OCMS News July 2008

Broadband: Researching the Best Plan
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It is often the seemingly inexhaustible amount of resources that has many net users tearing out their hair due to strolling performance and extended loading time for content. However, in many cases, the real culprit is not the content or the website itself, but rather the combination of an ill-equipped connection speed and an internet plan that does not adequately address specific user needs.

Before roaming free in the World Wide Web, every internet user must first choose a connection plan and connection speed that will be able to accommodate both their budget and their user needs. The following article seeks to outline some of the basic areas that novice users should address when deciding to connect to the internet. For some, it may seem like commonsense, but for those suffering easily avoidable headaches and long load times it may just make a world of difference.

Features of the Perfect Keyboard
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
There have been lots and lots of keyboards over the years, and most of the fancier ones try to enhance usability or implement some new feature that we can’t live without. Most of the time designers guess wrong, and implement a useless set of features, or take away things we have finally become used to. As of today, there is no one keyboard that can please everyone, which makes it difficult for the PC enthusiast who listens to music, does office work or programming, and gaming.

So, what does it take to build a perfect “everyman” keyboard that would rule them all? What features do we really need, and what can we live without? As a usability specialist and consumer analyst, I present to you what we should be looking for in the next generation of keyboards.

Cyberlink Power Director 7 Review
Monday, July 28, 2008
The software is a complete end-to-end production solution for high definition and widescreen (16:9) videos. Supporting all of today’s high def formats including AVCHD, Blu-Ray Discs (BDAV, BDMV) and HDV; the software provides all the tools you need to quickly and easily import, edit, produce and author/output Hollywood-quality movies.

Using PowerDirector 7’s automated editing and video enhancement tools we were able to produce our first HD on a standard DVD disc very quickly following the software installation.

Top 10 Most Effective Google Marketing Strategies
Monday, July 28, 2008
Don’t be fooled by the ‘free’ label, these marketing tools might be free but there are also valuable. One even wonders why Google would be giving away these tools and services for free? It probably makes good business sense in the long run, by providing these free tools Google is fostering a lot of company good-will and building up the Google brand name in the process. Good PR is good business.

Every marketer and webmaster should be taking advantage of Google’s good-will and snapping up these professionally run services and marketing tools. Here’s a quick run-down of the 10 most valuable free Google Internet marketing tools:

Sunday, July 27, 2008
Depending on whether you believe Intel or Nvidia (ok so you can throw AMD in the mix also) the secret isn’t the CPU alone but the best video power is generated by the GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) and its storage buffer.

To hear Intel tell the story they’ve embedded new capabilities in their CPUs that deliver the clock speeds and core-to-core communications that deliver the power and strength people like ourselves occasionally need when we’re using the system to render multi-layer video segments.

WoW: Bring on the Lich King
Saturday, July 26, 2008
It has been over a year and a half since the release of The Burning Crusade. The day when we got a whole new world to explore called Outlands, the day when our level cap went up to 70. New monsters, new gear, new races, and new professions. But after only a year, the world is clammering for more? You’re damned straight they are, and Blizzard is serving up a new helping of kick-assery for your pleasure.

The Wrath of the Lich King expansion hit its beta stage July 17th, and is due to hit the shelves in the later half of 2008. So what can we expect from our King? Well…

Otterbox Armor Case for iPhone
Saturday, July 26, 2008
So you’ve picked up a fancy new iPhone have you? You’ve spent at lease two hundred dollars on one of the hippest phones available. What should happen if you ever dropped your baby? Well… it would be scratched and perhaps even broken. How are you supposed to start conversation with other Apple enthusiasts or the average Joe if your iPhone looks like a piece of crap? Simple. You fork over some cash for the OtterBox Armor Case.

Previously, OCmodshop reviewed an Armor Series case for the Apple iPod. Having read that article, you will find that the iPod and iPhone cases are very similar. If you already have an OtterBox case for your iPod and you now own an iPhone as well, it should be a no brainer to you that this would be a good investment.

Reallusion iClone Animation Studio Review
Friday, July 25, 2008
Rarely is 3D animation viewed as something that is easy to use. Many of the programs out there that claim to be “user-friendly” and “easy to use” are hardly that. Not so with iClone2. Just load a photo, follow the steps to lining up your facial features with the program’s key points, and you’re set. You now have an authentic 3D interpretation of your head. Now all you have to do is load or create an avatar, put your head on it, and you have quite possibly created the ugliest 3D character ever created. It takes a while to adjust to iClone’s menus, but after reading the Instruction Book included with the software and a little practice, you will be making Real-Time 3D films in not time at all.

