OCMS News October 2008

PowerColor X1600 Pro Video Card
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Okay, time for another round of in-your-face video card action. There are several video cards on the market right now that will show you a good time. Some do it for a little more, some do it for a little less. But just like a trip to Vegas, what really matters is the quality of the experience. And also like Vegas, you get what you paid for. The difference between choosing video cards and choosing a good time in Vegas? The genital warts…

Today I’m sinking my tooth (I’m from the South, that’s all I have left) into the ATI Radeon X1600. The Radeon X1600 series is designed to deliver outstanding digital entertainment and 3D graphics through its unique ultra-threaded architecture and Avivo video and display technology. The X1600 is CrossFire Ready to deliver the ultimate gaming performance. The one I’m playing with today is sporting 512MB of pure video power, and can be purchased for around $100 on the online marketplace. It’s a pretty damned sweet video card.

Guitar Hero World Tour vs. Rock Band 2
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Improved Rock Band instruments is great, but they don’t really seem to hold a candle to the new Guitar Hero gear. For one, not only is the new Guitar Hero controller better made, but it is now “full sized”. It is much bigger than the toy-like wireless Gibson, which looks like a ukelele when slapped against my immense torso. The new GH guitar also has innovative solo buttons, but unlike the Rock Band buttons, these are touch sensitive and have a much different feel. It almost feels like you’re finger-tapping a real guitar (without all the pain), but it is very easy to lose your finger placement (and your fingers need to be spread out slightly farther than when holding the fret buttons). Switching back and forth between the touch slider and the fret buttons will undoubtedly make you miss a few notes while getting your bearings.

The GH Drums are also improved over Rock Band. Instead of four Toms and a foot pedal, these drums have three toms, two cymbals and a foot pedal (that’s SIX controls!). Playing drums feels a lot more like the real thing than playing guitar or bass, but these new drums somehow feel more authentic. The cymbals spring back a little better, and all of the pads are touch sensitive.

Dead Space Review
Monday, October 27, 2008
Very shortly into the game, Clarke becomes separated from his team, and under siege from a series of bizarre and deadly creatures that infest the station. Armed with a simple plasma cutter weapon, Clarke must not only survive the aliens that roam the station but he must complete several tasks such as restoring the ships tram service and unblocking vital areas of the ship.

As the story unfolds, Clarke is able to upgrade his arsenal through the collection and use of power nodes, and through collecting credits, is able to purchase new weapons such as military grade rifles and flamethrowers to fight off the Necromorphs.

Nova Microtech Mousepad Review
Sunday, October 26, 2008
How smooth does your mouse move? Today, I get the pleasure of checking out the Nova MicroTech gaming mousepad. Compared to some of Nova’s other mousepads, the MicroTech is a bit smaller than others. For that reason, I decided to check this one out using my laptop and wireless mouse. As I mentioned in my previous Nova review, their mousepads have the uncanny ability to stick to anything but water, and even that is negotiable. The MicroTech is no different. Sitting in my living room, I stuck the pad to my coffee table beside my laptop. It’s hard to turn away when Sci Fi is doing their 31 Day of Halloween. So with Warwick Davis jabbering about gold in the background, I proceeded to check out the pad.

Evercool Formula 2 VGA Cooler Review
Saturday, October 25, 2008
If you are a PC gamer (or computer enthusiast for that matter), then you no doubt are constantly keeping on top of the curve of the latest video cards the industry is pumping out every three months or so. Many of these behemoths use up so much electricity and pump out so much heat that the stock cooling of these cards have to keep up with the times. Even with more robust default heatsinks, there is a lot of room for improvement. Third-party manufacturers like Zalman, Thermalright, ThermalTake, and Evercool make great heatsinks to replace your card’s cooler.

Many of these aftermarket coolers look “cooler” than stock heatsinks, anyway. If you have a windowed case, then you certainly want to show off just how awesome you are with a tricked-out VGA heatsink. Evercool presents their Formula 2 VGA cooler, which appears to have the whole “speed” and “racecar” theme going for it. Let’s see if it really can tame the heat demands of the latest “hot rod” video cards.

Digital Foci Photo Store II Review
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Digital photogrophers need media… it’s a fact of life. You can be away on vacation or lost in the Australian bush, and inevitably you’ll run out of storage space on your memory cards. You can run out even quicker if you shoot in RAW mode or have one of those new-fangled HD video cameras that eat 2GB cards for snacktime.

Digital Foci has another option: their Photo Safe II. This little device is essentially a portable hard drive and media card reader in one, complete with battery pack for complete PC independence. All you have to do is plug in your cards, press the copy button, and the files on the media card are copied to the Photo Safe’s hard drive.

