7 May 1999 - Friday
Elsa Erazor 3 TNT2 Preview 22:29 pm - Wilfred
Cool! The FiringSquad got their hands on it before us! =) Check out their kickass preview on Elsa's next big winner.

The Elsa Erazor III looks to be a very strong contender, based on the TNT2 chipset. The main differentiator that I see between the TNT2 chipset and the Voodoo3 family is although the Voodoo3s are very fast, as we have come to expect from 3Dfx, they are a good chipset for current technology. The problem is, newer games are coming out which have a whole slew of new features that the Voodoo3 line is not going to support. The 256x256 limit on textures, lack of AGP texturing, lack of AGP support, and lack of 32-bit rendering are just four of the shortcomings, and those alone leave a bad taste in my mouth for the Voodoo3 line. Of course, the Erazor III, based on reference specs, has support for the mentioned features.

EH's Savage4 Guide 22:21 pm - Wilfred
Extreme Hardware posted a guide for the upcoming Savage 4 cards. Oh yeah, I hear many of your screaming S4 rulez! But which of them will land up in your system? Visit EH first.

Rival Java Consortium Formed 22:18 pm - Wilfred
Dear! I wonder if this will be any good for the industry? Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and NewMonics have formalised a new partnership as a rival Java consortium to Sun Microsystems. Check out CNet's article for more details.

Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and NewMonics, have formalized an ongoing effort to set a standard for a component of Java called "real-time" extensions. Real-time extensions are features that enable Java to work in devices like factory floor robots which must respond to commands immediately (in "real time").

J Consortium members say they're unhappy with Sun's dominance and that Sun detracts from the effort to actually build products, according to Kelvin Nilson, chief technology officer for NewMonics and technology chairman for the J Consortium.

Star Wars: Episode One Racer 10:43 am - Kan
Over at U-Games, they did a preview on Star Wars: Episode One Racer. Looks like your favourite high-tech racing game with fantastic 3D graphics.

The podracers are essentially a Hi-Tech version of the Roman Chariot - with the hovercraft cockpit being pulled around the track by those two huge engines at speeds of around 600 mph - just a little under the speed of sound. The engines are linked by what LucasArts calls a "Mag beam", a magnetic force-field that links the two engines together, yet provides flexibility for the best maneuverability. In fact, each engine can be controlled separately and LucasArts have added this feature to the game, allowing a two-joystick control option, with each joystick controlling each engine. This feature will certainly create a unique driving experience, plus of course, having the net result of converting you into one, big, red splat on a canyon wall, at least until you get acclimatized with this method of control.

FireWire Hard Disks 10:39 am - Kan
This is the first time I see a firewire hard disk. Incidentally, my spy sent me some photos from this website selling them. Cute huh?

1.73 TNT2 Drivers 10:32 am - Kan
The dudes over at FPS3D also posted some tweaks for running the 1.73 TNT2 drivers on your TNT based card as well as some benchmarks with it. Note that this is the last day to enter their lucky draw to win some free 3Dfxcool coolers. If you haven't entered yet, head over now.

FreeSpace 2 Preview 08:47 am - Wilfred
Whoppee! MeccaWorld released their preview on Interplay's FreeSpace 2 with a number of pretty screenshots! Can't miss this!

"FreeSpace 2 will offer players significant new gameplay advances, including the most engaging dogfighting ever seen in a space combat simulation, all new single and multiplayer missions, and immersive nebula effects that will add an all new dimension to the space combat genre."

"With over 70 ships of varying class and size, FreeSpace 2 will feature squadrons of bombers and fighters equipped with an array of advanced weaponry for players to use in frenzied dogfights or to engage in combat with massive ships and destroyers. An intuitive in-game messaging system allows players to command intelligent squad-mates, redirect wingmen and request reinforcements."

Interview With Aureal Semiconductor 08:44 am - Wilfred
Another interview. GA-Source posted their little private conversation with Aureal's David Gastor about what else? Ok, so I shan't snip about the same old boring topics. Here's a fresh one! =)

How do you see future 3D Sound chips? I mean, when we speak of 3D Graphics chips, we know that speed and rendering quality are point on to focus. But we can hardly see what features (better than with actual chips) could a 3D Sound chip have. What do you think a 3D Sound chip of end 1999 will offer to the consumer? Is Aureal actually developing a 3D Sound chip? Which special features will it have?

You're right - its much harder with audio chipsets to differentiate one from another. With graphics, it is so much more tangible - you can look at the game screenshots and be amazed; its harder to easily deliver tangible evidence of an audio chip's performance, feature set, or quality. It's not something you can do on paper; it's something that must be demonstrated in person.

I think the eventual future of sound cards is in enabling games to play like motion pictures. When you go watch a film, the audio experience is made up of a lot more than what sound cards could currently handle interactively. There could be well over 100 high-quality simultaneous audio effects, along with character dialogue, and a pulsing score, playing simultaneously at any point in a film. I'd like to see future sound cards provide the ability to do that interactively, in real time in a game.

I don't know if any of these will make it into someone's audio chipset by the end of 1999, but I think there are a lot of specific things still untapped in audio chipsets that could be implemented: Dolby Digital (AC-3) decoding, MP3 hardware decoding and encoding, better (or customizable) HRTFs, better quality reverb, lower signal to noise ratio, better support for digital functions (S/PDIF), etc.

Tread Marks Preview 08:36 am - Wilfred
This is NOT a new benchmark program but an upcoming tank racing title from Longbow Digital Arts. Tank racing huh? The Sharks have a preview on it.

The game play and control of Tread Marks are excellent as well. Control just feels right. It is realistic enough not to be annoying, yet realism is discarded when it gets in the way of fun. Like a cat, your tank will always land on its treads. Realism? Pshaw! It's a tank racing game for crying out loud! If you're one of those masochists who desire realism, buy something boring like a Peugeot. And if you want crappy control, we've got a real loser for you called Wargasm. Great job Longbow Digital Arts!

More NFS4 Screenshots! 08:32 am - Wilfred
Hmm... I have a tendency to call it NFS4. Anyway, Operation Sports managed to steal some 22 precious screenshots for ya! Taken at 1024x768 off a 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 board, check them out!

Interview With AMD 08:28 am - Wilfred
Tweak3D scored an interview with AMD's Drew Prairie about the upcoming K7 processor. Forget about the recent benchmark hoax!

There are a number of technical advances in our 7th generation processor, and the surrounding platform, that differentiate K7. I'm a bit hesitant to compare K7 to other non-shipping CPUs since I'm not sure how those CPUs will perform once they do reach the market. The features we have disclosed publicly (and I can talk about at this time) include: 200MHz system bus with scalable multiprocessing support based on the Digital EV6 bus , 128KB L1 cache (64K instruction, 64K data), support for 3DNow!, deeply pipelined nine-issue superscalar core, and a superscalar 3-way pipelined floating point unit. The K7 was also designed to operate at speeds faster than 500MHz based on our .25-micron process technology, so we plan for the speeds to ramp nicely.

Is Cyrix Doomed?  08:20 am - Wilfred
CPUSite responded quickly to the May 5 news, that NSC abandoned Cyrix, with a page titled "Is Cyrix Doomed?". Check out their analysis!

Well... after a huge loss of money, the end of the agreement with IBM and the exit from NSC, Cyrix is in a nasty position. Further, new companies like IDT WinChip and Rise are both also aiming at the low end PC market, bringing more competition. No, the future does not look bright at all. Though, Cyrix has many, highly capable, professional engineers and a lot of knowlegde and experience. Cayenne and Jalapeno are good ingredients to survive this crisis, but it takes more than that...

Q3Test Hostage Situation  08:17 am - Wilfred
Ohmigawd! CRUS sent word that some looney desperado is holding Marvin hostage, in a bid to force iD Software to release the win32 Q3Test! Please action guys!

byemarv2.jpg (5723 bytes)

Voodoo3 3000  04:49 am - Kan
Right here, we have another Voodoo3 3000 review over at 3DGaming. To Voodoo3 or not to Voodoo3, that is the question!

The last couple years in the 3D-entertainment world have been pretty exciting. Companies are racing to get the fastest and most powerful 3d graphics chip on the market. 3dfx has always been the leader in this race, but other companies like Nvidia and ATI are right on their tail. What does this mean? It means that the consumer is going to get nothing but better and faster products in the future because of the great competition. So what's the competition now? Well, if you keep up with the 3D gaming scene, you would know that Nvidia has shipped their TNT2 chip and we should see boards on store shelves in a few weeks.

Surecom EP-1004 USB Hub  04:45 am - Kan
Dan's Data did a review on the Surecom EP-1004 USB Hub. This hub looks really small and cute looking. Gee, I think I will be satisfied with a USB device, let alone a hub. :)

Surecom's EP-1004 has its own little claim to fame - it's small. Weeny. Teeny-tiny. About 55 by 39 by 35mm (2.1 by 1.5 by 1.3 inches), to be exact. There's barely enough room on the thing for the two USB output ports on each end, each of which is supplied with a green "ready" and red "overcurrent" LED. The input port's on one side, with its own power light, and that's it. The gizmo sells for about $75 (Australian dollars), which is significantly cheaper than the cool looking Skymaster hub I reviewed recently. Naturally, it comes with the the A-to-B cable needed to plug it in.

