Sunday, January 16, 2005

Mein host spotted on Apple's payroll

Sunday, January 16, 2005 0

Many moons ago I was sipping Babychams and chin-wagging in the Cow & Goose with Apple luminary, Steve Jobs, when it dawned on me that what the company needed was a new sweetener to make discerning, potential switchers look twice at the Mac.

I decided to broach the topic with Steve; clearly captivated, he leaned closer, resting his glass on the table to give me his full attention. I put it to him that there is currently a vast, untapped pool of would-be Mac users who are not being catered for by Apple's current line of products. What these people yearn for is a cut-price base unit they can use with their existing monitor and peripherals; a Mac that incorporates everything they truly need, and nothing they are coerced into stumping up extra cash for, only because it comes as part of the package. To illustrate this, I relayed the story of, erm... a friend of mine, who was so weary of Microsoft operating systems, PC generated noise and shoddily manufactured components that he, no, correction, she, bought an iBook and transformed it into a desktop computer using an external monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers. Steve sat in a catatonic stupor, mouth agape at the prospect of anyone going to such lengths to plug the holes in his product line he hadn't realized existed hitherto my revelations. Meanwhile I took the opportunity to batter him about the chops with a brick in a dainty conductor's glove (what, you never watched Warner Brothers 'toons?) - on behalf of my friend, you understand - who found the whole experience a trifle frustrating.

Typical of the Apple range, the new system would be beautifully crafted and minimalist; a computer designed for the average user who has no interest in buying an over-specced, and hence noisy, white elephant. Incorporating moderate, just-right-for-the-task-in-hand laptop components, it would generate little heat and therefore could be cooled passively much of the time. The mini Mac, or 'Mac Mini', would be a tiny, though perfectly capable machine, one which wouldn't look out of place next to the TV in your living room. Although considered 'entry level', it would pack enough muscle to function as a silent, dedicated media centre, emulation box or a graphics workstation.

Steve gazed blankly up towards the corner of the room, the cogs in his mind working furiously to disperse the foggy state of bewilderment in which he suddenly found himself immersed. His brow furrowed as he interjected to ask, "haven't we been down this road before?". The silly sausage seemed to recollect developing a similar device called an Apple Cube, which was well received, but mysteriously discontinued. I promptly put him straight in an effort to keep his mind firmly grounded in reality - he had been under a great deal of pressure to boost Apple's market share, and this had led him to experience quirky, random delusions of a technological nature. I continued, "the Mac Mini is a totally new concept; I'm the first and only person ever to have proposed such a design and specification". To back up my argument I introduced a dash of logical reasoning into the equation. "Surely, if there was a demand for such a product and someone had previously suggested it, the opportunity to deliver the Apple experience to a wider audience, while making a shed-load of moolah in the process, would have been seized with both hands by yourself and the clever folks at Apple long before now?".

"Quite right, I'm so I grateful I have a true friend like you to explain away my senior moments", he gushed. The rest, as they say, is history. The Mac Mini will finally be available to buy from the Apple Store by the end of the month and will lighten your wallet to the tune of £339 for the basic model. At last, the barebones, Apple desktop computer the world has been clamouring for has landed, and it's all thanks to me. Steve assures me that the first installment of my royalties is in the post.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

How do I gauge how many frames per second my games are running at?

Thursday, January 06, 2005 0

One method would be to use the freeware TSR utility, Fraps. This sits in your task tray and works in the background while you play your favourite games. The current frame rate is appended to the corner of the screen so you know at all times how well your kit is performing.

As an added bonus it is capable of capturing screen shots and saving movies of game play with the click of a button.

It works with both OpenGL and DirectX software.

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