28 March 1999 - Sunday

Loads of NT Variants. Roadmap Splintering  18:56 pm - Wilfred
The Register posted an article on Microsoft's plans to release multiple versions of W2K and it's undetermined roadmap. Recently, Microsoft seemed to be shifting strategies at moment's notice. The snips:

We already have three, in the shape of Workstation, Server and Enterprise Edition. [...] In addition to these there will be new embedded and data centre versions, and then smart card and CE versions. [...] These different versions will be multiplied further by the move to 64-bit. This will happen at the top end first, data centre and enterprise by 2001 (sure...) but everything else will follow. More versionitis comes in the shape of projected splits in the number of processors that different versions will support, so four way, eight way and beyond implementations of Win2k will be presented as being more powerful, and therefore will cost lots more dollars. The consumer release of NT, incidentally, is now targeted for 2002. This explains the recent retrieval of Windows 98 from the corporate morgue -- jump leads are being applied to the cold corpse of Good Old 9x even as you read.

Since I can't, in the near future, cash on W2k for the consumer, I'll give old Win98 a fresh coat of paint, push it out as Second Edition!

Gaming On Linux 18:35 pm - Wilfred
LinuxWorld has a good reading piece for you. Nicholas Petreley wrote about the importance of gaming on Linux boxes to spur the adoptation of the penguin OS at home.

If Linux can provide a gaming experience like those I've described above - and do so without crashing - Linux could easily become the de facto standard gaming platform for home use.

Think about it - what do people really demand from a home computer system besides easy installation? A Windows GUI? Some will argue that, but I don't buy it, at least not to the extent it has been argued. I've heard people say that KDE is inferior to the Windows 95 interface. Even assuming they have a case (I would disagree, personally), is that a meaningful measurement? How much did the vastly inferior Windows 3.1 interface inhibit the adoption of Windows into the home?

What else? The most powerful word processor? Hardly - most people I know who have a home computer barely know how to use cut and paste, let alone the advanced features of Microsoft Word. Yet they wouldn't settle for anything less than high-quality graphics and fast performance for game play. I'd like to see the research, but I would bet the advancement of PC hardware in the home is driven more by games than productivity applications.

Ha! Definitely, bring games, apps and all onto the Linux platform. Throw in plug-&-play and support for my crap load of devices! Err... I think I described 'a more stable version of Windows' here!

Free Online Virus Scan From Trend Micro 18:21 pm - Wilfred
Saw over at Ars-Technica a link to this useful new service from Trend Micro. Now, though the Internet, you can scan your system for viruses via Java/ActiveX based utility from Trend Micro! It's FREE!

Man, is this cool.  TrendMicro, makers of PC-cillin, have developed a virus scanner that runs over the web, and it's free to use.  If you're a Netscape user you'll have to download the Java version, but IE users can run the ActiveX scanner right from the browser.  It's pretty fast, too.

Red Hat Trying To Hijack Linux? 18:13 pm - Wilfred
CNN has got an article about the Red Hat conspiracy theory. While rumours have been running around for a long while, many seem to be truly worried.

To some in the Linux community, Red Hat Software Inc. seems to want to hijack the free Unix variant. But in interviews with Computerworld, Red Hat President Matthew Szulik endorsed the Linux Standards Base (LSB), the official Linux standards group.

Superbike World Championship Review 17:47 pm - Wilfred
CRUS sent mail of their Superbike World Championship review. One cannot but take notice of an Electronic Arts game right? Also, they've snapped for you a couple of nice in game screenshots, so take a look won't you?

I enjoyed every moment I played Superbike World Championship and I still play it every day as it is a fun and challenging game, with excellent graphics, great physics and plenty of excitement. But you better have a powerful computer to play the game with all the graphics and computer contrrolled bikers. Until now has Grand Prix Legends been the best racing simulator but now there is a new game that will be played by the racing fans for a long time and it is called Superbike World Championship. Go out and buy this game now.

TNT2 Review 10:39 am - Kan
Riva3D posted a review on the TNT2. Check out the performance of the TNT2 vs the Voodoo3 as well.

Who would have ever guessed that the TNT core was capable of such greatness? The speculation surrounding the TNT upon its arrival on the scene last year was mixed, and many doubted that the move to a .25 micron die would make much difference in overall performance. Sure, memory and core speed helped, but without a smaller die and subsequent lower operating temperatures, the latter would not have been possible. Not only has the TNT-2 bridged the performance gap between the TNT and the V3, it has actually bested the V3. In many instances the TNT-2 flat out surprised me with better 32 bit performance than a V3 running in 16 bit mode. I had to check and double-check just to assure myself that the results were accurate. After spending over 25 hours in testing, I can assure you that they are. :)

HSDRAM 10:37 am - Kan
LostCircuits posted an article on HSDRAM.

From the above, it should be clear that the overall transfer highly depends on the so Ccalled CAS factor. The important word here is "timing", that is there are 3 parameters that can be modified to increase or decrease the overall throughput being the RAS to CAS delay, the CAS itself and last no least the precharge. In other words, by reducing the number of cycles required for each of these processes, the utilization of the bus transfer can be sped up from 4 words / 10 clock cycles to 4 words / 7 clock cycles. This translates in an enhancement of the absolute transfer rate from 40% to 58%, resulting in a 45% higher data transfer. Needless to say that these aggressive timing settings require highly advanced hardware.

Security Flaw in IE 5 10:29 am - Kan
Read it over at Sysopt.com that apparently there is a security flaw in IE5 such that other web servers are able to log the contents of your Windows clipboard. Imagine them capturing your favourite porn sites links. Duh!

Yes, you read correctly. IE5 has a security flaw that allows web servers to log the contents of your Windows clipboard cache to their server, without your knowledge or consent. Whenever you copy text, using the "edit -> copy" feature of just about every windows application, or hit "CTRL-C" to copy text, that text gets placed into the windows clipboard. You can then paste that text to Windows notepad, an email message, or wherever you feel like it. However, thanks to Microsoft IE5's default security setting, any web site using a snippit of Java/Active X code can read any and all of the text you have on your Windows clipboard.

Interview 10:21 am - Kan
Savage sent note on their interview with Dylan Rhodes, marking and product manager of Creative on the coming 3D Blaster Savage4 product.

Q: What resons did creative have to decided to go for a single Savage4 model based on the PRO version ?

A: Due to our massive purchasing power and efficient distribution network,we're able to offer a card with the Savage4 PRO chip and 32MB of memory for an incredibly low price.  Making this level of technology so affordable reduces the need for additional retail models with less memory or fewer features.

Logitech Wingman Formula Force 00:40 pm - Wilfred
If you'd read Julian's review on the Microsoft SideWinder Force-Feedback, you be happy to learn that Flashman has written short comparison review on the Logitech WingMan Formula Foce.

"In white dress shirt, classy red tie and black dress pants, you see this idiot of a chap stepping on the gas pedals, drive like a maniac with a stream of unprintable shit streaming from my mouth?"

Why Microsoft Is Worrying About Linux 00:31 pm - Wilfred
CNN has a very very interesting article on "Why Microsoft Is Worring about Linux" or perhaps why they should! Opinions and more opinions!

While Microsoft struggles to take its proprietary scalable clustering solution for Windows NT beyond failover fault tolerance, IBM recently demonstrated the high scalability of Linux using easily available tools. Earlier this month at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo, IBM clustered 17 Linux servers to create a $150,000 supercomputer that runs as fast as the $5.5 million Cray. But the coup de grace is the fact that IBM did this with freely available Beowolf clustering technology and a copy of Red Hat Linux purchased the day before the clustering demo.

The Linux portion of the above solution weighs in at $49. You can't even use Windows NT to create the same solution today. If or when Microsoft finally delivers such a solution, does anyone think it will do so for a total of $49?

New Info On AMD's K7 00:26 pm - Wilfred
Johan of Ace's Hardware sent note of his article on the K7 chip. Here's what he sent allow too, have a look:

We have published some new (or if you like, less know) info about the K7. This article answers questions like:

  • AMD promises a 200 mhz bus for the K7, so will we need 200 MHz capable ram ?
  • Will we have to throw away our new 100 MHz SDRAM?

Poll #6 Results 00:15 pm - Wilfred
Yup. A week has passed quickly. So as usual, I have with me the poll results of "What Peripherals Will You Buy Next?". Look at the figures. Looks like most of you who surf along to Hardware One are pretty well equipped people.

