Monthly Archives: November 2009

Valve/Steam Rambling

Over at Ars, there’s an interview Ars had with Valve’s Director of Business Development, Jason Holtman. In case you are unaware, Valve is the game development company that has brought us Counter-Strike, the Half-Life series and Left 4 Dead. Valve is also the company behind the downloadable PC game store, Steam. In the article, Holtman discusses Valve’s success with Steam as a platform for digital distribution of games.

Steam and DRM

I have been using Steam since 2005. At first, I didn’t trust Steam very much. I think I was a little apprehensive about what would happen to the games that I buy if Steam should ever close it’s doors. Steam distributes the games it sells with a form of DRM – a non-obtrusive form of DRM mind you. Some games you buy require you to have a connection to the internet to play. Most do not and you can choose to take Steam “offline” if you want to play a game offline.

It has been my experience, so far, that you can download and install games as many times as you want. Some 3rd party games still come with Activation Limits or Install Limits. However, some of these games also come with programs that you can use to deactivate a game before uninstall, thereby saving you 1 activation.

While I have become more trustworthy of Steam, I can’t help but wonder what the hell will happen if/when Steam dies? I think this is a question that has been asked far too many times and that has not had a clear, precise answer. Will this DRM that Steam uses keep us from enjoying these games we purchase should they go the way of the Dodo?

Purchasing games on Steam within the European Union

There is a lot of [obvious] convenience when it comes to buying games on Steam. You don’t have to go to the store or order games from another online site that will deliver the physical medium to your door. Steam used to charge in US dollars but changed that well over a year or so ago. Since I live in Finland, I have to purchase each game in euros. Fair enough, but the problem is that Steam seems to be charging the same number amount in both euros and US dollars. For example, Steam is currently having a 5-day sale. A couple of days ago, they were selling Left 4 Dead 2 for 25% off. The price in euros was 37,49€. I checked with some Steam users in the States and the price was exactly the same in dollars, $37.49!

Now, $37.49 does not equal 37,49€;  it equals 25€ and 37,49€ equals $56. Now, I can understand and expect some price increase if this were a physical medium I was buying the game in, such as a DVD or a CD. Since you have to import the game into the country and we are talking supplies, shipping costs and import taxes. However, this is not the case. What about VAT (Value Added Tax) you say? Here is the price for a game that costs $37.49 with Finland’s VAT of 22% :

  • Game in US dollars: $37.49 + $8.25 VAT = $45.74 or 30,55€
  • Game in euros: 25€ + 5,5 VAT = 30,50€ or $45.65

So, I have to ask what the heck is going on here? Why is Steam price gouging it’s euro-using customers in Europe?

Steam isn’t the only company engaging in price gouging here in Finland. Finns have been complaining about this since the introduction of the euro. Products and services apparently used to cost way less under the old Finnish mark. My concern here is that some foreign and Finnish companies importing, physically or digitally, products into Finland are keeping their prices at the same number as they are in the States. Counting on the ignorance of Finns who do not understand what is going on here, either because of language issues or they genuinely do not understand. Meanwhile, hoping that the Finnish government will keep ignoring the will of the people as they have been doing in recent years.

I’ll end this by asking asking one more question, where the hell is Half-Life 2: Episode 3??? 😀


Mininova Shuts Down Torrent Links

Yesterday, torrent giant Mininova turned off it’s torrent link hosting service in compliance with the BREIN ruling handed against it by the Dutch Court of Utrecht earlier this year. According to this Mininova blog post, Mininova is going to rely on it’s Content Distribution service. This service allows content providers to distribute their works using Mininova for free.

Mininova was the second major European torrent service that was hit with a court ruling this year. The first was the Swedish service, The Pirate Bay. But unlike Mininova, The Pirate Bay is still hosting links to torrents. However, The Pirate Bay shut down it’s torrent tracker and has told users to use the provided magnet links.


Firefox Overheating CPUs… Oh Noes!!

