Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!
Nvidia's nZone website has posted download links to new beta videocard drivers, version 180.84, for both Vista and XP. Little information has been given about the new drivers, other than that they're intended to improve gameplay with Rockstar's new Grand Theft Auto IV videogame.
"Nvidia recommends that you update your system with the following GeForce v180.84 driver for the best experiences on Grand Theft Auto IV," nZone writes.
Users who have installed and played GTA IV on the PC have complained of varying issues, including missing textures and intermittent crashes. GTA IV's support page lists several troubleshooting steps, one of which recommends users download the newest drivers with a link to the nZone page containing the beta release. However, no specific bug fixes or performance issues have been identified with the new drivers, so it might be hard to tell what difference they're making.
As always, take proper precautions whenever experimenting with pre-release code. As Nvidia discloses regarding beta drivers, they "may include significant issues." When you're ready to take the leap:
Last week several Xbox 360 and Roku set-top box owners complained of loss of quality and irritating delays when firing up a movie through Netflix's streaming download service. At the time, the glitch had Netflix stumped, but now it appears Netflix has identified the problem and fixed whatever was causing the issue.
"This was a temporary issue that we believe we have resolved," Netflix wrote on its blog site. "Working with our content distribution partners and key carriers, we made some specific changes that should restore everyone's experience to where it was before - high quality streaming."
However, there might still be work to do. Netflix posted its update on Friday, December 5th, but users throughout the weekend were still reporting lingering issues in the comments section.
Respected Open Source advocate, and CEO of Collaborative Software Stuart Cohen warns that the business model behind open source software companies is broken. And that the nature of these businesses will need to evolve in order to survive. In his article he explains how the traditional model in which companies would freely offer software, and make a living off the support is coming to an end. An end which is likely to be accelerated by the economic slowdown. He cautions open source designers to view the software as more of a means to an end.
As part of his argument, he claims the real value of open source software companies will come from those who can find ways to add value with supporting add-ons and applications. He uses Red Hat as an example of a company that adds significant value to the Linux kernel, and couldn’t survive on support alone. “Open-Soure code is generally great code, not requiring much support”. According to Cohen the true power of the open source community will be realized through the spirit of collaboration. “While the open-source business model may be broken, the concepts behind open source will continue to bring new value to customers and strong returns to software company stakeholders”.
So do you think the harsh economic climate will hurt or inspire the open source community? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Another day, but still no dollar. According to a stark-white sliver of the Internet, Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment (developer of Stargate Worlds) employees' bank accounts are on life support -- having gone without a fresh cash transfusion for 23 days and counting. Senior Marketing Manager Kevin Balentine replied to the above allegation, but his words didn't exactly inspire confidence.
"At Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, we have always been upfront with the media and our fans that we are a start up. Like many start ups, we face the same cash-flow issues that all pre-revenue companies face. We have maintained a core of dedicated investors, but the new economic realities are forcing us to seek out additional sources of funding and that's what we're doing," Balentine said.
In addition, TenTonHammer's team of grapevine-whisperers recently heard that "more" employees have abandoned their posts at CME over the past few weeks. Definitely not a good sign for the struggling start-up.
However, we hold out hope that Stargate Worlds won't crash and burn before even crossing the starting line. After all, many mods died to bring us this game, and we wouldn't want their valiant sacrifices to be in vain.
Like it or not, Google is widely considered to be a leader within the technology industry. Flagship companies such as themselves, Apple, and Microsoft are important companies to watch during a market downturn. Downsizing at these multibillion dollar corporations are viewed as a devastating reminder that even the strongest companies aren’t immune to the decline. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt outlined several cost cutting initiatives to help keep revenue on track.
"We have to behave as though we don't know" what's going to happen, says Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt. The company will curtail the "dark matter," he says, projects that "haven't really caught on" and "aren't really that exciting." He says the company is "not going to give" an engineer 20 people to work with on certain experimental projects anymore. "When the cycle comes back," he says, "we will be able to fund his brilliant vision."
Here is brief list of changes in store for the engineers at Google:
An increased focus on business diversification. They are expected to focus on display ads, mobile integration, and enterprise software.
Kill off, or slowly starve non-revenue generating products. Schmidt clarified this statement by referring to smaller projects, but hopefully money sinkholes such as YouTube won’t be affected. Some of this has already started with the death of services such as Lively.
Suspension of the 20% rule. This famous decree allowed Google engineers to spend a fifth of their time on any project of their choosing including something completely new.
