OCMS News November 2007

Convert Your VHS Tapes to DVD
Friday, November 30, 2007
Every time you play one of the tapes you wear away part of the image, you scratch the video, you destroy small portions of the memories. If you haven’t played the family celebration tapes for years you may be in for a rude awakening. The magnetic film may have aged, turned black and the images disappeared. The coating may mysteriously peel away or flake off when the tape is played. The special moments, the memories are suddenly…simply memories. Signs of video quality degradation can become apparent after five years or sooner if the tapes aren’t stored properly. Before those precious videotaped moments disappear, transfer them to DVD.

CoolIT USB Beverage Chiller
Thursday, November 29, 2007
There is nothing worse than expecting frosty, bubbly, sugary goodness and being met with flat, lukewarm backwash. Immediately your reflexes kick in and you spew the concoction all over your monitor, which splashes onto your keyboard and computer. The liquid immediately shorts out your motherboard, the sugar gums up your keyboard, and the acid removes the film from your LCD monitor. Oh, and you get brain cancer.

Thousands of dollars could have been saved if you only had some way of keeping your beverage of choice frosty-cold while you go about saving the world. CoolIT has the solution in a USB-powered Beverage Chiller. They do it because they feel morally obligated to protect the accident-prone gaming community from disasters such as this, thus preserving our communities and life as we know it.

Rock Band Review (Xbox 360 & PS3)
Monday, November 26, 2007
Guitar Hero and Singstar now have some mighty competition. Rock Band combines both of these worlds, adds drums, offers a buttload of downloads and customization, and brings friends, family, and band wannabe’s together for one sweet experience. Doesn’t sound like fun to you? Get back in your cave then.

So what makes Rock Band the same as those other games, and what distinguishes it?

World of Word of Mouth
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Vista hasn’t exactly swept the globe. BD nor HD DVD optical formats haven’t gotten people rushing to stores with cash flowing out of their pockets begging to buy either flavor of burner, player, optical disc. Forget about laying blame on any of the companies involved. My gawd they’re doing their part. They’re spending truckloads of money to convince consumers – business and individual – that tomorrow is here…it is better…it is time to make the move…NOW! They point with pride to the positive reviews. They have their share of early adopters who are first in line to buy anything.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3) Review
Friday, November 23, 2007
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is a combo of all of the best action platformers I’ve ever played. Nate Drake is the new Indiana Jones (without the grimy clothes and whip) in this game that includes aspects of Tomb Raider and Zelda, as well as some wild west gun slinging.

Nate is a direct descendent of Sir Francis Drake, the legendary Spanish explorer on the search for El Dorado. Nate hypothesizes that his famous ancestor faked his own death once he discovered more about El Dorado to keep the competition away. Claiming to have been buried at sea, Nate searches for Drake’s coffin. Upon finding and opening it, he discovers he was more right about Francis Drake than he originally thought. Being a treasure hunter and a prestigious hawker of antiquities, Nate sets on the trail to find the lost treasures of El Dorado.

Top 7 Tech Turkeys of 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
You know what a Turkey is. You’re all excited about it. You can smell it in the air; it gives you a big craving. The anticipation is overwhelming and you can’t wait to get your hands on it… and then and then it ends up putting you to sleep.

The same thing goes for Tech Turkeys. They are the products that may have been hyped as the next big thing, but in the end put many of us to sleep. We now present to you [OC]ModShop’s Top 7 Technology Turkeys of 2007.

Assassin’s Creed Complete Walkthrough
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Okay, I knew there was a twist, so wait until you are finally to the tutorial stage to read on, because I will spoil it in the next paragraph.

Okay, after learning of the sci-fi twist in this game, just watch the events that unfold and do as you’re told until you are put in a hazy looking place. Just run forward and then the tutorial will start. Listen closely and then you will enter a sequence where you learn the controls. Press the head button and look at each group of people around you. Then walk forward while pressing the “gently push” button to walk through the jar-people. Then press the button that changes your profile (which changes what the buttons on the HUD do). You will notice the low profile actions are acceptable, while the high profile actions will get you into trouble.