Like my sensationalist headline? Grabs your attention does it? Well this is what happens when media makes a big deal about a story that is almost much ado about nothing.

I say almost for a reason…

According to CNET, the computer processor usage by Firefox is causing overheating problems in laptops and netbooks. Fair enough, but there is more to this story than the fact that Firefox is turning into a CPU/memory hog and that it will burn up your computer like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter. Apparently, this is such a story that Finnish network MTV3 has devoted some of it’s web space about it (in Finnish… the headline reads “Firefox could overheat your processor”).

The issue of space

For those that have never been inside a laptop or even a netbook, it’s cramped in there. There’s not a lot of real estate to work with as there is in desktop computers. Laptop/netbook manufacturers can only shrink parts so much and even then they are practically sitting side-by-side with another part. This brings on another problem, which is airflow. Because there is almost no empty space in a laptop or a netbook, there is no airflow. Yes, laptops have vent(s) and a fan that blows out the hot air from the processor. However it’s not enough. And if you are playing video or surfing the web, this makes the processor work. Just moving your mouse an inch or two make the processor work. The processor is essential to your computer. It’s the brain and it’s the engine.

Your computer runs on electricity and electricity moves through the insides of your computer when it is running. Basic science tells you that electricity is hot. Laptops/netbooks, while designed to use less power, still have power running through them. If you have your computer on for long enough, the parts inside it will eventually heat up. All of that heat has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, current technology limits how much heat a laptop/netbook can get rid of and that’s not good for it’s parts. Computer parts work better the cooler they are.

It’s not just Firefox…

The above statement is true. Firefox is not the only browser that can heat up your processor. Some commentators of the CNET article mentioned that IE actually doesn’t use the CPU like the other browsers. Also, some fanboy was screaming at the top of his lungs about Opera. I made sure to include these two browsers in my little test.

Test sepcifications

  • Windows Vista Home Premium OEM 32-bit
  • HP dv9000 series laptop
  • Athlon Turion 64 X2
  • nVidia 8400M – Yes, one of the mobile GPU chips that suffered the huge overheating problems. Yes, the motherboard has already been replaced once.
  • 3GB RAM

Besides the browser and a wireless connection, Object Dock, Adobe Photoshop (no open documents) and Windows Live Messenger were also open but running in the background.

Below you can view screenshots I took of various browsers and the Windows Task Manager.

Google Chrome CPU UseIE 8 CPU UseSafari Windows CPU UseOpera CPU Use

In order: Google Chrome 3, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Safari 4 and Opera 10.10

As you can see each browser pictured above is using a sizable amount of processor power to run one tab displaying the MTV3 Firefox story page. Every page is displaying no less than 3 Flash ads and there is a fair amount of JavaScript being used on the page.

Google Chrome fmi.fi CPU useIE 8 fmi.fi CPU useSafari fmi.fi CPU useOpera fmi.fi CPU use

In order: Google Chrome 3, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Safari 4 and Opera 10.10

Not so busy anymore, is it? The web page pictured above is to the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website local weather page. This page displays 0 flash ads and very little JavaScript.

The point of the story is that the media has chosen Firefox to be the culprit of your overheating CPU. While Firefox obviously uses your processor, so does every other browser. They have to use your processor. Not only do they need to just open and stay open so you can use it, they have to display the Flash ads and video you watch in your browser and process the programs that help you use web sites more efficiently.

In the end, there is just far more to the heat your laptop/netbook generates than you think. Don’t be fooled by media stories like this that try to scare you. Just remember:

  1. Laptops and netbooks have very little space to where heat can escape.
  2. Today’s web sites use technology which needs your computer’s power to run.
  3. There’s no need to panic, the sky is not falling. Just remember that if you are not using your computer for a period of time, either close your browser or if you need to keep your browser open then put your computer to sleep or put it in hibernation. Putting it to sleep or in hibernation will save what you are doing to your computer’s memory or hard drive, respectively. This way, you can let your computer cool off and when you want to use your computer again, all of your information will still be there.

