June 2, 2009
Intel’s up-and-coming Larrabee chip (effectively a huge mass of CPU cores being used in parallel like a GPU), will actually match the performance of a GTX285. Compared to their older offerings [and the meager performance of the Intel GMA integrated chips), such a performance for a first product is amazing. [Similar type of reaction toward’s Intel SSD, the Intel X25-M). It will have 24/32 cores, depending on how good the silicon yield is, and be made on a 45nm manufacturing process. Also, the performance seems to increase linearly [scales near perfectly], with the number of cores. (2x the cores = 2x the performance/frames). However, after it reaches 48 cores, the scaling drops to 90% of the expected result [which is still amazing, considering most CrossFire/SLi setups drop to 50% scaling on the second GPU]. So with 24/32 cores, the 32-core version SHOULD be performing 25% more frames than the 24 core version. Intel is getting involved in many markets, which is good for the consumers. We may soon see a third competitor in the discrete graphics market.
May 31, 2009
Ip Man is the first movie that portrays the titular character’s life. Ip Man is one of the most famous practitioners of the martial arts Wing Chun and is referred to as the art’s grandmaster. He was also the master of kung fu movie legend, Bruce Lee.
It goes as Ip Man, who at this time resides in Fo Shan, not Hong Kong, practices by himself, not yet running a school nor taking disciples. Nevertheless, he is regarded as the best martial arts master in Fo Shan. When a martial artist from the north (of China) comes to the city, well-known as a hub of Southern-style martial arts, he defeats all its masters then storms into Ip Man’s house to challenge him. After an embarrassing loss, he leaves. Years later, the Japanese have taken over China in World War II, Ip Man’s house now being the headquarters for the Japanese stationed there leaving him homeless. He takes a job as a coolie at a coalmine that also has other former martial artists employed. When the Japanese army come looking for Chinese martial artists to spar against, Ip Man’s friend Lin dies, leading to him brutally crippling ten Japanese soldiers. This intrigues General Miura and he goes as far as to harass Ip Man’s family and friends, leading Ip Man to challenge the general to a fight in an open tournament. Ip Man nearly kills the general, resulting in a subordinate shooting and maiming his shoulder. The movie ends as a businessman friend of Ip Man takes him and his family out of Fo Shan to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong movies never fail to deliver good action movies and this title is no exception. Donnie Yen’s (known to some of you as Rush Hour 2’s Ricky Tan) portrayal as the titular character was excellent. The action scenes were lengthy and hilariously epic. On a deeper note, the attempt at Wing Chun was quite plausible, notable techniques brilliantly executed and (for the sake of cinema) exaggerated to a tee (such as the unnatural barrage of punches to a downed opponent’s face). The drama was also heart moving and all the actors never failed to prevent the stereotypes often seen in these sorts of films. The good guys were noticeably the good guys and the bad guys acted beautifully as the total assholes that the Japanese are often portrayed as at that time (no offense to the Japanese, I love my Japanese brethren).
Quite a recent movie, this film was one of my favorites almost immediately after the first major fight. I fell in love with the elegantly scripted choreography and the tones that the movie was pushing for. Sure, the film’s storytelling is bumpy, often jumping from one timeline to another, but considering the plot and the time setting, it’s something that is contextually appropriate. It’s always refreshing to see two guys beat each other up in a flurry of fists in the most epic and dramatic way possible.
If you’re a martial arts fanatic, this is definitely a movie worth trying to find. If you’re a World War II enthusiast, it’s still worth it. If you’re Japanese and you don’t like being made fun of for the war, then please don’t watch it (just kidding, if you don’t mind how you guys are portrayed, you’ll still love the movie).
Attempt at genre 97%
Overall Rating A-
May 26, 2009
Vista SP2 is finally here, for public release. Since Vista SP1 was already successful, what will SP2 bring? A few key features include
– Improved Windows Search 4.0
– Support for Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack
– Native Blu-ray recording within Vista
– Supports the exFAT system to have UTC timestamps
Check it out yourself.
The issue of Intel’s “anti-competitive” pricing in Europe has been simmering for a while. The EU was conducting it’s investigation, and concluded that Intel, indeed, was being anti-competitive, and was hurting the consumer. (Funny how the prices were actually getting lower, and the consumers were greatly benefitting. Big brother knows all, huh?) The allegations lie with Intel first offering a lower bundle price if they sold their products instead of AMD. Now this is fair practice, but the actual worst “crime” was supposedly even rallying or bullying the OEMs into delaying and even cancelling AMD products. Intel was slapped with a $1.45 Billion fine, which some call lenient, as they are actually allowed to charge up to 10% of their yearly revenue ($38.5 billion for Intel in 2008, so could’ve been fined up to $3.85 Billion). Intel is still pending in places like Japan, and here in the US, for it’s anticompetitive prices.
