minimum distance is 1 metre anyway, most people don’t know there’s something that’s not as good as it should be.

So Sensaura have invented MacroFX – a more accurate way of modelling close sounds, ie between your head and less that 1 metre. It is a combination of two things – a more accurate volume model that works better for near objects, and a modified ITD system.

Updates @ Singularity 18:12 pm - Kan
Visit the guys over at Singularity! The have some new reviews on games like Asteroids as well as Alpha Centauri.

Some models like the asteroids have low polygon count while others like most enemy ships have high ones. Asteroids rotate as they move and some expel fireballs asteroids (my favourite) when broken down, these eventually cool off. Alot of animations involve impressive dynamic lighting, for example when your ship or asteroids explode or solar flares burst.

Interview 18:08 pm - Kan
Hot bub Ee Siang from ALive! sent me a note on their latest interview with Dave Rossum, Chief Scientist of Creative Labs. BTW, it looks like he is having difficultites updating the site over at HTGK, so, you can reach his website from here.

The DS3D API has no problem in Z-axis positioning; any weakness must be due to the rendering engine, the physical configuration, or the listener. As I said above, our priorities have been on environmental effects rather than ultimate positional audio, so we have many improvements now and in future releases for positional audio effects like elevation. But I feel it’s always necessary to set user’s expectations. Speaker implementations have substantial limitations, and even headphones without head-trackers are quite limited in their positional audio capabilities. So while DS3D won’t limit us, some users may be disappointed in the ultimate performance given their speaker configuration.

11 March 1999 - Thursday

Glacier 4500C 23:11 pm - Kan
Another new review over at AnandTech, this time on the Net-N-De Glacier 4500C heatsink.

Net-N-Dude, one of the pioneers of the multiple fan Celeron cooling solution, released their Glacier 4500C product a while back. The Glacier 4500C features triple 4500 RPM cooling fans, and a full sized heatsink that fits over the entire SEPP Celeron card. Since the only part of the Celeron generating heat is the processor itself, the large heatsink allows for the heat generated by the processor to be quickly spread out and removed via the three 4500RPM fans. The fans then take in cool air from the case and use it to funnel the rising heat off of the heatsink. The problem with this design was the fact that although the top of the processor was being cooled quite effectively, the processor still generated enough heat to cause instability and therefore another method of heat removal was necessary.

Thoughts On FIFA 99 With 'New' Patch 21:28 pm - Wilfred
Boon Kiat's on a rampage... here's another post from him. Read what he thinks about the 'enhanced' FIFA 99 game after applying EA's latest patch.

"... the best thing about this new patch was the ability to run the game in glorious 1024x768 with no slowdown whatsoever on my Voodoo2 SLIs"

"There is a nut trapped in the audience of the virtual stadiums in FIFA99, whose screams can be heard for miles over!"

IBM Demos Linux Servers Matching Cray 20:44 pm - Wilfred
Noticed over at Slashdot this pointer to an interesting article on InfoWorld. Well, IBM demonstrated at LinuxWorld Expo a cluster of 17 NetFinity Linux servers containing 36 PII-Xeon chips that matched a Cray supercomputer in completing the PovRay benchmark.

Using a subset of the Beowulf clustering technology, 17 of IBM's Netfinity servers containing 36 Pentium II chips and running an off-the-shelf copy of Linux matched the scalability and performance of a Cray supercomputer. The IBM system executed a computer graphics-rendering application called the PovRay benchmark.

During the demonstration, IBM's Linux-based supercomputer matched the current benchmark record of three seconds that was set by the Cray T3t-900-AC64, which had previously surpassed the second fastest time of 9 seconds.

The message IBM was trying to convey to users is that Linux has some innate capabilities for linking together parallel computers working in clusters -- not just working, but working robustly using existing hardware and software available off the shelf or on the Web.

I would have had the whole article ripped for you if I'd more space. =)

Quantum3D Raven 20:15 pm - Wilfred
Our friends at Extreme Hardware posted a review on the Quantum3D Raven. It's a 3Dfx Banshee card that does what it's supposed to do!

The Raven makes a perfect entry into the home entertainment market for Quantum3D. It's a basic 3Dfx Banshee reference board with inexpensive memory designed to keep the costs low, while losing nothing in basic performance. As Quantum3D probably knows, the vast majority of home users don't even overclock their CPUs, let alone their video cards. The Raven is not going to win the performance crown, but it has an excellent price point and would be a perfect match for all but the most discerning gamer. Add to this an excellent game bundle and you have one of the better Banshee values out there.

Poll Participation 20:00 pm - Wilfred
It's time to bug all of you again. Take part in our weekly poll! This week our poll question is "How many hours do you surf the web everyday?" Come on, it's got to be relevant to everyone of you coz' you are reading this! =)

Screenshots from NFS4: High Stakes 19:42 pm - Wilfred
NFS4.COM posted some 45 screenshots of the upcoming arcade racer from Electronic Arts. Last year, you swore it couldn't get better than NFS3. You are dead wrong. Again.

RealSystem G2 Streams MP3 19:35 pm - Wilfred
MP3 to die? Not yet! BitCasting Corp has released an MP3 upgrade for RealSystem G2. This will allow webcasters to stream MP3 audio over the internet and allow users with RealPlayer G2 to play them without downloading.

RealPlayer G2 users wanting to play an MP3 file will automatically be offered the chance to install Digital Bitcasting's 67K plug-in. At the next mouse-click, they'll hear CD-quality sound. Instantly. And won't save to disk without the content provider's go-ahead.

3DGaming On The Savage 4 19:08 pm - Wilfred
Here's another preview on the Savage 4 from the people at 3DGaming. They seem duly impressed with what they saw at S3's facility. And in two long sentences (gulp!), they wrote this:

The Savage4 is definitely a high-performance part. Though clearly not intended to provide the absolute highest performance in synthetic benchmarks, the Savage4 will provide more than adequate performance for tomorrow’s latest gaming technology and in the case of Unreal Tournament, will actually provide the reference design that other manufacturers must work to match. At an estimated street price in the low $100s, the Savage4 is definitely a top pick for the gamer on a budget, an Unreal Tournament fan, and equally important, a top pick for PC OEMs looking to integrate a low-cost, high-performance 2D, 3D, and DVD video chip.

