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10081  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 18, 2008, 04:55:07 AM
Saw an item about a pretty neat ultra-thin "mini-notebook docking station" (including DVD-ROM drive), that a company called Ban Leong hopes will catch on with owners of Eee PCs, AA1s, Winds etc. This comes in two models. Each has a cooling fan meant to help keep the netbook cool, and an extra hard drive enclosure. The pricier one ($149) incorporates an ultra-thin DVD-RW drive.

Ban Leong introduces eGear Mini Notebook Docking Kit
The ePA series is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems and work perfectly with Ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) e.g. Asus eePC, Acer Aspire One. HP Mini-Note, Packard Bell Easynote, Lenovo Ideapad, Dell Inspiron Mini etc.

The ePA-106 comes with a high performance fan to deliver quiet cooling so that users no longer worry about their UMPCs getting overheated. The ePA-108, on the other hand, comes with a slim DVD-RW SuperMulti Optical Drive. In addition, both models come with a spare 2.5” SATA HDD enclosure enabling users’ UMPCs to have a larger storage capacity of up to 320GB for all their important data. They also include USB 2.0 ports for a high speed data transfer.

The new eGear Mini Notebook Docking Kit line consists of the following models:
[$49]*ePA-106: Comes with slim 2.5” SATA HDD enclosure with quiet cooling fan. Available in black and white.
[$149]*ePA-108: Comes with slim 2.5” SATA HDD enclosure with DVD-RW SuperMulti Optical Drive. Available in black only.

On the more boring side, I saw a Taiwan newspaper article talking about sales in this category in Japan, fwiw:

Asustek expects Eee PCs to help challenge top-five notebook vendor spot in Japan
...Asustek Computer sold 85,000 Eee PCs in Japan in the first half of this year. In July the company shipped 45,000 units and in August 58,000, bringing total shipments to 188,000 units for the first eight months in 2008, according to a Japanese-language Business Computer News (BCN) report.

The company's 8.9-inch Eee PC901-X and 7-inch Eee PC 4G-X took the first and second spots in the market for PCs priced below 100,000 Yen (US$946.52), and the two models' combined sales accounted for 70.5% of all the PCs that were listed, noted the report.

Acer's Aspire one accounted for 9% of sales to take the number three spot, while Micro-Star International's U100 accounted for 8% and took fourth place. Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) Mini-Note was ranked number six.
10082  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Windows sound problem on: September 18, 2008, 04:44:56 AM
If you're using Vista, maybe something caused the default "Start Navigation" navigation option to turn back on?

How to Make Windows Vista Less Annoying
Disable the Irritating Click Sounds

Have you ever noticed that every time you open a folder in Vista, or click on a link in Internet Explorer, an irritating click sound plays in your speakers? You might have thought your mouse was getting more vocal, but it's actually just an annoying sound effect that's enabled by default. A few quick steps later, you can have that annoyance disabled... just look under Sound in Control Panel, and turn off the sound for "Start Navigation."
That's the only possibility I've been able to dig up.

My whole life (career even) seems focused on Internet searches now, so I always dig a challenge.  icon_smile
10083  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: $^&@^$@$# Warhammer on: September 18, 2008, 03:04:24 AM
Yes, pre-order and/or collector's edition head starts are all the crazy rage now, the norm even. Even Auto Assault did it.  icon_razz Actually, in AA's case, I bought a $10 pre-order box so I could try it for a couple days before the game went live (and then I didn't buy it until it was going for $8.88 clearance later on). If I'd thought about it, I probably would've done it for Warhammer.

Mythic is lauding EA's ability to pile-drive retail boxes everywhere, and that probably includes getting it into everyone's hands before they can even play. I guess that's a good thing.  icon_neutral
10084  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTORO Volume 2: Mines of Moria (paid, full-box expansion) on: September 17, 2008, 07:34:43 PM
I don't know if this is a big revelation (probably was mentioned somewhere before), but Turbine confirmed MoM will add 2 character slots per server (so, 7 total on each):
10085  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: [Amazon] Band of Brothers blu-ray pre-order $59.95 on: September 17, 2008, 06:11:39 PM
You can always play up the DTS sound, digital remastering, picture-in-picture commentary from the real men of Easy Company and the "interactive field guide" among other features. More specifically on the field guide:
-Interactive field guide, featuring timeline, maps, soldier profiles and much more in "In the Field With The Men of Easy Company."

I'm not saying your beloved will be impressed, or even care icon_razz, but it does seem more than just a repackaging.

I wish it included some information on "The Pacific," which is a similar mini-series by HBO focusing on U.S. Marines in the Pacific Theater in WWII (there's no Stephen Ambrose book source material in this case).
I haven't heard much information about it recently, but it's supposedly due next year.

I was a huge fan of BoB, both the book and the mini-series. I signed up for HBO solely so I could watch it back in 2001 (Cox Cable inexplicably decided to "dump" all of its premium subscribers and then make you re-sign, in 2002, and I never did re-up for HBO).

The series is really intertwined with my memories of 9-11 because the first two episodes aired back to back on Sept. 9 and 10. I worked all night at my newspaper editor job Monday night, watched episode 2 (which I had videotaped) probably to about 2 or 3 a.m. on Sept. 11 and then of course I woke up all the horrors of that day.

I hung out at HBO's official forums for the mini-series for quite some time in 2001-2. And I always get a treat out of seeing how many cast members still show up in TV series (Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston in particular, but I recall seeing Neal McDonough, Matthew Settle, Donnie Wahlberg, Frank John Hughes on various shows and movies, and Rick Gomez (Lutz) did some amusing VW commercials some years ago. OK, that's it for my nostalgia.  icon_smile

I'm afraid I still have a kludgy CRT TV, and no Blu-Ray player but I would certainly jump at this if I did.
10086  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Age of Conan producer/game director quits Funcom on: September 17, 2008, 12:48:14 PM
Yikes! I wonder how Funcom's going to spin this one.  eek

Funcom co-founder quits, "dissatisfied" with Age of Conan
Gaute Godager, one of the original co-founders of the company, said that he was dissatisfied with parts of the game, and that it was now time to hand control of the popular MMO over to a new team member.

