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Bose Triport Over-the-Ear Headphones November 15th, 2007 by Justin

 

Bose Triport Over-the-Ear Headphones

Today I bring to you what many of us already have broken down and picked up at our local Best Buy… the tried-and-true Bose Triport over-the-ear style headphones. If you already have a pair of these, you probably already recognize that Bose designed these headphones from the ground-up with ergonomics prioritized above sound quality, but more on the latter later.

Do you remember the first time you saw these headphones? If you’re like me, you saw them at a local Apple store, hooked up to an iPod. Being particularly drawn to the Bose label on a pair of headphones, you immediately slipped these on your head. Bliss… before the music even starts, you know you love the headphones. That’s because the most outstanding quality of the Triports is the comfort of the skin-soft, leathery cushion-molding around your ears.

The pressure exerted on your head by the headphones is exquisitely balanced – these headphones are snugly attached to your head while not causing any pressure points that would otherwise lead to headaches. The shape and placement of the cushions can fit large and small ears equally well (disclaimer, we had no seven foot tall test subjects to test this claim) and provides for a nicely quieted soundstage.

Enough with the fluff, let’s get to the weaknesses. In a side-by-side comparison with a comparable Sennheiser set, Bose’s ergonomic focus comes into light – while these headphones offer superior “wearability” over great lengths of time, they simply do not compete on the soundstage. The drivers in the Triports provide for an almost tin-can like experience, and the distortion levels at high volume is noticeable even to my ears. Yet, in comparison to Altec Lansing boomsets, the Triports are incredibly superior. Altec’s focus on ear-rattling bass easily drowns out any mid-frequency details that the Triports can offer in spades. The Triports do manage to pull ahead in the level of ambient noise they knock out when you put them on. While the noise-filtering capability is impressive, it’s still “just passive,” so active-noise canceling fans (I’m looking at you, Benn) might want to upgrade to the Triports with this capability.

Build Quality

At first glance, you may think the Triports would be flimsy and prone to falling apart even under moderate usage. This is, in fact, partially true. What I can’t understand about the engineering of the headphones is the flimsiness of the headphone cord – it is so thin in diameter that it wreaks “cheap!” I’ve been rather careful with my ‘ports for over a year now, and the cord hasn’t sheered or frayed yet, but barring actually sitting on the headphones, I just know that the first thing to go out on the Triports will be the headphone cord.

Beyond the weaknesses of the headphone cord, the set is held together by rather durable plastic and a strong steel band that lends tension to keep the phones tight around your ears. The construction is simplistic in nature and thus quite lightweight.

The skinny

These headphones almost lend themselves to LAN’in. You can sit in one place for hours on end with these on your head and you won’t get a headache (at least, not one caused by the ‘phones). And while the sound quality leaves something to be desired and you have to be careful with the headphone cord, you will probably enjoy these headphones enough to justify the cost.

AMD Athlon X2 4400+ February 21st, 2006 by Ryan

 
athlon-64-x2

First off, this review is not technical. If you want to see specific benchmarks and numbers then I suggest that you check out the review of the X2 line done by Toms Hardware.

I consider myself to be fairly demanding towards my PC but by no means am I an extreme gamer or anything like that. Instead I focus on my computer being able to do a very wide variety of tasks which include games, playing music and video, encoding music and video, run a multitude of utilities and surf the internet. My former processor was an Athlon 3000+ and for most of my purposes it did just fine. It would keep up in games and keep things running most of the time. The thing was that I tend to run more than 1 application at once, in fact right now doing practically nothing I have 2 Firefox windows open with about 9 tabs, 4 aim conversations, Winamp, a file transfer client, a widget client, xfire, antivirus, a desktop skinning application, and about 5 different hardware utilities. After I write this I might decide to start up World of Warcraft or possibly Counterstrike, without closing any of the aforementioned programs. While no one background thing uses much CPU time it all adds up.

Now many would just say, close some stuff and you won’t have any problems, but I actually use all of the stuff I have running and want it to be there, so I decided to upgrade to a dual core processor. The new processor, a 4400+ Athlon X2, has a clock speed that is only 0.2 GHz faster than the old 3000+ single core. This means that I was not expecting much of a performance increase with any one application, and in practice did not see that much. With my NVIDIA 6800 GTOC games only improved modestly. The real benefit though was the smoothness of the entire system. Games stopped lagging due to the competition for the processor. And windows itself handles things much easier without hanging. This upgrade was a major success because of this.

This however just describes the benefits with applications designed to work on 1 processor, instead of the 2 that are housed in the X2. Most current applications are designed to run on one processor only and the smoother performance I have seen has been due to windows managing applications and telling them which processor to run on. This means I can have windows, all of my normal background services, music, and chatting programs run on one processor while my game of Counter-Strike runs on the other. Already however there are some applications which are designed to take full advantage of two processors at the same time. These programs are made so that they can split the processing they need between two or more processors. The one application I have used which works this way is a DVD encoding program to back up my DVD’s. With the single core processor a single movie could take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to encode. Now they only take about 2 hours which makes the difference between something you start before you go to bed and something you start before you go running.

As a whole, it is hard to go wrong with a dual core processor such as the X2. The overall performance of a typical multiuse system is enhanced in a way that few other technological innovations have managed. Truly the only reason why to not get a dual core processor would be in order to maximize the performance of current single processor applications such as games, but even these will most likely be appearing with more multi-core support. Even the original pitfall of cost is decreasing as Intel and AMD compete to deliver ever faster and cheaper products. In the 2 months since I bought the 4400+ the price has already come down by $50!

