Friday, September 28, 2007

You know you're getting old....

..when you open the door to get out of your car, take the first step down, and when you stand up, you feel this sudden pain shooting up your back -_- This happened to me today right after lunch, and it basically immobilized me to my desk and bed for the entire day. This felt similar to the time I was down in Houston, and Velius, Ender, Tochi, and I were playing some touch football. Right after I threw a pass to Ender, the same sharp pain hit my back, and I was moving around pretty tenderly afterwards. Thankfully, I had saved some of those Icy Hot patches that I bought for my knee while in Seattle, and they did a decent job of relaxing my back. Hopefully some good sleep tonight'll make it go away (or I'll be confined to bed because I can't sit up -_-).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bug in Excel 2007

I figure I pass this along. Apparently there's a bug in Excel for certain multiplications. For example, when you do =850*77.1 you get 100000 instead of 65535. However, if you do reference that cell with that calculation, it works with it as 65535. Weird eh?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Guess you can't win them all....

Even though they're a still more football games yet to be played, one of my fantasy football teams is hopelessly behind at the point. It's almost funny how rediculous the score difference is, and usually if you score 100 points, that's a good week for most fantasy teams.

Needs more power!!!

I got up this morning with the intent of trying to take my S3 out to get some pictures taken, but unfortunately, right after I put in my batteries and turned on the camera, the LCD gave me the "Change Batteries" message -_- Right now I'm using these Energizer Recharable NiMH AA batteries, which I had charged about a week ago, but lately, they seem to be draining pretty quickly just from sitting on my desk. Does anyone else have any better rechargeable battery recommendations, or do I need to send these to Velius for some Powermax®?

Friday, September 21, 2007

World in Conflict Demo: XP vs Vista Performance

Yeah, I know you all are probably tired of reading all this stuff about WiC and benchmarks, but I promise, this will be the last post on this issue! Ever since hearing about Ender and Tochi having benchmark numbers at about 2x of what I had reported, I began thinking what could be causing it. Given that the game was CPU bound based on the benchmark, I could understand how Ender's numbers could be faster since he was running a dual-core cpu, but Tochi's laptop cpu is much closer to mine, yet he reported that his numbers were roughly 50% faster. So what could the difference be attributed to? The OS...

I still had my XP install available since I was dual-booting, so I gave WiC a run in XP to see if that had any difference on the performance. And the numbers were pretty interesting to say the least.

This chart pretty much tells the story. At "Very Low" and "Low" details, XP is pushing about 50-60% more frames compared to Vista, but there's a crossover at "Medium", and strangely enough once we get to the "High" details, Vista begins to take over as XP becomes OTL slow averaging 0 frames per second. Although I would never play at that setting, it was still interesting to note. As for the reason why XP struggles at higher details, I have no idea :P

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

World In Conflict Demo Benchmarks: Update 2

Since Ender had expressed some interest in World in Conflict, I went to take a look at the demo to get a sense of how the game would run (or not run) on my system. Fortunately, I was able to install and get to the startup screen without any issues (unlike with Bioshock), and I was sort of surprised to see in the graphics settings that there was a benchmark built in. So I figured since for the benefit (Catnipped, Tochi, and Ender currently) and amusement (Velius, Kabitzin, and Ender later) of everyone, I would compile some benchmark numbers to give everyone a sense of where their system stands.

"Minimum" System Requirements
• OS: Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
• CPU: Single-core 2.0 GHz or faster (2.2 GHz for Windows Vista™)
• CPU: Dual-core Any Intel® or AMD®
• RAM: 512 MB (1 GB for Windows Vista™)
• Graphics: 128 MB video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
(NVIDIA® GeForce® 4 MX, ATI® Radeon® 8500, 9200 not supported)
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible
• Hard Drive: 2.5 GB or more available hard drive space

"Recommended" System Reqiurements
• OS: Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
• CPU: 2.5 GHz or faster
• RAM: 1024 MB (1.5 GB for Windows Vista™)
• Graphics: 256 MB video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible

Kungfucius' System
• OS: Windows Vista™
• CPU: Athlon-64: 2800+ (1.8 GHz clock speed)
• RAM: 1.5 GB
• Graphics: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro w/128 MB of video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible

So with my system being a mix of the minimum and recommended requirements and some people having success running the game with lower than minimum settings, I figured I'd be able to run WiC reasonably with maybe mediumish detail at a medium (1024x768) resolution. In the graphics settings, there aren't that many things that you can adjust besides the resolution and amount of detail (ranging from "Very Low" to "Very High"), so there're only two variables in the benchmark results. The benchmark itself reminded me of the city map that a lot of us played with at PAX, with the focus mainly on some flying scenes, a tank scene, and lots and lots of explosions.

Here're the numbers that I crunched out. I ran the benchmark 3 times and took the result from the last run.