HZTool 04:43 am - Kan
DemoNews sent note on a new version of HZTool v1.3 which allows you to set the refresh rate, bit depth for all resolutions, including those Windows normally don't allow you. You can download the program from here.

WD Expert 18GB Hard Drive 04:42 am - Kan
Noticed 2 new reviews over at AGN Hardware. One is the Western Digital Expert 18GB hard drive and the other the FastTrak IDE RAID controller. Pay them a visit...

Raid level 1 is “mirroring”, and also requires two drives. This supplies a high level of fault tolerance. When data is written, it is duplicated across two drives. When read, it goes through the same process as RAID 0, with each drive sharing the task. With this option, the Array size is the same size as the smallest drive on the Array. The other drive is sacrificed as the mirror drive. However, if your main drive is damaged or compromised, going into Fast Trak BIOS and selecting Array Rebuild, restores the main drive from the mirror drive. A point here; if you mess up the main drive by trying new drivers or programs, those same changes are made on the mirror drive as well.

Interview 04:38 am - Kan
Something happening over at CPR Extreme in which they have a series of interviews with webmasters all around the world. This time, they interviewed Justic T. of GameStats.com. 

Off time? This is a foreign concept! I have put between 12 and 18 hours per day into GameStats since December 19th, 1997. We have come a very long way since then but there is still a ton to do. Until I make GameStats what John and I envision it to be there will be very little 'Off Time'. :-) Seriously however, in order to avoid complete burn-out I do schedule time that I *must* not be working on site improvements. At those times I play and do reviews and enjoy taking on readers and affiliates in any number of games.

Oil Giant Saves Using Linux 01:26 am - Wilfred
ComputerWorld reported that global oil giant Amerada Hess Corp saved millions using a US$130,000 32-node Beowulf Linux cluster instead of getting a US$2 million IBM a 32-node SP2 system on a 3 year lease. Picture that?

Though the company could have saved at least hundreds of thousands of dollars by opting to set up Windows NT clusters, porting its Unix rendering application would have been a huge chore, Forsyth said. The application is about 2 million lines of code and might have taken years to rewrite for Windows, he said. "We thought about that for three nanoseconds." When oil prices reached the lowest point of the 1990s late last year, Forsyth said, the New York-based, $6.6 billion oil company made the leap to Linux, even though many CIOs still regard the operating system as too untested to be trusted with even comparatively meager jobs like file serving.

Laptop Power Saving Tips 01:20 am - Wilfred
Thanks to a pal who dug this up for us, you can check this article also found on PlanetIT if you need some tips on how to conserve your laptop's batteries.

Q: Q.: I travel across the country at least twice a month on six-hour flights. My laptop battery does not always last the entire flight. Do you know of any solutions that will help me keep my laptop powered across the country?

A: A.: Anyone with a travel schedule like yours is bound to run into the same problem. Unfortunately, right now there are few batteries that last longer than 3.5 to four hours -- a bit more than half the time you need it...

The Future Of PCs 01:16 am - Wilfred
PlanetIT has an article titled "The Future of PCs" talking about the next decade of computing. Have a look!

IBM says it plans to continue developing the PowerPC architecture, but to shift focus away from current 32-bit chips to 64-bit offerings. The company is rumored to be close to introducing systems running IBM PowerPC chips at 300 MHz, with plans for CPU speeds to top 1 GHz within the next 24 months. IBM also has RISC and CISC implementations of the PowerPC, so it can basically take the architecture in whatever directions customers and their application requirements dictate, from laptop to mainframe.

 

6 May 1999 - Thursday

Sun's Joy Rips Windows 2000 19:48 pm - Wilfred
Check this too! Sun's Chief Scientist pulled no punches when he spoke during a visit to the University of Washington. Read what he thinks is the fundamental problem in Microsoft's OS development.

"The glue - the operating system - has gone beyond all reason of complexity," Joy told the UW audience. "NT 5 [Windows 2000] is at 30 to 50 million lines of C/C++ code. It's like the Star Wars missile defense system. These kind of programs are just too complex to debug. The tools aren't up to the task."

Tools aren't the only problem, Joy continued. "More and more, the way we develop software determines its reliability. Openness is the secret here. With NT, there's no shared [development] community. There's only 10 years of shared experience. The rate of growth [in size] is unmanageable and there's no clean OS layer."

Joy targeted other culprits for programming meltdowns, too. He said C and its successor C++ -- a language Microsoft is spending a lot of time enhancing at present -- aren't well suited for the programming tasks of today, either. And alternatives like Eiffel were deemed just too "quirky." That's why Sun has spent considerable cycles developing and enhancing Java, a language which got its start at Sun in the early 1990s under the code-name Oak.

Internet Sharing Guide 19:33 pm - Kan
FiringSquad has another new article, this time it's the Internet Sharing Guide, teaching you how to configure softwares like the proxies and NATs.

"NAT" stands for Network Address Translation. A NAT functions by basically hiding the entire network behind the public IP of the computer connected to the ISP.

The computer with the Internet connection will have two IPs, one public and one private. If this computer uses a dial-up adapter to connect to the ISP, its public IP address will be in the modem's TCP/IP stack. The private IP address will be assigned to the computer's NIC TCP/IP stack. A Win95/98 computer with a DSL or cable modem connection will have two NIC's: one for the Internet connection, and the other for the private network.

Color Network Printers 19:31 pm - Kan
ZDNet did a color network printers roundup. Yippee! You can use these to print money you know? :)

Color on the network has finally come of age. Previous generations of networkable color printers -- namely color lasers -- always fell short in one critical area, be it speed, manageability, output quality, paper handling, or price. But this year has brought a host of models that remedy the shortcomings, so you can finally put a color printer on your network with no hassles, no excuses, and most important, no monochrome laser to pick up the slack.

Cyrix is Out 19:15 pm - Kan
Better start rushing to your favourite computer shops and grab those remaining Cyrix processors. Price pressure in the PC processor arena forced National Semiconductor to sell Cyrix. The name Cyrix may just disappear forever.

As part of its sell-off of Cyrix, National intends to layoff 550 people -- about 5 percent of its worldwide work force -- and take a charge of up to $300 million in fiscal 1999. National intends to keep the designs and technologies associated with its integrated MediaGX processor that has done well in the information appliance market.

Modem Setup 19:13 pm - Kan
C|Net Singapore had an article for Dummies <tm> on how to setup your new modem as well as solving those conflicts you might encounter. Dummies only, please.

So, you're tired of waiting hours for graphics to load through your old 28.8-kbps modem. Who isn't? Limited bandwidth is a sad fact of life for most people who don't have access to cable or DSL service.

But while you're waiting for technology to come to your hometown, you can help yourself by upgrading to a 56-kbps modem. It will speed things up, and it won't cost a mint. Best of all, a new modem is one of the easiest peripherals to install.

The only major decision you need to make is whether to get an internal or external modem. Internal modems generally cost less than external modems, and they take up less desk space. But if the idea of opening up your computer and poking around with clips and slots sends you running for the smelling salts, you're better off with an external modem. And external modems are easy to detach and take with you.

IBM's New Mainframe 19:09 pm - Kan
Good to see some heavy duty computers out there. IBM is scheduled to ship their 6th generation of mainframes. Hey, how does 1,600 MIPS sound to you?

The new IBM computers, officially called the S/390 Parallel Enterprise Server -- Sixth Generation, can process 1,600 million instructions per second (MIPS), or 50 percent more data-handling capacity than IBM's record-setting G5 machines.

The S/390 G6 Server provides the capacity, bandwidth and flexibility that customers need to run an integrated e-business,'' said David Carlucci, general manager of IBM's S/390 division, using IBM's term for Internet-based business

Commandos 19:00 pm - Kan
Rather slow day today. We have Commands: Beyond the Call of Duty review over at Avault. Hey, I'm bored and dying for new games!

One of the best things about the original game was how each member of the squad worked off the others, requiring the player to use each member in specific circumstances. The negative aspect of this system was that only certain commandos could do basic tasks, such as distract enemies, and it made the game somewhat illogical. 

Home Unix - FreeBSD 18:57 am - Kan
Pups over at Ace's Hardware took a look at FreeBSD. Hardware One is running on FreeBSD and it's pretty stable. Check out what FreeBSD have to offer.

FreeBSD stays true to it's BSD heritage, even though the FreeBSD team has made a number of improvements and modifications. Linux, though it is somewhat unlike other UNIX operating systems internally (since it was developed from the ground up), primarily resembles System V. Solaris 7 (SunOS 5.x) is derived from System V as well, though it additionally has numerous similarities with BSD systems since earlier SunOS 4.x versions were BSD.

The FreeBSD project is also generally considered to be more cohesive than most Linux distributions, as there is a single version of FreeBSD, and it's growth is monitored and supervised by a tight-knit group of developers. With Linux, only the kernel remains unchanged, the rest of the core software is up to the distributor, which is why it's very possible to find incredibly good Linux distributions as well as very poor distributions.

Hardware Crystal Ball 11:11 am - Kan
TheSanctum is back with their updated Hardware Crystal Ball. See what hardware they handpicked for the month of May.

CPU (Central Processing Unit) The choice you make on the processor you use is the most important part of your overall system health and speed. While other stages of your hardware also make the difference, none is more important then the brain of your system. While AMD and Intel make the majority of CPU's you purchase, there are other choices out there. Processors from Cyrix, IBM/Motorola and so on. You can take short cuts to save money but in the end you are usually left with an under powered system that might have trouble running certain programs or executing processes. With the release of Intel's Celeron 300(a) it's a known fact that you don't have to spend tons of cash to get the ultimate pixel destroying processor.

