OCMS News January 2008

 

Gigabyte GA-945P-S3 Motherboard Review
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
First and foremost, this review is a long time coming, why? Because, I had to buy a CPU and memory just to test the darn thing. But once I did, I finally got up and running quite quickly. I purchased a Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 and 1 gig of appropriate memory. I then placed this equipment into my favoritest (and my wifes) case, the Antec P180b.

But the board itself is quite affordable for any level of computer builder. Gigabyte has provided us a board that has big time functions but not a big time price. A newer series board with all the bells and whistles for a new operating system (Vista), a host of easy to use BIOS menus and some other extras that you don’t find in more expensive boards. Yes, the GA-945P-S3 is a value at the price.

QNAP TS-409 Pro Turbo Station NAS
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The front of the unit has a black mesh door that swings open to reveal the hot-swappable goodness that lay inside. Underneath this door is a status panel that has a reset button, single USB connector, several status LEDs (showing server status, each hard drive’s status, and network usage), and a power button. The power button is similar to ATX-style computers in that you must press and hold it to power down, but it takes close to 10 seconds while the server powers down gracefully.

Opening the unit we can see that this unit has a complex yet compact motherboard with four SATA ports. The case is built rather well, and the machining is impecable, which is even more amazing since the inside is never meant to be user-serviceable. A custom 4-bay drive cage hovers above the motherboard, and the back of the cage sits the SATA connectors. Four SATA cables are nearly routed to this connection point, each of them clearly labeled. On the opposite side of the cage is the power connectors for each drive, which are also clearly labeled 1 through 4.

F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate Walkthrough (PC & Xbox 360)
Monday, February 25, 2008
I know this game was blasted by the critics, and no, had I not played the previous two games, I probably wouldn’t have even known about this one. Yes, you’ll auto-pilot through most of this game if you’ve played the other two, but this is a solid shooter, no one is saying it isn’t. The gunplay is still the strength of this title and if you like a scare or two in your game, this is a decent playthrough. You’ll enjoy the plot and the game is still fun, but don’t expect anything close to innovation.

Keep TWO eyes open for items, not one – the worst thing is to pass over an area where there are good items that you need. Just explore an area before you leave it. *Save big weapons, but don’t save too much – basically, you can have two big guns, like a rocket launcher and the arc, but that means you must have a fully loaded G2A2, or something else. Guns come and go pretty much after each battle, so don’t be too cheap to spend a big gun on a tough fight. *You have grenades, use them – simple as that, don’t forget you have them. If anything, just to scare the enemy.

Put MyComputer on Vista’s Taskbar
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Many of us like to have the quickest possible route to our commonly used folders. Even though nearly everything is accessible via the Start Menu, I like to have one-click access to commonly used items, such as Internet Explorer and My Computer.

The Vista taskbar comes with some neat pre-defined Toolbars (like Quicklaunch and Windows Media Player), but did you know you can create a toolbar from just about any object on your PC? You can add the Computer menu as a folder to have quick access to your drives, shortcuts and network connections. You also like to add my Desktop as a Toolbar, so I can always access stuff on my desktop even if they’re buried under a bunch of open Windows.

Raiders of the Blu Ark
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Some called it a battle. Others a war. But the blue laser thing was more like a tussle…a two year tussle.

HD DVD had Toshiba, the DVD Forum (that sure helped DVD-RAM?) and a few studios that were kinda, maybe, sorta on their side. Oh yeah…and Microsoft.BD had Sony and its string of content owners, Panasonic, the CE industry and a lot of financially grateful production houses.On one side a technology leader who wanted to have a consumer presence.

Gears of War 2 Coming in November!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Providing a dramatic close to Microsoft’s 2008 Game Developers Conference keynote address, lead designer Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games announced that the heroic saga of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad will continue exclusively on Xbox 360 this fall withGears of War 2.

This highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster Gears of War delves deeper into humanity’s struggle for survival against the nightmarish Locust Horde, and takes the high-definition visuals to a whole new level.

Cyberlink YouCam Adds Fun to IM
Friday, February 15, 2008
Using the software as we originally purchased it for – for video IMing – it really lets your imagination go wild because you can quickly add a wide range of emotion effects, frames, filters and distortions. It’s an easy click for either of them to add fun emotions or apply a frame to their live webcam video such as targets, hearts, gifts, “feelings”. Distortions are a little disturbing when they occasionally video IM me at the office (yes we got a copy as well but more for business conversations).