Building A Custom System Using An Antec 1200 Part 4

And finally we are at the end of my series about building a custom computer system using an Antec 1200. In this final posting, I’m going to throw numbers your way. I ran some gaming and performance benchmarks. But first, I must tell you that I am not a professional reviewer. One of those guys stuck in labs, running test after test on computers and then kicking your ass with the logic. Sometimes it’s better to hear it from the random guy on the street. Here I am.

System specs refresher

You don’t need to scan through the other postings to see my specs. I’ll list them right here:

  • Antec 1200 computer case, 5 120mm fans, 1 200mm fan
  • ASUS P6T motherboard with Intel X58 chipset, 3-way SLI and Quad-Crossfire ready, onboard Realtek HD Audio, onboard Gigabit LAN
  • EVGA GTX 275 1792MB GDDR3
  • 6GB Corsair Dominator PC3 12800 @1600, triple channel
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA (3.0Gpbs) HDD, 32MB cache @7200rpm
  • Corsair TX750, 750W power supply
  • Samsung SATA DVD-RW drive
  • Windows 7 Home Premium

How does it run?

Windows 7 System Info WindowIt runs well, but I am not surprised. Programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Dreamweaver start up fast. Games load maps fast. I had a really good experience using Windows 7 Ultimate RC, both on this laptop and on my gaming system. It was almost stable with few problems. I have removed RC from this laptop and have gone back to Vista. Man, I really don’t like Vista.

If you have clicked on the picture to the right, then you have noticed that the Windows Experience Index is only 5.9. For those that do not know, the Windows Experience Index, introduced to us in Vista, is Windows’ benchmarking tool. While it’s not as telling as PC Vantage or 3D Mark, you get the general idea of how well Windows 7 will work on your system.

Windows 7 Experience IndexHere is a snapshot of the Windows Experience Index screen and you can see how my system measures up according to Windows 7. My system gets mid 7s in all categories except the HDD transfer rate. For me, this was not unexpected. My hard drive is very large and only 7200rpm. It takes the system longer to search for files on this drive. Maybe an SSD would be good for this system. However, I want large capacity and SSDs are expensive the bigger they get. So the HDD will remain the part that – sort of – holds this system back.

The Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU is the engine that keeps my rig running fast. To the right, you can see the Windows Task Manager. Windows 7 has detected all four cores plus Hyper-Threading for each core. Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology virtually duplicates parts of each core. This is why Windows Task Manager shows eight CPUs instead of four. However, as you can see, not all eight “cores” are being used. This will probably remain the case until someone comes out with a OS, software or game which can use all four/eight at the same time.

For now I am happy with my choice of CPU. As a test, I timed Any Video Converter as it converted a 730MB AVI video file into a MP4 video for my iPod in 25 minutes. It takes my HP dv9000 series laptop a couple of hours to complete this task. The video looked good and the audio was on track.

PC Vantage and 3D Mark 2006

Since I am cheap and poor, I only used the trial versions of these programs. Both made by the same company, PC Vantage tests the performance of computers running Windows Vista and higher. 3D Mark is the standard in graphics performance testing for the masses. Because I only used the trial versions, I was severely limited in settings and how hard I pushed my system. So, these are the results:

  • PC Vantage: 8401 PC Marks
  • 3D Mark 2006 (Res. 1280×1024, no AA): 16911 3DMARKS
    SM 2.0 Score: 6822
    SM 3.0 Score: 7634
    CPU Score: 4962

Game Benchmarks

GPU-Z

GPU-Z displaying my graphic card's specs

When I play games, I created a gaming theme which switches to Windows Basic and removes the wallpaper from the desktop. In my experience, turning off Windows Aero does have some impact when playing a game. I ran my gaming theme while running these benchmarks. These are the games that I have and tested: Crysis, Far Cry 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 Demo, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat.

