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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the return of Turbo

Overclocking PC's makes sense to me. Manufacturers send out PC components clocked to certain standard speeds that make sure the components operate well for long periods of time with no errors - but usually they could go faster if a few tweaks are made, so some people (as i have done a few times) change a few settings and boost the performance of their system a bit. Simple enough.

Some manufacturers even make 'pre-overclocked' systems where they take the biggest, baddest hardware available and push it even higher. They are sold at a high premium for gamers that want the absolute best performance possible.

But what i haven't seen since the 486 era is a turbo button. But check out MSI's new videocard - the 9600GT will have a big red "Turbo" button on it that will automatically overclock the card.

Why? If the card is stable enough to run overclocked, what person in their right mind would turn the "turbo" off? It never made sense to me back in the 386/486 era either.

UPDATE: To be clear - i know why they do this. It's all psychology. Just like Spinal Tap. 11 is one higher than 10, so if my amps go up to 11, then they are louder. If my video card has a turbo button on it, then surely it is faster than some old "normal" overclocked card.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm on Google News!

For those that don't know, Google News pulls stories from major news sites, but also pulls stories from blogs as long as they are authored by more than one person (like say, ghia's blog).

There are also a number of sites such as Bleacher Report and BallHype that aggregate sports blog stories and republish them together. The practical upshot is that post that a person makes on an individual blog now show up like they are posted to sites authored by many people, so Google News will search them.

You can also setup Google News to search for certain terms and display those results for you next to the pre-set categories (such as Sports, World News, etc). I have it setup to search for Nashville Predators news and guess what just showed up...

Look familiar?

Not that big a deal, i know. But i just think its cool that something i wrote would come up on Google news :-)

We're getting our U-verse!

I don't know yet if Christy and i will actually sign up for it, but sooner rather than later we will finally have the option of subscribing to AT&T's U-verse.

Bredesen just signed the bill that allows for state-wide cable franchising, which basically means AT&T can skip all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace with regional franchising in every county.

So now AT&T can offer U-Verse state-wide with the (theoretical) flip of a switch. Why is that so cool? Right now they offer a package for $92 a month that includes local phone service, high-speed internet, 200 channels of digital TV including HD, and an HD DVR. Wow.

Best of all, they have a build-your-own package that lets you pick and choose the channels you want, which would probably be what we do since we only want about 15 channels and would rather the rest not even be available (too much time-suck already). Those packages start at $77 per month including TV, internet, and phone.

That i have seen, AT&T has not yet announced when they sill start offering U-verse services in Tennessee, or in what markets it will be offered first.

Monday, May 19, 2008

All Predators games in HD "soon"

Good news Preds fans - more HD is on the way!

I had the "HD will do more for hockey than any other sport" discussion again last week. Between the ability to see the puck (sans glowing) and the ability to see more of the play developing on the ice (much of hockey actually happens away from the puck), the benefits of getting as much hockey in HD as possible are evident.

Last year, we Preds fans groused about not having more games in HD repeatedly. Center Ice didn't show the games in HD (even if they were available) and Fox Sports Net: South, which carried most games locally) only provided a relative few games in HD. The worst came in the playoffs, where Preds fans only got one game (on NBC) out of 6 in HD. Out of 94 Predators games played in the 07-08 season, only 23 were available in HD in Nashville (1 NBC, 1 Versus, 21 FSN-S).

We were told that most of the games weren't available in HD because there was 1) a limited number HD production trucks at FSN's disposal and 2) a limited amount of bandwidth and signal processing ability to simply handle that many HD feeds.

So, back to the "good news": FSN just announced that they will soon be opening a new signal processing facility in Houston that will allow them to "handle up to 40 live [HD] games per day". More importantly, they promise that "in 2009", they will be 100%, 24/7 High Definition.

Of course, that could take until December of 2009...or they could miss their target entirely. But the fact that they are making a concerted effort to get as much HD out there as possible is a good sign. And 24/7 means that even if the NHL is the last thing they support, it will be here eventually!

Side Note: If they can get all Preds games in HD sooner rather than later, and the NFL does indeed go into a lockout*, this could be a very good year for hockey in Nashville indeed.