You can even add your own voice and using the compatible software, CrazyTalk, you can modify facial movement and expression to go along with prerecorded audio tracks. And this is all a consumer oriented process, rather than commercial. Meaning it was meant for you, but good enough for them. And the system requirements are right up most any consumer’s alley as well:

X-Files: I Want to Believe Movie Review
Friday, July 25, 2008
It has been over six years since the popular and groundbreaking series, “The X-Files” went off the air leaving some of the series biggest questions unresolved. There was always talk that future films would resolve the alien conspiracy and invasion plotline that fueled the nine seasons of the show, but as time went on, many fans began to wonder if that storyline like so many of the cases Mulder and Scully investigated would remain unanswered.

The film picks up years after the series and finds both Mulder (David Duchovny), and Scully (Gillian Anderson), living with one another in a remote home in a rural area. The fact that Mulder is still a wanted man has forced him to lead a life of seclusion, but he still collects newspaper clippings related to bizarre happenings to feed his fascination with the supernatural.

Otterbox Defender for iPod Nano Review
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Otterbox Defender Series case for the iPod nano offers some of the best protection out there. The Defender Series not only looks sleek, but keeps the grime and scratches of everyday wear and tear off of your iPod nano. There is the added bonus of protection during drops, saving you an embarrassing trip to the Apple store. This special version, the “Strength” case, is pink in color and was exclusively designed for the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Ten percent of the purchase price is donated to the crusade, with a focus on the helping the medically underserved.

Bionic Commando: Classic Game Review
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
With a remake on the way along with a sequel, it got me to reminiscing. Not on what old school remakes were, but when Bionic Commando was Bionic F**KING Commando. Even if you didn’t have this game, someone nearby did, and every kid in school had played it. Upon starting the first stage there was always the classic question: “How the hell do you jump?”

This was why Bionic Commando is such a classic though. In an 8-bit world leaned on Mario and virtually every game having an option to jump, Bionic Commando ditched the whole idea and gave you a grappling hook. With this hook was how you got to ledges, hopped over enemies, and proceeded through the levels. By the second area you are so accustomed to the controls you forget that you can’t jump-that’s good controls right there.

H2O Audio Waterproof Headphones
Sunday, July 20, 2008
It’s a known fact that the general public loves their music. Anyone can see the success of car audio, satellite radio, MP3 players, CD’s, records, and the like. Only recently has music become portable in a format that works for everyone from athletes to outdoor enthusiasts. One group of people has been consistently left out though – people who love water sports and recreation. You can’t take an iPod and traditional headphones underwater, and God forbid you drop your iPod into Puget Sound while kayaking. Now there is an alternative for the rest of us…

NTI Media Maker 8 Review
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Introduced by NTI (NewTech Infosystems) the Media Maker 8 package has just about everything you need to capture, edit, burn and enjoy music, photos and videos. We enjoyed using the company’s CD & DVD Maker which has been one of the most reliable, versatile disc burning packages we’ve found so getting the more robust suite seemed like a sure thing.

First thing you notice when you open the suite is that there is nothing intimidating about the NTI product. The opening user interface screen is so unintimidating you feel you’re going to have a great user experience…and you will.

Batman: The Dark Knight Movie Review
Friday, July 18, 2008
Riding a wave a fan expectations and anticipation as well as surrounding by the tragic death of Heath Ledger, the latest installment in Writer/Director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Series, “The Dark Knight”, has arrived. Christian Bale once again stars in the dual role of troubled billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and the masked avenger Batman, as he attempts to bring order to Gotham City.

The film picks up shortly after the events of “Batman Begins” and finds Bruce and his trusty sidekick Alfred (Michael Caine), splitting their time between a lofty penthouse and a secret lair while Wayne Manor is being rebuilt. The streets of Gotham have become safer as thanks to Batman many of the bad elements of the city have either been arrested or driven off.

Corsair TX750W Power Supply Review
Friday, July 18, 2008
Enter the Corsair TX Series 750W Power Supply. Like that very forgettable guy from that very forgettable show said way to often: More Power! This baby offers all the power you could need and then some, with enough connectors, including four for video cards, to make you think this thing is the offspring of some unknown species of squid. But enough euphemisms, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…

The TX750 currently has the highest wattage for Corsair, and still carrying the guarantee of 50º C under the heaviest of loads. And the suspects behind this cat’s coolness? A 140-mm fan, high efficiency and active PFC. And this is part of the new series from Corsair garnishes the use of a single high current +12 V rail instead of several virtual rails with lower currents. Previous models used three rails with lower currents.

