Thursday, February 28, 2008

War Rock PX Item: M14 Anti-personnel Mine

Relax sonny, they're still there.

If you think these things will blow your enemies into vermilion clouds of gibs think again. This from the M14 Wikipedia entry: "while the blast wound from an M14 is unlikely to be fatal, it usually destroys part of the victim's foot, thereby leading to some form of permanent disability regarding their gait." True to that form, War Rock developers designed the mine to do minimal damage --- three mines won't kill a soldier having full health points --- but it does jar the enemy for a few milliseconds and permanently disables his ability to run until his next respawn; a severe disadvantage in a game where moving quickly and dashing for cover are two essentials for prolonged survival.

First time mine users may feel shortchanged when they discover the mines' weak damage factor. I felt that too but after playing with them for a few minutes, I soon discovered an immense tactical edge the things bestow --- they act as quasi-wards. (Or if you don't like the medieval fantasy analogy --- recon drones.) Everytime they blow up, voluminous smoke billows out. If you're hiding behind a corner, the smoke acts as an advance warning system. A dazed, wounded trooper will soon follow in its wake.

This soldier stepped on three of my M14s and still lived. A quick burst solved the problem.

How voluminous? This voluminous. It fills up almost half this room in Montana.

Also when player steps on them a global message will appear stating that a certain player's stamina points got damaged by mines; you'll immediately know their location regardless of where you are in the map.

They also act as a rearguard. You can cover one entrance while your mines are scattered at the other ones. This tactic is, needless to say, good only if paths to the area you are holding are few and you can easily predict where the enemy will likely be storming through.

Covering one doorway in Rusty Nails. Even if I wasn't looking, I would have still known a trooper just snucked in the other one.

This is a different player but it's still in the same map. I covered one area (the one in the preceding pic), and this soldier ran through three of my mines in this corridor. I ran up the stairs, leapt off the balcony, and surprised her.

The mines won't trigger if a teammate steps on them, which is good considering you can only three mines per spawn. They cannont be replenished by ammunition racks.

M14 mines are ineffective in dealing fatal damage to soldiers with full health ---- as they are in real life --- and I believe War Rock developers are wise in implementing it as such. To have done otherwise would have spoiled the game in many maps. However, the significant strategic advantage it gives is not something to be scoffed at.

Further reading:

M14 Mine Wikipedia Entry

>>>Click here to

War Rock's Velruf Map in Counter-Strike: Source!


Someone made a map for Counter-Strike: Source that copies almost flawlessly War Rock's Velruf level. Crazy.

Kudos to Silent-fart for the link.

>>>Click here to

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Smart Bro Users Can't Host Games in Warcraft III


Our head tech was right. (Of course.) Anyway still having a feverish madman's hope that I can still yet play with John, a friend of mine who now resides in New York, I scoured the Internet for a solution.

My journey ended at this SITE. Read Jag's reply.

>>>Click here to

Prices of Radeon 3800 Video Cards Have Dropped!

Yummier by the month

See this article from

The bang-for-buck ratio of the Radeon 3850 512Mb just zoomed up to high heaven!

>>>Click here to

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spybot Search and Destroy: SpyLantern False Positive?


I updated about two days ago and suddenly the Spybot S&D unfailingly detects the SpyLantern malware in my system everytime I do a scan. A-Squared and AVG detect nothing amiss with my rig. I did a quick search on how to remove it and found THIS. (PLEASE TAKE NOTE THAT I have not been able to use the above for reasons I stated below. If you have an infection, I take no responsibility if something adverse happens to your PC if you use the procedure found in that link. Use at your own risk.)

However, when I tinkered with my registry, I found none of the entries listed. There was nothing to remove. I went to the Spybot S&D forums, searched, and got directed HERE. Here's a screenshot:

Judging by the team member's reply, this is a wrong detection (a "false positive"). Nonetheless, if you have similar problems, you should check for developments in that thread.

UPDATE: It's confirmed; it is a false positive. If you'll check the forums, you'll find a reply from one of the developers. (Though do check around with your PC a bit; you might have gotten the real McCoy.)