"I have done my very best making this fabulous game, but I have concluded there are elements which I am dissatisfied with," said Godager.

"I have decided to act on this, and as a result I have chosen to leave Funcom."
I know we have an ocean of AoC threads, thought this was worth highlighting.

To avoid confusion though, this is *not* Funcom product manager Erling Ellingsen, whose face is probably more familiar from interviews and cheesy photo spreads (like so, But Ellingsen is more a marketing type.

Massively also has a cheesy photo of Godager in happier times...
His replacement is Craig Morrison, who's held the same position with Anarchy Online for several years prior to this change.

Morrison had a post introducing himself to players:

Godager throwing his hands up and saying "this won't work. I give up!" is... I don't know what to liken it to. I guess it's like if Jack Emmert had thrown up his hands after City of Heroes had been out a few months and said, "I'm dissatisfied with City of Heroes. I give up!"

While I'd probably have more respect for Godager if he gutted it out and found a way to make said elements "satisfying," I can't help thinking there must be something ugly going on behind the scenes there, esp. with the Funcom stock falling into a black hole (from $55 to $8 per share, as various news sites have pointed out), for him to throw in the towel in such a public fashion. Normally, if you're "bought out," a condition is to keep mouth closed as you exit, certainly not the case here.

The timing seems bizarre as they are finally getting the ballyhooed, revamped PVP system into place today I believe (or perhaps tomorrow) after some delays.

I stilll have affection for the game's combat, mounts, environments, sounds (I may have returned to LOTRO but I miss AoC's heavy use of well voice-acted NPC dialog, and visceral combat sounds) and some of its more interesting quests. I also think it has too many remaining hardware bugs, not enough different zones at the various levels to adventure in (it's a bad sign when you have to "wait in line" for quests at a certain level because everybody your level is doing the same things in the same zone), too many hunt quests (it almost rivals Dungeon Runners in that respect), a kludgy interface and UI, and seems to think "M-rating" means "Nipples everywhere!" rather than "let's do interesting quests that old farts might find interesting." icon_neutral And of course PVP is nothing like what people were hyped up to expect (this week's update might finally make a dent in that, if it works properly).
10087  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 17, 2008, 04:12:01 AM
Here's another round of blah-blah-blahs related to the AA1, albeit very heavily weighted to the Linux version side of things...

Four new mini-laptops -- which is smallest, lightest, best? [caveat: these are only the Linux versions of each, fwiw]
We pit mini-notebooks from Acer, Asus, HP and Sylvania against each other. Who's the final winner?;844696373;pp;1;fp;2;fpid;2
I hate to kill the Suspense, so I've put their Final Verdict in spoilers below. But you probably have an idea.  slywink
Spoiler for Hiden:
"Only Acer's Aspire One was just right, balancing size and weight with price and performance. It may not be the smallest or lightest, but it's the one I want to take on my next road trip because it runs for five hours [He means the 6-cell version-bj] on a charge while doing so many things well at the right price."

Acer Aspire One is I4U Top 100 Gift Tip #28 [no, don't ask me what the first 27 are, I don't want to know! icon_razz]
For Whom:
For loved ones who like to surf the web on the sofa or on the go. College kids will like the Aspire One as well as your mom or dad.

The Good:
Highly portable
Great price

The Bad:
Difficult to upgrade

New Contest: Suggest Trackur Improvements & You Could Win a Netbook! [A Linux Acer Aspire One, that is]
*However, I don't know what the heck Trackur is, and you probably want to read the fine print before you even consider it. I think it's run by Evil Marketing Types.  icon_twisted

Foresight Linux Goes Mobile
Foresight Linux's development team just rolled out a mobile version of their distribution. This new release is no lightweight at 530MB, but it does offer a whole range of functionality and pre-installed software along with a Gnome desktop that was specially created for smaller displays.

The Foresight Mobile has been tested on both the Asus Eee PC and Intel Classmate PC, so it can be safe to assume that this latest distribution package will run just fine on the MSI Wind and Acer Aspire One as well.
10088  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 16, 2008, 05:02:58 PM
I've had the same experience in certain regions on the El... (I never spell it right) server. Angmar is practically overflowing with players much of the time, esp. in the 45-50 areas. I think part of that right now may be people trying to hit the level cap before Mines of Moria releases.

However, sometimes the Misty Mountains (as it was last night) are completely deserted. I've got quests I might never complete there because it's so hard to recruit one player to help in MM, much less a full fellowship. I started telling jokes in the LFF channel because I knew I was the only player there.  icon_razz

And the whole past weekend I was unable to start or latch on a team in the mid 40s. Part of is how important minstrels and guardians are to high level teams (most of the LFM messages are very specific, and Captains seem rarely if ever specifically sought out).

But, prior to the weekend, I'd had a lot of fun on various fellowships for several days. So while I reserve the right to kvetch (I'm sure if I shared these observations on the official forums, the responses would be along the lines of "Don'T HATE on LoTRO! You're just a LOSER playing on a LOSER SERVER!" or something else constructive disgust), I don't want to generalize or lose hope based on a couple bad days. I still enjoy the game. I just wish players used the LFF tools more (the drop down quest menus, the short "ad" you can type in etc.).