In addition to the general benefits of a dual core processor, AMD offers some unique features which make it more appealing than its Intel counter-parts. First and foremost is its power consumption. AMD’s X2’s use far less power than Intel’s current chips. This means that it will save you some on your power bill and will produce much less heat. The smaller heat output means that it requires a smaller cooler and puts less heat stress on your computers components. In addition switching to a dual core processor may not require building a new system, as the X2’s utilize the same socket 939 that AMD has been using for all of their 64 bit processors.

While any dual core processor from AMD will definitely be nice upgrade, the 4400+ holds a unique position in their lineup. It is the cheapest dual core to offer a full megabyte of cache on each core. This ensures the smoothest performance possible.

So next time your computer bogs down, your games hang, or you just want to play Counter-strike and World of Warcraftt at the same time, check out what AMD has to offer.


Star Wars: Empire at War February 21st, 2006 by Ryan

 

So with my friend Ian’s encouragement I picked up this game Thursday when it came out. It is definitely a different kind of game. There are kind of 2 levels of strategy: 1. the overall planet maps and 2. The individual space and land battles. So, there is a lot to think about.

250px-Eaw_keyart

As for game play, you can only build a limited number of things on each planet which include barracks, factories and most importantly mining facilities for resources. Also you can build space stations in space above planets to produce space units. Now building units is done on the planet scale. You click on a planet and select what you want to build/queue and you get the units and can move them from planet to planet. This includes space units. However, if one of your planets gets invaded you get periodic spurts of units from your barracks so you get a bonus for being on the defensive.

The units are much like they are in Battle for Middle Earth. Some units like large ships are single units while others are 1 unit but are comprised of several individual ships or people. This way it looks really cool to have your squad of x-wings, or laser troopers running around and fighting.

Battles can be fun, but in my opinion are really not the strength of the game. Due to the fact that you are bringing in units for attacks and cannot really make any more in battle there are definite limitations to what you can do. This means that a lot of battles are predetermined to a degree. In addition to this strategic maneuvers are also limited. In space battles your forces usually rely on several large ships with a few fighters or anti-fighter units. BIG SHIPS ARE SLOW. So, that said the main elements of strategy come simply from what to target first and when to use the very few special abilities that some units have. As for targeting units, small units will usually just be one target while larger units such as a star destroyer will have several individual systems you can target such as shields, a hanger, and various weapons.

The real fun of this game is trying to build up your forces and defend yourself. On the large scale you must try to take over and defend planets in order to be able to get more resources and acquire special abilities such as reduced build costs for certain units. The trick is that planets can be hard to defend and unit movements can be slow if the planets are not connected via a hyperspace route. This said, there is still a lot of room for strategy, just not at the battle level. In fact what struck me about this game is how it is seemingly a perfect blend between traditional turn-based strategy games and real-time strategy games.

Although I have yet to try it out there are a few things I am pretty sure you are able to do with multiplayer. The full galaxy map will be able to be used, meaning one multiplayer game could involve any number of planets and individual skirmishes… this could lead to some incredibly long games although limited to 2 players. Now if you are pretty sure that you would be using an ice pick on yourself before you could force yourself to play for that long there are other options. You can also do individual land and space skirmishes where you must capture control points in order to gain resources. These will allow 4 vs. 4 matches more suitable for general multiplayer play.

All in all, I must say that while there are some shortcomings I still really enjoy the game. I have yet to see the longevity of the games appeal but will update here and tell you if you are bound to eventually get bored. So, I think I would actually suggest buying this game, if nothing else but to give you something to do while waiting for Battle for Middle-Earth II.

Pros:
-rts & tbs elements
-squads as units with individuals inside
-large scale strategy
-unique units
-battles on various levels e.g. land and space.

Cons:
-skirmishes have limited strategic capability.
-graphics are not extremely glorious.
-price with it being $50
-In AI campaigns once you reach a certain point you end up simply playing a lot of end game. It can’t really overturn any momentum you get going.

 

Natalie Portman in Closer February 7th, 2006 by admin

 

natalie portman closer blog banner
(don’t you wish you could see her nak-ed)

My first impressions of this movie were undeveloped after leaving the theater. I was fully prepared for another abhorable chick-flick, ready to take the movie at chest-value. That is, I wanted to see Natalie Portman’s boobies, or at least the hint of the naked beauty, and was willing to sacrifice a ghastly sum of corporate greens to do so. (Actually, I had no money on me but a friend was willing to pay instead.)

That said, let me begin with the plot later. As I am going to build a computer with my friend. I’m sure this will generate a lot of hits.

…alright so it is approximately three days later, and my contemplative strike has come to an end. Closer made its debut with much hype about the naked Natalie Portman, as I mentioned above. However, after watching the movie I don’t see why the trailers were more true to the mood of the movie. The movie has essentially null for plot, but focuses on drama and the somewhat amazing acting on the part of Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and not-so-good-acting-but-good-looking Natalie Portman. The whole thing reminded me of a Shakespearean comedy.

Jude Law is, of all things, an obituary journalist who by chance meets the most stunning girl on the streets, our dear friend Portman. With aspirations of writing good stuff and banging the cute chick, Law is inspired to quit his job. The movie then skips an undeterminate amount of time – almost a year – and Roberts is taking pictures of the transformed Law (no glasses anymore, nice hair, styling clothing). Of course the new Law proceeds to kiss Roberts. Portman enters the studio later and discovers the photographer’s “felony.”

Thus Portman lives as the helpless, though quite beautiful, lapdog of the increasingly jerkish Law. There are numerous twists, and following the timeline accurately is a challenge on the first watch, but give it a chance. I did and I liked it in the end.

Oh, and you won’t be enjoying Natalie Portman nude anytime soon. You have to wait for the DVD most likely to see Portman’s boobs. The director didn’t feel it was appropriate for the movie, though Portman wanted to and apparently the scene was filmed. So watch out for the “Unrated Edition” in April or thereabouts.

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