Technology analysis of the latest gadgets, consoles, and computer architectures.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Wow...last post was more than a month ago. I'm sure by now no one checks this blog :P

Anyways, just wanted to quote Gmail on it goes:

A Gobble approach to email.

In 1621, a few hundred Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The feast lasted three days, and included fowl, venison, fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, and plums. There was no pumpkin pie, however. There was also an alarming lack of user-friendly webmail services.

Now, 383 years later, it's once again time to celebrate what has come to be known as Thanksgiving—a time to gather with family and friends and give thanks for all that we have. We have many things to be thankful for. But mostly, we are thankful for you—our users—who remind us of why we work so hard all year and why we love what we do. That's better than all the dried fruit and clams in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for making our approach to email yours.

Gobble gobble,
The Gmail Team

Thursday, October 14, 2004

WOW...Intel finally admitted to its mistake with the Pentium 4 and, in particular, clock speed scaling with the Prescott chips to improve performance. The article mentioned that Intel plans to de-emphasize clock speed and focus on improving other parts of the chip, including adding cache and using dual-core configuration next year. We've already started to notice the change through Intel's decision to use model numbers for their chips, and now it is official.

There is also a mention that Intel does plan to port the low-power and efficient Athlon-clone (aka Pentium M) to the desktop. Code-named Merom, the release of this desktop chip will finally bring Intel in line with AMD and is a good direction for the desktop processor industry.

Monday, October 11, 2004

OK, quick post: this is an article that I've had open in Opera for too long now, and since I have to start closing down some tab, here it is.

AMD has recently added engineers from the Sun UltraSparc V line, since Sun has decided to only focus on development for UltraSparc IV and x86 processors, etc. That, in addition to engineers from Digital Equipment's Alpha group, will make a formidable team to continue making efficient, powerful, and price competitive processors. Read more here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Open Source - How Should It Shape the Computer Industry

A big topic in the computing world lately has to do with open source licensing. What should be open sourced, and what should remain copyrighted? The BSD license is different from the GPL in that it allows source code to be used in a commercial product; this seems reasonable because otherwise the entire software industry will move towards services. We're seeing that already with Red Hat, IBM, and other Linux-based companies, but we're also seeing companies like Sun and Novell who clearly make it known that proprietary technology will remain a large part of their business, and that the open source community can work with the business world to create products, not just services.

I would agree with the way the BSD license works, since it does allow for innovation beyond the base product. Bill Gates makes a point by saying that there will still be complex tasks that would be best accomplished in an open source environment (the video can be seen here). In the end, however, business will determine whether these BSD-based products will have enough contributions beyond the base product to have a value.

Jonathan Schwartz also argues in his blog that although Sun open sources some of its software (OpenOffice/StarOffice), software patents are necessary to incent "inventors to invent, and investors to invest". He does mention that there is a difference between open standards and open source, and that is where things get a little hazy. I would like to believe that open source software pushes for standards in areas where the standard is too complex to document (i.e. an operating system), and by commoditising software by creating an open source derivative of something a standard is essentially created. Open source is just a subset of open standards, so I am not implying that commercial software or support cannot be created around open source or open standards.

I guess we'll see how things pan out in the future of the software industry. We are already seeing two sides form, one based on services and the other integrating open source products in commercial goods. For the industry to remain as large as it has been these past few years, this mix is necessary.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Dual Processor Motherboard...CPU and a Graphics Chip?

ISA, PCI, AGP, and PCI Express all have one thing in common: they are bus interfaces that allow you to extend the capability of your motherboard through add-ons such as a graphics and sound system, network connectivity, etc. We've already seen built-in sound and network systems, and basic integrated graphics. However, the graphics system is second only to the CPU in terms of power and performance, and is very relavent to the speed of the computer. The system bus is constantly improving to accomodate for the bandwidth demand of the graphics card. So why isn't such an important component an actual part of the motherboard? Just like we can choose a CPU and replace it when an upgrade is due, why can't we just pop out a graphics chip and replace it with a newer one?

I will admit that many of the newer motherboards are crowded enough as it is, but integrating the graphics chip into the motherboard, along with its own set of memory, would eliminate the bottleneck of the PCI bus (assuming the graphics chip is connected through HyperTransport or a similar technology) and make the graphics system a more regular and cost-effecient upgrade. All that would have to be replaced is the graphics chip; no board or memory to increase the cost.

Although a nice solution, there are a few negative aspects to consider.

- First of all, if the graphics chip ever changed in size, the motherboard would have to be replaced. However, if this method was ever adopted, the lifespan of the graphics architecture would be about the same as the CPU, so an upgrade should entitle some sort of processor upgrade as well.
- This option would be a limiting factor for people with older systems. AGP has been around for at least 5 years, a lot longer than a typical upgrade.
- The graphics interconnect system would be limited to the technologies present on the motherboard. On current graphics cards, the speeds between the graphics chip and the memory are typically "the latest and greatest". I believe some graphics cards use DDR2 and have a 1 GHz bus, which may be about right for current PC's, but using a graphics chip on an older motherboard would limit the graphics system.