Shogo 2.2 Patch Released 19:04 pm - Wilfred
Finally, Monolith's Shogo 2.2 patch has been released. There is a long readme of what's to be found in this patch. In short, the patch contained bug fixes, support for 3DNow!, DirectSound3D, EAX and A3D thru Miles Sound System.

MP3 Will Die 18:52 pm - Wilfred
Saw this article at EETimes. Some executive from BroadCast.COM predicted that the incredibly popular MP3 audio format will die. Read this and see if you concur:

Though MP3 is an open format that does not carry the economic incentive of a proprietary streaming media system, it will not be doomed by its openness or lack of an owner, Cuban said. Rather, its lack of a compression advantage over RealMedia or Microsoft ASF files, plus the fact that it cannot be extended by new developers as software like the Linux OS can, means that developers will not find it attractive.

But recording industry executives should not be smug or complacent about the death of MP3, Cuban warned. Not only is the Secure Digital Music Initiative likely to fail, Cuban said, but the structure of music and film distribution networks will dissolve in less than five years in the face of Web-based distribution. Cuban predicted that the six companies that control film rights distribution, and the five that control CD music distribution, will be either dead or changed beyond recognition by early in the 21st century.

Interview 09:26 am - Kan
HotHardware just had an interview with Brian Burke, Head P.R. man in charge of the Voodoo3 over at STB Systems.

LCDfx is 3Dfx's proprietary flat panel support solution, which allows the user to display any mode at full resolution on the monitor. If a user owns a flat panel monitor, LCDfx will run any game at the full resolution with outstanding image quality. We've included a proprietary scaling algorithm that is literally two generations beyond typical LCD monitor solutions on the market today.

Kryotech Renegade 09:23 am - Kan
Anand took a close look at the Kryotech Renegade. This is a Slot-1 based cooling system for Pentium IIs.

When cooling an object that is readily producing heat down to the temperature of the room around it, such as the temperature achieved when using an air cooler (i.e. heatsink/fan) on a processor, there is no need to worry about condensation (water) forming on the pins of the processor or on the chip itself. However, once the temperature of a cooled object falls below what is known as the dew point, condensation, or water will begin to form on the processor itself. And as you might be able to guess, water and electricity don't mix. This is the fundamental reason behind Kryotech's KryoCavity, an isolation chamber in which the processor can be kept as to make sure that everything within the cavity can be cooled to below the dew point of the air outside of the cavity without the formation of condensation.

Domain Names Get Wiped Out 09:21 am - Kan
In an article from Techweb, Internic deleted thousands of names from its database last week, rendering heaps of email undeliverabe. What crap is this?!

While exact numbers aren't available, ISPs contended as many as 18,000 names were lost.

Users who have lost names will basically be forced to get new ones from Internic's parent company, Network Solutions Inc. (NSI), in Herndon, Va.

That's led critics to speculate about why NSI bagged the names. "They [NSI] seem to be embarking on a campaign to benefit their [Worldnic.net domain name registration] service," said Mike Sandburg, vice president at ISP 1,000 Islands Internet, in Watertown, N.Y

Intel Mobile CPU Roadmap 09:19 am - Kan
Sharks chewed up a Intel Mobile CPU Roadmap for 1999. Catch what Intel has to offer in the later part of the year.

In late Q3 of this year, Intel is planning on releasing their Coppermine (.18micron process technology) range of CPUs for the Mainstream Notebook segments. In the $1500 - $2000 range, the speed should roll in at the 400MHz mark and run at a reduced 1.6volts. For the more expensive Mainstream Performance 2 segment, a 500MHz will also be on the scene. For the Professional and Mainstream Performance 3 segments, not only is their promise of the 500MHz Coppermine but also speeds up to 600MHz.

SB Live! 09:16 am - Kan
The buggers over at WickedPC did a review on the SB Live!. So, what do they guys have to say about EAX vs A3D 2.0? Read on...

The Sound Blaster Live! and the Live! Value are PCI based sound cards that can support 4 speaker output, as well as the typical inputs, CD audio, joysticks, etc.. As we did state earlier, the biggest addition to the Live! series is the EAX support. Creative Labs also allows A3D games and applications to be heard on their board - great for them, not great for Aureal. Although they claim they support A3D, Creative considers A3D an API through DirectSound 3D. It's kinda support for it, but really not. The MX300 plans on having EAX support in Q2-1999. The Live! supports multiple streams of audio at once, allowing for programs to play sound at the same time

Soyo V6BE+ 09:14 am - Kan
New motherboard review over at Sharky on the Soyo V6BE+.

The cost cutting moves taken by Soyo on the V6BE+ are most evident in the removal of a 5th PCI slot and a 4th DIMM slot versus their highline SY-6BA+ 440BX mainboard. Buyers should know however that the V6BE+ does include a 3rd ISA slot on the board, although we suspect that the possibility of users filling up three ISA slots on any mainboard grows slimmer everyday.

A few major positive features on the V6BE+ that stand out are its support for up to 768MB of SDRAM, its complete hardware monitoring support for fan speed and CPU/system temp, and its precise BIOS controllable CPU routine.

CL TNT2 09:08 am - Kan
Dudes over at CRUS also stole a preview on the coming Creative TNT2 card.

Then he zoomed in even further onto a statue of a lions head, he kept zooming even closer and as we were getting even closer I suddenly noticed a bee on the nose of the lion, he kept zooming in even closer until we were looking at one of the feelers of the bee, even that was extremely well detailed (it even had tiny "hair" on it!!).

ATI Rage Fury 09:06 am - Kan
Those GPMGs from FiringSquad were shooting again, bringing you a review on the ATI Rage Fury.

However, there is a dark side to this otherwise good news. The Rage128 chipset has terrible 16-bit image quality. I notedd this in my preview of the card, and the same exact problem is present in the shipping card with the latest drivers from the ATI web site. I have mixed feelings about such good 32-bit benchmark results knowing that there's no alternative: the 16-bit output is so poor that I consider it unusable

Card Cooler 09:04 am - Kan
Socket370 also did a card cooler review by attaching two 12-volt fans together.

The airflow of most systems is very important to the user. Newly overclocked systems have to have a good circulating airflow, otherwise overclocking will be troublesome. The Card Cooler pushes air all the way to the motherboard, from the front. Of course if you already have a nice circulating airflow, this could disrupt it. So if you are one of the overclocking guys that wants to run at 600Mhz speeds with 15 cooling fans and perfect air displacement, then you might want to pass on this unit.