>>>Click here to

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Budget Gaming PC Build

UPDATED: See the "Videocard" section below. Added the 8600 GT. Provided a link to my article about how to use game profiles with AMD-ATI cards. Subsections --- Peripherals, CPU, Videocards, Memory --- are now clearly separated with yellow markers.

Some of my friends keep approaching me and are asking for my opinion about what PC components to buy. I made this guide for them. I included several options as they have their own individual budgets.


Keyboard, Mouse, PC Case, DVD-ROM drive:

From what I have gathered, you are not too picky about these so we are not going to delve into any models. Just be careful about mouse ergonomics though --- if you have large hands like me and buy a mini-mouse that's going to stress you quicker than a larger one. My mouse? See MY ARTICLE if you are curious; it's a Genius 2000-dpi gaming mouse. (And as far as I know, the cheapest, largest, 2000-dpi killer mouse in this city. John, you New Yorker, get a Razer you cheapskate! Lol!)

For a keyboard, if you have a taste for unique designs I found one just like Jeedo's at CD-R King in SM. It costs 450 PhP but it's ergonomically shaped. You can see pictures of it HERE. I don't know how it feels if you're gaming with it though. I use an A4 Tech Anti-RSI keyboard --- the exact model the company where I work uses.

For a case, I'd recommend those ones with a 120-mm fan on its front as this will provide maximum ventilation for your PC --- and if your exhaust fans are smaller --- drive away dust from the inside of your gaming rig.

This is OPTIONAL but IF you want to learn about air flows read THIS ARTICLE.



Contrary to what others will inadvertently lead you to believe, the CPU is NOT the whole black/off-white box. It's the brain-heart inside that black/off-white box. :D

As it stands at the time this was written, Intel's Core 2 Duos are heads and shoulders above its competition; let's stick with this family. My suggestions:

E2180: This is for you who want to save every last penny from your PC budget. It's not a Core 2 Duo but is a dual core. It kicks the living daylights out of my P4 2.4GHz though so it's still a good upgrade if you have been chugging away with an old machine.

The E4300 and the E4500: Cheapest of the Core 2 Duo family. Intel has been advertising that its Core 2 Duo models use 40% less power so you might want to take into consideration before buying the E2180. There's only, on average, a 2-fps difference between the E4300 and the E6300 in's review, making the E4300 the best bang-for-your-buck choice. IF you want to read their thoughts about these, read this PAGE.



First things first: I keep hearing about "What's a good videocard? A 256-Mb one? Will a 128-megabyte videocard be enough?" Always there's a reference to the memory of a videocard. Memory is just temporary storage. It just stores data that's all. How about asking how fast the videocard processes the data? DO NOT base your decision on how much memory a videocard contains --- some 128Mb video cards can trounce 256Mb ones!

To prevent complicating this post, I won't go into details about core and memory speeds. Here's a list:

GeForce 7300 GT --- the cheapest card I could find with good reviews. I am leery about videocards with little or no reviews about them so this should be the very least you should buy. It purportedly beats the 6600 GT in this review though do take note that this particular version uses GDDR3 memory. (Don't get intimidated by this, just say "I want one with GDDR3 memory." Sales personnel will note that down.) There are also factory-modified ones, like this one with a Zalman cooler. Looks cooler and performs better.

8600 GT --- I learned from's "Best Gaming Graphics Cards: February 2008" article that the 8600 GT won a spot in the $100 price range. It seemed strange that this card, whose stock versions garnered only lackluster reviews, could hold a spot in that site's monthly linuep.

I did a quick scan of the sites of local vendors and found out that it's true, its price did drop drastically; it now sells for less than 4K in most sites!

With a core speed of 540Mhz, and an effective 1400Mhz memory speed, its viability for low-end systems has now leapt upwards quite dramatically.

It still is a no-go if you're planning to use it for DX10 games, but it's cheaper than the 7900 GS so it's worth contemplating if you have a limited budget for videocards.

