Via’s Nano still missing

It’s official – Via’s not going to come to market anytime soon. Considering the raging success of Intel’s Atom, it’s hard to imagine how (even in this economy), Via can’t get the only viable competitor to market.

I’ve previously written (maybe not here, but *eh*) about my desire to pick up a Via Isaiah/Nano/C-Vapor processor-powered HTPC, to do the job of running my storage, media player, and firewall apps on a single box, isolated from my main desktop. Unfortunately, however, Tom’s Hardware reports that the dual-core version is still more than a year out (More details). Combine this with the simple fact that Via claimed to “ship” the product almost a year ago, but it’s still not available on the open market.

This sucks. The Atom is hardly as inspiring, lacking any real muscle but also lacking any sort of functional GPU component. Boxed into the crappy Intel graphic chipsets, and without any sort of hardware-level extensions for media decoding, encryption, or compression, it is an incredibly lackluster component in comparison. Yes, it may benchmark pretty well against the shipping-but-missing Nano, but noone buys a netbook to run Quake – People buy netbooks to run software that can be very, very heavily optimized for the right kind of processor. Tying in the gzip decompression of Firefox, full-disk encryption requirements for laptops, and hardware-assisted decoding of digital media with a processor designed to take the load would result in a much better product.

That said, though, I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to buy an Atom based mini-PC rather than wait 13-14 months for Via to finally make their parts available. An Eee w/HDMI would fit 2/3 of the needs outlined above and, in this particular case, have an incredibly compelling design. With integrated UPS, HDMI support with sound (thanks to a discrete AMD GPU), and a stylish design, this box is one of the most compelling devices I’ve seen in a long time. Now if only it was had the hardware-level instructions necessary to also run my VPN on this boring little processor.

*le sigh*

Fallout3 – The RIGHT level cap solution.

Complete review here.

I’m 60 hours in to the 80 hour game, and I’ve already hit the level cap. While fan patches exist (http://www.fileplanet.com/194463/190000/fileinfo/Fallout-3—Skill-Level-Cap-100-Mod) they aren’t the right approach:
What the creators should do is:
1: Slow the development of all experience by 10-25% or drop the benefits from leveling by a similar amount.
2: Raise the level cap by two
3: Clearly warn the user when they’re hitting the level cap.

This last is extremely important, as the user currently isn’t warned anywhere about the impending level cap, but there are compelling multiple traits that can only be added at the final level-up. Warn the user and let them make an informed choice with their final choice.

The level cap is a valuable thing, keeping you reasonably in line with the rest of the world but at a high enough level that the game is quite a bit easier. If this can’t be done in a mod like the one linked above, it should be done by the developers. As it is, the game is out of balance, and far more so than….. say…. StarCraft or Company of Heroes, when they shipped and then got multiple patches that rewrote the stats of substantial numbers of character classes.