OCMS News April 2008

Survey Identifies Most Useless Gadgets
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Useless gadgets have been given the thumbs down in a new survey, which found electric nail files to be the most pointless product of all time.

The file, which supposedly gives ‘technician’ results to give a perfect shape and smooth finish, topped the poll of the top 20 most useless household gadgets.

MarioKart Wii Review
Monday, April 28, 2008
A mixture of new and familiar is waiting in the Wii Mario Kart release, and now I have enough material to keep me stimulated until…well…at least until my friends join in…. If you’ve ever played a Mario Kart, you will be satisfied with this new addition. Building on old ideas, tracks, and multiplayer levels, Mario Kart brings back all of the fun in the older versions and makes them sexier, shinier, and more fun than even I imagined. For Mario Kart vets, the characters will be familiar to you. Baby versions of Peach and Mario are available, as well as Luigi’s arch-nemesis: Waluigi. Nintendo has hinted at loads of unlockables, but new characters, tracks, and battlefields are still awaiting discovery.

Web 2.0: The New Frontier
Friday, April 25, 2008
If you ever have a chance to read some of the PR for PR sake pieces on Web 2.0 you’d swear we now have a new frontier that is tailor made for PR people. A whole new virgin territory that is our to own. A whole new brave frontier where PR will lead and the world will willingly follow. Feels like a great chance for a lot of people — mobs even — to take us to the cleaners. We’d like to suggest a better option…lurk, learn, listen, help.

Marketing and communications “experts” like to tell us how the Internet and Web 2.0 have opened up new opportunities for the industry to reach out to and influence people in new, exciting, more effective ways. Instant information web sites, Tens of thousands of ready for your news bloggers, almost free social networks in which you can embed your news. Unique opportunities for the company to tap directly into the consumer before he/she makes a purchase.

Ultra m998 Case Review
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Computer enthusiasts want their computer gear to look tough. Tough enough to go into your man-cave. Your case should steal the milk money from wimpy cases, and date their moms. Your case should look like it was made from the parts of lesser cases to form one uber-case. Your case should be a badass.

What could possibly be more manly than the Humvee; one of the biggest and baddest of all-terrain vehicles? Would you be intrigued to learn of a PC case modelled after one of these marvels of mechanical engineering? Ultra thinks so, and they’ve created their m998 case to complement your masculinity.

A-Data C702 16GB Flash Drive Review
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I used to carry around several 4-gigabyte sticks because as a technology and graphics professional I need my files with me at all times. I had one stick for portable applications, one for photoshop files and fonts I use all the time, and of course one to hold all my Atari 2600 and Nintendo emulator ROMs…

Now I can replace all of these sticks with a single USB drive thanks to A-Data’s C702 16GB Flash drive. Not only does it cram 4 DVDs-worth of storage into a little nugget, but is has features to make it ultra-portable and ultra-useful.

Ready or Not, HDTV is Mandatory!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
HDTV is a big entertainment train coming at the consumer 100 MPH. In the US it took a bunch of years to transition viewing from B&W to color. Now the government has said everything/everyone will go from SD to HD in less than three years and that finish line is next February. Networks and stations are moving to beat the deadline and they’re well on their way. Set manufacturers can’t wait for every household to make the transition even if the sets aren’t as big (expensive as they would like). Content pipelines? Well sure, kinda. Ok so the squeeze the shows a little hard so it fuzzes up the quality of HD…sssooo?? The consumer? Sure! Right!! How much???

Test New Vista Shells Without Rebooting
Friday, April 18, 2008
There are a few shell and desktop enhancements for Windows Vista. These third-party shells run in place of Explorer, which sometimes require registry edits or other tweaks to get working. Did you know what you can kill Explorer and test a new shell without rebooting Vista?

Many people just to go Task Manager and kill explorer.exe, but if you do this then Explorer may start up automatically again. There is also a quick and dirty way of exiting Explorer, allowing you to test a few shells before deciding which one to install.

This tip can also be handy if your system is just acting “wonky”. If a file copy is hung, or your network is slow, then a reset of Explorer may be just what the doctor ordered.

Optimize USB Drive Performance in Vista
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Another one of our articles shows you how to speed up SATA hard drive performance in Windows Vista by enabling advanced write caching. A similar performance tweak can increase USB drive performance, by using more system memory as a write cache, which significantly increases performance when writing to the disk.