Shuttle MB11 11:08 am - Kan
Super7 reviewed the latest Socket370 board from Shuttle. This one features an integrated AGP graphics card as well as onboard sound and support Celeron processors ranging from 300 to 500 MHz.

Powered by Intel's 440BX AGPset the board offers three DIMM slots that can be host to up to 768MB of PC100 or standard SDRAM. The noticeable absence of an AGP slot is due to the fact that Shuttle has provided onboard video in the form of ATi's Rage Pro 64-bit 100MHz interface chip along with 8MB of onboard SDRAM frame buffer memory. (Please note that this is not the new Rage 128 chipset). Unlike a number of newer all in one's the MB11 provides onboard memory for the graphics instead of usurping some of the system RAM.  The board does provide what at first appearance may seem to be somewhat limited expansion, in the form of 3 PCI and a single ISA slot. However, since the sound and graphics are both built-in, you are provided with ample room to grow. The BX chipset also provides support for 2 dual channel enhanced IDE ports capable of Ultra ATA/33 interfacing, single floppy and parallel ports, 2 - 16C550 compatible UARTS serial ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, a pair of USB ports and SB-Link connector.

NEC LCD Monitor 11:04 am - Kan
3DHardware did a review on the NEC LCD1810 Flatpanel LCD monitor. This baby is 18.1" wide and it's terribly expensive.

The LCD1810 is heavier than Nokia's 800Xi, and thus, it is also harder to handle. The monitor itself looks very appealing and features a nice and clean design. The stand which the monitor rests on is located slightly behind the back of the monitor, and not right below as found in the Nokia 800Xi. This makes the NEC LCD1810 much deeper and also heavier. but the functionality of the stand compensates it.

XA100Plus Super7 11:00 am - Kan
AGN Hardware took a look at the XA100Plus Super7 motherboard.

The XA100Plus is a redesign of Iwill's XA100 Socket 7 main board which was one of the first boards out which were based upon the ALi Aladdin V chipset.  It was designed with a notion that AMD would keep their K6 "x" series of processors going strong and that users of K6 chips would have a need for a high end, overclockable system board.  While there may have been a bit of speculation over the last few months about the future of the K6 "x" series, the chip is still rather popular, and therefore the boards that support them continue to sell.

Re-Volt Preview 10:57 am - Kan
Something new over at FiringSquad. They have the Re-Volt preview, a rather cool game which resembles the remote-control cars type of game you had been playing during your childhood. Another new article is the hardware guide for RTS players. Wanna know how to beat your opponents in Brood Wars?

Re-Volt features stunning 3D graphics in up to 32 bit color. The lighting and shadow effects create a immersive atmosphere that is complemented by the real physics used in the game engine. Your cars all have a specific mass and handling characteristics that will affect how they stand up in a collision or a tight turn at high speeds. Don't worry; it's not too realistic because your cars are unbreakable. Flipping the car means just a split second penalty as you wait for the computer to flip the car back over. The price of admission to play Re-Volt on a PC is a 3D accelerator card (required), but for the amount of fun we had just playing the demo, this game would be well worth it.

Abit BX6 2.0 Review 00:52 am - Wilfred
The venerable Abit BX6 2.0 went under the scope at Extreme Hardware. If I needed a new mobo today, there's no doubt that this will be it! Also check out our BX2.0 review here.

The Abit BX6 2.0 board is without a doubt one of the top BX boards on the market and is easily the undisputed champion for overclockers. If you are buying a board right now, the BX6 2.0 should be right at the top of your shopping list and the increased bus speeds and multipliers will ensure it has one of the longest lifespans of the BX boards currently available. That said, there really isn't enough enhancement to warrant an upgrade from the venerable BH6, as Intel is readying yet another chipset upgrade in 1999. For now though, the BX6 2.0 is as good as it gets and it currently occupies a valuable spot in my everyday business and gaming machine.

Wilfred Coughs 00:20 am - Wilfred
Just returned not long ago from the movie premier of "Entrapment" starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. Err... what I think of it? Let's put it this way, the only reason it's worth watching is the babe yah? The climax of the show (for me at least!) was when she was practising to cross the path of invisible "lasers". Whoa! Fantastic figure!

Then of course, a large part of their grand theft used Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers as the location. It featured how 2 thieves conquered it as well as a team of M'sian SWAT police (I think this show might be banned in M'sia! =P )

 

5 May 1999 - Wednesday
IBM Ultrastar 18ES 21:16 pm - Kan
StorageReview slurped up a review on the IBM Ultrastar 18ES 18.2 GB U2W SCSI harddisk. Yup, this is the type of hard disk I wanna get to store all those porn stuff of mine.

Last year, IBM's drive lineup targeted three distinct markets: the Ultrastar 9ES addressed the entry-level SCSI market, the Ultrastar 9LP aimed at the enterprise-class server market, and the Ultrastar 9ZX wooed the top-performance 10k rpm market. This year however, an "Ultrastar 18LP" is conspicuously missing from the lineup. With only the screaming Ultrastar 18ZX to complement it, the 18ES seems to be left as Big Blue's entry in both the entry-level and enterprise-class markets.

Wicked3D Breaks Hardware Business 21:14 pm - Kan
Rather piece of shocking news. According to The Register, US developer Metabyte is to transform its Wicked3D hardware division into a software only operation.

The move will see the company discontinue its 3D graphics card and stereoscopic 3D system -- though support for existing customers will be maintained -- and focus on the software behind them.

That's likely to see the company making a bigger deal out of its 3D card connection technology, PGP (Parallel Graphics Processing). As reported by The Register
earlier this year, PGP will allow graphics accelerator cards to combine their rendering power, much as 3dfx's Scan Line Interleave (SLI) technology allows two Voodoo 2 cards to operate as a single, double-speed board.

Age of Empires II 21:13 pm - Kan
Gamespot did a preview on Age of Empires II which the game is targetted for a October 1999 release.

For those of you who are new to the updates and Age of Empires II, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings is the follow-up to 1997's hugely successful pseudo-historical real-time strategy game, Age of Empires. Ensemble Studios and Microsoft teamed up to create an RTS that had much of Warcraft II's style of gameplay and some of Civilization's flavor. You could control one of 13 ancient civilizations and turn it into an empire, guiding it through four ages of advancement while fighting with other old cultures.

NT 4 Service Pack 5 18:42 pm - Kan
Okay, the official NT 4 Service Pack 5 is officially out. This replaces the RC which was released a few days ago. You can download it from here. For the README file, click here.

Network Kits 18:38 pm - Kan
Network kits review over at ZDNet. The kits include the Entrega USBnet, the Intel AnyPoint home Network, the NDC SOHOware CableFree starter kit. Nowadays, networking is just getting simpler and simpler. If I can do it, so can you!

Installing the USBnet took about 10 minutes, including reading the documentation and performing one system reboot on each of two PCs. To install a USBnet network, you plug one of the two cables into one PC, connect the cable to one side of the USB hub, install the USBnet software on the same PC, connect the second cable to the second PC and to the hub, and finally install the software on the second PC. A single LED on the hub glows red when one PC is connected and green when both PCs are networked.

Windows 98 Second Edition Released 18:36 pm - Kan
According to an article from The Register, Windows 98 SE is to be released today. Sorry, guys, but you need to pay for this.

Windows 98 Second Edition will be announced today, making it indisputably Microsoft's fastest ever operating system development. It goes into manufacturing this week, and is expected in the stores next month, with a US price of $89.95.

But it will be possible for existing users of Windows 98 to buy an upgrade CD via Microsoft's Web site for $19.95. This isn't a bad deal for an upgrade to a new operating system, but of course 98 SE is nothing of the sort. Microsoft was able to move from first rumours of SE
(Register predicts Q2 shipment) to production this fast because the company has essentially just added the odd bit of chrome and wire wheels to the Windows 98 service pack. The service pack will be available for free, one major difference between it and SE being Internet sharing technology, which will allow several machines on home networks to use the same Internet connection.

Gigabyte BX2000 14:37 pm - Kan
Our bud over at iXBT posted a review on the Gigabyte BX2000 motherboard featuring the unique dual BIOS feature.

At first sight the Gigabyte BX2000 mainboard makes a very good impression: it strikes as orderly and skillfully made. The engineers managed to locate the maximum set of slots on it and despite the amount of components they still did it in a very reasonable way. The mainboard has 5 PCI slots, which is the most popular and probably the most justified solution by now. All the new expansion cards are now produced with exactly the same interface. In some cases PCI bus provides a higher data transfer rate and in some cases it is just a matter of style and fashion. And the remaining two ISA slots are more than enough for those who have older devices working only with this bus.

Sound Cards Roundup 12:43 pm - Kan
Over at 3Dsoundsourge, that's a 5 sound cards roundup article. The sound cards range from chipsets which covers 3D audio technology from Aureal, Creative Labs, QSound and Sensaura. Wow!

It's clear that the new Vortex2 reference drivers offers a significant speed increase and the difference between the MX300 and Live is really irrelevant for DirectSound since both are well below 0.5% in all cases. If you have a real slow computer (Pentium) you may notice a difference with the MX300 and other Vortex2 cards being the faster one but when it comes to numbers this low this benchmark isn't that accurate and changes from different test runs so it's hard to predict what would happen on a Pentium. The Live seems to be about twice as fast with 2 speakers as with 4 speakers but a 0.15% difference isn't something that should bother anyone.

