A long, long time ago, in a galaxy not too far from here, someone tried their hand at a massively multiplayer Star Wars game. Unfortunately, unless living the life of a tentacle-haired cantina dancer eternally stranded in a barren hell that just so happens to share some location names with Star Wars sounds right up your alley, the game was something of a disappointment. Taken on its own merits, yeah, it was all right. But it wasn’t Star Wars.
So, how do you convince gamers who’ve been burned once to abandon their lives as Night Elf Mohawks and take up lightsabers once again? Easy: you hire on BioWare, creators of what’s arguably the best Star Wars story since “Empire Strikes Back.” That, however, cracks open a whole new can of worms. Does a BioWare epic – let alone KOTORs 3-8 – have any place in an MMO? What about dialogue trees? MMOs are a fertile soil for social interaction, sure, but chatting up NPCs is another story entirely.
It’s with those questions and plenty more that we took Star Wars: The Old Republic for a test drive during E3. So, how’d it fare? Find out after the break!
Adobes Photoshop has been a staple for graphic designers and photographers for over 20 years. Its newest incarnation, CS5, is loaded with over 250 new features that set it apart and beyond its previous counterparts. We were lucky enough to snag a copy of Adobe's beta product before release, and we’re happy to report that CS5 is a huge leap forward. Before our official review (which will be ready when Adobe finally announces an official release date in May), we’ve decided to go over some of our favorite new implementations, and how these advancements may change the way you look at graphic design and photography going forward.
AMD exploits a price point with the Radeon HD 5830, but the implementation is so weird, we’re scratching our heads.
If you’ve got $250 to burn for a graphics card, you’ll find a dearth of cards at that price point. Hit any of the major web retailers for PC gear looking for $250 cards, and you’ll find a couple of models of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 275 and… that’s it. The much faster Radeon HD 5850s are around $300, and you’ll find older GTX 260s and not much more.
AMD decided to fill the gap with the Radeon HD 5830. But the HD 5830 is a really odd duck. It’s slower than a Radeon HD 5850, but the reference implementation is huge – the same size as the Radeon HD 5870. The 5830 also consumes more power at full throttle than the HD 5850 – hence the larger cooler on the reference design.
Read on to find out all about the 5830's features, and how it did in our grueling benchmarks!
Attendees at Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles got a sneak preview of IE9 yesterday. From what was presented it’s not really clear what type of personality IE9 will take on.
Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, stated Microsoft want’s IE9 to be “a good balance between things we know and have to do and moving the whole notion of browsing forward.” The task of delivering the “most world class browsing experience we can develop,” he added, has to be done “in the most responsible way.” Which suggests IE9 will be brought into line with existing browser potential, but won’t be pushing any cutting-edge technology.
Changes and improvements are plenty. First off, IE9 will use the Trident rendering engine, running on DirectX instead of GDI. DirectX will shift graphic processing from software to hardware, which will boost the display of graphics and text, and provide smoother rendering of animation and video.
While DirectX adds advantages, apparently it also tosses up some roadblocks. Dean Hachamovitch, the general manager of the Internet Explorer team, says DirectX is hard to get right: “there's a huge benefit but it takes a lot of work to get all of the details right – like how do controls like Flash work and what about printing?” Being best positioned to “get all the details right”, DirectX helps Microsoft, but may not help out cross-platform browsers, which may not want to make the commitment.
IE9 will better support standards, such as CSS, including CSS3. IE9 scores 574 out of 578 on the CSS3 selectors test--much better than the 330 out of 578 scored by IE8. (Again, Safari and Firefox on my Mac both score perfect 578s.)
IE9 is at best a work in progress. Right now there is no canvas or SVG support, and no real commitment to HTML 5 standards. But, with no release date yet announced, and a technical preview not available until sometime next year, it’s a good bet IE9 will evolve into something a bit different than what we’re seeing today.
Microsoft uses the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) as a platform to showcase new technology and make some key announcements. This year is no different. Today, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie tried to woo those attending his opening keynote speech at the ongoing PDC09 with the promise of making Internet Explorer 9 the "best Internet browser without compromise.”
Microsoft VP Steven Sinofsky is expected to shed more light on the company’s plans vis-à-vis IE9 when he delivers tomorrow’s keynote speech. According to Cnet, Microsoft will not be previewing IE9 at PDC. It also ruled out the possibility of Microsoft switching its browser to the WebKit engine.