44% already got all the stuffs man! And there was a draw between the desire for a scanner and web camera. Ok, take part in our new poll that has just been set up, will ya?

27 March 1999 - Saturday

Epidemic Virus Infects Corporate E-Mail 18:58 pm - Wilfred
A computer virus epidemic broke out within certain corporate email systems. Those hit hard included Intel and Microsoft, where a Word macro virus that replicated pornography-related information wrecked havoc thoughout their email systems.

The virus, which was identified by Network Associates Inc. (Nasdaq:NETA) as 'Melissa,' originated in Western Europe and was first discovered on the alt.sex newsgroup. Computer security experts said the virus wreaked havoc with corporate e-mail as it sped across the Internet on Friday.

"The proliferation of this virus is something we've never seen before," said Srivats Sampath, general manager of Network Associates' McAfee unit.

"Because there's so much e-mail passing through a server, it's basically taking down the servers," Sampath said. He added that twenty large companies had been infected by late afternoon, including one that saw 60,000 users affected.

Whoa! This is one malicious 'Melissa'. It's one thing to be careful when opening file attachment from a suspicious source, but what if it came from your friend? Check out what this virus does from this snip:

The Melissa virus propagates via e-mail. Attached to the e-mail is a Word file that, if opened, launches a macro that replicates a message to the first 50 names in the recipient's Outlook address book. The subject line reads: "important message from," followed by a user name. The body consists of a text message that says, "Here is that document you asked for... don't show anyone else;-)." The infected documents reportedly contain information on porn Web sites.

The virus specifically affects Outlook and does not trigger the multiple e-mails on other messaging platforms, such as Lotus Notes. However, people using e-mail software other than Outlook may be able to spread affected files by sending them to Outlook users, experts said.

D-Link DFE-905 Network Kit Review 18:28 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad posted a review on the D-Link DFE-905 Network Kit. Keen on setting up a small LAN within your office or home, but can't fathom the hassle? Check out this kit:

D-Link's DFE-905 Network Kit is a superb network starter kit. It includes all the necessary equipment and network setup information. Installation was painless for us, and the network performs just like a well-setup LAN should. The 4 port hub leaves room for up to two more computers, and there's an uplink port for even greater expandability. For only $110, this kit provides a great opportunity for beginners to get their feet wet in the world of networking.

One of the things we'd really like to stress is ease of installation. Even following well-laid directions can end up in botched installs and hours of frustration, but the D-Link kit was a breath of fresh air. This is one of the few times "Plug'n'Play" really delivers.

Of course, check out our very own "Networking for Everyone" article, in which Keith reviewed the Compex 10MBits Network Starter Kit.

Wilfred Coughs 18:16 pm - Wilfred
Just finished a geek walk with Kan at everyone's favourite hangout - Sim Lim Square! Haven't been there in a month... boy! It was packed with people squeezing for their best buys. What I was tempted to buy today...

  • IBM Deskstar 10.1Gb (S$299! Everywhere!)
  • Pioneer DVDROM + Creative Dxr2 MPEG2 Card (S$199! VideoPro)
  • Creative TNT 16Mb AGP Boxed (S$152! Shop left of MarketPlace)

What we ended up buying? Hmm... a box of CDRs for Kan and StarSiege for me!! As always, buy original! Don't run the risk of getting the W95.CIH virus said to be rampant in the OEM (you know what I mean?!) version.

Molding The Myth 11:45 am - Wilfred
Read the feature review of Molding The Myth, The Games of Star Wars: Episode 1, at GameSpot. It's a huge feature and it's not meant for fanatics only!

Given LucasArts' track record and the skill it's demonstrated previously in the Star Wars universe, gamers are excited too. After stepping inside the bubble of Episode I in a theater, LucasArts can now let gamers bask in the world of George Lucas' imagination time and again in the comfort of their own homes. "When I was a kid and saw Star Wars," admits Dreskin, "there was no way to take it home besides the official movie magazine. I'm just so excited that we can give everyone a piece of the Episode I experience they can play over and over again right after seeing the film."

Everquest Review 11:37 am - Wilfred
PCBlitz sent note on their Everquest review which they just posted. Have a look at what this massively multiplayer online RPG game has to offer and what the chubs thinks of it.

There is a real sense of community within Everquest. The communication system Verant has devised allows players many different, color coded, ways to talk to each other. There are even different languages for each of the races that only that race can understand. If another race doesn't understand your native tongue all they'll see is gibberish. Of course there's the common tongue (amazingly English has even penetrated the realms of Norrath, not to mention all the many worlds found in Star Trek) which everyone can understand. Chatting is an integral part of the EQ experience, whether making new friends, dueling other players, or screaming for help as you're being chased by a hoard of Orc Centurions.

Hard Drive Guide 05:48 am - Kan
That's a lengthy article over at FiringSquad on a guide for hard drives. Check it out!

We here at FiringSquad have decided to step in again with our How to series of guides. We'll show you the basics of hard drive operation, and what determines the speed of a drive. Also, what are the differences in the hard drives out there? There are a whole variety of features that are offered. Plus, there are a bunch of interfaces out there, including the newer ATA-66 and Ultra-2 Wide SCSI. We'll explain all of this, and hopefully more! There is A LOT of info related to hard drives. 

Celeron Overclocking Guide 05:32 am - Kan
Updated Celeron overclocking guide from SharkyExtreme. This is a step by step guide teaching you how to overclock from the 300A up to the 433 MHz Celeron.

By taking the Celeron core and mounting it on a standard PCB wafer, overclockers could once again mount a high powered fan/heatsink directly on the surface covering of the core itself, instead of having to put up with the poor heat dissipation qualities of the P2's SECC Cartridge. This means that the fan/heatsink would be able to perform its job better, and eliminate more heat that in the covered and blocked Pentium 2 line, which leads to better overclocking.

Sony Memory Stick First Looks! 01:02 am - Wilfred
Aik Phiang has scored a first look on at Sony's new Memory Stick recordable memory, designed for use in next generation's digital cameras and AV equipment.

Much more than a new way of recording, the Memory Stick is a new way of thinking, a new way of sharing and connecting the digital content of one's life, without barrier, whether at work or at play.

Last Day of Poll 00:58 am - Wilfred
Before we sum things up this later this evening, here's your last chance to vote if you haven't. Tell us what will make you part your money next!

26 March 1999 - Friday

Flashman's Thoughts On MS Wheel Review  23:06 pm - Wilfred
Hey! You know what? Our editors had some kind of 'scuffle' and ha! Flashman sent along his thoughts on Julian's review posted yesterday. Hear them both out!

Damnit! I read Julian's article with great anticipation, feeling, well, disappointed at the comments he made, namely: 1) Steering Lag 2) Understeer

Surprisingly, he ended on an optimistic note, though I think it's because he blew S$359 on it and he's afraid his wife will fry him for the spendthriftness. Me, I won't tell my wife! She'll kill me!

In any case, I've been secretly looking around for a force feedback wheel too, and guess what? I think I found the best already.

I must confess - I'm a damned driving maniac. From when I was 4, conversations with certain bothersome adults went like this:

Adult: Flash, what do ya wanna be when ya grow up?
Flash: Doctor, lawyer
Adult: Why? You wanna save people? From disease and           law? How noble.
Flash: NO! Of course not!
Adult: Wha .. t?
Flash: Let me explain for the hundredth time, doctors and  lawyers make money, tons of it. And the only reason why I want to be either of them is to make enough money to buy a sports car, trash it and sell it in one year, to buy another one.

Well, in real life, another addition to my pathetically busy schedule has been test driving. A secret: A great test-drive spot, is near the airport on the quiet highway Changi Coast Road, off the road, into a big piece of flat land, and the tarmac's pretty curvy and there're virtually no cars at all times. You can do doughnuts to your hearts' content.

Test driving the crippled (non-STI) Imprezas, IS200 Altezzas, the new MGs and Miatas and the Alfas, qualifies me to gauge what the hell 'good feel' is, I guess. Since I gotta do it all the time, even without a car, the damn wheel becomes increasingly important.

So I chanced upon the new Wingman Force Feedback Wheel, comes with a Logitec mouse and some software, and I must say, it's bloody brilliant. Running NFS3, there's no steering lag, the 1.0 turns L-R was totally sufficient, the size was right though smaller replica of a Momo wheel. I didn't buy the wheel, but I bothered the shop many times during the last week, just hooting away as the lesser Ferraris gave way to my Maclaren F1.