My rambling point is it's really hard to see any consistency in Fellowship-ness or availability/presence of other players. It varies a lot by day of the week, time of the day, What Other Hot Happening MMOs are out there (no doubt the Wow expansion and Warhammer Online are going to gobble away some LOTRO players, but I'm not one of them  icon_razz) etc. My own impressions of the El... server in terms of player population vary wildly.
10089  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Help me to get RON to run on: September 16, 2008, 01:57:35 AM
The only suggestion I could think of is to check if there's an option to run it in "windowed" mode. Maybe that would keep it from being chopped off, though it might be too small on the screen to be playable.  icon_confused

I saw a YouTube video that purports to show Rise of Nations on an Eee PC but it's hard to tell what model:
10090  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTORO Volume 2: Mines of Moria (paid, full-box expansion) on: September 16, 2008, 01:41:32 AM
I've no clue who "Zombie Columbus" is (a member of LOTRO's dev team, and apparently head of the team developing the new Rune-Keeper class), but he posted a pretty interesting attempt at a "Rune-Keeper mini-FAQ."

Rune-keeper Mini-FAQ
I’m worried that no one at Turbine [has] considered the lore of the Rune-keeper.
Lore consideration has been part of the classes design since day one. Since I was first asked to head the development of the class, keeping the class grounded in Tolkien’s work has been a high priority. Actually, the lore was a great help in deciding what he could and couldn’t do, which helped focus the gameplay design choices. On a personal level, I am very proud of the result and believe that playing the class in game is fun, exciting and less lore jarring then most fear.

How will the Rune-keepers DPS compare to the Hunter or Champion?
As stated in the dev diary, the rune-keeper is designed to be a primary DPS class. Expect the damage he can deal out to be in the same ballpark as those two. Much as the Hunter and Champion are different yet comparable, the Rune-keeper will have is own strengths and weaknesses. The Rune-keepers biggest difference is that it takes more time to ramp up to full effect, due to his DoT (damage over time) based gameplay. The best example of this is the Writ of Fire skill. Using it puts a DoT on a foe, but using it a second and third time will upgrade that DoT up to full damage. After that, occasional uses of the skill will be required to maintain the DoT at full strength.

What about healing? Will my Minstrel be useless?
Minstrels will not be useless, but they will no longer be the only primary healer. Much as with damage, the Rune-keeper will be healing comparable amounts as the Minstrel, but in different ways. The Rune-keeper will do some things better and some things worse then the Minstrel. The Rune-keeper’s emphasis is on maintenance and HoTs (heal over time), with his quick heals lacking compared to the Minstrel. Like DPS, it will take time to get all of his HoTs pulsing.

CC? But that’s what Burglars and Lore-masters are supposed to do!
That wasn’t a question, but I know what you are saying. The design of the Rune-keeper was interesting because when Battle attuned (as most solo players will likely be) there are no good heals to get you out of a bind. This, coupled with his light armour and lack of a shield, made adding some form of CC important to keep soloing viable. However, since the Rune-keeper is not a CC class, any skills that were added needed to be low potency and not very useful during group play. With those design goals in mind, I made the few CC skills that he does have. Shocking Touch, from the dev diary, is a good example. It dazes, but for a short amount of time and only at melee range, and pulls Attunement towards the Steady state. This skill works very well while soloing, but not terribly useful during group play, since the Rune-keeper will usually try to be a distance from the fighting.

Heals and DPS on one character? You sir, are mad!
Just about every LOTRO class has multiple roles it can fill if geared, traited and played particular ways, the Rune-keeper is no different. Like those other classes, the Rune-keeper has stops in place that keep him from being multiple roles at the same time. In fact, the stops for the Rune-keeper are more extreme then other classes we’ve done this with. Consider the Minstrel swapping from War-speech to healing (1 toggle) or a Champion dropping from Fervor to Glory stance (1 toggle). The Rune-keeper will require multiple skill plays to go from fully Battle Attuned to Healing, and if not properly traited, will not be able to dish out as much healing or damage as others.

Will Elves be able to use the same runes as Dwarves?
There is no mechanical difference between the two races. There was some thought of doing this, but it was decided not to make the initial race choice (a choice that cannot be changed later) significantly impact a player’s gameplay style.

Will Rune-stones really be the only weapon? Where do they come from?
Yes. You will be auto-attacking in melee with them. The Rune-stones will not allow the Rune-keeper to block, but parrying is possible. Rune-stones will be able to be crafted by Jewelers and be found in loot, boss drops and as quest reward.
I think part of the reason for all the flame wars (at the official forums) over this class is fear, and lack of precise information. I can understand Turbine not wanting to reveal too much too soon in terms of the expansion, but LOTRO has has no new classes since launch. You gotta expect players to be nervous about how new character types change the mix, impact other character types, etc.

10091  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 15, 2008, 09:20:47 PM
That's cool, hope you find our posts enlightening or amusing.  icon_smile

Hey, I hadn't been paying attention to this LG X110. Cosmetically, it's just a re-branded MSI Wind -- however, they apparently plan to offer 3G and GPS "modules" built-in as options, and that seems to be the main differentiator. Prices (at least U.S. equivalents) are a bit steep if you want the module stuff though, it looks like $699 or thereabouts?

Hands-on with LG's X110 netbook: HSDPA, GPS and a price to match

If you're as unhip as I am, you're scratching your head and saying "What the Sam Heck is HSDPA???" It's apparently just a fancy pants term for this 3G stuff:
HSDPA, short for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access, is a new protocol for mobile telephone data transmission. It is known as a 3.5G (G stands for generation) technology. Essentially, the standard will provide download speeds on a mobile phone equivalent to an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) line in a home, removing any limitations placed on the use of your phone by a slow connection. It is an evolution and improvement on W-CDMA, or Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, a 3G protocol. HSDPA improves the data transfer rate by a factor of at least five over W-CDMA. HSDPA can achieve theoretical data transmission speeds of 8-10 Mbps (megabits per second). Though any data can be transmitted, applications with high data demands such as video and streaming music are the focus of HSDPA.
So, in other words, HSDPA is a fancy way of saying 3G, and will improve on W-CDMA while being roughly the same as ADSL. Simple! Ugh! If I read any more acronyms or gobbledygook initials, I'll scream!  retard

I guess HSDPA could be prounced "Hussedpa!" icon_razz
10092  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Your First PC on: September 15, 2008, 01:10:41 PM
I was never able to pull the trigger on Commodore stuff although I recall often looking at them longingly in catalog stores (Best, C.W. Bell etc.). My mom did buy an Atari 800, but we never really did much with it (about 1982).

