Friday, April 14, 2006

Early Closing

"Everyone can leave early!" As these words come through the email system, and audible cheer comes from every tiny little cube, every damp hovel of an office, and every women's restroom (men's restrooms are obviously an exception to celebration). We all perk up a little at the extra time off.....until the inevitable comes.

Mister Bossman swaggers up with a smug grin on his face and says "Hey, with everyone taking off early, wouldn't this just be the most perfect time to do that horrendously tedious upgrade we've been meaning to do?" God, it seems, has a very bad sense of humor, evolution doesn't work fast enough, and America has no mandatory vacation. Down with the system!.........I mean the network.......(sigh).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Guided Fury

I am returned! Well....for this post at least.

Anyway, work has gotten interestingly different. I am now guided and directed. No longer is ITFury left to wander the halls looking for work, he now must log and document what he does. It's quite a change. I feel like an ostrich. Once I roamed the plains of some continent with wind blowing through my hair, eyelashes curling alluringly, flapping my wings but never quite taking off. Then..................someone hit me with a club, throws a sack over my head, and I wake up in a caged area walking in fecal matter. Every spring I'm sheared, my eggs are taken the moment they're laid, and the other ostriches tell me that Bingo the lovable cross-eyed ostrich didn't actually escape, but found his way into a meat grinder and that I'm next. The sad thing is, it feels kinda good to have a purpose, even if it is to become feed. Of course the farm could just go under and someone might throw the gates open and let us go free once more before that happens. Either way, it's all good by me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nuisance #12

People who leave messages like "Hi this is so-and-so. Please give me a call at 555-5555." Am I the only one who wants to know what they want prior to calling them back? That information helps me prioritize and disregard people, so it is a vital part of the way I work!

Nuisance #11

People who reply to your emails with nothing but "Thank You" or "You're great" or some other tripe. It may sound snide or rude to think so, but all they're doing is wasting my time with their inane diatribe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's Broken!

Well, an application that I campaigned for has gone down. It's been down for days now and there's nothing I can do but wait for the vendor's tech support to call me back. The application was installed by a professional installer, the server is dedicated, and I've done nothing that should have had even the remotest chance of causing instability in the application, but I can't help but feel responsible. I've pushed this application, which has been extremely stable until now, into the limelight and made it a central part of how we do business. Everyone's working around it as best they can, but it is certainly costing us.

In the middle of all of this is the waiting. I pity anyone who comes to me with a trivial problem, or who badgers me, or whines at me. I will rip them to shreds at this point because I'm on edge. I have far more important things to worry about than taking care of these people:

"My printer won't print, and the nearest network printer is 10 feet away!"
"My home computer has spyware."
"My computer's sound quality isn't as good as my iPod's."

Oh, let them come.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The World's Biggest Freakshow....Let's Go!

I am gonna go nuts
Cause I'm an IT guy
There's a million tickets in the que that will make me cry

From Hard drives to RAM
To spyware and spam
The biggest problems that there are!

I don't wanna go to work
Cause if I do
I'll probably kill myself after you!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

First let me say that I am not a huge Star Wars fan, unless you count the original trilogy. The latest three episodes failed to meet my expectations, and even made me wrench once or twice. The best of the three was the third, which was a stunningly beautiful movie, with amazing special effects and jaw dropping fight scenes. It was the essence of perfection.....until someone opened their mouth. The words that came out sounded as if daytime TV would turn up their nose at such soppy, poorly written crap. So again, I don't consider myself a fan of the series.

I was somewhat hesitant to purchase the game, since I vowed never to buy a game that came out after the movie for which it was made because typically the publisher relies on the movie's popularity for sales, instead of the game's own attributes. You tend to end up with the worst games the industry can churn out. The only reason I did grab it was that my brother had showed me the original version on XBOX, and it seemed somewhat interesting, and I was bored.

So, I loaded up the game, which took a bit of time since it required 4.5GB of drive space. I opened the tutorial and found that it gave you a good basic understanding of the game. It will not go into some of the more complex details though, such as how a Botham spy uses his sneak ability.

The storyline follows a contingent of clones through the battles that carved out the Empire from the Old Republic. Every battle is one that was a part of the movies. There are short clips from the movies between battles and brief journal excerpts from one of the 501st division of the clone army.

I found single player gameplay to be extremely enjoyable. The graphics are good, the AI is decent, and not every map is a piece of cake in normal mode unless you already know exactly what to expect. The shear number of vehicles that you can pilot is impressive. Each vehicle has unique abilties and some require different skill sets than others.

Every map was nice, with great attention to detail. You'll find yourself smiling, goggling, or chuckling at something constantly. It was a real thrill to see the movie's settings brought to an interactive environment, with Jawa's running around repairing everything or the Sarlak whipping its tongue out to grab an enemy.

In fact, I was so impressed with this game that I couldn't wait to play it online. And that's when the reality check came. Battlefront2 has the potential to become an amazingly popular online game, but I just didn't see as many servers as I expected. There were only 5 or 6 that had more than 10 people currently playing that I ping below 50ms on. That might seem fine to some of you, but when I play Counterstrike, I expect to see no fewer than 30 servers that meet those criteria.