ThermalTake DH102 Home Theater PC Case Review
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Manufacturers are working hard to make these new PC cases look like traditional Home Theater equipment. The cases are built with anodized aluminum, come with authentic HT feet, and are adorned with volume knobs, media controls, stealthed DVD bays, and display readouts. One of the latest (and coolest) display readouts is a large LCD touchscreen that allows the user to operate the PC completely without a remote control.

The DH-102 Home Theater Case is Thermaltake’s flagship case that comes with a large 7″ touchscreen LCD, media controls and knobs, and is certainly worthy of being included in any elite home theater rack.

Hard Drives: The Importance of Wiping
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Simply deleting the contents of a hard disk is not enough to ensure that they are not recovered. In fact, there are software utilities that allow the recovery of deleted data. This possibility is because when a file is deleted, it is not actually overwritten or removed from the hard disk. Instead, a marker is just associated with the file to say that it has been deleted, and the space it occupies on the disk is marked available for use. This means that the data in the file remains on the disk for the knowledgeable hacker to extract and view.

Firefox 3.0 Review
Monday, July 14, 2008
It has finally arrived. A little belated but the third release of Mozilla’s much-acclaimed Firefox 3 has finally been released. Those who fell in love with how fast a browser could be were deeply disappointed when Firefox 2, with its memory hogging bare bones interface, became available to the world. It seemed a step backward for the innovator of today’s web browser. Those who switched to another browser still longed for the multitude of extensions and add-ons that were available to Firefox users. First, a little background on the first two Firefoxes. F1, which premiered as “Phoenix” way back in 2002, officially became known as Firefox when version 0.8 came around. It was fast, it was sleek, and it got the job done: bells and whistles included. And then came Firefox 2. A flat-out memory muncher, a horrid interface, and for some reason had the browsing speed of IE with all the toolbars activated. It was a sad day for the devoted Mozilla users worldwide. I have been using Firefox since it first became available. I switched to Firefox 2 when the upgrade hit the Mozilla site, and now I will give F3 a test drive.

Fiber Optic Continuity Testers Explained
Sunday, July 13, 2008
To function properly, a fiber optic cable link must be “continuous”, meaning no breakage, either within the fiber cable or in the fiber connectors, should exist. The simplest and least expensive way to check is to inject some visual light into one fiber end and check the light coming out from the other end.

To perform this task, two types of fiber testers are available: a fiber optic continuity tester or a laser visual fault locator.

ATEN CS1782 Dual-DVI USB KVMP Switch Review
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Many PC enthusiasts play video games and do regular computing on the same machine, and we all know that the more software you add, the more cluttered and unstable your computer becomes. Imagine batching up a bunch of videos for compression, and then getting online for some fragging without any slowdown or distractions.

Historically, KVM switches have been relatively light on features, but now they come with DVI video, USB 2.0, and even audio switching support. ATEN introduces their CS1782 dual-DVI USB 2.0 KVMP switch, which should entice PC gamers and media enthusiasts with its Dual-link DVI support and 7.1 audio switching capabilities. Now PC enthusiasts can instantly switch between a seperate gaming or media computer with very little hassle.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3d Review
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I added to my collection of 3D glasses this week, again courtesy of Disney. The glasses were similar to those from “Meet the Robinsons” but maybe a little cooler, a little better constructed. I just wish I could say the same about the movie, “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.”

Brendan Fraser of “The Mummy” fame plays Trevor Anderson, a scientist professor whose theories on ..okay, I don’t remember. I could cheat and look it up on IMDB, maybe do some research, but really, you just want to know if this movie is good, right? It’s good. It’s enjoyable. But you have to watch it in 3D. Otherwise, there’s really no point. The special effects are what make this movie interesting.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army Review
Friday, July 11, 2008
Hollywood is often littered with decisions that in hindsight seem to be utterly insane. For all of the big budgeted films that go on to do huge business, there are films such as “Waterworld”, “Howard The Duck”, “Hudson Hawk”, and countless others that make you scratch your head and wonder who thought they were worth the investment of millions of dollars that were needed to bring them to the big screen.

One such decision that will undoubtedly look bad with the passage of time, was the decision for Columbia not to continue the “Hellboy” film series and allow it to walk away to find a home elsewhere.

Villiage People in Postal 3
Friday, July 11, 2008
We went straight to the source and got confirmation that Randy will play the leader of a Gay Biker Gang. If you think Marlon Brando in the Wild One, I was told Randy would be the Marlon Brando to the Gay Biker Gang.

Saitek Aviator (AV8R) Flight Stick Review
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Most PC gamers play with a keyboard and mouse, frankly because most PC gamers are either casual gamers or are playing First-Person-Shooters at their local LAN party. But there are times when you need a custom controller for a particular type of game. For PC gamers, an Xbox 360 controller works just great (read our review here) when a keyboard just won’t do.

