The TR Podcast 81: Superbowl ads, Sandy Bridge trouble, and a graphics giveaway

The Tech Report Podcast Date: February 17, 2011

Time: 1:31:11

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Cyril Kowaliski, Geoff Gasior, and special guest Jason Fox

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Sponsored by Asus. See the show notes below to find out how you can win one of Asus’ GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards!

Show notes

After answering a listener mail question, we start the show by welcoming guest podcaster and TR blogger Jason Fox. Jason is a professional copywriter in Texas, and he has developed an annual tradition of reviewing each year’s array of Superbowl advertisements on his personal website. Together with our U.S.-based panelists (Canadians don’t get to broadcast Superbowl ads), Jason discusses his list covering the best and worst of this year’s offering. See the links to each discussed ad below.

Moving on, we begin our proper tech discussion with Geoff’s newly scoured ultraportable before bemoaning the Canadian bandwidth quota conundrum. We then quickly dive into the billion-dollar mistake that took Intel’s Sandy Bridge chipsets off store shelves. Listen for what went wrong, what Sandy Bridge early adopters can do about it, and what this means for Intel in the year to come. As the episode draws to a close, the panel dives into our most recent reader poll, Geoff’s exploration of how memory speeds affect Sandy Bridge performance, and a trio of PC gaming stories.

We’ve got something a little special for this podcast, too. Thanks to the kind folks at Asus, we’re giving away a free GeForce GTX 460 to one lucky podcast listener. You can find out more about the contest and enter here.

Send in listener mail, and we’ll answer on the podcast. – jdrake@techreport.com

Follow us on Twitter – ScottJordanGeoffCyrilThe Tech Report

Listener mail:

Overclocking Brazos? – from Paul – (0:02:05):

“realized from looking at your coverage and AMD’s product slides that
Bobcat wasn’t supposed to be super fast and is intended more as an
Atom killer. And I’d go for one of the dual core ones over Atom, so I
guess they succeeded in that regard. I’m a little surprised by the
lack of news on overclocking the things though. Is there really no
clockspeed headroom on a 1.6GHz chip? It might be because I’m old, but
being able to crank one of those up to ~2.4GHz sure would take me back
to the 300A Celerons and the Spitfire Durons. Cheap, good enough to
great performance, and with the added bonus of running cool and quiet.

Is anyone else hoping to see some potential here? There’s some
Mini-ITX boards that look pretty decent supporting the platform.”

Tech discussion:

That’s all, folks! We’ll see you on the next episode.

Comments closed
    • 2cans
    • 9 years ago

    great podcast keep up the good work

      • jdrake
      • 9 years ago

      Thanks:-)

    • Silus
    • 9 years ago

    Sorry Jordan, but no. The audience really doesn’t have a good chance of winning the graphics card, because not all the audience is from the US & Canada 🙁

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      I hope that TR just decides all the whining isn’t worth it and quits doing giveaways.

      Actually, no I don’t; I hope that’s not what ends up happening. But that’s the only possible outcome of constant whining. Get a grip, man.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    The other problem you’re going to have with overclocking any of the Brazos chips is the on-die GPU, which very well could limit you before the CPU does.

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    Jason, I think the reason they didn’t use the Chrysler 300 for the “Imported from Detroit” ad is that they’re built in Brampton, Ontario.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, I was listening to [url=http://www.autoblog.com/2011/02/08/autoblog-podcast-216-superbowl-ads-kubica-crash-and-honda-nsx<]this podcast[/url<] (involving car writers / copywriters and recorded right after the SB) and they go into that in some detail (in fact they point out even the folks making the ad were aware that the 200 really couldn't shoulder the symbolic freight, and so showed the car as little as possible). I'm sure the last thing they wanted was for the twitterscape / blogosphere to explode over the hypocrisy of an ad built around Detroit featuring a car that wasn't actually built there.

      • clone
      • 9 years ago

      1st and foremost you are exactly correct it’d be tough to promote “imported from Detroit” by showcasing the new 300 that’s built in Ontario, Canada.

      it’s also been funny how many ppl try to attack the “imported from Detroit” tagline because Fiat owns Chrysler now, what they don’t realize is that by a wide margin Chrysler has more plants and more investment in Michigan & around Detroit than any other company % wise.

