The Haus

Thursday, August 17, 2000


Just upgraded my work PC from a Gateway P3-450 to a Dell Dimension XPS P3-700. Folks, something is seriously borked in either the current Dell Mobos, or in Windows 98 Second Edition, because my old P450 was a HECK of a lot better, faster, and more stable machine overall than my mew P3-700. Overall, we purchased like 5 of these new Dell machines, and EVERY SINGLE ONE is unstable as heck, crashes, lockups, you name it. Ick. I hope they get a BIOS upgrade out soon to fix this crud, I've always really liked Dell machines and recommended them to those who could afford them. This machine could change my mind on that policy . . .

Netscape 4.75 released

Netscape has released Netscape Navigator 4.75 over on their FTP site. Enjoy the incremental upgrade. If IE keeps wiping my work machine, I may have to switch there just 'cuze I can't stand watching the EXACT SAME GPF happen every time I close IE5.5.

Agenda Is On My Agenda

Agenda Computing has announced the Agenda VR3, a Linux-based PDA. Target date is October. It's rumored that the prices will start around $150. This is very slick. Check it out!

A.T. Hun comments: Now THIS one seems to have some potential. I'm sure the "runs on Linux" tag will sell some all by itself. I like the fact that it can beam to PalmOS devices. Of course, I already have a PDA (my Visor Deluxe) that seems to be able to do everything that this one will . . .

New Go!Zilla

My copy of Go!Zilla made a sound I hadn't heard before today. After my heart went back to beating normally, I read the message saying that Go!Zilla 3.9 is available for download. Go!Zilla is a handy file downloading utility that will allow you to restart stalled downloads, automatically search for mirrors, and much more. I can even get it to dial my ISP again and restart the download if I get disconnected (which happens all too often). Highly recommended, especially for us poor modem-bound folks.

More Aureal News

Vortex of Sound has more news on the attempted sale of Aureal's technology. It seems that Guillemot and Creative got into a bit of a bidding war so Creative's bid shot up to US$21 million. The creditors better be careful that they don't end up asking for too much and have one or both companies drop out. The sad thing is that it seems that Aureal's primary asset is the pending lawsuit vs. Creative. Thanks loonyboi.

Obi-Wan Interview

Computer Gaming Online posted an interview with LucasArts' Stephen Shaw about his upcoming shooter (slasher?) Episode I: Obi-Wan. He tries to explain the lightsaber controls, but I think it's going to be one of those things you have to try to understand. The interviewer also quotes him as referring to "iron grenades" but I wonder if he really said "ion grenades". We shall see. Thanks Blue.

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Aureal Update

The Vortex of Sound is reporting that the major suitor for Aureal's 3D sound technology is still Guillemot (who offered US$8 million). However, Creative Labs has put in a bid at US$11 million, if Aureal agrees to drop their lawsuits. I honestly hope that Guillemot wins and can actually do something with the technology. Creative Labs is a great company, but they need someone to keep them honest in the 3D audio world. Thanks loonyboi.

Get'cher VAX--And Hurry!

Compaq has announced that that they are retiring the VAX 4000, MicroVAX 3100-88, and MicroVAX 3100-98. If you read J.t.Qbe's VAX articles (here, here, and here) and want to try it out on one of these machines, get your order in by September 30! Thanks Slashdot.

Pondering the Imponderable

The FedEx guy stopped back a second time yesterday and I got my replacement Visor Deluxe. I immediately slapped a screen protector on before I scratched this one up at all. To my amazement, when I ran the benchmark I got 158%! My old one usually got 97%. I skimmed through some of the articles on the Visor Central forums only to find out that I should have been getting 158% all along! Apparently there was more wrong with my old one than the fact that it ate batteries. Once again, kudos to Handspring for getting my replacement to me so quickly. I don't expect things to be perfect, but I do expect that companies will work quickly to correct things when they aren't. It's nice to see that Handspring is one of those companies. And no, they didn't pay me a red cent to say that.

UPDATE! 11:30 P.M. Upon further review, the benchmarking problem appears to be the fault of the Afterburner Hack. What I didn't know is that some settings are not reset to the defaults when you disable Afterburner. As a result, I was unwittingly removing some of the optimizations that Handspring made to the Visor.