My brother owned a Kaypro II "portable" (more like lugging a loaded suitcase) text-only CP/M computer for years in the mid 1980s.

I still own a 1987 Amstrad (UK) green-screen word processing system that used proprietary 3" disk cartridges, a "disk-based" CP/M system (no internal storage of any kind) and the world's loudest dot matrix printer. It was still notable for bridging me from my trusty Smith-Corona into word processing and some crude green-screen computer games, and I used it heavily from 1987 to that First PC in late 1992. The Amstrad's still in my closet. The best thing I can say about that one is that if the Apocalypse ever comes and some virus destroys every PC on the planet, I'll still be able to plug that sucker in and at least write, even if the printer is enough to cause deafness if you don't leave the room.  icon_razz It's not something I ever had to troubleshoot - it was as reliable as a toaster oven.  icon_neutral

Then again, I'm not sure I still have that dot matrix paper with the perforated, holed stripes on the side. So maybe it wouldn't save me afterall.  icon_razz

10093  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 14, 2008, 03:43:06 PM
My couple scenic contributions:

Pretty sky, from the newer area Forochel, north of Evindem, added in a free update while I was away.

My fellowship got stunned, although it looks like we're praying to the giant.  icon_razz
10094  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: September 14, 2008, 03:19:07 PM
fwiw, next week's update should finally bring their ballyhooed PVP Progression System (which has been on test server for a while):
Next week will see the release of the next game update and we are busily preparing everything to bring you the start of the new PVP systems for the game (as well as a host of other fixes and tweaks). This update will see the PVP progression system activated on the live dimensions so that players can start to earn PVP levels and compete to achieve their new PVP armor sets. We are aiming to release the update on Tuesday morning so keep your eyes peeled for the details.
I haven't seen much dev posting in English of late (and most of the other language dev posts are actually moderator posts). Saw a Sept. 12 posting about Role Playing rules:

Roleplaying Rules

Folks might get a chuckle from the Character/Guild Name rules section there. I also liked this part:
The world of Conan is a rough place, and swearing as well as being cursed at is a common day thing. If you swear in RP, please make absolutely sure to use non-modern day swear words that cannot be confused as harassment. Mark your words with in-game terminology (stygian whore!). Consider the use of old swear words to keep it in-character (******* instead of *******). If you are in doubt if someone swearing at you is doing this in-character or OOC, simply kindly ask them by /tell to avoid confusion and problems.
I'm confused. Did Robert Howard invent a "Conan" style of cussing? I'm sorry I didn't get the handbook.  saywhat icon_lol

I guess it's OK to tell another play to *bleep* themselves as long as you tell them to "Stygian bleep!" themselves. Tongue
One reason I've been more content in LOTRO is its more expansive worlds/regions, and the fact there are (esp. as you get higher in levels) multiple areas and regions to visit, and quests to do. In the mid/upper 40s my characters can find things to do in Angmar, Misty Mountains, and to some extent the newer (I never spell this right, correct me!  icon_razz) Farochnel region just north of Evindem (mostly 45ish). My quest tracker is actually clogged, to the point at times I have to clear quests to make the room.

If Funcom realized (at least for PVE-focused players) you need multiple areas to visit, with a broad variety of quests spread across levels (not, a bunch unlock at level 50, and you're done with them in 15 minutes) to the point that you seem to have an obnoxious glut of them, then maybe, maybe you'll have enough quests for PVE players not to be bored or reduced constantly to grinding, or to practically fighting each other to complete the same quests cause they don't have anything else to do. Yada yada, I'm just beating my dead horse on this. It's just, I don't see much in the pipeline in AoC (other than a new 55-60 area) that's going to remedy my selfish little complaints.  disgust And it's a shame, cause I loved the combat in it, and certain other aspects.
10095  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Your First PC on: September 13, 2008, 07:32:23 PM
Well, I finally decided to say goodbye to my first-ever PC today. I took it and my 1998 Micro Center 450PII PCs to a computer parts recycling center in Virginia on their monthly 'residential drop off day.' I also paid $10 apiece to have them Destroy my old hard drives (physically) using a special hydraulic machine on the premises. It cuts through and rips apart the hard drive disks. The operator ran over to me to show the results with apparent glee - they just want to confirm that you saw the results.  icon_cool

My first ever PC was a Laser-branded (by the Texas company VTECH) 486 SX/3 with a 16mhz CPU, a then whopping 16MB of RAM and a then humongous 100MB hard drive. CD-ROM drives seemed like the device of science fiction at the time, though I added one later. I primarily ran DOS in its various iterations. Windows 3.1 seemed like more of a toy at that time, and I owned very few Windows programs while I had that machine.

I stumbled onto it while browsing at a very tiny Staples store that was sort of nested within the end of a Montgomery Ward store in a mall (though the Staples had its own separate entrance). This was sometime in fall of 1992. I was particularly impressed at the time that it came packaged with its own CRT 14" VGA (640X480 rez *only*) monitor, by Samsung. My retired mom continues to use that monitor, and her fading vision really is content with that sort of resolution, what with the giant icons and text.  icon_razz

I didn't think to take a photo of the Laser's interior, but here's the exterior. It's the only horizontal-case PC I ever owned. It was quiet enough to use on top of my desk without bothering my ears (I wouldn't dare try it with any of the tower PCs I owned over the years):

You can see it had a few ventilation holes on the bottom of the case. It originally came with a 5.25" floppy drive which I did use quite a bit, but by the time I retired it in 1995, I had removed it.