Elite P6BXT-A+ 09:02 am - Kan
Our bud over at Overclockers' Workbench sent note on a new Elite motherboard which features both Socket370 as well as Slot1 options on the same board.

The P6BXT-A+ is designed with Intel 440BX chipset based on both slot 1 and socket 370 architectures. This dual design board is equipped with six expansion slots (4xPCI, 2xISA - 1 shared, 1 AGP slot) which provides users the generous expansion capabilities. The Intel 82371EB PIIX4E chip (South Bridge) provides this board the power management function which can fully support the advanced configuration and power interface (ACPI) specification. The on board chip Elite PCI Audio-CMI8338 can provide your system the outstanding HRTF-based 3D positional audio quality with four channel speakers and a professional digital sound audio interface as 24bits SPDIF IN (0.5V~5V) and OUT. The P6BXT-A+ is designed on an ATX (304.8mm*200mm) board with three DIMM memory modules which supports up to 768MB PC/100 SDRAM memory modules.

10 March 1999 - Wednesday

3Com Palm V Review 22:49 pm - Wilfred
Our nice friends at ReviewZone just finished a review on the sleek Palm V device. If you think just having any ordinary PalmPCs in your hand makes you look cool, think again!

“It’s tiny!” The anodized aluminum case is only half as thick as a Palm III, slim and subtly curved. It’s seductively eye-catching: if people bought PDAs simply on the basis of how good they look, this would probably break all records.
But except for the improved display, the rechargeable battery and a few modifications to the OS, there is no real improvement over the Palm III beyond the aesthetic. People who travel a lot may even find the rechargeable battery more a hindrance than a help, if there aren’t any convenient wall sockets around when you need them. The Palm IIIx, on
the other hand, runs on two triple-A batteries, shares the Palm V’s Motorola DragonBall EZ processor and the same Palm OS version 3.1. The Palm IIIx is larger and clunkier than the sleek and curvy Palm V, but it’s still marginally lighter than the Palm III. It’s also the same size as the Palm III, meaning you can use Palm III accessories with the IIIx. As if all that weren’t enough, the Palm IIIx has twice the memory of the Palm III or the Palm V and is -unlike the Palm V- upgradable with more memory. The IIIx even shares the improved display, right down to the reverse backlight. And it’s $80 cheaper.

Guillemot Race Leader 22:36 pm - Wilfred
This is the cool looking wheel and pedal set you see those small kids swerving with at PCS Computers in Sim Lim Square. Vince sent a mail, directing me to his latest review of it at Extreme Hardware.

I'll admit to hoping that Guillemot could enter the PC racing arena with a bang. After all, the Race Leader is an affordable, force feedback racing wheel from a company known for both quality and value. The Race Leader price is right, but the poor clamp design take much of the steam out of the wheel's main selling point: force feedback effects.

Powerstone Review 21:07 pm - Wilfred
Ok, your all time favourite writer has scored with another of his Dreamcast console game review. Check out his latest on Capcom's Powerstone!

"With Powerstone, there are NO blocks allowed at all. All you can do is time your jumps and get the hell away from your opponent. This can get quite hairy when he is all charged up, and launching some major fireworks in your direction and there is nowhere to run or hide!"

Creative Savage4 20:44 pm - Wilfred
Looks like the guys at CRUS also managed to snatch a look at Creative's Savage4 card. They even stole a box shot! =)

"Creative also showed us the nVidia demo with the skyscrapers and the bee on the Savage4+ card, and indeed the card ran it, even though it was a bit slower than the TNT2. So when it comes to performance the TNT2 is definitely the faster of the two, but if you look at the image
quality I think that the Savage4 has a little extra to offer because of the S3TC."

"First we were shown some special levels of Unreal using a modified Unreal patch supporting S3’s S3TC (texture compression) features, and sure this was impressive. The first level was a small map featuring over 200Mb’s of textures (not one texture was used twice!), it was supposed too look like an alley or a backyard full of graffiti.

When using the sniper-rifle you could zoom in on a wall and see the tiny details of the wooden surface of a fence sprayed with graffiti. We we’re also shown the texture intensive Egypt and Gallery special levels of Unreal running perfectly fluid."

New Drivers for Spectra 2500 20:31 pm - Wilfred
Grab the latest drivers for your most prided video card. These are based on nVidia's Detonator drivers.

S25W9x20201.exe - 5.46Mb - Windows 9X driver version 2.02.01. This file contains both the display drivers and the utilities. In this release are NVidia's latest Detonator drivers version 1.13 and some new utilities. Read the Release Notes for more details about this release.

S25W9x20201.exe - 920Kb - Windows 9X driver and utilities version 2.02.01. This file contains ONLY the display drivers to get the new utilities download the above file. Included in this release are NVidia's latest Detonator drivers version 1.13. Read the Release Notes for more details about this release.

ATI Rage Magnum 20:24 pm - Wilfred
PCVelocity has a nice and detailed review on the ATI Rage Magnum. The card looks great on paper and beats the TNT in 32-bit colour at high resolutions of 1024x768. So do we go out and buy it???

Many people have been enjoying awesome frame rates with a Voodoo2 for over a year now, or great 3D image quality and impressive speed in a 2D/3D AGP card with the Riva TNT for the last six months. This card is basically catch-up as far as I'm concerned, and personally I myself won't be replacing my TNT with this card. Future Rage 128 cards, though, may be a different story.
What the ATI Magnum currently doesn't have on its side is driver maturity: while the card and drivers are both stable, the several problems I found while playing games and the slight trouble in 2D kept this card from really shining.

FourPointSurrounds Review 20:13 pm - Wilfred
Michael sent me a mail informing me of his review of the Cambridge PCWorks FourPointSurround Speakers at Extreme Hardware.

"Despite the low wattage on the satellites they are amazingly powerful for their size and can pump out their fair share of "thumping" sound. It's definitely not going to wake up the neighbors, but in a small room it may be all the sound that you need. There isn't an especially large amount of air pumped out of the small subwoofer either, which is disappointing, but the performance is acceptable when the subwoofer is placed in a corner, since it gains the benefit of its sound reverberating through the walls."

