Thursday, February 21, 2008

Windows Vista SP1 is here!

You heard it right, the first Vista service pack is now available for download. I am currently downloading it through Windows Update, so I can't tell you any specifics.

This Microsoft page should give you all the information you need.

There are a lot of fixes in SP1, but browsing through the "Notable changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 1" reveals a few interesting fixes and additions:

Hardware "ecosystem"

Adds support for new UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) industry standard PC firmware for 64-bit systems with functional parity with legacy BIOS firmware, which allows Windows Vista SP1 to install to GPT format disks, boot and resume from hibernate using UEFI firmware.
My comment: So, we'll have support for the new UEFI standard (as seen on the newer MacBooks). When these boot specifications start being used on desktop computers, we'll see a friendlier boot-up. You could even use your mouse, instead of tapping away at the keyboard through endless text screens. This addition, however, is for 64-bit systems.

Adds support for Direct3D® 10.1, an update to Direct3D 10 that extends the API to support new hardware features, enabling 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generations of graphics hardware.
To most users, this won't make much of a difference. It is mainly an addition that enforces a few image standards.


SP1 addresses issues many of the most common causes of crashes and hangs in Windows Vista, as reported by Windows Error Reporting. These include issues relating to Windows Calendar, Windows Media Player, and a number of drivers included with Windows Vista.

Hopefully, this is what it says it is. To be serious, though, I have had few serious crashes during my time with Vista x64.

Performance improvements

Improves performance over Windows Vista’s current performance across the following scenarios:
  • 25% faster when copying files locally on the same disk on the same machine

It's always nice to be able to copy files faster.
Improves the copy progress estimation when copying files within Windows Explorer to about two seconds.

Does it have to take any longer than this? Get it over with quick, and copy my file.

Desktop administration
Allows users and administrators to control which volumes the disk defragmenter runs on.

Kind of strange not to include this from the start, don't you think?

Setup and patching
The addition that jumped at me while reading the change log was this:
Enables support for hotpatching, a reboot-reduction servicing technology designed to maximize uptime. It works by allowing Windows components to be updated (or "patched") while they are still in use by a running process. Hotpatch-enabled update packages are installed via the same methods as traditional update packages, and will not trigger a system reboot.

If it works, and does what it says it will do, we won't be forced to restart our computers, come next patch Tuesday.

Well. these are just a few of the things I noticed in the change log. Enjoy SP1 goodness, this is what I'm about to do.

Wish me luck.

Monday, February 18, 2008

8 Gigabytes of Vista Goodness

So, I just bought a new computer. It has got a whopping 4GB of RAM in it. I guess that's not enough.

Tom's Hardware posted an article this morning (Vista Workshop: More RAM, More Speed) about running Windows Vista on 8GB's of RAM. Running Vista on this amount of memory is said to have some perks, such as being able to disable the page file, and run everything straight from memory. That way, you avoid having to load data from the hard drive, and you end up with a snappier and more responsive computer.

Running 8GB's of RAM forces you into 64-bit territory, so you do get a few more driver issues. I am running 64-bit Vista since my upgrade, a few weeks back (I hope to get back to that in a later blog entry), and so far I'm very happy with it. It's stable, and all programs and games I want to use work just fine. I have had a few problems, however, and the fact that I can't use my networked printer, since it lacks 64-bit drivers, is one of them.

To sum it all up,
but I don't really feel the need to upgrade my RAM just yet.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Meet the group member: Theon Trollbane, feedback 80% positive

So. My first post. We'll see how this goes.

I intend to start with a subject that was discussed on the latest Virginworlds podcast "Shut Up, We're Talking", (episode 19).

The subject was "Player ratings", that players would be able to give feedback on other players that they have grouped with. This information would then be available to other players, and serve as a kind of Ebay/Xbox Live-like ratings system. Did the idiot player in the last pickup group ninja-loot the purple in Scarlet Monastery? Was he a mage who persisted in attacking every mob head on, getting everyone killed?

The discussion was mainly between Leala, of Epic Dolls, and Brendan, of Another Here. Brendan was in support of the idea, thinking it would be a good way for players to avoid getting their precious game time ruined by idiots, while Leala was of the opinion that it would be wrong to rate players this way. It would be misused, and instead, Leala claimed, one should try to educate the players that wrong you.

I have to say that I'm more on Brendan's side in this matter. While I'm not sure player ratings are the most important thing for MMO developers to work on right now, I do see the use for it. I have been in many pickup groups where the experience was ruined by players who roll on things they don't need, who can't communicate properly or who don't "play their class".

I don't want to spend my spare time lecturing uninformed of proper conduct. If I want to make sure I play with people that are "mature players" (as in, they are respectful and try not to ruin things), why shouldn't I? Because it's "mean"?

In the end, it would only amount to more freedom of choice for players.