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Archive for August, 2008

Quake 4

I installed Quake 4 this past Saturday, and decided to start playing right away. I was just going to play one level or so, but the action was so quick that I just kept on playing and playing. Before I knew it, I was like 3 quarters into the game already.

I finished the game on Sunday afternoon, and I felt rather satisfied. The game generally kept up the pace, and it had a pretty good storyline, much more fun for me than Doom 3. Graphics were pretty nice, but I did see that the Doom 3 engine doesn’t really do outside areas all too well. For inside areas it’s great, but falls a little flat outside. Then again the saem could be said of Doom 3 itself. Audio was top notch, especially with EAX 4 turned on.

I haven’t played Multiplayer, nor will I any time soon, since I don’t have a decent internet connection at home, so I can’t comment on that feature of the game. From what I understand, it’s better than Doom 3’s MP, but not as fast as Quake 3 was.

Now that the game is done, I’ll leave it on my hard drive, and install the mods I have lying around on dvd at some point soon. I have other games to get through first.

My overall rating for the game is 8 out of 10.

Look forward to seeing where next for the series, since the ending of Quake 4 left itself wide open for a sequel.

Categories: Computer gaming Tags:

Less porn, faster internet?

I just had a random thought now while I was doing some paperwork in my office. The internet is a huge place, so big in fact that there are no words for it. It’s always in a state of perpetual flux, and that is part of it’s appeal.

I know that pornography is a huge industry, in some ways it’s like the internet with expansion, directly and indirectly it also gives many people a means to live. I have no real issue with the industry, I’m tolerant. My thought was this though: If there was no porn on the internet, wouldn’t it be a much faster place? I guess the same could be said for illegal filesharing. Cut those 2 types of traffic out, and there would be a speed jump, a free speed increase to everyone. Links between the major internet backbones wouldn’t be so saturated.

On the other hand, those types of traffic have forced people to get faster connections, which isn’t a bad thing. With those faster connections, a person is able to do things that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, like video call family and watch live concerts, or stream a high definition movie.

I guess one could say that it’s a dream of an idea, but I imagine that without porn, the internet would be faster and safer, no annoying pop ups or dialers and trojans trying to get people to open up fake pictures.

Just my usual mad random thought for the day that I often experience lol

Burning CD’s becoming old fashioned?

While waiting for another task to complete, I had an interesting thought. Is burning CD’s going out of style? I was thinking about USB flash drives and how much storage space they now offer, up to 32GB on some models. A blank CD holds at most 700MB of data, which a 1GB flash drive easily outstores.

The benefits of flash drives are many. No longer do you need burning software, or know how to burn. Just plug in the disk, and it’s ready to be copied to/from. No need to install a CD writer if you are non technical and afraid of opening up a computer. Transfer rates can be much faster than CD, if using USB2.

I’ve seen car radio’s have a USB port for hooking up a flash drive, as well as a DJ mixing desk. No longer would you need to take a crate of cd’s into a club, just bring 2 flash drives to mix. I’ve also seen DVD players and recorders with the ports, and some can decode DivX/XVid movies off the drive.

CD’s also have the downside of being write once only, or in the case of rewtiteables, suffer from not being compatible in a lot of CD players (if writing audio) or in older CD-Rom drives. Flash drives are only limited by their life span of writes.

There are some cases of course where having a CD is still the best, and not all cars have the new radio’s with USB ports. Sometimes you just want to archive something, or equipment doesn’t have a USB port. Some claim that the auido quality of CD is still higher than anything MP3 can achieve. Of course, burning a CD and giving it away can be done cheaply or for nothing, as the media is cheap, cheaper than flash drives.

Still, I think the days of home users burning CD’s at least will dwindle. DVD has a longer lifespan, since it holds much more storage, but in the end I think it will also fall to flash media.

Interesting thought. Who knows what the future holds?

Categories: General

Creative X-Fi sound cards

August 7, 2008 2 comments

I have a Creative X-Fi in my computer at home. It is the Fatal1ty FPS model, one of the original 4 models that came out late 2005. I bought mine towards the end of 2006, and have only finally been able to make use of it earlier this year after my computer was built.

I wanted a proper sound card from the get go, for gaming and clear sound. Having worked with a ton of different onboard sound cards, and hearing the muddy and ineffective sound, I knew a dedicated card was my best bet. Creative was basically the only company offering a sound card for gaming, and that’s why I went with them. At the time, the Audigy Preluce didn’t exist, or I may have considered that card instead.

I kept reading the Creative forums, and noticed that there were many complaints about snapping, crackling and popping, otherwsie known as SCP. It initially seemed to be an issue with motherboards using the Nvidia Nforce 4 chipset, but eventually it appeared on other platforms as well. People tried every solution under the sun, but there wasn’t a proper fix to sort the issue out. Creative also didn’t help matters by appearing not to care, and having the drivers for Windows XP stagnate.

I used the drivers off the original CD, and then used the August 2006 drivers. Generally it ran fine, but I did unfortunately notice some SCP at times during desktop use, and in a few games, most notably Medal of Honour Pacific Assault. Other games ran crystal clear.

I tried using the drivers they released in Feb this year, but it had an issue where I would lose all my surround channels in “Game Mode”, so I reverted back to the older drivers. I recently downloaded their new drivers for end of July, along with the new Audio Console, and it seems to work well enough. I will have to test it on Medal of Honour again, and see if I get any SCP still. I have my card hooked up to my Sony 6.2 channel home theatre system, and I can easily notice SCP. I hate hearing it.

Based on what I’ve read on the forums, there’s a cautious thumbs up by the users for sound quality of the driver. There’s also the possibility that they may enable Dolby Digital Live on the series, for a small fee of US $5. Time will tell, but I’d be interested in that to help reduce cable clutter, though I’m not sure how it would work with EAX.

I think part of the sudden surge in drivers and development is due to a firestorm that broke out earlier this year when a user called daniel_k got taken to task for releasing modded Audigy drivers for Vista that actually worked, where Creative’s originals did not. There was a huge internet backlash, and perhaps that made the execs at Creative take note.

In a way, it’s sad to see the way that they have fallen, as once upon a time, Creative was the only name for performance sound cards and other devices. Some bad business decisions have cost them though, along with some stupid mistakes in how they work with their customers. I can only hope that they have learnt, and will try to make some sort of a recovery.

I will write another post soon about my experiences with EAX.