Closing down offices in Dallas and Denver.
Increased workloads. With the recent pink slips handed out to over 10,000 contractors, someone has to pickup the slack and empty the trash cans.
Does trouble at Google signal the peek of our economic woes or is it just par for the course? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Blogger Richard Bennett from the register is issuing a grave warning for all to hear, Bit Torrent has declared war on VoIP and Gamers. Recent policy changes to bandwidth distribution techniques at Bell Canada have the uTorrent developers looking for alternative ways to keep P2P screaming along. The solution they are allegedly pursuing is a shift in the default protocol used from TCP to UDP. Even though uTorrent isn’t the only P2P application, it is widely considered the standard by which other torrent applications are modeled. Changes to it would likely filter down into other Torrent applications sooner rather than later. Should this change come to pass, ISP’s may find themselves unable to effectively manage each user’s bandwidth since only TCP has the proper controls to handle and throttle network congestion evenly.
According to recent estimates, P2P activity accounts for almost 50% of modern internet traffic. According to Bennett, if P2P suddenly becomes immune to congestion control it could cut the bandwidth available to TCP traffic by as much as 75%. As he so plainly points out 25% of the bandwidth for 95% users hardly seems fair. Flooding the net with UDP traffic would, in theory, have an even larger impact on VoIP services and online gaming since it is largely dependent on the use of UDP.
User Datagram Protocol was originally designed for real time transfers of small amounts of data with a low tolerance for delay. Currently the protocol represents only about 2% of all the internet traffic, but uTorrent’s changes could have a dramatic impact on this number. According to Bennett, ISP’s have the ability to monitor and separate P2P UDP traffic, but would require the use of controversial technologies such as Deep Packet Inspection. Since lawmakers and consumers are pushing for the concept of network neutrality, he points out that it becomes even more likely that ISP’s will be forced to implement more aggressive bandwidth caps as a possible solution.
Need to keep your hard drive from being crapped up? Are you a power-downloader with no organizational skills? Do you want to see exactly where the space on your hard drive is going and have your computer automatically shuffle and sort new files around?
You're in luck. We've assembled a batch of freeware utilities that are, without a doubt, the most essential file management tools you'll want to have on your PC. We use them to automate mundane tasks like file moving and deletion, and better still, to determine exactly where all the wasted space on our drives are going. We would kill to have these feature integrated into Windows Explorer, but no dice thus far. But we can't complain much, because we've saved so much time with these small utilities that we can't ever think about going back to a life without them.
If you want a more ringing endorsement, there's only one way you're going to get it. Click the jump and come check out the most time-saving file management tools we've ever found.
After months of anticipation, Microsoft rolled out its latest dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console on November 19th, which among other things, added support for Netflix's streaming service. The update couldn't come quick enough for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account, but not everyone is finding that the wait was worth it.
An unknown glitch has been wreaking havoc on the video streams causing both loss of quality and long delays before a movie is watchable. Xbox 360 owners aren't alone in their plight, as the problem first manifested itself in homes using the $99 Roku box. A Netflix spokesman said the company is working on a fix for both platforms, but that might be hard to do without having identified the culprit.
"We're doing all of the analysis we can," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey. "We're looking at the region, at carriers...we're working diligently to identify the problem. Unteil we have, we certainly don't want to speculate at all. Look, there's no manual to take off the shelf here. Netflix has created something new here."
Swasey also said Netflix isn't taking the complaints lightly, despite the relatively small number of complaints.
Hit the jump and tell us how your Netflix experience has been.
According to Pingdom, a company that keeps tabs on website availability, Google's service level agreement (SLA) for its Google Apps service might not be fair to the consumer. As outlined in the SLA, paying customers would receive a credit if Google Apps fails to maintain a 99.9 percent monthly uptime. The problem with that, as Pingdom sees it, is that only outages that last 10 minutes or more are counted as downtime by Google.
"What if Google Apps was down for 9 minutes, up for 1 minute, down 9 minutes, etc.?" Pingdom wrote in a blog post. "That would mean 54 minutes of downtime each hour, but Google still wouldn't count it because none of the individual downtimes lasted 10 minutes (or) more."
Pingdom admits its example represents a worst case scenario, but points out in a more real-world example how 57 minutes of downtime might only be counted as 26 minutes, or less than half of the actual outage. But Google says nothing fishy is taking place. According to Rajen Sheth, senior product manager for Google Apps, the company's SLA is identical to others' in the industry.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think about Google's SLA.