Note: My monitor’s native resolution is 1920×1080

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat (зов припяти) Benchmarking Tool

Yes, this game has not been released yet but GSC Game World has released a benchmarking tool for us to use. This tool runs the test four times by testing different configurations. Each loop tests the same sequence in different weather environments: Day, Night (with Lightning), Rain and heavy sunshine with sun rays the demo calls SunShafts. The results:

High preset. Enhanced, full dynamic lighting DX10

  • 1920×1080
    Day: 85fps
    Night: 79fps
    Rain: 86fps
    SunShafts: 31fps
  • 1680×1050
    Day: 94fps
    Night: 89fps
    Rain: 96fps
    SunShafts: 35fps

Left 4 Dead

Unlike other games, Valve’s Left 4 Dead relies more on the processor than the video card. Not that a video card doesn’t help!!! For this, I recorded a demo of me playing the single player in The Woods, the 1st map of Blood Harvest. I fought my way from the first to the second picnic table.

Max settings. The timings are: 1)No AA, Anisotropic filter 2x 2) 8x MSAA AA, Anisotropic filter 16x.

  1. 1920×1080 – 130fps
  2. 1920×1080 – 77fps
  1. 1600×900 – 150fps
  2. 1600×900 – 102fps

Left 4 Dead 2 Demo

Just like the first L4D, L4D 2 also relies on the CPU. Just in case you didn’t play the demo, the demo takes place on The Waterfront map. The 1st map of The Parish campaign. I recorded a demo of me playing from the riverfront to the backdoor to the restaurant kitchen.

Max settings. The timings are: 1) No AA, Anisotropic filter 2x 2) 8x MSAA AA, Anisotropic filter 16x.

  1. 1920×1080 – 148fps
  2. 1920×1080 – 105fps
  1. 1600×900 – 163fps
  2. 1600×900 – 133fps

Did you notice that the numbers for L4D 2 are higher than L4D? This is because The Woods is more graphically intense than The Waterfront.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Unlike the other games that I tested, GTA IV has a benchmarking tool within the GUI of the game. Just click on “Graphics” then click on “Benchmark” near the bottom of the submenu. The preset demo shows a race on mopeds through the lighted streets of Liberty City. The submenu also shows you how much graphics memory you are using.

All settings are high and draw distance is mid-range.

  • 1920×1080 – 60fps
  • 1680×1050 – 61fps

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 comes with a benchmarking tool. You just have to find it! At first, I found it on the DVD but it would not work. Finally, I found that it had been copied onto the computer during the installation. I found it in this directory C:\ProgramFiles(x86)\Ubisoft\Far Cry 2\bin. I used the demo Ranch – small.

My current game settings, DX10 All settings VERY HIGH.

  • 1920×1080 – 57fps

DX10 All settings ULTRA HIGH

  • 1920×1080 – 50fps

DX10 All settings VERY HIGH

  • 1680×1050 – 59fps

DX10 All settings ULTRA HIGH

  • 1680×1050 – 53fps

Crysis

GPU-Z Sensors

GPU-Z after a round of Crysis.

Crysis is pretty much the current king of all benchmarked games and internet memes (“Yeah, but can it play Crysis?”). Crytek pulled out all of the stops when they made this game. It’s taxes, even, the most powerful gaming rigs and mine was no exception. I just recently bought this on Steam for 10€. I downloaded a benchmarking tool and the demo was a bird’s eye view of the island.

All tests were done in DX10, 32-bit. The timings are:  1) No AA, High quality 2) 8x AA, High Quality 3)  No AA, Very High Quality

  1. 1920×1080 – 43fps
  2. 1920×1080 – 38fps
  3. 1920×1080 – 28fps
  1. 1680×1050 – 46fps
  2. 1680×1050 – 38fps
  3. 1680×1050 – 32fps

Final thoughts

There is one lingering problem that I have had since Windows 7 RC. I make it a habit to put my computers into Hibernation instead of completely shutting them off for the night. My system tends to bring itself out of hibernation. I have set the sleep timer to 10 minutes and it goes to sleep. This happens every night. I turned “Hybrid Sleep” off so I could actually use Hibernation. I also disabled “Wake-on LAN” and “Magic Packets”.

