28 November 1999 - Sunday

More GeForce Madness
21:01 pm - David
Lost Circuits has whipped up a review on the Asus V6600 GeForce card, btw have you read our review of the card yet?

One name in the graphics business is associated with overnight success: nVidia. About two years ago, if anyone had asked, nobody would have known what stands behind it. Almost overnight, however, nVidia has mushroomed into one of the hottest chipset manufacturers for graphics adapters. Behind the, er, hostile takeover of the video market stands a very aggressive and admittedly clever marketing. Still, marketing alone doesn’t cut it anymore, computer awareness is increasing and no longer is it possible to sell any product just on the basis of reputation as some of the giants in the field have rather painfully learned in the most recent past.

Types of thermal compound 16:30 pm - David
Our pals over at Extreme Hardware has written an article on the different types of thermal compound. Here's a whiff:

One of the most important aspects of overclocking success is the thermal material you place between the cooling device and the chip. This link between the heatsink/fan and the chip is never perfect and these thermal materials serve to enhance the heat transfer between the two surfaces. I have read technical articles that state when two flat surfaces are joined, less than 1% of the surfaces actually make physical contact. Never fear, there are quite a few thermally conductive options you can use to fill in those spaces.

RCA Lyra MP3 Player 13:43 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme released another review today - RCA Lyra Portable MP3 player. Here's what the guys have to say:

Today we're looking at the first MP3 portable player from a major manufacturer, RCA's "Lyra". The Lyra offers some great features along with some penalties in its quest for your MP3 pursuing dollars, and while it does include interesting technology it may not be the right portable for everyone's needs.

When the first portable cassette player arrived in the United States in 1980 it was met initially with curiosity which was quickly followed by tremendous sales growth and revenue over the next 20 years. Portable MP3 players are just entering their own curiosity stage, as the average consumer (not to be confused with you sharp readers of Sharky Extreme) is just now becoming aware of the MP3 music experience.

Stylus Photo 1200 13:41 pm - Kan
Woooze! TheTechZone reviewed the Epson Stylus Photo 1200 printer and from the looks of it, it's not bad!

This is one fast printer. The EPSON Stylus Photo 1200 can do an 8" x 10" print in just two minutes. The quality is amazing. We’re talking about photo prints highlighted by virtually continuous tone and super smooth gradations. The output resolution is a super high 1440 x 720 dpi. The printer uses ESPON's award-winning Micro Piezo ink jet technology and a 6-color ink palette of quick drying inks. Yes, 6 colors. It uses the standard 4 colors found in most ink jet printers but adds 2 more colors to do skin tone better than any other ink jet printer I've ever seen.

Iwill Slocket II 370 to Slot1 Converter 09:10 am - Kan
Our pals over at Bxboards reviewed the Iwill Slocket II. Yup, this one supports both Dual Celerons operation as well as the new Coppermine processors. 

While this unit is designed from the ground up to support Coppermine overclocking, backwards compatibility with Celerons has not been forgotten. Jumper 8 on the unit configures the card into either PPGA (Celeron) or FCPGA (Pentium IIIE). One size of convertor card really does fit both variants on the Socket 370 theme. Very nice indeed! Additionally, the unit also features forward compatibility with Cyrix forthcoming Socket370 chip, codenamed "Jupiter" and jumper 9 on the board configures between Cyrix and Intel compatibility. Iwill have thought of everything!

ASUS V6600 09:07 am - Kan
Alright, we have a review of the ASUS V6600 GeForce review over at VirtualZone. Check out our own review on the ASUS V6600 as well. Here's an excerpt:

ASUS GeForce 256 is the second GeForce card released and selling in retail here after Creative Labs 3D Blaster Annihilator. After so much hype on the popular Riva TnT2, Voodoo3 and also Matrox G400 lines of cards, now it is time for NVidia's GeForce to steal the show for now. There is no single card now that can match GeForce 256 performance as it is the world's first GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) that's made up of more than 23 million transistors. We will see how long GeForce 256 will continue stealing the show until the next new generation cards are released by Nvidia's competitors. 

Transcend TS-AVD1 08:53 am - Kan
Another new motherboard review on the Transcend TS-AVD1 VIA Apollo Pro 133 Slot-1 motherboard from the gurus over at AnandTech.

The layout of the TS-AVD1 is almost identical to the TS-ABX, which means just one minor deviation from the ATX specification -- the placement of the power connector behind the Slot-1 connector. This configuration adds to case clutter by forcing the power cable to run over the CPU and memory slots. Fortunately, it is at the right edge, rather than directly behind the CPU. The floppy drive and the HDD connectors are located where they should be, right at the front of the board. The board is of average length, just a bit longer than an ISA slot, which means it should fit fine in any ATX case.

GamePC Article Updated 08:37 am - Kan
nV News dropped us a line that they have updated their article on GamePC. This time round, the updated article includes more info on how the GeForce increase the life expectancy of a PC.

In addition, the benefits of the GeForce 256's on-board Graphics Processing Unit, which accelerate transformation and lighting (T&L), have yet to be fully realized in today's games.  OpenGL titles, such as Quake and it's derivatives, utilitze the GeForce's transform pipeline.  Also, it was recently announced that Raven's Soldier of Fortune will support lighting acceleration via their GHOUL rendering engine add-on to Quake 2.

Nokia 446XS 19" Monitor 08:34 am - Kan
We are start off the day with a review of the Nokia 446XS 19" Monitor from SharkyExtreme. Besides making good handphones, Nokia also manufactures monitors. Here's how it performs:

When I received the screen, at first I was puzzled by its small size. I almost thought it was a 17". Why? Because when compared to a 17" Adi ProVista (a pretty standard 17" monitor in terms of size and features), I found the 446XS to be smaller in two out of three dimensions. Only in width did the 19" 446XS exceed the 17" ProVista, by about an inch and a half.. This shape makes the 446XS look a little like a wide screen display, even though the CRT has the standard width / height aspect ratio.

 

27 November 1999 - Saturday

Water/Peltier Cooled Processor 21:37 pm - Kan
Looking for some info on Water/Peltier cooled processors? Cederman sent note on their Water/Peltier cooled Celeron 433 Mhz processor in which the dudes were able to crank the processor up to a whopping 650 Mhz. Here's the load:

After researching some of the other Celeron overclocking adventures around the web, and investigating the price and relative merit of several overclocking solutions, we've decided on Peltier assisted watercooling.  Whilst this may seem drastic (and expensive) it actually turns out to be quite cost effective.  By building our own waterjacket (a heatsink enclosed in aluminium), and using a fountain pump, an aluminium coldplate and 2 40mmx40mm 6Amp 60watt Peltier coolers, we've managed to keep the cost around $100 Australian( about USD65 ).

Kodak DC240 21:35 pm - Kan
A review of the Kodak DC240 camera (oh it's a 1.3 Megapixel camera) over at Scott's Hardware. Here's how it performs:

The DC240 features a 3X motorized zoom lens, with 2x digital zoom for a total of 6x, allowing you to achieve equivalent 35mm lens focal lengths of 39-117 mm. This is enough to capture most typical indoor shots ranging from a wide angle group photo to a zoom in facial close up. Another great feature is the four-setting flash, which allows you a few more options than just on and off typical of most low to mid range digital camera's. The options are Off-for bright outdoor or indoor photos where flash photography is not allowed, Auto-which fires the flash automatically when shutter is pressed and the camera determines there is not enough light on the subject

MDK2 Preview 21:33 pm - Kan
FiringSquad has another new game preview - MDK2. Ah, I remembered the time when I played MDK years ago and I was pretty impressed by the game by then. Here's some juice for MDK2:

One of the most impressive effects that I had a hard time placing at first was the shadows. I knew that somehow MDK2 felt considerably more real than other games I've played and for about the first 3 minutes I was trying to figure out what, then it hit me as Greg demoed the Doctor and went by the fireplace and I saw the shadow leap onto the couch! Wow! Shadows elongated, got larger when placed on far walls, etc. They moved proportionately faster, etc. I've seen shadows (even very well implemented ones) before, but not to this degree.

Troubleshooting Overclocking Problems 17:26 pm - Wilfred
TargetPC readied part 2 of their 'mini-guide' on how to troubleshoot overclocking problems, the little pitfalls that you should watch out for. In any case, a thread in our forum questioned "Overclocking, Art or Luck", you can participate right there. In my opinion, it's more luck than art these days.