8800 GT OC and the 8800 GTS 320MB --- These are, at least for me, expensive options. I visited PCBodega and the ones they have in stock, a Palit 8800 GT and an Inno3d 8800 GTS cost 12.5K Php and 13.5K Php respectively. If you ask me, this monster takes the cake, the trophy, and the girl. It costs a whopping 249 USD but it can go toe-to-toe with the 8800 GTX according to THIS REVIEW. The 8800 GTX costs more than 20K in Php so it's really a bargain for its performance level.

If budget is not a concern, I'd rather go all the way and buy one of these rather than buy an 8600. The 7900 GS --- and older card --- is faster than an 8600. The only thing the 8600 has over the 7900 is its ability to run DirectX 10 games. But with its weak specs, if you enable DirectX 10 with high settings, it's not exactly going to give you a stellar performance. The 86 series is really an oddball but then again, the 8600 GT is cheap now so in the end it still boils down to how much you are willing to spend for your games.

And what is all the fuss about DirectX 10? See THIS to understand. (Take note that the "XP - Very High Quality" images are results from a game that has been hacked by its users. The most you probably see in a DirectX 9 system will be under the "XP - High Quality" images.)

NOTE: I have never been an AMD-ATI user primarily because their video drivers do not have "game profile" support, something that I find very handy when tweaking games. If you want to check that avenue, you can check out TomsHardware's Graphics and Displays section, which periodically churns out their "Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money" articles monthly.

No offense to AMD-ATI, but tweakable game profiles is a feature I just can't do without, not to mention Nvidia's Forceware's "Display Optimization Tool."

Update: See my "ATI Tray Tools Allows Radeon Videocard Owners to Create Game Profiles" article. That useful freeware is changing the way I look at AMD-ATI cards and I am now seriously contemplating changing my preference as their low-end cards currently offer the best bang-for-your-buck ratio. I will add more videocards here in the next few days.



Again, most of you are not concerned so much about motherboard features and contrary to what you might think, so am I. The only thing that worries me is upgradeability. Formerly, I used to think that RAID can improve gaming but these arrays will only improve load times, not performance.

The newest chipsets today are Intel's P35 and the x38. Here's a good review of p35 mobos. I'm setting my sights on two of these, namely the Gigabyte P35-S3L and the Asus P5-E. The latter has RAID support and uses a better audio solution. If you don't care about RAID and audio, I'd recommend the former. (Its audio is none too shabby either with its integrated Realtek ALC888 controller.)

Here are two reviews you might want to check out:

HardwareSecrets: ASUS P5K-E/WiFi-AP Motherboard

Legion Hardware: Intel p35 Overclocking - Core 2 Duo E6420 + Gigabyte P35-S3L

These aforementioned boards support quad cores and DDR2 800Mhz memory modules. ("non-officially [the P35 chipset] supports DDR2-1066" - They do not support the newer DDR3 modules however so this is something you might want to consider. (Mobos that support DDR3 are much more expensive however.)



Again, none of you are overclockers so standard 1GB DDR2 memory modules should be fine. I heard from a reliable source that 800Mhz ones are very cheap nowadays so take that into account too. With resource-hungry games and applications that are popping out nowadays, 512Mb should be rock bottom for you; to go lower would be insane. For those of you who want to stretch your budget further, buy a dual-channel kit. (Here's an article about what dual-channel is all about.)

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ATI Tray Tools Allows Radeon Videocard Owners to Create Game Profiles

What can I say? YAY!

I just read from's ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide that you can create individual game profiles using the freeware ATI Tray Tools. The procedure is in page 9 under "Game Profiles."

With customizable game profiles you can create aggressive graphics settings for your older games while having toned down ones with games that gobble up your PC resources. This way, you can enjoy maximized graphics with your classics while still having acceptable framerates when playing more recent games. (In contrast, global settings will force you to pick only average settings for all games lest your new games degenerate into slideshows.)

I am very much excited with this news (old as it may be) as this has always been what has been preventing me from buying Radeons. Now with a way to create individual game profiles I can finally consider buying AMD's* offerings in the $170-250 price range.

(* - AMD bought ATI so I've read.)