*I like the Titans just fine, and wouldn't wish a lockout on other fans for anything. But from a strictly business point of view, you know having the NFL go into even a short lockout would be a boon to the Predators business. UPDATE: If the NFL does go into lockout, it won't be until the 2011 season.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bus riding again

I love taking the bus, especially the afternoon trip home. Very relaxing, and they are surprisingly clean. (And for all you sheltered suburbanites, the ridership isn't scary.)

It's great to let someone else drive and i get to sit back and channel surf the radio or mess with playlists on my Sansa. But getting up just 30 min early is, well, tough to say the least. Especially when it's raining. But even the morning rides are well worth it. For instance, i get to make blog posts on my way to work. :-)

Of course, it is ridiculous that it is more efficient in time and money for me to drive from my house into downtown, park, then ride the rest of the way in to work. Not having any transfer fares makes the full system as a whole nearly untenable.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Erat joins Legwand as a long-term Predator

The Predators just announced that Martin Erat has signed a 7-year deal worth $31.5 mil. This would keep him here into the 2014-2015 season, one year longer than Legwand's deal. Tying up a young core like this is great. Both deals feel a little on the steep side right now, but given the growth, potential, and - more importantly - the rapidly rising salaries around the league, these deals are both going to feel like steals in a few years. Erat will be 33 at the end of the deal, which sounds pretty perfect to me.

Also, if my math is right (and the numbers on NHLnumbers.com are correct), this means that the Predators salary for next year is at approximately $40.4 mil - right at the salary floor for next season. Of course we are still well below the $56mil salary cap, which i don't think we'll be too near, despite David Freeman's promises of spending to win. We still have to sign Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, and hopefully go after a forward or two to replace Gelinas and Hordichuck (who i assume won't be re-signed). I'm thinking/hoping that Hlavich and Peverly are possibilities, but of course i also have a wish-list of stars that would be great to add. And of course we still have to work out the goalie issue with Mason and Rinne both on contract, but Ellis hanging around as the incumbent starting goalie.

I'm really looking forward to what Poile does the rest of the summer, and i'm glad we're getting these guys' contracts out of the way quickly (Erat is still at the World Championships for goodness sake).

Next year should be a good one. Grab your tickets now :-)

UPDATE: Erat's initial contract has been rejected by the NHL. Apparently the actual contract was loaded too heavily in some years and too lightly in others. My understanding is that for salary cap purposes, the total deal value is divided by the number of years to just give an average to be used for cap calculations - so i'm not sure why they made the contract this wonky. According to TSN, the original contract was arranged something like this:

08-09 - 3.50 NHL
09-10 - 5.25 NHL
10-11 - 5.25 NHL
11-12 - 6.00 NHL
12-13 - 5.50 NHL
13-14 - 3.50 NHL
14-15 - 2.50 NHL
Of course the eventual deal will be re-jigged and approved i'm sure. Strange that 1) it was this unbalanced to start with 2) the Predators weren't careful enough to know the NHL rules about salaries.

The other very interesting fact that came out is that apparently Erat has a "No Move Clause" go into effect in July 2009. That means that Erat cannot be traded, waived for a claim by another team, or assigned to the minors without his consent - even more strict than just a No Trade Clause. Wow. That i know of, the only other such clause Nashville has ever handed out was a NTC on Zidlicky's much shorter contract. Very interesting indeed.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Mother's Day from the Predators

In yet another shining example that the Predators new ownership, management, and marketing teams clearly "get it", they just released this fabulous video for Mother's Day (which i think was clearly filmed a few weeks ago while everyone was still in town).

Happy (early) Mother's Day, mom :-)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

put in your pre-orders now

Just had to take two seconds out to make sure everyone knew that Firefly on Blu-Ray is now available for pre-order on Amazon. No release date yet, but you can bet it will be out before Christmas '08.

FYI: I hope to continue blogs about the Predators' past season and make my wish, to-do, and hope-to-see lists - but those may be delayed somewhat since i just picked up Echochrome (amazing), Burnout Paradise (think Tony Hawk Pro Skater with cars), and am playing through Star Wars Lego: The Complete Saga with Christy (again)...besides doing lots of other things in the real world.