Force feedback was sufficient, feels like driving a IS200 Altezza, a little lighter but you must consider that it's half the diameter of a momo wheel.

It has 4 buttons on the wheel itself, with 2 paddles left and right Daytona/F1 style. At a 1.0 turn maximum, this arrangement is damn good for gearchanges, especially when I get my hands on MacRae's rally game.

Because of the 1.0 max turn, there's absolutely no problems with the steering having too long a throw. Remember always: a long throw must be accompanied by a larger wheel. Smaller wheels MUST have shorter throws.

Actually, there were no complaints. It felt right. The pedals had the correct tension, and the braking had good feel. You wanna know how it all feels like? Get behind the wheel of a Honda Civic and feel the tension, then halve it. It's like that.

After Julian's article, I hope that those of you wanting to go for a wheel aren't discouraged. There're better things than Microsoft now that the competition has learned, and Logitech is a very great company when it comes to gaming peripherals now. Considering that Logitech has thrown the full weight of its resources behind input devices and that Microsoft has so many other things to do, Logitech is bound to come up with better products sooner or later.

But I have to try out the MS wheel at least once first. Before I irreversibly condemn it. And you know, I hate the Sidewinder software for mapping and stuff like that. I need a lean and mean installation. I don't need the lag these mapping stuff introduce, you know what I mean ...

My great testimony on the Freestyle USB still stands. That was one great product.

So I think I'll just get out and buy a Wingman FF Wheel today, after I hands-on the MS wheel. Julian's article really screwed the MS FF wheel for me because I trust that guy, and my apologies to Julian for his S$359 bucks. And thanks for telling us all.

Ha! I don't know what you make of it, but isn't interesting to see them fight? Anyway, Flashman promised me a full review on the Logitech Wingman Formula Force as soon as he buys it for himself. So watch out for it! Flashman vs Julian or Logitech vs Microsoft...

Past IE4 Downloads Exaggerated 22:54 pm - Wilfred
Microsoft said its new Web browsing software has been downloaded by more than 1 million people in record time, forcing executives to admit the software giant exaggerated public response to the previous version, released in 1997. The full article is at CNet, but I ripped Ars-Technica's explanation on how it happened! Ha!

Curious about how Microsoft can be so successful with such poor math and reasoning skills? It turns out that when they announced that IE 4 statistic, they didn't bother telling anyone that they counted any download of the Active Setup executable (a piddly half-meg piece of code that does nothing but download the rest of the browser) as a download of IE 4. I think this is what marketing people call spin; it sure has my head pulling a Linda Blair.   Perhaps other companies can adopt this practice as well; I'm sure Ford would have no trouble outselling Honda if its statistics counted every test drive as a sale. -Dr. Evil

Promise Ultra ATA/66 Controller  22:47 pm - Wilfred
Anand has posted his review on the Promise Ultra ATA/66 Controller. Wait you must be distracted by the pic below? Well, check out if Anand's findings are as what they claim.

I won't leak what he found out about the performance, but interestingly, using this card would expand your max supported IDE devices to 4. I could use that!

Sim Lim Square Craze  22:39 pm - Wilfred
There is a current craze in Sim Lim Square. The Yamaha 192XG PCI  original card, (Yamaha branded all over the PCB) is selling for S$38 in Sim Lim Square to end-users. Supports full Sensaura 3D audio. Crazy! Used to be a hundred bucks!

High-speed Mobile Data Phone  22:20 pm - Wilfred
Wow! Check out this article at EETimes. LG has developed a 3rd generation wireless phone capable of transmitting image data at up to 384 kbits/s.

SEOUL, South Korea A synchronous version of a new third-generation wireless phone developed by LG Information and Communication can transmit image data at 384 kbits/second.

The mobile phone, which was demonstrated here earlier this month at the Anyang Central Institute, is based on the emerging global International Mobile Telecommunication 2000 (IMT2000) standard. Along with its 384-kbit/s image transmission capability, the phone provided 155-Mbit/s asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) exchanger capability between networks and from central to local offices.

Pentium III 500Mhz Review  22:05 pm - Wilfred
GameSpot has a short review on Intel's Pentium III 500Mhz CPU. I don't have to elaborate, you can check out the snip here:

As you would expect from a part that runs at 500MHz, performance is very good, indeed. However, if you already have a 400MHz Pentium II or better, it's probably not worth upgrading now - wait for faster versions. If you have a Pentium 266 or 300, it might be worth considering - but you also might just wait for the prices to drop. But if you're in the market for new systems, 500MHz Pentium III systems are going for the same price the PII/450s were selling for only a couple of months ago. So, if you're not concerned about the processor serial number, a spanking new Pentium III may be just the ticket to remove those performance woes you've been having in Unreal.

Microsoft Intellimouse Series  22:02 pm - Wilfred
Ben of WickedPC popped me a mail that he's reviewed the entire series of Microsoft Intellimouse (mice).

The IntelliMouse series is quite impressive. The software used to control the mice is easy to use as most Microsoft products are. My favorite part about the mice is really the distance meter. It keeps track how many miles you've moved your mouse. Pretty good for a few giggles to see how much you've wiggled that thing.

Yeah! I love my sexily curved Intellimouse, but I should have waited for the 'matt' budget version to appear. The smooth surface tends to "feel oily" after hours of usage.

Expendable Preview  21:55 pm - Wilfred
Gamer's Crypt sent note of a preview of Expendable over at their site. Pop over for a look at what might come to be a great game!

At the very least, Expendable features graphics that will make you wish you'd bought a spill-proof keyboard, as drool slips ceaselessly from your gaping mouth. It features simple, fun gameplay, and many different and varying environments to gib the living shit out of whatever alien force has come to pray yet again on the unsuspecting human race. The weapons are outrageous, and incredibly fun to use, as mowing through hordes of alien scum has always been a popular past time of the average gamer. Power-ups, rapid fire, platform elements, and a military score in the background - get those gamepads ready for a pounding, for April 30th will see many gamer's monitors light up with the blast of an Expendable rifle. Amen to that.

Wilfred Chokes And Coughs  21:24 pm - Wilfred
Why? My buddy called himself a "Liver!"? Now isn't that funny? Liver? Using the SBLive! makes him a liver? I think it's the effect of Encephalitis on his brain. Hmmm...

Interview  14:05 pm - Kan
HotHardware also had an interview with David Kirk, Chief Scientist over at nVidia on TNT2.

What are the clock frequencies you can hit now and what's the heat like being produced at these new high clock rates? Do you need to have heatsinks and fans attached to keep it cool?

I don't think that we've announced target clock frequencies for TNT2 yet, but I don't think that you'll be disappointed. We also haven't announced the thermal
specifications - our OEM board and PC partners will make these decisions for the products that they ship.

Plextor PlexWriter 8/20   08:04 am - Kan
AGN Hardware posted an exclusive review on the Plextor PlexWriter 8/20 max CD writer. This baby features a 4MB buffer, 20X read and an impressive 8X write speed. Imagine you can churn out CDs at less than 10 mins a piece. Wow..

Plextor still has a heavy reliance on the CAV (constant angular velocity) technology, which give their drives an effective range of speeds instead of 1 constant speed.  The CD market has seen a few CLV (constant linear velocity) drives, that have met with limited success as of late.  Plextor seems to have their own take on CAV vs. CLV, and despite the faster nature of CLV, Plextor drives continue to win awards and the hearts of reviewers.   For more on CAV and CLV drives, read our reviews of each here: Kenwood Multibeam 40X (CLV) & Plextor UltraPlex 40max (CAV).

Aztech PCI338-A3D  08:02 am - Kan
Upgrade Center had a review on the Aztech PCI338-A3D sound card. Nah, once a Liver!, always a Liver! :)

The card had great overall performance, but there was two things that really impressed me more than anything.  Those were the outstanding A3D support and quality as well as the outstanding midi quality.  I tried throwing everything at this card that I could.   The A3D effects were always produced properly, not to mention they were very distinct.  I really felt like I was in somewhat of a "surrounded environment." 

A - Z of Overclocking  07:58 am - Kan
All you ever wanted to know about overclocking, available at Review Zone.

Many people started dabbling in overclocking during the Pentium era. The reason for this was that Intel had come up with a chip and fabrication system which left a bit of headroom when it comes to the operating speed of the processor. It should be noted that AMD chips such as the K5, which were in use at the same period, did not enjoy this quality and were at the limits of their capabilities.