Take note that I have yet to scour the Internet for more feedback about the freeware's features and compatibility issues (if there are any) and that, needless to say, I have not used this software. Use it at your own risk.

>>>Click here to

Sunday, February 10, 2008

War Rock Premium Maps


In the digital oceans of the servers of Amped, there exist corridors of rusty metal walls, trees devoid of leaves, and dusty buildings where only elv--- I mean players who subscribe for premium membership --- can do battle.

This article will detail War Rock premium maps and will be updated everytime new ones come along. For non-premium maps see this article.

Close-Quarter Combat Maps

* Dark Glow

This narrow map is composed of a warehouse divided into three sections. Long walkways, railings, and decrepit machinery are what comprise the lay of this map. Outside, there's a large yard. Objects where players can hide line two sides.

Outside you are drenched in midday heat....

... while inside, light and dark mesh and create a forlorn scenery you commonly see in dystopian-themed B movies. Van Damme must be here somewhere, hiding.

Meager light sources suffuse the third section. You could almost imagine slavering people shuffling out the doors shouting "braaaaaain!"

But then again, if that happened it wouldn't be scary. Those double scorpions? They own in this map. They own hard. Some higher-level chic who was toting a shotgun even quit minutes after a deathmatch with me in this map.

* Rusty Nails

The smallest War Rock map to date, which is mostly made up of narrow corridors and small rooms, Rusty Nails is a CQC player's dream come true. The setting sun in this map bathes everything in an orange glow --- so much that it alters the color the healing serums of the medics.

* Velruf

Velruf is very well designed. Composed of sharp turns, long narrow hallways, and two city blocks separated by an expanse, every class except for the heavy trooper will have a place here. (At the moment the 5th class only has anti-vehicle weapons for its primaries so using a heavy here will be difficult to say the least. Engineers with their mines and shotguns can go toe-to-toe with the assault troopers here.)

Beautiful, beautiful trees that are devoid of foliage...

... and a pristine suburbanscape --- everything screams fall.

Yes, fall!

>>>Click here to

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Upgrading a PATA Hard Drive

Triassic to Jurassic

A cousin asked me to upgrade his PATA hard drive. I said it's simplicity itself; a lot of guides are out there in the Internet. (Besides, for first-timers, it'll be an adventure hehe!) I found one: Install Hard Drive - A Guide to Installing an IDE Hard Drive.

>>>Click here to

What is PATA, ATA, and IDE? Hard Drive Terms Explained

And I thought numbers were mind-boggling.

SATA, PATA, and IDE, we've all heard of them before. How are they different? Which is better? While technicians and enthusiasts may know these terms inside out, first-time PC buyers and users might find the terms confusing.

These articles will clear the mystery: P
arallel vs. Serial ATA PATA vs SATA PATA vs ATA vs SATA vs IDE?

>>>Click here to

TomsHardware's Intel Skulltrail D5400XS With Quad-Channel Review


And so it arrives, a motherboard with server components. Skulltrail is a dual-socket motherboard that can accommodate two quad-core CPUs.

What does this mean for the enthusiast PC user? In the words of Bert Toepelt of

Combining these two processors yields a desktop performance monster. If we simply added up the numbers, we'd get "25.6 GHz of Core 2 performance" with a total L2 Cache of 24 MB.

That's nothing short of astounding. But wait up, hold your horses as the articles reveal that not everything is as good it sounds. Read up:

Intel Skulltrail Part 1: The Power of 8 Cores

Intel Skulltrail Part 2: Overclocking & Power

Intel Skulltrail 3: 8 vs 4 Core Performance

>>>Click here to

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Spent my Birthday Gunning Down Soldiers

Scrooge would have fainted.

Days ago, I spent about 180 PhP on guns and PX items and played War Rock from 7am until lunchtime. I rented the Double Scorpions, Desert Eagle, Crosshair 2, M14 anti-personnel mines, the 5th slot (still have yet to use it), the 20%+ experience package, and a 7-day premium membership.

Dressed to kill.

