Doom Rediscovered

February 23, 2007

If you’ve been following my blog you already know I recently acquired a used IBM T60 laptop with Vista Ultimate. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you also know Vista keeps surpassing my expectations. Tonight I decided to test out a popular and “modern” PC game. I think everyone can agree that (at the time of this posting) Doom3 is a modern and popular game. It’s probably not the most sophisticated, but I don’t own a ‘gaming’ laptop I just want to see what the average gamer should expect. ..And, to be honest I just wanted to see if Vista would crash. Almost any game sent my old XP laptop straight to the Blue Screen of Death or into horribly jerky game play.

Now, I typically play video games while I’m waiting for long downloads and don’t want to be distracted. For example, I’m coding some software and I need to download an SDK. My mind is full of the code, and I don’t want to lose that. Playing a video game, for some reason, doesn’t disrupt that memory. In fact, if I don’t play a game I might get distracted and switch my focus to something else.

So to make this test realistic I opened a ton of other apps. One instance of Visual Studio, about 10 Internet Explorer windows, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, started a file download and tuned in some Eminem on Windows Media Center (it seemed like Doom3 material).

Then I clicked the little Doom3 icon and, to my amazement, I could play in high definition faster than my XBox plays Halo 2. And that was with all the software I listed above running in the background. To be honest, I don’t think Windows noticed Doom3 was running. I suspect my nifty FireGL card had something to do with it, and I’m sure my 3GB of 667Mhz SO-DIMM’s did help with those large texture maps…but seriously, this wasn’t an expensive laptop.

Anywayz, I love playing games again. Now I’ll never be bored or get distracted while I’m waiting for a download, compiler, etc. It’s nice being able to truly multitask, and it’s nice that my audio from Windows Media comes through during game play. I usually prefer listening to my music over the game’s soundtrack.

So, here’s a screenshot of some yummy Doom 3 carnage. Looking at the picture I chose made me wonder…Is this type of thing wrong to enjoy?

Turnpikes and toll roads are some of the jewels that litter the East Coast landscape. Today I found myself compelled to study the etymology of the word Turnpike. I figured there would be an interesting story behind it, and there was.

First I tried pulling the word apart in my mind, but the only pikes I knew of were those ill tempered fish with big teeth and Pike of Pikes Peak. I figured a Turnpike didn’t have anything to do with those, so I assumed it was simply more backwards Yankee New England gibberish and decided to Wiki it (I am a self proclaimed Wikiwhore).

Turns out Turnpike is simply an outmoded term for toll road, the word originates from a long stick (which they called a pike) that was held across the road which was raised or turned aside when the traveler paid the toll.

Modern turnpikes don’t use sticks, and they don’t turn anything. We use traffic gates, and they go up and down. Before EZ-Pass this made sense, but now I think the term turnpike has out lived its usefulness. It’s lingering in our vocabulary today only because somebody lacks the balls to suggest deprecating it.

Maybe I stand alone here on this one, but I think “toll road” is much more easily understood and recognized by a much larger percentage of the population.

I think they should change the name…OR BRING BACK THE STICKS!!!

For more reading on the wonder and majesty of Turnpikes checkout this link…

WiMo Vista Woes?

February 17, 2007

For a while now I’ve been using a Motorola Q Smartphone (they run that Windows Mobile thingy). I have a love-hate relationship with my phone, but I’ve been told this is healthy and normal. I might spend most my time on the device playing old Nintendo games while I’m standing in lines…but it makes me smile 🙂

A great Smartphone perk is having all your photos, audio, calendar, email, etc. ‘synced’ on your phone (kindof like an iPod). No, it doesn’t talk to iTunes, Microsoft has their own software. Until recently everybody synced their phones and PDAs using ActiveSync. Recently Vista’s Windows Mobile Device Center replaced the aging ActiveSync. Having just recently moved to Vista I was excited to try out the new upgrade.

I plugged my Q into my laptop and… … … NOTHING! Instead of being greeted by a successful chirp and Sync NOTHING HAPPENED!!! I was outraged (I hate it when they waste my time with new bugs in old functionality).

Finally around 2am I figured out what went wrong. It turns out Vista wouldn’t talk to my phone because it wasn’t initiating the conversation. My phone didn’t have a Sync “partnership” with my Vista laptop.

I found success by…

1) Opening ActiveSync on my phone.
2) Going to Options then Settings and deleting the partnership listed there.
3) Rebooting the phone and plugging it into the laptop.

This caused Vista to see the phone and create a new partnership.

Since getting Vista in the mood to Sync took so much charming I decided to blog about my experience in the hope that I might save some other poor sucker from suffering the same miserable experience.

If you’re not a WiMo user I apologize for what I’m sure was a boring blog entry…but this needed to be said!


February 11, 2007

I just made ANOTHER impulsive purchase…or did I? I was just playing around in Media Player when I decided to click that obviously tempting Urge button. A few keystrokes later I had 14 days of unlimited download without entering a credit card. …Thanks Vista! It was swell being able to download any music I wanted…well, almost any music. The Beetles aren’t up for download, but almost everything else is.

So, I wonder if the DRM on these will kill my tunes after 14 days? I’ll blog nasty if that happens. Right now I’m going to ignore the fine print and enjoy all the unlimited music I can.