I really enjoy building systems and this was no exception. What made it even more special was that my rig has quality parts and it is a high-end rig. Maybe it could use a Creative sound card and a LCD temperature gage and fan control. But this works just fine and it really didn’t break the bank. And if you look at the last picture just above, you can see that after playing Crysis, the EVGA card is only 76C. I have never seen that temperature reading above 79C. Plus, the area where my computer sits really is not any hotter than it normally is when the computer is off. So, it’s getting sufficient cooling thanks to the airflow provided by the fans, cable management and space of the Antec 1200. Good luck in building your gaming rigs!


The ATI Radeon HD 5970: The Fastest Video Card… EVAR!

Well, that’s according to Tom’s and they are not short on sensationalist headlines. Well, I’ll give them a pass this time because, the new Radeon HD 5970 is, currently, the fastest high-end card on the Market.

Coming in at an inch longer than it’s predecessor, the HD 5870, the HD 5970 is a beast.

And the comparisons…

ATI Radeon HD 5970

  • Computing power: 5 TeraFLOPS
  • Idle power consumption: 168W
  • Load power consumption: 476W
  • Dual-GPU
  • Core clock: 725MHz
  • Memory: 2GB GDDR5
  • 2 DVi ports, 1 mini-DisplayPort
  • Price: 650 – 700€

My EVGA GTX 275 1792MB

  • Computing power: Around 1 TeraFLOP
  • Idle power consumption: 143W
  • Load power consumption: 343W
  • Single-GPU
  • Core clock: 633MHz
  • Memory: 1792MB GDDR3
  • 2 DVI ports, 1 S-Video port
  • Price: 250 – 300€

You can go to Tom’s or Anandtech to read comprehensive reviews on this card.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Russians, Servers and Sales

Sales

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has, apparently, broken sales records previously held by Grand Theft Auto IV. According to the Christian Science Monitor, sales figures from North American and the U.K. put sales amount at 4.7 million units and the dollar amount past $300 million in the first 24 hours. GTA IV sales were 3.6 million units at $310 million for the first weekend.

Activision rejoices, “Hah we knew it! You clock dollars when the game you release is geared towards the console market!!”

Meanwhile in Russia…

Our neighbors to the east are apparently not very happy with the “Airport/No Russian” scene that has been sort of controversial in the west itself. The scene, in which you play a Russian terrorist who kills innocent people in an airport has drawn the ire of the Russian government and a few Russian gamers. The Russian government has banned the game and according to CNET (Warning: sarcasm filled article!), the scene will be removed in both Steam and disc versions.

I had the pleasure of attending Finnish language courses with many Russian classmates. They are nice, regular people. They were not the monsters my government (The United States) made them out to be when I was growing up (during the late stages of the Cold War).

The Russians are a proud, patriotic people. They love their language, culture and county. Russia is the center of their universe and anyone who doesn’t like it, be damned. Does this sound familiar? Well, it should because this is how we Americans are.

The entertainment industry in America has made anyone, from Americans to Russians to Muslims the enemy of any protagonist in a story. Because this is exactly what it is, a story. We Americans are used fighting our own in books, TV, games and movies. We also don’t think any less of our fellow countrymen. Guess what? We don’t think any less of Russians because a few bad apples decide to cut down innocent people in a game.

Now, I could point out Russia’s foreign policy, talk about Russian current issues and the dark past of the Russian-led Soviet Union. Then, I could point out the same for America just so people don’t feel that Russia is being singled out. But, I’m not going to do that. In the end, this is just a video game based on a fictional story. No real harm has been done and Activision is going to block scene from the Russian versions. Time to move on.

PC gamers to Activision, “You can clock all the dollars you want, we’ll make our own server.”