I'm sentimental about it in a geek way because it's the first machine I ever did any sort of upgrades on. I learned how to replace its hard drive, install sound cards and Stone-Age videocards, how to install a CD-ROM drive and remove the eventually useless 5.25" floppy disks. It and the 1995 machine I got later were the only machines I upgraded the CPU's on, as that was an era where it was just a simple lever push, w/ no Thermal Paste crap and gigantic CPU units to mess with.

On it I ran all sorts of classic games in the 1992-1995 era, including lots of Dynamix and Sierra titles, Wolfenstein: Spear of Destiny, Doom, X-Wing and Tie Fighter, X-COM, etc. I also enjoyed thrilling adventures online with my 2400 baud modem on Prodigy, Compuserve and America Online.  icon_razz

I can't say I got weepy about finally getting it out of my computer room and closet here. It was bulky, heavy, and it was good to finally get some junk out of my closet (including a Wi-Fi router with a missing AC adapter, a couple of old video cards, a computer speaker subwoofer, etc.). But it did make me think about when my foray into PCs was new, and there's a certain excitement I had about PC hardware and gaming in 1992-1995 that I never was able to recapture.
It's not as memorable, but the 450 Pentium II machine (1998) was from Micro Center. I think it had the best OEM case of any PC I've owned. The case panels required *no* screws whatsoever to slide on or off (either side). There were two large "finger divots" that you lightly pressed on, then the panels just slid off. Everything else I've owned (I'm talking stock cases, not fancy pants aftermarket ones) requires one screw - if yer lucky - or a bunch. Sometimes, people get it right, and then they screw it up later on.  icon_razz

The sad thing is, in 1995 I probably thought CPUs would get smaller, and faster, and run even cooler. Instead, they got bigger, more complicated, and generated so much heat you needed to attach them to goop. Progress sometimes puzzles me.  icon_confused

Addendum: Not sure why I referred to case panels as "cases." Duh. I revised that.  icon_redface icon_razz
10096  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 13, 2008, 01:19:07 PM
Don't know how significant it is, but I'm seeing a lot more "general interest" news articles on these things...

Attack Of The Netbooks

Shoot For the Clouds
The bigger the better? Not when you're trying to reach the next level of portability

Netbooks and Mini-Laptops Buyer's Guide
10097  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 12, 2008, 08:34:00 PM
Reuters pontificates on the Limitations of the Category:

Without Wi-Fi, mini-computers not as magical
10098  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 12, 2008, 06:39:03 PM
Acer posted a little press release about its participation in a fundraising effort to help fight malaria in Africa. The classroom raising the most donations get Acer Aspire Ones for the teacher and each student in the class:

Acer Supports Chicagoland Students Participating in United Nations Foundation Netraiser{31092F0C-EC59-490B-B129-87CBA6E211DC}&dist=hppr

My initial thought was, "How are AA1's going to fight Malaria? They're going to use them as mosquito-swatters?"  saywhat So it pays to actually read it first.  icon_razz

I'm actually toying with doing a little AA1 news blog or fan page. I don't think you'll find a better forum than that Acer Aspire One User forum, but I think the AA1 could use a more regularly updated news site than I've seen so far. But maybe people are better off just using RSS feeds than a "Blackjack feed" and I'd probably get more traffic just posting stuff here than I ever would on a blog in nowhere land.  icon_neutral

10099  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Large Hadron Collider to Have "Practical" Spin-Offs? on: September 12, 2008, 05:56:15 PM
I can't believe we don't have a histrionic thread about the Collider/Atom Smasher in France that just opened that's attempting to unlock the secrets of the Big Bang Theory, among other things.

Here's the Official Site for it:
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.

Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy.

The more hysteric view:
Black holes that suck up the earth!
Extra dimensions!
Faster than light travel!
Or maybe a lot of money spent on hooey!  icon_razz

Large Hadron Collider to Have "Practical" Spin-Offs?
Though admittedly far-fetched, one sexy idea is that the LHC may find extra dimensions of space/time. If so, the discovery could open the door to technologies that allow people to travel faster than the speed of light.

In a sense, Parker explained, scientists may discover an ability to move chunks of space-time from one place to another through those extra dimensions, effectively bypassing the known laws of physics. [Didn't Doc warn Marty McFly not to do this! saywhat]

"If you went to the 23rd century and there were people flying around faster than the speed of light, you would say, What is it you found out that enabled you to do this?" Parker said.

"And the answer might be, It all started when we discovered there were these extra dimensions."
My favorite speculation/fear quoted in some other articles (mostly dismissed as hysteria) was that the contraption might create a black hole that grows and grows, eventually sucking up the Earth and maybe even the entire Solar System. Even X-COM didn't have a weapon that cool...

What I was hoping for was a Personal Black Hole that would eliminate the need for trash and recycling. Wouldn't that be cool?  icon_cool

* Note: If we already have a thread on this, please point me to it and I'll delete this. I did several searches, and didn't see anything on it.
10100  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 12, 2008, 05:11:54 PM
In case ye seeking a newer review (many older review links reference the Linux version, which was more widely available at first), this one just out yesterday:

Netbook Review: Acer Aspire One
Some babble on the keyboard. I haven't seen keyboards measured in this way before.
Like all netbooks', the Acer's keyboard reflects some downsizing -- the A through apostrophe keys span 7.25 inches, compared to 8 inches for a desktop keyboard and 7.5 inches for the category-leading HP 2133 [aka, HP Mini Note - bj].

But it's considerably more comfortable than the 6.5 inches of the original Eee PC 4G, with a sturdy, first-class typing feel that encourages almost-full-speed touch typing after just an hour or so of practice or consciously precise fingerwork.