Flash-based USB devices can benefit greatly from this tweak, as many of these drives peak at a 6 or 7-megabyte per second write speed. The storage capacities of today’s flash drives are measured by the gigabyte, so filling up an 8GB or 16GB drive can be a long process. This tweak won’t magically make the silicon in the drive work faster, so copying 8GB of MP3s will take just as long from start to finish with or without this tweak. Relative drive performance improves by making the device available sooner for other processes, like when you’re using portable applications on the device or transferring small batches of files.

Baroque (Wii) Review
Monday, April 14, 2008
Baroque is a great game for those who are in love with anime art. For those in love with gameplay or RPGs in general: I’m sad to report that this game sucks. In fact, it plays so badly that a thousand tiny voices cry out every time the game is turned on. Or that could just be my neurons suffocating from the lack of stimuli. Flash! Bang! Boom! The game starts like a 60’s Batman episode with anime characters. And then a split second later, the excitement is over.

What happened Baroque? Why are you such a piece of crap? So promising, and yet, such a disappointment.

Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People Preview (PC, Wii)
Friday, April 11, 2008
I feel a great disturbance in the Force… as if a million voices cried out in laughter… and peed their pants a little.

That’s right… it appears that a game based on the Internet cult cartoon, “Homestar Runner” is coming for the PC and Nintendo Wii.

The games will be released as episodic content and delivered via the Internet. TellTale games is developing the games, and they have great experience with making successful episodic content, as they revived the adventure PC genre with their “Sam & Max” serials, which wraps up their Second Season.

S&M S2 Finale: What’s New Beelzebub?
Friday, April 11, 2008
The Sam and Max saga continues into the fiery pits of Hell. After dropping through the Bermuda triangle with Bosco’s corpse, Sam and Max find that they must take a train into Hell to retrieve Bosco’s soul. Using their typical crime-solving tactics, the twosome must find a token to catch the next soul train to the pits of Satan’s Lair.

But getting in much easier than getting back out. Not only do the crime fighters find it hard to escape the grips of Beelzebub, but they find themselves surrounded by the people who they themselves sent to Hell. Now Sam and Max are trapped in a world where it’s always Monday and it’s always just before quitting time. It would almost feel like real life if not for the fact that the guy in charge is Satan himself. Actually, I guess this is pretty close to real life.

The Issues with Internet TV
Friday, April 11, 2008
Sounds great for the networks, stations and pipe-to-the-home providers. That’s because in the good old days, television ruled.

Now they have competition – serious competition. More screens, more content options. The option that gets VC’s hearts a pumpin right now is mobile video. Big question is whether it is simply an oddity or people will be satisfied with a diet of content that is about the equivalent of watching a miniature VHS image. Only 5% of Europeans said they wanted TV on their mobile screens.

Army of Two Review (Xbox 360, PS3)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
After an extremely long waiting period, EA has finally released Army of Two. Originally hyped during last summer as a hot Christmas title, Army of Two missed the holiday season and was slated for a spring release date. This highly anticipated co-op shooter has finally arrived… was it worth waiting for? You bet your sweet ass it was…

Army of Two is an innovative shooter that requires the use of a partner to complete the missions. If you don’t have a friend, Xbox Live, or Sony Home, you can play by yourself and the computer assumes the other player. Utilizing two-man strategies is essential to completing the missions and earning some cash. Not only are these tactics awesome, but they can save your skin if your timing is good.

Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath Review
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I am a big fan of the Command and Conquer series and was thrilled when the series returned to form with the release of Command and Conquer 3. The previous releases in the series, Generals, did not work for me, as I missed the GDI and Nod conflicts as well as the full motion video that had been a staple of the franchise from the start. Thankfully the series not only returned to form, but took the series in a bold new direction by combining all of the classic elements of the series with the latest in 3D graphics and a dynamic story told from the point of three factions including the brand new alien Scrin faction.

Bawls G33K B33R Taste Test
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Everyone seemed to think that Bawls latest flavor: dubbed G33K B33R, was a joke. It was scheduled for release on April 1st, 2008 (April Fool’s Day), and also had an interesting name. It turns out that this new root-beer flavored beverage is not only real, but is actually very good.

For those who didn’t know, root beer is made from the roots of the Sassafras tree (hence the “root” part of Root Beer), which gives the beverage its distinct flavor. The sassafras is usually complemented with vanilla, wintergreen, cherry bark, licorice root, molasses, cinnamon, and several other spices. And now we can add guarana to the list of ingredients…

Playstation 3 Hardware FAQ
Monday, April 07, 2008
The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is the third major console release in Sony’s PlayStation line of game consoles.

The first notable difference between the two is the optical drive. While the PS2 had a tray-loading CD and DVD drive, the PS3 uses a slot-loading drive that supports CD, DVD, and the new Blu-ray optical format.

