Monday, November 9, 2009

New Toys

The past week and a half has been a bit more tech filled than usual for me. I upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate, I got ATI's latest über DirectX 11 compliant video card the 5870 and I've become more active with Twitter on account of the slick TweetDeck client.

The combination of the 5870 and Windows 7 Ultimate has resulted in me essentially having a new system. Despite having a motherboard dating back to mid-2006 this is the second time I've wound up putting off a motherboard/CPU upgrade with a new video card (I'm waiting for ubiquitous USB 3.0 and PCI Express 3.0 before I upgrade my motherboard). My previous video card, the 4870 was an excellent performer but state of the art is a state of change. The 5870 is an amazing product and it definitely falls into the techno-sybarite category. With gaming consoles providing an extremely compelling experience in the form very large communities (XBox Live), large displays (HDTVs) and the ability to ensconce oneself on the sofa, it's not surprising many gamers have eschewed high end PCs for consoles.

The 5870 however proved its power when I pulled out my old Crysis disc. Crysis was a PC game that came out in 2007 receiving lots of press for a couple of reasons - amazing visuals and the fact that probably 99% of people did not have the kind of hardware needed to make Crysis a compelling experience. My guess is Crytek, the developer, had more in mind developing an engine that was capable of realizing the visions of game studios for several years into the future (a.k.a. licensing its engine) and the casualty was everyone that didn't have a PC of the future. I'm happy to say that the 5870 is capable of rendering Crysis @ 1920x1200 with Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) and Very High settings. I cheated with my 4870 by playing Crysis on an old 21" CRT I had (since given away) and thus I didn't need to enable FSAA. You see, a graphics card expends quite a bit more cycles applying FSAA. Nowadays I use Dell's excellent 24"2408WFP LCD and my initial reaction to seeing Crysis running on it smoothly was a bit of dissonance as Crysis has had a long standing reputation of bringing hardware to its knees.

Moving along, check out the TweetDeck client, either you get Twitter or hopefully you will realize its utility at some point. I must confess I wasn't blazing trails with Twitter but my coworkers (I wrote about the light bulb going off in a prior post) made me realize how effective it was to ferret out information on a topic that while impromptu was also suddenly very important even if only ephemerally. I will close with an article from the NYTimes I just read that echoes my recent post on Twitter:

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