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Microsoft disconnects modded Xbox owners
Lawrence Latif at Wednesday 11th November filed under Games industry
Microsoft in their annual purging of Xbox Live accounts has banned a large number of accounts in what they say are involved in "illegal" actions by pirating games and "breaking the Xbox Live terms of use" by modifying their Xboxes.

Reports suggest up to 600,000 accounts have been banned although Microsoft say it's a only a small percentage of their overall membership. While modding games consoles has been around for many years Microsoft are striking a blow for publishers in the hope that it'll pay off for them in the long term. Indeed the money lost through the banned subscriptions may run into the millions, but if it means publishers see Microsoft's efforts as helping their bottom line, then it could mean more titles exclusive to the Xbox, leading to greater sales of the console for Microsoft.

While piracy is a constant threat to most software companies, gamers will argue that the high cost of titles means they have little choice but to pirate titles in order to play them. However the banning of "modded" Xboxes also aims to level the playing field by stopping cheats who modify games in order to get an advantage over their opponents famously occuring with Halo 2 some years back.

The problem for Microsoft is ensuring that honest customers do not get included in this mass banning of accounts. Few will argue against banning of cheats but the modification of machines for other purposes, such as being able to read standard recordable DVDs will gather a mixed response. There's no doubt that Microsoft has to do something but whether this annual broad stroke will be the solution is something that remains to be seen.

Squeezebox Touch nears release
Lawrence Latif at Thursday 15th October filed under Hardware
The Squeezebox Touch made an impressive appearance at Logitech's Showcase 2009 event yesterday with the upcoming device nearing release.

This autumn has already seen the Squeezebox Radio being launched but it is undoubtedly the Touch which will launch Squeezebox into the high-end audio market. Featuring an interface that any iPhone/iPod Touch user will instantly recognise the Touch is aimed squarely at those who want to stream media to their Hi-Fi system rather than use the built in speakers on other Squeezebox devices.

There's no doubting that the interface is very slick with little lag, Squeezebox has also added a lot of connectivity to the Touch (which looks somewhat similar to the Logitech Harmony 1000 remote control). There's wireless and wired connectivity along with USB and SD card sockets to plug in memory drives and flash media respectively. The 4.3-inch screen is also high quality although the software still had a few minor bugs, on the whole it's something that shouldn't take their software engineers more than a few days to iron out, and certainly before the December/January launch date that Logitech were mooting at the event.

The Touch will see Squeezebox in the realm of Sonos but at a much lower price point. Multi-room capabilities stem from the ability to control Squeezeboxes (Touch or Radio) through their iPhone/iPod Touch application and web interfaces. Also the Squeezebox representative mentioned that a wall mount for the Touch will be made available soon after launch.

Squeezebox also announced a tie-in with Queen for the launch of their latest "greatest hits" album which will include, aside from the music itself, bonus material such as commentary from group members and artwork.

Prices are expected to be around the £260 mark when it launches in either late December or January. We'll post an update when we play around with a hopefully finished version at next year's CES.

Folding@home update
Lawrence Latif at Monday 12th October filed under Misc
Our Folding@Home team (# 11987) has been steadily moving up the ladder since my last post some months ago. From our lowly position in the 1330s we have made it up into the 770s and have recently overtaken and about to overtake some of the tech website community's more famous names such as Shacknews, Extremetech, Neoseeker and Pureoverclock.

However we need your help, so if you run a Folding@Home client please join the 3DVelocity/UKGamer team 11987 and help us climb that leaderboard. Currently we average somewhere in the region of 25,000-27,000 points per day and we'd love to go over 40,000 before the end of the year with our final goal to get into the top 100.

For more information on Folding@Home, please visit Stanford University's website, we think you'll agree it's a worthy cause. The client can be downloaded from here and please remember to put your team number as 11987! We even have a forum open on Folding if you need any further help.

Sony launch skinny stunner
Lawrence Latif at Thursday 8th October filed under Hardware
Sony took the wraps off their latest VAIO models today with the X Series headlining the event and rightly so. The all-day super thin-and-light showcases Sony's design skills combining what can only be described as extreme portability and minimalist design.

The X series only has two models, the entry level S1E and the top-of-the-very-short line Z1E. Both models are based around the updated Atom processor running at 1.86 and 2.0GHz respectively. Both models come with 2GB DDR2 and both have SSDs as standard, with 128Gb on offer in the S1E and 256Gb on the Z1E.



The 11.1" X-black LCD is LED backlit and is nothing short of excellent on a device of this kind. The screen has good contrast even in direct light. The thickness (or lack of) does mean that you can still twist the screen a good amount.