S3's Success With Savage4 & More.. 20:08 pm - Wilfred
NEWS.COM has it that S3 has quite a wild success with their Savage4 chip that they've signed up a whopping 36 new customers who will be making boards based on it. Then there's some bit about newer chips!

"We've had such wild success with Savage4, that it's not a question of who is designing in our new part--it's a question of who isn't designing it in," S3 chief executive Ken Potashner said in a statement.

"A chip dubbed the GX4 is due by mid-year. This is a brand new architecture for the high-end of the graphics market. Also, Savage/MX, a version of Savage for the portable PC market is slated for mid-year using Intel's AGP technology.

Maybe most significantly S3 is planning a product called Savage/NB, an architecture which integrates a graphics chip with the PC's chipset for the lower end of the PC market, slated for second half of 1999."

Secrets of High Performance CPUs - Part 2 19:59 pm - Wilfred
Ace's Hardware has posted part 2 of their "Secrets of High Performance CPUs" article. This time you can enjoy a good and informative read on superscalar CPUs.

High clock speeds are nice, but they are not what you call the most intelligent approach to get a lightning fast microprocessor. In fact, even if you could get a i80386 to run at 500 Mhz, it would be no match at all for a humble PII-233. So how about it? Want to know why the K7 is such a promising CPU? Why the Pentium Pro/PII was much more advanced than the Pentium and a big step forward in the Intel x86-world?

StarCraft BroodWars v1.05 Patch 18:29 pm - Wilfred
Kan and all StarCraft-ers, you can download the latest v1.05 patch for your favourite game right off Blizzard's site here. Things fixed in v1.05:

  • Reduced Academy cost to 150 minerals.
  • Reduced Science Facility cost to 100 minerals, 150 gas.
  • Reduced Spider Mine research cost to 100 minerals, 100 gas.
  • Reduced the cooldown for units on unload from a transport.
  • Added a limit so games can only be saved at most once every two minutes during a multiplayer game.
  • Fixed a bug that caused save game compatibility problems with 1.03 save games loaded into 1.04 and Brood War.
  • The 'something for nothing' cheat no longer gives Brood War upgrades in normal Starcraft games.
  • When using the 'exactly' modifier in trigger conditions, incomplete units are no longer included in the comparision.
  • Hallucinated devourers no longer leave acid spores on targeted units.
  • Spider mines are now properly affected by disruption web.
  • Neutral medics no longer auto-heal units.
  • Added a wireframe for Infested Duran in a dropship.
  • The low memory version of the disruption web art is now correct.
  • Terran insane AI no longer locks the system.
  • Fixed the bug that allowed terran buildings to move after landing.
  • Fixed the bug that incorrectly allowed 'morph to lurker' commands to be issued to units that weren't hydralisks.
  • Miscellaneous minor bug fixes.
  • (StarEdit) Eliminated dependence on updated comctrl32.dll
  • (StarEdit) Now displays language based on installed version of Starcraft rather than operating system setting
  • (StarEdit) Fixed a bug in the Player Upgrades dialog that could cause settings for one player to be inadvertently copied to another

Step-ThermoDynamics 16:42 pm - Kan
Bxboards took a close look at the new Step-ThermoDynamics STEP-UP FAIRBANKS Cooler this time. This is the company which dare to make overclocking guarantees on the coolers and processors they sell.

STEP's new flagship cooling product designed for the Intel PIII, and Celeron lines is called the FAIRBANKS. STEP sent BXBoards a FAIRBANKS mounted to a Celeron 400A that they guarantee will run stable at 500mhz for life. The FAIRBANKS cooling system employs a double fan, heat sink and peltier combination mounted on a unique beryllium copper backing plate that runs nearly the full length of the entire CPU board itself. This copper backing plate is then fused directly to the CPU with titanium dioxide at over 100psi. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat that has been used for many years in cooking and is making it's way into microelectronics as well. The FAIRBANK's copper plate acts to evenly distribute heat generated by the CPU to dual peltiers which, in turn, actively pump the heat to a double heat sink/fan combination for dissipation. This, by itself, is a superb design that could do the job quite well on it's own.

TNT2 Preview 16:42 pm - Kan
Another Riva TNT2 preview over at 4gamers. Will the new TNT2 be able to match the new Savage4 as well as Voodoo3?

As far as nVidia has confirmed the TNT2 will run at 125Mhz core speed as was originally intended for the TNT1, however considering rumors that have been floating around and looking at the general development for .25 micron products this seems very low. S3's upcoming Savage 4 will run at 125 and 143Mhz and these boards hardly break a sweat in action. The Voodoo3 (which is manufactured at the same plants as the TNT2 will be) runs at 143, 166 and 183Mhz (albeit there has been issues with the 183Mhz board). Hence it seems quite likely that the TNT2 will be available in at least a 143Mhz variant and quite likely a 166Mhz variant as well, if not it might not be competitive enough..

Diamond FireGL1 16:37 pm - Kan
Fastgraphics did a preview on the Diamond FireGL1 card. Well, this card is just not for everybody though.

A new level of Price-Performance in NT workstation graphics. The Fire GL1 delivers 4 million polygons per second, a ProCDRS rate up to 19+, (190+ CDRS) and 351 HE 99 WinMarks. Fire GL1 is optimized and certified for top 3D graphics applications, and offers user-customizable settings.

NT Service Pack 5 Beta 16:35 pm - Kan
Microsoft had began to distribute the first beta of NT Service Pack 5.

Microsoft Corp. began distributing Tuesday its first beta release yet another service pack update to its NT 4.0 operating system. The release follows on the heels of Microsoft's updated Service Pack 4, which it posted to its Web site in mid-February. Microsoft says Service Pack 5, the first beta of which will go to 500 customers, is not a required update, but will include fixes related to Dial-Up Networking, a new System Preparation Utility and various setup and installation issues. It also will include a Year 2000 update related to the Microsoft System Information Tool.

RealNetworks to play MP3 16:33 pm - Kan
Yup, RealNetworks is intending to support MP3 streaming as well. Check out this article over at ZDNN.

RealNetworks Inc. is reportedly developing a version of its streaming media player able to play files stored in the increasingly popular MP3 compressed audio format. The new capabilities, expected to be available later this year, are designed to help Real expand the library of audio content that can be delivered via its software, said industry executives familiar with the company's plans.