BX6 2.0 vs ZM6  07:54 am - Kan
Kyle had a motherboard shootout between the BX6 2.0 vs the ZM6. Will it surprise you if the ZM6 is found to be faster than the BX6 2.0? Read on!

The ABIT ZM6 (which will now be referred to as the ZM6 Rev 1.00, JJ :^) ) is a distant cousin to the BX6. His is a slimmed down unit comparatively speaking. The ZX chipset which is really a cheaper version of the BX chipset by Intel is stuck on this Mobo. What is the difference? Basically the ZX chipset only supports about 25% as much SDRAM, and will only support 4 PCI devices (with a couple exceptions). 2 ISA, 2 USB, 5 PCI, and 1 AGP slot.

Interview with S3 07:50 am - Kan
That's an interview with S3's PR man, Paul Crossley, on the Savage4 chip over at savage.tentex.com.

Q: How much would it affect performance in any sense running a 4x AGP on a 2x AGP Motherboard, have you got any actual benchmarks to show us?

A: We are still very limited as to what we can say regarding AGP 4X. Suffice to say that the AGP 4X version will be significantly faster when running texture & resolution intensive games.

25 March 1999 - Thursday

Dual Celeron 21:54 pm - Kan
Our pal over at Digital Photography Review posted a review on the Dual Celeron 300A PPGA version. Check out the pictures!

Turning the circuit board over I used the fine screwdriver to remove some of the insulation around this hole, took a piece of wire, cut away all but three of the strands (to make it small enough to fit through the hole) and slipped it through, a blob of solder on the other side and we're now connected to B75.

K Desktop Environment 1.1 20:40 pm - Wilfred
Caesar of Ars-Technica posted his review on KDE 1.1 for Linux. Even a hardcore Linux guru can add a softer side to his OS environment right? Check out what this GUI's got to offer!

Personally, I believe that KDE 1.1 is a modestly extensible, quick, and stable environment, and I think you'll see from this review that KDE is putting a face on Linux that's bridging the gap between so-called established, "easy to use" OSes--like Windows and the MacOS--and Linux, the mythically evil, CLI-based realm of pain and suffering. If you're new to Linux, perhaps you could look forward to the day when KDE holds you back. If you're comfortable with Windows' GUI, KDE is certainly not going to make you claustrophobic.

Microphone Taps in All PCs Since 1996? 20:36 pm - Wilfred
Here's an "alarming" story you will want to hear. ZDNet has an article that claimed a small mic of some sort existed on ALL PCs purchased after March 1996 and it has been routinely used by firms/ISPs to collect sound taps. Definitely a juicy read, but I'm skeptical such a big scam could have been pulled off.

It turns out that virtually every computer system purchased after March 1996 contains a microphone, and that the IT departments at Polar and other companies had routinely been using special sound-activated software to record and collect conversations.

Microphones, which cost manufacturers less than a quarter, had been mandated in the 1996 IEEE RFC 0401 PC/Telephony spec, but few users have taken advantage of them. However, Polar's attorneys admitted that most IT departments, and even major Internet providers, have been running special SCP (Speech Collection Port) software that uses the microphones to bug conversations as a "protective measure."

Aureal's Toni Schneider Interview On I3DL2 20:20 pm - Wilfred
GA-Source has scored an interview with Toni Schneider of Aureal on I3DL2. Not surprisingly, the session drifted to more talk about their competition.

A3D 2.0 even though is a very advanced technology, is not supported widely among the game developers. You announced your support and development in the new I3DL2, why do you feel this technology will be supported and used by game developers?

A3D 2.0 is supported where it counts: In the key titles and with very high quality implementations. It does no good for anyone in the long run to be in lots of games but not sound very good. I3DL2 will face the same challenges in terms of needing both support from lots of developers and good quality content so the end-user actually benefits.

Team Fortress Classic Review - Part 1 20:14 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad posted part 1 of Valve's Team Fortress Classic review. Those of you who haven't had enough of Half-Life can look here for a boost. Here's their little teaser:

After weeks of waiting for Half-Life: Team Fortress only to find out that it was going to be a long time before we could get out hands on it and then finding out that Valve was going to make Team Fortress Classic for Half-Life, I could barely contain myself as the files installed. Well now it's here, and TFC is definitely worth the wait.

New Drivers for Creative Labs TNT 20:07 pm - Wilfred
Saw over at VoodooExtreme that Creative has released some new drivers for their TNT card. Both Win9x and NT versions are available.

GBRT-9XWEB-1-US (Revision 3)
This Win9x driver update is based on nVIDIA RIVA TNT driver version 1.13
. supports OpenGL screensavers. Allows real-time stencil shadow effects in games which support this feature, such as Unreal

Solves video synchronization and misalignment problems in BlasterControl. Includes latest BlasterControl help files to add context-sensitive Help topics for three new options in the BlasterControl Tweak Module. These options are for DirectX5 and DirectX6 compatibility features.

GBRT-NTWEB-1-US (Revision 1)
This NT4 driver update is based on nVIDIA RIVA TNT driver version 1.12. New Tweak is supported. Solved display problems related to virtual desktop when set to higher resolution outside the viewable area. Fixes screen flickering when running Mystify screensaver in 8 bit color depth.

Powercolor Dreamcode 14:52 pm - Kan
Dimension128 did a review on the Powercolor Dreamcode. This is a integrated gamer's motherboard with a built in Riva TNT as well as a onboard Yamaha Sensaura 3D chipset.

I found that reviewing a mainboard that includes onboard graphics and sound is very different from reviewing standard mainboards. Firstly, in testing such an integrated board we are looking at not one product, but three products, each with its own ups and downs. Secondly, integrated mainboards have some inherant qualities which set them apart. People who like to build high-performance computers generally shy away from integrated boards, because of their main disadvantage: a very short upgrade path.

PC DVD 14:50 pm - Kan
FullOn3D posted a PC DVD - A Player's Guide. A good read if you wish to get a DVD drive for your computer.

This overview is approaching the subject in two ways. First off I'll give you a feature comparision between software based and hardware accelerated solutions that are on the market as we speak. Secondly I'll give a detailed, limited review of each of the contenders in the race, with recommendations as to who should be pining for which solution to bring digital cinema to their screens.

Voodoo3 2000 Review 14:32 pm - Kan
Sharks chewed up a review on the revision B of the Voodoo3 2000 video card. Check out the performance of this baby.

As with all past and present Voodoo architecture, the Voodoo3 2000 is limited to 256x256 texture sizes, which is starting to get a little out of date. Another sore point (which Nvidia has pointed out by advertising the number '32') is the number '32'. Although the Voodoo3 spec sheets and adverts claim that the chip has a 32-bit color graphics pipeline, this does not mean that it supports 32-bit color 'externally'. It does render at 32-bit color internally (if that makes it any sexier for you then so be it) but 16-bit color is the ceiling for any 3D game running on a Voodoo3- period (unless of course you play and view games 'internally'). The 32-bits internally, then gets interpolated by the RAMDAC and is rendered at 16-bit externally (get it?).

Skywell Magic TNT 14:30 pm - Kan
Hot babes over at HotHardware posted a review on the good on Skywell Magic TNT card.

Skywell ships this board with the standard reference drivers from nVidia. We got the version .48 with our board so we quickly installed the Detonator 1.20 version drivers recently released from nVidia. For a complete review of the performance of this board we wanted to compare it to its more costly cousin from STB, the Velocity 4400. The cost savings of going with the lesser known name of Skywell may prove to be this boards best asset. Lets take a look how it stacks up!

WinAmp 2.10 08:00 am - Kan
WinAmp 2.10 was released today. There's lots of new features in this version! Cool! You can get a copy from our Downloads section as well.

  • New preferences system
  • New install screen stuff (with easier configuration)
  • Improved CDDA plug-in, with auto-play
  • Improved MPEG audio decoding (blip reduction, ID3v1 URL, Shoutcast URL, Shoutcast 1.1 title streaming)
  • Improved MOD/XM/IT rendering (64 bit mixing, sample declicking, less loader bugs, etc)
  • Totally new output driver (faster and more compatible)
  • Language package support
  • Windows font support w/ International characterset capability (optional)
  • Better filetype registration (with options to register on start, etc)
  • Desktop Icon and Quicklaunch adding
  • Customizable DSP/Vis plug-in directories.
  • Playlist editor has more intuitive moving
  • Winamp Browser (for context-sensitive content)
  • A TON of bugfixes (if you've been getting GDI errors this should fix)

AOpen MX3L Review 06:58 am - Kan
Dudes over at Socket370 posted a review on the AOpen MX3L Socket370 motherboard. This looks like some cheap motherboard with 3 PCI/1 ISA/1 AGP slots.