Where the X series really excels is its physical characteristics. The headline figure is a weight of only 0.78kg including the battery which Sony reports gives up to eight hours of life. Even the extended battery, which doubles that life expectancy and brings the total weight to just under 1.1kg. The X series isn't as thin as Apple's MacBook Air but at 13.9mm it really isn't going to add much of a bulge to your bag. It does however have more ports than the Air though you will have to flick out the hidden feet in order to gain full access to them. There are two USB sockets, VGA out and an RJ45 connector which has been modified, ingeniously, to fit in the thin dimensions of the X. Wireless connectivity is also good with the usual LAN and Bluetooth connectivity being present along with HSDPA support.

Both models will come with Windows 7 Professional 32-bit edition pre-installed (the X isn't going on sale before that is released) and during our 15 minute use of the 2GHz Z1E model it was very responsive and for general web browsing, email and word processing activities it should be perfectly adequate.

Sony did not mention pricing at this stage however a special edition of the Z1E in "tasteful" gold will be available through their online outlet with both models available on 22 October.
Thursday's News
Wayne Brooker at Thursday 1st October filed under Competitions
NVIDIA Fermi Next Generation GPU Architecture Overview @ PC Perspective
LIVE from the NVIDIA GPU Tech Conference Keynote @ PC Perspective
Roccat Valo Keyboard @ Rbmods
ASUS U-65GA 650 W Power Supply Review @ Hardware Secrets
AVID6EEK's 4.61GHz Total Loss Watercooling Overclocked PC Experiment @ PCSTATS
Synology Disk Station (DS209) Review @ High Tech Reviews
OCZ Behemoth Review @ Neoseeker
NVIDIA Announces CUDA GPU Architecture - Fermi @ Legit Reviews
Western Digital Caviar Black and RE4 2 TB Hard Disk Drive Review @ Hardware Secrets
Luxa2 H1-Touch Mobile Holder Review @ OCC
VidaBox Premium Wireless Keyboard with Laser Trackball @ TweakTown
CRU DataPort SecureDock Review @ ThinkComputers
NZXT Panzerbox @ PureOverclock
Nvidia GPU Technology Conference Coverage @ OCC
Jen-Hsun shows off Fermi at GTC @ HEXUS
Seasonic 850WATT S12D PSU @ Bjorn3D
MSI Afterburner @ Bjorn3D
Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB Video Card @ TweakTown
'Halo 3: ODST' Xbox 360 Review @ The Hachiko
Gameskulls GS-1 Tactical Gaming Helmet Headphones @ Legit Reviews
Thermaltake ISGC-V320 VGA Cooler @ DriverHeaven
Case In Point: THX on Wheels @ HotHardware
LUXA2 H1-Touch Mobile Device Stand review @ APH Networks
Verbatim Tuff N Tiny 8GB Flash Drive @ Pro-Clockers

Press Releases

Scythe Kama Bay Speaker ACE – 5.25“ Bay Mountable Internal Active Speaker
Lords Online: Designing Instances in Browser-based SLG
Digital music developments to be celebrated with the 2010 BT Digital Music Awards
Software Studio President Flown to Australia By Gaming Community

Genius NB Stand 200 laptop cooler
Lawrence Latif at Thursday 3rd September filed under Hardware
A few weeks back after a relatively short conversation regarding my MacBook Pro overheating issues, I was presented with a Genius NB Stand 200 laptop cooler. This 20 quid cooler-cum-stand promises quiet cooling and in our month long tests we found it delivered just that with little else.


It's hard to beat up a product which sells for £20 too much but the single fan, while generally being quiet just doesn't cool all that much.  On my already toasty MacBook Pro, it failed to make a dent on the aluminium entombed AGA. The fan occasionally produced rattling sounds and although with the feet raised, produces an excellent angled typing position, it's a hard sell from a cooling perspective. Although the 15.4" MacBook Pro sat perfectly fine on the NB Stand 200, smaller laptops and netbooks would be much better suited to its relatively lackustre cool abilities.

The stand itself is quite thick, with the fan inset however there's no USB hub built in. Considering you lose a port on your notebook powering the fan, having a couple extra on the stand would be very welcome.