L2 Cache can make a CPU with a beautiful core a rotten overclocker. The Celeron processors are still the overclocker’s choice. The integrated L2 cache runs at the processor speed and benefits from being cooled by the heatsink sitting on the CPU. The Pentium II and III’s have L2 cache chips that are external from the CPU and reside on the PCB next to the processor, these are not cooled by the heatsink and get very hot. In addition the speed of the L2 Cache chips often dictate how fast you can push the processor. An example of this is the PIII 450 with 4.4 Ns L2 cache chips Vs the 3.3 Ns L2cache chips. PIII with the faster L2 cache chips are being regularly overclocked to speeds of 600 MHz and in most cases higher than that…. Where as the slower 4.4 Ns chips are allowing owners to reach only into the 500Mhz range.

Leadman Model LP-6100 400W Power Supply 17:05 pm - Wilfred
Overclockers Australia took a piece of Leadman's 400W PSU for testing - one of the AMD approved PSUs. You may not think it important, but heck! It is! A lot of peripherals such as CPUs, AGP cards and all are power suckers that will require a good steady PSU to keep them happy. 400 Watts sounds good to me, but details matter as you'll soon find out:

I booted up and the first thing I noticed was that MBM reported Fan 3 (one of my CPU fans) as being under-speed. I had the warning set to about 150rpm lower than the nominal amount for all three fans, and upon checking the voltages I noticed that the 12 volt line was slightly lower than the old power supply's. It ran between 11.31 and 11.49, whereas my old one ran at about 11.7. This isn't a major concern because the Athlon only needs the 3.3 and 5 volt lines to run stably. The 5 volt line was exactly 5.00 (Macase was 4.93 typically) and the 3.3 line is 3.39 (about 3.35 for the Macase). The second supply gets slightly more on the 12 volt line (11.49-11.61) and 5 volt line (5.05), with the rest being around the same.

Kenwood 72X TrueX CD-ROM 13:01 pm - Kan
I don't know. CD-ROM speeds are so fast that I'm kinda immune to them already. Anyway, HotHardware just released their review on the Kenwood 72X TrueX CD-ROM drive. Yup, this is the fastest CD-ROM drive out there:

With specs like this, it has to be the fastest there is, right? Well, as we all know CD-ROM drive manufacturers play a huge game of "specsmanship" when it comes to rating their products. One 48X drive can perform close to 28X levels and another can perform like a 12X drive with both products having the same numbers boasting performance levels far different than reality. Kenwood uses the word "True" in their product for a reason. Here is the technology behind the performance numbers and why the drive speaks the truth.

Microsoft Millenium Beta 2 Released 12:02 pm - Wilfred
I'm not keen actually. I shared Bill's vision of the converging 9x and NT systems... Now come on! Deliver it! Yet it shan't be. Microsoft just released of Beta 2 of their next consumer operating system to testers. The OS that is slated for second half 2000 release will once again delay the convergence (it promises to be the last of 9x kernel). We shall see about that. Check this:

The chief focus of Millennium is home networking, according to a Microsoft representative. Beta 2 includes enhancements to Internet Connection Sharing technologies to facilitate home networking, as well as broader support for networking hardware.

Beta 2 also introduces the operating system's first implementation of Universal Plug and Play support, according to Microsoft.

The Millennium release of Windows, expected to ship in the second half of 2000, is expected to be the last OS based on the Windows 9x kernel. Microsoft intends to move to a consumer version of Windows NT after that. In fact, that plan has been postponed once already, because the company has been focusing on Windows 2000, the upgrade to Windows NT 4.0.

Along with home networking, Millennium focuses on simplicity and "self-healing" technologies, digital media and entertainment, and enhancing users' online experience.

'Self-healing' technologies? Hmm.. sounds great but really, how much do you enjoy the "Auto-Correct" features. I've heard from people, both exaltations and curses.

HP Polar Logic Review 11:50 am - Wilfred
There's a review on the ultra-cool AND ultra-cool looking coolers from HP at Virtual Zone Profile. Apparently, it works REALLY well and costs less than competition of comparable performance.

the appearance of Polar Logic is the best demonstration of the awakening which is being carried out in the largest actors of the market of the PC, vis-a-vis to the problems involved in thermal dissipation : There is less than 10 years, no processor did not require a radiator, today, they all are equipped with it, and it recently became the case of those which equip our video cards.

How To Dual Boot Win98 / NT 4.0 System 11:44 am - Wilfred
If you haven't a clue how to dual boot the two OSes, Tweak3D wants to help. Have a read on this guide they wrote.

Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 both have their own benefits and drawbacks. Windows 98 is compatible with almost everything, has advanced 3D acceleration with DirectX 7.0 (NT4 only has support for DirectX 3.0), and is easier to use. However, NT4 is more secure, more stable, and faster than its more popular cousin. What do you do if you need both? You make a dual boot system!

Copying Students Targetted By Web 11:38 am - Wilfred
The Register has a news story about this new web service that helps stem out plagiarism in the academia. It uses a 'plagiarism detection algorithm' to compare any works against the database of online pages, papers and manuscripts from universities using the service. Wow, I hear some of you scream "That's a real pain in the a**!" =) Time to be REAL students, boy!

According to John Barrie, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley, academic papers are checked against Web material using the top 20 search engines and compared to a database of other manuscripts, including papers from every university licensing the service. (plagiarism alert, sorry AP)

"It's a very effective way of searching the more than 800 million documents out on the Internet," said Barrie. (plagiarism alert)

One academic is reported to have said: "Plagiarism is our most prevalent form of academic dishonesty." One ex-student, who asked not to be named, said: "Plagiarism was the only thing I was ever good at, at school."

History Of 3D Gaming 11:23 am - Wilfred
System Apex has a little history to tell you about. In case you'd only just hopped onto 3D gaming, you may have some difficulty understanding mentions of old names by reviewers all over. Otherwise, if you just enjoy reminiscence of old times, here's a snippet. What does the ViRGE stand for? :)

The Virtual Reality Graphics Engine(ViRGE) chip was S3 Inc's first 3D chip. Being the leader of the market at that time, it was not surprising to see that they had one of the first 3D chips out. The introduction of the ViRGE marked the first of many milestones for the 3D industry, not only for being a 3D chip, but for working half way decent for such a new kind of a chip.

FIC SD-11 09:27 am - Kan
AnandTech reviewed the FIC SD-11 Athlon motherboard. This board design layout is different from your usual Athlon boards, let's see how the unique-ness come into play.

As mentioned previously, the SD-11 is a very large board with a very unique layout. In fact, the SD-11's layout is nothing like that intended by the ATX specification. The IDE connectors are to the left of the DIMM slots, right in front of the AGP slot, which could pose a problem for a long AGP card. At the very least, it is annoying as the IDE cables will run right over the DIMM slots. Like the reference design, the ATX power connector is behind the DIMM slots. The ATX I/O panel is also not the typical double decker found on most motherboards and cases. Instead, the USB and PS/2 ports have switched positions and everything is shifted half an inch. Further, there is only one onboard serial port. Why FIC chose to implement such a strange ATX I/O panel is beyond us as it offers no advantages whatsoever.

An Overclocking Journey 09:22 am - Kan
TheTechZone wrote an article on what they called An Overclocking Journey. Here's an excerpt:

Success! It worked again. I ran it at 620mhz for a full day and then Windows suddenly froze and I had to back down my FSB in order to boot into Windows again. I never heard of a CPU losing speed from burning it in. After a post to the overclocking newgroup and much troubleshooting, I realized that my PC100 memory wasn’t up to the task and that heat was a big issue. It seems that the heat from the hot side of the peltier was leaking back into the processor slug. I ended up getting a 128 meg stick of PC133 EMS HSDRAM and I switched the leads on my peltier to run at 5v instead of 12v. Now I’m back to 620mhz plus some… I’m running “rock hard” stable at 645mhz. I can even boot into Windows at 667 and I can post and start booting into Windows at 690. Wow!!! All this from a long shot processor.