What's sort of interesting to note from these benchmarks (besides the fact that they're not very impressive) is that the frame rate in general seems independent of the resolution that I run in, which came as sort of a surprise to me since I had expected my graphics card to be the bottleneck, but the benchmark seems to show that my CPU is the likely culprit. One of the things you immediate notice about World in Conflict is the copious use of smoke everywhere after explosions, which looks very nice, but during those scenes, my system slows to a crawl -_-

As you can see from the in game graph, there are two parts in the benchmark where my system really slows. The first is near the beginning when a mini-nuke hits a part of the city, which illuminates everything in view and sends smoke and debris everywhere. The second is near the end of the benchmark where a few bombers basically artillery another section of the city for about 5 seconds, resulting in more smoke and mayhem.

So the moral of the story? If I'm gonna play World in Conflict, I'll probably be running it in "Very Low" details, which seems to turn off real-time shadows, reduces the texture details, and the models used look a bit less complicated. However, the smoke still looks pretty :P

Update: I played through the tutorial (since I pretty much had no idea what was going on or how to play when I was trying it out at PAX :P), and I'm thinking that the benchmark present more of a "worst case scenario" that you might run into while in WiC. At the medium detail setting, the game played pretty smoothly even during the artillery practice (which is awesome btw :) ).

Update 2: I just tried playing through the single player campaign on medium detail @ 1280x1024, and when the action starts to heat up and armies of tanks start exploding everywhere, my PC really begins to bog down, which hindered by soldier directing and camera movement. So it looks like I'm back to low (or very low) settings :P

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best MMORPG ever!!!!

See it here!

Bioshock demo says NO YUO!!!

While I was waiting for my simulations to run yesterday, I decided to download the Bioshock demo and see what it was all about. From looking at the requirements that Catnipped posted, I figured my PC would be able to run it, albeit probably at a pretty low resolution. After installing and starting it up, I quickly noticed one important piece of the interface was missing: the mouse pointer. This proved to be pretty frustrating as I had to guess on where the mouse pointer was based on menu option words being highlighted as my invisible mouse pointer would go over them. So with that, I managed to change the resolution from 1024x768 down to 640x480, but even at that resolution, the main menu screen was crawling like a slow slideshow, probably at around 10 frames per second. After searching around Google, I found that Bioshock on the PC requires you to have a graphics card that has a version 3.0 pixel shader, which my aging Radeon 9800 pro doesn't have -_- Ah well...I'm probably not gonna bother upgrading my graphics card since AGP is pretty much on its way out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Veggies are deadly...

Of course, we already knew that from BF2, but in Shoot 'Em Up, Clive Owen shows everyone that veggies can be deadly in the movies as well. When you go see this movie, put away any sense of common sense and just enjoy the ride as you'll watch Owen get out of almost every unimaginable situation without getting hurt at all with a lot of creative ingenuity. And yes, the guns fights get more and more ridiculous as the movie goes on, but you probably won't care because they're so awesome! The only thing you might roll your eyes over are the one-liners and the razor-thin plot, but hey, with a title like Shoot 'Em Up, who needs a plot when you have many many guns :P I wonder what the body count was by the end of the movie...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Out of shape :(

While Dragon and I were taking a water break during our tennis session today, Dragon suggested running suicides as an extra activity to exercise ourselves. For those who aren't familiar with how this works, here's a court diagram to help you visualize.

Starting at the sideline, you run and touch the alley line, the center line, the further alley line, and then the further sideline, but each time you touch these respective lines, you run back to the sideline you started at. I've done these back in tennis camp and during the tennis season in high school, so I figure hey, it should be a good workout. And to add to the level of difficulty, I told Dragon we should do this down all four courts that were next to each other.

So we line up at the sideline and start running. But by the time I get to the third line, my legs were already crying for me to slow down -_- I look over and David and his face had pretty much the same reaction as me. So after the third line, we both walk back up to the fence and were leaning over, huffing and puffing. During this time I'm thinking to myself wtf...I did these things so easily back in the day, and now I'm struggling just to get past one stupid court -_-

It's time to get off my butt and do some more cardio...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Steve Jobs wants my $$$

At a special event today dubbed "The Beat Goes On", Steve Jobs introduced a new set of iPods, but really, what he was doing is thinking of more ways to try and get Kungfucius' money. I admit I like playing around with the latest and greatest gadgets, and when the iPhone came out, I went to play with one at the local Apple store here at Easton, and it's a pretty awesome device with a well designed interface. However, the $499 and $599 prices were a bit much for my wallet, and most of the time, I'm pretty close to a PC if I need to access the net, and no one really calls me that much so my KRZR is way more than adequete. And just over the weekend when M was visiting, I took her to the Apple store to show her the iPhone, and she said she'd would think about getting it if it were priced lower, to which I responded that Apple almost never lowers their prices unless they had a new build of the product out. Steve must have been listening to me, and today during the special event which introduced a new line of iPods, he also mentions that the iPhone price will be cut by $200. So now, the 8 gig iPhone is priced at $399 while the 4 gig iPhone is being phased out (although, you can find it here for $299). tempting... -_-