Over at Tom’s, you can get a look at a video presentation of people playing on a self-built dedicated server. They demonstrate grenade and AC-130 cannon spamming and low-gravity jumps. I would assume that since this can be done, eventually there will be community-made dedicated servers up and running in no time.

I think the funny part about this is that this dedicated server was made a week after the game was released. There is simply no excuse as to why support for dedicated servers is not available.


Convicted German Murders Sue Wikipedia

In the Summer of 1990, German actor Walter Sedlmayr was found killed in his bedroom. In 1993, half-brothers Manfred Lauber and Wolfgang Werlé were convicted of Sedlmayr’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 2007 and 2008 respectively, they were released on Parole. Now, according to the New York Times, they are suing Wikipedia for publishing their names on it’s website. The pair has already successfully pressured publications in Germany into removing their names from online articles.

According to the NYT article linked above, in 1973 the high court in Germany ruled, basically saying that a criminal has a right to privacy even after the person has been tried and convicted of whatever crime they have committed. In the case now, Lauber and Werlé have been tried, convicted and have served there time.

Some thoughts

I support the right to privacy. I am also I firm believer in innocence before guilt. I always hear of people who have not been tried and convicted in a court of law, but who have already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Overzealous officials and media who already brand suspects guilty, so the masses can feel safer, knowing that they have the right person. But this is always not the case. Richard Jewell was nearly crucified and had his life ruined because he was a suspect in the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta. It’s even worse if the crime allegedly involves children. Such as the case in Massachusetts where a state worker was accused of downloading large amounts of child porn onto his work laptop. 11 months after he was charged the charges were dropped when it was discovered that his laptop was seriously infected with a virus that was downloading massive amounts of child porn. By then, the damage had already been done. His family’s reputation was ruined. He was in financial ruin because he fought the charges. He had death threats made against him. He suffered property damage and his health greatly suffered because of the stress. All because he had already been convicted in the court of public opinion.

The problem with Lauber and Werlé’s case is that they are not suing Wikipedia because they are claiming to be innocent, but because they believe – thanks to German law – that they have a reasonable expectation to privacy. They don’t want the murder to be erased, just their names. In essence, without actually saying it, they want to rewrite history.

The saying usually goes, the Winners are the one who write history. Unfortunately, in Germany, in an effort to make up for the sins of their forefathers, there has been an ongoing effort to rewrite history by stifling free speech. For example: game publishers have to remove Nazi symbols from World War II based games if they want to sell their games in German’s huge market. One of the biggest examples is that it is a crime to deny that the Holocaust ever happened. A thought crime for which Germany will punish someone for speaking their mind.

Before you go there, it is clear that the Holocaust occurred. There’s irrefutable evidence, pictures, witness accounts. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a jackass. I’ll believe a veteran of WWII who saw the concentration camps, on any given day over the likes of someone like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. However, being a jackass isn’t and should never be a crime. Thinking something should never carry a prison term.

Unfortunately, we will never know Walter Sedlmayr’s opinion on this because he is dead. What happened has happened and it’s now a matter of public record. The crime was brutal and heinous enough to warrant transparency to ensure that the public always has their eye on these two gentlemen. The German public as well as the rest of the EU should at least have this if they cannot have an actual “life” sentence.


Michael Jackson To Derek Acorah, “Seances are ignorant. Let’s climb up a tree!”

My wife read an article to me from Finnish TV station, MTV3 about a British medium who, allegedly, has been in contact with Michael Jackson. Come to find out that this British medium is none other than the legendary Derek Acorah.

In case you don’t know, Derek was a featured medium on the British haunted house show Most Haunted. Derek provided connection between the Most Haunted crew and the spirit world with the help of his trusty sidekick, Sam – the ghost with the most. During some investigations, Derek would become possessed by spirits the team was investigating. This and other events led the show’s parapsychologist, Ciaran O’Keeffe to feed a fake name – I guess through Derek’s mole – to Derek about a supposed spirit who haunted a certain location. The name was an anagram of Derek’s name and Derek “made contact” with this spirit.

