Category: Review

ATI Firepro V8800 reviewed

3D Professor has got its mitts on the ATI Firepro V8800 3D workstation graphics accelerator and has given it the thumbs up.

According to the review, ATI has gained a big chunk of market share over Nvidia in the last 18 months in the professional graphics workstation market.

The site said the card is much more scaleable than its predecessor the V8750 with test results showing an increase in performance by 40 performance in some benchmarks.

Intel Westmere processors also get a round of applause. The reviewer says that AES encryption and decryption algorithms are a bonus and an aid to performance. The CPU tested is the X5680 3.3GHz Xeon

The rest rig also uses a new Western Digital Silicon Edge solid state drive and has “blistering write/read speeds”. Here’s some Westmere figures, courtesy of 3D Professor. The complete review is here.

Westmere

TechEye takes a dekko at two gaming laptops

Tamlin Magee takes on two laptops, head to head. The MSI GT740 vs the Rock Xtreme 840 SLI.

Read the reviews here:

Results are in

Who’s the winner? I’d say after a steady fight over many long, gruelling rounds, the heavyweight in the Rock corner just about ties with the middleweight in MSI’s corner. I’m sorry if that’s a cop out, but both are good machines, with their own significant pros and cons. The MSI is a better all-rounder, while we feel that the Rock is a better gaming machine. The Rock has brilliant design, save for the dodgy touchpad, while the MSI looks a little dated. But then again, you can pick up the MSI without a dedicated workout program every day.

We’d say if we had to, and really had to choose, for gaming the Rock wins thanks to its excellent display and improved keyboard. The MSI would take the trophy as a jack-of-all-trades.

* EyeSee Thanks to the lovely people at EA for providing the games.

Triple Halo launches iFag for smartarse smokers

Smoking is pretty cool and it sucks that it can give you cancer and a load of other nasty stuff too. Triple Halo is trying to minimise the risk from smoke damage with the launch of a new electronic cigarette that was kindly sent to this 30-a-day smoker for trial.

The Halo e-haler still delivers you that all important nicotine fix, and thankfully, doesn’t look like as much of a toy as competitors. If you ignore the blue light at the front that lights up with every drag, anyway. Instead of the carcinogen-heavy smoke from a regular fag, the fake cig creates smoke with water vapour. It’s nice, it feels like  you’re actually getting a hit, and there’s plenty of smoke to breathe out.

It’s a bit rich of Triple Halo to suggest that “unlike the real thing” these iCigs “don’t kill you” considering the toxicology of nicotine and the links to pwning your heart. “A perfectly healthy water vapour and nicotine mix” is ridiculously misleading.

However, the overall experience is pretty pleasant. You can get a couple different flavours – mint, tobacco, apple and strawberry, making smoking one a tad like having a portable shisha pipe. The cigarettes themselves are rechargeable. All you have to do is stick the bottom half of the fag to your computer via a supplied USB cable and you’re okay to go in an hour.

Triple Halo brags that because it’s not a real cigarette it can “legally be enjoyed anywhere,” such as pubs, clubs, bars and even on aeroplanes. I tried it on the tube and no one stopped me, but you do look a twat. If I had the opportunity to try one out on a plane, I don’t think I’d have the gall, and I can only imagine someone lacking certain social skills would dare to bother being “that guy.”

I would give the Triple Halo e-haler 3 cancerous lungs out of 5. Why? Although an improvement on other electronic cigs on the market, it still looks kind of like a goofy toy. For someone genuinely trying to quit, but can’t stand cold turkey, I imagine they would be more likely to go for a more discrete option like Nicorette’s inhalers. As a replacement to cigarettes, it’s no good. However, if you like Shisha and smoking it’s a fun device every now and then. And tasty.

MindGenius sorts out your mess of a brain

Mindgenius 3.1
Education pack – £57 [Single user license]
Business pack – £147 [Single user license]

Brainstorming is a pretty well known technique – typically, as you probably know, a group of people or an individual has a beginning point which branches off in all directions. Those branches have subsequent branches, etc etc. Typically, though, it does not order them or keep on track of them.

Anyone who’s done office work is probably familiar with walls full of post-its upon post-its, each with ideas or comments on the previous post-it. The nature of the human brain, says Mindgenius’ Dustin Newport, is chaotic and that’s why these techniques work for us. We can instantly jot down any idea, and later organise them along with notes and try to make sense of them, to eventually form into a linear structure that’s easier to make sense of.

MindGenius 3.1 does this for you. Instead of plonking down every idea randomly, MindGenius works in sequence to create a digital “mind map” so you can easily see where ideas have come from, where they’re going, later group them into  categories with the click of a button, and eventually filter them down into what you need, easily and digitally.

