I/O Magic

This article was originally published over a decade ago, I am simply adding it to my website for posterity.

Nu’s News, issue #2.
I/OMagic: a story… 8/20/2003

Let me just get this out in the open: I AM NOT A FAN OF I/OMagic Hardware.

Now, before I go any further, let me explain. I/OMagic, I was told, was the brand to go with if you wanted an affordable CD-RW drive that would work for as long as you’d have it. I had no idea, I’d used an HP 2X2X8X CD-RW drive when they first came out, and to this day I still use my LG 8X4X24X drive. And I will have to, for many many more years.

In January, I thought it was time for my “three year life cycle” of my computer to come to an end. In fact, it was more like two years, but I don’t think straight in the cold Winter months. Anyways, my old Thunderbird 1.1Ghz and 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 system was indeed past it’s prime, and I needed to move on in the world. So I built myself a new computer, from the ground up. I knew I wanted a CD-RW drive (I can’t afford a fancy DVD writer, no way!!), and I saw the perfect bargain in the Sunday paper in late December.

OfficeMax had a bargain where I could pickup a $50 48X16X48 CDRW drive, I/OMagic, of course… and after all of the rebates: an amazing $20. What a bargain! I remember paying nearly $300 for my 2X HP burner! (Although I also remember paying $350 for my 4.2 GB IBM hard drive). So I arrive at the store, and as with every other time I’ve ever gone to a store to take advantage of a great deal, their products were out of stock. I had lost my voice, but I was at least able to… politely remind the manager that “bait and switch” tactics are no longer legal. My girlfriend insisted on doing the rest of the talking.

Three employees, two desks, and one chair later I was able to get the manager to order me one personally, and have it shipped to my house at no extra charge. Lovely. Remember, this was the last week of December? Well, January 25th rolled around and my drive arrived. Guess what? I never got my rebates, to this day, thanks to OfficeMax having the drive out of stock.

I pop the drive in my recently finished rig, and power it up. Hooray! I startup the latest version of Nero to give it a test run… the drive only wants to burn at 40X, instead of 48X. I figure it’s my media… the guy told me it was 48X, but it wasn’t labeled… I didn’t care! 40X was better than 8X! I’ll keep it, and not complain. During the burning of my FIRST DISC, my computer locked up. Froze. Reboot, pop the disc out, set my bottle of Jolt on it, pop in the next disc. This time it burns. Yay! For the next month I have this “off and on” problem with it killing my entire computer. One day it stops all together. It won’t read or write anything. I/O Magic kindly says I’m just an idiot who doesn’t know how to work a burner, but I persist and get my RMA.

Six weeks later, the next drive arrives. Completely different physically from the one I had before, this one detects itself in the BIOS as “ATAPI 48X16X–“… I can tell it’s down hill from here. It will run “autostart” programs on CD’s, but when I try to browse the contents of a disc it locks everything up. I try to burn, it asks me why I haven’t put a blank disc in. My RMA’d “refurbished drive” was one they obviously haven’t even repaired yet! So I send this one in, too. However, when I paid $9.30 to send them the first drive (and remember, after rebates this drive was only supposed to cost $20!), I demanded they send UPS to my house to pick the drive up – I told them I would not pay for this second RMA.

Finally the third drive arrives. I pull it out of the little brown box, and the front of the drive is silver and says “USB 2.0.” My friend (known to the internet as “The Xev”) is standing by, as I nearly pitch the drive through a Window. But as I look, the drive is an internal drive, just made out of so many spare parts it would scare you.

This is drive three. I install it. I’ve had it since Late July, and it’s been working well, except for burning Audio CD’s. I’ve tried to get a BENQ firmware update, and I’ve switched to the latest version of Nero 6’s Trial software, and still the drive messes up audio CD’s. It puts extended gaps in between every track, sometimes over 15 seconds between tracks. And trying to skip track to track will either take an extended amount of time, or it will pick up in the middle of the song you tried to skip over!

I/OMagic, of course, blames this on Nero – and tells me to check their trouble shooting guide. I burn the same CD with my 8X LG Burner, and everything works flawlessly.