I finally got around to playing in the map Dark Glow, revisited Velruf multiple times, (I love that place; very well-designed) planted mines, ventilated chest cavities, and generally wreaked havoc. :D


1. Experienced my first ever high-recoil weapon. Here's my review of the Double Scorpions.

2. Played a 2v2 match in Dark Glow that soon became a 1v1 match between me and some shotgun-toting lady. She quit after more than five consecutive deaths. I won by tactics alone as the Winchester is really powerful. That was one of the best matches I ever played.

3. Had fun with mines; I really like the way they're forced to just walk after stepping on two of the things. >:) Evil me haha!

Speaking of moments here are two that were simply awesome: (These happened weeks ago.)

There are instances where you shouldn't follow "stick together" commands.

Served my raison d'etre as a heavy trooper: two tanks and a motorcycle, owned!

>>>Click here to

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Realtek AC'97 Audio Update

Transferred from my first blog.

UPDATED (October 5, 2008); SEE BELOW

Don’t you just love freeware? ‘Had another bout of insomnia after my work shift and couldn’t concentrate on working. I turned to thoughts about tweaking my PC again. ‘Sifted through my Cryostorage folder (yep, I never got around that Demolition Man movie haha!) and found an audio driver that I downloaded weeks ago. ‘Never got around to installing it due to my busy sched (and the massive amount of unwinding it demands to get the kinks out of my system ha. Ha. Ha.). So I did. And oh boy, Andrea Corr never sounded so good!

The AC’97 audio codec update I downloaded was better than the previous one; treble and bass got boosts that went through the ceiling. Of course I got a Logitech X-530 for a sound system for my rig but that’s straying from the point (140-watt surround sound for your Doom 3 anyone? *Evil grin*). You have gotta love the Net and the colossal count of resources it offers!

For those who are curious, Realtek audio drivers for integrated sound solutions can be found here. (These are to be used only for motherboards that have integrated sound solutions made by Realtek! Needless to say they are stable but we have different PCs. Install at your own risk.)

Bass output was a bit too powerful, but a quick adjustment on the control panel quickly brought it down to levels that were relatively tame.

Now for the ultimate test, — the reason why I bought the speakers in the first place —— I’ll take the speakers for a spin in Tribes. I wanna hear the screams of fellow players amidst the cacophony of exploding godhammer rounds.

…. and then somehow wake up at 1pm to prepare for a panel interview; someone’s going to be promoted and I want to grill the candidates down to a tasty brown hue before one of them ascends.

UPDATE 1: I installed v4.01 and it sounds incrementally better. That’s right; incrementally. But definitely better.With drivers, you don’t hope for a single update to blow you to audio/video/performance nirvana. They sort of creep up the improvement meter with every install, never bringing loud ooohs and aahs from you but there will come a point that you will exclaim "Omg, I listened to the din he’s listening to now?" when you hear what a neighbor is listening to (which is being delivered by the exact same v1.0 pre-Devonian base driver you had).

The first time you update drivers however, heh, la dee da, you WILL listen to each and every favorite track you have and repeat every part where you distinctly hear changes in the delivery of bass and treble. Speaking of tracks, I use Aquasky’s Original Crime: Most Wanted as a subjective audio benchmark. (time segment 3:09-4:58 specifically)

You can view the Youtube upload here but the downloadable version is so much clearer. I’ll post it here when I find the mirrors.

(Found the site. Get Aquasky’s Original Crime: Most Wanted movie! Trust me if you’ve got good speakers it’s worth it!)

Meanwhile, good day to all my friends and officemates who refuse to update. How are those fins? No legs sprouting out yet? Tut, tut. I wish to see you here with me on good ol’ terra firma.

UPDATE 2: v4.04 now out. I normally am VERY vigilant about audio updates but for the second time I learned of the news from Tweakguides. (Posting news that I got from other sites without citing them goes against my conscience.)

UPDATE 3: For those who are using v4.03 and above, you may notice a slight distortion when you pick the "Powerful" settings in the Sound Effects Manager. I've been using these settings since its very good for gaming but in 4.03 and 4.04, the distortion was bothering me so much that at first, I switched back to 4.02 when I couldn't seem to get rid of it. My mistake was thinking that the higher frequencies (treble) were the ones messing the audio quality when the lower ones (bass) were actually the culprits.