I was recently reviewing different graphics programs for showing video files when I noticed that Explorer now refuses to display a miniature version of video graphics files when I go to the thumbnail view. It still shows miniatures of picture files (.jpeg and .bmp) but not video files. What would cause this? Is it possible to fix it without reinstalling the OS (XP Pro)? The video files show the miniature version when exported to another computer, so there must be something different with my OS. I’ve tried everything I could think of but no luck.
So much in life is unknowable. Will the economy rebound? Hard to say. Will oil prices skyrocket? Maybe, maybe not. Will Brangelina add to their brood? Frankly, we don’t care. But one thing’s for sure: Technology is ever-changing and each year guarantees new advances for the PC user.
As we do every year around this time, we got on the horn with our industry contacts—experts in their respective fields—and pressed them for details about what new and exciting hardware power users can look forward to in 2010. Some of what we learned was expected (SATA speeds will double), some came from out of left field (six 30-inch panels on a single videocard?!), and some just plain make sense (like a Nehalem chip for the masses).
Read on to find out how your personal computing landscape stands to be altered in the year ahead.
It's no secret that the music industry has been in a bit of a bind over the past decade or so: they claim illegal downloading has lost them millions in sales while distribution deals with companies like Apple have left the labels feeling as though they've lost control over pricing.
Meanwhile, consumers have seemingly endless ways to download, stream and discover music. Streaming sites like Pandora, Blip.fm, Hype Machine and Last.fm are all great ways to listen to music from your browser while you're online, but picking specific artists to stream can be a haphazard process. Buying music presents a whole new set of problems, with companies (iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Amazon, Zune Marketplace) that all offer different pricing models and collections of artists.
Spotify (Windows, Mac, Linux, Free BSD), which has had a popular debut in Europe and the UK, is a new music service that hopes to streamline the way we both stream and purchase new music. The company was launched with the blessing of several major labels, in a refreshingly forward-thinking move on the part of the music industry. Because of this, Spotify is able to stream full, high-quality tracks from these labels without fear of retribution. Though not yet available in the US, we got our hands on a beta-code to test out the service.
I had the pleasure of taking a stab (and a hack and a slash) at an obscure little game called Diablo III during last week’s BlizzCon and, well, it was pretty nifty. How nifty, you ask? Well, let’s see, I think I abandoned my infinitely stealable laptop to play the demo, oh, four or five times. (Happily, my laptop remains safe-and-sound. How anyone could refuse the allures of its sexy 900 MHz Celeron processor and cutting-edge integrated graphics card, though, is beyond me.)
So, Diablo III’s shaping up quite nicely. If you were afraid (or… hoping?) Blizzard might finally stain its spotless reputation with a sub-par game, you can put those fears to rest. Now then, without further ado, let’s dive into the specifics of Diablo III’s diabolical brand of fun.
The demo I played opened with my character in a small desert outpost. Other characters told me that leaving the outpost would mean certain doom and all that jazz, so – of course – I completely ignored them and dove headlong into the sandy deathtrap. As I strolled about, clicking on things until other things came out (usually blood, loot, or some combination of the two), I quickly noticed something: the desert was enormous. A departure from Diablo’s usual linear dwellings, it presented a plethora of potential paths, and without that medieval global positioning system sometimes known as a “map,” I would’ve gotten all kinds of lost.
Fortunately, my semi-aimless wanderings were anything but uneventful. When I wasn’t poking and prodding enemies until they erupted into gore geysers (more on that later), I was partaking from a veritable buffet of sidequests.
Google is the company that is world famous for its motto “Do No Evil”, but in the world of online book scanning, the Open Book Alliance isn’t ready to take them at their word. The OBA, founded by the Internet Archive, has become a united voice for those who feel Google was handed a monopoly with its $125 million settlement with publishers. The primary argument is that competitors such as the Internet Archive, are forced to negotiate individual contracts with rights holders, while Google can simply scan now, and pay later when the author makes a claim.
“If this deal goes ahead, they’re making a real shot at being the library, and the only library” claims Internet Archives founder Brewster Kahle. Until recently the Open Book Alliance has been lacking any real corporate muscle, but with the recent inclusion of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon into the alliance, they definitely will be taken much more seriously. With the outcome of the Department of Justice investigation into the matter still pending, Google is quickly finding itself in a very public battle over digital book rights, and they seem to be making many more enemies than friends these days.
According the OBA, anti-trust and anti-competitive concerns are an important focus, but they also worry about Google’s commitment to privacy. The American Libraries Association claims “When it comes to privacy, the agreement is silent on the issue with regards to what Google intends to do with the data it collects”.
Will the addition of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon into the alliance help ensure equality in the book scanning industry?