I can honestly say, and I feel I must warn the public, that I will never again buy an I/OMagic product. Or BENQ, for that matter, because they do actually make the hardware. But with my experiences here with I/OMagic (I finally have a 48X drive that burns @ 48X, just messes up Audio CDs) have driven me away from them. I cannot and will not support them, not even in their ‘media’ market for blank discs.

THESE ARE MY EXPERIENCES – and do not in any way reflect those of the public or anyone who visits my site. I’m not here to whine and complain in hopes a hardware website, or another company will try to win me over and make me feel warm and fuzzy by sending me new hardware. I just needed to vent – because 3 CDRW drives since January (most of the time waiting for them to issue an RMA, and actually replace my drive) is just too much.

The RIAA is going too far

This article was originally published over a decade ago, I am simply adding it to my website for posterity.

Nu’s News, issue #1.
Written 7/31/2003, revised numbers 8/7/2003

When I get bored, I browse. The internet has lost some of it’s flare to me, but I still like to just see what’s new out there. Sometimes I hit up classic sites, those that’ve been stedfast as the entire internet has expanded into a jungle of personal pages that will never go anywhere (much like mine!). So earlier this week I went to C|Net’s Download.com. I noticed some statistics of files that they host.

The second and third most popular downloads, in ONE WEEK (week ending July 27) reached a whopping total 1,178,584… one point one MILLION downloads in a week for the 2nd a 3rd most popular files combined. Impressive, no? All this so people can talk to their friends; the #2 download of the week was ICQ Lite Beta, and #3 AOL Instant Messenger.

But this is still small potatoes:

The file in in first place is Kazaa Media Desktop… Kazaa is a file sharing program, for both of you who don’t know. Kazza clocked in with MORE THAN DOUBLE the amount of downloads of the 2nd and 3rd place programs, and an astonoshing 2,758,676 downloads. More than two and a half million downloads, in one week! This, only weeks AFTER the RIAA sent out all of the subpoenas.

So listen, that’s what this whole thing is about. The Recording Industry Association of America hasn’t scared off anyone. The download rate of Kazzaa is not slowing, and this should be considered an indication that until every single person is slapped with a 10 million dollar lawsuit, they are not going to stop sharing music files.

The RIAA is taking a approach to filesharing. I agree, something needs to be done, but why go after the users of a damn program? You shut down napster with one team of lawyers, why employ hundreds to go after hundreds and thousands of end users – who are merely being caught in the crossfire of progress?

Napster is coming back with a pay-for-use service, allowing users to swap and share songs, by paying a small monthly fee. Apple has the best idea I’ve seen yet, with their iTunes online store. The downside is that it only applies to Mac users, which – I’m sorry to say – is by far not the majority of file-sharers.

“iTunes 4.0.1 is required to share music with other iTunes 4.0.1 users. iTunes 4 is available for Mac OS X only”.

The idea of downloading songs at $0.99 each is brilliant… you can stock a 15 song CD for 15 dollars, with music YOU WANT. Instead of paying for a $17 album with 10 songs, 1 of which you heard on the radio and liked. Apple has the right idea, but something needs to be opened up to PC users.

Napster’s new rendition may change some things, but until then, why are we going after people who download Metallica’s music? Why aren’t we doing what was done in Napster’s case, and going after the creators of the application. Try and STOP the distribution of the client program, don’t try and destory the lives of the clients.

The RIAA’s idea, summed up in my brain, is about the equivilant of buying a computer from a reputable company, but when it arrives it doesn’t work. So rather than trying to take the computer back to the company and asking them for an exchange or for it to be repaired, they’re taking it to another person who owns the same computer, and telling them that they MUST fix it.

The kids on the internet are downloading music, and no matter how many thousands of songs some of them may have, they’re only doing what their peers are doing.

Let me give you one more thing to chew on:

Think about this random bit throughout your day:
Source: South Carolina Legislature Online.
“A person possessing or attempting to possess less than one gram of ice, crank, or crack cocaine… for a first offense, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for a term of not more than five years and fined not less than five thousand dollars. For a first offense the court, upon approval of the solicitor, may require as part of a sentence that the offender enter and successfully complete a drug treatment and rehabilitation program;”

Now consider this:
Source:Dartmouth College.
Depending on the number and value of the products exchanged, penalties for a first offense may be as high as three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The MAXIMUM prison term for first time Cocaine possession offenders in South Carolina is five years. The maximum for infringing on the copyright of a digital music file? Three. Someone downloading MP3s as 3/5ths as bad as a coke dealer?