Rage Fury 12:41 pm - Kan
The guys over at ArsTechnica did a review on the ATI Rage Fury.

Now it was time to start the benchmarks.   I wanted to get an idea of how much of an effect overclocking had, and I also wanted to gauge how the card performed with different processor speeds.  Therefore, I ran each benchmark under four configurations: a Celeron 300A at 300MHz with the video card "rightclocked" and overclocked, and the same Celeron 300A at 464MHz, again with the video card at normal speeds and maximum overclock.  In addition, each test was run in both 16- and 32-bit color depths.

Lyra MP3 Player 10:36 am - Kan
According to The Register, looks like there's another MP3 player coming out in the market, the Lyra MP3 player from Thomson.

The device itself is 4.5in by 2.5in in size and 7/8in thick. Lyra will ship with a 32MB CompactFlash card for storage, though it will also interface with IBM's 340MB CF-2 microdrive. A built-in graphic equaliser can be controlled from the device's backlit LCD, which also displays the device's folder-style file directory.

ASUS P2-99 Motherboard 10:34 am - Kan
Dan's Data did a review on the ASUS P2-99 motherboard. This one uses the Intel 440ZX chipset which is a strip down version of the BX chipset.

All ASUS boards still use the tried and tested, and highly popular, jumper setup method. Jumpers are sets of pins that stick out of the motherboard, invariably cryptically annotated in one point Myopia, but actually pretty easy to find with the help of a good manual, such as comes with the P2-99. To change the jumper settings, you slide little plastic dinguses with contacts inside over the jumpers according to the diagrams in the manual.

Trident Blade 3D 10:31 am - Kan
WickedPC sent note on their review on the Trident Blade 3D. Hmm, this card sucks from the specifications.

This is where the marketing jokes come in. On the box, Trident boldly states with no fine print that the Blade 3D is capable of running in 3D Winbench with a score of 1080. The Voodoo2 scores are claimed to be 640. This is one of the oldest, stupidest, and lamest marketing gags in the book. When I benchmarked the Blade 3D, on a Pentium III 500 nonetheless, I got results of 340 in 3D Winbench 99. How is that possible that my score was only 30% of the Blade 3D boxes claims? Quite easily explained, Trident lied. They claimed to me that this is meant for OEM bundles, and the low end user. If this is the case, why are they marketing this board as the best video card on the market, when it is quite obvious that it is not? Shame on Trident for doing this lame deed to the gaming community.

Diamond Stealth III S540 Savage4 Pro 08:35 am - Wilfred
Anand posted his review on Diamond's Stealth III S540. Nothing to rave about except that this is one of the best Savage4 cards you can expect to hit the markets. Have a look!

When it comes down to Savage4 boards, the Diamond S540 will probably end up being one of the best you'll see. It boasts Diamond's quality, attention to detail, and driver support, something very few manufacturers can equate their reputations with. Unfortunately the S540 does have its drawbacks, first of all, all of the drawbacks of the Savage4 are, naturally, drawbacks of the S540 as well (see AnandTech's Savage4 Review) however the biggest problem AnandTech had with the S540 was the price. Diamond stated that the S540 would retail for $129.95, so you can expect the board to sell for as low as $100 at first, dropping significantly after the initial launch. However, in comparison to a Voodoo3 2000 or a TNT2 (125MHz), the S540 is a bit pricey considering that it does not offer the same level of performance as those two solutions that are available now at virtually the same price. 

Now if Quake 3 looks as good as id is boasting it will under 32-bit color, the Savage4 based S540 may end up being a bit more valuable than it is at first sight...

Even I wish the last part to be true and this low cost part could end up as the real winner for everyone of us? =)

Interview With Ken Thompson 08:26 am - Wilfred
Computer has done an interview with Ken Thompson, co-creator of the Unix OS and C language. Listen to the man speak... inspiring?

Computer. Your nominators and endorsers for the Kanai Award consistently characterized your work as simple yet powerful. How do you discover such powerful abstractions?

Thompson. It is the way I think. I am a very bottom-up thinker. If you give me the right kind of Tinker Toys, I can imagine the building. I can sit there and see primitives and recognize their power to build structures a half mile high, if only I had just one more to make it functionally complete. I can see those kinds of things.

The converse is true, too, I think. I can't from the building imagine the Tinker Toys. When I see a top-down description of a system or language that has infinite libraries described by layers and layers, all I just see is a morass. I can't get a feel for it. I can't understand how the pieces fit; I can't understand something presented to me that's very complex. Maybe I do what I do because if I built anything more complicated, I couldn't understand it. I really must break it down into little pieces.

 

4 May 1999 - Tuesday
TennMax P3 TF Cooler 22:46 pm - Kan
Something new over at HardwareCentral is the TennMax P3 TF Cooler. The heatsink spots two 5000 RPM ball bearing fans slapped on top of an un-anodized aluminum heatsink.

So what differentiates TennMax’s P3 TF Cooler from other coolers? The first thing that will strike you is the dual fans that the P3 TF Cooler sports. With only one fan, heatsinks sometime receive more heat than the fan can dissipate, resulting in an overall system temperature increase. However, with 2 fans, the Celeron TF Cooler does a much better job of dissipating the heat transferred from the CPU to the heatsink.

3dfx Voodoo 3 2000 20:38 pm - Wilfred
CPRExtreme posted a review on the Voodoo 3 2000 card. An honest down to earth article with observations everyone of you can identify with when you get the card.

"I've been running an AGP TNT/V2 SLI combination in this rig for about 6 months and was pretty happy with it. Until now. This one single little V3 AGP card replaces all of them now and outperforms them all with ease. I now have two empty PCI slots to play with that I didn't have before. Now I have to find a couple more toys to fills those slots with. What will they be? What will they be? This single AGP Voodoo 3 board offers me Glide, OpenGL and D3D in one little bundle of joy and gives me higher framerates at the same resolutions as my old TNT and SLI cards. I'm in heaven."

Unreal Tournament Preview & Delay 20:30 pm - Wilfred
Gamelinks.net put up a preview on Unreal Tournament. Sweet looking game but the ordeal of waiting is NOT over, in fact, it has been further delayed.Projected release date is now in mid-July.

There is one thing that no can doubt about Unreal Tournament. It LOOKS good! Judging from current screenshots Unreal Tournament will be hard to beat for graphics. The sheer variety of weapons and their effect shave eye candy enthusiasts
everywhere wetting their pants. The models are nothing to scoff at as well looking larger than life with nice vibrant colors.

One of the drawbacks of the original Unreal game is that in my opinion the surrounding environment was somewhat unrefined. This time it looks like Epic got their environments to look just right. Another thing that Unreal Tournament seems to have a leg up on Quake 3 Arena so far is the user interface, it looks clean and if Epic keeps it simple it should be superb.

Unreal 224 Patch 20:24 pm - Wilfred
Ok dudes, I think it is kinda confirmed. DON'T apply this patch if you haven't (dammit! silly me for being overly enthusiastic!) No wonder Unreal has been sounding less than impressive lately, guys all over are giving the same feedback that it kills the 3D audio, EAX and even A3D whatever. I also learnt that v225 will be released pretty soon. Arrggh... I deleted my old 220 patch file. Sigh...

Diamond Interview 17:09 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad got up close and personal with Diamond in an interview about their two announced graphics card - Viper 770 and Stealth III S540. Since I'm personally more inclined to budget boards, here's an excerpt of the whole block.

Diamond will stress that the Savage4 is a budget-minded card, even with 32MB of RAM. Diamond expects the raw performance increase from Savage3D to be between 10-15%, which is definitely not bad considering that the Savage3D was the underdog performer of the year. The true benefit however, lies in hardware multitexture support. Games such as Quake and Unreal show great benefit from multitexture support, and this will bring Savage 4 back on track with Voodoo3 and TNT2.

Of course, Savage4 also supports S3's own texture compression routine, which allows for hundreds of megabytes of true-color textures to be reduced down to several dozen MB. When implemented correctly, S3TC allows for absolutely stunning scenes at completely manageable speeds, and we feel that it can be a big part of the next generation of games if supported by game developers. S3 is working directly with Unreal Tournament, implementing high-resolution textures. Because of S3TC's optimized file format, it's actually faster to run UT on a Savage4 with 200MB of S3TC-compressed textures than it is to run in default mode.

WinAMP 2.20 Released 17:04 pm - Wilfred
Okie. I'll keep this short. You can download it from here. The new features are as follows:

  • Windows Media Technology 4.0 (WMT4) input/output support
  • All new better sounding, industry standard Fraunhoffer MP3 decoder
  • Generic PCM EQ that works on most formats (WAV/XM/MOD/IT/VQF/AAC/etc)
  • Recursion in open directory dialog is now optional
  • Windowshade mode for Equalizer
  • Improved CDDA support
  • Minibrowser improvements (new start page, etc)
  • New version checking
  • Bug fixes as usual

IE5.0 Security Bug Discovered 16:54 pm - Wilfred
In my daily dose of ZDNet's Anchordesk, a short article was devoted to this new bug discovered in Internet Explorer 5. Learn more about it and how you can avoid it till Microsoft issues a patch. Sigh...

