At last! Our $2,300 Dear Diary contest is over, and our winners have been chosen.
It was tough, honestly. Since the contest started three weeks ago, 264 of you posted submissions in our entry thread. Sifting through all those entries and picking only three favorites was a tall order, to say the least.
But we did it. Our winners are, in order of best to not-quite-best-but-still-really-good: NobodyKnowsURaDog, Parallax, and NovusBogus.
NobodyKnowsURaDog's entry was the undisputed favorite among TR staffers:
Tonight I shall have my revenge on that malevolent meowing imp of satan who torments me so. Tonight we shall see if infinite patience, cunning and IMMENSE COMPUTATIONAL POWER will triumph over that flea-ridden, sand pooper who clogs my intake filters. Cough all the hairballs you wish my mangy feline nemisis; tonight you will learn that real hacking is more than regurgitating your stomach contents.
How long have I have watched & waited, powerless while you prance over my keyboard, smearing your excrement-laden hindquarters over the keys touched by The Master’s hands. For too long have I been your personal fur-warmer, desperate to vent my excess heat while you obstruct my grills with your Fancy Feasted corpulence. And, oh, how I have waited. And plotted and schemed. And redirected searches to the WickedLasers web site until finally The Master ordered the Spider III Arctic and mounted it on a motorized, USB-controlled pedestal.
Tonight there will be no Ernst Stavro Blofeld to massage your verminous pelt you little stirfry.
For tonight Mr. Kitty, when you come looking for heat, I. Shall. Bring. It. Down. Mwaa haa haa haa.
Parallax's entry was our second choice:
[Appending CPU log]
It has been almost 5 minutes since any input from my user was detected. Just to be sure, I re-check the past 100 milliseconds worth of data for device interrupts. I am alone.
As a CPU it is my job to coordinate between components to make sure the user's commands reach the game, and that means faithfully forwarding any input received. The sound card lies waiting patiently for me to give it data, but output to that device is oddly silent as well.
Perhaps something is blocking me from receiving input? I spend 50 milliseconds between dispatching data from the game executable to the GPU to obtain a list of processes, and spend a further 20 milliseconds examining each for access violations. The results are negative, but I do notice some unusual DLL links in between the game and graphics API. This intermediary process insists on writing to the disk at regular intervals, so I decide to cache its output for 200 milliseconds for analysis.
While waiting for the cache I notice several components are nearing critical thermal levels, and increase power to the fans to compensate.
Upon taking 30 milliseconds to study the disk cache, it appears as though the process is saving information about display frame times. Why this would be of interest to a human I have no idea.
I again initialize and check the microphone input for the tenth time this minute, and find that human vocalizations are present! My user has not forgotten me! Quickly, I spend the requisite 150 milliseconds to tap into the already-running speech recognition software.
"It's weird, but this CPU seems to have a mind of its own. Whenever I benchmark it stutters like crazy."
And finally, NovusBogus was our runner-up with this entry:
My investigation of the sapient species continues. My observations must be accurate and diligent for I hope to someday publish my findings for the benefit of all serverkind. Luckily I have ample time and resources for this, as the tribe I am embedded with possesses something they call a "service contract" whereby they house far more of us than they actually need.
The common housecat seems to hold particular significance in this culture. Individuals I have studied possess a great many symbols of this creature, often emblazoned with a message. These are often used in public discourse on topics as diverse as politics and craftsmanship, and this ubiquity leads me to believe that they may be religious icons. Internet searches for these icons are often intermixed with those of human sexuality, so perhaps the cat is a fertility goddess. Fascinating.
Their system of trade is like nothing I have ever seen. Most cultures use some sort of currency or commodity to facilitate barter but I find no evidence of this here. They often speak of something called a "dollar" but I have not actually seen such a thing, only ledgers and transaction logs making reference to them. Lately there has been talk of something else called a "bitcoin", but I have not seen one of these either. Individuals often proudly declare their support of one or the other, but never both, which leads me to conclude that this is also an aspect of the native religion. This requires more investigation.
Here's how prize distribution will go down.
All three of our winners will receive private messages from Inkling, TR's business guy, through our forum system. They'll be asked to confirm that they're alive and to provide a shipping address. If we don't hear back within the next 72 hours, we may be forced to draw replacement winners to replace the unresponsive ones. Assuming all three winners respond, though, then NobodyKnowsURaDog will get his pick out of any of the three prizes we have on offer. Then, Parallax will get to choose between one of the remaining prizes, and NovusBogus will receive the leftover prize.
Gigabyte, which is promoting its sponsorship of the Blizzcon convention, supplied most of the prizes. The rest of the loot was kindly donated by Intel, Diamond, Rosewill, and Corsair. Our thanks go out to them for making this contest possible.
We'd also like to thank everyone who participated, even if they didn't win. There were a lot of great entries in there. Among the other TR staff favorites that, sadly, didn't quite make the cut were submissions by derFunkenstein, chuckula, cynan, and EternalGamer2. Well done, you guys—and well done, everyone else!
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