What's the first I did upon hearing the numbers for ATI's new HD Radeon 5870 graphics card? I scrambled for benchmarks, because that's the one thing an announcement and subsequent review of a smokin' new piece of hardware can do for a rabid enthusiast: inspire.
It's been a while since I've actually sat down and crunched the numbers for my killer custom PC (that's killer as in legendary, not NICs). I'm not lazy. Rather, I don't have access to the expensive system benchmarks that magazines and Web sites typically use to analyze the all the new hardware that comes out. I don't have all-in-one benchmarks like PCMark Vantage, GPU-punishing titles like Crysis, and--worst of all--preconfigured demo runs for any number of titles that would help ensure the validity and repeatability of the delivered scores.
In short, I have nothing. You might not have nothing, but odds are good that you are similarly ill-equipped to benchmark your graphics card (and any tweaks or modifications you make) in the style of a professional review. Nothing... until now.
This week's freeware roundup will show you five different games that you can use to punish your poor graphics card into frames-per-second submission. They might cost a grand total of zero dollars, but these tests are repeatable and easy to use--the perfect combination of characteristics for aspiring benchmarkers who might not want to get their hands dirty, but still want some kind of way to determine exactly how powerful their graphics card really is.
According to Taylor Wimberly of AndroidAndMe.com, uber popular Android hacker who goes by the name of Cyanogen managed to ruffle some feathers over at Google. From the sound of things, the search giant is none too pleased with Cyanogen distributing their closed source Android apps (Market, Talk, Gmail, YouTube, and others) with his third-party CyanogenMod ROM.
Going by the chat log Wimberly posted on his site, Google has issued a cease and desist letter to Cyanogen, who laments that "CyanogenMod is probably going to be dead." It would be a shame if it came to that, as CyanogenMod is probably the most popular third-party Android ROM out there, and is actively being developed, somewhat of a rarity in the Android ROM community whose only compensation is user donations.
But all might not be lost. Cyanogen said he has opened up a dialog with Google.
"My argument is that I only develop for Google-experience devices which are already licensed for these apps," said Cyanogen. "So we'll see what they say. Maybe we can work something out."
So do we. Otherwise, this could be a blow to the entire Android ROM community, not just Cyanogen.
It's so hip and fresh. Open-source singlehandedly represents the latest and greatest thinking in the modern-day technological movement. Drop it into a conversation and you're suddenly talking like a futurist. Throw it into a company's strategic roadmap and suddenly we've created innovation and depth. Suggest that virus-makers are embracing open-source, and you've got the attention (and clicks) of Web geeks worldwide.
Wait a minute. Open-source viruses? How does that work?
Do you hate Adobe AIR? I sometimes do. While the applications based on Adobe's framework can be pretty neat to use, there's something about their similar look and shared frameworks, not to mention features, that just can just drive me up the wall. Plus, every new Adobe AIR-based application has to be installed and run through Adobe AIR itself. While it's a handy way to make sure that you're running the most up-to-date version of the application, the Adobe AIR platform isn't very conducive to portable use. Actually, you can't stick AIR-based applications on a USB key and run them at all--the host computer would still need Adobe AIR for these apps to function.
That's but one minor complaint about the AIR platform. There are more, but this week's freeware roundup isn't intended to be a slam on these Adobe apps. Rather, I'll be taking a look at some of Adobe AIR's more popular applications and offering up unique freeware alternatives that don't require use of the AIR platform to work. Not all of the listed applications will support portable use out-of-the-box, but you can use the popular Mojopac Free program to store and access all of these apps on any USB device of your choosing.
Put your trigger-finger on the uninstaller button for Adobe AIR, then click the jump!
Remember when T-Mobile's G1 was being billed as a potential iPhone killer? Powered by Google's Android platform, the open-source mobile OS was supposed to usher in the end of the iPhone OS era, and who knows, maybe someday it still will. But it won't be on the G1 (otherwise known as the HTC Dream), the chunky alternative that misses the mark of mobile greatness. But while the G1 might leave a lot to be desired out of the box, power users who aren't afraid to take matters into their own hands have the ability to significantly enhance the handset's capabilities.
On the following pages, we're going to show you how to hack your G1 the easy way so you can do things with your phone that other G1 owners only wish they could, like install apps to an SD card. And for you old school traditionalists who like to get your hands dirty, we'll also show how you to root your G1 the old fashioned way and wade through all the necessary code step-by-painstaking-step. After it's all said and done, we'll cover some of the most popular third-party ROMs and tell you which one we're rolling with.
Are you ready to hack? Grab your G1 and hit the jump to get started!
Ahh, TechCrunch50 time. For those outside of the Valley, otherwise known as "The Know," this is the time of year when legions of startups (47) descend onto a common stage under the TechCrunch banner, all eager to pitch their next, greatest idea to a field of hungry judges and enthusiastic audience members.
