Join Nathan Grayson in His "Free From WoW for a Whole Year" Bash!
August 22, 2008 (Dallas, Texas) -- Nathan Grayson, a Maximum PC freelancer and unanimously-voted "snappy dresser," has, on this day, officially avoided Blizzard's World of Warcraft MMORPG for an entire year.
"It's been great finally living life on my own terms," said Nathan, flashing a gloriously bright smile. "To mark the occasion, I'll be canceling my WoW subscription tomorrow. What? Oh sure, I could do it today, but, uh, tomorrow for sure. No problem."
To be sure, the journey from his luxurious armchair into the comforting grip of real life wasn't an easy one.
"Oh, it's been a wild ride," he quipped. "On cold, lonely nights, my mind used to slip back into Azeroth, and I'd dream of raids, epics -- legendaries, even! But it's been, er, I've -- I mean, whew. Anyone have a PC handy? I, uh, just need to check on some things. Sure, I'll follow the cue cards again afterwards."
Nathan Grayson's soul is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com, NASDAQ: ATVID). Nathan is a great guy -- single, too. Really, he's one in approximately 10 million. Among other things, he's well known for posing the following question: Have you ever found your claws locked into your keyboard, signifying your irrevocable addiction to a game? Sound off in the comments section. Passers-by don't really know what to make of it.
He also runs Maximum PC's Gaming Roundup, available every week day. Peep today's edition for all of the latest World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King news and info. Oh, there's some other stuff too -- something about how suing file-sharers is a bad idea -- but that's not really important. The phony PR-speak ends after the break.
3DFX changed the gaming landscape forever when it brought 3D graphics to the masses, and in a similar fashion, ray tracing technology looks to be the next big revolution on the horizon. The promise of photo realistic scenery has provoked both developers and gamers, but is real-time ray tracing in games anywhere close to being a reality?
In an interview with Tom's Hardware, Intel's Daniel Pohl talked about the API Intel is using to showcase ray tracing demos and what he thinks needs to happen before the technology will be ready for commercial development.
"Creating higher image quality even faster. That requires smart anti-aliasing algorithms, a level of detail mechanism without switching artifacts, particle systems that also work in reflections, a fast soft shadowing algorithm, adoption to upcoming hardware architectures. We have some topics to keep us busy," said Pohl.
In the case of ray tracing, it's a matter of the hardware needing to catch up with the software. Pohl and his team of ray tracing researchers have been "targeting future architectures that consists out of tens, hundreds, and even thousands of cores," noting an almost linear scaling of frame rates with the number of processor cores.
Intel isn't the only one looking to push ray tracing technology into the mainstream, with Nvidia putting on demonstrations of its own. Here's hoping the race to the finish line ends up resembling more of a sprint than a marathon.
DreamWorks Animation and Intel announced at IDF that, beginning next year, films under the DreamWorks banner will all be in next-gen 3D. Last month, the studio had announced that it was going to replace its AMD hardware with Intel’s future chips with multi-processing cores. Now it has been confirmed that Intel’s upcoming Larrabee (codename) graphics chip will form the crux of the partnership. The two partners even unveiled a 3-D movie image brand called InTru 3D. The technology is also targeted at the video games industry and the internet. AMD has also been touting its Cinema 2.0 tech that it claims will pulverize the wall between movies and games.
CRN recently reported on a research from internet security vendor Marshal that found out of the 622 users polled 29.1% admitted to having purchased items through spam emails.
I seriously hope this was just a particularly ignorant group of Internet users. Okay, now hear this; Buying stock through spam email amounts to lighting a match to your hard-earned cash. There is no magic pill to make your penis bigger or make you better in bed. Buying crap through spam encourages spammers to spam more. In other words, don’t do it! Those of us with a clue will thank you, if we don’t cuff you first.
We don't like taking on the role of enforcer, nor do we like bullying those ill equipped to defend themselves. But sometimes, for the greater good of all involved, as PC users we feel obligated to step in and lay the smack down when our Mac brethren come asking for it. In a way, we feel like Billy Madison did when he told a bunch of first graders "Now you're all in big, big trouble" before proceeding to pummel them in dodgeball.
Microsoft Live Labs, where Microsoft is helping to create the future of online information, released its Photosynth 3D imaging service yesterday, CNet reports.
Photosynth enables you to create a freely-navigable and zoomable 3D space by combining hundreds of photos with overlapping data, but unlike panorama-stitching programs, you get better results if you shoot your photos from a variety of different angles and zoom settings (or different focal-length prime lenses).Photosynth isn't for photography snobs, either. It works with all types of digital camera images, even from camera phones.
To sign up for Photosynth, you need a Windows Live ID (a free Hotmail account will work). After you sign up for Photosynth, you download free software for viewing synths (Microsoft's term for the 3D images you create with Photosynth) and for creating them. For best "synthiness," you'll need to shoot at least 100 pictures, and many of the examples you can view on the Photosynth website include 200 or more images. If you ever wondered why you need a 4GB or larger flash memory card for your camera, wonder no longer. A thorough Photosynth session can use up every bit of space on your largest memory card.