Zalman CNPS-8700 LED Heatsink Review
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Zalman has been making some of the most innovative and quiet after-market heatsinks in the computer industry for several years. They have had to keep up with the thermal trends as processors became more powerful over the years, which has had the unfortunate side effect of making their products rather large. One of Zalman’s best performing heatsinks is their CNPS 9700 NT, but it is also a behemoth of a paperweight and cannot be used in smaller cases like their original products.

Zalman has gone back to the drawing board and delivered a new sibling into their CNPS (Computer Noise Prevention System) line of products. This new little sister is low profile like their original products, so it will fit in more cases without worrying about clearance space and utilizes the heatpipe technology implemented in their newer line.

A-Data Vitesta Extreme Edition DDR2-800 Memory Review
Monday, November 19, 2007
RAM has also been getting cheaper over the years (especially if you factor in price vs. performance), but we still want to get the most performance out of our memory as possible. You can purchase a “budget” set of RAM, but you are almost guaranteed to have no overclocking headroom. Better (and generally more expensive) memory runs at faster timings (4-4-4-12 instead of the standard-5-5-5-15).

A-Data has released their Vitesta PC2-8000 RAM, which is technically a DDR-800 set, but with a guaranteed overclock to DDR-1000 Speeds. This overclock translates into a 25% performance increase (8GB / second vs DDR2-800’s 6.4GB /second). This also means that you can re-use this memory when you upgrade your motherboard to one that supports a fast 1GHz bus.

Super Mario Galaxy Walkthrough
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Game storyline: When some creature escapes into space with Princess Peach, Mario gives chase, exploring bizarre planets all across the galaxy. Characters: Mario, Peach and enemies new and old.

How to progress through the game: Players run, jump and battle enemies as they explore all the planets in the galaxy. Since this game makes full use of all the features of the Wii Remote, players have to do all kinds of things to succeed: pressing buttons, swinging the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, and even pointing at and dragging things with the pointer.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Walkthrough
Thursday, November 15, 2007
This game is great. The developers realized that instead of making a 12 hour game with about six hours of pure repitition, they decided to cut out the filler and serve the tender meat only. This game is short, but that is not a knock against it. You’ll appreciate the fast pace and the tense situations. These are the most intense cutscenes/pseudo-cutscenes in any game, and they may play with your emotions at times. It’s a game you want to play for presentation alone.

The bad is that this game is TOO fast. It’s wham, bam, twist, end level. It borders on stressful, since you really never stop moving for long. Another issue that new players won’t realize, this game is COD with new guns. The bad thing about this is that instead of the ultra-high tech of a game like GRAW, this game feels like you are limited. At times when things get hectic, you just might wish you had a really cool helmet.

NEVES: An Addictive Puzzle Game for DS
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
In Japan, one popular mind-bending game is the classic game of “Hanayama’s Lucky Puzzle”. This solitaire-like puzzle consists of seven wooden blocks, with the goal to create familiar shapes in as few steps as possible. This game can occupy your mind for several minutes or several hours depending on the puzzle’s complexity, which is exactly what the casual gaming audience wants.

Yukes Interactive now has a way for fans of the game to play without lugging around a bunch of wooden pieces. The Nintendo DS version of “Neves” is an electronic version of “Hanayama’s Lucky Puzzle”, which gives users the option to play the puzzle by themselves or in competition with a friend.

Space Ace HD Review (PC)
Monday, November 12, 2007
If you were a teenager in the 80s then you certainly have fond memories of Don Bluth’s laser-disc games like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. These games were simply amazing at the time and were so bleeding edge that you could sever an arm if you got too close to the cabinet.

Now Digital Leisure has introduced Space Ace in High Definition format. These aren’t merely upscaled transfers from laser-disc but a total re-mastering of the original film. Yes, back in those days animation was still done using hand-painted cells and cellulose film. If you were a fan of these classic games (or are just an animation buff) then Space Ace HD will certainly interest you.