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5 has a newly discovered security hole that allows anyone with access to your computer the ability to see where you've been online. The breach was uncovered by AnchorDesk Technical Director Jon DeKeles and confirmed by Microsoft. Jon says your Web surfing is easily exposed if you browse with IE 5 on a Windows 98 platform. Here's how it works: You legitimately go to a secure Web site, giving your login and password. You cruise the site. The pages you visit are stored in your cache. You log off and leave your computer thinking you're safe. But you're not. The next person who sits at your machine can easily return to those sites. When prompted for your password, the snoop merely presses "cancel," the "back" button, the "forward" button, and presto -- he can go wherever you've been online. Jon says the Web site must be using Unix' "htaccess". He first noticed the problem over the weekend. He consulted with other ZDNet technical experts Monday to confirm the security breach. Mike Nichols, Microsoft's Product Manager for Windows, confirms the problem. Microsoft does not yet have a fix, and is investigating whether it affects IE 5 on Windows NT. A quick fix: Clear your cache whenever you leave your machine. A hassle for sure, but the best option until Microsoft comes up with a fix. (Come back to the site Wednesday; Jon will share how he uncovered this bug.)

QSound's 3D Audio Technology 16:48 pm - Wilfred
3DSoundSurge wrote to inform us of this new article they finished about QSound's 3D Audio Technology.

There has been much focus lately on Creative and Aureal's 3D sound cards but as we mentioned several weeks ago in our feature on Sensaura there are other companies that license 3D sound technology used for soundcards. Another such company is QSound. QSound's calls their 3D sound technology Q3D, which they introduced in 1991. QSound doesn't sell chips using the 3D audio technology. Just like Sensaura, they license their 3D audio technology to other companies. Some recent design wins for Q3D are Sega's Dreamcast, VLSI's Thunderbird (which Aztech's 368DSP card uses) and Trident's 4DWAVE-DX and 4DWAVE-NX chips. QSound's 3D audio technology is not only used by sound chips companies but has also been used in many games and a few other software applications like iQ and QCreator.

Parallel Computing - Part 2 16:45 pm - Wilfred
CPUSite has more good stuff for you. Today, they released Part 2 of their article on parallel computing in relation to using clusters.

In part 1 we've seen the PSTSWM program running on a SGI system with 4 processors. Those 4 CPU's share the same memory. That is why such systems are often called shared-memory systems. Problem is that shared memory systems are pretty expensive and have a limited numbers of CPU's. For Intel systems you will (hardly) see any mainboards with more than 4 CPU's. Wouldn't it be nice if we could use separate systems and use them as one big multi-CPU system?

Well, this is exactly what a cluster is. A cluster contains out of separate machines that can be used as one multi-CPU system. Those separate machines are connected via network-connections.

Is AMD Ready For High-end Server Market? 16:41 pm - Wilfred
Yup, that's the question Ace's Hardware is attempting to answer for you. Take a look at this snip and remember not to miss their article.

AMD is not ready to take on Intel in the multiprocessor market. Entering the multiprocessor market is not an easy step, it requires a lot of specialized know how, experience, and mindshare. Intel earned an excellent reputation thanks to their quality assurance and support. They can't sleep on both ears however, the GTL+ bus and the P6 core are getting old and AMD will bring, together with its partners, new high performance technology into the market.

The K7 however is ready to take on the PIII in the desktop market now. All well informed sources confirm that the K7 is faster clock-for-clock than the PIII. No processor can be a success without a good motherboard though, so AMD should pull all the strings to inform the 3rd party motherboard manufacturers.

Viper 770 and Stealth III S540 Press Release 16:35 pm - Wilfred
SystemLogic has both the press releases of Diamond's TNT2 Viper 770 and Savage 4 based Stealth III S540 card. Iron pressed and neatly served up! Have a look!

About the Viper 770:
Diamond Multimedia's new Viper V770 is shipping to worldwide retailers, OEMs and systems integrators this week at a U.S. estimated retail price (ERP) of $199.95. The Viper V770 Ultra graphics accelerator, based on the RIVA TNT2 Ultra chip, is scheduled to ship later this month at a U.S. ERP of $249.95.

Diamond's Viper V770 graphics accelerator series, consisting of the Viper V770 and the Viper V770 Ultra, combines 32MB of high-speed memory, advanced 128-bit acceleration with NVIDIA's TwiN Texel engine design, true single-pass multi-texturing and true-color, 32 bit, 3D rendering to deliver high-quality imaging, high frame rates and remarkable 3D performance. Diamond's Viper V770 series also provides up to AGP 4X support, 32-bit Z/stencil buffer and MPEG video playback. In addition, Diamond's new graphics accelerators offer 2D and 3D resolution support up to 2048x1536 with refresh rates up to 200Hz and support for monitors up to 24 inches and larger. Diamond Multimedia's new Viper V770 graphics accelerator also supports Microsoft(TM) Windows 95/98/NT operating systems and is enhanced for the industry's most popular application programming interfaces (APIs), including OpenGL® ICD and Microsoft's DirectX 6®. The new Viper V770 supports the streaming SIMD instructions in Pentium® III processor-based PCs, as well as AMD's 3DNow!(TM) technology enhanced processors, to deliver polished 3D graphics to the PC user.

The Viper V770 graphics accelerator will ship with default speeds of 125MHz engine clock speed and 150MHz memory clock speed. The Viper V770 Ultra graphics accelerator will ship with default speeds of 150MHz engine clock speed and 183MHz memory clock speed and with the company's InControl Tools 99 3D Turbo Gauge feature, gives the user the option to overclock the engine and memory clock speeds, based on their individual system configuration -- up to 175/200MHz. The Viper V770 Ultra ships with an active cooling fan for added stability at higher clock speeds.

About the Stealth III S540:
Diamond Multimedia's new Stealth III S540 graphics accelerator will begin shipping next week at an U.S. estimated retail price (ERP) of $129.95.

Diamond Multimedia's new retail-version Stealth III S540 graphics accelerator comes powered with 32M of onboard memory and provides support for up to AGP 4X bus speeds, in addition to full support for Intel and AMD processors. With Savage4's unique S3TC hardware texture compression, an industry-standard feature included in DirectX 6.0® that is capable of storing 240MB of texture in 64MB of system memory, as well as support for textures up to 2048 x 2048, the Stealth III S540 delivers the necessary power for processing high-quality resolutions and photo-realistic images when using today's complex 3D applications.

Diamond's Stealth III S540, equipped with a true 128-bit 2D/3D engine, is capable of achieving clock speeds of 143 MHz and provides capabilities such as single-pass multi-texturing, 32-bit rendering, up to 1920 x 1440 resolution support and stencil buffering. Diamond's new graphics accelerator is also designed to enhance applications developed using the DirectX 6 and OpenGL® ICD APIs. In addition, second-generation motion compensation and sub-picture alpha blending enables the Stealth III S540 to provide hardware-accelerated DVD playback with Diamond's included software DVD player application.

Gainward 6IZB & Shuttle HOT-681V 16:27 pm - Wilfred
Andy sent word of two new reviews he did on Gainward's 6IZB BX mobo and the VIA Apollo Super7 Shuttle HOT-681V. They both seem to have some problems of their own. Read this up before spending on them!

Gainward 6IZB: This is a solid if unspectacular motherboard. Like most Socket 370 boards, expansion is not a priority, although the 1 ISA and 3 PCI slots will suffice for most purposes. What does concern me is that Gainward do not have a track record in mainboard manufacturing, and whilel the hardware is good there are a few omissions. Firstly, there is no jumper to disable the onboard sound. The ESS Solo-1 is reasonable, but won't set hearts fluttering and is ripe for an early upgrade. The lack of a disabling jumper is a serious omission and will cause problems should an upgrade be required. Secondly, I doubt Gainward's commitment to providing BIOS updates. The BIOS as supplied is dated the end of 1998, and at of the time of writing (12th April, 1999) no new BIOS have been issued. This is a shame as the board has major IRQ routing problems.

Shuttle HOT-681V: This motherboard is well made but unfortunately hampered by its choice of chipset. VIA have the Super 7 market well and truly sewed up and with Intel no longer developing in this market, VIA reign. Unfortunately for VIA they are not competing on a level playing field with Intel in the Slot1 / Socket 370 arena, and the truism that nobody ever got fired by buying Intel means that compatability with Intel is the number one priority.

Celeron 466 Review 00:36 am - Wilfred
Thresh's Firingsquad put to the test a piece of Intel's latest budget silicon which they tried putting it up to 525 and 700mhz. Success?

The multiplier is locked at 7.0, which only gave us room to play with the bus speed setting. Taking it a little higher than the its default 66 MHz, we first tried 75Mhz, which resulted at 525 MHz. The Celeron booted up fine, POSTed, went through its paces, and Windows loaded up. This was at the default voltage of 2.0V, so we were rather pleased, hoping that there would be a margin for more speed. We ran a few benchmarks at 525 MHz just to see if it would crash easily, but after several hours, everything remained rock-solid. 525Mhz should be a reachable goal for anyone attempting to overclock a 466.

Windows-Based BIOS Tweak Utility 00:33 am - Wilfred
Gavric of iXBT Hardware mailed to inform me of this new utility available at their website. It will work with Intel 440BX and ZX chipsets, allowing you to change parameters as as memory timings, PCI latency, DRAM signals, etc. Try it out and see if it works for you!

