Sunday, June 27, 2004

I'm into the Internet software craze, are you?

Have you often wonder about tiny advances in software, the Internet is full of them. Take Winamp 5.0 for an example. Has there been any improvements between Winamp 5.01 and Winamp 5.03c? Or ItooDVD Ripper? How about Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer? What changed since Word 2000 anyways? Word is really generic I think. I use this ripper to take the problematic processes of converting VOB to AVI to DIVX and simply converting it all at once. The version I use works and the developers keep coming out with more stable versions. Same with Mozilla browsers…. I haven’t seen any real change between Mozilla Firebird 0.6, and Mozilla Firefox 0.9. The browser was so well built and stable by the time Mozilla 1.0 came out that Mozilla 1.7 RC4 or Mozilla Firefox 0.9 are not that much an improvement speed wise over it. Maybe a couple hundred bugs fixes, as long as they aren’t crash fixes. Remember when bugs are fixed, than new ones appear replacing old ones. Though 1.0 didn’t crash that often. It sure beat using Netscape Navigator 4.8! Since 1.0, all the stable releases were already very stable. People expect Mozilla to load webpages faster with dialup than the Internet Explorer on dialup because if it’s reputation it created back in 1999 and 2000. Our teacher did a speed test with Mozilla running on a Linux Box, and Internet Explorer running on Win2000. Guess who won? Mozilla. It loads web pages 1 to 3 seconds faster than Internet Explorer 6.0. Sure, new Mozilla versions load faster, and they don’t crash ever, but the earlier versions were on Red Hat Linux 6.0, and were stable. Even 3 years ago Mozilla was really stable, and preformed as well as Internet Explorer. For years IE was the browser of choice for people who had dialup. In 1999 – 2000, Netscape Navigator was lacking in next generation browsing technology that IE had at the time. Then they were bought out by AOL, and formed the Mozilla foundation, the greatest thing in Internet browsing since Netscape. In fact, I’m starting to think that downloading newer versions of the same software is just overrated. One thing is for sure, I don’t have to find software besides PC games off the store shelf anymore.

Software updates of course matter, when you download a new program. But downloading a new program is half the fun. Most first release programs have already set a platform for themselves. And they pop up all over in such unexpected places. I download software in web design and video rippers including several audio and video codec. I found some really cool programs that work much better than what I use to use. All thanks to the Internet. I’m being a little vague here. So I’ll tell you want I’m saying. 1 Click DVD ripper is a prime example. I found this by searching on Google. It’s does all the compression work for me. And I won’t need to update this program. I won’t have to pay 100 dollars for a program that you buy at Best Buy that does the same thing. Another example is Winamp. I can see that things have changed since the 2.91 version. Winamp also has become a free media player. I downloaded one of the first betas of Winamp 5.0 back in October 2003. Winamp 5.03c doesn’t really do that much more except fix some crash bugs. Sure, the beta crashed sometimes, but all I do is listen to MP3s and download Winamp skins. Is downloading newer versions overrated? Perhaps. I re-download Winamp since the download is there to be downloaded. Same goes with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 and Paint Shop Pro 8. In Dreamweaver MX 2004, nothings chanced since Dreamweaver MX that I can see. For Paint Shop Pro 8, there was little change since PSP 7.4. Maybe a few more paint brushes. I find PSP 7.4 easier to use than PSP 8.0 for some reason. Still JASC put everything I needed in the earlier version I used. Compression wise, JPEG hasn’t changed at all in my mine since 2001. Someone came out with JPEG 2000, but this format isn’t browser compatible. JPEG is still unbelievably compressed. It is a lot better than PNG or GIF for images that have more than 8 colors.

Here are some examples of what program that have new versions that aren’t worth downloading from older versions

• From Irfanview 3.80 to Irfanview 3.91 – no difference
• From Emule 0.42d to Emule 0.43b – no difference
• From Limewire 4.0 to Limewire 4.1.1 – no difference
• From Winamp 5.01 to Winamp 5.03c – little difference in speed
• From Paint Shop Pro 7 to Paint Shop Pro 8 – very insignificant difference in speed and options
• From CDEX 4.6 – CDEX 5.1 – no difference
• From iMESH 4.0 to iMESH 4.5 – little difference in speed
• From DIVX 5.0 to DIVX 5.1.1 – no difference in video quality, speed and sound quality
• Quintessential Player 4.0a to Quintessential Player 4.5 – small difference in speed and resources
• Windows XP – Windows XP Service Pack 1 – really no difference

If you’re into DVD ripping and audio stuff check these sites out -

1. http://Mp3.box.sk
2. http://DVD.box.sk
3. http://Afterdawn.com

Nothings really that new about Half-life 2 or Doom 3 except for the new release dates. Isn’t that exciting you know! If anyone was wondering why I don’t keep up the updates on those games, it’s because I said everything technical. Both will be drop dead gorgeous games, everyone knows that now with several screenshots seen on every gaming site including mine. Am I going to get it…yep, you bet your bootie I will. I might even drive 30 miles to Game Stop, and get both on their release date! It seems that Half-life 2 is going the way of Metal Gear Solid - The Twin Snakes. Yes, I know they are completely different games although the two titles have one similarity. Valve is going to start you off with Half-life as you’ll spend several hours completing it, evacuate Black Mesa beginning your Half-life 2 maps. Half-Life built on the new Half-life 2 engine sounds very exciting. This part has been confirmed by Valve, developer of Half-life 2.