3Dfx VSA Architecture Preview 09:18 am - Kan
Our Russian friends over at iXBT-Hardware wrote a preview on 3Dfx's Voodoo Scaleable Architecture. The VSA architecture allows you to add from 2 to 32 processors, and they are able to work in parallel to really crunch some serious numbers:

The abbreviation VSA is derived from Voodoo Scaleable Architecture. Here we have to point out right away that 3dfx decided not to give up a well known and promoted Voodoo brand name as we had actually expected. At least it helped to save time and money on advertising and promotion, which is especially important for 3dfx because its Voodoo3 cards are not selling well enough to cover all the expenses and the new cards are expected to appear in the market only in the coming spring - after the New Year hot sales time. The first chip with VSA architecture was called VSA-100. Simple, eh?

How To Buy a Computer Part 2 09:15 am - Kan
AGN Hardware popped another article on How To Buy a Computer Part 2

Since this is not a gaming machine the latest video card and CPU (Central Processing Unit) are not required. One method that I have not mentioned before is buying a used system. The price breaks can be huge but so are the risks. There are plenty of used Pc's that will perform the functions listed above. You can go back several generations of Pc's and they will perform all of the basic functions adequately. Lets look a little closer look at the used systems first.

Bleem! 1.5 09:14 am - Kan
The dudes over at Hardware Abyss whipped up a review on Bleem! 1.5. Bleem! is a Playstation emulation program for the PC. This is the closest thing you get to a Playstation on your desktop PC and if you haven't tried Bleem! yet, you can get a copy from here.

I must admit, Bleem! has done a fantastic job of converting Playstation's graphics onto the PC platform. Bleem!'s scalability increased due to the fact that a 3D card is not required. Games can be play in absolute 2D, with 16-bit color or higher, of course. In fact, games look identical to the Playstation in 2D. But one feature that greatly enhances graphics is the usage of Direct3D. Framerate also is increases when Direct3D is in use. It is amazing what a little Direct3D can do to the look and feel of the games. It truely looks better than a Playstation.

Sony And Palm Computing Tie Up 01:12 am - Wilfred
As usual, The Register is full of industry juices. Here's one on Sony's tie-up with Palm Computing. If their vision comes true, we could have some very interesting new products from the electronics giant.

The deal between Sony and Palm centres on the consumer electronics giant's licensing of the Palm platform for a series of devices of its own. And we're not just talking rebadged Palm IIIs here -- Sony said it has in mind a whole range of gadgets designed for a variety of mobile communications applications. Sony will also develop PalmOS support for some of its key media technologies, such as its Memory Stick 'solid-state floppy disk' would-be standard, and, interestingly, these will then become part of the standard Palm platform and so made available to all Palm licensees (and, as a likely Palm licensee, that would include Apple).

Elsa Erazor X - GeForce 256 SDR 01:06 am - Wilfred
GA-Source pulled a quick one on the GeForce based Elsa Erazor X board. It has one kind of strange design, sleek but does it deliver? For starters, they took it to a limit of 125/176 Mhz. Hmmm...

Erazor X is not the usual reference design we have seen from NVIDIA's reference boards or Creative's Annihilators. ELSA developed their own design, which is much more compact and features bigger a heatsink with more pins than the average GeForce, resulting in better cooling. Erazor X is clocked at a default 120 MHz core and 166 MHz memory. It houses a quality SEC (Samsung) GC memory that is 5.5ns (rated up to 183MHz). ELSA also did some tweaking on their drivers, which seem to speed up the card in some situations.

Aussie Govt Passes ASIO Bill - Controversial 01:02 am - Wilfred
According to this story at APC News Wire, the Australian Parliament passed a controversial bill that will allow the Australian Security Intelligence Organization tap into and alter data on any Australian computers. Whoa! I dunno about you, but I'm quite appalled at the sound of it. Any thoughts?

Parliament has passed laws that allow the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to tap into and alter data on private computer systems.

The ASIO Amendment Bill 1999 passed the Senate yesterday, giving federal authorities the power to tap into private computer systems for surveillance purposes. This is the first time in 13 years a major change has been made to the ASIO Act 1979.

Iwill DBS100 Dual Slot-1 Motherboard 00:57 am - Wilfred
Active-Hardware dropped us a note regarding their review on the Iwill DBS100. The chaps gave it a thumbs out, you like to find out why?

The Iwill DBS100 is one of the best dual-processor boards that I've tested. I might have appreciated a bit more latitude in terms of Overclocking, but as this type of board is usually destined to be implemented as a server, I doubt many network administrators would find such a feature of interest. As it is, those who go to the trouble of Overclocking their systems do so at a noted risk of reducing the stability of their systems, in favor of performance. In short, the DBS100 is, in my opinion, a motherboard of high interest to anyone looking to construct a server, especially if RAID is a requirement

Pioneer 6X DVD + RealMagic Hollywood Kit 00:50 am - Wilfred
Was just made aware of a review on the above kit at this site (what's the name again?). It may be 6X, but it'll still deliver a tidy punch. Some problems were reported, but you'll want the full picture:

The playback is extraordinarily good on both my 17inch monitor and the TV. Obviously the monitor looks crisper and is quite watchable even at that size. On the TV though is definitely better. It easily performs as well as the mass produced consumer set top DVD drives. In my opinion there is no visual or aural difference between the two (unless you count the computer being on - but mine is usually on anyway).

 

26 November 1999 - Friday

Building a Stable Athlon System Part 2 22:56 pm - Kan
Overclockers Australia dropped us a line on their Part 2 of the article on Building a Stable Athlon System.

I received my 400 watt Athlon-approved power supply the other day (full review of the unit on this site tomorrow). I wanted to know if it would make a difference in stability when using inferior RAM, so I thought I would test my old Siemens stick of RAM with it. I had already sold my NEC RAM (which I knew didn't work properly with the Macase supply), but I hadn't tried the Siemens stick in this machine before. It was the worse of the two sticks in the FIC and MSI boards, so I never bothered trying it in the K7M. Much to my chagrin, the Siemens stick was working perfectly after several hours of torture testing and DVD watching with my old Macase power supply. This made it impossible to compare for stability with the new power supply.

Logitech Force Feedback Mouse 20:36 pm - Kan
ExtremeHardware reviewed the Logitech Force Feedback Mouse. Totally wacky looking, it definitely sounds fun when there's the possibility of going into certain sites and have the mouse vibrate interactively. 

The Logitech Force Feedback Mouse itself is a very unusual device. The mouse portion is unlike any you’ve every seen and is permanently attached to the base unit. You are free to move the mouse, but only within the strict confines of the base. Movement is limited to a square path, with its boundaries clearly defined through either physical limitations or software settings. While the base component slightly resembles a mousepad, it’s actually a very sizeable plastic unit that also houses the force feedback motor. In the eye candy department, there is a blue light on both the base and mouse portions of the Force Feedback Mouse. The base unit lights up when the mouse is active and receiving power, while the mouse portion activates when you are in an environment that supports force feedback effects.

Performance Benchmark - Another Game? 16:14 pm - Wilfred
More good stuff from RealWorld Technologies, this time concerning the way hardware hobbyist sites conduct benchmarks on evaluation components. Read it and you figure.

For another, there is interest in gaming and overclocking. And as we acknowledge in the description of the filtering criteria, synthetic benchmarks, non-production components and overclocking can offer useful insights (but they're vastly overused).

Rather, the objective is to draw attention to the narrow scope, lax methods and practical limitations of published benchmarks for the business professional. Awareness of these is critical in interpreting the bold pronouncements that a commercial market tends to encourage, but to the untrained eye they are likely to go unnoticed.

The New Crypto-Commies 16:06 pm - Wilfred
There's a story over at ZDTV that speaks of a member of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) investigated by the FBI for being over zealous about cryptography standards.

Newly released documents show that the FBI closely monitored a key member of the standard-setting Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 1992 and 1993, as he waged a doomed battle to inject crypto support into an emerging critical Internet standard.

New BE6-2 & BF6 Beta BIOS 16:03 pm - Wilfred
Andy of BXBoards sent a note to say he's obtained new beta BIOS directly from Abit. Supposedly, it adds stability to the board when running at above 125Mhz FSB. Grab it at your own risk here.

Information Poverty 15:57 pm - Wilfred
Surely this is a refreshing read for techno-geeks like ourselves who may be ignorant to the needs of peoples in developing countries. Do check this out at osOpinion.

Five billion people live in developing countries. 'For many of them, the great scientific and technical developments of our era might as well be taking place on another planet. Half the world's people have never made or received a telephone call. These people lack many things: jobs, shelter, food, health care and drinkable water. Today, being cut off from basic telecommunications services is a hardship almost as acute as these other deprivations.'

