Time to play?

(October 29, 2007)

After a few rather uneventful years, this autumn is a very hot season for PC gamers, with some very long awaited (and hyped!) first-person shooters coming out or having come out. The multiplayer folks will get their share with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Unreal Tournament 3 and Team Fortress 2, but I don’t care about them. I play singleplayer games only, so BioShock, Crysis and the rest of Valve’s Orange Box (namely Portal and the complete Half-Life 2 saga, including Episode One and Episode Two) are much more interesting to me. I purchased The Orange Box and played the demo versions of BioShock and Crysis, and unfortunately, I have to say that I’m not as happy as I expected to be.
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Quo vadis, Apple?

(September 15, 2007)

Once upon a time, there was a magnificent computer hardware and software company that revolutionized the computing world two times in a row. That was 1977 and 1984. This manufacturer continued to improve on its once-revolutionary products, but faced some problems in the mid-90s. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, it was back with full force and started a revolution once again, this time in a niche of the consumer electronics market. This turned out so well that the company lately even dropped the term “computer” from its name – which is quite ironic, because the quality, usability and innovativity of all the products dropped significantly since then, only the computer hardware is still on par with the competition.
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How not to make a new version of a product

(September 5, 2007)

If you think that I’m now going to write about the new iPod models, you’re wrong. Even though they would perfectly fit the headline, I think that everything that can be said about them has already been said already said elsewhere, so I’ll sum it up as follows: fat nano – ugly; touch – between the chairs; classic – couldn’t care less.
No, this article is about another product that was launched today: Paint Shop Pro X2. I absolutely love Paint Shop Pro, it’s my favorite image editing application. But since Corel took it over, quality seems to decrease steadily :(
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Yep, it’s true.

(August 28, 2007)

The discovery of the consequences of Windows Vista’s so-called “Multimedia Class Scheduling Service” (MMCSS) is one of today’s big topics in all the computer news gazettes. I just verified the problem myself, and what can I say? It’s true! :)

I booted Vista, started a large (multi-gigabyte) FTP transfer via Gigabit Ethernet and played an MP3 file at the same time, and here’s what the Task Manager showed me:

I have to admit that the first part of the graph isn’t as nice and smooth as Mark Russinovich’s one, but I think that’s because I tested using a real disk-to-disk FTP transfer instead of artificially generated network traffic. However, the sudden decrease of network activity just as I pushed the “play” button in WinAMP can clearly be seen. While audio was playing, I got a quite steady 12% figure in the network graph.
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The Evoke 2007 Live Report

(August 10, 2007)

It’s again time for Evoke, and since Evoke features the best (read: most frequently working) Internet connection, I’m again able to write a live report. So, if you read these lines before Monday, August 13, 2007, watch out for updates :)
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nVidia driver bug?

(July 8, 2007)

While testing my current work-in-progress demo on my brand-new Vista-powered and GeForce-8-equipped laptop, I noticed some really strange rendering glitches. Since this was the only machine where the bug occured, so I thought it would be some bug in my code that caused incompatibilities with that particular driver version for that particular chip revision or perhaps Vista. However, a friend had the very same problem on a GeForce 7 card, Windows XP and a much older driver than the one I use on my main development PC, which has a nVidia card, too. This meant that the problem needed some serious debugging :)
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The art of shuffling music

(May 11, 2007)

Everyone knows and loves it: The »shuffle« function that is included in every disc- or memory-based music player. If you don’t feel like chosing your »playlist of the day« when you want to listen to your music, you just turn on the shuffle mode and off you go with the finest collection of all tracks on your CD or MiniDisc or hard disk or flash chip. This feature is so popular that a certain computer manufacturer once successfully introduced a MP3 player that was actually based on the shuffle option.

However, there’s something wrong with virtually every shuffle implementation: It’s random.
I can already hear you saying »He gotta be kidding! Randomness is what shuffling is all about!« Well, you’re right. Mostly. The problem with conventional shuffle algorithms is that they are too random. They lack fairness and uniform distribution.
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Ubuntu 7.04 »Feisty Fawn«

(April 20, 2007)

The long-awaited release of the new Ubuntu version, 7.04 alias »Feisty Fawn«, was done today as scheduled. Just after work, I downloaded my copy (rather slowly, just 100 KB/sec, even though I used BitTorrent) and installed it into my Linux playground partition. Here’s what I noticed.
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Breakpoint 2007

(April 6, 2007)

It’s easter again, so it’s again time for world’s biggest demoscene-only party: Breakpoint. No need to mention that Kakiarts was again present at this awesome event.
As with the Evoke 2006 report, this one will be a »live« report. So I’m appending content to this entry during the party.
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Antenna improvisation

(March 31, 2007)

When I wanted to watch an episode of The A-Team in TV today, I was surprised by a black screen instead of Hannibal Smith and B.A. Baracus. What happened? At first, I thought the TV software couldn’t cope with the graphics driver I updated today to get a specific game working (we’re talking about Windows here, as you might have guessed :). I became skeptical when the same problem happened to another TV viewing program and even the Linux-based external DVB-T tuner box I have. Something has been wrong with my antenna feed.

Long story short, it turned out to be (most likely) a power outage in the attic where the antenna amplifier is located. For reason’s I’m not going to discuss here, there was no way to fix the problem in time, so I had to live without TV for a day – which would not have been a problem, if it hadn’t been for the boxing match between Henry Maske and Virgil Hill tonight. I really wanted to see this, but since there was no way to make the antenna system working again, I resigned. I phoned my father at home to have him record the fight, and while we were at it, he gave some tips on how to temporarily solve the problem. You know, stuff like »use some uninsulated wire«. Since I don’t have any uninsulated wire in my apartment, I tried the other suggestion: Use the antenna cable and put a screwdriver into it (this works because the center of the plug has a little hole in it). To my great surprise, this actually worked! After some experimentation, I found that the optimal position of this »poor man’s antenna« is close to the window. So I fiddled around a bit and hung the weird construction somehow into the window blinds. The whole thing works like a charm and now I can watch Maske’s (supposed) comeback fight in perfect quality even though the antenna feed is broken.