Solve file copy problems: Tweak Vista’s “auto-tuning” network
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Once again, Microsoft thinks it can solve all of your problems by being smarter than you are. Unfortunately, some of the “automatic tuning” features of Vista can yield in lower performance.

One of Vista’s features tries to change the network’s receive window on-the-fly to adapt to changing network conditions. If you’ve been experiencing lower network throughput when transferring large files or experience weird network disconnects, then you can try disabling Vista’s auto-tuning network feature.

Sam & Max Episode 203: Night of the Raving Dead
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
If someone ever asks you for a game that is a cross between Resident Evil and Ren and Stimpy, this is the game you would show them. The Resident Evil similarities are not only in the brain-eating ravers, but also in how the gameplay is puzzle-based. Long time followers of the series will need no confirmation of what to expect, but new players will find a lot to enjoy in this short romp through a day in the life of dry-humor spewing freelance police.

Have TV Viewers Been Lost to the Internets?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The pro writers are back writing. The pro producers are back producing. The pro owners are back doing whatever they do. The pro consumers are … on the Web surfing and when the mood strikes them channel surfing on TV. People around the globe and across the age groups are finding they have more news, information, entertainment options — professional, semi-professional and sloppy amateur. They like the new diversity and options.

The writers’ strike was all about giving their members a “fairer” proportion of the growing volume of online content. Since it appeared to be a prolonged affair Tellywood focused a lot of attention and money on indie films at Sundance. At the same time more than a few analysts wondered aloud if there might be a mass migration from TV to online videos and folks would be less than enthused in returning to the family room set.

Noctua NF-B9 92mm Fan Preview
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Noctua has had some great success with their innovative PC case fans, and now they are introducing their first 92mm fan, dubbed the NF-B9.

The box contains several items to mount the unit and customize its performance. The fan is colored with Noctua’s signature brown and flesh theme, and the 3-pin fan is sleeved with black mesh to reduce kinking and ensure a long cord life. In addition to normal mounting screws are four vibration compensators, which are plastic pins that act similar to rubber or silicon grommets to help prevent vibration transfer between the fan and a PC case.

SteelSeries Ikari Laser Pro Gaming Mouse
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Gaming mice are getting serious… what once was marketed as a niche novelty item is now taken seriously as professional sports equipment.

Most gaming mice have a core set of common features that PC gamers look for. These rodents usually feature notched scroll wheels, high DPI, on-the-fly sensitivity changes, macro ability, and onboard memory just to start. Most manufacturers seem to think that more features translates into a better gaming mouse, but this isn’t true at all. Having too much granularity or complicated features can slow down the PC gamer when timing is absolutely critical.

To this end, SteelSeries enters the professional gaming mouse arena with their Ikari Laser Professional Gaming Mouse. Instead of fancy lights and other gimicks, the Ikari focuses on build quality and no-nonsense features.

PhysX By nVidia: A New Era of Gaming?
Monday, February 04, 2008
Remember 3dfx? They pioneered the first hardware-accelerated 3d cards for PC games (an area which nVidia now dominates). At one time, 3dfx’s Voodoo cards were in the same position as Ageia’s PhysX boards. It was difficult for the average PC user to justify a $250 purchase for a cards that used a proprietary API and supported only a handful of games. For the hardcore gamers, these cards were a no-brainer because they transformed the PC into a legitimate gaming platform.

As PC games have become more realistic and complicated, there has been a need for advanced processing of physics. A dedicated processor for game physics allow developers to have more particles and more life-like explosions and realistic damage calculations.

Confirmed: nVidia Aquires Ageia
Monday, February 04, 2008
nVidia today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AGEIA Technologies, Inc., the industry leader in gaming physics technology. AGEIA’s PhysX software is widely adopted with more than 140 PhysX-based games shipping or in development on Sony Playstation3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii and Gaming PCs. AGEIA physics software is pervasive with over 10,000 registered and active users of the PhysX SDK.

HDTV for Under $100
Thursday, January 31, 2008
While watching High-definition TV shows is more interesting and more dramatic than viewing standard definition television, purchasing two additional HDTV sets plus the cable service wasn’t really an option. With a little online research we found out that more than 30 percent of the American households don’t subscribe to cable or satellite service. Instead they enjoy their entertainment the old fashioned way…over the air.