Every time this happens--or every time any show similar to the TechCrunch50 goes down--I always look forward to the new batch of oddly named Web applications that I'll probably never hear about again, let alone actually use. For this, I have but one source to blame: open data. Just because there's an API or the free-flow of information outward from a single popular source doesn't mean that one always has to make a spin-off project. But if you build it, they will indeed come. The developers, that is, and they're always looking to cash in on the next big variation to an already successful idea.
I'm not exactly sure why this is the case with Web applications and why it's not always mirrored in open-source or freeware software development. What is it about a Web platform that makes it such an intriguing breeding ground for rip-offery? Is it really that easy to create a Web mashup of two social networks instead of pouring the same amount of effort into, say, a new instant messaging application?
Score another win for open-source fans, and Google's Android platform in particular. While earlier this year LG seemingly committed to only releasing Windows Mobile-based smartphones, the handset maker today announced its first Android device, which the company hopes will give it "a broader and more dominant position in the market."
The new LG-GW620 comes with a 3-inch full touchscreen display, along with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard to mash out those Twitter updates and emails on the go.
"The LG-GW620 will appeal to first-time smartphone customers by offering a new and different kind of user experience," said Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. "Our objective is to provide a wide selection of smartphones to satisfy the diverse preferences of today's consumers."
Perhaps looking to smooth things over with Microsoft, LG was also quick to point out that it will be introducing at least 13 other smartphones over the next 16 months, each one based on Windows Mobile.
As for the LG-GW620, it will be available in the fourth quarter in "select European markets." No word yet on price or U.S. availability.
The nonprofit CodePlex Foundation is being set up with backing from Microsoft. The Redmond based software company has contributed $1 million, and provided numerous Microsoft employees to run the nonprofit’s board. Microsoft’s former senior director of platform strategy, Sam Ramji, will serve as the temporary head of CodePlex.
Before you go thinking this is totally out of the ordinary for Bill Gate’s baby, the CodePlex website clears a few things up. CodePlex says that commercial companies are under-represented in the open-source world. While this may seem like a natural situation, the new Microsoft backed venture intends to change that. The “about” page on the foundation’s site says that companies will be encouraged to contribute code, not patents.
With code still bound by patents, it is unlikely that the larger open-source community will care to get involved. There may be a certain logic to the CodePlex Foundation, though. Allowing a company to contribute code, without giving up their patents may bring new ideas to open-source in the long run. Even with these favorable conditions, will businesses cooperate with an open-source foundation?
Eh. Technology upgrades. You don't need the latest graphic, motherboard, and CPU combinations to have a good time on your PC. Sure, having realistic raindrops fall across your warrior's face is a nice touch. And you can never go wrong with all those fun volumetric shadows and such--you know, the ones that cripple your poor videocard whenever you try and crank your display's resolution to the max.
A good game is all about the fun it brings to the table absent of technical wizardry or flashy effects. I like to call this the Nethack effect. For those recently born, Nethack is that old-school ASCII game that's still beloved by many even though its graphics could easily be replicated by a graphing calculator. The game doesn't need top-shelf scenery or character models to be awesome. It just is--by virtue of its immersion, frustrations, and countless ways to die.
As you might guess, This week's freeware roundup is another gaming-focused edition, but I'm covering a wide range of graphical treatments with the racing, hack-and-slash, and building-creation games I feature (amongst other categories). You'll see games that look pretty good given their open-source and freeware roots; You'll also see games that are a bit less, er, polished... but still worth your time for their creative features and fun action. You might even see a game that involves ponies.
Once a week, I feel like I'm either finding or running a large batch of programs in an effort to keep my computer as crap-free as possible. It's a never-ending battle. I defrag, I delete, I shuffle, I organize, I optimize, I scan... and still, what I end up downloading and installing over the next six days almost always leads me back to the good ol' "Sunday Purge," as I've come to call it.
And you? I venture that your habits are pretty similar to mine, as you're a Maximum PC reader with a thirst--nay, need--for speed. But we both don't have to waste a ton of time poring over our hard drives and giving them digital equivalent of a good flossing. There are tools, wonderful tools, that will automate this process--and automate it for free!
You're probably aware of quite a few of these applications, in fact. That's why I've cast my net over a wide swath of sites to find two little tidbits that you probably haven't heard of before. Here's a sneak preview: These tools let you assign rules for clearing out a wide variety of files based on customized criteria you select. One of the apps works its wonders on your desktop and the other offers a similar service for any USB device you attach to your system.
Intrigued? Those are but two of the five awesome programs in this week's freeware roundup. The rest are waiting for your trigger-happy downloading fingers after the jump, as always.