From a technology standpoint, having the graphics chip on-board would be a more efficient solution overall. However, the positive aspects have to outweigh any negative ones, and in this case, the race is close. I guess we'll see what happens in the future, especially when Intel comes up with a solution similar to HyperTransport.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Looks like the online music industry is moving in the right's music store now offers a choice in bitrate. When you purchase a song, you can choose whether you want to download a 256 kbps or 128 kbps version of the song. It's WMA so 256 is as high as you can before you hit lossless. The prices are also pretty reasonable; although most songs seem to be $.99 each, it was only $7.99 for the Skindred album. Unfortunately, not all of the songs are available at 256 kbps yet, so I'll have to hold off for now. Of course, the selection is limited to mostly popular artists, so it's hard to find some independent bands. With the number of available songs increasing and bitrate approaching lossless, soon we will be closer to a viable CD replacement. Next up: offering album inserts, CD art, and 5-channel audio.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Hello all! I'm just blogging from Illinois. I meant to see Strike Anywhere live, but traffic prevented us from doing so. Guess it's alright...having fun at my friend Keto's place drinking and stuff. Hopefully one day I'll be able to see Strike Anywhere live again...we'll see what happens. Gotta go...later.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Two Computers in One

At the Intel Developer Forum last week, Intel demonstrated dual-core chips incorporating the Itanium (Montecito) and the Pentium M (Napa) architecture. The Itanium system demonstrated contained 4 dual-core chips using HyperThreading, which appeared as 16 processors on the task manager in Itanium Windows (crazy, huh!). However, Itanium incorporates a new architecture that breaks away from x86, so don't expect to be using a desktop with an Itanium CPU for years to come.

I am particularly anticipating the arrival of the Pentium M dual-core chip, code-name Napa. The Pentium M architecture, designed by a team in Israel, is similar to the Athlon chips in that, instead of focusing on clock speeds, improvements to other parts of the chip are done to enhance performance. It is an excellent mobile chip that is very competitive with both Intel and AMD desktop offerings, and its lower power consumption makes it ideal in a dual-core setting.

I'm not writing this article to tout Intel's next generation of chips; AMD announced and demonstrated a dual-core chip of their own a couple of weeks ago. Since the Athlon64 architecture includes HyperTransport and the on-board memory controller, it has been designed from ground-up to support dual-core processors. I can't wait to read about all of these chips and the performance we will see out of them when they arrive sometime in 2005 (hopefully).

But there is one more remark I would like to make about Intel. Last fall, Intel announced a work-in-progress called Vanderpool. Vanderpool is a chip technology that will allow you to use one processor to run multiple operating system. With dual-core processors coming out next year, it would make sense to incorporate such a technology into these chips. Just imagine being able to run both FreeBSD and Linux (or Windows) on the same machine at the same time. With a multi-monitor and keyboard/mouse configuration, you could be playing a game on one core and watching a movie on the other without much impact on either tasks.

I can't wait for Vanderpool to be introduced into the PC market. With a technology like that, I think I might have to jump back to the Intel camp, or AMD will definately have to take advantage of their cross-license agreement, if possible. One other note I wanted to make about Vanderpool is how Intel could use it to gain market share with Itanium. Itanium has been slow to catch on due to high costs and limited software availability. Since Intel has already announced their plans for dual-core Itanium, it would be pretty cool to see a dual-core Itanium-Pentium chip. With Vanderpool, Intel will be able to vouch the ability to run native Itanium and native Pentium applications. Although both cores cannot be combined, it would be a good entry-level product to get people to start using Itanium. I guess we'll see what Intel decides to pull out of its sleeve in the coming years.

Love You Computer_Viren_Hacker_Kultur

Reverse engineering software to create computer viruses has always been looked down upon by companies and users alike, but rarely do we take a moment and look at how amazing viruses are. A convention, originally held in Frankfort, Germany in 2002, is being held this year in the U.S. and Denmark. People will be able to infect disconnected computers to watch a virus propogate and play a game to see the large scale effects of them. If anyone wants to head over to Brown University this month, I'm down...the event started September 11 and will end October 4.
100 MBits/Sec for $80/month? Why isn't this an option in Madison...

Monday, August 02, 2004

Well, I've been busy this past week, mainly with work and finishing up what I need to for my classes before my trip to Egypt/Jordan. I will be leaving tomorrow morning, and will return around August 27.

Here are some articles I meant to post links to but haven't till now:

Homeland Security protecting Bill Gates

"Big Brother Awards are now held as an annual event in 17 countries. Each event typically focuses on privacy violations in the host country.

But Privacy International opted to make an exception this year by including in the U.K. awards a U.S. initiative, US-Visit. This security program requires that most foreign visitors traveling to the United States on a visa have their index fingers digitally scanned and a digital photograph taken, so that immigration officers can verify their identity before the visitors are allowed entry into the United States."