AMD is fully supportive of this (well, your competition just got fined by big brother, who wouldn’t be happy?), and even daring to fly the European flag on their website, to show full support.
NVidia is now calling Intel out, over its Atom platform (gee, REALLY?). They have been bickering for a long while, with Nvidia saying GPUs will replace CPUs, and Intel saying their GPGPUs will make Nvidia’s GPUs irrelevant. This continued into the fight over Atom, with Nvidia saying it’s Ion chip brings Desktop-functionality to a netbook. Intel argues that it is not necessary, hence the point of a netbook. Intel sells it’s bundle [Atom + motherboard + IGP] for $25, while the Atom+ Motherboard is $45, and Nvidia is angry that their Ion is not selling as well due to this. First off, they believe theirs is a “better” product. Shouldn’t the consumer EXPECT to pay more? [Although they shouldn’t]. Now they are jumping on the EU bandwagon, saying this practice is unacceptable, and is anti-competitive.
Those EU sure know how to make easy money…I mean protect the consumer! :D
May 3, 2009
As you know, SSD’s are currently the new, hot storage technology. With blazing fast reads and writes, with near zero latency, who wouldn’t want it? Well, there’s the fact that $100 will buy you a cheap 64GB drive, not nearly as quick as the top tier $400 drives. Some even experience stuttering, where your entire system freezes due to the write queue filling up. Not to worry, there are some essential tweaks you can do to fix these issues, and bring up your performance.
1. OS Tweaks
A. Disabling Page File/ Moving Page File – If you didn’t know, every program needed to run, is loaded into the memory. What happens if you run out? It caches it into a Pagefile, called Pagefile.sys, and it continually writes. This is not good for SSD’s, as the continuous writes can wear down the NAND Flash, and your SSD may die prematurely! You can disable it, or move it to a secondary drive to free up some write queue on your SSD.
[This can be done, by right-clicking ‘My Computer’ in your Start Menu, then Properties -> Advanced -> Performance -> Settings -> Advanced -> Change.]
B. Moving your TEMP folder – As you work on your system, your OS caches small logs and settings, temporary files, to be placed on your hard drive. Like the Pagefile, this can wear down your drive, and is not good for it. However, UNLIKE the pagefile, it cannot be disabled, as it is essential to the Windows Operating System.
[This can be done, by Properties -> Advanced -> Environment Variables, and changing the values for ‘TEMP’ and ‘TMP’ to a secondary hard drive]
2. Driver Level Tweaks
A. MFT – No that doesn’t stand for Master File Table. This works by creating an ‘MFT Partition’, that turns random writes into sequential writes. [Google MFT Flash, it’s the first hit]
B. zFlashPoint – A home-made driver-level write filter, that caches 32MB of your RAM, to buffer writes, turning random writes into sequential writes. It is currently only available for Windows XP. [Can be found here.]
C. SteadyState – This works a little differently than the others. The others focus on finding ways to cache, and turn random writes, into faster sequential writes. This works, by “locking” the OS down. Your OS makes miniscule writes to your drive, lowering its performance. SteadyState caches 512MB of your RAM instead, and it writes to the RAM instead of your drive. When you shut it off, all changes are lost (RAM is non-volatile, when it’s not powered, it disappears). However, you can decide to commit the changes(apply them) by using the settings. (Another good feature for this, is that if you happened to catch a trojan or virus, or screwed something up, and did not commit it using SteadyState, it will be gone the next time you boot up)
The community for OCZ Technology forums are constantly finding new ways to optimize and improve SSD performance. Check it out here.
April 29, 2009
Panda AV has released the world’s first official beta cloud antivirus. No, there is nothing to do with that white fluffy stuff in the sky, it is a network cloud. In reference to cloud computing, it is not like the traditional antivirus. To those new to cloud computing, it is basically a giant network of computers acting as one computer, pooling the entire resources of all those computers to analyze and record virus definitions, in contrast to the giant library that constantly needs updates in regular signature-based antiviruses. Another benefit of this type of antivirus is that there is less strain on the host computer, as most of the computing is done in the “cloud” or central network, instead of said computer. Even though its still in its beta stages, you can find it here.
P.S. Here’s another great thing, since it depends on its community to create a more diverse definition database, it’s free! (for now)
April 28, 2009
You know that once the producers decided to cast in a white Goku the movie wouldn’t be the Dragon Ball we used to grow up watching. In fact, instead of the fantasy settings, the insane martial arts and the light-hearted comedy we’re familiar with, a reboot that only connects to the franchise only by title and character names is thrust upon us. No way was I prepared for what was yet to come, despite the terrible reviews given by other critics.