Age of Wonders 15:32 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme reviewed the game Age of Wonders. One of your usual RTS games in which you build stuffs, manage your funds and attack people.

Each person moves on their own time so you have time to think out your strategies and individual moves. Units in AoW are widely varied and all fantasy inspired. A mixture of statistics and skills are used to set each unit's abilities and experience makes units more powerful. You also have heroes, special units that can cast powerful spells and which your strategies should center around. There is a simultaneous play mode, where each player moves their units at the same time as everyone else and then waits till all others are completed and a new turn starts. But to us, this just turns AoW into a real-time strategy game with controls made for a turn-based strategy game. It probably makes the game more familiar for RTS fans, but it butchers play and kills the strategy aspect.

Annihilator vs Leadtek WinFast GeForce 10:05 am - Kan
Probably one of the first reviews on the Leadtek WinFast GeForce. Anyway, TomsHardware posted a comparison review between the Creative Annihilator vs the Leadtek WinFast GeForce.

The GeForce256-chip marked a new mile stone in mainstream graphics when it was released in October 1999, because it is the first chip with integrated 'transform and lighting'. The inclusion of 'TnL' enables GeForce to take a lot of geometry-workload off the shoulders of the main system processor and gives the user the chance to enjoy 3D-graphics with a lot more polygons than before, resulting in much more detailed 3D-scenes. Currently, NVIDIA's GeForce256 is clearly the fastest and most advanced 3D-chip available, so that graphics card with this new chip are certainly of very high interest to all hard-core gamers and power users out there. GeForce's integrated 'T&L' is right now hardly used by any game though.

No More Creative SDR Boards? 09:59 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3DSpotlight managed to get this piece of info from William Ball of Creative:

It is true that at the moment we are not making SDR Annihilators but have shifted production to the DDR (Pro) cards. That doesn't mean there will be no more SDR cards made. Nor does it mean that stores will not get any more. We have not made the SDR Annihilator product EOL (End of Life). EOL would mean it would be history with no more to be made again.

In some of Creative's regions there are large numbers of SDR boards, while in others there are not. I can't tell if a particular local reseller is going to get more or not in the immediate future. You need to check with your retailer and let them get information from their supplier. That's the way it works.

Here in the US, quantities of SDR boards available have been very, very small relative to demand, and our next shipment (any day now) will be DDR. With such limited supplies it makes more sense to focus on the product which has the greatest demand and that will give the best performance available to customers. Trying to do both under the current supply limitations would raise our costs on both boards and not allow us to make the DDR board at the price target we have established. We could shift back to producing both once the supply/demand balance shifts. It would be best if we could produce both right now, giving customers the choice. However, shifting production to DDR-only now was something that we were compelled to do under the circumstances to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Reader's Ride 09:55 am - Kan
TheTechZone has a new area called Reader's Ride which basically shows some of the awesome configurations their readers have. This time, their featured reader managed to overclock a P3-500 Mhz to a whopping 645 Mhz using Alpha coolers.

Comdex 99 Summary 09:54 am - Kan
The guys over at SystemLogic posted a summary of Comdex 99. If you are miss out all the past articles on Comdex, then check out this summary:

Kryotech has brought us some super cool (pun intended :)) systems in their Cool Athlon 800 and 900 systems. Now they've gone up a level with the introduction of the SuperG system running at 1 GHz. They are the first company in the world to offer a commercially available PC system of this speed. They reach this incredible speed by using their patented cooling system to "thermally accelerate" your average AMD Athlon. This super fast system will come in a bare bones configuration for $2,450, and ship in December. I'd love one of these in my stocking this Christmas. :-)

 

25 November 1999 - Thursday

HW1: Asus K7M Athlon Motherboard
- Wilfred
Ain't you glad you checked back for this review like I told you? =) Wy Mun just fired off his review on the Asus K7M motherboard. With the recent uncovering of the problems with the GeForce/Athlon combo, the K7M is no exception to this unfortunate turn of events. Do check this out:

APC Back-UPS 500 22:54 pm - Wilfred
How often do you see reviews on uninterruptible power supplies? So if you're in the market for one, this will be one of those rare reviews you'll come by. I caught this snip to scare you, and you can check out Scott's Hardware for details. =)

Everybody has had it happen to them at one time or another, you are busy with a report, letter, or other task on your computer when suddenly the lights go dim a few times and then the power drops completely for a few seconds, minutes or even longer depending on the problem. Most of us have also used our computers during thunderstorms when it is lightning heavily and you notice your lights fluctuating. Even if you don't notice a immediate effect from this, your computer certainly does, as noise, voltage spikes, and brownouts take their toll on your computer and data. What you need is something in-between the outlet in the wall and your computer to help protect it from the dangers.

Guillemot Cougar & Everglide Pad 22:32 pm - Wilfred
MaximumHardware knocked on the door to say they have two new review they want you to read. The first is the TNT2 M64 based Cougar and the second is the Everglide's glorified mousepad for gaming. Take them all in!

The cards weaknesses, that is, its difficulty with 32-bit color depths and resolutions above 800X600, is entirely the fault of the TNT2 M64 chip it uses and its 64-bit memory bus.  To be perfectly honest, I have yet to consistently play a game in 32-bit color depth (Quake 3 with a GeForce being a possible exception) so to me the 32-bit issue is pretty much a non-issue.  To some it will be important.  I typically run games in 1024X768 and the Maxi Gamer Cougar fared ok at this resolution, although the performance drop from 800X600 to 1024X768 was generally considerable due largely to the overloaded 64-bit memory bus.

Wilfred Coughs 20:35 pm - Wilfred
Ooops! Where were we the entire day? Hot dates with people of course! Teaser: Check back later tonight, I promise something new for you! For now, check out the articles from all over! 

In Pursuit Of Internet Intruders 20:33 pm - Wilfred
Sniper pointed me to this article at PC Magazine which talked about the risks of exposing important data to intruders while on the Internet. This makes good reading, so check it out!

Readers often ask whether the data on their PCs is safe while they're surfing the Internet. I wish I could say that in most cases it is and that there's no need to worry, but I can't. The truth is, when you connect to the Net, you're plugging into the largest two-way network in the world. If you're not diligent about protecting yourself, your system may well be vulnerable. It may already have been compromised, and it's probably being probed for signs of weakness even as you read this.

Pieces Of Goodies At The Register 20:22 pm - Wilfred
I'm not putting them under separate news headlines, but they are all worth checking out. The Register has a first on Kenwood's introduction of their MP3 HiFi for the living room - cool stuff. And next is news that PalmOS and its licensees continues to outsell WinCE (boy, are we surprised?), and lastly is regarding Intel's boo boo announcement of the 733Mhz Coppermines which they haven't been able to deliver in volumes.

Kenwood's offering, a mini component system, was shown at the Audio Expo 99, held in Tokyo. In addition to the usual CD player, radio and tape deck, the unit contains a modem and a 13GB hard drive.

The unit's remote control features an 6.5in colour LCD panel to display Kenwood's music distribution Web site, allowing users to select tracks for download and, presumably, pay for them too. The remote control currently hooks up to the unit by a cable, but Kenwood said it plans to replace it with a Bluetooth-based unit in the future.

Russian's E2K CPU To Top Intel's Fastest? 20:16 pm - Wilfred
Well, it's mentioned on CNet. But I thought they could be corrected to say 'AMD's fastest'? =P Wow, if funding is what they need, why won't someone just give it to them, dammit! I could do with a fast one under the hood anytime, Russian or American.

Flemings is looking to attract at least the $60 million needed to finish engineering and develop prototype chips. So far the Elbrus team has used its own money from other work to develop the chip.

"Ideally you would expect the deal to crystallize somewhere in the middle of next year," Vladimir Zamai, associate director of investment banking at Flemings's Moscow unit, Fleming UCB, told reporters after a news conference.

"You are talking about a company that could have market capital of billions of dollars with this kind of IP [intellectual property]," said UCB Fleming investment banking Director Alexei Matveyev. "In two or three years--it is quite realistic."

Red Hat 6.1 Vs Windows 98 20:12 pm - Wilfred
Wows?! On what terms are they comparing? osOpinion has got an editorial that boldly compares the user-friendliness of Red Hat 6.1 vs Windows 98. I'm skeptical of a possible comparison, but hey, improvements in either OS will make my day!