If you are a sports freak like I am (Heaven help you), then do yourself a favor and check out Nick Bakay is the man behind the "Tale of the Tape" segments on ESPN and is also the voice behind Norbert on The Angry Beavers on Nickelodeon.

M$ Stinger

CNet has put up an interview with Ben Waldman, M$ V.P.: Mobile Services Group, regarding their new "Stinger" cell phone/PDA/cuisinart/whatever. I'm glad that interviews like this exist, because it proves that M$ really is as arrogant and utterly clueless as many claim. Here's a nice clip on why he feels PalmOS devices are so popular:
You know, Palm has brainwashed people for so many years. They've told people, "Well, it's all the things it can do--the's very simple and that's all you can do."

And we show these devices to people and they're just taken away. You can have rich, great color screens and you can browse the Web.

(Palm's) whole "simple" thing is so self-serving. When you think about last year, color wasn't part of simple. (They) didn't want to do color. Now all of the sudden color is included in simple because they can do a color device.
Words fail me. Tell me, is there anyone so profoundly stupid that they would like a cell phone running WinCE or, God forbid, Internet Explorer? Shoot me now. Unfortunately the interviewer didn't have the guts to throw any hardball questions at him, so he is allowed to give his marketing spiel without even so much as a squeak. Barf. Thanks Ars Technica, I think.

The Master comments: What interests me is the standard corporate mindset this implies Microsoft has. They have the "we can do no evil" attitude, which ironically makes them blind to exactly the same situation they erronously accuse Palm of. Microsoft has for years downplayed the usfulness of features in competitive products that they do not posess, and when they finally add them, make a big deal about it like it's the latest and greatest. I'd go on, but I'm sure J.T. can do a much more articulate rant than me on this subject :-)

J.t.Qbe comments: Rather than calling it the M$ "Stinger", it should be called the M$ "Spork"--it tries to do everything, but does nothing well ("spork" is the name of my Win95 box here at work). The beauty of the Palm devices IS the simplicity--they're information appliances, not PC clones. Color is nice, but I have no need (or desire) for a color handheld with 16 MB RAM and M$ (qr)applications which drain the batteries in an hour, and all for the bargain price of $400++. If I want to browse the web, I'll use my PC. Ditto for word processing and heavy gaming. Otherwise, I just need my little Visor with my book list, shopping list, calendar, phone list, and of course, Solarwars. As usual, M$ misses the point and tries to do it all to drive out the competition.

Wiretapping Law Curtailed

According to this article, a Federal judge struck down portions of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which would have greatly increased the amount of information and the ease of getting that information via wiretapping and other technologies for law enforcement. This is perhaps the most interesting bit for computer-types:
One of the most controversial--and ambiguous--pieces of the proposed regulations has dealt with how much information a law enforcement agency can extract from "packet switched" information such as email, Internet voice calls or other Net data transmissions.

The FCC had proposed giving the FBI and other authorities access to this information even when relatively little evidence had been presented that a target was involved in a crime . . .

Privacy groups argued that giving law enforcement access to the packets without getting a full judge's order could open individuals to privacy violations by police and be an expansion of existing wiretap laws. The court agreed, saying that police must get a court order to win access to Net packets instead of simply allowing a prosecutor or law enforcement agency to ask carriers for the access.
I assume this means that the FBI won't just be able to stroll into an ISP and demand that Carnivore be placed online. Forcing law enforcement to get a court order is A Good Thing, and will prevent abuse. Good thing this judge had more common sense than the FCC. Thanks Ars Technica

Ask Hook: Industry Frustration

VE has posted a new edition of Ask (Brian) Hook. In this episode, Hook helps talk a fellow programmer down from going postal due to on-the-job stress. No, this wasn't sent in by The Master. Granted, he is about to go postal, but he doesn't work for a gaming company.

The Master comments: LOL-actually, most of the times I've really wanted to go postal, it had to do with my Bank or my ISP, thankfully not my job. Course, there ARE those days...

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