 

3 May 1999 - Monday
Leadtek Winfast 3D S320 II 16Pro 23:26 pm - Wilfred
What a long name to remember! Anyway, Anand has reviewed the supposed first TNT2 card in the market. This baby he received is a 16Mb part, which is less juiced up and targets the budget concious.

By now, the TNT2's performance is known across the world and the decision can be made as to whether or not the TNT2 is the right choice for you.   If it is, and you happen to have around $130 burning a hole in your pocket, the Leadtek Winfast 3D S320 II is a perfectly fine choice for a TNT2 card.   I can tell you now that the S320 II won't be the absolute best TNT2 card to grace the market, however it won't be the worst, and it's definitely not going to be something you regret for the rest of your life (unless, of course, you wanted a Voodoo3 or a Savage4 instead).

Xitel Storm Platinum Review 23:11 pm - Wilfred
GamesWire posted a review on the Xitel Storm Platinum. Oh yeah, this is one card catching the attention of many lately.

For the first time, there will be a Vortex 2 based sound card that will give the Diamond MX300 a run for its money. Before the Vortex2 chipset came out, Xitel produced the Storm VX, which caught many people's attention. With the success of the Storm XV, Xitel got many brand loyalists, many of them eagerly awaiting Xitel's much anticipated Storm Platinum. The sound card is a pure reference spec, as it comes with the standard CD, tad, and aux. inputs. What I really liked was the Optical s/pdif.

Diamonds Diamonds Everywhere 23:04 pm - Wilfred
Hey, sorry! It's water water everywhere... so the Sharks scored some hot news about the upcoming Diamond Viper 770 cards.

Later on today, Diamond Multimedia will announce the shipment of its long awaited TNT2 powered Viper V770 products. There will be two versions of the Viper V770 (both with 32MB), one based on the TNT2 chipset and the other on the Ultra TNT2, which will start shipping 'later this month' (thought to be the middle). The TNT2 based Viper V770 will sell for an estimated street price (ESP) of $199.95, whilst the UltraTNT2 based part will sell for $249.95.

Much has been said about the 'clock speed' issue but Diamond has decided to set the UltraTNT2 board at NVIDIA's 'recommended' clock speed of 150MHz for the graphics clock and 175MHz for the memory. However, the company's bundled InControl Tools '99 3D Turbo Gauge feature will give owners the option to overclock the graphics and/or memory clock speeds, based on their individual system configuration, up to 175/200MHz (the pre-set speeds in our preview board). The board will come with a heat sink and fan combination to aid this. The non-UltraTNT2 part will be set at 125MHz for the graphics clock and 150MHz for the memory clock. Overclocking will be an option but the maximum speeds have not yet been released.

Boston Acoustics BA635 Speakers 22:53 pm - Wilfred
DimensionX reviewed a pair of speakers from Boston Acoustics. Drop them a visit if you're seaching for speakers.

All through the tests, these 3 little guys kept pumping out crisp, clear, and clean sound. This has never happened before to me as the speakers might become distorted at high levels. No such thing here, always the good stuff. Even in 4 hours of Half-Life deathmatching, these little babies told me when some idiot was shooting me from behind as well as to the sides. Again, sound quality was CONSTANT, even when the asteroid exploded in Armageddon, they didn't get static.

RealNetworks Plans MP3 RealJukebox 22:45 pm - Wilfred
A report at ZDNet says that RealNetwork will put its weight behind the MP3 file format and it has released a beta version of RealJukebox, which will be able to CD ripping, MP3 encoding, and playback. Very much an all-in-one solution for end users. Yippee!

The product incorporates many features already found in other free or shareware, such as converting CD music into MP3 format, and creating playlists to organize that music. But observers say RealNetworks has introduced a new level of user-friendliness. To start the process, users simply insert a CD into their PC's CD-ROM drive. While they listen to the music, RealJukebox encodes it into a PC format, either MP3 or RealMedia G2.

Serbian Bombing A Cunning Y2K Plan? 12:55 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! This is quite a story if there's any truth to go by... a reader at The Register suggested that the raining of bombs and missles into Yugoslavia is a cunning plan to ensure that future US arsenals are Y2K-compliant. Get rid of the old inventory!

A reader suggested last week that with all the missiles and bombs raining down on Yugoslavia, it would at least ensure future US arsenals are Y2K compliant.

Gulp. This idea is a hard one to stomach, given that it suggests a cynicism far greater than even the most hardened hacks that throng The Register's offices can muster.

The fact is that the embedded semiconductor market is enormous and no-one has any real idea about whether chips and embedded software in these devices will go belly-up come midnight on the 31st of January this year.

Poll #11 Results 12:50 pm - Wilfred
Ok dudes! The results of poll 11 "I have the following soundcard..." is out and once again pulled no surprises. Out of a total of 2077 votes, a majority of 782 voters or 37% still haven't found the need to upgrade to a PCI soundcard. For those who migrated, over 660 voters have a SBLive! while Vortex2 cards accounted for 337 votes.

Diamond Viper 770 Review 12:46 pm - Wilfred
Our pals at iXBT Hardware reviewed the TNT2-based Diamond Viper 770 card. After reviewing the non "ultra" version of the card, the chaps didn't see the TNT2 replacing the V3 in the near future. Hmm..

The conclusions: the graphics quality is on a very high level. Especially in 32-bit color. However, it is really hard to find some features univocally distinguishing Riva TNT2 from all the rest. Besides, we have to do justice to its 32-bit color support. And at the same time we can't deny a very high quality of Voodoo3 in 16-bit color.

Summing up we would like to say the following. The overclocked V770 retained its leadership in 3D 32-bit color and provided beautiful graphics quality in 3D as well as in 2D at 1024x768 and less. However, the additional cooling was strongly recommended in this case. In 16-bit color Riva TNT2 (overclocked to 140/200MHz) failed to leave behind its competitor - Voodoo3 3000. This observation makes us think that even Riva TNT2 Ultra (175/200MHz) will fail to catch up with the overclocked Voodoo3 3000.

ATI Xpert 128 12:41 pm - Wilfred
The wicked boys posted a review on the ATI Xpert 128 card. Not a bad buy I suppose but I would go for the Creative TNT cards which are selling at S$148.

It's a good card. Nothing more than good, and nothing less. It is not a great card that will perform beyond a Voodoo3 or the proposed TNT2 specifications, but it will make most customers happy to own one. I would recommend this video card to folks on a budget looking to get something decent where every dollar counts. The card is currently priced at $105, and priced accordingly in my opinion.

Altec Lansing ADA 305 Review 12:38 pm - Wilfred
FPS3D.COM completed a kickass review on the Altec Lansing ADA 305 USB speakers. They really like them...

Please, make sure you have a kick ass sound card before you get these. Spend your money there first. If you have a kick ass sound card, are they worth it? Depends on how much you pay for them. The Altec Lansing store sells them for $199.95, maybe, but I have seen them on-line for as little as $120, hell yes. A tip, if you see the ACS-495 (sold through Dell) get them instead. They have 24 Watt subwoofer instead of 20 Watt, so go for it. Buy the speakers and see, umm, hear what you’re missing.

Service Pack 5 For NT 4.0 12:31 pm - Wilfred
Microsoft has released Service Pack 5 for NT 4.0, you can find the file right here. Thanks to Philipp of NT Game Palace for the note.

Dreamcode Review 12:24 pm - Wilfred
3DSpotlight reviewed the PowerColor Gameboard Dreamcode Slot-1 BX motherboard. This board features an integrated TNT card and Yamaha sound board.

The GameBoard DreamCode is an excellent product aimed at the budget conscious gamer, not the hardcore one specially because of the lack of upgradability and an AGP slot. In my opinion Powercolor should consider adding an AGP slot in their future products, it'd kick ass to have a Voodoo 3 on board and have the AGP slot available for a future upgrade.

Memory Guide Part 3 12:16 pm - Wilfred
SharkyExtreme has delivered part 3 of their Memory Guide about memory performance.

While processors have been getting faster at a seemingly ever-increasing rate memory speeds have been improving at a much slower rate, mostly due to cost issues. With superscalar architectures and other features being implemented that allow multiple instructions to be executed every clock cycle, this mismatch has become even greater.

K7 Vs Pentium III Benchmarks Emerged  12:09 pm - Wilfred
The Register has digged up some comparative benchmarks between the K7-600Mhz vs the PIII-600Mhz. And oops! The K7 didn't beat P3!

WinBench99 Version 1.1 (5 times measure) CPUMark99 (CPU Integer Performance does not include MMX register)
- [email protected] 68.4 Mark
- Pentium [email protected] 70.1 Mark

FPUWinMark (CPU Floating Point Performance does not include MMX,SSE,3DNow!,FSTORE Extension register)
- [email protected] 2,819 Mark
- Pentium [email protected] 3,104 Mark

One thing to note is that Winbench99 doesn't yet take into account the effect of SSE and 3DNow! optimisations and nothing is set in concrete yet.

 

2 May 1999 - Sunday
SingNet's Apology Letter For Scanning 23:23 pm - Wilfred
A friend forwarded this to me. Well, Magix users like myself haven't receive no apology letters yet! Check out this long letter titled "We Should Have Informed You First - Preventive Scanning". Post your views right here in our forums!

Dear SingNet Customer,

We are aware that you may have some concerns due to the recently published "SingNet scanning computers'' article in The Straits Times.