Free Speech Zone at the Democratic National Convention is full of cameras and surrounded by barbed wire.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Articles for the Early Afternoon Time

Introducing the iPod London toilet guide - The Register

"Developed by digital media firm Nykris for reasons probably best known to themselves, pPod is a multimedia toilet guide that combines written reviews and hilariously appropriate sound tracks (Handel's Water Music, for instance) to help people find the "loveliest" facility in their vicinity.

Just what the world was waiting for."

And in other news...RealNetworks breaks Apple's hold on iPod

Months ago, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser attempted to meet with Steve Jobs to discuss opening up the Fairplay DRM License used with files purchased on the iTunes music store and the iPod. However, the plan was a failure when Steve made it clear that he was not interested in opening up the iPod. Apple has previously stated that the reason for the iTunes music store to exist was to sell iPods and that the music store cannot generate enough revenue on its own. Even though the Real Music Store will also help sell iPods by supporting them, Apple refuses to budge.

Looks like the tables have turned...persistence is a virtue. RealNetworks announced today that they are working on a Helix DRM-extension called Harmony. This software allows the RealNetworks Music Store AAC files to be ported to any device regardless of format, whether the device uses iTunes-based AAC Fairplay or Windows Media. In comparison to iTunes and the WMA-based music stores, RealNetworks already offers great features through its music store. In particular, I actually wouldn't mind paying $.99 a song for 192 kbit AAC files vs. 128 kbit iTunes AAC or 128 kbit WMA. I would definately start buying albums online if the songs were encoded with lossless compression (such as FLAC...might as well give LiveDownloads credit for leading the way) and, since I still like purchasing groups of songs called "albums", the album cover and insert in pdf format.

Anyways, looks like RealNetworks, in terms of services and base software and codecs, is heading in the right direction. Real Player will start to fade away in the coming years as the Real-supported Helix open-source player becomes more popular. In addition, the RealPlayer video codec remains competitive with WMV and Divx, and Helix DRM seems to be the way to go, thanks to support with multiple formats and potential porting to different operating systems and devices.

Good Luck Real!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Quick Post - Just wanted to upload my current desktop scheme for fun. My desktop background is from the Anime series Fullmetal Alchemist. The skin I'm currently using in Trillian is Microscopic Pro 2.0, with the Brushed Metal theme, and Trillian is set to change my windows to Black and White when they aren't focused. I'm currently using Taskbar Activate to hide the taskbar completely. Check it out:

Monday, July 19, 2004

Come on Baby, run Linspire...

After continuous legal battles throughout the world, Microsoft got what it wanted...Lindows has now officially become Linspire. Although Michael Robertson gave up after being very determined that Lindows was here to stay, it is probably the smartest move for the company. Partially to make the Lindows people happy, and partially to replace the original Lindows Flash animation, a new Linspire animation was created, based on The Door's "Light my Fire".

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Just thought I'd post about the LAN party this past weekend, mainly to read some comments on how people thought it went. It took a lot out of everyone to set up all of the computers, and I have yet to finish cleaning up and return the tables to my room. I was pretty stressed out Friday night, and I hate hearing complaints from everyone; I tried, but I'm sorry I can't make everyone happy. Luckily by Saturday things went a lot more smoothly (not counting the occasional power outage). We will have to watch the appliance usage closely next time; I'll have to post signs through the apartment or something.

It would have been nice to have more time for gaming, but we had a good balance between drinking soda and sitting outside and playing games on our computers. Even though I thought the "human vs. bots" games were enjoyable for everyone, and challenging enough, I know one thing we didn't do much of was team-based Battlefield and UT. Hope you guys weren't too disappointed with that.

Anyways, I'd like to hear what you all think (even though my hunch is that they're all going to be negative comments based on the topics I outlined). If you feel that I did a crappy job "preparing", let me know what I should have done to get ready. I believe there's always going to be obstacles, but overall this apartment was the best place for the lan, and this past lan party turned out to be a lot of fun.
AT&T is setting up the powerline broadband infrastructure that could offer WiFi in our neighborhoods. By pumping 13 mbps through the power grid onto WiFi repeaters located on light posts, up to 3 mbps is offered for each trial customer. Read more here.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Are you ready to take the Google challenge? Solve an equation and you've completed the first step in the hiring process to work for Google.

Instead of just posting a "Now Hiring" sign, a Billboard found in Silicon Valley contains a URL composed of the first 10 prime digits in e. Part of the human resources function can now be completed through solving a mathematical problem floating on the web. Read more at
Josh Sutinen just sent me a link to an mp3 on the DamagedGoodz server. It's a Bud Light radio ad presenting Real Men of Genius - Mr. Company Computer Guy. "You are the guru of the gigabyte, the monster of the memory...without you, computers would megabyte...the countless hours we spend surfing the internet and accidentally stumbling upon porn sites would instead be spent working."
Here's an interesting image I thought I'd do a quick post on. I was searching for benchmarks between FreeBSD, Linux, and Windows, and found an arabic forum. Although I can't read anything on the page, I found this image and laughed.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Guess that's how I feel when the government can conclude that I'm a terrorist based on what I read. I'm glad 1984 is a novel I've finally started reading, and I totally agree that the "power of its admonitions...seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time."