Optimizing the Disk Cache 16:29 pm - Kan
Adrian sent note on his new article on how to optimize the disk cache. Personally, I tried Cacheman which will automatically tune the settings for you.

That's the question that has been bothering many people, including yours truly. Generally, it has been accepted that the optimal Max value would be 1/4 of the system RAM. So, for a 64MB system, the optimal MaxFileCache value should be 16MB, which corresponds to a value of 16MB x 1024 = 16384KB.

You can set any value for the MinFileCache but a system should allocate at least 1/8 of the system RAM to the vcache. The values of both MinFileCache and MaxFileCache should be in kilobytes but when you write it down in the system.ini, just type in the number like the example above. DO NOT type in KB after the numbers.

Antarctic Overclocking Challenge 16:26 pm - Kan
Check this out. PhDWeb sent note on their Antarctic Overclocking Challenge which was done during the chilly weather over at UK.

Not everyone can get/afford Kryotech's solution and so they have to find alternate ways to chill their CPU's. Geoff and I are quite fortunate in this respect, as we have the UK at our disposal. Don't know what I mean? Well here in England, at this time of year it's cold. It's not Antarctica, Siberia or anywhere else as cold as that but it certainly isn't warm. So over the past couple of weekends, we have been taking our PC's out to the garage where the ambient temperature is about 0c and trying to get some high speed action.

Winbest Dreamer 2000 16:22 pm - Kan
FiringSquad fired a review on the Winbest Dreamer 2000. What exactly is this Dreamer 2000? Read on...

This challenge of convergence has been taken up by a small company in California called Winbest. Their new computing system, dubbed "Dreamer 2000" integrates a full-featured DVD player into a standard home computer. Surfing the Internet, watching DVD's, typing up term papers, and watching TV can be done on the same machine. Watching TV? This computer is designed to be connected to your television and home theater system. Gateway tried to do this in 1996 with their Destination 2000 system, as did Compaq with their PC Theater 9000. Both machines quietly went away, as DVD was not an option in those machines and the cost of the machine was well above the $1000 of the Dreamer 2000.

The gals over there also updated their Face Off article, this time focusing on the topic The End of Gaming Technology.

The first thing I wish to make clear is that in no way am I against more advanced technology in gaming. I just feel very strongly that too much emphasis on improving the capabilities of the engine or the special effects can end up hurting the game more than it helps. A lot can be done with "simple" or "outdated" technology. Look at Starcraft or Alpha Centauri. It goes to show you what a coherent design team can do for a product.

SuSE 6.0 16:19 pm - Kan
Those cheesecakes over at Ars-Technica baked a review on SuSE 6.0. By the way, Linux kernel 2.2.3 is available from kernel.org.

As with most any current OS media, the first CD of the SuSE set is bootable.  However, if your motherboard was still on the manufacturing line back when Larry Bird was schooling foo's then you'll probably have to use the accompanying boot floppy disk.  Upon bootup, you are introduced to the linuxrc utility, the Maitre d' of the SuSE install.  First it prompts you for some quick and easy information, just to break the ice.  With that complete, you proceed to the linuxrc 'Main Menu.'  

Half-Life 16:16 pm - Kan
Our pals over at 3DsoundSurge just did a review on Half-Life. Probably the "last one" on this game on the net as they called it.

Half-Life uses the Quake2 engine but the graphics and textures are definitely improved a lot compared to Quake2 or Sin. It's not quite up to Unreal except maybe the lightning, which is great. The environments in Half-Life are done realistically and with a lot of details, including blood stains on the walls and the characters faces where you can see the lips move when they talk. Half-Life's skeletal model systems offer very realistic movements, which is another significant improvement compared to Quake2.

9 March 1999 - Tuesday

Thoughts On Quake III IHV Test 20:35 pm - Wilfred
Boon Kiat popped me a blurb on what he thought of Quake III IHV running on his Canopus Spectra 2500 as well as his V2-SLI combo. Have a look at this over at GameZone!

I can't honestly say that QIII is a huge jump over QII. So far, the colours seem awfully close to Quake II (can anyone name all the shades of brown here?). Admittedly, everything seems more reddish now, but the colour scheme remains pretty much the same.

In terms of polygon count/bezier curves, there have been liberal uses of it, but it doesn't seem (in these test levels anyway) to leap out and amaze you. You only appreciate it if you stop and look at the scenery (and how likely is that in a game like Quake?) *grin* Lighting seems fine, and improved over QII's. The way the weapons light up the room as you fire them is just so cool!

SoundWorks FPS2000 Digital 19:50 pm - Wilfred
You heard (saw) it right! It's SoundWorks. It's Four-Point-Surround. It's Digital. I was so 'wowed' when I saw the pic after clicking the link at Alive! The actual page is in Jap, but a reader has seen it sold in HK for HK$1650 (S$368). It's digital, so it'll connect to your SBLive!'s Digital DIN.

Windows 2000 Preview 19:33 pm - Wilfred
The folks at GameWire have a preview on Microsoft's Windows 2000 OS. Judging from their experience with their beta version of the OS (a build quite a bit newer than Beta 2), it still looks raw for general use.

"Win 98 is supposedly faster than 95 and clearly faster than NT 4. But what about Windows 2000's speed performance? Well, to put it nicely, Microsoft better do something real soon to correct this very glaring problem. Man, the only way to even dignify this problem is that this is just a Beta and should be viewed as such. However, when I tell you that Windows 2000 takes forever to boot up, I'm not exaggerating. In fact, I once booted my computer and was able to cook a box of Mac & Cheese before I go to the Logon screen (the water was already boiling)."

"... games were very difficult to install so benchmarking them was obviously very difficult. Games such as Need for Speed III and Thief would not install correctly (I tried running a "fix" for Need for Speed III that works for NT, but it didn't work under Windows2K). Other games such as Starcraft and Quake ran pretty well, but there was a crispness about the game that was missing (especially when compared to my Win98 setup)."

More Clocking And Locking The PII (PIII) 19:26 pm - Wilfred
This is exactly what our friends at Ars-Technica called their follow-up article. Here's a less technical chunk of meat for you to digest:

The fact that the PIII core is not locked to a specific speed, but to a range of speeds, shows that my concerns about the feasibility of building an on-die, temperature-independent bus lock were justified. For those of you who read the earlier article, you'll recall that I stated that any bus-locking scheme implemented on-die would run into heat-related accuracy problems. This appears to be the case on the PIII, though they've got the accuracy problem under control enough to make an on-die bus lock feasible.