Considering that we could come up with only one minor gripe about the layout -- the lack of dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys (they're Fn-key combinations with the Home and End keys) -- you're left with a keyboard that ranks near the top of the netbook category.
10101  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 12, 2008, 04:54:08 PM
Well, it's not as bad as me creating a new thread for every Age of Conan update, is it?  icon_lol

I'm not complaining. One of the reasons I left a board to come here, was because on that board, 2/3 of the threads were me talking to myself. Entertaining, but not very informative. I don't learn much or expand my horizons talking to myself.  icon_razz So even if it's just 3, 4, 5 of us exchanging info, I'm still glad for that much at least.

So, Quantas [which sells netbook types like AA1 and Eee PC] says, "Netbooks are kicking our arse!" or to that effect...
Netbooks to blame for loss of revenues, says Quanta
So, the netbook, it seems, is both a blessing and a curse. Consumers, fed up of shelling out thousands of dollars for power they don’t need are voicing their opinions with their wallets, snapping up the cheaper machines by the drove but taking a serious chink out of company revenues at the same time.
I'm assuming what they mean here is that companies like Quantas are still churning out more typical, much more expensive laptops. If said laptops are languishing in inventory because everyone decided to get AA1's, Eee PC's, Winds, etc. then it'll hurt their bottom line, but it's probably too early to start hollering "The Sky is Falling!"  icon_razz

Quantas is planning to ship even more netbooks by different manufacturers in the near future, so they're certainly not reacting by getting away from netbooks - they want to sell even more of them.
10102  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 12, 2008, 03:47:21 PM
I prefer swords because I just do. Even if I have a club with better stats, or an axe that does more damage. ninja2 To be honest, the more people tell me I *have* to use other equipment, or play a certain way, the more likely I'll do things differently. Variety's the spice of life.  icon_cool

Actually, one of the things I liked in Age of Conan was having a full set of skills specifically devoted to 2-hand swords (far too many games treat 2-hand swords like rejects, so nobody uses them). I've liked my particular sword (Georien's in LOTRO) because it has +28 might, +28 agility, +2% parry and increased chance to hit. I use the shield in some rough areas, or when I'm just trying to survive a long run through heavy-mob territory.

All that said, I got to finish Book 5 Chapter 5 last night on a nice, full size team, and I chose a big fat 109 damage halberd as my quest reward, so we'll see how that goes.  icon_smile I look like a pole-vaulter when I'm wearing it... I'll be using it tonight.
10103  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: September 12, 2008, 04:31:11 AM
This Kotaku interview seems to suggest either NCSoft's going to continue DR with a Skeleton Crew ("distancing itself" is such corporate speak, as I know from my business reporting experience Roll Eyes) or stick a fork in it at some point.

At this point they seem to be majorly investing in COH's dev team, and focusing on more traditional fee games. I don't know if the ballyhooed focus on big budget, AAA-titles is necessarily a smart economic thing to do, but I don't think you can be a profitable company charging nickles and dimes for free-to-download titles either.

With Hellgate dead and this on life support, perhaps the "free, and pay a few bucks for this and that if you want to" format isn't financially viable, even if does appeal to some players.
10104  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 12, 2008, 02:02:14 AM
I hope it works! Let us know.  icon_cool Pay it forward, as they say.  icon_mrgreen

Hey I like the shields in the game, especially into the 30s and 40s some neat ones pop up. I've been trying to capture some screenshots of them. Here are some, including a crafted one my 46 Captain uses (when not using a 2-hand sword, which is my preference):

Crafted by an L50 in my kinship on El... what's it's name server

Pretty wild one I saw today on a Guardian in Misty Mountains. If you leap off a mountainside flapping it, you might glide.  icon_razz

I was Inspecting another L50 and saw this.

10105  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Ryzom any good? Its free now on: September 11, 2008, 10:40:34 PM
Ryzom Ring, which gave players a chance to create their own quests, scenarios, etc. and a chance to do "dungeon master" type games (think Vampire Masquerade - Redemption) was the main selling point to me. But the trial I tried briefly way back left me disinterested. Still, I'm glad it got a second lease at life, and I'm always rooting for the underdog, even when it's not my cup of tea.  icon_smile

Here's link for the Ryzom Ring info:
Ryzom Ring (R²) allows you to create your own Adventures on Atys. By travelling in the world of Atys you will open up access to more and more landscapes and NPCs to use in your own adventures, culminating in Ryzom's entire plethoric bestiary and a huge number of different terrains across all of the different ecosystems and environments of Atys. In just a few clicks you will be able to layout the scenery and NPCs of a new scenario and to open it up to your fellow players. Join the community and enjoy the player-made adventures or develop a taste for playing god as an Adventure Master ("AM")!
I just think it's hard for people weaned on "A-List" MMOs to really get into smaller budget "alternative" MMOs. I liken it to when people play Crysis and COD4, and then play a $19.99 budget shooter and find it wanting.

However, if the Big Ones leave you cold, then things like this have a chance to charm you.

Oh, had a basic impressions piece from their visit to the game in its current form:
10106  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 11, 2008, 10:32:58 PM
Ah, the true sign AA1 is becoming a "commodity?" It's available at Wal-Mart.  eek icon_razz
What a difference a color can make. The Sapphire Blue Acer Aspire One netbook tops the netbook sales charts on and on

XP version (sold out online, only limited store availability)

Linux version (seems to have better availability fwiw)
10107  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 11, 2008, 08:23:16 PM
If you can't find any other way for it to work, I believe I still have a few trial keys to give out as a Founder's Member. I played in beta and from opening day, so I think that gave us Founders "X" number of trial keys to give out. I think I gave out a couple early on but probably can provide more. I'll check my account today.

And do check your Junk e-mail folder or whatever spam filter you use to make sure the trial key didn't get stuck somewhere.