Oh, and I just love the fact that the GOP delayed the vote 20 minutes while they convinced 10 Republicans to change their vote. Fuckin' Congressional POSERS!!!

OK, I don't usually converse like this but it was the only way to convey the same feeling :(

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Heh, guess it's been a while since my last post. I've been busy with classes, work, and setting up and playing with my new computer. Moving up from a 450 MHz Pentium III, I sure do notice a difference in performance. To paint a picture, I've gone from 100% CPU when browsing the web with Opera and an average of 5 pages open and listening to music on Winamp to 25 - 50% with an average of 10 pages open on Opera and listening to music with Milkdrop. It is really nice to be able to max out settings in Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1280 x 960 and still have smooth gameplay. In response to a great bundle deal I participated in for my motherboard and CPU, I was able to save quiet a bit and still get an amazing system. There was a slight change in my original plans, but overall I am happy with this setup. The following are the final specs for those of you who are interested:

Asus K8V SE Deluxe - This motherbaord wasn't the MSI K8N I was so excited about, but it performs well. It incorporates a VIA chipset and has the typical features of today's motherbaords, including Gigabit ethernet, support for RAID and SATA, and 6 channel audio. I had a little bit of trouble with getting the Windows XP Setup to detect my Serial ATA drive, and unfortunately I cannot say that I was successful. It would not accept any of the drivers I was throwing at it (after pressing F6 for custom "SCSI" drivers); I even attempted to alter the txtsetup.oem files for both a VIA and Promise driver set I tried, but received the same error: (Will update later with the actual error message). If anyone knows what was wrong please post a comment about it. Luckily I found out why my partition clone didn't work (I was using a temporary 30 GB hard drive until I received the new one) and everything is fine now.

Athlon 64 3200+ - I was in for a surprise when I received this CPU; the 3200+ I received was actually one of the newer ones with 512 KB of cache but a 200 MHz faster CPU. I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes, and I know that most of the enthusiasts on Anandtech would be really bothered by this, but I don't really need the bragging rights associated to 1024 KB cache and I don't plan to overclock, so I am content with a 2.2 GHz 3200+. Before I found this bundle deal, I was planning on getting a 3000+ anyways, since the only difference between the two was going to be 512 KB vs. 1024 KB cache, so I'm not much for complaining.

In terms of temperature for both the MB and CPU, here are my results based on Asus Probe 2.0:

CPU: 35 C with Cool N Quiet, ~50 C running UT2k4
MB: 40 C typical, jumps to around 45 with UT2k4

I currently have a fan on top and in the back of the case. I may have to customize the case a little because the top fan has to go through two grates.

MGE G-Box 8011 - I'm afraid I didn't end up purchasing any of the cases that I mentioned on my previous post. It took me a long time but I finally got to the point when I had finally ordered everything but the case and had to make a decision. Overall, I was very happy with it. The G-Box is a very nice looking case and very solid. I love the top USB and audio ports; unfortunately, I have to add some shielding to the audio connector because there's interference from components in the case. I didn't care too much for the power supply since I purchased my own anyways, and although I didn't want anything to flashy at first, this case did not come with any LEDs, which may have to be remedied the next time I feel like like playing with the exterior. Anyways, here is a image of the case...visit the Newegg page for more.

Fortron 400W FSP400-PFN Power Supply - I looked at many reviews for midrange PSUs and came to the conclusion that this was the one to look for. It is a quiet power supply that performed very well against more expensive competitors and provided enough wattage in the +3 and +5 range for AMD CPUs...more can be read at The rail voltages for a PC with a 3200+, Asus mb, DVD burner and CD drive, and 9800 Pro are as follows:

+3.3 V : 3.312 V
+5 V : 4.999 V
+12 V : 11.584 V

The +12 V is a little low, but considering the devices I have plugged in I'm not holding anything against the was a $60 power supply after all. These voltages are stable and were recorded from the Asus Probe 2.0. The only thing the +12 V rail will limit me with at this point is overclocking, which I'm not too concerned about right now. I need to concentrate on a little more cooling first.

Other Components - My 1 GB of Kingston ValueRAM seems to be doing fine. Since it is at CAS 3.0 I may have to try overclocking it a little and see how low I can take it, but I'm not too concerned. The Serial-ATA hard drive is noticably faster; even without enough reboots for XP to optimize boot time, it has started up around 5-10 seconds faster, and load time for most applications has improved, including UT. Of course, I didn't forget to mention that I am extremely happy with my ATI 9800 Pro 128 MB, and I got an excellent deal on it. I haven't yet had a chance to mess with a high performance NVidia card, and I would love to see what kind of features the driver offers, but I will have to hold off until my next upgrade.

Hmm...4 AM again. Just a few more things to copy over and install on this computer and I can finally take down my old computer for good. I have it plugged into my other monitor and I know it's just begging for attention. Maybe I'll give it one last run soon before I wipe it clean and try to make it into a media center PC for my parents.