Creative Dxr3 To Use RealMagic Chip 18:40 pm - Wilfred
According to a reliable source, Creative shall be using Sigma Design's RealMagic MPEG-2 chips in its upcoming Dxr3 line of PC-DVD decoders. Anyway, he's pointed me to some preliminary developments, which took place some days back, hinting at this.

Sigma Designs, a maker of PC-DVD upgrade kits, will head to New York, Boston and Philadelphia next week to educate fund managers about its MPEG chips, one shareholder says. The chips compress and decompress digital audio and video signals.

The California company's conference call this week, led by CEO Thinh Tran, revealed that Sigma (SIGM) is winning business from C-Cube Microsystems' (CUBE) largest digital video disk customer, Creative Technologies (CREAF). "This effectively gives Sigma Designs a 100 percent market share in the PC-DVD upgrade kit market," says shareholder Glenn Holbert.

Diamond Monster MX300 18:37 pm - Wilfred
The people at WickedPC popped us a note about their latest review on the MX300. Haven't had enuf of it!

"What card should I buy? The Live or the MX300?" The answer isn't that easy though, as it depends on what you want to do with the card. For quick and dirty support, the MX300 proves to be king. If you like to tweak every game you own to the max, then the Live is probably a better choice. Neither card is better. The decision should come down to cost, support, bundle, and company reputation. You should be the judge on that part based upon experience. The MX300 is a superb choice for a new sound card, even if all you do is use a word processor. The card is clean, fluid, and sounds very crisp.

Wilfred Coughs 18:32 pm - Wilfred
Just want to thank all of you who's continually supported Hardware One, especially those of you who regularly send us newbytes of great reviews. BIG THANK YOU, yah? =)

Keeping Your Vid Cards Kewl - Part III 18:24 pm - Wilfred
Who's to say no if Kyle calls it Kewl instead of cool, part 3 instead of 2??? Yup, and Kan called me paranoid when I hung only one fan around my video cards - wait till you see this at HardOCP!

I doubt if it is making the individual cards any cooler, but I know for a fact that I have superior airflow to all the PCI and AGP devices now instead of just a few.  And that CANNOT be a bad deal....and you will trip when you hear how quiet these damn fans are.  They are not cheapies for sure....    One thing that you must remember when droppin more fans into your case. YOU ARE GOING
TO CREATE MORE HEAT INSIDE THE CASE.  So unless you have worked out a good exhaust system for your rig, this might not be for you. 

Something About DirectX 7.0 18:20 pm - Wilfred
GameSpot has posted an article about Microsoft's DirectX 7.0 which should be appearing on Windows 2000. Microsoft will be trying to establish W2K as the development platform for game developers. Here's even a clip about DirectX 8:

After DirectX 7.0 comes, naturally, DirectX 8.0. DirectX 8.0 will start to incorporate some of the Fahrenheit technology being codeveloped by Microsoft and SGI, along with some technology supplied by Hewlett-Packard. The danger is that Fahrenheit may become a great development tool for CAD and 3D modeling but won't suit the needs of gamers. Bachus acknowledged that, indicating that the DirectX team was working to ensure that Fahrenheit technology would also be well suited for game development.

Quantum Fireball CR QM313000CR-A  18:14 pm - Wilfred
Storage Review has done a review on the above harddisk drive from Quantum. Sporting modest specs, the Fireball CR managed to edge out its older sibling the Fireball EX.

As expected, the Fireball CR delivers incremental performances over the Fireball EX. Since the EX was a top performing 5400rpm disk, this isn't necessarily a bad thing- such increases draw Quantum closer than ever to dethroning the DiamondMax 4320. In the Business Disk WinMark 99 test under Windows 95, the Fireball lags behind the 4320 by a margin of 8%. The CR, however, manages to turn the tables in the High End Disk WinMark 99, sliding by the Maxtor by 9%. Longtime readers of this site know that Windows NT performance is a great strength of Maxtor drives. The CR can't quite keep up under WinBench 99/NT tests, falling behind by 9%-10%. The Fireball CR speeds past the Maxtor 4320 in ThreadMark under Windows 95 by a margin of 15%. The tables again turn under NT, however, where the 4320 triumphed by 16%.

Overclocking The Celeron 18:07 pm - Wilfred
GameCenter has just posted a guide on overclocking the Celeron. Oh didn't we have this before? Well, somewhat. This round it covers even the PPGA Celerons, so have a look!

Typically, if you get the machine to boot, count its memory, and give you a close or correct megahertz indicator for your CPU, you're on your way to success. (Note: The new core speed, expressed in megahertz [MHz], often will not be correctly indicated on the boot-up screen if it's a nonstandard number, such as 372 MHz.) If the machine refuses to boot up at all, there are two possible problems: there isn't enough voltage going to your CPU, or your CPU has simply failed to run at the speed you've set it to run. When you increase the megahertz level request, the CPU sometimes needs to draw more power to achieve that new setting. Abit's BX6 and BH6 are the only 440BX motherboards that allow you to increase voltage to the Celeron to give it the extra juice it needs.

CL TNT2 Preview 06:32 am - Kan
Don't drool. 3DHardware previewed the exclusive Creative Labs TNT2. Wah...

The TNT2 offers goodies such as a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 and AGP 4X support, thus combining the best out of the worlds of the Voodoo 3 and Savage4. Digital out for flatpanel displays is also something available, added to ensure the happiness even of the people hanging out on the cutting edge.

We were invited over by Creative Labs' offices in Stockholm for a preview of their TNT2 based graphics board - the 3DBlaster TNT2. The room was fairly small with two monitors located at one end of the conference table. The TNT2 we were shown was an Alpha Engineering board, the drivers were extremely beta, and it wasn't running at full clock speed. So bear in mind that things might come to change after this preview

BX6 2.0 06:28 am - Kan
SysOpt also did a review on the Abit BX6 2.0 motherboard.