To give our kids an economical HDTV viewing solution, we found a complete family of HDTV entertainment options from Pinnacle Systems at Best Buy. They were ideal because they were USB PCTV solutions that took up absolutely no room, worked with their notebook computers and were easy on the pocketbook. The PCTV HD Pro packages we chose cost under $100 each and brought in a wide choice of HD channels in the store and in their apartments.

Rosewill RHUB-310 7-port USB 2.0 Hub Review
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
With the amount of gadgets and office equipment around now-a-days, it seems that the measly two to four average ports found on a desk or laptop computer is simply insufficient. Between printers, webcams,iPods, flash drives, etc., even an additional hub with four USB ports is not enough. Well, no worries now everyone… enter the Rosewill RHUB-310.

Following the philosophy of “why pay for two meat patties when you can pay the same for four”, Rosewill introduces a moderately priced USB hub with…count it folks… 7 USB ports. Seven. All fast, all compact, and all offered in one hell of a sleek case.

Bawls Guarana Taste Test
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
For some reason, gamers love energy drinks. Ever since video games have become legitimized as an actual sport, gamers have been trying to enhance their performance with highly caffeinated concoctions… because, you can’t possibly break world records, achieve greatness, or nail the prom queen without some sort of chemical enhancement. It worked (allegedgly) for the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Jason Giambi… and they’re famous record-holding sports legends, right?

Most energy drinks are targeted towards a general audience of Gen-Xers (and Y-ers), but Bawls is targeted specifically to gamers. You may not have heard of Bawls, but they are now the de-facto standard energy drink at any LAN party. Perhaps it is because of the high levels of caffeine, its unique taste, or its shapely bottle… or it could be the name: Bawls.

Oblivion: Shivering Isles Walkthrough (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Monday, January 28, 2008
Ah, at last, my grand project begins. Here I go again with my guides. This time I intend to do a complete guide of Oblivion, Knights of the Nine, and Shivering Isles. Now that my time is free up, I can do this. Let’s begin with the first full expansion for one of the best games ever made.

The Shivering Isles expansion is something special. It is almost as if you play a new game, a completely new game within the same universe. If you dare step into the mouth of Madness, be prepared to succumb to the strange new world. There’s little to say about the game if you’ve played Oblivion. It’s the same gameplay and the same graphics, only the setting has changed to what can either be a lush landscape of color, or a macabre swampland, you will play in both. That is the main theme of the game, light or dark, but in the case of the Isles, it is which form of insanity you hail from. Do you prefer to torture someone with images of their death until they go mad, or do you wish that they take the plunge through eternal and never ending bliss? It’s your choice, all I’m here to do is help you either way. Great game, a must play, now let’s jump in.


Are Women Ignored as Technology Consumers?
Friday, January 25, 2008
We all know half (or about half) of the world’s population is female. Most married or involved males know that they can do anything they want to do as long as “SHE” thinks it’s OK. Testosterone works in the boardroom but in the living room, bedroom…forget it!!! If they are “kinda” important in our business lives, why can’t we get it right when it comes to offering products? Maybe we just aren’t listening…

Maybe the problem is exactly as Sean Connery stated…“I like women. I don’t understand them, but I like them.”This epiphany came to us as we tried to figure out why our 1TB home server was already half full. Turned out the files were typical of most consumers’ home system storage – digital photos, music, video clips, personal videos, etc.

Run Vista’s System Restore from a Command Prompt
Monday, January 21, 2008
It sometimes happens that you install some new hardware or program which then wreaks havoc on your computer. You may experience unusual program crashes or error messages, and they can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

Usually the easiest option is to run System Restore and return your computer to a state prior to the offending outsider. Sometimes your PC is so messed up that you cannot even get to the System Restore program, even in Safe Mode. Now what do you do?

SteelSeries SP Pro Gaming Mousepad Review
Friday, January 18, 2008
If someone were to ask you “Who’s your favorite mousepad manufacturer?”, what would you say? This list is rather short, and not many companies are known for their pads alone. SteelSeries is one of those companies that many PC enthusiasts will mention, because they keep delivering innovative products to a category that many think of as mundane: mousepads.

Many polycarbonite or plastic mousepads are slick, and are dubbed “performance” pads because the mouse can slide all the way to Alberquerque with a single flick. Other pads offer “control”, which usually means more friction between the pad and the mouse. A good cloth mousepad, such as the SteelSeries QcK Heavy is a great example of a mat offering a high degree of control. What about the user who wants a good degree of control AND high performance at the same time?