Maybe this should be a lesson to kids? If you get a subpoena in the mail from the RIAA, you might as well start doing rock, it’ll only add two more years, and very likely the fines will cost less anyways.

I hope your brains are working. Now go on out, and enjoy the rest of the day, while entire lives are being destoryed over a song that some girl was listening to in her bedroom before she was even old enough to apply to a college.

(note: the State of South Carolina was randomly selected for the above example and was used primarily for the ease of access to it’s legislature’s site).

Why I used 3dfx hardware

Another old piece, pulled from a discussion forum. Written when I was just 17, about 18 months after 3dfx Interactive, Inc. went out of business, a topic was started to discuss why people were still using “outdated” 3dfx technology. Here is what I had to say at the time.

I have to tell you, I made some wrong calls myself. 😳

A long while back (it sat on the internet for over two years, but I believe it’s finally gone) I made a comment, somwhere… I don’t remember where. It was right after the Voodoo 5 6000 plans were sold to Quantum 3D.

What I said was along the lines of:

‘3dfx and Quantum 3D have been LONG TIME partners, so this should be no big scary shock to anyone. This, and the recent sale of the plant in Juarez, Mexico, appear to be signs of renewal. It looks like 3dfx has a plan, and I like what I’m seeing.’

…About four months later, there was no more 3dfx. 😮 (2016 edit: it wasn’t four months, it was one month. Look what I found, and archived.)

Their product development was probably their downfall. Pushing back release dates, and press conferences, not unveiling products at certain times, or falsifying their products at trade shows…

So, I made a bad decision. But why do I still use 3dfx hardware? I enjoy the community feeling. Even places that fight, amongst themselves, site to site… it’s still a diverse community.

Also, 3dfx was always an underdog. Everyone knew the nVidia cards could crank out frames… once nV made it on the scene, it seemed as though it was all over for 3dfx. But the benchies weren’t what I looked at. Screen shots were worthless to me as well. I had to experience. I enjoyed Voodoo 2’s back in the day, but the 3d Prophet (GeForce 1) was extremely tempting. After finally tinkering with both, and finding that for my Quake 2 needs 3dfx played the part, I went with the Voodoo 3.

-On that all machine, at the time, the required PCI V3 2000 was more inexpensive than the 3D Prophet was, and I preferred it over the GF1, so that was another determining factor.

But the question remains; why do I still use 3dfx TODAY?

Glide? Perhaps. But I have plans to keep using Glide well after I purchase a newer card, be it a GeForce, Omen, Radeon, or anything else out there.

Cost? It’s a big factor. I’ve got an extremely low income… I’m a student!! I can’t even afford a new CDROM drive right now! I’ve had the plan, all along, to try and make my Voodoo 5 last until fall/winter 2002. It looks like it’s going to make it.

There are more and more compatibility issues, which we all know will not be resolved without official driver support, or developer support. But all the games that were supposedly going to be the death of my Voodoo 5, such as Max Payne, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein – smooth as silk, with image quality to knock your socks off. Even the newest games, while slightly buggy, have no real PROBLEMS. I’m enjoying War Craft 3, Serious Sam 2 (without being forced to run in 3dfx compatibility mode),

I’m a Quality buff, not a speed buff… and I simply find the image quality of the Voodoo 5 superior, still, to anything out there. Granted, the others can look just as good, or even better. But the performance to quality ratio provided by these cards is too poor. Even if the image quality is better, and FASTER than my Voodoo 5, when you look at the numbers, getting a newer card to look like a V5, you take more of a hit, than you did with a Voodoo.

Another factor, I’m a fan of the 3dfx Tools. Call me old fashioned, I don’t even like Windows XP. All for the same reason. I’m not an idiot, don’t dumb things down. For instance, ATi’s old RAGE3D control panel, with the huge blue buttons… “IMAGE QUALITY” check box or “SPEED” check box. 3dfx Tools allows you to customize and have MUCH more control over the features and performance your card can utilize. I’m glad 3dfx didn’t think their owners were fools.

I will be moving on soon, and keeping a Glide based video card, just for kicks… and there is no one simple answer the why I do still have 3dfx hardware. I guess all I can say is that I love it!