Happy 4th all...I'll be sure to put my game on for the celebration.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Here's a news article worth mentioning: "Hotmail to offer 250MB of free storage"

It just makes me laugh...thanks to Google, both Yahoo and Microsoft have responded by adding significantly more space to normail mail accounts. Just imagine what things would be like without Google...inferior search engines, less innovation, incredibly small mail storage space, or in other words, less competition. Read more here.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Here are some articles I found that I wanted to mention a couple of days ago:

Sony XYZ 3D Car GPS System - Well, the title is self-explanatory...just take a look at these images.

It really does look like a PS2 game!

Here's how it looks on the dash. Check out the Wired article here

DualDisc - "It’s not a CD. It’s not a DVD. It’s both. It’s a DualDisc." Basically, you've got a CD on one side and a DVD on the other. Sounds like it's here to speed up the progression from CD to DVD audio while minimizing cost; hey, it works for me. I can still listen to the cd with a normal stereo and get better sound quality and 5.1 channels on a DVD player. Read more here.

Google Gmail: Spook Heaven - As a current user of gmail (newsletters only, for now), I don't mind the method that it presents advertisements to me; when I read emails, Google scans them and presents relevant ads according to certain words in the text. No harm in that; I mean, I get a nice, clean interface and tons of space. The problem arises when the legal system comes into play. Google's advertising system gets challenged and is proven legal, and then the government would have more of a reason to build in filters in routers and ISPs to scan for certain words and have a right to read emails. Yes, I'm sure this already happens, but the large-scale image is what we're afraid of.

"Simply put, if a computer programmed by people learns the contents of a communication, and takes action based on what it learns, it invades privacy...Fundamentally, we should treat automated searches of contents as what they are: tools used by humans to find out more about what humans are doing, and provide that information to other humans. At least until the computers take over."

Click here to read more.

There were a couple of other articles that I was going to write about, but I can't find them at the moment, so I may choose to edit this page at a future date. Of course, feel free to leave comments.
I've been looking at power supplies for several days now, and I have to say that it is a difficult and somewhat tedious task; searching for reviews that accurately measure the performance of PSUs that I find on and sorting through many pointless customer reviews on their site isn't exactly fun. I will admit that I am looking for a power supply at a reasonable price (around $50); it would have been much easier to suck it up and pay $100+ for an Antec or Enermax, or just live with the crappy 350W PSU that is bundled with the case.

However, I think I have found a match: the Thermaltake Silent PurePower 420W TT420-APD PSU (with an Active PFC). It seems to be an improved version of the same PSU, with the main advertised difference being the Active PFC. This feature is supposed to increase the overall power efficiency of the power supply, which should reduce heat while providing the same amount of power. The actual terminology refers to power factor, which is used by electric companies to minimize cost in distributing power to businesses. Read more here. This PSU can be found for $50 at

Monday, June 14, 2004

You know, Wisconsin has one of the most democratic Senators in the nation (Feingold) and one of the most republican Congressional Representatives (Sensenbrenner). While Feingold openly critizes the Patriot Act and was the only senator to vote against it, the Patriot Act II, or the "Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement Act of 2003", is making its way through Congress, and was introduced by Sensenbrenner. This ammendum to the original Patriot Act allows the FBI to induce penalties for public revelations of FBI demands and expands the government's surveillance powers. Another piece of disturbing news is that they may try to slip this bill in with the Intelligence Authorization Act, skipping review and possible changes to the bill. For more information, check out this Wired news article for more information.
I can't help but create a post about this: Starz Movies has finally released their Movie-on-Demand service with Real! An announcement about this service came about a year or two ago, and I've been silently waiting for it to arrive. Basically, you pay the same price as you would to your Cable or Satellite provider ($12.95 per month) and get access to "over 100 movies" on your PC; you can download and watch as many as you want, and it sounds like you can keep them on your computer as long as you want (assuming you continue to pay the monthly fee). It is definately better than paying for the Cable/Satellite version, unless you already have Starz-on-Demand through the cable company or you like to watch movies as they appear on the channels.

It's the best legal movie download solution I've heard of; you don't have to pay a fee for each movie you want to watch, and you can watch them as much as you want. It also works on up to 3 computers. The only limitation is the movie catalog, but Starz usually picks up some of the best movies (next to HBO) including Disney/Pixar, Sony Pictures, etc. I may have to try it out during my August trip to Egypt/Jordan, since we won't be paying for Satellite that month anyways.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I let time fly a little too quickly sometimes...if only I had the Dagger of Time. Anyways, I was browsing PC cases today and found a couple that struck my eye. Keep in mind that I am avoiding anything bland, too flashy (like all of those "gaming" cases), and huge. I only got as far as the $60 cases at, so I apologize if I miseed any of the expensive beauties out there.

Evercase ECE1290 Slim Case - This case has one of the coolest form factors and most slick look I've seen for a PC. This mid-size tower is so slim it could pose as a desktop PC. If the power supply maximum wasn't so low (240 W) and space weren't so limiting (1 - 5.25 drive, 1 - hidden 3.25 drive bay) this case would definately be an option. Maybe one day this will make a great auxilary LAN PC when power consumption is lower and I have money to spend on slim components. This case is available at for around $45.