This board sadly doesn't have too much that is really going for it. The best thing about this board is it's stability. I managed to get the processor up on the first try to 400mhz and ran this for 24 hours without a hitch. So truly this board is quite stable, though I did not expect any less from AOpen, then again expectations can be misleading. The only other thing this board has going for it is that it's simple to install, although most motherboards are quite easy to install.

MS SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel 00:20 am - Wilfred
Today, Hardware One brings you a review on the Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel. Yep, if you are seriously into racing games then how can you go without one?

"If money is no issue and you are a budding Schumacher, hit the nearest store and realised your dream. Otherwise, you can continue driving with 4 fingers on the keyboard or one hand on your joystick."

MadCatz PantherXL 00:11 am - Wilfred
Extreme Hardware has done a review on the MadCatz PantherXL game controller. It is a specialised joystick for first-person shooter games. If you are a fan of the FPS genre, then it'll not disappoint!

Since the Panther XL is a very specialized joystick, I feel it should be evaluated both on its proficiency in first-person shooters, as well as an overall solution to your gaming needs. As the scores indicate, the Panther XL is simply the cream of the crop for games like Half-Life, SiN and Quake 2, but it falls a bit short in other genres. Flight sims and racing games are difficult to play and the overall feel of the Panther XL's stick does not compare favourably to other controllers. If you're a Quake 2 junkie, this matters little to you, and the Panther XL's trackball will definitely enhance your gaming precision with any FPS game.

24 March 1999 - Wednesday

iiyama Vision Master Pro 22:13 pm - Kan
Dudes over at AGN Hardware did a review on the iiyama Vision Master Pro 450 19" monitor.

At 1600x1200, the maximum resolution for the VM Pro 450, the image quality was clear and bright.  There was very little sizzle associated with text on a white background and  the maximum refresh of 80hz at that resolution left everything clear and flicker free.  Pushing the monitor with our ever favorite Re2Flex (featured on Metabyte video cards), it was able to handle most of what we threw at it, including some rather odd ball resolutions.

Elitegroup P6BXT-A+ 22:05 pm - Kan
Anand posted a review on the special Elitegroup P6BXT-A+ motherboard. This is the one which offers both Slot-1 as well as Socket370 combinations.

The second thing you notice about the P6BXT A+ is its ambiguity as a Socket-370 or a Slot-1 motherboard due to the fact that the board features both a Socket-370 and a Slot-1 CPU interface connector.   This is a new feature just now being introduced, the ability to select between either a Socket-370 or Slot-1 interface on the same motherboard.  Due to the compatibility of the Socket-370 and Slot-1 P6 bus, it is possible for a motherboard to share both types of CPU interfaces, while allowing only one to be used at a time.   The P6BXT A+ is the first motherboard to make its way into the AnandTech testing lab that features both interface connectors.

Tom's CeBIT Blurb 20:28 pm - Wilfred
Tom posted his weekly blurb in which he talked about CeBIT 99, what he saw and thought about them. This is a cool bit he sprouted on the PowerVRSG.

NEC/Videologic focussed onto the PVRSG-version for Sega's Dreamcast project, which was the reason for the huge delay of PVRSG for PCs of exactly one year. Many people got pretty pissed off with Videologic about that, but now Videologic's back with a vengeance. I saw Videologic's upcoming 2D/3D card `Neon 250' running Role Cage all day without the slightest problems and I also got the chance to benchmark this card in a PIII 500-system with Quake2. The Neon 250 scored 49 fps in Crusher.dm2 at 1024x768, 16 bit, no palletized textures! This is only slightly less than the score of TNT2 at 175/200 MHz and certainly way ahead of Voodoo3 3500. The Neon 250 is a 16 MB AGP-card, and the 16 MB are worth a lot more than on other cards, because as you may remember that PVRSG's special architecture does not require a Z-buffer. PVRSG can also support 32 MB and it has got a full AGP 2x/4x implementation with AGP-texturing support as well as support of 32 bit rendering. The Neon 250 is supposed to cost $200 US once it hits the shells in June 1999.

The Chinese Solved Y2K In Aviation Industry 20:16 pm - Wilfred
This cracked me up as much as the guys in Ars-Technica. Yahoo News reported that China's aviation industry has totally ridden themselves of the Y2K glitch. How, you ask?

Beijing, eager to solve the Y2K computer problem in aviation computer systems before 2000, has warned officials that they must be on board flights during the changeover to the new century.

I take my hats off their ingenuity. Way to go, boys!

Wilfred Coughs 20:07 pm - Wilfred
Kan is still putting the screws back into his wrecked PC so we won't expect much of him (not at all, perhaps) for a while. Meanwhile, thanks for the increase in activity at our forums. Participate people!

Krisoff Responds To Gary Tarolli 19:11 pm - Wilfred
Krisoff Beets of Beyond3D posted his reponse to Gary Tarolli's (3Dfx) earlier talk on 22-bit colour in the Voodoo3. I think you are going to enjoy this one!

So should we believe him or not? I don't know. Maybe 3dfx should just get used to the fact that 3D sites and 3D coders do not like it that 3dfx doesn't support Real 32-bit rendering. They will be criticized for it, just as they will be criticized for not supporting higher resolution textures. I think Tarolli should either just leave this whole discussion and get used to it, or he should explain how it works. This kind of "believe me it works" column sounded too much like marketing crap. In the end, we know that at some stage of the rendering 3dfx is stuck with 16-bit quality, and no matter what they do this fact will stay... and it will cause some kind of image quality reduction.

Shuttle HOT-649a Dual Board 18:55 pm - Wilfred
Andy of BxBoards sent note about his latest review on the Shuttle HOT-649a Dual CPU mobo. This board supports user voltage tweaks!

This is probably one of the best dual motherboards for overclockers. It goes beyond the call of duty with a multitude of bus speeds, and the PCI deviders also keep things friendly for your peripherals. However I must say, it is not quite the most stable board when Overclocked I have tested. This honour still goes to the Epox KP-BX6-S. Running the unlocked P2-333s @ 4 x 100 or 3 x 133 was not stable enough for any serious work. A BIOS update may or may not fix thing. With the pair of P2-300 SL2W8's things became much better with 495 giving good and useable stability.

A DVD Future 18:49 pm - Wilfred
WickedPC has kicked up an editorial that gives you the lowdown on DVD. A good read to go with your cup of coffee.

DVD has performed better than all other media except the networks' broadcasts. If you've used a DSS satellite dish, you have MPEG-2 and know how good its pictures can be. The audio side is a bit more complicated. In the past, stereo sound tracks required only two channels, one for each speaker. Dolby Pro Logic surround sound added a center channel and a monaural surround channel that produced more realistic sound. DVD supports two systems for encoding sound: Dolby Surround AC-3 and MPEG-2 Audio. Both support more speakers than other methods, but they differ in certain ways. The Dolby AC-3 standard is a 5.1 system; in other words, there are five signal channels plus a nondirectional subwoofer channel. Whereas Dolby Pro Logic uses a matrix approach to encode the center and surround channels, Dolby AC-3 gives each channel its own data stream. It assigns the five channels to the left, center, and right speakers in the front and to the left and right surround speakers in the back, respectively. MPEG-2 Audio is capable of the same arrangement, but it can also add left-center and right-center speaker channels, for a 7.1 configuration. It is designed to be backward-compatible with stereo and Dolby Pro Logic playback systems as well as with the 5.1 and 7.1 configurations.

Gary Tarolli of 3Dfx Posts Clarification 18:33 pm - Wilfred
The man behind 3Dfx's infamous Voodoo Graphics stands up to speak for the "disinformation" about the Voodoo 3. He attempts to explain 22-bits vs 32-bits... and why 3Dfx's technique is not inferior.

The Voodoo3 (and Voodoo2) renders to a 16-bit color depth. However, we have a special technique that displays approximately 22 bit color depth. Some continue to make the argument that 16 bit binary numbers display 65536 colors. This is true, if they are displayed without any special techniques. 3dfx does not wish to disclose it's proprietary techniques, so we haven't described exactly how we display approximately 22 bits of color from 16. But consider image compression for a moment: a lossless JPEG compressed image is much smaller than the original. That same image compressed to 16 bits, displays many more than 65536 colors, the maximum number of colors available if there were no compression algorithm. Likewise for our own display. One way of looking at dithering is to consider it a simplistic form of compression. We do a form of "decompression" on the video output. Thus, it is possible to generate more than 65536 colors of output. In fact, we can display approximately 4 million colors and hence the *accurate* 22-bit color claim.