In a near-future setting, we find our pal Goku training with his grandfather, Son Gohan. It is apparent that Goku at this point is lacking in the manipulation of his ki. He seems to be the target of bullies because he is considered ‘different’. After doing classmate Chi-Chi a favor, she invites him to her party, conveniently on Goku’s eighteenth birthday, where mutual interest blossoms. That night, our favorite badass Piccolo comes over and kills Gohan in his search for the dragon balls, the seven magical orbs that grant you one wish. Goku then meets Bulma and together they venture off together, Bulma to find her father’s five-star dragon ball, and Goku to find Master Roshi as his grandpa’s death wish. Roshi joins them on their journey and they meet up with Yamcha. After Roshi teaches Goku the Kamehameha, they fight Piccolo where Roshi dies as Goku turns into the Oozaru, a giant monkey-like beast. After reverting to his original state, he and Piccolo duke it out with ki blasts where Goku reigns as the winner. Afterwards, the gang summons Shenlong using the dragon balls to revive Roshi and thus the movie ends.
The movie itself isn’t completely terrible. The special effects, such as the ki blasts and Bulma’s capsules as well as Oozaru and Shenlong were actually plausible and worth seeing. Though instead of Dragon Ball being a light-hearted comedy adventure with an emphasis on a fantasy martial arts story going on, the tone is mostly serious with too much an emphasis on a modern day setting. For its genre, it wasn’t necessarily poor in standards but it had a lot of untapped potential to it. One thing that got me though was the personality of each character. The Goku we knew was a naïve and inexperienced little kid with a behemoth of power in him. The movie Goku is instead a hapless eighteen-year old confined to the qualities of a stereotypical high school odd duck. Bulma, instead of being lovestruck and finding the dragon balls for her own purposes, seems to be a serious woman who is merely trying to recover her father’s stolen dragon ball. Also, Master Roshi isn’t the perverted yet wise martial arts master, he’s stuck as the typical role of old kung fu masters in all those Chinese martial arts movies.
Overall, I felt that the movie could have done so much better. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for an adaptation film to do well if it obliterates all connections to its roots (in this case, the Dragon Ball manga). The fight scenes were subject to being inconsistent and poorly crafted. Constant slow downs and speed ups as well as the decision to put a lot of laser gun fights for Bulma and Mai did not make the movie anything close to the manga it chose to imitate. Also, the background story and use of chi in the movie is tied close to the something out of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” than the Dragon Ball franchise or even real-life. The Kamehameha wave becomes a versatile chi technique that can heal, ignite candles, or hurt instead of just being a really powerful chi attack used exclusively for destruction. So many faults are compiled that will not allow the film to make good showing.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Dragon Ball franchise, it’s useless for you to see it with the hopes of seeing what the heck the 20+ year craze was all about. Die-hard fans, watch at your own discretion. This is something that you’ll have to interpret for yourselves.
Attempt at genre 68%
Overall Rating D+
April 23, 2009
To reaffirm Steve Job’s statement last year:
“We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk,”
COO Tim Cook stated that Netbooks don’t deserve the Mac brand.
“When I look at netbooks, I see cracked keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens,” he said. “It’s just not a good consumer experience and not something we would put the Mac brand on. It’s a segment we would not choose to play in.”
Ironically, the backlash of the PC Community is quite funny.
“Why not? If the Macbook was $500 cheaper, it’d be a $500 piece of junk!”
“They can’t make $500 pieces of junk, but they can make $3000 pieces of junk right?”
Apple states that it doesn’t want to lead in the number of units sold, but rather the quality of their product.
IF that was true, shouldn’t all their products have updated hardware, rather than outdated graphics cards, and proprietary hardware?
Also, the signs of emerging Mac trojans are here. In certain torrent leaked version of iWork ’09, there are Mac-only (Windows is immune, ironic, huh?) trojans, called iBotnet. They provide DDoS attacks or (Denial of Service) to the user, and turn them into zombies (like their users….eh? eh? *nudge nudge*) that effectively network together used to crash sites with enumerable amount of requests, or to spread it even further.
April 22, 2009
IBM is developing a technology, that supposedly will have the best of both magnetic hard drives and flash SSDs. It promises the capacity and price of an HDD, with the performance and durability of an SSD (with an infinite amount of read/write/erase cycles, compared to SSD’s 100,000). It is based on the principle of spintronics, or electron spin and the magnetic moment it creates, along the length of a nanowire, to provide the known ‘0’s and ‘1’s needed. (hurray for physics!). They use an example of an MP3 player, that could potentially hold 500,000 songs or 3,500 movies, for much cheaper, more durable, and lightweight. This could cause another storage revolution, within the next 10 years. It may also allow for 3D-Memory, as it can be stacked without disturbing the adjacent wires. Google IBM’s Racetrack Memory to see more.