To our surprise, 138MHz was stable with no hiccups. With the Corsair memory, 143MHz ran most of the time. It was by no means stable but I would definitely attribute the stability issues to the RAM. Running at 143MHz is well out of the RAMs specifications. The PII processor was running at a 2x clock multiplier (2x143=286MHz) and I have tested this one up to 360+ MHz. The level of quality clearly shows in the scarcity of capacitors on the board. This means that each one is placed exactly where it needs to be and the design scheme proves itself competent, as it has the ability to reach 143MHz. I am fairly confident that the 152MHz setting would work if we had RAM that would work at that speed.

8 March 1999 - Monday

Saitek Cyborg3D Review 22:41 pm - Wilfred
Vince dropped me a mail about their latest review on the Saitek Cyborg3D joystick at Extreme Hardware. I'd some difficulty loading up the pages (could be due to traffic), but well... seeing the cool looking stick was worth the wait. Here's a snippet:

The Saitek Cyborg 3D is a great choice if you're searching for an all-purpose joystick and like space sims, arcade racers and other action games. The Cyborg 3D has all the important features you'd look for in a joystick in '99: futuristic design, extreme customizability, solid construction, as well as plenty
of buttons and the all-important "3D twist" feature. The other issue I had with the Cyborg 3D was the immature nature of the shipping drivers, but these initial problems have been mostly cleaned up in the latest driver update. I've also been following the development of the Saitek Cyborg 3D website and have been very impressed with the new game configs, quick driver updates and overall level of online information on the Cyborg 3D.

3-Piece Speaker Systems Roundup 22:12 pm - Wilfred
Our friends at ReviewZone have done a nice 3-Piece Speaker Systems roundup. They have in this review a large stable of speakers which will interest any buyer searching for a comparison.

For the budget-minded user: Microsoft’s Digital Sound System 80. Though this is the cheapest system on the roundup, it offers an unbeatable price-to-performance ratio. Trust us, for a mere $110, this unit is worth every dollar you spend on it. 

For the gamer who lives night and day in a world of EAX and A3D, shooting down, err, whatever it is that you like to shoot down, we recommend the Labtec ATX-5820. This had slightly better gaming sound that the Microsoft Digital Sound System 80 and when you’re using this unit at high volume, performance is quite impressive for a $160 unit.

3DMark 99 Max Review 22:04 pm - Wilfred
The guys at FullOn3D just popped me a mail of their 3DMark 99 MAX review. Yup, here's some poetry they've written for it:

"Where 3D Mark 99 was a reliable waterhole in a desert of fata morgana testing, 3D Mark 99 MAX has been made the oasis that no caravan can afford not to visit.

Its subtle excertion of powerful force by demonstrating what floating point SIMD can accomplish may be - hands down - the single most valuable contribution to PC gaming this year."

Yamaha CRW4416E CD-ReWriter 21:26 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! In just two short days, Tech-Junkie managed to spit shine another review for display. Check out their writeup on the Yamaha CRW4416E CD-ReWriter. Here's a snip to see the extremity of their tests.

"... for the ULTIMATE THRASH TEST. Yes friends, we are going to run 3DMark99 at the same time as writing a CD. The only other CD-writer I've tested that can do that is the Yamaha 4260 SCSI. My Wearnes CDR-622 knocks out the moment I double click the 3DMark99 icon. Okay here goes! Put in a VideoCD in my Sony 24X and a blank CDR in the Yamaha. Start the writing process and start 3DMark99. Holy SH*T! It's WRITING! I noticed that 3DMark was slower. Every second or so, it would pause. But hey! It WROTE! 11 minutes later the Yamaha spat the disc out. Whoopee! I watched the VCD (Ghost in The Shell) and yep, it was FINE."

I believe you might want to check out our Yamaha CRW4416S (SCSI version) review too? =)

F-16 Aggressor Preview 21:11 pm - Wilfred
The Adrenaline Vault has previewed Bathesda SoftWorks' F-16 Aggressor. It sure sounds like the game will kick some ass when it finally comes out.

Learning from their mentor's mistakes, the engine in F-16 Aggressor is modeled to the F-16C in the most realistic manner possible without breaching national security. Phil Allsopp of General Simulations Incorporated says this, "Aggressor's flight model cannot be improved upon! It is already as accurate as the US military will allow." It covers all the bases, and has been designed to reproduce to an exacting detail everything about the real F-16C block 50/52 including the F-16 Falcon fly-by-wire system.

SoundBlaster Live! Value 21:03 pm - Wilfred
Haha! Leonard of Tech-Junkie has delivered a short but lively review (bad pun eh?) of the Live! Value. It's a refreshing read indeed, here's the appetizer:

Boom! Blam! Gasp! Ka-ching ka-ching! Bullets fly overhead as I dive behind a crate. Damn this guy's good! I hear his footsteps coming round the corner. I jam another clip into the MP5 automatic rifle and stand up, spraying bullets in panic.

RA-TA-TA-TA-Ka-ching-ka-ching. Tracers fly, bullets ricochet off the floors and walls of the warehouse, echoing hauntingly. Cold sweat rolls down my neck. He emerges from behind a crate, rocket launcher in hand, laser sight on my forehead. Wooosh! The rocket leaves him. In a split second I'm on the floor. The blast still reverberating in the warehouse around me. This is the Sound Blaster Live! It doesn't get any more real than this.

SouthPark Preview 19:24 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad has a preview of one of the most anticipated games - SouthPark? Well yes, take a look at what CalBear thinks of the much hyped game.

I too, was sorely disappointed in South Park, and maybe some of that was due to high anticipation for better. The game designers were definitely confused as to who their target market is. I think this game could still be fun for younger kids, perhaps those under 10. And certainly the inclusion of cute weapons like sniper chicken and the warpo ray lends itself to that market. Younger kids would probably be more forgiving of the simplistic levels and AI. The game doesn't even call multiplayer "kills" frags. They call them "knock outs" which suggests that the developers were aiming for the younger market. Yet, the game is rated for mature players and uses gratuitous amounts of profanity.

Ok, so it sucks! Thanks to FiringSquad anyway! Saved me some $$$

Interview with Dave Rossum 19:03 pm - Wilfred
I just got home ok? Anyway, our good pal Ee Siang has posted his first parter of an exclusive interview with Creative Lab's Chief Scientist at Alive! Definitely a must read for any Live! owners:

1. Creative has stressed repeatedly that the EMU10K1 is a very flexible chip with lots of untapped potential. This is very vague to some. Can you give us an insight to the "untapped potential" of the chip besides the fact that it is easily re-programmable? At its present state, how much "potential" has been realized?

