Author Archives: Phil

iTunes and 64bit support

A little update to my previous entry on purchasing a iPod Touch.

Apple surprised me by releasing a 64bit version of iTunes 7.6 with little or no fanfare on the 15th January 2008. I actually didn’t get the update until the following week and it was only by chance I noticed a 64bit version.

I’m very happy to say that I’ve been using 7.6 on my primary 64bit box and have been extremely happy with it, i’ve even moved over my iTunes music collection from my temporary home (a 32bit Windows 2000 installation in VMWare (thanks Josh for the tip)).

As I write this I’m still hunting down Album covers for music that iTunes can’t find and removing all duplicates from my library, but it’s fun 🙂

Ultimate No-Shows?

It’s been just over a year since Microsoft released Windows Vista to the public (30th January 2007) and Microsoft seem to have ignored the “optional features” that would be available to only Ultimate Edition owners.

To date three extras (Texas Hold’em Poker, Windows DreamScene and BitLocker/EFS, hardly inspiring or everyday wonderful extras) and a number of language packs have been released. The last extra, Windows DreamScene, being made available on the 14th March 2007, since then na-da, stuff all, absolutely nothing. Even the Windows Vista Ultimate site is lacking in any form of communications (news or blog posts) about the future of Ultimate Extras.

Long Zheng (a wonderfully witty Melbournian) posted on the 9th January 2008 a fabulous tongue-in-cheek post on this very subject but still Microsoft and the Windows Vista team remain quiet on the future of Ultimate Extras.  A few commenters to his blog posted their own suggestions as to what Microsoft could provide as Ultimate Extas (these are some of the ones I’d have liked to have seen):

  • HD-DVD playback software that supports the 360’s HD-DVD player (waste of time now?)
  • Advanced/More features for Windows Movie Maker
  • Multiple Desktops (Workspaces)
  • Sidebar/WPF version of MSN Messenger
  • TweakUI for Windows Vista
  • Sidebar integration of MediaPlayer (so it shows cover-art and other details in the sidebar)

Will we ever get anything more from Ultimate Extras, we can all believe that there will be but honestly I think (apologises to Monty Python) :

“The Ultimate Extras are no more! They has ceased to be! They’ve expired and gone to meet their developer! Bereft of development, Ultimate Extras rest in peace! “

iPod Touch and the ‘classic’ geek blunder

The most famous blunder of all time, according to Vizzini from the Princess Bride, is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” but the most famous blunder, I think, for a geek is not to research fully the geek tech they are going to buy.

I treated myself to an 16Gb iPod Touch yesterday, I’ve been meaning to get an iPod for a few years and being a user of iTunes at home for my music collection it was a logical step. The iPod Touch is a great little device, not too heavy and has a great screen but hey you already know that because “we” geeks have read all the reviews, and if lucky enough to have a nearby Apple Store we’ve had a play with one.

So late yesterday afternoon I took a spin down Pitt Street here in Sydney to Next Bytes (Apple Reseller) and purchased my iPod Touch, I even bought a nice silicon protector for it. I resisted the urge to open it and play with it on the trip home and ripped the packaging off once I was in front of my PC.

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Crysis Single Player Demo

The big gaming news this past weekend was the release of the Crysis demo by EA, Crysis has been the “next big thing” in PC gaming since it was first shown over a year ago. I was lucky enough to grab the single player demo, which weighed in as a hefty 1.7Gb, on Saturday afternoon. Sunday afternoon I installed the demo and spent an hour or so running through the jungle in the mission available.

I was very surprised to see after installation that Crysis is available in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions and whilst I’m sure the native 64 bit version does have benefits over the 32 bit version I don’t know what those benefits are at this time it’s just nice to have native 64 bit executable to run.

I really enjoyed playing Crysis, graphically its outstanding where BioShock was graphical champion for indoor and underwater action Crysis is going to be the outdoor champion. I only had my settings on medium but the whole environment looked fabulous.

One of the ‘cool features’ of Crysis is that the environment can be shot up and destroyed, not everything can but the trees can be shot and felled and buildings can be rammed with vehicles and fall apart as if they’re real, even bullet holes appear in walls when shot. Kudos to Crytek for the attention to detail that so many other games lack.

With the release of DirectX 10 a few months ago people have been wondering what difference it will make to gaming, BioShock did look a little better using DirectX 10 but Crysis appears almost lifelike running under DirectX 10.

Performance wise the game averaged 20 – 30 fps on medium settings for me. As my gaming system has dual 1900 series ATI graphics cards in CrossFire I would have expected better performance but I’m not even sure if CrossFire was working for Crysis and ATI haven’t released an updated driver for Crysis as of yet whereas Nvidia have in their 169.01 Beta drivers.

Overall I think Crysis is a very good game, I’m looking forward to buying the full version when it is released in a few weeks time….. which is just enough time to decide what upgrades I need in order to play the game at it’s maximum settings <evil grin>

 Edit: A pair of Nvida 8800GTX’s will be running in SLI tonight, wife not going to be happy. But dangnamit, we need more power!

Windows Vista 64-bit Drivers

November 2006 was when Windows Vista was RTM’d and I’ve been a very happy user of it since then, with one exception: 64-bit Hardware Drivers. I’m not the only one who has had issues but the responses I’ve gotten from the various companies I needed drivers from hasn’t been as positive as I’d have expected.

I took the opportunity prior to getting Windows Vista to update my hardware by replacing my processor and motherboard and filling all of the memory sockets for a total of 4Gb. My PC was ready for Windows Vista but what version would I install, I was going to install Windows Vista Ultimate but in 32 bit or 64 bit or flavours? (What is the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit? Have a read of Paul Thurrott’s excellent overview of the differences)

I decided install the 64 bit version and spent a happy couple of hours installing Windows Vista. At the end of the install process I was amazed to find all but three pieces of my hardware had been installed. I had full network access, sound and screen drivers without having to install third party drivers. When it came time to install my HP 2510 PSC Printer in Windows Vista I found that I could finally throw away the useless HP Software that I used to have to wade through just to install the network drivers for my printer.

Whilst I had a functioning system I really wanted to install the proper keyboard and mouse drivers, graphics card drivers and I really did need access to my SC101 that held my backups. So off I went in search of 64 bit drivers for all my hardware.

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