Update: OK i've sent Xmann a "Guest Pass," I'm not sure if it's exactly the same as a trial. Let us know if that works any better.  icon_smile

Georien's finally closing on 46.
10108  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 11, 2008, 12:55:38 PM
The trial terms are here:

Here's Trial FAQ (copied from support site). Note the part that says many trial users don't successfully receive their keys due to spam filters; also, you're only eligible for one trial per e-mail addy so if you ever tried the trial before (it doesn't sound like you had, but I thought it worth mentioning) that could have something to do with it.
The Lord of the Rings Online 14-Day Free Trial FAQ

14-Day Free Trial FAQ

The questions below apply only to the 14-Day Free Trial Program. If you have general questions regarding The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™, please check out the game FAQ.

Q. Do I need a credit card to play the 14-Day Free Trial?
A. No credit card is required for the 14-Day Free Trial.

Q. Where can I sign up for the 14-Day Free Trial?
A. Everything you need is at

NOTE: Many of our users never receive our e-mails due to spam filters used by their e-mail providers or programs. This could be because the e-mail address registered to the customer's account is no longer used or because they once could receive our e-mails but no longer can due to changes by their e-mail provider. Many of these e-mails contain important information, such as help for technical issues, replies or requests for information from in-game support as well as important information from Turbine Account Management.

It is very important you ensure your spam filter is properly configured to allow e-mails from so that when you contact us, we can contact you back

Caution:  Please be sure to complete the trial registration process prior to exiting the 14-Day Trial Download.  Failure to complete the trial registration process prior to exiting the 14-Day Trial Download may result in account setup error.

Q. What limitations exist for 14-Day Free Trial accounts?
A. 14-Day Free Trial accounts have all the same options as member accounts, with certain exceptions. For example:

Mail Access: 14-Day Free Trial players cannot send or receive in-game mail.
Auctions: 14-Day Free Trial players cannot buy or sell items in the auction house.
Trades: 14-Day Free Trial players cannot trade with other players.
Limited Tells:  14-Day Free Trial players have a limit on how many /tells they can send over a given period of time.
Limited Time: Trials only last for fourteen (14) consecutive days.

If a 14-Day Free Trial player attempts to perform these actions, they receive a message indicating that these functions are only available after becoming a LOTRO subscriber.

Once a 14-day Free Trial player converts to a paying subscriber, all of these restrictions are removed.

Eligible fans can participate in The Lord of the Rings Online trial program and play the game for 14 days free of charge. At the end of the trial, players will have the option of continuing to play LOTRO, and to keep the characters created during their 14-day free trial time, by purchasing the game either online or at retail.

To participate in the 14-Day Free Trial or to find out where to buy LOTRO, visit .Please be aware that this is the North American version of the LOTRO 14-Day Free Trial.

For a European trial, please click HERE.

If the information in this article does not resolve your concern, please leave feedback in the "Enter Comments Here" box below.

Enjoy your journey through Middle-earth!

Exceptions/restrictions (once you're in the trial):
14-Day Free Trial Exceptions

14-Day Free Trial accounts have all the same options as member accounts, with certain exceptions.

These exceptions are present to prevent abuse of the 14-Day Free Trial program.

Lord of the Rings Online trial access has the following use exceptions:

Mail Access:  Free trial players cannot send or receive in-game mail.
Auctions:  Free trial players cannot buy or sell items in the auction house.
Trades:  Free trial players cannot trade with other players.
Limited Time:  Trials only last for fourteen (14) consecutive days.

If a free trial player attempts to perform these actions, they receive a message indicating that these functions are only available after becoming a LOTRO subscriber.

If you or a friend are a Trial or Referral account and you'd like to be able to use /tell in-game, you should contact each other via email, IM, or the forums and arrange to add each other to your Friends lists.

Once a trial player converts to a paying subscription, all of these restrictions are removed.
10109  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 11, 2008, 01:05:55 AM
Now that we got a few folks in this thread -- which I love, I'm not complaining  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you. -- posts are scrolling away.

My post on the Init case, w/ photos, was back here:,27480.msg459084.html#msg459084

There are lots of things out there though. I mean it depends on style vs. utility, whether you want a shoulder strap or not, whether you want to be able to use it "in" a case (which I'm not sure you can do for along sitting w/ the Init case cause of heat issues), etc.

That AA1 fan site has a very lively cases thread at:

Cases for the Aspire one?

Some of the sewing-knowledgeable sorts are even Making their own cases.  icon_cool
10110  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway on: September 10, 2008, 10:19:26 PM
I've been more keen on the 6 fully articulated Action Figures with 13 Accessories in the collector's edition (though I doubt it's anything spectacular in quality):

Brother's in Arms: Hell's Highway Limited Edition

Limited Edition image

While I played the original game, I never really got all that competent at it. I especially had a hard time dealing with German mortar and artillery. I seem to recall getting stuck on a mission dealing with that, and never getting past it.

I'm probably most interested in the destructible environments, and supposedly more wide-open environments. The original suffered a bit from "funneling you down aisles" design, and I know some military shooter buds of mine were turned off by that and wanted more open environments and less linearity.

From about Medal of Honor: Allied Assault through COD4 I was a military shooter nut, but I've really lost interest in the whole genre. I'll keep an eye out for this though.
10111  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 10, 2008, 07:41:18 PM
Laptopmag has some breathless speculation about a 10"-screen HP Mini Note successor (possibly), in the guise of a "fashion model" version of the Mini Note shown off at a fashion week presentation:

They couldn't get hands-on time with it per se, so they don't know what the innards are. Or whether this is an existing HP Mini Note modified to accept a 10" screen that extends to the edge of the bezel, or if it's a new case altogether.
10112  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 10, 2008, 06:55:28 PM
If you describe it as what it literally is, technically speaking, "A wimpy, underpowered, Windows XP machine with a cut-height, fixed 1024X600 resolution, soldered RAM and an 89%-of-full-size keyboard encased with smudge-attracting plastic that doesn't ship with a System or XP recovery disc," then all your techie co-workers will look sad, downcast, walk away slumped and leave you alone.  smirk

For my purposes it's fine, battery life wise. I can see where some road warriors, if they get into situations where they don't have some sort of external power supply handy, might fret.