Corsair 64GB Flash Voyager USB Drive Review
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
USB Flash drives are officially ubiquitous in modern society. How do I know this? Because your mom has one. My friends tell me that their parents have them, too, and none of them are technically savvy in the least.

USB drives are extremely handy, and now you can pick one up for really cheap. Those of us on the bleeding edge have discovered that a 1GB, 2GB, or even huge 16GB flash drives just won’t do. We are busy people, and we need tons of photos, programs, emulators, websites, and data with us at all times, because you never know when you’ll need it.

Corsair has pushed the bleeding edge once again with their insanely huge 64GB Flash Voyager USB thumb drive. Not only does this unit have more capacity than a laptop computer from a few years back, but it is ultra portable and can fit in your pocket or a keychain.

Just What We Needed… More DVD DRM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Guess you just can’t have too much DRM. At least not if you believe RealNetwork’s CEO Rob Glaser. He’s going to help you rip your DVDs to your HD so you can play them on the go. Of course he doesn’t touch Hollywood’s DRM and in fact goes them one better…he adds his own unique, really cool DRM on top of it. Then when Hollywood says that’s not part of our agreement he does the only logical thing…he sues them!!! Life up in Seattle must be a little dull right now.

Rob Glaser, RealNetworks CEO, hasn’t had a lot of winners lately so we bet the idea of helping you copy your Hollywood DVD sounded like a great way to strike it rich…again.

Nova Raider 6000dpi Mousepad Review
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I hate mousepads. They slide all over the place, they stain, and they start to smell funny after a couple of keg parties. Mine usually sits on the opposite side of my keyboard, with a drink on top of it so I don’t ruin the finish on my desk. Frankly, I never even saw the point of them after the advent of the optical mouse. Back in the days of the trackball I understood it, you couldn’t get those damned things to work on any other surface.

In reality, before the world of hardcore computer gaming came along there really was no need for the mousepad for the optical mouse. Nearly any surface would do the job. But as mice got better, and their DPI resolution improved well into the thousands, your standard desktop surface just didn’t do the trick anymore. So people like Nova came along and decided to make sure you were getting the most out of your $75 mouse.

Technology and the World Recession
Monday, October 20, 2008
The U.S. economy grew slightly more than a paltry one percent during the first two quarters. Car/truck sales even with zero and creative financing are finding few buyers. Bigger, more powerful PCs sit on store shelves despite fire sale prices. While market sectors may be off there are pockets of light. For example:

Dell’s expansion into storage solutions and expanded distribution have helped them steadily meets their numbers Almost belying the odds, the video game industry maintains steady growth with its core and growing female markets

Crysis Warhead Review
Monday, October 20, 2008
The latest entry into the Crysis saga has arrived, Crysis Warhead which takes the cutting edge Crytek gaming engine to new heights. Set mainly during the events of the first game, players play as Sergeant Sykes, A.K.A. Psycho who after being assigned to protect a convoy soon finds himself tasked with locating a container thought to contain a nuclear warhead in order to keep it from being used by Korean forces.

As players battle into the forest against all manner of enemy units, they eventually realize that the Korean units are not the main threat out there, as strange aliens and their imposing mechanical units quickly become a mysterious and deadly new faction for players to contend with. With some help from fellow soldiers, players must face overwhelming odds as they battle to save the day.

Eagle Technology L-Series 2.5-inch HDD Enclosure
Monday, October 20, 2008
Eagle has brought us a new enclosure just begging for your old hardware. Or new hardware. It doesn’t care. Enclosure don’t discriminate. Except when they only take SATA, like this one. Then it discriminates quite a bit. The Eagle L-Series can hold 2.5” SATA drives up to 250GB with a max of 7200RPM. I don’t think that’s too bad. That’s more than enough storage for all your music, video, games, and all that other stuff you downloaded illegal while connected to your neighbor’s wireless network.

Wow Made Easy: Another Way to Find Your Way
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It’s been a little while since I did a WoW article. Not that I stopped caring, I’ve just been preparing for an exam and dealing with assholes at work. Sometimes you just don’t have enough hours in the day to play around online. So I got the idea yesterday whilst running around looking for a certain place that sometimes having a simple JPG map just isn’t enough.

Firewall or UTM?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Unified threat management systems (UTMs) have been growing in popularity for the last few years. Traditionally, they have been widely adopted by SMEs, but larger companies and enterprises are now also deploying UTMs, appreciating the benefits they can offer.