Evercase ECE4292 ATX Tower - Here is an Evercase tower I would seriously consider purchasing. I found this while looking at the other cases Evercase had to offer. It has plenty of space for my devices, a detachable cage for the hard drives, has an easy to remove side door, and is designed to provide proper ventilation for the latest computers. The webpage also includes an extensive list of options for the case, including a side-window and FPIO board for USB/audio ports. For black, this case costs around $50 at

Codegen 6065/6066 ATX Mid Tower - This case struck my attention because it was one of the best looking cases for its price (around $30 at The primary features I like about this case is that it has a nice looking side-window and I love the fact that the "front" usb ports were placed at the side of the front panel; it makes for even easier access than the normal bottom-of-the-front-panel configuration. It is a nice and roomy case, but even the manufacturer's site doesn't give too many details concerning the design, and it doesn't seem as optimized for thermal situations as it could be.

There were another few Codegen cases that seemed pretty cool; in particular, take a look at these 3 cases.

The third case, even with only one 5.25 drive bay, has a cool style, fitting that drive bay vertically and having an LCD read-out display on the other side.

Chenbro PC61319 Mid Tower Case - Finally, this was one of the first cases that really caught my attention and brought me to visiting the manufacturer's site. (Although at this point, after having seen the other Codegen and Evercase cases, I'm not sure what I'll go with yet.) I really like the style of the front panel, and the case itself looks pretty cool. There isn't a side-window, but I've already emailed the company asking if such an option exists. It has a detachable drive cage and seems to have a good thermal management system; it also seems to have plenty of room for expandability. This case was priced around $40 at

Considering I would like to purchase the parts for my computer within the next two weeks, deciding on a case, although not nearly as important as internal components, will take me quite a while. I was impressed with the options Evercase provided me, but Codegen and Chenbro have some good looking cases that I will have to consider. Feel free to provide comments below on any of these cases or links to cases that may fit my tastes.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Well, here's my first post about an upcoming Intel-based motherboard, but I couldn't help it. The DFI LANParty 925X-T2 enthusiast board has all the goodies, including PCI-Express, DDR2, and even 2 Gigabit ethernet ports...take a look.

It's going to be a couple of months before we see PCI-Express solutions with AMD systems, since the new chipsets are still under development. If only I could wait till the end of the summer to build my new PC, but each day I'm realizing more and more that a new computer is necessary for my survival :)

I must say that I may have to upgrade my PC next year to include these new technologies. We'll see how it all unfolds the second-half of 2004.
Oh man, check out this Quad Opteron motherboard with PCI-X:

That's just beautiful, ain't it?!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Well, it's been a long time since I've updated this post. I was out of town and touch with my computer for the week after exams, and then I got caught up into work and setting up my FreeBSD machine (more on that in another post).

In the meantime, I wasn't able to exchange my DI-514 router at Best Buy (I don't want to RMA!!) and AMD finally released the new Socket 939 chips (A64 3500+, 3800+, FX-53, etc.)! I spent a some time reading about them yesterday, but nothing much has changed; after all, the only differences between the 939 and the 754 chips are a double instead of a single channel memory controller and the 200 MHz HyperTransport upgrade, which brings the bus speeds to 1 GHz. In the Intel or Athlon XP world, this would be a big change, but with the integrated memory controller in A64 it accounts for a slight change, depending on the type of benchmark (see the FX-51 939 and 754 in action). Since the FX chips were previously limited to the 940 workstation and server socket architecture, the FX-53's move from buffered to unbuffered memory produced a larger difference.

In addition, the same chipsets are being used; the Nvidia nForce3-250 and the Via K8T800Pro. Both of these are second-generation chips, but the Nvidia chipset has a working PCI/AGP lock, which accounts for a much better overclocking experience.

Anyways, considering how soon I would like to be able to purchase and put together my computer, I won't be waiting around and paying premium prices for the 939 Athlon64s; besides, it doesn't seem like PCI Express will be supported until August or later.

Now, to unveal the candidate for Chief's Next Generation Computing Initiative (NGCI):

MSI K8N Neo Platinum Motherboard (read review)
- This mb features the latest and greatest Nvidia nForce3-250Gb chipset, supporting gigabit ethernet and an on-chip firewall.
- The motherboard's features include 8-channel audio, 4 usb 2.0 ports (with support for up to 8) and 1 firewire port, Serial-ATA and RAID support, and 3 DDR-400 slots for up to 2 GB of RAM.
- There are a plethora of overclocking options with this motherboard, as seen on the second page of the review.
- The only real limitation I've noticed is the support for only 2 GB of RAM (yes, only). There exist other Socket 754 Athlon64 motherboards that can support up to 3 GB, but usually with sacrifice to DDR speed. The only way I can jump into the realm of 4 GB of RAM would be to buy into the latest 939 socket motherboards (see above for why that won't be an option).
- Finally, this review of the latest nForce250 chipset motherboard demonstrates the power of the MSI motherboard. In the benchmarks, the MSI mb can be seen about average to near the top, and at the top for many near the end of the review.