Increase Vista’s Performance: Just Say No to SuperFetch!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
If you’re using Windows Vista, then you’ve probably noticed the new memory requirements. In Windows XP you could get away with 1GB of memory, with 2GB making it run much smoother. To get the same smooth experience from Vista, you really need to double the memory, due in part to some of the new services that Vista is running.

One of these new services is SuperFetch, which analyzes your program usage and pre-caches these programs to make them load faster. For most users (especially gamers) this is relatively useless, and just serves to waste more of the precious memory you’ve loaded up your PC with. This memory is even more critical in the 32-bit flavor of Vista, where most users cannot use more than 3.5GB of RAM, even if you have 4GB or more.

Razer Piranha Gaming Headset Review
Monday, January 14, 2008
While attending a local LAN party, I’ve noticed one brand of gaming gear that dominates among the hard-core: and that brand is Razer. They make gaming mice, keyboards, and headsets with features that PC gamers are looking for with a high degree of quality and a decent price point. A good gaming headset is a necessity when playing online, not only to hear the critical audio cues that help keep you alive, but to communicate with your teammates for coordination (and taunt your victims, of course).

Razer has followed up on their Barracuda gaming headset with their new Piranha gaming headset, which claims to offer the same high quality audio and delivers an anti-noise microphone to make voice communication clearer. Razer has also designed this new headset with the same “l33t” flair that they’re known for, along with comfortable earpieces, long cord, and easy-to-grasp inline remote.

Danger Den MC-TDX 775 CPU Waterblock Review
Saturday, January 12, 2008
With all the new dual core and quad core processors in the market now a days using more and more power and producing more and more heat, many people need to upgrade their cooling, as well. For many, stock coolers work just fine, but what if you have a water-cooling system?

I`ve been running the Danger Den (DD) kit for a few years, and they have never left me behind. I love my old TDX block, but now the guys at DD have come up with something new: the Danger Den MC-TDX, which is specifically made for quad-core processors. I have yet to find out what the “MC” means in the MC-TDX means but I figure it stands for “Multi Core”.

Zalman ZM-VFC2 Multi Fan Controller Review
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Zalman computer products have been advertising the silencing factor of their products for many years. Most of their heatsinks are even packaged with their “Fanmate” to let the user adjust the fan’s RPMs, thereby reducing the noise the fan produces. To achieve a virtually silent computer, some users have used several Fanmates or other rheostats to reduce noise, but since these devices are inside your computer they cannot be easily accessed to dynamically adjust. This is where Fan Controllers come in, as they allow you to control several different fans from the front of your computer, and usually have an indicator of their performance. Zalman has released their ZM-MFC2 Multi Fan Controller, which is the evolution of their previous fan controller the ZM-MFC 1.

Zalman’s has updated everything about this Fan Controller for the 21st century. The device not only supports 4 seperate fans and temperature sensors, but also tells you how much power your PC is using, and displays it all on a very bright, multi-colored VFD display, and each fan is controlled digitally via a jog dial and buttons!

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Overview
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The vast, rolling plains and mild climate of Ellyrion make this inner kingdom the perfect breeding ground for the finest Elven steeds in all of Ulthuan. Great herds of these amazingly swift and graceful creatures roam the grasslands throughout the year, and are prized among the noble lords of the Phoenix King’s court for their magnificent quality and majestic beauty.

The High Elves who dwell in Ellyrion are peerless horsemen who have fought to defend their fair isle against the spiteful Dark Elves since the time of Caledor the First. Mounted on steeds as swift as the wind, these light horsemen patrol the vast golden plains of their home, ready to strike should the treacherous armies of Malekith return.

Pinnacle Shows Off Home Video Solutions at CES 2008
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Personal and personalized video content is not only more precious to people, it is quickly becoming the entertainment of choice as consumers buy and use lower-cost, high-performance camcorders; video-enabled cameras; web downloads and video-to-go personal media players (PMPs). To put the fun back into video production and content distribution/sharing, Pinnacle Systems continues to expand the industry’s most widely known and used product line …the Studio family.

Nyko’s Product Lineup at CES 2008
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Nyko has been creating inventive and functional third-party console gadgets for years, many times improving on the original manufactuer’s design with a lower price point. Nyko was at CES 2008 showing off some of their new (and not-so-new) products for gaming enthusiasts.