To learn more about Photosynth, and to give us your comments on this new imaging tool, catch us after the jump.
"Mwahahaha," I cackled gleefully as I skewered a yet another hapless Storm Trooper in the recent Star Wars: The Force Unleashed demo. "Help!" the poor soldier's cry echoed off the walls. But I didn't care. With a flick of my character's wrist, my foe's armor was put to its final test: a steel reinforced ceiling. My grin only widened when gravity yanked the Storm Trooper out of his skyward flight, planting him on the cold floor with a satisfying crack.
I'm a maniacal jerk.
Or at least I was -- in the game. Actually, "irl," I'd say I'm a fairly mild-mannered person. But unless you consider cheaply-constructed, mass-produced action figures to be an artistic medium, videogames are the only medium that allows us to act out our (seemingly sick) fantasies. Gaming's greatest detractors fault our hobby for being violent, and I'm not inclined to disagree with them. But hey, over-the-top violence goes hand-in-hand with interactivity. With the aforementioned action figures, many of us staged tumultuous battles, with swords, guns, fists -- everything -- in an almost primal manner. And it was fun.
Fact is, people are inclined towards violence. We wolf down popcorn while watching actors pretend to put bullets in each others' brains; we slow down traffic for a gander at a car accident. Our media expresses this -- caters to it, even. But society goes on. Few of our sane population are lugging around shotguns or holding up convenience stores with trusty stabbin' knives. Sure, circumstances cause people to do some pretty awful things, but generally out of necessity -- not for fun. And really, that's why videogame violence is great. It's catharsis -- a harmless arena in which we can live out our horrific, Trooper-smashing fantasies.
So, what's the most sadistic, cringe-worthy thing you've ever done in a game? To take things a notch further, think about the gamess you typically play. How many of them aren't in some way violent?
Today's Roundup features games that are, as you'd expect, violent, but one in particular uses its controversial brand of destruction to further a greater cause. In addition, you'll find Clive Barker's pie-in-the-sky dreams for the horror genre, hardware manufacturers' dirty little piracy-related secret, and more. It's all after the break.
During a private briefing with Intel at IDF yesterday to talk about Nehalem, we were given a demo of some cool software in development that makes good use of the multi-threaded cores of the new CPU. Francois Piednoel, the Senior Performance Analyst (ie. benchmarking guru) at Intel describes Deep Viewer as a "science project" of sorts. It's an image sorting application that they acquired from an independent software developer that reminds us of Microsoft Live Labs' Seadragon technology (which is used in the recently released Photosynth online app). We're talking about near-infinite scaling of visual data (in this case photos and videos) being processed in real-time on your display.
Partitioning your hard drive has never been easier. Free options, including the Windows install disk, make this once monumental task a fairly simple two-click experience that many of us don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about when we first install our OS’s. It can sometimes be difficult to anticipate your storage needs up front, and many users just assume they are stuck with decisions they made long ago.
A typical user could have many reasons for breaking up a hard drive into multiple volumes, but partitioning your drive after installing an OS is typically a destructive proposition -- one that usually involves backing up your data, formatting, and starting clean. Commercial solutions such as Norton Partition Magic has existed for years and allows you to preserve your data while resizing volumes, but what if you’re working on a limited budget (or completely without one)? That’s where GParted comes into play. This free and open source disk partitioning tool was designed for Linux, but luckily for us Windows users, it comes bundled in a live CD or USB version called Parted Magic which takes care of the Linux requirement.
In this guide we will look at how to use the interface to resize, delete, or create new partitions, all without losing your data or starting over. This will come in handy if you made your Windows partition too large or too small, or if you’re happy with Windows XP, but want to give Vista a spin. Backups are still heavily advised, but with our help, and a bit of luck, you won’t need them. Read on!
Between raising the fee scale to censoring sellers from leaving anything less than positive feedback, Ebay has found itself under an increasing amount of scrutiny this past year. The online auction site is also finding that e-tailers are starting to offer more competitive pricing, a move Ebay believes is responsible for driving potential customers away from its auction format as buyers look for instant gratification.
"Buying online has changed," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of the market research firm ChannelAdvisor. "Retail sites no longer make customers choose between convenience and price."
To win customers back and prevent others from leaving, Ebay will once again change its fee structure, this time to the advantage of sellers looking to unload goods at a set price. Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay just 35 cents to list a fixed price "Buy It Now" auction, representing a 70 percent reduction in upfront fees.
While the new pricing scale might not be met with a warm welcome by sellers who prefer the auction format, Ebay is quick to note that "sellers can still choose to list items in Ebay's auction-style-format, which, with a low start price, remains the most cost-effective way to offer many kids of items."