Another statement, that I recently read on the web, insinuated that 24-bit color, which can display 16777216 colors, is 256 times better than 16-bit color, which can display 65536 colors. This is simply not true - just think about it - is 25-bit color that can display 2*16777216 colors twice as good as 24-bit color just because it can display twice as many colors? No, it's just a tiny bit better. I honestly admit that I don't know how to measure the ratio of "subjective goodness" of 24 bit color to 16 bit color, but from my personal experience, it's nowhere close to 256 times better. The law of diminishing returns takes hold here.

Whether it's 16M or 4M colours, perhaps it isn't too much of difference to most human eyes. But judging from Tom's benchmarks, the TNT2 at 32-bit colour depth kept up or even bested the V3. So what will keep buyers from the TNT2? Price? Glide games? Hmm.. Then think about the large texture support in both TNT2 and Savage4.

Intel Celeron 433Mhz Slot-1 18:21 pm - Wilfred
Sharky Extreme has a review on the Slot-1 version of Intel's latest 433Mhz Celeron CPU. The CPU hit its overclockability ceiling at a not too impressive 488Mhz.

This is the first time in recent memory that Sharky Extreme failed to obtain a Celeron overclock at the "gravy" 83MHz FSB speed. Honestly speaking, it wasn't even close. We experienced lockups right after powerup, never once achieving a full Win98 boot. That's disappointing, especially to the same group of people who were able to take two Celeron 366 CPUs to 550MHz (5.5 x 100MHz) an almost impossible task according to the industry people we've talked to at the retail level.

For whatever reason, our Celeron 433 was miserable at anything higher than 488MHz, which it handled without incident.

23 March 1999 - Tuesday

Skywell Magic TwinPower 22:06 pm - Wilfred
Into budget gaming? Well if you are not getting the Creative Banshee (OEM version) for some reasons or other, you will want to check out the Skywell Magic TwinPower. Have a look at Extreme Hardware's review on this 3Dfx Banshee board.

"I've come to trust the Skywell name and have found their cards to be extremely reliable. Skywell cards also contain fast, high quality memory that easily matches or exceeds any chip vendor specification. This might seem a small thing, but it's one of the areas that card vendors can skimp on to save money and I always examine the memory closely when reviewing "value" cards.

The TwinPower Banshee is no exception to the Skywell name and features 16 MB of 125 MHz/8ns memory that looks just primed for overlocking. Using Powerstrip, I was able to jack the memory rate up to the same level (125 MHz) as the Monster Fusion..."

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 5120 21:59 pm - Wilfred
Gulp! 20.4 Gigabytes! Check out Storage Review's take on the shiny new Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 5120.

"... both myself and hordes of e-mailing readers have come to expect nothing but the best from Maxtor's latest offering, the 20.4 gig DiamondMax Plus 5120. Surprisingly, Western Digital (former ATA punching bag here at SR) was the first to market with a second-generation 7200rpm ATA unit. Maxtor, however, was a close second, shipping its 5120 drive shortly afterwards. The two drives are an interesting study in contrasts. Both, of course, are 7200rpm. Both feature a 9 millsecond access time. Maxtor, however, managed to pack 5.1 gigs per platter, compared to the 4.6 GB/platter of the WD Expert. Five gigs per platter, in fact, is what WD and IBM both will ship in their 5400rpm drives. Impressive indeed! On the other hand, the 5120 that I received carries a rather paltry 512k of cache. Maxtor has since informed me that shipping units of the drive will feature 1 meg of buffer. Though better, it's still a bit short when compared to the hefty 2 megs with which WD and IBM have equipped their latest units."

Kingpin Demo Review 21:54 pm - Wilfred
FiringSquad's CalBear sent note of a review they'd just put up on Kingpin Demo - one of the most awaited first-person shooter (again?!) games. Wait, don't go download it till you read this!

Many people who've played the demo seem to love it, but Dennis and I found it was a mixed bag. My biggest problems with the demo were the choppy play, the long load times, and the fact that they got away from the diplomacy aspect and it degenerated into just straight run and gun at the end. I can see a lot of potential here for a good game, and I sincerely hope that Xatrix puts in the time to make Kingpin a winner. It would be a shame for the full version to just be more of the same. The character interaction, if used properly, could make the single player experience special like in Half Life or Thief.

Sony Launches USB / iLink CDRW Drives 21:47 pm - Wilfred
Sony has launched their latest line of CDRW products which will utilise the USB interface and the emerging iLink interface. Here's what their new Spressa drives offer:

The new Spressa(TM) USB (CRX100E/X) and Spressa i.LINK (CRX120E/X) drives offer a superb combination of performance, functionality, and ease of use for average consumers as well as prosumers and corporate end users.

The Spressa USB drive supports quad speed (4X) recording of CD-R media, double speed (2X) of CD-RW media, and CD-ROM maximum reading performance of 6X. By using the versatile USB interface, the drive is easily shared between computers, and can even be disconnected and re-connected while the computer is still running. The Spressa USB drive also offers the added flexibility of attachment to both Macintosh?and Windows?computers.

The Spressa i.LINK drive supports quad speed (4X) recording of CD-R and CD-RW discs, and CD-ROM maximum reading performance of 24X. i.LINK technology enables maximum performance and allows other multimedia peripherals including digital video and still cameras to be daisy chained simply and easily. And because i.LINK is hot plugable, devices can be attached or removed after the computer has been turned on, making it easy to share the Spressa drive with other systems. The Spressa i.LINK drive for Macintosh systems will be Sony's first offering, with Windows compatibility available in the Fall.

I would be curious to know how these drives actually perform in real life, if there will be difficulties doing CD copying on-the-fly.

Upgrade Your Palm V To 8Mb?! 21:20 pm - Wilfred
You dreamed it. So now there's someone in the States willing to perform the upgrade for you for a fee (which I think is superbly reasonable!). Check out the article!

While Palm V sales have been brisk, keeping prices high, die-hard Palm users had much to complain about the Palm V. While they loved the new industrial design, and raved about the changes throughout the Palm V, nobody was really that excited about the 2 mb of RAM in the unit -- especially since the unit is sealed and non-upgradeable.

Leave it to the netizens to figure out how to open the case and upgrade the Palm V to an amazing 8 megabytes of memory! The first prototype came out of Japan thanks to Toshio Kashiwagi. This page, was later translated into English by John Lagerling. It caused quite a stir. Toshio had successfully unsealed the Palm V without damage, and upgraded the memory to 8 mb using a few tools and a new memory chip.

Suddenly, the Palm V became a lot more appealing. People everywhere wanted the 8 meg Palm V, but clearly not many people had the skill or the equipment to do the upgrade themselves.

John Figueroa of EFIG.com now offers what everyone has been asking for -- a Palm V upgrade service. Mr. Figueroa will upgrade your Palm V to 8 megabytes for the surprising low cost of $150.00 USD. Additionally, he plans to sell Palm V units pre-installed with 8 megs of memory for $600.00 USD.

Ok, won't somebody on this island come out with a similar service for us soon? You can start taking orders if you are sure you can do this!

Interview With S3 - Savage4 21:07 pm - Wilfred
Beyond3D aced with an interview they had with S3 about their Savage4 chip. You MUST read it for all the additional good stuff they discussed.

Now its time for the famous 16-bit vs. 32-bit question. Is the performance loss worth the higher quality rendering? Is S3 doing anything to lower the performance loss found with 32-bit rendering?

There is a performance loss going from 16-bit to 32-bit rendering, but it's not very significant in actual game play. There's a myth out there that 32-bit kills frame rates and that's why 3DFX left it out. I don't hear NVidia, Matrox or ATI saying that, and we certainly aren't.

In truth, the performance impact is around 10%, 20% max. The image quality, especially in the most recent applications, is far better with 32-bit rendering though, and I think most users will chose to run in 32-bit mode on Savage4.

I think 3DFX's claim of a 2X fill rate hit is ridiculous and very simplistic. Maybe, it would be a 2X hit for them, but it's not for the rest of us. Given 3Dfx's logic, you might also assume that supporting textures bigger than 256x256 also halves the fill rate. I think 3DFX is relying on a very low level of sophistication in its customers in make an argument like this.

