The Console Wars (just the facts...)

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Note: I am not going to talk about the Wii because the technical nature of it does not compete on the same grounds as the PS3 and Xbox 360.

I have been following the console war for the past year and there is one thing I have learned, the marketing folks for the respective consoles lie through their teeth. Everything from Peter Moore's "lucid dream" comment to Ken Kutaragi's various overzealous comments. On second thought, I really shouldn't say lie, Peter Moore's example was just his own deranged opinion and Ken's boasts just weren't realistic for the developers to fully take advantage of. But whatever. They got my hopes up, and then they were crushed by the reality of the situation. I own both consoles. As you may have already guessed, I wasn't around for the last console generation when I was still a pretty casual gamer. I bought an Xbox because my friend had one and I liked Halo. Now I take more joy in understanding the intricacies of the technology powering the consoles. Now that I have seen the forums with tons of comments by fanboys about how their console is better, I want to share what I found and consider the true facts. Check out these links:
http://hardware.teamxbox....ns/p1 http://playstation.about....3.htm

Two things I am just going to say off the bat (although there are many more to be said), is that the Xbox 360 has a GPU with a unified shader architecture, an advantage to certain games that would benefit from that. The unified shader architecture was included in the DirectX 10 standard. It basically means that instead of their being dedicated vertex and pixel shaders, each unified shader can act as either. It gives a lot more flexibility and options to developers.

The other thing is that the Playstation 3 (as you may have doubtlessly heard) has the Cell processor which has 8 cores. But the Cell is a strange beast, and very different from a normal CPU. CPUs are good at performing a large range of things at an average speed, while a GPU excels at doing a very small range of operations that are parallel in nature. Now the Cell is a bit of both. There are eight SPEs (7 of which are available to developers) and one PPE. PPE stands for "power processing element" and is much akin to a PowerPC general purpose CPU except it has two threads (much like a dual core CPU). This does the general purpose stuff and is clocked at 3.2GHz. SPE stands for "synergistic processing element" is more specialized like a GPU processer core (or shader), there are 7 of these available to the developers (one is reserved by the console OS) and they can be used for a variety of things including doing graphics and effects. They are each also clocked at 3.2GHz.

So to develop for the Xbox 360 you have a triple core PowerPC CPU and a unified shader graphics card. To develop for the Playstation 3 you have the Cell cpu/gpu, and then another normal GPU. Since the Cell is new and harder to write code for by nature, it's developing enviorment is not as mature. So even though the PS3 has more horsepower than the Xbox 360, most games are written for the 360 and port the PS3, so they lose frames whatever the Xbox could do better, and don't take advantage of the intricacies of the PS3.
Anyway I wish I had the time to write more thouroughly about this, but I can't. Thanks for reading. I hope this cleared up at least a few questions you guys (or gals) had. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.

Discount for buying a game for different platforms

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Does anyone else think there should be a discount for buying a single title for multiple platforms? For example my brother prefer to play on our Xbox 360 and I prefer the PC so why do we have to buy the game twice to get it on both platforms? As it ends up I usually just buy the Xbox 360 version. If I hav already paided for a great game, why can't I just pay the price of anothr disc to get a duplicate for another platform? There should be some kind of progrm in order to get a discount, (like 80% or 90% off when getting a game for a duplicate platform.)

Post your responses and thoughts.

My Opinion on The Ethanol Craze and the Future of EnvironmentallyFriendly Energy

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The ethanol craze in my opinion came from everybody (finally) becoming aware of global warming and other dangers to the environment and then getting into a sort of panic about it. It is difficult to think of something as catastrophic as climate change being inevitable and closing fast. So people wanted a solution quickly and ethanol seemed like the best choice at the time. The problem is the answer to climate change and protecting the environment is not a one-part answer, there are many things that have to be done in tandem.

Everyone seems to be thinking only about ethanol, and the government is passing recommendations and subsidies to help the ethanol industry. I have a question however; don't you think that maybe these laws, while helping ethanol, will stifle further innovation and discovery? Maybe better ideas that are slowly becoming realized (that may be better than ethanol) will have trouble because everyone will use ethanol if it is artificially cheaper?

We as a nation really need to face the facts: Ethanol is a crappy fuel. It requires an entire infrastructure reworking, it is hygroscopic, but it makes a great fuel additive. Lab research needs to continue to find a long-term scalable (preferably 100% octane) fuel that we can use. Ethanol can always be used as an additive and other things.

Of course in my opinion for the long-term perfect answer is plug in hybrids or full out electric cars. The only problem with this is it is terribly inefficient to burn coal to make electricity to charge your car. So the source of our electric power needs to be different: solar, wind and geothermal, would be the long-term perfect energy sources. However, since we can't totally replace our power supply with those overnight, we need to continue with our current methods. The problem is we need to get off coal power fast, maybe we could use nuclear energy as a sort of transition source while we slowly phase in solar, wind and geothermal. Electricity can be used to power almost anything. Of course we will still be using fuel to do various things, and that is fine as long as it comes from a renewable and carbon-neutral source.