One prime example where a real flight stick comes in handy is in Battlefield 2, UT3, or Quake Wars. When in walking mode nothing can really beat the tried-and-true keyboard+mouse, but when you enter a vehicle things can change quickly. Helicopters (or futuristic vehicles that work like them) are particularly difficult to control unless you have a gamepad or flight stick.

What is SVCHOST.exe and how can I kill it?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Multitasking operating systems run a bunch of stuff all the time… so much so that it may be difficult to know which processes you actually want running. The obfuscation of all this stuff benefits virus and spyware authors, as they can run their dirty little programs mostly unnoticed. Because spyware is so prevalant today, people are starting to look at what’s actually running in their Task Manager.

You may have become suspicious of a program called “svchost.exe”. There are usually several of them running at the same time, and look like they could be a hijacked program or under the influence of other spyware. So what is svchost, and what can you do about it?

OS Wars: What Will Happen Without Darth Gates?
Monday, July 07, 2008
Now that Bill has turned the helm over to Steve to guide the MS death star and the ship has taken more than its share of broadsides, it’s almost tough to keep kicking Vista…almost.

Ok so maybe Intel did finally decide that they’re not going to install Vista across the board. So? Maybe they’re going to put all their corporate systems on their other customer’s OS? Maybe they’ve decided that freeware — when we first heard of Ubuntu we thought it was a new African nation — is easier for the global enterprise to use and support?

Is GameFly Right For You? (A GameFly Review)
Friday, July 04, 2008
Receiving movies in the mail has rapidly gained popularity over the last few years. Once seemingly impossible, movie fans now make a list of movies they want to see and get them in the mail once those movies become available. It seems so long ago that I trekked to the store and dealt with rain checks, annoying cashiers, and an endless supply of problem customers. Now, this convenience is available for gamers. The question is: Is Gamefly worth the cost and the wait time for the average gamer?

Selecting and receiving games you want to play without leaving the comfort of your own home has long been every gamer’s wet dream. “What?” they say, “I don’t have to put down my pint of Cherry Garcia to make a trip to the local gaming or video rental store?” Yes, we now can continue eating our ice cream while opening today’s mail and pop in our newly arrived, highly anticipated, shiny gaming title.

Blast Works: Build, Fuse and Destroy Review
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy is the Roller Coaster Tycoon of arcade gaming. This game allows you to create your own ship, playing levels, and even download the creations of others. For those who love to customize and create as well as play classic arcade games, Blast Works is a unique addition to your Wii collection.

The game itself is easy enough to manage. This 2D arcade shooter has been around since ancient gaming times and the basic idea hasn’t changed.

Will Smith a Super Hero? Hancock Reviewed
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Throughout the annals of cinema, the big screen has been home to some of the most larger-than-life heroes ever to spring from the pages of comic books. Recent adaptations of Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman, all went on to box office gold and with several more character adaptations in the works, there seems to be no end to the public’s desire to see tales based on costumed heroes with amazing powers.

In one of the more original twists on the hero genre, Will Smith stars as Hancock, a surly lush, who is more concerned about his next drink than he is about saving the day. Despite being blessed with amazing strength, invulnerability, and the ability to fly, Hancock is looked upon with disdain by most of the people of Los Angeles because his attitude is second only to the amazing amount of damage he causes in bringing local hoodlums to justice.

Interview with ‘Alone in the Dark’ Composer Olivier Deriviere
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
OCmodshop had a chance to sit down with Olivier Deriviere. For those who aren’t avid game fanboys, Olivier is the composer behind the creepily beautiful music and atmospheric sounds on the new ‘Alone in the Dark’ video game. Other critics call the Soundtrack to AITD “The best game soundtrack of the year to date hits a choir full of right notes”. Oliver has also composed the soundtracks to other popular video games, including Obscure, Obscure 2: The Aftermath (reviewed here), Destination Treasure Island, Rally Championsheep, and others.

OCMS: How did you get into composing for video games? Deriviere: Since my childhood I’ve always been fascinated by video games. At the age of 14 I started writing music on computer with software called sound trackers. It led me to “coding parties” where people would hang out for 3 days without sleeping and they would create PC, Amiga and Atari ST demos. The connections I made there helped me get into the video games industry…

I’m Over Media Center
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I’ve been using Windows Media Center for about 4 years, and I have a love-hate relationship with it. A general-purpose computer will NEVER be as reliable as an appliance, and that’s my major problem with it. Sure, it has features that other appliances can’t touch (download DVD titles over the Internet, stream NetFlix in real time), but it just isn’t reliable.