Haz's monthly update

Written by Wil Harris

April 1, 2005 | 01:00

Tags: #april-fool #bfg #mac #media-centre #mp3 #powerbook #sli

Companies: #apple #corsair #dell #ultra #xfx

Well, it's April Fool's day today, so the temptation to write something humourous here has been almost overwhelming. Luckily for you guys, I live a life absolutely devoid of all humour, so you're going to get something vaguely serious instead.

The trouble with these columns is that when I write them, they almost turn into blog-style postings of what I've been up to, what my thoughts are, and what things are going on, rather than a rant on a particular topic, as Chris or James tend to do. But, it occurs to me, perhaps people are interested in what happens behind the scenes at bit-tech, so maybe it's worth continuing with this approach.

Well, where to start? We have been beavering away behind the scenes like marmots on acid, trying to bring you something so cool it's going to blow your socks off. No, it's not free SLi rigs for everyone... it's cooler. I'm sure you guys appreciate that whilst the bit-tech web design has its kooky appeal, it's now far from ideal for presenting the kind of information that we want to give to you guys. The way the backend of the site has been coded makes it a little inflexible, so we're currently rewriting a whole bunch of stuff to make bit-tech better suited to being the kind of resource we want it to be, and that we know you guys will appreciate it.

"We have been beavering away behind the scenes like marmots on acid..."

In a similar vein, we've been working really hard to grow bit-tech and make it bigger and better than ever, and you'll be aware of the fact that, to do that, we require money. As with everything in life, if you want to get people to write stuff, or code stuff, or generally put in a huge amount of skilled labour, some kickback is required for that. Despite bit's amateur origins, the site now takes the efforts of multiple full-time employees to keep it at the level you see now. Consequently, we hope you've noticed some of our new advertisers, including XFX, BFG, Corsair and Ultra. By paying for advertising space on bit-tech, these guys put the money in our pockets that enables us to keep bringing you the coolest news, reviews and mods. Be a darling and at least check out what they have on offer. They are paying to put their products right in front of your eyes, and they're good products - we don't publish adverts from companies we wouldn't buy from ourselves.

We work hard to make sure the level of advertising isn't too intrusive, and to make sure that the ads we do run don't distract from the content that we put up - because after all, you guys are here because you want to read what we have here. That's not going to change.

Upcoming articles, let's see... we're aiming for a little bit more of a broad appeal, rather than just modding and hardware, so we have a few new things we're going to try out. Up next week is the second part of Eddie's digital photography how-to, which is shaping up to be a really useful guide. Later on in the month we're going to be looking at Spyware, as well as the hardware that takes man into space. Intrigued? Well, if that doesn't float your boat, we're also going to have an in-depth article on overclocking the mid-range card of the moment, the X800XL, as well as a whole load of features exploring every facet of Nvidia's SLi technology. If there's something you want to see us cover on bit, as always, please post it up in the forum (discussion link at the bottom of the column).

We are only just recovering from the madness of CeBit, and we're still to bring you some of the cool coverage from that show, including modding coverage from Hypercube creator Gert Swolfs. However, even with that done, we're gearing up to be at E3 in Los Angeles next month, where the Xbox 2 and PS3 are going to get their first showing. Following that, Computex is happening in Taipei, where some of the biggest announcements are going to be made, we suspect.


On a personal note, I'm in the middle of getting together the pieces for a Media Centre box. With the latest version of the MS operating system supporting self-builds, I'm keen to find out exactly how hard it is to put together an awesome media box to live in the living room of my new house. It's going to be decked out with dual digital TV tuners, but I'm yet to investigate the different options for graphics. Graphics drivers are the one thing the OS appears to be really fussy about - for instance, the Radeon Xpress 200 motherboard chipset is the only onboard graphics supported. I look forward to finishing that off and bringing you the article as soon as I have the whole thing nicely assembled.

I'm also desperately hoping that Apple get on and release the new version of their OS, Tiger, sooner rather than later. I only tend to mess with the software settings on my PowerBook once a year, whenever the upgrade to the OS comes out. I haven't reformated, reinstalled or messed with anything since Panther came out, roughly 18 months ago, and the machine is starting to feel the strain a little bit now. I can feel the disc accesses getting longer and the general performance slowing down a little, and it really does need a wipe clean. Whoever said that Macs can be set up and left without fiddling obviously doesn't have high performance expectations. Granted, it still requires a hell of a lot less maintenance than a Windows box, which seems to need messing with on a daily basis to keep up to date on security patches. The beautiful thing about the Mac is the utter lack of viruses, which basically negates anything other than a monthly security update from Apple which downloads in a few minutes.

"Whoever said that Macs can be set up and left without fiddling obviously doesn't have high performance expectations."

You may know that, aside from being the Editor here on bit, my services are employed in a couple of select publications elsewhere, such as the Inquirer online and PCExtreme in print. Last month in Extreme, I ranted about how annoyingly expensive top-end LCD displays are, and now I'm in the market for one, I'm finding the annoyance doubly aggravating. Of course, I want a 23" Apple Cinema display, but who can justify the cost-per-pixel ratio? The resolution is too low for what it is, and there's far better value to be had from simply investing in a pair of Dell 20" 4:3 panels for a 3200-wide desktop. On the flipside, LCD TVs appear to be plummeting in price. I saw a gorgeous 26" widescreen in Sainsburys, of all places, for just under £500, and there are other offers online of a similar ilk. It looks like these next few months are going to see a rash of offers to try and spur consumers into buying something in the traditionally slow summer period.

In relation to my media box project, I've started going through and adding album artwork to my MP3 collection. I already have them all accurately tagged, so this is the next step. What I'm amazed is that no-one has written a script of some sort for iTunes to do this automagically. I mean, how hard would it be to write something that grabs the artist and album from the ID3 tag, matches it to the closest thing on Amazon, and then grabs the associated artwork? I mean, it's clearly too hard for me to do, but I wouldn't think it would be beyond someone with some rudimentary scripting nouse. Anyone up to the challenge?

On that note, I have to tackle the organisational black hole that is my email inbox. The question of how to stay on top of a busy inbox when there are a million other things to do is clearly not something that I alone encounter, so if you have any good tips, they'll be greatly appreciated.

Stay tuned. This week is going to be cool.
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