Another thing we need to collectively do that we can do right now is save as much energy as possible. But while we do that we need to find new renewable, environmentally friendly sources of energy because our need for energy will only keep growing and growing. We don't want to be inconvenienced by saving too much energy and therefore hampering growth.

As for governments that need to be involved in this we can't waste time arguing who is going to cut back first and which countries are at fault most, it doesn't matter. China and India can't just keep building coal plants like crazy, but we can't blame them for it. It is ludicrous that the US is complaining how much pollution China is creating when we are the #1 carbon emitter. The US government needs to take steps to cut back on environmentally unfriendly practices before blaming others of doing the same thing. And then we need to make those technologies and methods available to other countries to encourage them to do the same. And if all else fails, place tariffs, sometimes money talk the best. Of course we can't do any of this if we are at fault (not to mention more at fault) of the same thing.

Note that this is just a very brief view of what needs to be done. There are many other ways to get energy that I didn't mention such as biomass and others. This is only my two cents and a rant and merely scrapes the surface of the problem. Thank you for reading.

The Dirty Little Secret of the Video Game and Movie Industries

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You ought to know what I am talking about. Optical Discs (the distribution medium of choice) are generally unprotected from damage, such as scratches. So when you buy a game and you scratch it (or your 360 randomly does, I think M$ does that intentionally) you have to buy the whole thing over again for the sticker price, which is paying for he content you already bought the right to use, instead of just a replacement. I understand optical discs with cartridges are more expensive (such as the first DVD-RAMs), but hat doesn't have to be the answer. Why can't there be aggressive replacement programs where you sent in your old disc in order to get a new one with something like a $5 replacement fee. This should apply to movies and games. But no, they want to rip you off and make you buy a new copy. Companies are idiots because they are giving people justification to just pirate another copy with their customer hostile practices. I understand Micro$oft has some kind of disc replacement program for a very limited
selection of titles (for $20 plus Shipping) and that is just ridiculous.

Post your thoughts and comments. Thanks

Split-Screen Co-Op on PC Games

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Why the HECK wouldn't anyone not want to have split-screen Co-Op on the PC? It is the best campaign feature a gamecan have. I love to play co-op with my little brother all the time but he usually gets stuck on my old crappy computer over LAN when we want to. WHEN ALL THE CONSOLE VERSIONS HAVE SPLIT SCREEN CO-OP AND THE PC VERSION DOESN'T THAT IS A FRIGGIN' INJUSTICE! Not all PC gamers want to play alone. And I don't want to have to settle for a worse resolution and graphics (and higher price point) of buying the console version of the game just beause I want split screen co-op!

All PC games with campaigns (story permitting) should have some kind of split screen co-op (and multiplayer) mode. How come only console games have those features. That is just stupid because there sure is no technical reason! (of course in getting split-screen co-op there should still be the on-line and LAN co-op modes because those are cool and essential to.)

Co-Operative Video Games List Link:

Vista and Gameing

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I couldn't help but notice that I'm using over 1gb of RAM just to sit at the desktop on Vista. Also sometimes the processor or hard drive starts going unexpectedly, and of course none of it shows up in the task manager. I'm wondering how come there is so much stuff that happens under the covers when I got Vista. When I had XP you always knew what it was doing. So how do I turn off all this junk running in the background so that the ENTIRE system is focused on the sole task of running my game. I knew Vista is an enormous operating system because of all the features but I don't use most of them so how do I uninstall them or at least turn them off? I feel like my computer has a mind of it's own and it just does it's own thing instead of doing what I want to do.

My suggestion is there should be an option where it boots up the computer in "gaming mode" where nothing but essential drivers are running so you have the entire computer for your game. Of course there should also be a "gaming mode with networking" where it keeps the internet and firewalls/spyware blocker/virus protection on.

Thanks for reading.

A Great Quote (Fourth of a Series)

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I have nothing but contempt for the kind of governor who is afraid, for whatever reason, to follow the course that he knows is best for the State; and as for the man who sets private friendship above the public welfare - I have no use for him either.

-Sophocles, from: Antigone


I fully and wholeheartedly agree. Post opinions, contraditions, or kudos.

A Great Quote (Third of a Series)

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Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

    -Albert Schweitzer (1875 - 1965)


What do you guys think of this one? Pessimistic? Realistic? Optimistic? I personally have to agree with this one; but I don't know if me having a bad year would have anything to do with it. Post your thoughts.

A Great Quote (Second of a Series)

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"You are all Girlie Men!!"

Arnold Scharzeneggar- to the Democratic Assembly Men in the state legislation of California


Go Arnold! Of course his enviormental plan could be a little bit more aggressive but it's really good for a Republican. What I like about him is that he does the right thing even if it alienates his supporters. The problem with politicians these days is that they care too much about keeping their campaign sponsers happy and not about doing right for the betterment of all (or most). Of course Arnold is a special case because he didn't need any campaign sponsers.


Post your opinions or kudos. I want to hear what other people think!

A Great Quote (First of a Series)

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"I am the King of Rome, and above grammar"

-Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor


I don't know why but I just love this one...

I guess this is an example of a take no sh-t leader in history. Sometimes I wish the preident would have a little more of this quality. Next Quote post will be another example...

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