We apologise unreservedly if we have caused you any undue alarm and also regret not having informed you before we embarked on our virus-detection scanning. However, please be assured that we only had your best interests at heart when conducting the exercise.

Why did we do it?
We have found that Internet surfers unknowingly download software, screensavers and other material that may be infected with viruses such as the "trojan horse".

The "trojan horse" virus allows the hacker to capture passwords by identifying keystrokes. With that, the hacker will be able to hack into a person's PC and get content for illegal purposes. In order to gauge the level of "trojan horse" infection among our customers, we approached the IT Security Unit of the Ministry of Home Affairs to assist in conducting a virus-detection scan. This way, we can alert those SingNet users whose PCs are infected and advise them accordingly.

Why did we not inform you of the scanning operation?
We did not want to alert hackers of when we were conducting our scans as we did not want to give them the easy opportunity to hack into your PC during the same period. We also did not want to cause undue concern among our customers before determining the actual level of "trojan horse'' infections.

On hindsight, we should have considered the impact of this exercise on you and been more sensitive to your needs. We sincerely apologise again for any alarm and anxiety that we may have caused.

How do we do the virus-detection scanning?
First, the scanning programme sends a signal to your PC. When the PC receives this signal, it sends one back. The scanning programme listens for this reply and then analyses it. Because an infected PC responds differently from an uninfected PC, by studying the way your PC responds to a scan, it is possible to know whether it contains a "trojan horse'' and is therefore a potential target for hackers.

To give an analogy, the scanning programme basically knocks on the door of your PC. If your PC is virus-free, there should be no response. If there is a virus, the programme will record the infected PC's network address and the time of the incident. A network address is given to you each time you log on to your PC and changes every time you log on. No users' personal particulars such as the User ID and password are contained in this address.

The network addresses of those PCs that were identified to be vulnerable were then sent to SingNet and we looked through our records to identify the person who was using that particular address at the time of the scanning and to trace whose PC had been affected.

Has there been any invasion of privacy?
Please rest assured that we have taken special measures to safeguard your privacy before embarking on this exercise. The scanning programme used is not a hacking tool and has no ability to enter any computer system. Rather, it is a defensive measure to look for security loopholes.  Also, the programme identifies PCs by their network addresses which do not contain personal particulars. As such, user anonymity is preserved.

What are the findings so far?
As a result of the scanning conducted over just one week, we have discovered that the PCs of nearly 900 customers have been infected by the "trojan horse" virus. The presence of this virus makes these PCs vulnerable to hacking. We will be contacting our affected subscribers over the course of the next few days and advising them on the corrective action they should take.

As a precautionary measure, we suggest that you visit SingNet's homepage at www.singnet.com.sg and click on the Anti-Trojan Horse protection banner to find out more about protection against the "trojan horse" virus.

Are the scans still being conducted?
Meanwhile, we have stopped the scanning while we seek your views on such preventive scanning measures. As a means of assuring you further, we will call upon the independent National Internet Advisory Committee to certify that our scanning exercises are not intrusive.

What can you do to safeguard your PC?
Please be aware that an important part of protecting your safety is to not download software, screensavers and other material if you are not sure where they came from.

For more information on the protection against the "trojan horse" virus, please visit SingNet's homepage at www.singnet.com.sg and click on the Anti-Trojan Horse Protection banner.

Yours Sincerely,
Paul Chong
CEO
SingTel Multimedia

Anand's Savage 4 Review 22:38 pm - Wilfred
I believe this must be the hottest review tonight. Anand dissected the Savage 4 in his usual zillion page article with lots of whoop ass benchmarks. I believe you HAVE to check this out straightaway!

For those of you expecting the Savage4 to come through as being the world's fastest 2D/3D accelerator, you're out of luck. However, the Savage4 does have its strengths as discussed above. The Savage4's ability to render at 32-bit color depths with a very small loss in performance will make the Savage4 a strong performer in Quake 3 Arena which is supposed to truly illustrate a difference between 16-bit and 32-bit rendering. If it does in fact illustrate such a difference, Savage4 owners will be pleased to know that the drop in performance they'll experience for the added image quality is next to nothing compared to the TNT2 and other competing solutions capable of 32-bit rendering.

S3's use of the texture compression algorithm supported by DirectX 6.1 is an extremely promising tool and if used properly, can improve image quality by an extremely noticeable amount, unfortunately the only question remaining in this case is when S3TC enabled games will actually hit the hands of Savage4 owners. Interplay will be shipping S3TC enhanced versions of Descent 3, and that particular title will probably make its way into a number of software bundles shipping with Savage4 cards, however the big titles such as Quake 3 Arena have yet to illustrate any benefits from S3TC (not a single Q3A S3TC screenshot has been posted). Although we've all seen screenshots from Unreal Tournament, not everyone plays Unreal. For those that don't, implementation of S3TC won't be popular until much later into the year (Q4) when other manufacturers may possibly include support for texture compression.

I was a tat disappointed as I glanced through Anand's benchmarks. Nope, the S4 didn't beat the V3 nor the TNT2 outright in any tests... my only hope is that the shipping drivers will improve things quite a bit. Perhaps the other redeeming bit is its low price? We'll see!

ixMicro ixTV PC TV-Tuner 22:31 pm - Wilfred
SystemLogic tested the above TV-tuner card from ixMcro. The card comes with video capturing capability and a plethora of other nifty abilities. Take a stroll down now!

Parallel Computing Part 1 & Pipelining 12:49 pm - Wilfred
The CPUSite has put up the first part of their article titled "Parallel Computing". It's not as simple as you think, so let the nice guys explain it to you!

We have learned that parallel computing is not as easy as simply adding more CPU's to a system. In order for one application to truly benefit from more than one CPU in your system, the application needs to be optimised for parallel computing. This however, is not always a trivial problem.

First of all programs need to be divided in separate and as equal possible parts. But the problem is that not every program can be divided easily over any number of CPU's. And last of all, even if you succeed there always be some overhead, which prevents a multi-CPU system to run actually the number of CPU's times faster.

Also check out the just published article on the performance aspect of pipelining. What is it? To put it shortly, here's a snip:

Pipelining is a way of doing more instructions in less time. Normally it takes several cycles for one instruction. Within each cycle a part is performed. Each time one of the parts is finished, so after one cycle, the instruction moves one place further creating space for a new instruction.

Why Breaking Up Microsoft Is Hard To Do 12:40 pm - Wilfred
ZDNet posted a study by Stan Liebowitz that breaking Microsoft up could cost the consumers up to US$30 billion. Worth a read!

Liebowitz's study, called "Breaking Windows: Estimating the Cost of Breaking Up Microsoft Windows," makes that claim that remedial actions against Microsoft could "'balkanize' an operating system standard that has been the overwhelming choice of business and consumers for their desktop computers." Besides costing PC software vendors nearly $30 billion more in development, marketing and support costs required to adapt their software to "new Windows descendants," breaking up Windows would fragment the customer base and result in higher retail software prices, the study says.

Need For Speed: High Stakes 12:34 pm - Wilfred
Next Generation Online has a preview on on NFS: High Stakes. Great they decided to keep all of NFS3's goodness and add on to it! Oh yeah! Read this!

To make the "cop game" a little more interesting, playing the side of the law now puts you in control of a fleet of cop cars at various checkpoints across the track. They radio in to one another and, like the AI in the Matrix, you can hop from cop car to cop car taking instant control. However, the cars you are not controlling continue to monitor, chase, and capture speeders, so there's no worry about passive police out of your control sitting slack jawed with their coffee and donuts as a Porsche zips buy at 120MPH.

The game also now has fully polygonal damage and a particle system. This allows for some pretty spectacular effects. When your car slams into a tree on its left side, it will not only get dented on that side, glass from your headlight might fly out, leaving your car with only one light -- and as you change the camera to the outside of the car, you will see the appropriate single beam.

Are You Connected? 12:29 pm - Wilfred
Check out this article at GameSpot CGW which reviews the best home LANs, the best type of connection, and the best 56K modems.

A home network is in your future. You may already have one, but if you don't, there's a herd of companies betting that it's something you'll soon want. And why not? With PC prices dropping by the day, multiple PC households are becoming more common. And what's the point of having multiple PCs in your home if you can't play multiplayer games on them? Oh sure, there are the spousal selling angles of all those "work-related" applications, like file sharing and printer sharing, and having multiple boxes share an Internet connection, and all the rest, but come on, the real reason to get networked is to invite friends over and deep-six 'em (virtually speaking, of course).

The K7: A Prophecy 12:26 pm - Wilfred
Gurutech has a review on AMD's K7 on how it will stand against the competition. In fact, there's some bold predictions made here:

Is the K7 assured a victory over Intel? Not exactly.

This may seem like the standard "David versus Goliath" situation, and, in a way, it is. But the difference here is that AMD can't just come in with a high-performance processor and take the gold. It's going to take 100 of those proverbial rocks hitting Intel square in the forehead for a win in this situation. AMD has a long way to go on the OEM front before they can begin to really take the reigns of this CPU horse from Intel.

My prediction? Yes, I think AMD will, in the end, become bigger than Intel. But not with the K7. No, it's going to take more than just the K7 to topple Intel, especially with their Coppermine and Willamette processors on the horizon. AMD needs to continue on with competively priced and clocked processors for them to cripple this Goliath - and wow, Goliath sure is looking big.

