IslandGamers-Technology And Gaming Info

December 31, 2006

Vista-Previous Version Copies and System Restore eat diskspace

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 10:10 am

diskcleanup.JPGSo, I just decided to do some system maintenance and scoped out the new Clean Up feature on my C: Drive. This feature scans the drive for common file categories such as Temporary Files, Office Setup Files, Hibernation File, Previous Windows Installations and more. It then tells you how much space each of these file types takes up and gives you the option of removing them or not. You can also go to the next tab from which you can decide to delete your Shadow copy and System Restore points, leaving only the single most recent point.

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December 29, 2006

Consoles – Xbox360 vs PS3 Graphics

Filed under: Sony PS3, Xbox360 — Ramajay @ 5:59 pm

Gamespot has an article on the differences between the Xbox360 and the PS3 for games which have both a 360 and a PS3 version. The games they tested were NFS:Carbon,Call of Duty 3,Madden,Marvel, NBA2K7,Fight Night,Tony Hawk and Tiger Woods.

 In all these photos it seems that the biggest difference in graphics quality is brightness. This I find to be quite ridiculous, couldn’t they have adjusted the brightness of the PS3 to match that of the Xbox360, or vice versa? Aside from one image always being brighter than the other there is functionally no difference in graphics between the consoles.

The 360 is able to put out almost the same graphics as the PS3 in all these games. There isn’t one in the bunch that you can point to and say that the PS3 version looks “Much better” when you remove the brightness level from the equation. In fact, in some cases the Xbox360 seems to handle HDR lighting a bit better.

Any perceived differences in graphic quality certainly don’t seem to be worth the 200US$ difference in price between the PS3 (US$600.00) and the Xbox360(US$400). If the cheaper system gives you the same graphics and gameplay as the more expensive machine…why do you need to purchase the more expensive machine?

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December 28, 2006

Vista – Integrated Search Feature

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 6:26 pm

search-bar.jpgMicrosoft introduced its Microsoft Search application for Windows XP some time ago. Competing with the Desktop Google Search, Microsoft’s Search indexed files on the user’s hard drive and allowed them to quickly locate files, documents, or emails from a single search box.

Enter Windows Vista. Buoyed by the success of Microsoft Search on the Windows XP platform, Vista incorprates this ‘advanced’ search system into the OS. Located on the Start Menu is a box marked, aptly, “Search”. As the user enters text, in real-time Vista first checks the user’s Start Menu then picks up files and documents from other indices on the user’s hard drive.

The system works well, especially when you end up with a packed Start Menu with over 20 programs installed. Quickly enter the first few letters of the program you wish to access and it appears in the left pane of the Start Menu. Now the application is just a quick click away.The user can add additional folders to the Search Index, and manually select a Folder to search for a particular file via the ever present right click context menu. The resulting Pop-Up search window gives the user access to a plethora of Advanced Search features, such as searching non-indexed content, all files, date ranges,meta tags,author etc.

Vista Advanced SearchThe inclusion of this updated Search facility in Vista adds excellent functionality out of the box and makes the Operating System easier to navigate for the average user. A savvy user can add tags to documents and quickly pull up a list of relevant files whenever necessary, similar to tagging and then displaying entries in a Blog. This far improved functionality hasn’t caused any noticeable delays or slowdowns in general use which is always a concern when an OS needs to index data in real-time. Microsoft seems to have gotten this right and finally joins Mac OSX with advanced integrated search functionality 🙂

December 27, 2006

Vista – Gaming not ready for primetime

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 10:10 pm

Vista has been promoted by Microsoft as a new era in PC Gaming. With a strong marketing surge, “Games For Windows” branded games have entered the market, with popular titles such as Company of Heroes sporting the new label. Microsoft plans to put kiosks filled with top Windows PC Games in EBGames and other similar stores throughout the world, similar to the way Xbox360 or PS3 games are marketed currently.

So with this renewed interest in the PC Gaming market to push Vista adoption you would think that gaming on Vista would be great. Well, maybe it will be but right now if you mostly play games on your PC then you should stay away from Vista, or definitely setup a Dual-Boot installation with Windows XP.  None of the graphics card manufacturers have managed to deliver fully functional drivers for the OS yet, although several incarnations have been available on the market, from RC1 right through to our latest Release to manufacturing version.

Nvidia’s official drivers are old RC1 beta drivers, and other more recent drivers can only be found ‘unofficially’ at enthusiast sites such as Guru3D . These drivers themselves are slower than their Windows XP counterparts, and currently the latest Vista version, 97.52, does not support SLI. So if you are accustomed running two 7800GTX graphics card in SLI mode under XP, under Vista you can only use a Single card in games and that card won’t perform as well under Vista as XP. The end result being much slower gaming performance under Vista at this point in time.

Another very strange issue with Nvidia is that none of the drivers support their brand spanking new DX10 card, the 8800 GTX or 8800GTS, under Vista. That’s right boys and girls, Nvidia’s “Made for Vista” graphics card, their flagship performer, doesn’t work under Vista. None of their drivers support it. The two DX10 games which were supposted to be available at launch of Vista to the public (January 30th) are delayed to , maybe, March or April 2007. This lends just a touch of credence to the claim that Microsoft has done so much to lock down high definition video content with DRM that it makes developing drivers for Vista very difficult.