I chose a server with 24 people playing and began my online experience. First, even on the best servers I could find, lag was a big issue, which normally points to poorly written netcode. Lag even froze the servers from time to time even though half the players were bots. Second, there seem to be some bugs in the system including a very annoying bug that prevents you from respawning and problems with the way the server handles the initial spawning in rounds. Third, everything moves too quickly. It is impossible to aim shots because everyone has the ability to change directions instantly at top speed and bullets have horrendous travel time. The combination means that any hit is more luck than skill.

All in all, I highly recommend the game to someone who likes single player games, or any fan of the Star Wars series. I advise online gamers to wait and see if a patch comes out to fix the issues with online play before purchasing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Computer Specs

OK, so I know not too many people want to hear this, but here is the spec out for my new computer. I've put it together after a bit of research. It is the best performance for my budget. There are several noticeable differences between it and the last computer I built, namely that I went with an AMD processor, which was previously against my religion. Unlike most places that give you what they built and a few reasons why, I'm going to explain details. This is painful for some of you.....get over it.

AMD Athlon 64 4000+ San Diego
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum Motherboard(Non SLI)
Two Raptor 74GB Hard Drives in RAID02x512MB
Corsair XMS Memory PC3200 (2-3-3-6)
GeForce 7800GT 256MB Video
Coolermaster Wavemaster case
Misc power supply, DVD/CD

First, the processor is by far and away the best bang for your buck. I'd like to link to charts, but they're not my charts and I'll stay clear. I was an Intel fanatic, mainly because Intel was the standard, and an IT guy who breaks standards is asking for trouble. They had the most support, their chips performed better, applications were written with their chips' instruction sets in mind. These were my reasons, but these reasons have dwindled to a point that I can no longer use them as an anchor.

Second comes the motherboard. This is the most important part of a computer, and so the one that received the most of my research time. After some time, it came down to two boards, the MSI K8N and the Abit Fatal1ty(no that's not a typo). Being a long-time Abit fan, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I looked for good things about their board and bad things about MSI's board. In the end, I couldn't deny that it looks as if the Fatal1ty board is a revision or two away from being what I've come to expect from Abit. According to many websites I looked on, faulty drivers, failure of two memory slots, and a need for specific auxiliary components plague Abit’s board. MSI’s board appeared rock-solid, so I stole Abit’s trophy and awarded a well-deserved win to MSI. I then decided to steer clear of the SLI board for a ~$50 savings on something I have no intention of using within the lifetime of this machine. Hardcore people with more money than me can buy the SLI version of the board and another video card for some MAJOR video power, but at a total additional cost of $400.

Third, the Raptor drives. The only thing bad that can be said about these drives is that they remain a bit pricey for their capacity, but they are quite inexpensive given their performance. Nothing I know of under $200 can deliver the blazing fast speeds of a Raptor. Put two of them in a RAID0 array and greatly widen one of the bottlenecks in any modern performance computer. Besides, I only know a few people who utilize more than 148GB of storage.

Fourth is memory. Who can argue with the decision to go with Corsair memory? Crucial fans I guess. Corsair is one of the best though, no doubts. I chose this specific memory because to get a faster pair of DIMMs I’d need to spend an additional $70. Also, I have yet to see many applications that use more than 1GB of memory. Hard core people will want to go with the 2x1GB PC3500 (2-3-2-6) for an additional $200.

Next we come to a controversial decision, one that I agonized over a little too much….the video card. I have began to dislike nVidia more and more over the past few months. My own personal experience with them supporting a game manufacturer that didn’t support them and even made them look bad has given me some doubts about the quality of their product. See post on nVidia. I looked into ATIs cards, and although their benchmarks are impressive, it seems that nVidia’s 7800GT series is somewhat affordable at around $320. It seems that this card outperforms two 6800GTs in SLI mode. That's some power!

I don’t think of the computer case as being a major part of a computer, and it’s still an afterthought. That being said, I love the Coolermaster Wavemaster case. It’s been out for some time now, but its simple, sleek design sets it apart as a case for people with conservative good taste, the non-flamboyant affluent.

Power supplies are integral to your system, but with everything I’ve read and seen I find it hard to have an opinion on the subject. Power supplies are virtually equal so long as you go with a reputable manufacturer and a sufficient wattage to accommodate your system.

DVD drives aren’t built equal, but they will not greatly affect system performance except in rare circumstances where you need a good deal of data from a CD or DVD in a very short time. I can’t think of such an instance, and so the main thing that is affected is file copy time and application load time.

The remaining components (DVD/CD Reader/Writer, Floppy if you like nostalgia, Sound card if you have super-human ears, and bling if you want it) I do not feel the need to go into here.

So, the system we have with a pricetag of $1450 is:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+ San Diego
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum Motherboard(Non SLI)
Two Raptor 74GB Hard Drives in RAID0
2x512MB Corsair XMS Memory PC3200 (2-3-3-6)
GeForce 7800GT 256MB Video
Coolermaster Wavemaster case
Misc power supply, DVD/CD

Wealthier individuals who can spend $2050 might want to go with:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+ San Diego
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum Motherboard SLI
Two Raptor 74GB Hard Drives in RAID0
2x1GB Corsair XMS Memory PC3500 (2-3-2-6)
Two GeForce 7800GT 256MB Video
Coolermaster Wavemaster case
Misc power supply, DVD/CD

Keep in mind that this does not include a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or any software, yet these systems are the best of the best in terms of gaming performance.