Now I can boot to Windows98 or Linux. In Linux, I can now easily access my floppy and CD drives, manage my Windows and Linux files, and do some real office work, on a high-resolution customizable graphical desktop. And most important of all...without feeling held hostage every time Bill Gates condescends, and at a fraction of the cost.

If this keeps up, Microsoft faces serious competition. Keep up the good work Red Hat. It seems you're heading in the right direction. 

VIA/Cyrix Joshua Preview 20:08 pm - Wilfred
CPU Review threw out a preview on what they learnt about VIA/Cyrix's upcoming S370 Joshua processor. What is in there for us? Well, it is aimed at the budget conscious consumers, so check it out here.

I was assured by the Cyrix representative that the floating point unit is also much improved.

The "mutually exclusive" description of the L2 cache implies that it will be possible to configure the processor to treat the L2 cache as a slightly slower extension of the 64k L1 cache; resulting in overall higher performance as the core would effectively see a 320k "L1.5" cache.

For integer/business use I would expect that Joshua's performance would be somewhere between a Celeron and a Coppermine at the same frequency; certainly more than enough performance for the value / integrated market.

How To Rip Apart An Athlon 20:05 pm - Wilfred
Hey, we're not asking you to be an insane maniac. But if you live on the edge and need access to make it overclockable, read this from The TechZone.

Now why would Moto want to take a perfectly nice AMD Athlon and rip it apart you ask? The first reason is because I can. The second is because if you want to overclock the AMD chip and you don't have a K7 overclocker's board like the Asus K7M, you will need to open up the Athlon to change it's speed settings. Another reason for ripping out the case is because the Athlon will run cooler once it's stripped down to bare PCB. The casing that house the CPU traps heat, not good if you plan to overclock.

Logitech Wingman Mousepad 19:59 pm - Wilfred
FiringSquad pushed out a review on a mousepad from Logitech. Looks very neat! I won't mind having one on my desktop anytime! Just how will the frag-madsters at FiringSquad rate it (even for Starcraft?)? Have a look!

Even in RTS games, precision can be critical. In Starcraft it's actually happened to me that I missed with a Broodling spell on an enemy Templar because the mouse mistracked. I hit the Zealot standing next to him instead. That really put a crimp in my mass Zergling attack because that same Templar that SHOULD have been dead cast a Psi Storm that fried about 2 dozen of my Zerglings.

Soyo SY-6VBA-133 Mobo 19:51 pm - Wilfred
Arrggh... I think I've complained about such difficult names to remember? Anyway, HotHardware has a review on Soyo's VIA Apollo 133 based motherboard and you will be interested to read how this chipset performs against its BX/i820 competition.

Once again, the SY-6VBA-133 handled an overclock of our P3-533B to a top end of 620MHz. (155X4). This was the top end bus speed for the board. If we had a few more notches higher with the FSB, something tells me we could have done even more. The system was totally stable throughout. Just for good measure and reality sake, we did our tests at 533MHz.(133MHz. x 4) and 600MHz. (150MHz. X 4). Your processor may get different results but the SY-6VBA-133 is a good base to overclock from. 

Live! vs MX300 Part 2 09:19 am - Kan
Over at 3d Wars, the guys posted Part 2 of the comparison article between the SB Live! and Diamond's MX300 soundcards.

If there is one thing, among the many, that the Sound Blaster Live is known for, is its support. EAX is becoming more and more popular as the days go by and the support for DirectX totally rocks. I doubt there is anyone that would argue differently, considering this is completely true. CL has done a great job at giving a very wide range of support in games. Where does this tie in though? Well, if you have not noticed yet, this is a part two of a previous war done by me. The Sound Blaster Live and MX300 were pitted against each other earlier this year and now it's time for a revisit.

Windows Millennium Goes Beta 2 09:15 am - Kan
Ah, nowadays OS news interest me more than new hardware stuffs. ActiveWindows dropped us a line on the RTM (release to manufacturing) of Windows Millennium Beta 2.

We have just received some confirmation that Windows Millennium Beta 2 has gone RTM (Released To Manufacturing). This latest beta adds a few new features over the first beta release, including a few new UI changes. We should (Fingers crossed as the Windows Consumer group don't like us much anymore for some unknown reason) have a full official preview of Beta 2 in the next few weeks.

Hard Disk Backup using CDR 09:13 am - Kan
Over at CDR Software Review, the boys written an article teaching you how to backup your entire hard disk using a CDR recoder. 

The next step is to prepare the cd-r media necessary. If you wish to use cd-rw media, then remember to format them "as cd-r discs", that is using variable length packets, so that you will have a capacity of 620MB instead of the 520MB you would have with fixed length packets. Also remember to calculate correctly the number of blancs necessary, because you will not be able to format new discs once the backup process has started. Equally important is to disable any power saving mode and all screensavers!

Kyrotech 900 09:11 am - Kan
900 Mhz of madness over at GamePC as the guys reviewed the supercooled Kyrotech 900 Mhz running on a Athlon based 650 Mhz processor. Here's an excerpt:

The 900 is held in it's place by a Microstar 6167 motherboard, which we've found to be a decent Athlon board, but not the best on the market. Nevertheless, the 6167 is available in large quantities, while boards like the Asus K7M are not, which is a reasonable explanation why they went with Microstar. The 6167 comes with 5 PCI slots, 1 2x AGP slot, 2 ISA slots, 3 DIMM slots and single Ultra ATA 33/66 channels. Due to the increased frequency that the Cool 900 uses, the voltage controller chips on the left side of the Athlon slot seem to warrant extra cooling. Instead of the standard heatsinks that are already on the board, KryoTech has placed a custom small fan above the voltage chips for that extra bit of protection. A nice touch, but after feeling the airflow that this little fan actually moves, we wonder if this was actually necessary.

ForceFeedback Mouse 09:02 am - Kan
I knew it! Logitech announces the WingMan Force Feedback Mouse is now available for shipping (thanks to CNEWZ for the news). 

``Although the vast majority of PC games sold today are designed for control by a mouse, or mouse-plus-keyboard combination, many game developers have not been able to take advantage of this technology because there were no suitable controllers,'' said Wolfgang Hausen, senior vice president and general manager of Logitech's Control Devices Division. ``With the introduction of the WingMan Force Feedback Mouse, these developers are now able to customize their titles with exciting tactile effects.''

In addition to gaming applications, developers can now provide tactile feedback as a user moves over an icon, button, menu or hyperlink. In a similar manner, force feedback can enhance the online experience. For example, web-based gamers playing force feedback-enabled games will be able to feel the impact of actions taken by an opponent sitting thousands of miles away, while Web developers can add touch sensations to their pages in Netscape® Navigator(TM) and Microsoft® Internet Explorer.

CEO Interview 08:57 am - Kan
FiringSquad scored an interview with 3Dfx's new CEO, Alex Leupp. If you are interested in knowing the direction of which 3Dfx is heading, check out the article:

So is 3dfx taking a step forwards or backwards with the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5? More importantly, will this hardware be able to push the company back to the forefront of technology they enjoyed with the Voodoo and Voodoo2 accelerators? And who will lead the company to into the new age? A conference call set up for yesterday answered some of these questions for us, and introduced us to 3dfx's newly named President and CEO, Dr. Alex Leupp.

CoolWhip Heatsink Review 08:56 am - Kan
There's a backlog of articles to be posted, so please bear with it. Overclockin.com posted their thoughts on the CoolWhip Heatsink review. From the looks of it, it definitively looks pretty impressive. Here's some juice:

They added a switch on the power cables to lower the power to the fans to bring them down to the "Silent mode" level (approx. 10CFM each).   In this mode it really is almost silent.  I had the heatsink plugged into the power before I mounted it to the processor and basically had to stick my ear in the fan to hear it.  In the second mode, it allows full power to reach the fans (approx. 20CFM each) and is the same as the "Normal" version of the heatsink.  The "Turbo" version of the heatsink allows full power to the fans and pumps out approx. 23CFM from each fan.  They decided that the 23CFM fans were sufficient and didn't want to add the extra noise of 27CFM fans.

24 November 1999 - Wednesday

HW1: Sony MultiScan CPD-G500 21" Monitor
- Wilfred
Kan just commissioned his review on the Sony G500 monitor so many of you will be envious of. Now just say I'm really tempted to go grab on myself if I can afford it, should you?