April 20, 2009
As you can tell by my pen name, I am an advocate for PC users, and might be labeled a “fanboi”, although it’s merely personal preference, that I refuse to use OSX. I encourage my fellow authors to input on this article, as having a one-sided article doesn’t make for good reading, and if you can’t tell, Cizor and Ajennex happen to use OSX, and apparently know it very well (Ajennex happens to also be very experienced in using Windows and building PC’s, while Cizor is rather uneducated in these kind of matters, so in the end, Cizor = Mac/Linux, PCWyrm = PC, Ajennex = Both).
For those who don’t know, as of right now, there are two major opposing companies, in the consumer computer world. There is Microsoft (and its OEM partners, the ones you see, Dell, HP, Compaq, Gateway, etc.), and Apple. Apple’s existence is necessary, as otherwise the government would label Microsoft as a monopoly (why there is such a flaw in the “monopoly” laws to the point of idiocy is an article for later), or at least more than they do now (google European Union and Microsoft for all the finger-pointing “pin-the-monopoly-on-the-corporation fun). Microsoft is a SOFTWARE company, creating products such as Windows, Office, and a whole other mess of things, although you could argue it does make “hardware” (Microsoft Keyboards, and Sidewinder mouses). Apple is a PLATFORM company, creating the OS AND distributing the actual computers. It’s like Microsoft combined with its OEM partners. Now that this distinction is made, let’s move onto the actual topic at hand.
Apple Macs – Benefits
- Doesn’t get viruses (Does not mean it is more secure, however)
- Good bundled software (iLife, Garageband)
- “Productive” Operating System
My Personal Take On It’s “Benefits”
– Considering the PowerPC days of Apple, with non-Intel CPUs, are long dead and gone, Apple’s hardware side is definitely not special or different from any other PC (other than the fact that other PC’s have wider variety). This means that any tangible differences of “speed” or “productivity” are definitely software limited. When Apple states that Macs run Windows faster than a PC, it really sticks to me. Their hardware is definitely not better than the custom or higher end hardware of PC’s, so why are they allowed to advertise it as so? People state that OSX doubles their productivity, or is more streamlined than Windows. Hardly. The differences between the two platforms have slowly become less and less (starting with hardware, and now with software; which I’d like to point out that Mac fanboiz have stated multiple times of “copying” OSX), and it comes down to a matter of personal preference. Any task I do on Windows will take me at least twice as long on OSX, and if there is a compatibility issue, the troubleshooting can take almost five times as long! I am definitely not unfamiliar with computers, but with OSX, it’s placement is awkward and flash, in my honest opinion.
Apple Macs – Cons
- Expensive, the “Apple Tax”
- Application Incompatibility
- Hardly any games (Part of incompatibility)
- Limited hardware support (as well as peripheral support, working ones need to be purchased from Apple or its OEM partners for more “Apple Tax”)
- Limited upgrade options (part of hardware support)
- Expensive upgrade options (if purchased from Apple, part of Apple tax
“PC’s” – Benefits
- Can be found at any price range
- Huge variety of hardware to choose from
- Lots of peripheral compatibility
- Great application compatibility
- Great backwards compatibility
- Huge amounts of freeware that can be found to do almost anything
- Lots of tech support from the community (Google is your friend!)
“PC’s” – Cons
- Main target of viruses(but is actually more secure, just unknowledgeable users :P)
- Crashes(hardly, it’s just the fact that the crashed application is poorly written)
- “Annoying” UAC(Not so annoying, can be disabled, people are whiny)
- “Slow” (what do you expect when you fill it with crap and never take care of it?)
As you can see, PC’s have much less cons, although they may be more serious, it’s basically blown out of proportion, and mostly due to PEBKAC (Problem exists between keyboard and chair). It doesn’t help that Apple’s smear campaign ads overly exaggerate the problems while overly exaggerating “Mac’s” features. The main thing that bugs me is that against the uneducated masses (the idiots that believe the Mac commercials), I am hopelessly outnumbered, and Mac “fanboiz” are much much more common than PC fanboiz. It seems, in my perspective, that your Apple tax isn’t for the computer. It’s for the status of actually HAVING a Mac, showing off you’re money. You trade functionality and speed for style and status. They seem to purchase a smug attitude, looking down on others that do not also have this “Apple product” that seems to elevate them higher than the rest of us, making them “better”. Although I could go into more detail, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and you’re welcome to find out the actual truth, between “PC and Mac”