I don’t have an ATI graphics card to test their performance currently under Vista, but they do have a Beta driver dated December 13th on their official website. Word on the net though is that the latest ATI drivers also do not support their dual-card Crossfire solution (ATI’s version of SLI mode) either and that there are problems with OpenGL software such as City of Villians or MAYA. ATI’s DirectX 10 card is not on the market, the R600 is supposed to appear sometime early next year.

The bottom line is that until graphics card manufacturers get final drivers out to the public Vista is a no-go for fast, high quality PC gaming at this pre-public release stage. And the manufacturers ATI and Nvidia seem to be having some difficulty getting their drivers to work under Vista, even at this late stage in the game.

Grab the Nvidia 97.52 pre-release drivers from Guru3D here

Get ATI’s latest Vista Beta drivers here

Vista- New dawn in Security

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 9:13 pm

An article on the BBC talks about Vista’s new security features and what they mean for the end user. The article addresses the constant battle between criminals and Microsoft, where the former are already hard at work porting trojans, backdoor applications and viruses to the new OS. None of the old Trojans,dialers and other malware work on the new OS, and there seems to be a race on since the release candidates have been out to ensure that nasty phishing schemes and trojans start functioning under Vista. Criminals have already posted a supposed vulnerability for sale, and other ‘proof of concept’ code strings have appeared in message forums dedicated to such activities.

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Xbox360 – Microsoft Wireless Racing Wheel

Filed under: Xbox360 — Ramajay @ 7:03 pm

I’ve been trying out the new Microsoft Wireless Racing Wheel. It’s a great product, but I’ve realised that perhaps racing wheels just aren’t for me. The wheel itself is well built, it appears to be quite sturdy and Microsoft has thought about everything that a gamer could possibly want in the product.

There are all the controller buttons, direction pad, paddle shifters,the foot pedals function as the Left and Right Triggers, a port for you to connect your Xbox Live headset to and the ability to either run it from the included DC Adapter, or via batteries through the anchor pack.

Perhaps this could be a first problem with the Wheel. It is described as ‘wireless’ but it really isn’t. Unlike the regular wireless controllers it’s impossible for the wheel to function in a truly wireless fashion. It must be connected by a cable to the foot pedal assembly. It would have been neat if that assembly was also wireless and just synched with the wheel, though I suppose this isn’t possible.

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December 26, 2006

Vista – UniveRSS 3D Rss Reader

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 10:19 am

Verdict : Gimmick.

This little program displays RSS feeds in ‘3d’. Each Feed becomes a little cube that floats in 3D Space. You maneuver around with your mouse, left mouse button moves you forward and back and the right mouse button handles up and down. When you click a cube another pretty window with rounded corners and a nice shiny look pops up with all the headlines from the feed.

Whee.

It’s slow, and much harder to use than a normal 2D interface for browsing feeds. 2D is almost always better than a full 3D environment for standard computing tasks. I really don’t *want* to fly around 3D space to find out what my CNN news headlines are. And I certainly don’t want to do it sluggishly.

You can find the UniveRSS program here

Vista – DirectX 10 Titles Delayed

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 8:46 am

Apparently the double whammy of the new programming methods with DirectX10, plus the draconian restrictions being placed on manufacturers for drivers and hardware has proven too much for many developers.

Users may find that there are absolutely no DirectX10 titles available at Vista’s launch. The much applauded Crytek’s Crysis has been delayed, and now Microsoft’s own Flight Simulator X has been delayed.

It should be noted that we have not yet seen SLI drivers for Vista, nor have we seen any drivers for the Direct X 10 based Nvidia 8800 cards for Vista.

I’ll be posting soon on some of the problems facing driver development due to Vista’s ‘content protection’ or ‘Trusted Computing’ features as soon as I get my head around the paper on the subject 🙂

December 25, 2006

Nokia – 8801 Experience

Filed under: Nokia — Ramajay @ 9:47 am

8801-center-top-zoom.jpgSo, Santa brought someone a sexy 8801 cell phone for christmas. The phone just screams luxury, from the all black box with the steel clip around it, to the soft velvet case and the all black, matte documentation Nokia went all out to let you know that this ain’t no ordinary cell phone.

The 8801 flicks upward at a gentle push of the upper portion of the phone to reveal the keypad. Lovely shiny black keys ensure that you will never be at a loss for what you are pressing..they feel great. Very tactile and easy to access with the usual one – handed – thumb method that most people use to operate their phones.

The phone’s finish is what grabs you…and the weight! The panels are stainless steel, so the phone has some heft to it. The steel panels fit together like the joins of a Lexus, given a precise feel and adding to the phone’s elegance. The shiny steel really makes it standout in a crowd! Fingerprints look like they will be an issue, but what’s a wipe now and again when you have something this cool!

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Vista – media player 11 taskbar docking

Filed under: Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 9:31 am

media-player-11-taskbar-docking.jpgWindows Media Player 11 has a neat feature that allows it to ‘dock’ to your taskbar. Perhaps other versions also had this, but it’s the first time I’m seeing/using this option.It makes switching between tracks and seeing the title and album of the song that’s playing quite easy.

The option pops up the first time you try to Minimise Windows Media Player 11. Just respond in the affirmative and the media player control will be added to your taskbar.

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