A flat tube CRT is able to maximize picture quality while having a small footprint that requires minimal desktop real estate. A flat CRT design also translates into reduced geometric distortion and glare. This is especially crucial for users who spend countless hours in front of the monitor.

Abit BE6-2 Review 18:43 pm - Wilfred
BXBoards just whipped out a review on the Abit BE6-2 mobo. Just how does this board stand out? Well, I think Andy likes it from the sound of it. Have a read!

Overall, the Abit BE6-2 is a very, very good board. Compared to the Soyo SY-6BA+ IV with which it shares a number of features, the BE6-2 loses out in the expansion stakes with only 1 ISA slot, and 3 DIMM slots, compared to the 2 ISA and 4 DIMM's supplied on the Soyo board. Abit are edging it again in the overclocking stakes, and Softmenu, always compelling has taken another giant leap forward. This is a truly superb board and catapults Abit back into the limelight. The Abit BE6-2 should be right at the top of your shopping list.

Did The 'Evil Empire' Have Any Choice? 18:36 pm - Wilfred
This is going to be a surprise huh? osOpinion posted an editorial, this time, on Microsoft's side on the DOJ case. Well, give it a read... Rick Saunders give you some history to consider as well. Aww... poor thing. =)

When MS and IBM were in bed with the OS/2 project, the goal was to design and deliver an operating system that everyone would use. For good business reasons, MS continued development of Windows 3.0. Any businessman you talk to will tell you that if you don't have a contingency plan, you may as well go home. It turned out that Windows was a better product for the masses than OS/2, so Microsoft employed another time-honored business practice. They cut their losses, and shifted with the market. I'm the first to say that OS/2 was indeed a better technical operating system than Windows 3, it WAS NOT a better home operating system.

Operating systems for home use are designed to a different set of requirements. In the days of Windows 3 the prime requirement, (and rightly so) was that it should be backwards compatible with ALL of the installed base of software on the market. A business OS need not worry about gamers as the company installing it will usually dictate the application software that will run though many companies and require backwards compatibility. Being a 'front-end' for MS-DOS, windows could indeed run the business apps AND, much more importantly, run ALL of the games that little Joey had installed at home. Also, being a less techno-centric operating environment (running over DOS), it was much simpler to install and configure than it's brethren and would run on the hardware that the user already had.

Web Server Installation Guide 18:31 pm - Wilfred
ChipTesters has got a detailed Linux webserver installation guide for those of you into the backend stuff. Here's the snippet:

I included a tutorial for installing Redhat Linux 6.0 just in case you have never used Linux before. Be aware however that this whole guide is just what it says - NoBS. This means that I spare the over-technical and sub-technical jargon/storytelling that can get very annoying. In other words, if you have no idea what you are doing, this tutorial might not be what you were expecting. In any case read it over and get a good idea of where you stand in this subject material. But I did write this thing assuming that whoever is reading it is a TOTAL DUMBASS. Not to say that you are that, but we are all dumbasses at some things, so I am just covering all bases here.

Slave Zero 18:25 pm - Wilfred
3D Unlimited posted a review on Yingzong's newly acquired game - Slave Zero with loads of screenshots to boast. Check it out!

Slave Zero features great gameplay, graphics, weapons, and sound. Making this game one of the best games I have reviewed in a while. If you like third person games, then you will love this one. Even though it features a first person mode, the gameplay with first person mode on is a little strange. Since you are in a 60-foot robot. This game very many great gameplay components that make it very addicting and challenging.

The Big 3D Fight Part II 08:49 am - Kan
TheTechZone followed up with an article on The Big 3D Fight Part II where the guys touched on new chipsets like the ATI MAXX Fury, Savage2000 as well as Project X.

Savage 2000 promised much. Delivered? It would be massively unfair to judge a card based on beta drivers and a beta PCB so I am going to anyway! Looks like S3 have promised mind bending speed (again) and actually given us a below standard product (again!). I would love for S3 to prove me wrong. One complaint is their lack of decent drivers. Visual artifacts no one likes and that is what happen with their Savage cards. When they did run well they ran beautifully. The display was crisp and with S3TC the effect was mind boggling. However sometimes (and sometimes means once to often here) the artifacts were unbearable.

ASUS V6600 08:47 am - Kan
Guru3D also posted their thoughts on the ASUS V6600 GeForce graphics card.

Today we will take a peek at the v6600 from Asus, it is their newest high-performance videocard based up-on the GeForce 256. The card is (at this time) a high performance card due to it's 32MB Frame buffer, 4x4 integrated Transform and Lighting (Frees up CPU bandwidth), 256-bit QuadPipe rendering (Fast graphics performance), AGP 4x with fast write (to makes it even faster). If you'd like to know more then you should definably continue to read our review continued on the next pages ...

Tripp Lite Personal UPS System 08:45 am - Kan
SystemLogic posted a review on the Tripp Lite Personal UPS System. If your area is prone to power outbreak, you should seriously consider a UPS for your computer.

I know I was always afraid of the power going out and losing everything.  Not only was I afraid of losing files, but also damaging equipment from shock.  Nobody likes losing stuff from their computer, especially expensive hardware and important work.  There is a way to get around the fear though.  It's something called a UPS system.  To sum up what a UPS system is, it's basically a big battery for your computer, where if all else fails, the computer will run off the UPS system for a period of time. 

 

23 November 1999 - Tuesday

Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer
19:28 pm - Kan
Scott's Hardware just dropped us a note on their review on the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer. Have you caught our own review on the Intellimouse yet?

By employing an optical sensor, rather than the common ball, precision movement of your curser can be attained, regardless of the surface you are using. This is especially helpful with applications such as Photoshop or CAD based software, where precise placement of the mouse curser is essential. Additionally, using optical technology enables the IntelliMouse Explorer to be used on virtually any surface, and eliminates the need for periodic cleanings as there is no ball to collect and deposit dirt within the tracking mechanism. With the IntelliMouse Explorer you can basically throw away your mouse pad.

Misc'o Love 18:27 pm - Kan
CPU pricelist updated over at Tech-Review. Athlon processors are still out of reach for poor people like me. Ah, I guess the good old Celerons still offers the best price/performance ratio.

Anyway, Hardware One will be down somewhere tomorrow afternoon for upgrading of server RAM (4 GB of madness soon). Ah, never don't worry, we will be back as fast as you can say woo-la-la.

Nocturne Review 18:25 pm - Kan
Another review of the game Nocturne from SharkyExtreme. This game is pretty interesting and if you like to frag mummies and monsters, here's a bite:

The list of stunning graphical features is huge, and as a result, Nocturne is a veritable eye-candy store. As the game employs a static camera that changes perspective only when you move off screen, more processing power can be used to draw a scene so each one has hundreds of thousands rather than just thousands of polygons. Most impressively, Nocturne is one of the first games to do cloth mapping, meaning that the Stranger's long coat flaps about accurately in the wind and curtains move realistically out of the way as you move through them.

Overclocking Guide Part 1 13:59 pm - Kan
TargetPC just dropped us a line on their new Overclocking Guide Part 1. It covers everything from the origins of overclocking to the fundamentals of overclocking to troubleshooting overclocking problems. Here's the load:

As I stated before the basics of overclocking deal with either changing the CPU multiplier or the frontside bus of the system. Intel saw that the manipulation of CPU multipliers was leading to remarked chips entering the market so now all Intel CPUs come with a multiplier that cannot be manipulated. This means that for most of us the only modification available to increase system performance is to raise the system frontside bus speed. Definitely gone are the days of the 486 and Pentium that could accept changes to both their frontside bus and multiplier to gain increases in speed. This couldn’t have hurt Intel’s profits either since making CPUs harder to overclock forced the consumer to purchase upgrade processors rather than overclocking their own processor.

Intel 820 Chipset Review 13:50 pm - Kan
Our buddies over at iXBT-Hardware finished their review on the Intel 820 chipset. RDRAM, AGP4X, 133 Mhz FSB sounds sweet and let's just hope i820 motherboards will be available to the consumers soon.

As we can see, the only difference between i820 and i810 lies in the most important controller - Intel 82820, and the other microchips remain the same.