Since my primary expertise is in hardware, I’m often amazed at the clever things the software guys can pull out of a flexible design. So to some extent, I don’t think it’s possible to say how much more "potential" there is in a chip like to EMU10K1. Certainly, the reprogramability of the chip is a bit factor; anytime you can change the personality of the chip, you can do lots of neat things you never thought of. Another factor is the fact that there are about a dozen features that we hardware designers threw in that the software guys haven’t turned on yet. Of course, I can’t say what they are and tip off the competition. Honestly speaking, however, I’d estimate that the current level of Live!Ware and EAX taps about 50% of the 10K1’s power.

2. The EMU10K1 is rated as a 1000MIPS DSP chip. With so much processing power, it shouldn't have any problem decoding Dolby Digital on the card. Will we see this feature implemented in the near future or we won’t because sales of Desktop Theatre 5.1 might be affected?

Despite the touted flexibility of the EMU10K1 and its incredible MIPS rating, hardware acceleration of AC-3 isn’t one of the things we can do. The reason is that we designed the 10K1 as a "time domain" processor, while Dolby Digital is largely implemented in the frequency domain. So the instruction set is not conducive to this kind of operation.

Wilfred Coughs 18:50 pm - Wilfred
Ho ho! Yeah, Wilfred finally coughs again (who cares?). Oh yes really glad to come home finding out that, in 2 days, we have some 2500 who already voted in the polls! Yippee! This is by far the most enthusiastic response of the 4 polls conducted. Well, vote if you haven't!

Asus P2T 18:31 pm - Kan
Asus P2T thermal probe review available from Pfuscher's Techware. Basically, this is a thermal probe manufactured by Asus to monitor the temperature of your CPU directly.

The Asus P2B-series comes with one onboard temperature sensor next to the hardware monitoring microcontroller and one to two connectors for external probes, meant for monitoring the CPU and power supply temperature. Probably to keep costs low, Asus decided those necessary cables with sensors not to include in the box. Now, after the P2B motherboard series is available for almost one year, those cables made it finally through the distribution channels.

CPU and Motherboard Tweak Guide 14:01 pm - Kan
Guide available over at Tweak3D. Bascially it covers the BIOS settings of your motherboard. 

CPU Level 2 (L2) Cache (also called External Cache)- This feature should also be enabled by default, but some people may have entered their BIOS and disabled it. Enabling this will activate your external, L2 cache. This cache runs at 1/2 clock speed on Intel Pentium II CPUs, full clock speed on Intel Celeron (A) CPUs, and various speeds if external. (common with Socket-7 motherboards) Disabling this will result in a large performance decrease, but will increase chances of overclocking success. Only disable if you want to overclock and you believe the limiting factor is your L2 cache. The original Intel Celeron 266 and 300 had no L2 cache.

Connecting using NAT32 13:59 pm - Kan
Been some time since we heard from Ace's Hardware. Anyway, their latest article is on connecting computers to the Internet with NAT32.

What you need is a way to do address translation (so your private LAN can send and receive packets from the outside world). Most UNIX-based operating systems provide this functionality (or it is easily downloadable), but what about Windows? Chances are, even if your other computers aren't running Windows, the computer with the internet connection is. Fortunately, there are a few programs available that perform this function in Windows, but for the purpose of this article, I will focus on configuring your LAN with one of them, NAT32

Supercharged Beast 13:38 pm - Kan
GA-Source posted a review on the Hercules Supercharged Terminator Beast.

One of the most innovative pieces of the Savage3D chipset's design is its inclusion of S3's texture compression. As a thought, Microsoft was so impressed with the technology behind this texture compression that they licensed it from S3 for inclusion in Direct X 6.0. The texture compression allows game developers to compress textures down to as low as 16% of their original size while still retaining full quality. With a computer that has 64 megs of memory, it becomes possible to play a game that has more than 200mb of textures.

Gigabyte GA-6BXE 13:36 pm - Kan
Motherboard review over at High Performance PC Guide. Hey! This one comes with 4 DIMM as well as 5 PCI/2 ISA/1 AGP.

Another very good point in favor of this motherboard is its very well written users manual. The GA-6BXE users manual is by far the most detailed motherboard users manual I've seen to date. Everything is well covered and most of the time an illustration is accompanying the explanations. Furthermore, the front panel and accessories connectors is not only the best arrangement I've seen to date but every set of pins of this connector has its on illustration showing exactly what they are used for.

Windows64? 13:23 pm - Kan
Even before Windows 2000 is out, The Register point out that Microsoft has already outlines the future of Windows 64.

He told delegates that Win64 is not NT 5 style VLM, and has uniform address space, with all pointers 64 bits, and all APIs that accept pointers will accept 64-bit pointers.

The intention, he said, was to provide ISVs with a uniform 4Tb user, 4Tb kernel, flat address space and to deliver Win64 on all 64-bit capable processors that support Windows NT. Err...those are the Alpha and Intel platforms, aren't they?

He claimed that porting from Win32 to Win64 "should be simple", and Microsoft has the goal to support both with a single source code base. There will be no new programming models

Privacy Bug 07:28 am - Kan
So, what else is new? Microsoft acknowledged a feature in Windows 98 which can be used to trace the identity of authors of electronic documents.

The company acknowledged that Windows 98, and other Microsoft applications such as Word and Excel, generate unique identification numbers that are linked to registered users' names, according to a report in the The New York Times.

The ID number is transmitted to Microsoft whenever a customer registers his copy of Windows 98 using the automated "registration wizard" included in Windows, according to the report.

The company said it will alter the way the registration process works in the next maintenance release of Windows 98, according to the report.

GamePad Pro USB 06:21 am - Kan
New review over at AGN Hardware. This time round, the guys reviewed the Gravis GamePad Pro USB.

Not too much has changed with the new USB version of the controller.  That same "Playstation" like feel has been preserved and the gamepad is almost exactly like it's predecessor.  What has changed is the new slick black plastic casing, the absence of the Grip switch on the back of the unit and the Y-connector which has been replaced, of course, by the USB connector. There is one drawback to switching over to USB, this device is only compatible with Windows 98 or the Apple iMac.  If you are still running Windows 95, even with the USB patch, it's nothing but serial for you.

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