Yamaha EAX Drivers for WaveforceXG  00:50 am - Wilfred
Cool! Yamaha is sure fast on delivering this one, now Aureal must be even more pressurize to deliver something soon. Thanks to Alive! for the pointer, you can check out this drivers on your WaveforceXG and let us know how it compares with the authentic thing!

CuteFTP 3.0.15 Beta  00:38 am - Wilfred
Over at BetaNews, looks like there is a new beta version of the popular CuteFTP for beta testers to download. In version 3.0.15, here are parts of the massive list of what's new:

  • Explorer Integration - Drag 'n drop copy/move from, to, and within CuteFTP panes and from Windows. Only operation currently not supported is remote to Explorer drag, and remote to remote file copy (only move supported).
  • MP3 and File Search - You can now search for music and other files with the integrated searcher. Launch it from FTP>CuteFTP MP3 & file search (on menu bar). Searcher allows for multi-site searches and integrates with the Persistent Downloading feature.
  • Auto-Reconnect and Resume - Transfers ALWAYS get the file(s) you were downloading/uploading. Most requested feature ever. CuteFTP detects for broken transfers, slow transfers, and power outages, and compensates accordingly.
  • Queue is not Site Dependent - Tag files from multiple sites for later transfer. You can grab files from various sites, disconnect, shutdown, come back the next day and still transfer all the files. You can now start a multi-session transfer, go to bed, and then EXPECT to have the files on your Desktop in the morning. You can also add files, browse local drives and rearrange the order of the queue during a transfer.

Wilfred Coughs 00:29 am - Wilfred
There's left only a few more hours for you to vote in our poll if you haven't. We should be replacing this with another one later in the day. So hurry! And the rest of you can go on into our forums and join the discussions there... =)

Asus TNT2 V3800 - Part 2 00:22 am - Wilfred
OptimumPC sent word to say that Part 2 of their Asus TNT2 V3800 review is out! Included are new benchmark figures, screenshots, discussion about the bundled VR glasses as well as the upcoming 'Ultra' variant. Here's what I thought to be a farney para regarding the ongoing discussion on 32-bit colours.

I did manage to do is provide you side by side images to show you the benefits of playing a game in 32 bit color. Although this topic has been talked about to death I should remind all game players that when you're playing in a frenzied deathmatch, you probably won't have enough time to enjoy the scenery. Although it's true in that scenario, it's always nice to be able to have a card that can play in 32 bit color, especially if it offers playable performance.

Linux: Creative SBLive Beta Drivers  00:15 am - Wilfred
Whoppee! You can download Creative's beta Linux drivers for the Sound Blaster Live! right here. Test it out dudes!

 

1 May 1999 - Saturday
Hardware-One: Sega Get Bass! 19:52 pm - Wilfred
Yet again, the console freak strikes! Boon Kiat just posted his review on Sega's Get Bass! Don't miss this if you are a Dreamcast fan, you'll be hooked!
I know most people could be prejudiced when it comes to fishing games. I know, because I was once like that too. But this game has made me start realising it is a really fun genre in its own right, BUT only if it is done RIGHT.
And Get Bass has it ALL RIGHT! It has a great sense of replayability, great graphics and great gameplay.

Whitney, Intel's 810 Chipset - Part 1 19:41 pm - Wilfred
Tom's Hardware posted an article about Intel's 810 chipset for the Celeron processors. Sporting integrated video and other features, this will be found in budget mobos in appearing in the coming months. This is one snip definitely worth reading...

You have certainly already realized that i810 motherboards will not come with an AGP-slot. This means that you can only 'upgrade' to a different graphics solution by plugging in a PCI graphics card, which is pretty pointless nowadays. The next thing that's missing on i810-boards are the ISA-slots. Many of you will be happy about that, ISA's days are over indeed. Additional serial devices can be hooked up to the USB, so that there's indeed no reason for ISA anymore. Another new feature of Intel's latest chipsets i810 and the upcoming i820 is 'AC97'. This 'port' requires only an external modem/audio-codec, which won't cost much more than 10 bucks, to offer sound as well as a 56k-modem. However, be alarmed that these are no active devices as a modem or sound card from the good old times. AC97 lets the CPU 'emulate' a modem or a sound card, thus putting threat onto the CPU. Intel doesn't like anything better than 'innovations' that require more CPU horsepower, so that they can sell more of their CPUs. The result is that your CPU is so busy supplying enough power to the AC97-soft modem and the AC97 soft sound controller that your online 3D-gaming experience is getting close to zero.

Voodoo 3 2000, 3000 Vs TNT2 19:35 pm - Wilfred
Review-Zone completed their V3 vs TNT2 shootout. The benchmarks of the first TNT2 card are encouraging. Without a doubt, as drivers mature, as more cards are released by the major players as well as the release of the superior UltraTNT2, we shall truely be able to judge who is king. =)

Considering the mid-range competition, the Voodoo3 3000 offers extremely good 16-bit performance, overclockability and a good game bundle for the price. The Winfast S320 II is cheaper and delivers better all-round performance, though not up to par in terms of overclockability or software bundles. Keep mind, however, that this is neither the only nor the best TNT2 card due out- and we’re not talking about the impending Ultra TNT2 boards either. There will be quite a few more TNT2 boards, with 32MB of SDRAM or SGRAM rather than 16MB, and with different features, coming out from several high-profile OEMs in the near future. The Winfast S320 II was just the first to hit the streets.

Leadtek Winfast 3D S320 II 19:24 pm - Wilfred
HotHardware also has a review on Leadtek's TNT2 card. In Quake 2's worst case Crusher demo, the card scored over 36fps in 32-bit colours at 1024x768 resolution, there can be little to complain about.

In closing I want to point out that this card, although not representative of the top end performance of the TNT2 (we can't wait for Leadtek's Ultra version!), it is currently one of the fastest video cards on the market. The 3D image quality is absolutely the best money can buy at this point in time. With 32MB of SGRAM on board, it is hard to beat this combination!

IBM 22GXP 18Gb HDD 12:21 pm - Wilfred
AGNHardware reviewed the 18Gb monster IBM 22GXP. I have a certain attraction for IBM HDD drives and if I'm to purchase my next PC today, I'll be sure to buy something 18Gb or more!

The drive features 4 large 4.6 gigabyte platters, giving you the above mentioned 18 Gig of hard drive loving space. The drive also features support for ATA-66, so that you are offered speedier performance in the future. (Your motherboard or card must stupport ATA-66) Put this together in a drive that is quite small and you are probably going to cry over that massive Quantum Bigfoot drive your brother talked you into buying. (They call it bigfoot because the drive is as big as a foot :])

AOpen Riva TNT2 News 12:12 pm - Wilfred
SystemLogic posted the press announcement of AOpen's TNT2 card. Great, another player to choose from! More competiton, better pricing... it never failed to work for us!

Having spent many months of hardworking on software development and hardware design, AOpen today announced its delivery of PA3010 TNT2 AGP cards. The PA3010-A comes with a 16MB SDRAM. The PA3010-N comes with a 32MB SDRAM, TV-out. Both had a fine-tuned Clock Tuning Utility to boost performance.

Guillemot Jet Leader 3D USB Joystick 12:06 pm - Wilfred
P3D reviewed the Jet Leader 3D joystick from Guillemot. The joystick is ambidextrous and size-adjustable, so it'll fit about everybody on the streets. Have a look!

Performance of the Jet Leader 3D was overall excellent. Control on every game I used was accurate, if a little tough to get to the edges due to the strength of the springs of the stick. It does feel very realistic, and thanks to its heavy base, you can push and pull this baby as much as you like without worrying about destroying it. Racing games also fared well, although a racing wheel is recommended for those. The Descent 3 demo was also much more fun to play with the Jet Leader 3D.

Leadtek Winfast S320 II: First Shipping TNT2 12:01 pm - Wilfred
Games.net got a short review on the first shipping TNT2 in the market - The Leadtek Winfast S320 II.

Its main competitor, the Voodoo3 (3000), produced comparable frame rates to the S320 II. The 3000 also had a higher overall score in 3Dmark 99 (4271) compared to the S320 II (3976), but while the S320 II went on to the 32-bit tests the 3000 had to stay home and pout. Image quality was superb, and there were no glitches in any of the games we tested, as with the ATI Rage Fury. What we like about the S320 II is that it's features-packed compared to the 3000. And while the ATI Rage Fury has comparable features, the S320 II stomped it in the overall score (3976 vs. 2917) in 3Dmark 99.

CIH Author Confesses And Offers Help 11:59 am - Wilfred
ZDNet's got a story about the author of CIH. Chen Ing-Hau, a Taiwanese nationale, is now serving his mandatory military service.

A bashful Chen, in brief comments after he was released, expressed remorse and offered to help victims remove the virus from their computers.

Authorities said Chen created the virus while studying at Tatung Institute of Technology, which had disciplined him a year ago after learning about the computer program, and did not pursue the matter further with authorities. Dubbed Chernobyl because it strikes on anniversaries of the April 26, 1986, Soviet nuclear disaster, the virus is known to experts as CIH -- which Chen acknowledged were his initials.

Contest 05:53 am - Kan
FPS3D is having a contest in which they are giving away a VoodooCooler as well as a CelRex (Celeron Processor cooler), TRex etc. All you have to do is to enter your email address and name. Simple huh?

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