Laptops

Backups and Recovery Are Your Friends: A Cautionary Tale!

A few weeks ago I made a really dumb mistake. One of those, “I have been a geek for far too long to forget this” kind of mistakes. The easy to avoid, harder to fix kind…what happened? Read on and find out. It all started during a discussion in the “back room” here at Gear Diary, regarding Linux on netbooks and whether the OS really matters anymore.  Joel and Doug were arguing OS is less important these days, while Michael and I were of the opinion the learning curve and unfamiliar quirks would drive users into the loving arms of…


Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura (2001, RPG)

Imagine a world in which the mythical creatures of the middle age mythology – elves, orcs, etc – were real, and that magic existed. Now imagine it is the 1880’s and the industrial revolution in in full swing, but causing a conflict with the worlds of magic and knights of honor. That is the setting of Arcanum, and you are the hero. And that is the premise of the first game from Troika Studios. Troika Studios is worth mentioning alongside their games more than just about any other developer: the studio was formed by three people who left Interplay after…


Microsoft’s “PC vs. Mac” Site: What on Earth Are They Thinking?

Mac vs. PC ad still courtesy Chiat/Day One of the things that’s wonderful about writing for Gear Diary is the diverse  mix of folks involved in the endeavor.  You got your PC folks… you got your Appleheads… and you got your LINUX fans (well fan… Joel) and so on. We’ve got gaming folks; hard-core gadget nerds; exercise mavens; and gear heads (“petrol heads” to you “Top Gear” fans). You have folks who are into fashion and making sure their high-end handbag matches their Oberon iPad case, and people who get help from their partner when matching shirts with pants for…


Din’s Curse (PC/Mac RPG, 2010) Review

I have consistently sung the praises of Soldak Entertainment since their first game released in 2007, which they have earned by consistently serving the RPG community with well-made, fun and interesting games. The most recent release from Stephen Peeler and crew is Din’s Curse – but let’s take a quick look at their earlier releases. The first Soldak game was Depths of Peril (DoP), which was interesting because it featured a dynamic game world. At the core was an action RPG, but DoP offered much more than a simple Diablo-esque experience. As a player you head up a faction charged…


The Netbook Gamer: XIII (2003, FPS)

Wait – wasn’t XIII called out specifically in this article a couple of months ago? Yep – but through perseverance I managed to get it uninstalled and re-installed and properly running … so naturally I played it again and am here – well, quite frankly I’m here to stop you from bothering! XIII is one of those milestone games that tells a good and bad tale from my gaming life. I was very interested in this game based on what it offered – a quality FPS presented in a stylistic graphic novel presentation with a compelling story of mystery and…


Toshiba’s New Dual-Touch & Dual Screen libretto W100 Concept PC May Help You Forget the Microsoft Courier

While in San Francisco, fellow attendees of the Netshelter Publisher’s Summit were treated to a reception hosted by Toshiba. One of the things I most liked was their display set up in the room, representative of laptop models past and present — including a few of the libretto line. I always wanted a libretto … But the fun really began when I was clandestinely pulled into a side room and given a chance to see two of their latest, including the libretto Concept PC with Dual-Touch Screen Design. Calling it a concept PC that was actually being produced, albeit in limited quantities, what I saw…


The Netbook Gamer: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (2003, RPG)

I made a big deal in my Neverwinter Nights Netbook Gamer about how that game had reignited my love for role-playing games after nearly a decade away. But I also mention that there was a reason I picked up Neverwinter Nights in the first place – I was enjoying the recent Star Wars games and was really looking forward to the promise foretold in Knights of the Old Republic previews, but wanted to get a feel for the state of the RPG again to see if it was even worthwhile for me to give the upcoming Star Wars RPG a…


Mac Mini Updated and Priced to Sell iMacs, that is

Image courtesy of GeekyGadgets By now you have likely heard that Apple did a refresh on the Mac Mini, greatly overhauling the internal and external hardware and enhancing the overall specifications … and the price. The basics are as expected – more or less a copy of the 13″ Macbook Pro with more desktop-like set of connectors. The big new features include the addition of a HDMI port, upgrade of the graphics chip, and the sleek new look. Here are some details: Most notable is the new aluminum unibody enclosure, which stands just 1.4″ tall and features an easy-to-access memory…


5 Ways iPad is Better Than Netbook … and 5 Ways it is Worse

Prior to the release of the iPad, there were a multitude of articles – some touting 15 ways the iPad was better than a netbook, and others talking about the 42 ways the netbook was better than the iPad, and so on. As my Netbook Gamer series indicates, I am a netbook lover. I am also a proud iPad owner, and have had a few weeks using them both to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each. So here are 5 ways I feel each is better than the other … and I leave it to you to decide…


FastCrawl (2006, RPG): The Netbook Gamer

Got any plans for lunch hour? Let me show you one of the best dungeon crawlers you can start and finish before going back to work! It seemed that 2006 was the ‘year of the casual game’ … everyone was attributing the success of the DS and the allure of the Wii to the desire for quick, simple and fun gaming experiences. That isn’t a new thing, really – just ask anyone who has missed lunch playing Bejeweled or Zuma or Minesweeper. Now you can add FastCrawl to that list. FastCrawl is a simple concept – quick ‘dungeon crawling’. A…


Is the ‘Netbook Era’ Drawing to a Close?