For one, the wireless Nunchuck is the killer device that Nintendo fans have been salivating over since it was announced: the Wireless Nunchuk Controller Attachment for the Wii.

Do I really need to spell out why this controller accessory is so awesome? There are no restrictive wires, allowing for complete freedom while gaming, and is completely compatible with all games that require the standard Nunchuk. (note that Nyko’s Nunchuck has an extra “C” to avoid infringing on Nintendo’s trademark).

Indianapolis 500 Legends (Wii) Review
Monday, January 07, 2008
This is a great game for those of us who love the Indianapolis 500 and its history. This is also a great game for those who like to drive only left and straight continuously. Lastly, this is a great game for anyone who wants to have children with a family member. Do you fit into one of these three categories? Read on my friend.

Indianapolis 500 Legends can satisfy the hunger-pangs of any slobbering, belligerent Nascar fan. There are cars, famous drivers, crashes, pit stops, and the endless driving in a circle. Is there anything to offer racing fans in general? Perhaps, but here again we have a niche game from Destineer. Similar to John Deere: Harvest in the Heartland, a love of Indy racing must be present in the same way as a boner for big tractors, otherwise I feel our racing-genre-lovers will feel left in the dust.

2008 Means Storage
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Personal content is gaining momentum. The long tail of entertainment is moving more rapidly than Chris Anderson envisioned when he wrote his first book. The entertainment shift is making micromarket segmentation more important to manufacturers and suppliers. Consumer advocacy/protection groups historically viewed Microsoft as the big evil one located in Redmond, WA but with tentacles around the globe. Ironically, we don’t view the kind, fun-loving kids of Google in the same manner even though they touch almost everyone on the earth in one way or another multiple times…every day. They’ve helped us get over concerns of privacy. In just a few minutes you can find out almost anything/everything you want to know about any company, any individual. Get over it !

Nyko Intercooler for Playstation 3 Review
Saturday, January 05, 2008
The Nyko PS3 Intercooler is a new addition in a long, long line of cooling peripherals. This tradition of having to add on an additional cooling unit to a next-gen system only reared its ugly head after Microsoft’s Xbox 360 “ring of death” mishaps. What happened to systems made reliably in the first place? Who knows, but fortunately for us, there’s Nyko intercoolers.

Nyko has created a beautiful, sleek, and innovative intercooler for our PS3 systems. The two-piece design fits onto the system extremely well and is so natural looking many of my friends thought it was just part of my PS3. So besides being damn sexy, how does it work and how well?

ThermalTake ToughPower 850W Power Supply Review
Friday, January 04, 2008
Given the current lineup of power supply products, users are forced to make some compromises. Right now, units either feature a modular design or have rock-solid performance, but the hardcore modder or gamer wants (nay, NEEDS) both. Some of the most rock-solid power supplies right now are the OCZ ProXstream 1000W (reviewed here), or PC Power & Cooling, but both of these units are not modular, meaning that your case will be clogged with alot of unused cables.

Thermaltake answers the call with their new and improved Toughpower 850W power supply, which now features a highly modular cable design in addition to re-engineered and highly efficient innards. Can it be true? Is there really a power supply that lets us have our cake and eat it, too?

Why the Wii Zapper Sucks
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Yes I proclaim that the Wii Zapper sucks. Why, one might ask? Well, I bought one hoping that somehow it would be like the old NES Zapper that came with the old gaming console (bundled together with Super Mario and Duck Hunt), or just slightly like the bazooka you got with the SNES console, but I’m afraid it turns out to be nothing more than an expensive piece of plastic, just because it’s branded…

I’ve heard horror stories of the Zapper before, but thought why not check it out myself, so I got the darn thing and took a closer look.

WordJong (Nintendo DS) Review
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
WordJong has been a favorite PC title for casual gamers for a while, and can be played for free at various web sites. It uniquely combines two games that provoke different parts of your brain: Scrabble and Mahjong. You have to spell out words using the tiles on the screen, but Mahjong rules determine which tiles are available (you don’t have to match tiles as in traditional Mahjong).

The game has been so popular that it has been ported to several mobile devices, and now the addictive puzzle game is available on the Nintendo DS. So why would you pay good money for a game that you can play online for free? Well, Destineer Studios has enhanced the gameplay to take advantage of the Nintendo DS platform, which opens up new play opportunities.