14. To the suprise of many, Glide is still very commonly supported. Some games are still shipping with support exclusively for Glide with support for others being added later. Does this suprise you and how much longer do you feel 3Dfx can keep Glide alive?

I think it's on its last legs. In fact, I'm surprised it has lasted so long as I can't see why game developers would want to limit themselves to 3DFX parts when there are many other good parts out there and a much broader market for their software. It makes no sense to me. Plus, DirectX 6.0 is very respectable at this point, so I see no reason to use Glide.

3Com Stops Shipping Palm V Hard Case 20:54 pm - Wilfred
Learnt from PalmStation that after much user complaints, 3Com announced that they've stop shipping the hard case for their new Palm V.

After returning my badly manufactured Pam V hard case, I sent an angry e-mail to [email protected] and got this back:

"Thank you for your comments. Palm values all of our customer's comments - both positive and constructive. We have stopped shipping the Hard Cases and acknowledge that they are below our standards. At this point we are reviewing our options and apologize for the inconvenience.

If you have further questions or would like to place an order, please visit our website at www.palm.com or call 1-800-881-7256 or 1-801-431-1536.

Thank you,
3Com orders/research"

So if you haven't bought a casing for your Palm V, you'd better hold off buying the hard case.

March 1999 SDRAM Comparison 20:48 pm - Wilfred
Everyone's on a RAMpage today. Even Anand has an article to educate us on choosing the right memory modules when we build our systems.

Usually enthusiasts will prefer to get whatever memory modules happen to be available at the most reasonable price, and they'll pick up as much as they can. Because having 192MB of RAM sounds much more powerful than having 64MB of RAM, and it sounds like you'll actually be using your computer for important tasks rather than having a LAN party with your friends or playing multiplayer Unreal with a couple of tough bots, which you'll probably end up doing in the end. The bottom line is that very little attention is given to the quality of SDRAM modules on the market today, and because of this you see an influx of lower quality parts that some poorly educated users may end up falling for when they're constructing their systems.

ATI Rage Fury Review 20:40 pm - Wilfred
GameCenter has smacked up a new review on the ATI Rage Fury. Well, take a look at their comments on this latecoming card:

Overall 3D image quality, however, is a mixed bag. In games that support 32-bit color, the Rage Fury's quality is impeccable. For instance, playing Unreal in 32-bit color, we were impressed with the vivid clarity of the smoke and explosions. But when we dropped down to 16-bit color, we noticed an annoying shimmery, gritty appearance to textures; playing Thief showed a similar effect. When playing Incoming in 16-bit color, we also noticed some serious dithering trouble in rendering the sky: the Fury displayed terrible banding instead of the relatively smooth appearance we saw when playing on a RIVA TNT card.

At this point, perhaps the TNT remains the best choice. With the Creative TNT OEM selling at less than S$160, what's stopping you from buying it?!

Viewsonic P815-3 21" Monitor 18:53 pm - Wilfred
WickedPC has delivered a review on the 21" Viewsonic P815-3 monitor. This is a piece of treasure they gave a big thumbs up over the Nokia 44XiPlus they reviewed recently.

Not sure about you, but I personally sit in front of my computer at least 12 hours a day. Given that doesn't make family too happy that I never spend time with them, but it's a fact of life. In order to stay sane while looking at a flat picture all day that has no true meaning, it's a requirement with that amount of time spent to have a decent monitor to look at. If you talk to anyone, they all want a bigger monitor. Someone who has a 14" monitor is looking to buy a 17", and the 17" owner is interested in a 19" or 21". For $1200, you can walk away with a spectacular new ViewSonic P815-3.

Since we are on Viewsonic monitors, it wouldn't hurt to take a look at Hardware One's very own review of the 21" Viewsonic P810 too. =)

RAM Identification Guide 18:45 pm - Wilfred
Ars-Technica sent note of their latest RAM Identification Guide that will teach you how to identify the various RAM modules from their markings. An intro to begin with...

RAM is used to store information before it is sent to the CPU for processing, and on the way back out of the CPU after being processed. Generally, the more RAM in the machine, the faster it runs. As a rule, for most desktop systems, 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM is recommended; 128 MB is better yet. Now, on to the minutae. Computers store and manipulate information that exists in a binary form, meaning that it is comprised of 2 digits, "0" and "1".  These 2 digits (known individually as bits) are how a computer moves data around. By linking a string of 8 of these "bits" together we get a byte. A byte is the smallest amount of information a computer is capable of dealing with. One byte is the same as 1 character (e.g. 01000001 = A). The idea behind 8 bits equalling 1 byte came around back in the days of the ASCII committee.

Wilfred Coughs For Kan 18:41 pm - Wilfred
Life is not always fair and disaster strikes at the most unexpected times. For the lack of updates till now, we can only blame the unknown for taking down Kan's PC. <sigh>

22 March 1999 - Monday

Kewling Your Cards - Part IV 23:28 pm - Wilfred
Kyle's a little engrossed in this multi-parter 'kewling' mission he embarked on some weeks ago. This time round, he got hold of 4 sandwich celery coolers for testing. Check this out!

This will finish up Part IV of the Kewling Series. Not that we started out thinking there would be this many parts, just kinda happened that way. There are many high dollar sandwich coolers out there and we decided to see how some of the less expensive guys worked on Slot 1 Celerons. We scoured the Globe for cheaper alternatives and came up with some decent info for the peeps out there. Still have not decided whether this is a "Review" or an "Article"... You can read it an decide.

PowerVR 250 Benchmarks! 23:19 pm - Wilfred
Wow! Look at the numbers ParaKnowYa scored! His CeBit report on the Neon 250 (PowerVR 250) card showed astounding benchmark figures.

We were able to check the NEON 250 to get some benchmarks and here they are the first benchmark results of a nearly final product with beta drivers (expect the final driver performance to be higher!)

System: PIII 500MHz /w 128MB & NEON 250 early drivers
Benchmark: Quake 3.20 with beta miniGL drivers

Mode: testdemo 1
1024x768x16:  61.8 fps
800x600x16:  95.5 fps
640x480x16: 118.2 fps

Mode: crusher demo
1024x768x16:  49.7 fps
800x600x16:  55.0 fps

Benchmark: 3D Mark 99 Max
800x600x16:  4202

A Joke To Share 22:59 pm - Wilfred
Many of you might have caught this somewhere on the net or received in some form of spam mail from your most dreaded friend. Here it is, probably worth a snigger...

There are three engineers in a car; an electrical engineer, a chemical engineer and a Microsoft engineer. Suddenly the car just stops by the side of the road, and the three engineers look at each other wondering what could be wrong.

The electrical engineer suggests stripping down the electronics of the car and trying to trace where a fault might have occurred. The chemical engineer, not knowing much about cars, suggests that maybe the fuel is becoming emulsified and getting blocked somewhere.

Then, the Microsoft engineer, not knowing much about anything, comes up with a suggestion, "Why don't we close all the windows, get out, get back in, open the windows again, and maybe it'll work !?"

Many times, I should think you'll need to dismantle your windows, then put them back on again. Then ta-da! It'll work for another week! - Comments

AMD K7 Still On Track 19:49 pm - Wilfred
Inside Sources at MaximumPC has scored an interview with AMD's Atiq Raza. According to him, the K7 is right on track for a June launch. But there's more!

Maximum PC: The floating point on the K6-2 is notorious. Why haven't you been able to beat Intel's floating-point performance?

Raza: We will. The floating point in the K6-2--the classic IEEE-built precision floating point--is not of the quality I would like it to be. We had a choice to improve its performance and bring it up to par with Intel or launch our 3D technology. 3D basically becomes a vector floating-point engine for graphics. So the value we would have gotten with the 3D technology covered 99.9% of what the floating point was used for. That's why we focused on it. With K7, we'll make no apologies. Double-precision/single-precision, 3D technology extensions as well as double-precision classical IEEE floating point. Again, the K7 will be the highest performance processor, in both integer and floating point.

StarSiege Review 19:43 pm - Wilfred
Check out GameCenter's review on Dynamix's StarSiege! A full 5-Star grading was conferred to this giant robot game. Amazing. They always tempt me to part with my precious savings like that!

I've seen more than my fair share of giant, anthropomorphic robots duking it out on the plains of alien worlds. Do I really need to go there again? In the case of Dynamix's Starsiege, the answer is an absolute yes. This game is easily the best of the lot, across the whole board. It's beautiful, engrossing, exciting, full of rich story in a sweeping universe, and most important, it's a blast to play.