The key feature of the hub architecture is a special 32-bit 66MHz bus with the bandwidth of 266MB/sec, which serves to connect the chipset controllers instead of a relatively slow PCI-bus with the bandwidth of only 133MB/sec. However, this is a forced measure, because the South bridge used to contain only IDE/ISA controller, and from now on ICH also includes a PCI controller, which used to be a part of the North bridge. 

HardOCP on Net Radio 13:17 pm - Kan
Yep, I knew it, I knew it. Our pals over at HardOCP finally stormed a local net radio station, held the DJ hostage and presented to us a 50 minutes talk on ZDTV, overclocking, MP3s and the usual good stuffs. Click here to listen to the hard dudes talk! 

Altec Lansing ADA880 Speakers 13:14 pm - Kan
This review should interest people who are sourcing for a pair of Dolby Digital speakers. Fast Mhz reviewed the Altec Lansing ADA880 which supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic as well as stereo. Here's the usual stuffs:

They automatically detect the signal source and outputs to either Dolby Digital, Dolby ProLogic, or Stereo. The Audio Output of these babies are a big 80 Watts RMS. They have satellites that can be placed near the monitor without disturbing the images. They also have a full control of all audio functions at your fingertips that make it easy for gaming adjustments. They also have a remote to control all functions of the system.

Poll #34: Your Favourite Search Engine 11:00 am - Wilfred
So who's the biggest player here? Most of you use Altavista like Kan and myself! :) The next closest is Yahoo which is definitely one of my favourites too. Ok, now let's move on and support the new poll.

Athlon Freezer 10:47 am - Kan
No, no, it's not a real Athlon freezer, but rather a powerful 26CFM monster cooler for the Athlon processor. Here's a blurb from FPS3D's review:

Of course for all you guys out there who simply want to overclock the living heck out of your processors, listen in too. For today's review I've got 3DCOOL's new Athlon Freezer, which sports dual 60x60 ballbearing fans, 26CFM of airflow, a monster heatsink, and a mere 26dbA noise output. So will this fat stack cool your Athlon and then some? Let's find out, right after the pics:

Iwill VD133 Motherboard 10:43 am - Kan
ActiveHardware fired off a review on the Iwill VD133 motherboard based on the Apollo Pro133A chipset. Here's how it performs:

The Iwill VD133 features 5 PCI slots, 2 ISA slots, and 1 AGP port. Also, there are 3 168-pin DIMM sockets available. As with some other boards, DIMM slot #3 will only support up to 256MB of memory. Thus, according to Iwill, a maximum of 1.25GB of memory can be installed. What happened to the other 30MB, though? As far as I'm aware 512MB + 512MB + 256MB = 1280MB, so when Iwill talks about 1250MB... Well, if anyone has a good explanation for that one, I'd really like to know...

Microsphere Workstation 10:36 am - Kan
Wow, our buds over at TheTechZone whipped up a preview on the Microsphere Workstation which promises to change how you sit at your workstation computer.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting the job to the worker. “Everybody has a different body,” explained designer Douglas Brown, “We wanted to create a system that would work as a natural, integrated extension of the body allowing a wide range of users to sit for extended periods. We believe that the Microsphere will enable people to sit comfortably, longer, decreasing the likelihood of repetitive stress injuries (RSI’s) or cumulative trauma disorders (CTD’s).”

Vortex2 SQ2500 Soundcard 10:34 am - Kan
If you have always been a fan of Aureal, check out Exxtreme3D review on the Aureal's Vortex2 SQ2500 soundcard.

When you finish installing the drivers for the card, there will now be an Aureal icon on your taskbar. To be sure you’ve installed it correctly, your device manager should look something similar to the picture shown. There should be four things added to the sound, video, and game controllers. Also, there should be a device called Vortex AU88x0 Multifunction PCI Platform in the Multi-function adaptors.

Mid-Tower Casings Roundup 10:30 am - Kan
There's a Mid-Tower Casings roundup over at GamePC where the guys compared tower casings like the Elan Vital T10, InWin A500 and the ProCase 968A.

Not so long ago the AT style cases filled computer store shelves. Many of these cases never had any standard for which motherboards would seat properly. Then came ATX and from then on, a standard was set. Motherboards and other peripherals would fit perfectly with out any problems. Yet of all the things needed to put a computer together, I would have to say the most overlooked is still the computer case. Many people just get a case that will get the job done rather then getting one with features that will last them in the long run. In this case round up, we will be looking at three mid tower cases with the features that I’m talking about. 

Adaptec EasyCD 4.0 Update Patch 10:29 am - Kan
Another mail trickled from Adaptec as they released the update patch for EasyCD Creator 4.0 to 4.01.

A patch to update the core application of Easy CD Creator 4.0 to version 4.01 is now available. Please see the Web-CheckUp application installed with Easy CD Creator for information on how to download it.

For information on changes and fixes in this version, please see http://www.adaptec.com/support/files/ecdcversions.html
If you are not affected by any of the issues mentioned, and do not need support for a new CD recorder, you DO NOT NEED this patch.

22 November 1999 - Monday

Direct RAMBUS Memory - Part II
23:58 pm - Wilfred
Real World Technologies posted part II of their insightful look at Direct RAMBUS memory. Ready for some knowledge? Catch this!

... write cycles are generally easier to handle in a high performance system. A read cycle implies the initiator is waiting impatiently for the result and latency can be the overriding limitation to higher performance, but a write cycle is a "fire and forget" type of operation. The CPU can blast a cache line write into a 32-byte buffer in the chipset and be on its merry way, and the data in the buffer can sit for many cycles until an appropriate time for transmission to main memory. The only restriction is that special logic is needed to check subsequent read cycles to make sure that any read to addresses targeted by pending writes is either redirected to the data in the buffer, or delayed until after the write buffer is flushed to memory.

More Than Decent Performance In FreeSpace2 23:55 pm - Wilfred
Bad pun on the header huh? Duh, The Descent Chronicles posted an optimization guide on getting better performance playing FreeSpace 2, so since you've checked out Yingzong's review, you might want to play it better as well?

To achieve maximum performance, the fillrate speed of your 3d video card will be important for the nebula effect. A Voodoo 1 will work well, but a Voodoo 3, TNT2 or G400 will be preferable for the most smooth framerate which results from their high fillrate speed.

Dual Coppermine 733Mhz Hands-On Preview 23:50 pm - Wilfred
FiringSquad previewed not one, but two Coppermine 733Mhz processors running on a i840 mobo with RDRAM. Coolz, if you're loaded huh? To satisfy your lust for power, have a read here:

In addition to moving the L2 cache onto the core, Intel has also made a couple of other cache changes to increase performance. The 64-bit L2 cache data bus between the cache and the core has increased to 256-bits. Cache design has also been changed from 4-way set associative to 8-way set associative. Increasing the degree of associativity usually decreases the miss rate, but increases the hit time.

RedHat 6.1 23:45 pm - Wilfred
CPU Review mailed that they've got a review on RedHat 6.1 to boast (ok they didn't say that!). And if you are jumping onto the Linux bandwagon for some reason, an established distribution to consider would be RedHat, so check this out! While I don't concur with the snip below, you decide for yourself.

RedHat 6.1 is helping make Linux usable for the "average Joe"; Linux at this point can be used by anyone who has previously used a Windows PC. With the 6.1 release RedHat has addressed the (valid) complaints about the increased cost of the RedHat 6.0 boxed set; this time we have not one, not two but three different boxed sets!

Short Blurb Not To Be Missed 23:43 pm - Wilfred
Well, not that we haven't been doing our work eh... but more time on planning today. So yes, another hot date with Kan. In any case, here's some a short blurb you shouldn't miss:

Quake III Goes Gold
So expect it hit a shelf near you within weeks. A lot of you must be anticipating the day!

Flat Panel Speaker War 23:37 pm - Wilfred
So 3D Wars is all about wars huh? Well, kinda. Their latest conflict comes in the form of the flat panel speakers dueling it out. Well, flat is nice, but how good is flat?

The fact of the matter is, this speaker system is a very good setup. You get a pretty powerful sub (compared to the BW2000 that is) along with some very nice satellite units. If you move up to a system such as the MM-700, the S-2000 has nothing to stand for it. Then again, the MM-700 is also about 80 dollars more than this one. The Sonix S-2000 speaker system is 85 US Dollars. That is cheaper than the Benwin flat panel speakers and it even performs better. However, if you move up 15 more dollars, you have the MH-500 which is a hybrid design from Monsoon. The MH-500 is a very nice system that is much more powerful than the S-2000

PIII-450 Mhz @ 648 MHz 16:01 pm - Kan
More overclocking madness as de boys over at Overclockin.com managed to crank a SL35D P3-450 Mhz processor all the way up to 648 Mhz!