I spent last night watching a vampire movie on TNT, Salem’s Lot. It was pretty good. It’s a 2003 remake of the 1970’s movie, and about vampires taking over a small Eastern US town. I noticed it wasn’t high on budget but was directed well. It’s between a B+ and A- movie. As that was going on, I reformatted my hard drive because my computer was more sluggish than it should be, even with 2 Gigabytes of RAM at my disposal. I had the Longhorn Professional shell over it, and it made my computer lag more than usual, my computer crashed more than usual. I thought it was going add programs, and make my Desktop visually updated, but in reality, all it did was goof up my computer’s unities. I thought hey whatever, I’ll make this PC look brand new, and run faster with a couple hours spent on reformatting NTFS, then re-installing Windows XP. Everyone’s done this at one time or another. Then Mom and I watch “The Armenia Strain” on AMC. It’s about an alien virus that clotted the blood cells in humans or mammals in matter of minutes. The US Department of Agriculture built a scientific underground facility which was meant to find cures for viruses. This scientific facility in particular had a bomb that would go off if any virus got out (theoretically concealing the virus)…but this virus grew as a result of hydrogen cells. The climax of this movie was when the facility was sealed off, and the main character had to disarm the bomb before it exploded, spreading the virus to other areas of the country.

Today I woke up at 11:30AM, and went downstairs to find reviews on some possible future games. My secret to find a game is a.) Always find a game that has a high review score that sounds interesting. B.) Trust reader reviews. C.) Go to Gamestats.com, read the top games list for possible candidates. More often than not they have a good game you’ll be playing for 1 week or longer AKA Final Fantasy 7 / Metal Gear Solid. D.) The single important paragraph to look for in a game review is where the reviewer mention’s gameplay mechanics. Without that you might end up buying a game like Dino Crisis 3 *Chuckle. Chuckle.* All Graphics, and nothing to show for it! E.) Look game only magazines such as Playstation Magazine or Game Informer. They have some good stuff in them - enough to raise my game IQ a few notches. Magazines you actually want to keep. I’ve been a game magazine collector since 1998. Some people collect car magazines, others collect Marvel Comics, while I collect Game Informer issues. Game Informer magazine is my only source (besides IGN.com) that I’m into before I buy a game. The reviews are often as well written as IGN.com’s, and I like having offline reading material. I already have 50 magazines stacked up in a drawer that I’ll never read again. For being a Game Stop member, I get this magazine subscription free. I go back to the Hudson game store to finally get more Playstation games. I look around, and a couple Playstation 2 games were taken I wanted. One was Onimusha 3 Demon Siege, another was Project Gotham 2, and the last one was La Pucelle Tactics (prequel to a Japanese anime RPG called Disgaga: Hour of Darkness. I played a bit of Onimusha 2, and it was very good. It a played a little like Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry 2 was there for 20 bucks, but I hear it was lacking in game design from my favorite review site, IGN.com, so I didn’t buy it. Wal-Mart got rid of Onimusha 3 too! I didn’t check Target...oops. I’m waiting until I play Colony Wars, and Crash Bandicoot than maybe I’ll get Onimusha 3. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t spend more than a day on Onimusha 2 so I don’t really know what the story is about except an evil force is taking over a 16th century town in the land of the rising sun. Genma is the samurai warrior that’ll set things straight against the demon hordes, and kicks some serious butt constantly! The “go-all-out-with-you r-sword” idea is very innovative I thought. It’s hard to explain, I like this game a lot, but I find that I prefer platform titles, MMORPGS, and first person shooters rather than this. So I decided to get Crash Bandicoot 2 and 3. I don’t like Spyro the Dragon for its cutesy characters, even though the graphics are good. I question the gameplay mechanics in Spyro game. I am so use to the “T” Teen rated platformers like Jak 2 that it’s hard to go back to the lesser violent games when the worlds are filled with bright colors. It was meant for a child really - yet it is so hard to control at times. None of the Spyro the Dragon games are easy, sometimes these games were frustrating. Crash is more popular and better. Crash Bandicoot sold 10 million copies of his games over here in the US, one of the big success stories of the Playstation. I didn’t get the first crash because Crash Bandicoot was 2D. I don’t know, but I might write a review on him. Might, might not. See I never written a review I promised with Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes. I thought no one will want to read it so why spend time on it? I may be right. This December I’m celebrating Playstation’s 10th anniversary! Two more years and I’ll be celebrating N64’s 10th anniversary!