      CTC, their world headquarters, Sterling Heights, Jefferson North, Dundee engine, Connor Avenue Detroit where they build Vipers, even Windsor Assembly in Canada is less than 5 km’s from Detroit.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    I liked the bigness and epic story in ME1….ME2 pretty much had no main story so I wasn’t a fan.

    Anyways scott as someone who has played ME1/2 + dragonage, the combat systems in DA/ME are totally different. Assuming you are decent at FPS games, you will never have to control your team mates at all, and infact you can select team mates who are better for “doing their own thing”. DA is much more pause/come up with a strategy whereas ME1 is much more action based.

    You can also skip every side quest and still be able to pass ME1 just fine.

    ME1 > DA > ME2.

      • Darkmage
      • 9 years ago

      I’m going to apparently be the only person who liked the changes in ME2 from ME1. It was nice being able to level up your character in a handful of areas and seeing immediate differences in your capabilities instead of 25 steps in each talent tree. Inventory management was improved substantially, and the part of ME1 that everybody hated (the driving around the planet looking for resources) was ditched in favor of scanning the damn planet from space like any proper spacefaring species. Okay, it wasn’t exactly fun, but it wasn’t as mind-numbingly tedious.

      And the side quests related to your team in ME1 were distractions, basically giving you yet another spaceship or prefab building to fight in, whereas they have serious consequences in ME2 if you decide to ignore them. And it helps that every location in ME2 is unique, even for the little side missions.

      Regarding the plot – Definitely finish ME1 before proceeding on to ME2. You’ll miss out on a fabulous story and the sequel doesn’t do a great job of filling in the blanks for the uninitiated. I don’t know if the PC version does this, but the console version of ME2 adjusts the plot based on the decisions you make in ME1. So choose wisely in preparation for ME3. 🙂

      odizzido is definitely correct in that the ME series is more action based than Dragon Age. I’m working my way through that now and it’s a slog…

        • jdrake
        • 9 years ago

        I completely agree with you – I liked the changes.

        The PC version also lets you bring in your character from ME1.

    • The Dark One
    • 9 years ago

    RPS is a great PC gaming blog. They make an effort to find interesting games that might not get coverage elsewhere and do a good job of telling us what they feel about a game instead of trying to assign some numerical value between 8.4 and 9.5 out of 10 for a score.

    Cyril is, of course, entirely wrong about KOTOR 2, though. It was far more ambitious than the first game and did a good job of moving away from the cliched morality that had existed in both Bioware RPGs and the Star Wars universe to that point. Obsidian were given about 14 months to work on the game, which explains the terrible cobbled-together feel of the ending, but I still think the game achieved more than the original. It’s brilliant but flawed while the original is merely good.

    About ME1- if you’re worried about the sprawling nature of the game, feel free to ignore most of the side quests. They tend to take place in these prefabbed levels where the only difference is the arrangement of crates. Even worse on the ones that you have to drive over the procedurally generated terrain to reach (the plot-heavy planets were all crafted normally).

      • mcnabney
      • 9 years ago

      I agree about KOTOR2 as well. The ending was completely screwed-up, but the storytelling and character vs NPC development was excellent. Sadly, it doesn’t appear like there will be a wrap-up concerning what happens to Revan and the Exile. Maybe the resolution will be revealed in the MMO. Bioware might not want to touch what Obsidian has done though.

      And ME2 wasn’t really that good. I felt little attachment to any of the characters except Garrus and Tali (duh, because they came back). Heck, you only play a few missions with the whole group intact. The game tries to play it off like you are some tight-knit family, but about 3/4 of the game is finding and completing the loyalty missions of your crew. Plus, the game was completely on rails. No decisionmaking at all. I don’t understand why ME2 is rated higher than the original.

        • odizzido
        • 9 years ago

        Finally someone who agrees ME1 is better than ME2. I kept thinking that any minute things would start to pick up but they never did. If ME1 hadn’t been such a great game I never would have finished the second.