Inside the Sony VAIO VGP-XL1B3 Media Changer
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I have been looking for a cheap expandable storage method for Media Center for some time. After one of my recent rants about Media Center storage, one of the [OC]ModShop staff members turned me onto the Sony VAIO VGP-XL1B3 CD/DVD changer. This device attaches to any Media Center PC (including Vista) and adds additional storage to the entertainment platform via 200 DVDs (1.7 terabytes if every single one of them are double-sided).

The unit seems too good to be true: it allows one to mix and match any number of DVD or CD media in any format that your PC can read, so you can have your entire Divx video archive available at the press of a button. In addition, this unit is also a capable double-sided DVD burner, and can automatically burn an entire series of recorded shows to DVD video. Also, this unit allows you to rip your entire CD collection to MP3 in one fell swoop without changing media.

SteelSeries Siberia In-Ear Headset Review
Friday, November 09, 2007
The personal audio market is fierce, and there is serious competition between vendors about who gets to nestle in your warm auditory canal. There are small in-ear sets that are portable and light, but are also light on features. There are also large around-the-ear behemoths that deliver impressive bass, but are too bulky to pair with your iPod. Then there are the complete headsets for the PC gamer which adds a microphone, but who wants to lug a mic with them when all you want to do it listen to music? Can’t there be “one headset to rule them all”?

SteelSeries believes they have the answer with their Siberia In-Ear headset. It was designed for multi-functionality. Everything from seperate microphone to cord length on this product was designed so it can be used both for playing games and still use it with MP3 players and other handheld devices.

Lenses, Lenses Everywhere!
Friday, November 09, 2007
Recently an ABC-TV news executive recently outlined his department’s plan to have a site where ordinary people could submit their spot news videos for possible use on air. His logic was almost impeccable. With all the camphones and cameras that take video in use someone always has to be at the right spot at the right time. Why not let Joe Eyeball shoot the stuff and upload it to the net’s news web site.

Most of the content would be garbage but… With today’s equipment anyone can capture a decent shot or video sequence. But the pros training and discipline helps them deliver what they call…the money shot. And the fact that they shoot 10x more content than they use!

Sam & Max Season 2: Episode 1: Ice Station Santa
Thursday, November 08, 2007
TellTale games hit a major home run last year with the re-introduction of two of gaming’s most comical adventure characters: Sam & Max. These characters were originally popularized in the early 90s when LucasArts released a PC adventure game: Sam & Max Hit the Road. Unfortunately, the PC adventure genre was on the outs at the time, and adventure/puzzle games haven’t been popular (except for Myst, perhaps). Great adventure games like Myst have made it through the adventure recession, proving that a game can always be successful if it’s great.

For those who don’t know already, Sam & Max is an episodeis series of adventure games created by Steve Purcell. TellTale games had greatly improved upon the original game by making their series fully 3d, which even PCs from several years ago are powerful enough to run.

QNAP TS-109 Pro All-in-One NAS Server
Friday, November 02, 2007
A Networked Attached Storage (NAS) appliance can serve the purpose of a home file server, and do it by sipping only 20 watts of electricity. Some NAS devices have other value-added services like print servers, media servers, full-features web server, and other handy features that can easily replace a large noisy computer.

QNAP is one company that has several innovative NAS appliances on offer. Their TS-109 Pro NAS server has a ton of exciting features that cater to the home and small business user. The unit also has some nifty features to dynamically expand storage and copy data to the unit without a computer. Not only can the unit serve files, but it also has support as a Media Server for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, in addition to all of the other standard NAS features.

Enable Hidden ‘Aurora’ Boot Screen in Vista
Thursday, November 01, 2007
The original Vista Bootscreen is very similar to Windows 2000, and is very bland and boring (you know, with the little catepillar bar scrolling from left-to-right). But did you know that Vista comes with a much better highly visual bootscreen? Did you know how easy it is to enable it? No?

Microsoft may not have enabled this by default because of potential hardware issues, but that doesn’t make sense because the minimum video card requirements to even run Vista should handle the new bootscreen without any problem. In either case, here is how to make Vista look that much cooler with the “Aurora” bootscreen…