The idea, says Dustin, is to “support a gathering of thoughts with a view for output.” MindGenius caters, a la brainstorming, to how chaotically the human mind works and groups ideas, but makes it simple and easy to view them back on screen. Computers and computer applications work in a very left-brained, linear way – lists and organising. Of course, the right side of the human brain is visual and creative, and it’s proved that memory is increased tenfold when presented data visually.

Your blank MindMap starts with one keyword. When your word association kicks in, simply type in the next keyword and MindGenius will branch it off to the right. Keep going, and you’ll have more branches than you know what to do with, each of which can be branched off themselves.

Here’s the demo map for reference:

My mind doesn't look like this.

Best of all, once you’ve grouped your categories, or done what you like with your map, you can export it seemlessly to Excel, Word or Enterprise with all your data neatly arranged according to your filters, selected categories or keywords. It’s also possible to export your map to an HTML file for easy sharing, with a basic framed template and a table on the side with all listed categories and sub-categories. It works the other way round too – spreadsheets can be loaded into the map and organised that way.

Trying out MindGenius, the only thing that’s tough about it is getting used to typing brief keywords instead of notes. It works on the Microsoft Office Ribbon UI so should be familiar to most, and fit in easily with all other office applications.

There is infinite scalability which means you can add as many notes as you want, hundreds, thousands, or even more. We were demonstrated how the entire coding of MindGenius itself fit into a MindMap – there were over 10,000 entries and it was easy to zoom from the front end way into the tiniest intricacies.

The most obvious potential use for MindGenius is business execs – it’s an easy way to show plans to clients and quickly involve them in the positioning of notes or points. It can also be broadcast over Netviewer or WebEx, giving direct access to a plan to an entire organisation without the need for sending around PowerPoint files or amends – planning can be shown in realtime.

While MindGenius certainly has value for the average computer user – be it to keep notes or simply keep more organised – the users who will gain the most will be project managers, business professionals with a need for easy presentation and organisation, and crucially, University students. Compare a MindMap to any given student’s notepad from your nearest Uni and there will be a big difference when it comes to ease of indexing and organising output.

Personally I found it an intriguing and useful tool, impressively coded, but perhaps not for my field of work. I’m too trained into scribbling down every thought of mine in cumbersome language to untrain myself and rely on quick and easy keywords, though I suspect it will differ for many.

It’s definitely worth a try if you’re not the most organised person, or worth a try anyway. A free 30 day trial with full functionality is available on the MindGenius website. 

TuneUp 2010 revives old dud of a machine

TuneUp Utilities 2010 – $49.95 (trial available)

Having been raised on DOS and defragging and refragging and registry cleanups and windows installs and manually reformatting PCs again and again and again and over and over and over to try and squeeze the last life out of the buggers, I’ve always been strangely sceptical of optimisation software. Which is stupid, because as I’ve just learned, they really take the pain out of it for you,

TuneUp Utilities 2010 is a ridiculously easy to use and powerful product, bringing together all the stuff you can do to make your PC run that much smoother in a slick and minimal UI. A quick and dirty analysis of your rig’s shortcomings takes about a minute, and as soon as it’s done you’re presented with a bunch of options to make it run faster.

That green tick makes the pain go away.

While many of the options presented to you won’t be a surprise to those familiar with Windows, having them all in front of you and explained in laymens is a nice touch. I said “OK, whatever” to everything and let TuneUp get to it.

It took about a good five minutes to be through with. That’s to say, it cleaned up my admittedly cluttered registry, defrag’d my registry, got rid of broken shortcuts, deleted cached and temp files I didn’t want or need, boosted my system startup and shutdown by getting rid of crap that I manually closed every single time I booted up and defrag’d my hard drive. Again, all fairly obvious stuff to keep in mind, but the kind of thing I, and I suspect other PC users, get lazy about – I had recently doomed my laptop to the dangerous mindset of “It’s borked. Oh well.” My laptop is still borked, but it’s borked a hell of a lot faster and runs really smoothly.

A report shows you just how lazy you've been.

One feature I really dig about TuneUp 2010 is the ‘Turbo Mode’ – while conjuring up images of third-party joysticks from the Amiga days, it promises a lot more than you’d think it does. By putting turbo mode on, TuneUp disables or lowers the priority of all the other system processes in the background, meaning you can get along smoothly with whatever heavy-duty application you happen to be running at the time.

This sits neatly in your taskbar for instant info.

TuneUp Utilities isn’t essential, but it’s damn useful and it’s got a recommendation from the Eye.

Review machine: Acer Ferrari 5000, AMD Turion 64 X2, 2GB Memory, Windows Vista