Genius has produced a laptop stand which is very comfortable to use but if you are looking for something to principally cool your laptop, other multi-fan units should be considered.
Thursday's News
Wayne Brooker at Thursday 7th May filed under Competitions
Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply Review @ Hardware Secrets
Cooler Master CM Storm Scout Case Review @
Fading Shadows - PSP Review @ Gamepyre
Samsung YP-P3 Touchscreen Digital Media Player @ DreamwareComputers
Thermaltake Litepower 450w PSU Reviewed @ High Tech Reviews
ASUS vs. ASUS: GeForce GTX 260 MATRIX against Radeon HD 4890 Voltage Tweak @ HEXUS
Eagle Consus T-Series and iNEO @ PureOverclock
Gigabyte EX58-UD4P @ Neoseeker
The RAID 0 SSD Report – Intel vs. RunCore @ TweakTown
NZXT Guardian 921 Crafted Series Mid-Tower ATX Computer Case Review @ Tweaknews
AMD Athlon X2 7850 B.E. CPU // Radeon 4770 GFX Review @ Driverheaven
Gigabyte GM-M8000 Ghost Mouse @ Bjorn3D
Top 10 Fashion Laptops @ DigitalTrends
Canon Vixia HF200 Review @ Digital Trends
MSI Wind U100 10-inch Netbook @ TweakTown
Samsung CLX-3175FW reviewed @ ITreviewed
Radius Atomic Bass earphones @ APH Networks
Compro VideoMata U2800F DVB-T Receiver Tested In Belgium @ Madshrimps
Editorial: NVIDIA, VISTA & CRT Refresh Rates @ Accelenation
All Pentium Dual Core Models @ Hardware Secrets
MSI Radeon HD 4890 1GB OC Graphic Card Review @ Ninjalane
Zeno Clash - PC Review @ Gamingheaven
Luciano Luciano Alibrandi talks NVIDIA graphics @ HEXUS
Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB Notebook Hard Drive @ Legit Reviews
Sony Cyber-shot W290 Digital Camera Review @ Hardware Secrets
Compro VideoMata U2800F DVB-T Receiver Tested In Belgium @ Madshrimps
PCPer Podcast #55 @ PC Perspective

Press Releases

Angels Online: Warm Up to Get 3x Exp
Tales of Pirates: Brand New Marriage System Soon Open
Galaxy Online: Guide to the Ruins
2029 Online: Elves Powerful Skills Overview

Pirate Bay founders found guilty
Lawrence Latif at Friday 17th April filed under Internet
In what may not be a huge shock, the founders of The Pirate Bay have been found guilty of breaking copyright laws. The trial which has garnered mass media attention finished a while back with the verdict only coming today. The surprising aspect is the sentence dealt out to the four founders. Not only do they have to pay around £2.4 million in fines but have been handed one year jail sentences.

It is fairly clear that this sentence is set to be a deterrent to other sites, however the implications are much more than just a distance shockwave from what can only be called a seismic event in the P2P world. In many ways this has now set the precedent for record companies, film studios and software developers to take on such websites even in traditional "copyright unfriendly" lands such as Sweden.

The Pirate Bay Four are set to appeal their custodial terms and have already said they are not willing (and unable) to pay the fine. Most say that it is unlikely that the website will be shutdown though.

Folding for us
Lawrence Latif at Thursday 16th April filed under Misc
A long time ago the 3DVelocity Folding@Home team was setup and achieved considerable success, at times being in the top 20 of all teams participating in the project. However in recent years it has become somewhat dormant and we've slipped down the rankings.

Folding@Home is a distributed computing project aiming to find out more about how proteins "fold" and gain a better understanding of how this can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and many other cancers. Think of it as a useful incarnation of Seti@Home.

If you wish to take part and donate your spare CPU/GPU or PS3 cycles to the cause, you can download a client from here and join team 11987 when prompted in the client. The team statistics are available here. A forum is also up in our community, Chattershop.

A racing seat that's worth as much as a car company
Lawrence Latif at Tuesday 31st March filed under Misc
Earlier today VisionRacer a company who caters for gamers with a panchant for driving launched a "driving rig" for the ultimate race experience in your living room. Coming in at £700 for just the seat, it does represent a hefty investment but be prepared to shell out more if you want to mount an LCD screen directly onto the rig.



The fit and finish of the VisionRacer is very high and the whole shebang looks very much like a quality product. As to whether the wife or girlfriend will approve is another matter but in the middle of a dedicated gaming setup this thing is sure to make your mates lust just a little.

VisionRacer also provide a complete package which includes PlayStation 3, a fully kitted out VisionRacer rig, an LCD screen and a Logitech Driving Force GT wheel for £1700. We'll get more information on which LCD screen is included but expect something in the 26"-32" range.

Justifying a £700 racing seat in the current economic climate may be tough but if you can afford it and are serious about your driving simulators the VisionRacer will already have your attention and rightly so.