February 2005 Archives

Half Life 2


Lately, I 'ave been mostly playing Half Life 2. It's very, very impressive, especially in the power of the rendering engine and in the story.

I played through Doom 3 on my Windows PC, and it was barely playable. I could get a framerate of 20fps at the lowest screen size (640x480) and with nearly all the rendering options set to lowest quality. The game looked awful. Dark, pixellated, and crude.

Now, I don't have a state of the art gaming rig. My Windows PC is a dual Pentium 3 1 GHZ box with only 256MB of Ram. (Rambus RAM - ick!) The graphics are powered by an Nvidia GeForce FX5200, which is the bottom model in the previous series of graphics cards from Nvidia.

This setup is well below the minimum spec required by most games these days, but it's fine for older games. Doom 3, as mentioned earlier, is barely playable on it.

Imagine my surprise then, when Half Life 2 turned out to be highly playable. At the native resolution of my Eizo L685 monitor (1280x1024) I get around 25-30 fps. I was even able to run it in dual screen mode with an effective resolution of 2560x1024 with a decent rendering speed and it realised that the aspect ratio had changed. Very impressive.

(Of course, the lack of RAM is a real problem. Level loading times are very slow and the constant paging in causes a delay whenever new sounds or monsters are required. Extra RAM for a RAMBUS system would probably cost more than I paid for the box in the first place, so I'm extremely unlikely to ever upgrade it.)

Half Life 2 has huge, bright and open levels, a sharp contrast to Doom 3's claustrophobic tunnels. It has amazing character animation, and the facial animation, in particular, is very good.

IDN bug workaround


A workaround for the IDN spoofing issue: Tech.Life.Blogged | Workaround for IDN Spoofing Issue

Compact Flash Recovery


For the last few months my Canon A85 has been the epitome of reliability. From point, shoot and transfer to PC, it's never skipped a beat.

Tonight, the CF card (a 256MB ridata unit) suddenly proclaimed itself corrupted and refused to talk to the camera. It also refused to talk to any computers, whether being read as a scsi device under linux or a removable disc under winXP.

(I have a CF card reader which means I don't have to go through the camera's silly menus. It treats the removable media like a CD or floppy disk so I can just copy and paste from the CF card to my storage area. Just to complicate things, I have a few large disks in my Linux box which are shared out over the home network so that any windows machine can see them. This makes things easier.)

Time for some disc recovery!

A quick google search revealed two main options:

  • PC Inspector
  • PC Inspector searched through the CF card for about an hour (with no trace of activity on the Card Reader light) before claiming no files recovered.

  • Zero Assumption Recovery
  • Zero Assumption Recovery whirred away (actually using the card, if the activity light was to be believed) before finding nothing.

It looks like the controller on the card itself is shot, so neither program could reasonably have been expected to work. However, Zero Assumption Recovery seemed to actually try to do anything.

The Magic Roundabout


Yahoo! News - 'Magic Roundabout' Spins Again in Animated Film

It gained cult status in Britain after the BBC asked Eric Thompson -- father of Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson -- to create a version in English. Ignoring the original script, Thompson made up his own words to match the pictures.

The result, by turns naive and surreal, made the series required watching for children as well as adults, who saw in it a thinly-veiled allusion to 1960s drug culture -- something its creator always denied.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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