Revision: I used this service until it expired, then I made sure URGE didn’t hit me with any fees before I signed up for a $9.99 per month account. I’m still happy three six months later.

These are some examples of what music navigation is like in Vista and with Media Player 11.

My main problem with people who review Vista is that they’re idiots…and usually penguin lovers. Stevie Vaughan-Nichols for instance is a SENIOR editor for Ziff Davis. He is also a complete idiot and a disgusting penguin lover. All he does is bash Vista by making untrue statements. You’d think he’d just visit Microsoft’s site, or Wikipedia, and read about features before he writes articles. …Apparently that’s not how penguin lovers think. The truth be damned, all bow down to the holy Penguin.

Here’s an example, this is a direct quote from one of his latest articles…

“You see, with SuperFetch you can a USB 2.0-based flash drive as a fetch buffer between your RAM and your hard disk. Let me spell that out for you. Vista will put part of your running application on a device that can be kicked off, knocked out, or that your dog can carry away as a chew toy. Do you see the problem here? Me too!” – Stevie Vaughan-Nichols


Stevie, who claims to be an expert on all operating systems, doesn’t seem to know anything about Vista, SuperFetch or ReadyBoost. Maybe he couldn’t get it loaded on his mom’s Pentium (I hear most Ziff Davis employees live with their mothers). …Maybe he was upset that he couldn’t get it on 5.25″ floppy format? …Maybe he gave up trying to jam the DVD into his 5.25″ floppy drive? Maybe he was upset by the lack of penguin bestiality in Vista, who knows. Ziff Davis will hire anyone. They don’t care what they write and they can lie all they want about their background.

What really got me was that he didn’t even know the names of the technology — SuperFetch is totally different then ReadyBoost. …Either Stevie got a little confused or he’s just a really confused guy. SuperFetch is simply a feature in Vista that works like a really smart memory manager. SuperFetch is so intelligent it will memorize how you use your computer and load programs into virtual memory before you run programs. It works WITH ReadyBoost, but it’s a different animal. There’s a huge difference there, Stevie glazed right over it.

Let’s say you always check your email at 7am, then again ever hour until 6pm, and once again around 1am before you head off to bed. SuperFetch will figure this out and automatically load your email program into memory BEFORE you go to check your email. All you need to know is that this makes the programs you use often load much faster.

ReadyBoost is used to store files on a USB Flash drive as a supplement to hard disk cache, similarly to how RAM is used. However, despite what this so called ‘expert’ says, when the USB Flash drive is removed (hopefully to be thrown at a penguin lover) Vista automatically switches back to using the hard drive cache seamlessly.

I read about this nifty feature a while ago on Channel9 (I love Channel 9). Some guy named Michael Fortin, a “Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft” dishes the details. Even after Mike’s excellent video I was skeptical, so I had to try it out myself.

Those following my blog know that I am on a quest to crash Vista. Towards that end I decided to launch a few apps before my ReadyBoost trial. First I kicked off a backup to DVD, this is one of my favorite Vista features, and usually writing DVD’s consumes a decent amount of CPU, RAM and virtual memory. Next I turned on one of my favorite radio streams and opened a ton of Internet Explorer instances. Then I decided to play dirty; I launched a hard drive defrag. >:)

With all those programs running I smiled to myself, convinced that I would bring Vista to her knees. I turned on ReadyBoost, waited 15 minutes to let it soak up memory, then grinned and unplugged it. …Nothing happened. Well, my system did beep when the USB device was removed, but nothing unusual happened. I sat there plugging the flash drive in and pulling it out without effecting Vista at all. It was kindof fun watching my sidebar CPU monitoring gadget bounce around when the system switched to using the Flash drive, but I failed to crash Vista or cause any serious problems. After 15 minutes I gave up, I was worried I’d do damage to my USB slot.
I discovered that the CPU gets hammered a bit more with ReadyBoost. This makes sense since Vista has a lot more work to do with ReadyBoost, but my Core Duo was never in any real danger. I didn’t see a real overall system performance benefit from ReadyBoost, but that didn’t surprise me. My USB drive is *very* old and slow. I had already been told that I wouldn’t see a big difference without about 1GB of high-speed memory on the USB Flash drive. However, I’ve been recently been reading online that ReadyBoost makes a huge difference for users running 512MB of RAM under Vista. So apparently this feature is even more handy for those of you struggling to meet the modern hardware requirements in Vista.

I should mention that SuperFetch used in conjunction with ReadyBoost is part of what makes Vista perform common tasks more quickly. I’m not sure I’ve used my new Vista laptop long enough, or consistently enough, for SuperFetch to pick up on my habits. And while I presume Vista will transfer your information to ReadyBoost based on historical SuperFetch information, I don’t really know if this is the case. I’m looking forward to studying these technologies more thoroughly, and I’ll try to keep this article updated as I learn more.

So, I’m a little depressed that I failed to crash Vista but at least I had fun trying. 😉

Legal disclaimer: I have no proof that Stevie is into bestiality. His perverted looking yellow grin and penguin like figure could simply be a good argument for exercise and regular dental care. For all I know he could be one of the many closet Vista users who quickly switch to Linux when someone walks into the room…I hear their numbers are growing. Maybe someday, when Microsoft fans are loved and accepted, these people will have the strength to come out of the closet. Until then…