As you can see, I didn't use any special cooling at this point.  I wanted to try the processor out with the same hardware as was used in the previous article.  A few of you eagle-eyed readers out there may notice that the video card listed (3dfx Voodoo3 2000 PCI) is not the same as the Monster Fusion card in the first article.  Before you say that the reason for the increased performance of the processor is because of the use of a PCI card instead of an AGP card, let me tell you that you would be wrong.  I purchased the PCI card right after I posted the previous review to see if the processor would perform any better with a PCI card.  Unfortunately, it made absolutely no difference in that setup.

ACT Labs GS Gun System 16:00 pm - Kan
Check out TheTechZone's review on the ACT Labs GS Gun System. With the silver coating, the two guns definitely look futuristic:

Installation was a breeze on the Act-Labs GS Guns. Once my computer was powered down, I removed the monitors VGA connector from my video card, and attached it to the out on the VGA pass-through that was supplied with the system, then attach the VGA input connector to the video card. I then attached the 15-pin game port connector to my computer. After my computer was booted up, I went to the Act-Labs website and downloaded their latest software. Once my computer installed the drivers, I did a quick calibration and was done.

Alpha 1HO-Fan 15:59 pm - Kan
Yep, our network buddies over at Target PC whipped out a review of the Alpha 1HO-Fan. They are big, they are powerful and they are effective!

Pressure drop is the resistance to the air moving through the heat sink, expressed in units of mmH2O, and ideally should be as low as possible. For example, the heat dissipation requirements for a computer using a 30-watt CPU can be considered as follows. If the maximum operating temperature of this CPU is 75 °C, and the airflow in the case is 1.5m/s, and the temperature of the air is 45 °C, then a heat sink with thermal resistance of 1 °C/W or less is required. The reason for this is that in order to keep the CPU within its maximum operating temperature of 75 °C, the elevation of the CPU's temperature must be kept below 30 °C. To hold the temperature rise for 30W to within 30 °C, the heat must be dissipated using a heat sink with thermal resistance of 1 °C/W (30 °C / 30W) or less.

Are Computer Magazines Dead? 12:58 pm - Wilfred
CNet has a story about the rapid death of computer magazines. And guess who and what are the cause of it? A very interesting read. Check this:

The bottom line is that the approaching demise of a very lucrative and powerful industry doesn't have to happen. Online computer journalism like what we do at CNET, or at ZDNet and the like, is a competitor to the computer magazine precisely because the magazines refused to change. Let the Web take care of covering more products than could ever be bound in an issue, and break stories faster than a magazine hampered by a three-month lead time, but let the computer magazine focus on the commentary, people, and well-needed above-it-all perspective on this very crazy time.

Low Coppermine Yields Forcing Switch 12:46 pm - Wilfred
Apparently, many big names furious at Intel's inability to supply fast Coppermine chips, have since switched to the Athlon to match Christmas demands. The Register cited Compaq and Fujitsu-Siemens making the switch.

First tier PC manufacturers are hopping mad over delays they have experienced receiving supplies of Coppermine .18 micron processors from their main supplier Intel. And the reaction of the PC manufacturers to the continuing problems they are experiencing suggest that Intel has had difficulties making enough high quality .18 micron processors to keep both its customers and the general public happy.

CL 3D Blaster Annihilator 12:12 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme fired off another review on the Creative 3D Blaster Annihilator GeForce graphics card. Here's the usual good stuffs:

The .22 micron NV10 chip (with its 23 million transistors) is the third NVIDA chip that Creative has opted for. Creative's motif has usually been to follow the bog-standard reference design. With the Annihilator, the company has indeed gone the way of NVIDIA's reference design. Unlike other GeForce boards, the Annihilator does not have any TV-Out (boohoo) chip. The memory on the board sports the same eight chips on the front and eight on the back as found on the TNT2 Ultra. The memory used was the ESMT 5ns type, which was set to a 166MHz-default speed also previously found on TNT2 Ultras. The memory is designed to run solidly at 183MHz and indeed up to 200MHz (with a bit of luck).

How To Install A Hard Drive 10:46 am - Kan
Gee, if you don't know, then Tweak3D's article on How to Install a Hard Drive is specially written for you. Here's a whiff:

The basic installation of a hard drive is simple. Begin by checking the jumpers on the back of the hard drive and make sure they are configured properly for where you are connecting the drive. If you are going to be connecting the drive to the end of the IDE cable (as the Master), make sure the jumper settings are appropriate for the drive to "master" the IDE channel. If you are going to be connecting the drive to the interim connector (it should be closer to the master connector than it is to the other end of the cable), you are connecting the drive as the "slave" and need to configure the jumpers for that setting.

SB Live! X-Gamer 10:42 am - Kan
Our pals over at FPS3D reviewed the Creative SB Live! X-Gamer soundcard. So, how good is this card compared to the SB Live! Platinum?

A few advantages that the Sound Blaster Live! X-Gamer sports are digital output, which lets you hook up your FPS2000, DTT2500, or any supporting speakers, as well as an AC3 receiver to your soundcard in digital mode. What does this mean? No more crackly distortion! If you haven't heard digital or USB audio (both are pure digital), it is a world of difference.

Sharky's Private Eye: Volume 5 10:37 am - Kan
Yup, your favorite spy novel, err, I mean article on the latest news regarding the IT industry is available in SharkyExtreme. Check out the stuffs like X-Box, 2 Gigapixels 3D chip as well as the ATI Rage 6 chipset:

A 'Rage 6 derivative' could be exactly what the doctor (or in this case Uncle Billy) ordered. We hear it'll have an on-board geometry co-processor with a full transformation and lighting engine capable of some 45 million textured triangles per second (60 million transform-only) and even support things like vertex blending as the GeForce 256 currently does (could be an important element for the next generation of 3D character-driven sports games). As with their Rage Fury MAXX, the Rage 6 chip is reported to have all the HDTV and hardware motion compensation features as well as their exceptional work on DVD support.

i820 Rambus Converter 10:31 am - Kan
Something new over at 3AG as the guys posted some pics of a Rambus converter (RIMM to DIMM) as well as the new AOpen i820 motherboard.

Microsoft Sidewinder Precision Pro 10:27 am - Kan
ActiveWindows dropped us a line on their latest review on the Microsoft Sidewinder Prevision Pro Racing Wheel. Momo steering wheel look alike, do check out our own review on the Logitech Wingman Formula Force or the Microsoft ForceFeedback Wheel.

The SideWinder Precision Racing Wheel looks very nice, and works well on the table, gripping onto the wheel and turning it isn't a problem either. The only problem I had was that the cables coming out of the back of the wheel kept getting in my way.

As you can see from the image below there are large number of buttons connected to the racing wheel. The left and right triggers are situated just behind the front of the wheel, this makes it much easier to use those two button during games. Next there are 6 other buttons, each of them are very easy to reach while playing. The Accelerator and break pedals are down on the floor (Obviously Byron), both feel very good and are painless to press and de-press while playing.

Asheron's Call Review 10:22 am - Kan
De dudes over at GameWire did a review on Asheron's Call. Darn, this must be one of the hottest game in the market right now. If you haven't tried the game yet, do check it out:

Immediately I was impressed by its VAST worlds. It will literally take all day to walk from one side of the island to the other. Of course on my first try I died relatively fast because I tried to jump right into the action in an all out quake-style fragfest. About my second try I realized I should probably get to level 2 in the training halls before I go off trying to kill anything. After that I was all set to play this game for the review...

Also the guys rounded off with another review on Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire. Here's some juice:

Earlier this year, Sid Meier released the sequel to his best-selling PC game, Civilization II. The game was titled "Alpha Centauri" and was a huge hit among fans of Sid's games and had very high ratings from all kinds of gaming press such as PC Gamer, Computer Gaming World, PC Accelerator, and GameSpot. There was no doubt that Alpha Centauri was to be a game that would make hours pass by like minutes, with its incredible technologies, unit varieties, and different factions to keep gamers happy.

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