Yesterday I tried out the New Coke, C2, and I thought it tasted good! C2 tastes a lot better than Diet Coke, and is as good as regular high carbonated Coke. To be more specific, C2 tastes like Coke that’s warm or left out for 3 hours. I still like it non-the-less. I’m going to buy more of it. It’s kind of scary what Coca-Cola put in their C2 to make up for ½ the carbohydrates, and sugars. Hey, I almost forgot about Cherry Coke. I haven’t drank that stuff for over a year. Almost forgot what Cherry Coke tastes like! O-well. Maybe I’ll pick up some tomorrow. ABC news reviews C2, and gave it a 2.1 out of 3. I mean what do they expect of something that has half of everything? C2 Coke got a 2.5 out of 3. I give C2 a 2.5 out of 3, and Coke a 2.7 out of 3. Mountain Dew, as always, deserves a perfect score. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/Business/Coke_taste_test_040526.html After tasting the new coke, maybe I should taste the new Pepsi Edge. Some taste reviews on the Internet say Pepsi Edge makes regular Pepsi obsolete because it’s better for you than Pepsi is, and there is no real disadvantage. But in a taste test, C2 will win against Pepsi Edge hands down.

On my new webpage I’m working part time on “Ian’s 512-bit generation News Page”. There hasn’t been any new Microsoft Xenon, Nintendo Revolution or Playstation 3 news yet so I haven’t polished my site up much. I remember in 1999 and 2000, I was extremely excited to see screenshots of Nintendo’s next generation console. So much that I wrote editorial after editorial on the events from 1999 - 2001. What’s left (after I deleted the original webpage) is found at my personal webpage. It’s just a videogame console, but still I found it fun just writing about it. I found out the specs of the processor (powerful in 2001) and it’s abilities over Playstation 2. I admit the PS2 was state-of-the-art in 2000 in terms of consumer technology. Kid’s asking for a DVD player specifically named Playstation 2, trying to fool their parents in thinking their not paying for a videogame console, but a DVD player from Sony. Nobody’s parents are that dumb.

I often wonder why I’m alone in this world? Yes, I have my parents to talk to, and I have this blog, but something is missing in my life. My friends don’t ever come over really. Randy had to go to a birthday party today. Bob doesn’t answer his phone either. I am not lost. I know I have school in a couple months, but I still feel alone. I feel when I go places that I am alone, and people are just waiting for me to go crazy or something. This is untrue because most people don’t want that to happen to someone. Most people in these public places don’t feel they need more people in their lives. For the most part, it’s better that I don’t get to know people at Wal-mart, Target, the game store, or any public person because I know they don’t know what to think so they’ll ignore me and save their breath. While acting this way is just paranoia - I often imagine how it would be if I had someone who talked to me. And when someone does say Hi or something….I am usually speechless. In reality, I am just another customer there and nothing is out of place…everything is just peachy…and I’ve been just imagining things again! I wonder how many people like me feel the way I do? There has to be a lot. I prefer level minded country folk like me who just want to belong.

Well today and tomorrow I’m thinking I’m going to play Crash Bandicoot, and Colony Wars. I watched Bob play Crash Bandicoot 2 and it looked fun. Crash is one of those heroes that everyone can relate too. He’s nobodies fool, which means he’s not crazy, but kind of weird. Dr. Neo Cortex kind of is! That’s obvious observation though. I know he’s the bad guy, the villain although in the newest Crash Bandicoot game, these two characters work together against an even bigger threat – don’t know what that is, sorry. I might play this game with EPSXE, might not. The good part is I can run the game at a higher resolution, but sadly it looks just as good on the computer screen as the TV.

I often wonder if I’m talented in my field, although I can see there are so many computer technicians in my state, it’s impossible to keep track of whom I’m competing against this year. I know the students from talking to them (none of them want to talk about technical computer stuff with me) in class in between Joyce or Steve’s conversations (they’re my teachers). Not one of them knows how to emulate consoles or compress movies in DivX or similar computer stuff nor do they care about it. They (WITC industrial network technician students) don’t want me to know what they do at home or what they’ve learned about on the computers. An example of this is when I was taking Linux terminal commands. I had to figure out the commands myself. They’re about 3 dozen Linux terminal commands to memorize, and another half dozen ‘switches’ to remember. So to make it easier they all say they ‘hate’ computers, as in not use them unless it’s for school. I find that false. I think that tomorrow will be a better day, and these comments will be buried deep in my brain until another day triggers them again. Probably very soon.

Well, also today I bought Battlefield 1942, an epic WWII game that unifies air, sea and ground troopers in a kill or be killed kind of way. Don’t you love WAR games? I do. It’s been 2 years since this game has been out, and unfortunately the game is declining in popularity. It’s almost a generation old as far as PC games go. The whole game is 4 CDs which files are compressed I believe. This game is made by DICE. I’m pretty sure I can run the game at 1600x1200 at 8x anti-analyzing. I don’t know how it’ll play….other than it’s a first person shooter. First person shooters are always welcomed in my mind. Rock on FPS!!!!

My high school pics to show to bloggers (St. Croix Central)

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Freeware sites

http://webpages.charter.net/jimbobwilly2001/ -
Get all the classic old school Final Fantasys at this page!

Freeware Software of the Day

Laxius Power 2 – http://laxiuspower.cjb.net - Laxius Power is a freeware role playing game with SNES graphics with committed developers that design games for free. The game is only a 25 – 40 MB download.

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