Blizzcon 2008: Our Impressions
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Broadcast live for the first time ever, Blizzcon 2008 was heralded to be bigger and better than ever before. With high hopes and expectations, gamers from around the world descended upon Anaheim California for the third Blizzcon. Taking place one year after the previous, gamers gathered in hopes of seeing a glimpse of their favorite unreleased game in the blizzard franchise. This year marked the first time in history that a game from each of Blizzards marquee franchises was available for public test play: Starcraft II, Wrath of the Lich King, and Diablo 3.

Interview with Left4Dead’s Chet Faliszek
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Recently I got the chance to speak to Chet Faliszek of Valve Software about their pending Survival shooter Left 4 Dead. I want to thank Katie and Chet for taking the time to answer our questions.

OCMS: What is the background and setting for the game?

CF: It is the zombie apocalypse. Two weeks after the first infection we are at ground zero of the infection. There is confusion and zombies, lots and lots of zombies.

Jack Thompson, Megaman 9 and DQIV
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Welcome one, welcome all, to the Wrath of El Pato. Yeah, it has been about three weeks since I wrote a column-my usual apologies. Work was such a nightmare that I was working 23 days straight with no day off. Anyways, I’ll just go off a few things happening lately and call it good. I…think…I’m back. This isn’t very timely, as it happened last week, but I saw that my best friend, Jack Thompson has been disbarred. While I’m sure the developers of ‘Murder Simulators’ will be throwing confetti around the room now that this incompetent prick is gone, I want to just point out that someone can and will fill his shoes. Before him we had Lieberman, Hillary even wanted a piece of this violent video game thing. Which does worry me.

MSI ATI Radeon RX2400 Pro Video Card Review
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Have you ever tried to play Bioshock with onboard graphics? If you manage to get it to work, chances are good that even at the lowest quality settings its still going to be very choppy gameplay. Have you ever had the ability to kill a blade-wielding kid when all you see is various frames? Very freaking doubtful, and I challenge you to show me any other outcome other than defeat. The trouble is, graphics cards are expensive.

For the mid-level gamer who can’t afford the cards that make other nerds wank themselves, there is the ATI Radeon RX2400 Pro. Offering high definition graphics and three video out options, the 2400 has the potential to kick some major ass… or at least keep yours gaming.

Technical Marketing, Silicon Valley, and Recessions
Friday, October 17, 2008
Economists are unanimous that regardless of what governments do it will take time, a lot of time, to rebuild faith in financial institutions and rejuvenate the economy. The sudden realization that the emperor had no clothes and magnitude of the financial crisis is only now being fully addressed. In a knee jerk reaction management is moving to cut costs – circling the wagons – by reducing staff and marketing budgets. On the surface it appears logical. But if you look at downturns and recessions in the past it wasn’t financial institutions or governments that led the economy back. Recovery was developed and carried out by Silicon Valley (which is somewhat symbolic of the complete PC/CE industry).

Pinnacle PCTV HD Mini Review
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Ladies and Gents, feast your eyes on the Pinnacle PCTV HD Mini. Ultra compact, brilliant HDTV in 100% digital signal interface. You hook this bad boy up to your laptop and you can receive wireless HDTV to your desktop for free. Or you can plug it into your cable and watch from there. Do you realize what I would have given for something like this when I was a teenager?

Pinnacle movieBox Ultimate Review
Friday, October 03, 2008
In the world of independent film makers, there are several different paintbrushes to be used before your masterpiece is complete. The hard drive or film that goes in your camera has to be of the highest quality, the camera needs to have optimal performance with a quality lens, and when you are editing your video you need the best hardware and software to capture the video from your camera and edit it to perfection. For the technically-minded film maker in us, Pinnacle has given us another paintbrush to make help make that masterpiece come to life.

Why the PSP is Better than iPhone
Thursday, October 02, 2008
We all know that the iPhone has a lot of features, but does it do them all well? I still carry around several gadgets, simply because they all do their specific tasks better than any all-in-one device. Now the Apple Advertising Phalus is trying to make me believe that the iPhone is a worthy gaming device?

It is my belief that the PSP is the most superior portable gaming device, across all markets. Here are my Top 8 Reasons why every self-respecting gamer should have a PSP, regardless of what other portable devices you have.

How to fix your Hard Drive when Vista Won’t Boot
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Hard drives go wonky. It has happened to the best of us. You boot your shiny new Vista computer, and you get hard drive errors along with a message that says “Cannot find STUPIDDRIVER.SYS”. Windows will not boot, and you’re in a panic. You cannot even get into Safe Mode to run a disk scan. You really don’t want to have to reinstall the operating system. So, what do you do?

Fortunately you can fix your Vista system and run a disk scan with nothing more than Vista’s Boot DVD.