TideLog Archive for May, 2011

I’ve given up on laptops for now. For gaming and video encoding, the stressful stuff I do, they just can’t cut it, unless I spend £8,000 on a built-like-a-tank monster, and even then that’s too much for what it is when I built Lucy for just under £400, who I’m using now. Her specs are:

Gigabyte EP45-UD3R Intel P45 based motherboard

Intel Core2Quad Q8300 2.5GHz Quad Core CPU (4×2.5 = 10GHz total clock!)

2GB Matched OCZ gaming RAM, PC6400

1TB Hitachi SATA HDD

ATi Radeon HD4650 1GB PCI-E graphics card

Samsung WriteMaster SATA DVD Burner

She’s a lovely monster, and only cost me about £450 to build. For that same spec laptop I’d have had to shell out about £4,000, which isn’t worth it, even for a laptop with removable graphics card. The cooling is never good enough, battery life utterly sucks, and they’re damn heavy.

I’ve just had enough of shitty BGA components crammed into tiny plastic cases, called laptops. nVidia have made me never want to buy them again, as the last two laptops I’ve had contained their utterly shitty chips, so I’ve gone back to my desktop machine where all components are full size, well cooled and easily replaceable!

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I finally found them amongst a 3 year old backup! I loved this costume! It wasn’t mine, but belonged to Tina, a lady friend of mine. Her son loves Power Rangers, so she bought this outfit custom made, dressed up as Red Ranger, and surprised her son on his birthday at his Power Rangers themed birthday!

It’s made up of several pieces, all bespoke and custom made, which include:

1. Padded white bodysuit, to pad you out a bit and makes you look muscly!

2. The main Spandex full body bodysuit, which covered feet, arms and stopped at the neck

3. The amazing helmet, which is made of fibreglass, with plastic see through visor (you can see out but not in!) plus the separate boots and gloves, followed by the belt.

It was so amazing to wear! I felt as sexy wearing this as I do my Superman costume, except this costume is very very warm and sweaty if you’re doing Power Rangers action role play in it! Here I am wearing it for an event I think was in Edinburgh, I don’t remeber exactly it was a while ago:

The second pic is of me chilling in it after gulping down a much needed cup of water! That helmet and undersuit padding were very warm, it was a warm day, and there were lots of hot cosplay chicks around, some paying me a lot more attention than normal because I was dressed up!

See the padding round my neck? That was all over my body. I had to go commando under the whole outfit, added clothes and underwear would have sweated me even more!! It made me look all macho and manly… My muscles are naturally better now, but they weren’t as defined then! I haven’t seen Tina in a while, and don’t even know if she wears or even has it anymore (Power Ranger Chicks FTW!!), but that was one of the best experiences of my life!

Thanks, Tina! xx

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I had a feeling it wouldn’t last! Time to hire the rework station again! I think you can guess what I’m talking about….. yup, my Uniwill has given up the ghost, last night while playing ToCA Race Driver 3 after detailing my fix here!!

The LCD screen hasn’t been coming on at all lately, and last night while ToCA was running it just froze, and then a BSOD:

“Attempt to recover display driver timeout period exceeded”

I switched off, and then started getting artifacting in the BIOS. Windows won’t go past the Starting Windows screen, so the solder has fractured again. I only reflowed it when I last did it, so now it’s time for a full re-ball.

Bugger, bugger, bugger! Back to using my 7 year old Advent 7036 Pentium 4 snail!! It goes to prove that the RoHS is to blame. My Advent 7036 has nVidia GeForce Go 5300 graphics, manufactured 2003, and it has lead solder in the BGA grids and all the boards, and it is still as strong electrically as the day it was bought. RoHS kicked in in 2006, and since then I’ve had no end of failed solder BGA jobs come in for re-ball/re-flow.

No coincidence. Not nVidia, guys, the INDUSTRY. Lead-free solder is god damn awful. And so is darn RoHS. Lead in PCB’s never killed ANYONE. I’m in contact with them all the time, and was for years before lead free crap came in, and I’m still fighting fit, even after breathing lead smoke from soldering irons.

This Advent may be single core, and ancient compared to what I’m used to in my job and today’s IT standards, but she sure is reliable, even having her GPU powered by nVidia.

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A few posts ago, I mentioned how I was having trouble with ToCA Race Driver 3’s StarForce DRM driver under 64bit Windows 7, and detailed a manual driver removal method. Well, after some more playing about, I’ve installed 32bit Windows 7 on my laptop on a separate hard drive, and guess what? The driver STILL DOES NOT WORK! But, this time, it doesn’t stop the computer starting, Windows simply disables the driver every boot.

bmaytum, a user on Codemasters’ forum, sent off a support request, and here was Rob from Codemasters’ reply:

I just got an Impressively quick response via email from “Rob” at CodeMaster’s Customer Service. SADLY, Rob said this:

“Thank you for submitting your recent request to Codemasters Customer Services concerning Toca Race Driver 3.

Unfortunately Toca Race Driver 3 does not work under Windows 7; the game will only work under those versions of Windows listed on the back of the box. Due to the way the game was programmed it is not possible to patch the game to work under Windows 7, unfortunately. Sorry.

If you need further assistance, please reply to this email and INCLUDE THIS LINE IN YOUR REPLY:- ……”

So Codemasters are REFUSING OURTRIGHT to provide a patch!! Starforce say patching has got to be done via developers too, so we’re out of luck. Aha, you didn’t really think that was it, did you? There’s a slightly illegal way round this, and that is to use a No-DVD cracked EXE with it.

Scared you’ll get sued? I wouldn’t be, they’re too damn lazy and customer non-focused to care themselves to make an official patch!

Here’s a proper removal method for the StarForce crap, first:

1. Download the official StarForce removal tool by clicking this link: sfdrvrem

2. It’s hosted here on TideLog, so download it and extract it using your favourite unzipper, you don’t need to worry about viruses.

3. Run the EXE, and then when it asks you to reboot, do so.

4. You should now be fine and dandy, without the “Windows disabled this driver due to incompatibility” message on every boot.

5. DON’T UNINSTALL the game, but go find a cracked EXE for your version of the game, and it should run fine. I’m not providing cracked EXE’s so I don’t get done for distributing copyrighted works, so am NOT RESPONSIBLE for you picking up viruses from Russian warez sites. THESE from GameCopyWorld seem to work fine, though….

And finally:

6. Don’t buy Codemasters’ software. They don’t care about loyal customers, so don’t give a damn about them!


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