Athlon 64 3200+
- 1 MB L2 Cache, 2.0 GHz with 800 MHz HyperTransport (i.e. bus)
- Isn't it amazing that a 2 GHz Athlon with the AMD64 architecture is rated a 3200+ while an Athlon XP with the same clock speed is rated a 2400+ :p

2 - 512 MB PC3200 DDR RAM
- I won't be getting HyperX or OCZ memory for my computer. In fact, I've already purchased some ValueRAM for a really good deal (around $80 per stick) from The timings for these sticks are CL3 or 3-4-4, which is slow compared to the 2-2-3 I can get with a premium stick. However, looking at benchmark results found here for a similar 3200+ system with CL2, 2.5, and 3 timings, I decided that there would be no reason for me to spend the extra $140* total for the premium sticks, as the performance difference on an Athlon64 system is close to none.
- "We were duly impressed by the Athlon 64 FX-51's scores, which maintained its ranking no matter what kind of memory it was given. This steadfastness is largely due to the integrated memory controller." Tom's Hardware Guide

* This price was calculated using current Kingston prices for HyperX and ValueRAM.

This is where my computer plans get a little hazy.

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128?
- This is a very good graphics card, and it will largely depend on the cost whether I will opt for this one or go higher/lower. I may also choose a similar All in Wonder counterpart.
- It is not my intention to consider NVidia at the moment; although they are catching up with the latest generation of graphics cards, I do not plan on spending $400+ for one.

Nu-Tech DDW-082 8X DVD +/-RW
- I already have this drive, but I plan on moving it to my new PC so I might as well mention it. It achieved Anandtech's Editor's choice in the following review and I've only run into an incompatibility issue with my cheap DVD-R media, which I hope will be fixed in the next firmware update.

New hard drive?
- I may also choose to buy a 120/160 GB hard drive as I can find Western Digital and Maxtor drives at these sizes for around $100 with manufacturer warranty.

Some Kind of Case and Power Supply...
- I have begun looking, but still have a lot more surfing to do before I can make a decision.

Wow, you actually made it to the end of my post. I'm tired and you must be thorougly tired and bored by now as well, but if you would like to leave a comment in response to the newest AMD chips or my current PC plans please feel free. I'm out.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

So much for the notion that one graphics card is enough for your computer...Alienware is developing a motherboard that will use an Intel-based chipset to allow the use of dual graphics cards in a system. In particular, the two graphics cards will work in parallel, a technology being named Video Array, to "offer between 50 to 90 percent more performance than a single graphics card." Almost double the performance of the ATI X800 XT...mmm, 200+ fps without breaking a sweat. That's just crazy talk...
More development on Sony and IBM's Cell chip: Both companies plan on releasing workstations based on the chip to help assist in multimedia and game creation. Considering how well companies are taking IBM's main computer chip (PowerPC will be found on XBOX 2, the chips can be found in some routers, Macs, etc.), the cell chip that has been years in the making is anticipated to be quite amazing. The ExtremeHack article also suggested that it could help movie creators quickly move characters over to games if the system is used for both such tasks. Sounds like it has potential...we'll just have to see what's to come. Maybe my next system will be based on the Cell processor :p
I just have to say that Opera RULES! The latest version (7.50) is out and UW-Madison owns a site-license now, so I can legally obtain the non-ad version. Although I haven't used it much since I've upgraded, I have already noticed a speed increase (even on my slow computer). One thing I didn't like was the Hotlist change, which only closed part of the panel when F4 is pressed, but I was able to customize the keyboard shortcut to my liking. I know many of you are IE fans, but for real websurfers, you must migrate away from the simple built-in standard browser that comes with Windows (which only serves the purpose of displaying the Windows Update site) to adopt a flexible, fast, easy to use browser.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Just noticed my friend ae2k posted a picture about me and a link to this site, so I should probably post my regards for the visitors he's sending over. That picture was taken in September? during a party of mine in Madison. My roommates thought it would be cool, and of course I wasn't going to refuse; the reason they went along with it was because I was going to install Microsoft Office on their computer for them :p (campus license of course...don't get mad at me Microsoft!)
OK, I finally have a little time to post something here. Damn work and finals...just hate them so much. Anyways, I have to catch up on my tech news and stuff, but I might as well mention that I picked up a computer at SWAP (UW-Madison's surplus store) and will be setting up linux on it. I purchased two linux books in the past two weeks; one is a Pocket Guide for command reference, etc, and the second is a 1500 page book from 1995. Hope to play around with it soon; I just have one more final to deal with on Wednesday.

On a side note, I picked up a Maxi-Switch multimedia keyboard along with this computer; it actually has Altec Lansing speakers and a microphone. I couldn't help but purchase it because it was $3 (the same price as their regular keyboards), and it actually sounds pretty good. My roommate and I may purchase the rest of the lot to place along the walls in our room to create a "surround sound experience".