Here's a news bit - a South African company's press release announcing they got AA1 distribution rights there:

They're hoping it'll have wide appeal in the commercial sector, which is their focus.
10113  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 10, 2008, 06:50:10 PM
Once he realizes how fast the 3-cell battery drains, the bloom will be off, and then he can sell it to you and get a 6-cell version!  icon_razz Though those are certainly taking their sweet times reaching retail stores.
10114  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 10, 2008, 06:46:23 PM
If you want a Bluetooth mouse, just remember to get one of the tiny USB Bluetooth transmitter thingies (some folks have been perturbed it doesn't have Bluetooth built in, so I thought I'd mention that).  icon_smile

Glad ya like it. Welcome to the AA1 Club!  icon_cool
10115  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 10, 2008, 01:44:20 PM
I returned already, in spite of my "mean people suck" experiences.  icon_neutral Had a very therapeutic fellowship with a 50 guardian and 41 hunter last night, as we worked through a few quests in Angmar.

The guardian and I exchanged stories about being "told off" by people when we thought a healing buff would be welcome, and we laughed about it. I felt better someone else had just experienced the same thing the other day.  icon_smile

I just pledged to offer no help to non-fellowed players unless they ask for it, even if that's against my usually helpful nature. If they beg for it and give me precious things, maybe I'll consider the offer. I'll be like Montoya in The Princess Bride...
Georien: Offer me money
LOTRO player: Yes
Georien: Power too! Promise that!
LOTRO player: All that I have and more. Please!
Georien: Offer me everything I ask for.
LOTRO player: Anything you want!
Georien: Sorry, chum. I can't take a chance you'll get pissed at me about it.
*walks away*
LOTRO player: No! I need a healing buff! Now I need a rez! Come back!
Apologies to William Goldman.  icon_razz
10116  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: MS Closes Ensemble on: September 10, 2008, 01:39:47 PM
Microsoft is every bit as committed to PC gaming as a whole, as it was to the MMO market!...

Oops.  Roll Eyes

I imagine the pundits will read it as:
-Microsoft sucks! (not a very original thought icon_razz)
-You can't survive as a PC-game-only developer in today's market (the idea being Halo Wars came too late to "save" them), and pundits will lump this in with Flagship Studios, Iron Lore, Westwood Studios and others though they're clearly all different situations
-If your name isn't Blizzard or Relic, you can't survive as an RTS-only dev in today's market.
-The economy sucks, everybody is suffering, across many different industries, and this is just another illustration

Because pundits must oversimplify everything. 
10117  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: September 10, 2008, 01:25:30 PM had some Funcom interview bits from Dragon*Con (about 3 pages long):

Boobies are still a large part of our philosophy [he really said that, I can't make stuff like that up-blackjack icon_lol]. Mature content, you've got two sides to the Mature coin. You've got blood and boobies, which is Mature content, and then you've got deep meaningful choices Mature content, where you've got to think about what you're choosing in the game, think about the consequences of your actions. A game that asks you to be mature adults.

And from a quest design point of view, we're attempting to put that in the game all the time. We want the quests to be meaningful to you as a player, we want to put you in a position where the choices aren't always easy. And as for boobs and blood, I mean, that's a constant, we'll continue adding that sort of stuff.
Whew, I'm sure that's reassuring to everybody who's been leaving the game.  icon_razz

"If only there were more boobs and blood, I'd still be playing Age of Conan!" is a most common refrain...  Tongue

It mentions various PVP features they're trying to get implemented, so there's that. And acknowledges some problems they've had with their GMs not acting professionally -- which probably comes with how frantically they had to grow their support staff after launch.

And there's this positive nugget:
Q: Are you bringing in any sort of transportation for low-level characters in besides running?
A: That's something that many players have mentioned, that there's too much running. That's something we are aware of, and are doing something about, but I can't give you any specific dates.
Once you have the various death "touch stones" in a zone, you pretty much end up "death teleporting" everywhere until you get a mount. The stones/platforms generally are evenly spaced throughout a zone.

I think the easy solution is just to treat those touchstones as waypoint portal points - as in a Diablo-style game - and then *boom*, low level players can skip tedious running around (unless they really need to see the sights or grind things along the way).
10118  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 09, 2008, 07:49:25 PM
That would void the warranty, which certainly doesn't bother hardware junkies, but for us less hard-cores we'd just like it to come with as large a drive as possible out of the box.  icon_smile

JKOnTheRun (a neat gadgety fan site run by two guys) got a reader tip supposedly about Toshiba showing off a netbook entry of their own (all the typical stuff, including the Atom CPU and 8.9" screen) to university suppliers in a case labeled "Libretto."
10119  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 09, 2008, 06:04:04 PM
If you want a painfully detailed review of the Windows XP version (many review links point to the Linux/SSD version still), Brighthand obliges:
10120  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 09, 2008, 05:01:18 PM
There were some bits yesterday about a new 3G model going on sale later in Taiwan (no indication yet whether there are North American/Europe plans for it):
Quote from: Gizmodo
The Acer Aspire One will reportedly let you surf the web via an integrated 3G connection as well, but this will come at a $95 premium over the regular Aspire One.

Reports say that Acer was planning for 3G connectivity all along and it's just that they got around to doing it now. The upgraded Acer Aspire One netbook will go on sale this November in Taiwan, but there has been no indication as to when (and if) a 3G-equipped Acer Aspire One will make its way over to the United States and Canada.
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