The PS3 has a new GPU, the nVidia RSX, that is far more powerful than the proprietary “Graphics Synthesizer” that the PS2 used. The PS3 generally has better support for high-definition video, whereas many PS2 games only supported low-definition interlaced video.

What Firewalls Do (And What They Don’t Do)
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Even with a firewall, there are still many areas of risk for your network. The most obvious is malware. Malware is a combination of the words ‘malicious’ and ‘software’ and includes viruses, trojan horses, worms, spyware/adware, phishing and pharming. Malware is most commonly acquired through clicking on email attachments and email links.

Viruses, trojans and worms can cause a range of symptoms from the annoying and/or embarrassing to the much more serious which can affect the functioning of your business. Spyware/adware gathers information about you. It can record keystrokes and, as such, can potentially be very dangerous, revealing everything you do on your computer.

Obscure II: The Aftermath Review (PC, Wii, PS2)
Friday, April 04, 2008
Obscure: The Aftermath takes place just a few years after the events of the first game. The characters have all gone to college and are trying to move on with their lives. One of the college professors has a brother dying from a strange disease, and in order to cure him, is secretly administering the drug to some of the students.An experiment gone out of control contaminates the students and campus, leading to some disastrous consequences…

Generally each team consists of a girl and boy (dating and making innuendo comments, naturally), so it’s easy to figure out who should move the heavy box and who should seduce monsters… no duh.

Aquarium and Fantasy Aquarium by DS Reviewed
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Aquarium and Fantasy Aquarium are indeed two different games, separated like twins at birth but after a long separation and after long last, have been brought back together. If you are familiar with one game, then you will immediately be familiar with the other.

Aquarium is a fish sim, much like Zoo Tycoon. Build the habitat, choose your critters, and keep them alive. It sounds simple, but Aquarium can be a piece of work if you want to devote a lot of time and attention to the game. You have a total of five tanks, each with up to ten fish and ten aquarium fixtures (rocks, decorations, etc.). You are in control of the water temperature, pH levels, light color, aquarium background (if you want that fake paper stuff with the plants or Hawaiian sunset), and rock color. Also, your fish need to be kept happy with food and a clean tank. Last but not least, each of your fish can have a name, and you can scroll and monitor each fish’s emotional and physical wellbeing.

Frontlines: Fuel of War (PC, Xbox 360) Review
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Taken from the pages of today’s headlines Frontlines: Fuel of War is an edgy and topical action game that sets new standards for the genre. Set in the near future, the world is facing a crisis of doomsday proportions due to the severe lack of energy and oil available. With chaos and utter collapse of cities and society everywhere, two factions have formed who battle one another for the last remaining energy resources on the planet.

Players take on the role of a soldier from the Western Coalition as they battle the Red Star Alliance which is comprised of Russia and China. As the game starts, players enter a battle in a desolate area which is one of the last remaining sources of oil, and as such, is hotly contested by both sides. Using mission objectives, players battle to various areas of the map to defeat enemy troops and obtain strategic objectives. Along the way, all manner of high end weapons and vehicles are available for use. I particularly enjoyed the flying drone unit, that when deployed, allowed me to fly it to a strategic point in the enemy’s defenses and detonate with spectacular results.

How to: Speed Up SATA Drive in Vista
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
We showed you in a previous tip how to increase performance with USB drives in Vista by enabling write caching. By default this option isn’t turned on because of the “removable” nature of these devices, so you could lose data if you pull out too quickly (the drive that is… ).

Internal SATA hard drives are alot more “permanent” than USB drives, but Windows Vista does not enable advanced write caching by default. You can increase performance of your hard drives by implementing a little-known feature. You could potentially lose data in a power outage, so either use a UPS or enable advanced write caching at your own risk.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP) Review
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
To have a good sequel/prequel you need to expand and improve upon all elements that made its predecessor so enjoyable. To make a great one, you need to do all that AND make sure that the game can be enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the previous incarnation. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII seems to thankfully fall into the latter. With it’s innovative combat system, engaging story, and pick up and play missions, Crisis Core seems to be able to be a great game regardless if it is connected to FFVII’s central story or not.

While the rest of the “Compilation of Final Fantasy VII” sucked (a cell phone game? A shooter?), you can rest assured, Crisis Core shares nothing with the lackluster crap thrown at us up till now. Right at the beginning you are thrown into a situation not unlike the start of FFVII, jumping off a train and kicking ass. The similarities stop there as you take naïve SOLDIER rookie Zach Fair through various missions in SOLDIER trying to locate several members who have gone AWOL, while answering some questions along the way.