According to a report from CNET, an IDC report this week will show that sales of Intel’s Atom processor – which is dominant force in the netbook space – represent a smaller overall share of the company’s mobile processor space. The implication in the article is that since the Atom powers most netbooks, netbooks themselves are on the demise. The obvious question is … what does it all mean? Here are the basic details: In the first quarter of this year, Atom processors as a percentage of Intel mobile processors fell to 20.3 percent, compared with 24.3 percent in the…


Serious Sam Gold (1st & 2nd Encounter) (2001/2002, FPS): The Netbook Gamer

I was amazed in early 2002 when I came across a jewel-case FPS game at my local EBGames for $19.99 called ‘Serious Sam: The Second Encounter’. The images on the back looked quite nice and the description of a fast-paced action romp sounded like a complete blast – and somewhat of an anachronism. The funny thing is that when I first saw the Serious Sam games, I passed on buying them that day because they were on the ‘junk rack’. There was a four-sided rack of jewel-case games in that store, and they were pretty much universally either low budget…


Don’t Trust That Label!: The Netbook Gamer

Image courtesy of GameSpot There are two paths I take when working on games to review for the Netbook Gamer: on the one hand I love to dig up classic PC games from the late 90’s that will still run on WIndows XP. On the other hand – particularly recently – I have been pushing the boundaries of what a standard netbook is capable of doing. Sometimes – like in the recent Tron review – things go very well. Sometimes – like in the Thief Deadly Shadows review – they work at a level that is barely acceptable. Sometimes I…


Tron 2.0 (2003, FPS): The Netbook Gamer

As a long-time techno-geek I loved the Tron movie back in the early 80’s and pumped loads of quarters into both the Tron and particularly Discs of Tron arcade game a few years later. I have watched the movie on a couple of occasions over the decades, but never owned or rented a copy until late last year. Sharing it with my kids, I found that they enjoyed it – though some of the ‘inside the computer’ references were terribly antiquated and the kids had no frame of reference to get the jokes. More recently we’ve seen the Tron Legacy…


Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (2003, RPG): The Netbook Gamer

The only thing better than playing a great game is getting a great deal on a great game. Heck, even a great deal on an average game is a pretty great thing! As I’ve said in the past, I came back to the RPG genre on the PC after a long absence in mid-2003, starting with Neverwinter Nights on the Mac and proceeding to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic on the day it was release, then starting to ‘backfill’ with games like Gothic 2 and Baldur’s Gate 2. By engaging many folks on forums in discussions I got…


Review: Dell Vostro 3700 with Core i5

With the plethora of netbooks on the market today sporting 9, 10 and 11” screens, is easy to forget notebooks weren’t always so small. Meet the Dell Vostro 3700, a huge 17.3” desktop replacement powered by Intel’s new Core i3, i5 and i7 range of processors. The 3700 is part of Dell’s Vostro refresh which includes the 3300 (13”), 3400 (14”) and the 3500 (15”). Out of the box there is no getting around the fact this is a very large laptop. While it is not overly thick, it makes its presence known with that big screen. It feels heavier…


Nox (2000, RPG): The Netbook Gamer

I really can’t even remember how I came across Nox at first, but I know it was in late 2004 when I bought the European release of Kult: Heretic Kingdoms. At the time I remarked that the games were similar – somewhat small in scope, but very successful in accomplishing what they try to do. Nox is an isometric action-RPG released in early 2000, which means that it was immediately labeled as a ‘Diablo Clone’. In many ways it fits that description – but it offers much more depth than any of the traditional action-RPG’s, making it more similar to…


Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004, FPStealth): The Netbook Gamer

One of the great things about doing the Netbook Gamer is revisiting games and memories from years past. The Thief franchise of first-person stealth-action games touches a couple of memories. I was given the first game as a Christmas gift when it came out in late 1998, at a time when having two children under two years old was pretty much all consuming and left scant time for computer games, most of which I spent on first person shooters. So a stealth game like Thief demanded me to change my basic approach to gaming.


Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001, FPS): The Netbook Gamer

Every now and then we come across something that brings us back to the origins of our love for a hobby. For me and computer games, my first real love was Castle Wolfenstein for the Apple ][ in 1981. I have related that story more than once now, since I have reviewed the iPhone version of Wolf 3D, the iPhone game Wolfenstein RPG, and last fall’s franchise reboot Wolfenstein for PC, X360 and PS3. In between all of that, Activision released Return to Castle Wolfenstein in late 2001. In this episode of The Netbook Gamer I see how the game…


Star Wars Dark Forces (1995, FPS): The Netbook Gamer

I now come to the conclusion of my reviews of the Jedi Knight series (see my Netbook Gamer reviews of the original Star Wars Jedi Knight, the Mysteries of the Sith expansion, and the Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy sequels) with the game that started it all – 1995’s Star Wars Dark Forces.


Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (2003, FPS): The Netbook Gamer

Continuing my love affair with the Jedi Knight series (see my Netbook Gamer reviews of the original Star Wars Jedi Knight, the Mysteries of the Sith expansion, and the Jedi Knight II sequel), I now move to the last game in the series, after which I will return to the first game (Dark Forces) to complete my look at the life and times of Kyle Katarn! For now, let’s look at Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.