Scott McNealy 19:34 pm - Wilfred
The Register has a couple of interviews with Sun Microsystem's CEO Scott McNealy. He does have quite a bit of bitter things to say about Microsoft. I don't necessarily disagree, but I think he's gone a little overboard. Hmm..

"ActiveX is a virus by definition. Sometimes there are good viruses, sometimes there are bad viruses. ActiveX is like putting the controls to your automobile on the outside of you car: it's like putting you brake on the rear bumper, the steering wheel on the side doors, and your trunk opener on the hood. Fundamentally, anybody could walk up and drive it into the ditch, pop the trunk up and steal everything C that's what an ActiveX control is: it's an ActiveX-out-of-control control. It's a virus C that is the design feature, it is not an accident.   "The Java platform was designed to be virus-free. ... Microsoft likes to lump Java ActiveX controls with Java applets C that's like the cold virus versus Kleenex. They're two different things. They're both used in the same environment, but one creates the mess and the other cleans up the mess." - Comments

MS Digital Sound System 80 19:27 pm - Wilfred
Mark sent word of his review on the Microsoft Digital Sound System 80. Roll over to 3DSoundSurge to check out this set of quality USB speakers from the guys at Redmond.

"... the Microsoft Digital Sound System 80 has a Digital Signal Processor that in surround mode decodes most matrix surround formats and then creates a virtual sound field using Microsoft's 3d audio algorithms with cross talk cancellation.

To test this feature I started with basic music playback.  The surround mode does a fantastic job of widening the sound field.   My brain was completely fooled into clearly hearing instruments to the left and right of the speakers!   Next in surround mode was a test of Dolby Pro-Logic decoding using some samples from a test CD, then NHL 98 and Unreal in it's own Dolby Surround mode. Again, excellent.  The system does an excellent job of filling the sound field in when using my test CD.  The virtual surround channel fills the entire room with sound.  In NHL 98 (with Dolby Pro-Logic) the crowd seems to be cheering from all around.  In Unreal in surround mode, 3D definition is very good and when I do the razorjack test (bring up the console an type "summon razorjack") in Unreal in its Dolby Surround mode I was again very impressed.  My brain was again completely fooled into hearing the shot bounce back of forth from the front to the back of my head!  In Unreal  when the action got hot and heavy things started to bog down a bit."

WindowBlinds 0.80 Preview 15:30 pm - Kan
Our pals over at ActiveWin posted a preview on WindowBlinds 0.80, which will be out this week.

WindowBlinds is a part of the Object Desktop Network Edition. With a few days away from its release, its already sending shockwaves through Stardock, as everyone who has it is amazed by not only the speed improvements, but by the reduced resource usage. WB 0.50 was a resource hog, although it was faster than 0.40 it was not ready for the big leagues. WB 0.80 changed all that showing that its becoming more of a final product every day. Though still some improvements could be added, and some lingering bugs could be fixed, it still looks like WB is on its way to becoming final.

GDC Wrap Up: Video Cards 15:04 pm - Kan
Sharks also penned their thoughts on the Game Developer's Conference.

With commitments to Sega for millions of PowerVR chipsets to be used in Sega's amazing Dreamcast console, as well as rumors of a lack of firepower compared to its mainstream competition, its not surprising to learn that NEC has taken the much-written about PowerVR250 out of the North American market, and will only be selling the part in Europe.

While never impressing the press with its meager 100 MP/s sec fill rate, the PowerVR250 is indeed a capable part in its execution, and it seems that NEC did manage to implement it extremely well in Sega's Dreamcast console unit.

IWill LE370 LX Socket 370 15:02 pm - Kan
An IWill LE370 LX Socket370 motherboard review popped out from Anandtech today. This is a Socket370 motherboard based on the old Intel LX chipset.

Something is beginning to indicate that Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers need to start spreading their offices out a little more, as the design of the Taiwanese manufactured IWill LE370 is virtually identical to that of most ATX Socket-370 boards of this nature such as the ABIT BM6/ZM6.  The layout is pretty much standard when it comes to Socket-370 motherboards, and allows for all components to be easily accessed and manipulated if necessary without worrying about damaging too much while installed in a case. 

Abit ZM6 14:59 pm - Kan
AGN Hardware did another new review today, this time on the Abit ZM6 Socket370 motherboard.

At first glance, the ZM6 appears to look exactly like the BM6 board from Abit, the BM6.   However, there are some differences that require more careful examination.  Of course, the chipset is a bit different, going from the 440BX Northbridge chipset, to Intel's new 440ZX Northbridge chipset.  The difference between the two lies in the maximum RAM capacity and the number of Bus Mastering PCI slots that each chipset can accommodate.  Each will be explained in turn.

TNT2 vs Voodoo3 14:56 pm - Kan
Review-Zone had an article comparing the TNT2 vs Voodoo3. Check out what they had to say about the two 3D chipsets.

The TNT2, at first glance, looks like a souped-up TNT, using the same Twin Texel 32-bit graphics pipeline. However, with 32MB of SDRAM (no support for SGRAM), a 300MHz RAMDAC (an improvement over the 250MHz RAMDAC of the original TNT), a maximum display resolution of 2048x1536 and an improved rendering pipeline, the TNT2 is a little more than merely a faster version of the original TNT. It includes support for hardware bump mapping and motion compensation, as well as AGP 4x, in anticipation of Intels upcoming 440JX (Camino) chipset. 

Sensaura 3D Technology 06:58 am - Kan
Kert sent note on his latest article on Sensaura's 3D audio technology. Wow! It sounds like I am taking a bio lesson. :)

The outer-ear is illustrated in the right figure. The main central cavity, known as the concha, contains the entrance to the auditory canal, and is also connected to a smaller cavity above it, known as the fossa. These complex, convoluted shapes resonate at different frequencies in a direction dependent manner, and modify the spectrum of the sound waves before they reach the tympanic membrane. Because of the asymmetric nature of the outer-ear, each direction is associated with a

Nokia 445XiPlus 06:55 am - Kan
WickedPC posted a review on the Nokia 445XiPlus 21" monitor. Oh well, I prefer my Sony 500PS more (no, I still cannot afford it yet)...Any comments on monitors? Post them in our Q&A forum!

Nokia pulled another super marketing gag too. Their dot pitch claims to be 0.22dpi. That may be true horizontally, but vertically (the number that actually matters) the dot pitch is 0.29dpi. If you get a 21" monitor don't settle for anything but a 0.25dpi. The Nokia marketing trick makes the monitor sound really crisp, however it just plain sucks. 0.29dpi on this monitor makes everything very fuzzy and highly unreadable.

GDC Report #3 06:25 am - Kan
Guys over at FiringSquad posted report #3 on the Game Developers Conference'99.

Logitech created quite a splash when they announced their Wingman Gaming mouse, purportedly the first mouse designed specifically for gamers. GDC allowed me to get a first glimpse at this highly hyped product. When I first looked at it, I was somewhat disappointed to find that it wasn't in any revolutionary shape. It was simply the same triangular "paw" shape that the old Mouseman 95 used to be in. Take a look at the pic below for reference. The Wingman mouse press release bragged about a thumb indentation, but my old Mouseman 95 has that same indentation. Mechanically, the Wingman gamer's mouse is identical to my trusty ol' 3 button mouse! The only difference is that the Wingman gaming mouse is gray, and my old mouseman is white.

Elite P6BXT-A+ 06:22 am - Kan
Socket370 posted a review on the Elite Group P6BXT-A+ Socket370/Slot 1 motherboard. This is the new breed of motherboards coming out which feature both Slot1 as well as a Socket370 configuration.

There are many good features about this board. For instance, this board is a jumperless design. Other than that the on-board sound is amazing, because it uses Aureal 3D sound technology. The board has two USB connectors, one CPU Fan connector, 4 PCI, 2 ISA (1 is shared) and 1 AGP 2x slot.

VideoLogic @ CeBIT 06:18 am - Kan
SystemLogic had a writeup on what VideoLogic displayed during CeBIT, including a new video card and a Dolby Digital decoder for the computer.

DVD Player MPEG-2 decoder card offers us multi-language support, stable drivers and high image quality. The presence of this card and the VideoLogic branding within the consumer-targeted package will substantially add value to this high-quality product. The combination of our 6x32 DVD-ROM drive and DVD Player MPEG-2 decoder card is the ideal introduction to DVD movies for PC users. The solution guarantees the end user has the best technology at their fingertips."

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