Speeding Up

It certainly seems like we’re moving towards a downloadable future. The Steam library is huge (as is my Steam backlog). All three consoles have large downloadable libraries. The PSP, DSi and 3DS have plenty of games available for download. Sony’s goal for the upcoming Vita is to have the option to buy every game either via physical media or download. Don’t get me started on music and videos.

There are some problems with this glorious future. One is the move towards bandwidth caps. Another is throughput. Increasing download sizes just make this problem worse. Yet, games sizes, at least will just keep getting larger for AAA games.

Recently, I realized that I had a throughput problem with Playstation network. I would get great speeds for a while then it trickle down to take an uncomfortably long time to finish. This hadn’t been a huge problem since background downloading has been around for a while. Then when you’re done, you can either tell the PS3 to turn off when done with download or you can start up Folding at Home and let it shut down after it finishes protein folding. However, recently I’ve had some downloads that lasted longer than overnight or folding. After checking with some online friends, I found that most had been praising PSN for it’s improved performance.

I had been using the built in wifi on the PS3 (802.11g with WPA2). I decided to try using the same connection that was giving me much better results on the Xbox 360. It’s my wireless-N bridge connected to a gigabit switch. Since I was out of ports on the switch (and wanted more for future use), I grabbed a new 8 port gigabit switch from Monoprice.

Most geeks know that Monoprice is the place to go for cables. I’ve tried some of their hardware in years past and found it a bit cheap and junky. In the last year or more, they’ve been upgrading to provide more and better hardware. The first new item I tried from them was a HDMI switcher. It was inexpensive, but not cheaply made. It worked well and still does. Then I tried some of their earphones. They’re good, but don’t jump into the great category unless you go by price.

So how is the switch? Do you need dynamic configuration and packet shaping tools? No? Then it’s great. It’s fast and compatible. More importantly it let me hook up the PS3 to try it out. For some reason I expected the PS3 to automatically switch to ethernet if you connected one. This is not true, at least it’s not true if you had to manually set up your wifi on the PS3. So I had to go into the settings, network settings menu. Then I let it try to automatically connect. That worked. Now it was using the switch to the bridge. Sure enough, streaming data got better, PSN store downloads were faster and more stable.

So I guess the problem was the built in wifi on the PS3. Before I turned it wifi off, I was digging through the network menu. There was a connection status screen. I noticed the signal strength was varying wildly even with no user activity. Now I get download speeds on par with the Xbox. Just something to keep in mind if you’re having problems.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.talkstrategy.com/2012/01/speeding-up/

Kinect For

I got a Kinect for my Xbox 360 for Christmas. It’s an amazing device to consider. It has brilliant potential, but right now it seems confined to the baby carriage of minigame collections.

I know there are some better games out there now. Even the improvement from launch games to current Kinect games seems tiny to what our imaginations hope for with an accessory like the Kinect.

Let me start with some of the flaws of the system before I get into the good stuff. Sure, it’s expensive and needs a lot of room, but those are the things you know going in. My first complaint is the new dashboard. It’s allegedly designed to work better with Kinect. I had it before I got the Kinect and hated it. Now I have Kinect and still hate it. It feels like a chore to do just about anything beyond launching your disk or quicklaunch games. Voice command helps with this but it seems pretty limited. Sure it can take me to the games tab, but that’s about it.

Next up is lag. The best games I’ve played disguise the input lag, but it’s still there. Sure ‘Minority Report’ controls are cool, but lag can kill it. I understand the need to keep costs down that resulted in pulling the processor and memory from the Kinect, but it could have been so cool if the had kept it.

Another problem is kids. Actually my kids love the Kinect. The problem is that either the games or the hardware have problems with the height differential between me and my kids. Two kids playing side by side is better than me playing with them. That’s too bad, and I hope they solve that one.

I suppose I could complain about occlusion, but that’s really nitpicking. There’s a reason the Kinect captures our imagination, and it has nothing to do with the hardware or software limitations. It’s all about magic.

Kinect can be magical at times, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m saying Kinect works the way we think magic should work. We wave our hands and the world changes. As an aside, wouldn’t Google Earth (ok, Bing Earth) be a cool app for Kinect. Spin the globe with your hands. Lean in to zoom in, and lean out to go back. Anyway, everyone from Jedi to magicians make the wondrous happen with a wave of their hands. That’s why Fruit Ninja is such a great bundled app. It’s all about waving your hands to make the magic happen.

I’ll write some more later about the Kinect. I don’t know if everyone should own one, but everyone should try it out some time.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.talkstrategy.com/2012/01/kinect-for/

Happy New Year

It’s hard to believe how fast time has been moving. Just yesterday, I thought I’d get back to a game I’d been playing recently. When I went to start it up, Steam was happy to inform me it had last been played in September. I could have sworn it wasn’t more than a couple weeks.

I’ve been doing some behind the scenes work on the site. I’m probably going to redirect the main site to the blog and provide links back. WordPress is much easier to manage than the old CMS and keeps getting better. I’m still debating on things like comments and forums, but overall I’m getting pretty comfortable with the idea of blogging. Obviously, I don’t have the time any more to keep doing the site the way I was.

I do have plenty I want to talk about. It’s about time for a new computer. The next generation of handheld gaming devices are coming out. They’ll soon be followed by the next generation of consoles (which some believe will be the last). We’ve got Move and Kinect battling the Wii for waggle dominance. I still manage to play some traditional games now and then. I’m also doing more smart phone gaming. Speaking of phones, I moved from WebOS to Android. Let’s have a moment of silence for the old Palm.

Mostly, I just wanted to post that I’m alive and thinking about what I can do to be able to say the same for the site. The old emails still work if you want to send me your thoughts.

Happy New Year.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.talkstrategy.com/2012/01/happy-new-year/