      • Cyril
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<]Cyril is, of course, entirely wrong about KOTOR 2, though. It was far more ambitious than the first game and did a good job of moving away from the cliched morality that had existed in both Bioware RPGs and the Star Wars universe to that point. Obsidian were given about 14 months to work on the game, which explains the terrible cobbled-together feel of the ending, but I still think the game achieved more than the original. It's brilliant but flawed while the original is merely good.[/quote<] I wasn't bothered so much by the ending as the gameplay, which just felt kinda tedious. Perhaps my recollection of the original KOTOR is foggy, but it seemed to have more inspired level design and less repetition. I really enjoyed the original but had no fun playing the sequel at all.

        • mcnabney
        • 9 years ago

        The gameplay is really almost identicle. The sequel adds some new force powers, but otherwise it feels about the same. As to maps, they both have their boring parts and both have their interesting areas. The sequel actually makes you take care of your NPCs, because toward the end you have to run a party of three NPCs through a complicated mission while you are away on a different planet.

        The original did have the advantage of being a ‘new’ experience while the sequel really didn’t bring much new besides more powers, more weapons, more ‘feats’, and more add-ons for the lightsaber. Voice acting was good on both of them. Also, the decision to be evil, good, or something in between was much more evident in the sequel. Force Persuding a thug into jumping off of a building in Nar Shada was a wake-up to how you could really play the game ruthlessly if you decided to.

    • mcnabney
    • 9 years ago

    Scott – about Dragon Age, you don’t need to use those detailed ‘if/then’ programing tools for your NPCs. Just manage what your characters are doing in combat, specifically what Area of Effect abilities are used. I usually pause just a couple times in a melee to keep the characters on their toes and fighting the correct opponents.

    And most of the side-quests are accomplished while you complete the main quests. There are a few optional ones, like you noted in the city, but many of those are more intimately linked to specific PC races and backgrounds, so while they might seem like a chore for a Human Noble PC they are actually kind of important for a City Elf. Skipping the side quests might cost you a level, perhaps two, at the end, but that shouldn’t matter that much.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      yes because pausing every 2 seconds is an enjoyable way to play. :p

        • mcnabney
        • 9 years ago

        It isn’t an FPS. Unlike Mass Effect, it is far more melee oriented. Hell, Mass Effect 2 was just a exercise in running from one hiding place to another and shooting from cover. There is no tactical planning required for that. Enter area -> find place to hide -> shoot enemies until they are dead -> move to next area and repeat..

        Dragon Age actually requires the use of tactics. You can either take a lot of time to do the complicated programming so that your fighters will automatically engage certain targets, try to flank, and work in concert with the spellcaster(s) – or you can just pause a few times in a 1+ minute combat to queue-up orders or maneuver. A little bit of RTS in the RPG.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          Yeah, but with sort-of intelligent “programming” (as you put it, and that’s a pretty good term) I made it through the game on Medium as long as you pigeon hole people into what they’re kind of predisposed to in the first place. For me that meant I took my character, who was a 2H dwarf warrior along with Alistair, Morrigan, and Wynne. Two DPS, a tank, and a healer worked very nicely. And i didn’t have to play every role; I could role play as my own dude, though I still did have to pause for harder battles.

            • mcnabney
            • 9 years ago

            Oh, I never pause that often. Just occasionally to review the condition of my troops and to check the status of enemy archers/mages. Early in larger battles I would micromanager the first area-spells (to avoid collateral damage) and ensure the right spells were being used.

            I never played as a dwarf. Gone through as a human, city elf, Dalish elf, and as a mage. Never as a dwarf. Probably because I never played as dwarven character EVER, not sure why I don’t like the race. It is amusing that someone who has played RPGs since 1980 that I have never taken a crack at an entire race.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            You should at least see the origin stories. The dwarf noble isn’t so great, but I like the dwarf commoner origin.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    I friggin love the podcast. The “personal” feeling you get while listening to you guys joke around while still talking about cool tech products and stuff I’m interested in, rules. IF YOU READ TR AND DON”T LISTEN TO THE PODCAST, YOU’RE MISSING OUT.

    Data loss for the loss on the poll.

    The ME discussion was pretty funny. Scott you really should play them.

      • CuttinHobo
      • 9 years ago

      Another thing people miss out on by not listening is they never find out that Jordan’s beatboxing skills are unparalleled! ;D (at 1:22:15)

    • DrDillyBar
    • 9 years ago

    Its funny that I get all bothered when the podcast doesn’t come out on Sundays.
    Thank goodness my Fix is here.

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