Archive for September, 2010

Here at Maximum PC, we like to build PCs. One nice side effect of constructing said Godzillas among calculators is that we get to play games! But we’re not quite as crazy as a player going by the name “theinternetftw,” who built a PC to play games and then built a PC inside one of those games.

And it works. Powered by virtual wood and fire, it’s the most eco-friendly computer since Avatar’s really stupid plot twist. Or, in Mr. FTW’s words:

“This is the first part of a planned 16-bit computer that will run entirely in Minecraft. That computer will be ‘Hack’ compatible, which is to say that it’ll run code meant for the Hack machine described in [the book] ‘The Elements of Computer Systems.’”

We can’t decide what we’re more impressed by: Minecraft’s sheer versatility or this guy’s extremely dedicated application of nerdy elbow grease. Either way, we are in the presence of a geek deity. Watch the video below and bow to his supremacy.

Hooray! Another free update for Team Fortress 2! But this one, er, asks you to spend money. Easy now, put down that irate message board post. You wouldn’t want to do anything you’ll end up regretting, after all. Plus, this isn’t quite as bad as it looks. Don’t believe us? Let’s hear what Valve has to say.

“We never really think about the money TF2 makes when we’re thinking about what to do. In this case, the thing that we are trying to build is a framework for a more robust collaboration with the community on content creation. This has been one of TF2’s main drives for some time now. In other games, community creators build content after the release, and it forever remains inaccessible to most players,” Valve told our sister site PC Gamer, who – as per usual – leaped all over this story like a rabid fox that’s mistaken your face for a delicious baby bunny.

“We view the Mann-conomy as the next, crucial step in the evolution of how communities interact with products. Now they’ll not only be able to contribute to the product, they will be directly compensated for their work.”

Oh, there’s also this exceedingly important bit from Valve’s Mann-conomy FAQ:

“Our plan is to continue updating TF2 just like we always have, adding free maps, game modes, new features, and more. The Mann Co. Store is simply an alternative way of obtaining items that other players can earn during gameplay.”

Phew. Plus, almost every item – aside from a few minor cosmetic ones – can be unlocked through traditional means such as random drops and crafting, in addition to new methods like trading and winning mid-match duels. Yes, duels. Now you can daintily slip off the white lace glove of war and slap someone in the face with it. If they accept your duel challenge, they’ll be highlighted during the match, and the game will keep track of how many times you’ve killed one another.

Currently, Valve’s marketplace features a smattering of its own items and 17 new community created items, which – according to Valve – equate to “about five new class updates.” In the words of some guy on the street we just talked to: “Yeah, I guess it’s a pretty big deal. Who are you? You said there would be food.”

Want to  know if you’re a tier 1 nerd? You are if the phrase USB 3.0 Internal Connector Cable Specification Revision 1.0 gets your nerd on. Yeah, we thought you’d get as excited as we did. This is, afterall, one of the final hurdles to getting native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 down in the motherboard.

Not sure what the hell we’re talking about? It’s the spec that defines what an internal motherboard header will be for SuperSpeed USB 3.0. Up until now, case  enclosure vendors have had to hack together work arounds for front mounted USB 3.0 ports by running pass through cables that go out the back of the case and plug into the motherboard’s USB 3.0 ports on back.

The new Internal Connector Cable spec means cases will be able to use a standard header connector to hook up those front USB 3.0 ports. If you’re wondering why you can’t just use standard USB 2.0 headers, the answer is that you can’t. The pin out for the uberfast USB 3.0 is completely different than a USB 2.0 header. To make matters worse for case vendors, several motherboard vendors have struck out and are now offering boards with USB 3.0 headers – all using different layouts of course.

Looking at the header design for the USB 3.0 Internal Connector Cable Spec, there are 19 pins total – 10 more than a standard USB 2.0 header. Unlike the USB 3.0 spec for the maximum length of external cables (there is none) the Internal Connector Cable is limited to 18 inches and for small form factor machines, Intel is recommending a 12-inch cable run.

When will motherboards get USB 3.0 internal connectors? We suspect it won’t happen until either Intel or AMD add native support to their core logic chipsets. And that’s unlikely to happen until well into 2011. 

If you’re ready to throw your USB 3.0 dock across the room in frustration, that actually parallels previous implementations of USB, a USB IF spokeswoman said. 

“Typically new I/O technology is introduced by using a discrete solution in the beginning as it provides a standards based solution that is time to market, provides a key enabling tool to the industry to develop the ecosystem and proves the technology is sound. Once these attributes have been verified then a company would look at providing an integrated solution,” the spokeswoman told Maximum PC.

For many nerds, the wait has been too long causing some to board the conspiracy train and look for plots behind every new technology that could compete such as Intel’s LightPeak. 

But has the delay been overly long? If you’ll remember, it took roughly two years from the introduction of the first NEC discrete USB 2.0 controller to the first motherboard chipsets with integrated USB 2.0. That chipset was Intel’s 845E/GL/G/GE/PE/GV chipset paired with the ICH4 southbridge. 

NEC introduced its USB 3.0 controller in May of 2009. If USB 3.0 follows the same timeline, chipsets with the functionality would be right on time if introduced next year. 



You might have heard of the URL shortener late last year when it was made available to those using the Google Toolbar. Now Google has created an easy to use web page where you can create shortened links using Just type into your address bar to get started.

Google is touting their near 100% uptime since launching the service late in 2009. As they have expanded it into other services, has remained rock solid. Though, now that it’s available to everyone, we’ll have to see how it goes. The service will also have auto-detection of spam using Gmail’s excellent filtering technology.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is that if you are signed into your Google account, you can see a list of all your shortened links, along with real-time analytics data. Google says they will be making a public API for the service soon, so expect apps to start offering as a URL shortening option.


Verizon customers that are scoping out the Samsung Fascinate to fill that Galaxy S shaped hole in their lives might want to hold off for just a bit. The first shots of the supposed Samsung Continuum have leaked and this handset has a pretty interesting trick up its sleeve. The space under the main display is actually a small OLED screen that can be used to display information. 

This secondary screen is called the “Ticker” and will show notifications, RSS feeds, and even weather. The small screen here will turn itself on when you grasp the bottom of the phone. The selling point is that users will need to fire up that big power-hungry display less often. It could amount to big power savings over the course of a day. 

No release details or pricing information is available, but it’s definitely Galaxy S branded, and heading to Verizon. No clue as to the Bing content of this phone. Any takers?


Image via Engadget


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