Monday, May 03, 2004

Hello everyone *hears echo*...just thought I'd post somewhat often, especially while this blog thing is new to me. I am currently trying to do some homework, but I needed to listen to some music, so RantRadio Industrial was the answer (hands down). Anyhow, I saw their request for bandwidth aid and started thinking...wouldn't it be cool to be able to do to shoutcast what has been done with BitTorrent? I did some research and found a possible solution: PeerCast. I'll have to try it out sometime, but it seems like many popular formats are supported (mp3, ogg, nsv, etc.). It sounds like a great solution, as long as upload bandwidth use can be limited...using a lot of upload bandwidth really slows down an internet connection, and in my case my other 3 roommates would notice as well. Luckily, NetLimiter does wonders for me with limiting upload bandwidth (don't worry, I still share plenty). If anyone gets a chance to PeerCast, please leave a comment below with your input.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Dammit...why isn't it time for AMD to release their new chip architecture, the socket 939s? I really want to start putting together the parts for my next computer, but I have this obsession with getting at least some of the new technologies coming out this year; in particular, PCI Express.

Ever since I've owned a PC (8+ years) I've never had a fast computer. In fact, throughout high school I used a 133 Mhz Pentium and a 400 Mhz AMD laptop (this was when AMD chips competed primarily with Celerons). Near the end of high school, I was able to purchase my friend's 450 Mhz P3 from him when he built a new computer, and that's what I continue to use. Since then, processors have been jumping in speeds and I'm still behind the times with my Pentium 3 IBM PC. Considering this will be my first official PC upgrade/purchase, I want to make is worthwhile, and of course I'm going to make it last (considering my current PC lifespan).

Anyways, I've made my decision on an Athlon64, which is an amazing chip. HyperTransport, the interconnection between external components to the CPU along with other CPUs, is a much better way to manage bus speeds than the typical FSB, since AMD can more effectively bring up these speeds when they are needed. The on-die memory controller also brings a large benefit to the table since RAM no longer has to be limited by slow bus speeds. More information about the general Hammer architecture can be found here. I also cannot wait to play around with x86-64 computing; 64-bit Windows should be out by the summer and linux variants are already available, so I'll be dual-booting with at least 32-bit Windows, and I'll have to try out compiling code in linux.

The main upgrade for the 939-pin Athlon64 is the 128-bit memory controller vs. the 64-bit version currently found in the chip. If motherboard manufacturers would release PCI Express for the current Socket 754 models, I would certainly buy a 754. The 939s are going to be expensive when they come out in a month or so, and the motherboards that are going to support them will follow in the same sort of price schedule. I guess in a way I am also obsessed with getting this computer to last a while, but I can't help it; it's not very often that I get to buy a new computer. If I can get an Athlon64 motherboard with PCI Express, PCI, and AGP supported, gigabit ethernet, and 7.1 channel sound (DDR-2 won't be released in a while and will be really expensive anyways), I will be ready to purchase the parts for and build my new computer.
All I have to say right now is that Google is Sweet!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Wanna know what's been in my mind periodically, and basically brought out the urge to create this? Online Music Stores. Sorry, I know it's a boring topic by now, but I just want to say something about them. First of all, peer-to-peer file sharing does not necessarily take away from any potential album sales. Most of the people who downloaded mp3s were not going to purchase the albums anyways because the money wasn't around to do so. I suppose once services like the original Napster became popular it may have cut into a minimal amount of sales, but before the mp3 revolution, most people would either make a cassette, cd, or mp3 copy of the songs they wanted anyways...aka "Fair Use".

Anyways, online music stores will only make a small appeal to people who do not buy albums often; instead of focusing on these limited sales, these music stores should be trying to gain some of the diehard audience. Making consumers pay for compressed inferior audio is wrong! The next generation medium, also known as the Internet, should not be an excuse to sell subpar quality music, even if it is "CD quality". I would understand this being a download option for slow connections, but lossless compression is the way to go. Audio quality should be getting better as technology progresses, and I refuse to sink a lot of money into something that is inferior to CD audio. (I will admit: I have paid for emusic a couple of times, but $10 for 40 songs is a bit different, and it's 224 kbps average LAME VBR.) I will continue to purchase CD albums online and at real music stores until something reasonable is available.

On a side note, it would also be cool if the music stores distributed the CD cover and album art and booklets in PDF.

Considering that Real Networks is going downhill (in one way or another), lossless is something they should embrace to take the market away from Apple and Microsoft allies. The current Real Networks online music store (not Rhapsody) offers 192 kbit AAC, which is nice, but not quite there yet.

Alright, I didn't just create a's a lie. I mean, if this is real, no one's gonna read it anyways, so it doesn't exist.

And since no one's gonna read this, I'd like to say that corporate America sucks. Not only is money reserved for a select few, but companies like to keep things proprietary using blood-sucking patents and copyrights, slowing the progression of technology (which pisses me off the most). Despite this, I'm gonna ramble about what I want to see in the current and future computing technology world (I can no longer contain my urge to speak!). Maybe I'll get people to agree with me and contribute their own could only hope that eventually (and soon) we will see these ideas unfold*.

*Sorry for that lame had to go somewhere.