Try using the "Rock" settings; these will reduce your bass levels and eliminate the distortion effect without removing the "ooomph" factor when in gaming. However, if you like the treble levels of "Powerful," you can tweak the equalizer so that you will have "Rock"-level bass and "Powerful" treble levels.

Default "Powerful" settings in the Sound Manager.

My hybrid settings: I set my equalizer to "Rock" and copied "Powerful" levels for the high frequency range.

You can access the Sound Manager by following this path: Start > Settings > Control Panel > Sound Manager.

Why bother updating to 4.03 or 4.04? They have improved bass and treble separation; except for the unfortunate bass distortion, audio clarity is further improved with these drivers.

Enjoy earth shaking and glass shattering sounds with this one!

Update: V4.06 has been out for quite some time now. This new version got rid of the slight bass distortion when using the "Powerful" settings. Cymbals are also much clearer now.

Settings I'm using with this new version. The somewhat minimized bass guarantees that high frequency sounds have more "bite."

>>>Click here to

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tips and Tweaks on How to Reduce PC Power Comsumption

"If this won't kill you, your electric bills will!!!" --- The Emperor to Luke Skywalker in a MAD magazine issue as the Sith discharges Force Lightning.

Finally after weeks of searching, I found an article about how to tweak your PC to save power and cut down on the electricity bills.

Here's another PC world article about
Reducing Your PC's Power and Operating Costs.

Take note that, needless to say, I didn't write this article and accept no responsibility if anything adverse happens to your system if you apply what is discussed in it.

>>>Click here to

War Rock Item: Crosshair 2

My first-year high school teacher would be happy to use this

"Aim better and kill faster." Hmm... I don't know...

War Rock Philippines has just released the PX item Crosshair 2 for all branches. How does it fare? These pictures will explain.

As before, the outer boundaries of this reticule push outward when you move; your accuracy will suffer the most when you run as opposed to crawling. Crosshair 2 sports more pronounced boundaries however.

This is what I really like about this game --- bunny hoppers are severely punished. No more annoying CS fanboys jumping around like lunatics. If you want a reality-based shooter, leave the Quake 3 tactics behind, please. (I never played CS: Source though so please feel free to correct me if this has been rectified in that version.)

Reticule tightens if you are still; here's the area where your first volley of lead will hurtle through. Don't read the chat lines in this pic; mind-boggling I tell you.

Don't stay in one area for long if you kill someone! They'll remember where you are lying in wait. Here, I rolled sideways and took this trooper by surprise.

The problem with this crosshair is that it nearly is an oxymoron --- a "cross" is formed by the white boundaries but there's definitely no "hairs" as opposed to the default reticule and Crosshair 1.

Budda budda budda! Danged text sound effects! Who remembers Sgt. Rock?

Here's where the problems with Crosshair 2 become apparent. With targets that are far away and no lines to let you instantly see where the red dot is in the heat of battle, your accuracy drops by an iota. Also I don't know if it's just me but I think the red dot is larger with this crosshair. It alleviates the accuracy problem a bit but comes with a price: try shooting at an enemy several blocks from you with a pistol and you'll see what I mean. They still drop like flies but damn if it isn't harder to do.

In the end, it's still a matter of preference but if you ask me, this one's perfectly at home with high-damage, low-accuracy weapons --- its outer boundaries' thick lines will let you see instantly how wide your shots will scatter while the absence of an immediately apparent cross will render it not as useful with weapons that need pinpoint accuracy like the MP5 or the P90, whose (relatively) low-damage rounds need you to score critical shots in the first fractions of a second when you encounter an enemy at close- or mid-ranges.

Still I applaud the designers for coming up with this. If I were to rent any of the following: a shotgun, the double scorpions, or the AK (when it comes to War Rock Phils), I'd definitely use this reticule.

Yes my teacher will really be happy with this. If you're awfully curious why, ask Scott. No, I don't mean the Linux guy.

>>>Click here to