Since being let go from Most Haunted, Derek has been doing other media work. Now, Derek is back on the radar again with a performance so ridiculous that everyone involved in the show has to be in on it.

Derek has appeared on a Sky One (Britain) show called Michael Jackson: The Live Seance. Allegedly, Michael talks through Derek and comforts several fans – who need to get a job worse than I do – and talks about not being buried next to Marilyn Monroe. It’s good to see Derek back in action, but I’m shocked that he didn’t let loose a “shammon” or a “heee heee” while talking to the people at the table. You can see the YouTube clip from Brand X.


Google Caffine Is Coming After The Holidays

According to Google’s man in the trenches, Matt Cutts, Google is going to take it easy on all of us webmasters by deciding to not deploy Google’s new Caffeine architecture until after the holidays. In the meantime, Caffeine will be deployed at one data center and a small percentage of Google users will be “using” Caffeine. In response to a comment about the exact time in relation to the “holidays”, Matt said, “I don’t think you’ll see Caffeine on multiple data centers before January.”

In an earlier post I mentioned that Google SERP updates were taking place and that many web sites have noticed position changes. Matt said that Google did not want to add more stress onto webmasters who could already be feeling the heat from the current changes. Google is usually silent when an Index update hits and this catches many people off-guard. For people like myself, I know to expect Google index updates around this time of the year.

Also, it should be noted that when Caffeine is fully deployed most users will not notice any changes. For the most part, SERPs should be mostly unaffected but don’t quote me on this! Vigilance should be practiced anyways just in case. Good luck to all. 😀


Bioshock And Realtek HD Audio

Are you unable to play Bioshock because you can’t hear anything at all? Maybe this might help you. But first, let me give you quick specs of my computer:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • ASUS P6T
  • Onboard Realtek ALC1200 which is using HD audio software and drivers, downloaded from the ASUS support website
  • Audio ports on the motherboard and in the front of the Antec 1200 case via wire from port to motherboard
  • Bioshock purchased and downloaded via Steam

History of the problem

I first encountered this problem while I was using Windows 7 Ultimate RC. The sound in the game worked just fine until after the plane crash at the beginning of the game. Of course, I googled for the problem and it took me some time. Most suggestions had to do with downloading and installing Windows Visual Basic 2008 Redistributable. There were also suggestions to download an older version of Direct X 9. When Bioshock was installed, it also installed an older version of Direct X and Windows Visual Basic 2005 Redistributable.

None of these suggestions worked for me. I eventually found this solution via an obscure forum posting. For the life of me, I cannot remember the address so just take note that I did not come up with this solution all on my own. 😀

The solution

Just remember that if you are not using Realtek HD audio, this might not work. Not everyone’s specs are the same. It doesn’t hurt to try this. Oh, and I am not responsible for any damage that might occur for whatever reason.

Realtek HD Audio MenuIn the notification/status area of the taskbar, right click on the Realtek HD Audio icon and select “Audio devices”. From here, a window will popup. This window should have four tabs: “Playback”, “Recording”, “Sounds” and “Communications”. Even if it doesn’t have 4 tabs, make sure that it at least has the “Recording” tab.

Realtek HD Audio Recording Tab MenuClick on the “Recording” tab. In the picture to the left, I have two devices which are currently “not plugged in”. Now, right-click inside this window and select “Show disabled devices”. Any device that is disabled should appear in this window. Now right-click either “Stereo Mix” or “CD Audio” and select “Enable”. A green circle with a checkmark should appear next to the device. The picture below shows the disabled devices and the right-click menu to enable them.

Realtek HD Audio Recording Menu Disabled

Enabling the device in the "Recording" section.

Now you should be able to hear sounds in Bioshock after the plane crash. These are pretty exact instructions for a setup with Realtek HD audio. So, no one should mess this up. If this does not work, then you might be experiencing a problem somewhere else.