bit-tech.net

I wrote this column in 20 minutes

Right, it's quarter-past-one in the afternoon, and I have to be in a meeting by quarter-to-two. I'm the guy that's supposed to put a column out today, and I've left it until the very last minute.

It's no worries. After three years at university, I have gotten pretty good at pumping out thousands of words in a ridiculously short space of time, often whilst drunk or hungover (or an interesting combination of both). This shouldn't be a problem.

GoGoGoGo!

So, this week in tech... (which, incidentally, is an awesome Podcast that you should totally listen to)... Well, it's been interesting. We saw CrossFire come into the labs, we had some fleeting, tender moments with it then saw it rush back out again. It was interesting as heck. The early benches we ran looked pretty neat, although the main event is undoubtedly when X1800 hits - we already concluded that CrossFire on current-gen was a bit of a waste of money.

X1800 then. Lots of people getting excited... frankly, I am a little, too. I can't see ATI bringing something to the table that's slower than 7800 GTX, that's for sure. It might be in-and-around, possibly beating in some tests and not in others. It might even kick NVIDIA into touch, totally. But, I honestly don't know - I'm just waiting for the day that a card lands on my doorstep.

"I'm something of a Mac Addict"

From doorsteps to doors, from doors to Windows. I've been avoiding Windows, for a work machine, for quite a while now. Regular readers of my columns will know that I'm something of a Mac Addict, doing almost all my daily grind for the site from my trusty 15" PowerBook. However, the PowerBook is getting long in the tooth now, and is really starting to feel the pain. I've already had to replace the hard drive inside it (getting it open was a nightmare, and is something I'll document on the site sometime in the next couple of weeks), and the casing is completely battered. There's a dent in the lid, the wrist rests have all the paint worn off, the DVI port is almost broke, the DVD drive is dented, and the edges have been knocked so many times it's a wonder they still sit parallel.

So, I've been looking into a new notebook. The trouble is, Apple's notebooks are just so damn slow compared to most Windows machines. Centrino notebooks that are much faster can be had for 2/3rds of the price of a PowerBook - and while the industrial design might not match up, there is a point at which you can't justify form over function.

I have seen some light, however. In all sorts of unscrupulous places, I have seen OSX for x86 tip up as an install CD. With an appropriate processor in my notebook, I could grab myself a DIY MacTop for a fraction of the price. Whilst Centrino processors don't support the SSE3 required to run Rosetta (the emulation platform for OSX), AMD Turion processors do. I could quite fancy one of the new Acer Ferrari notebooks with OSX installed. Not only that, I could actually have a decent resolution on my 15" widescreen too, rather than the paltry 1280x854 that PowerBooks ship with.

But my most recent foray into Windows has been to use the trial version of Adobe Audition, which is only available on Windows (unlike the rest of Adobe Creative Suite, which is available on Mac too). I've been playing with Audition because it's the editing suite of choice for Podcasters.

"Wait... why are you playing with a Podcast audio programme?" I hear you ask. Well, it doesn't take a genius, does it? A few of us are getting together over the weekend to see what we come up with, and you might see the fruits of our labour on the front page of the site next week. On the other hand, if it sucks, you won't.

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Wil Harris

One thing that doesn't suck, however, is the new forums. We've re-jigged them - not only did we rewrite the rules, we also made substantial changes to the ways that some of our most popular forums operated. We changed Project Logs to make it easier to read and post in, and we enforced some harder rules on the General Discussion part of the site, making it a bit easier to read.

"Take an extra couple of minutes when posting"

We've also, in what is perhaps a first for an online forum, started up our own version of the grammar police. It doesn't take more than 30 seconds to check the contents of a post for typos, correct spelling and osme semblance of grammar (deliberate typo - Ed.), and it makes the whole thing so much nicer to read. So we're asking members just to take an extra couple of minutes when posting, and enforcing some spelling cleanups when they don't. Hopefully it will make a bit of a difference to the 'niceness' of using the forum.

We've also introduced the Home Theatre PC and Media Center forum. There's no doubt that convergence is gaining momentum, and with products like NVIDIA's nForce 430 coming in to the market, the opportunity to self-build an awesome system has never been greater. We're looking forward to that section of the forums really taking off, and we're going to be covering more Home Theatre PC stuff on the site, too.

What else is going on? Well, you wait months for games and then a million come along at once. The summer months of this year were sustained only by Battlefield 2, and after having nothing to write about, it's all now happening at once. Age of Empires 3 is out for demo download, as is Serious Sam 2. The full versions of both games hit in the middle of next month, along with FEAR and Black and White 2. New versions of Burnout came out in the last couple of weeks for consoles (do you guys want console coverage other than Xbox 360 on the site? Let me know). And, of course, EA's yearly updates are going to be kicked out over the next couple of weeks, with FIFA 06 coming out in the UK on Friday. I know I'm going to be picking it up on Friday and getting a crate of beer, and some mates (Wait... real people!?! - Ed.), in for a decent Friday night.

(I know, I know. As well as writing on a Mac I game on a Xbox. Shoot me!)

All in all then, busy busy busy. And, lo and behold, it's twenty-to-two. Time for me to push the button on this and head off to the meeting.

If only I wasn't so hungover...