Conference travel plans for 2007

Summer is already here, but before galloping off to the freedom, there is still much to do. And my schedule for next autumn is already full. Here is a quick rundown of upcoming seminar and conference engagements:

  • June 12: speaking in Interactive Gaming Seminar in Helsinki on research into players in games and gambling studies
  • July 12: commenting on research papers and plans in the annual science fiction studies scholar’s meeting, arranged in conjunction with Finncon 2007 in Jyväskylä
  • August 27-28: participating in the OECD Expert Meeting on Videogames and Education in Santiago de Chile, speaking about player studies (Edit: it looks like I cannot make this — pity, it would probably been really interesting trip)
  • September 11: lecturing in the Hypermedia Laboratory 15 Years Anniversary seminar in Tampere
  • September 24-28: DiGRA 2007 conference in Tokyo (hope I can get there!)
  • October 3: the MindTrek conference in Tampere
  • October 4-6: speaking in the PTS seminar about control and addiction issues in “Virtual Games and Gambling”, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • October 12: lecture “Heritage in virtual disguise – reaching the young” in the Nordic Museums’ Accessibility Conference, Helsinki
  • November 8-9: presenting a keynote and leading a workgroup in seminar “Changing Views on Technology, Media and Cultural Approaches” in Joensuu
  • November 15-17: presenting a keynote in the Future Play conference, Toronto, Canada

These are subject to change, of course, but not much, or so I hope at this point. Working in this field certainly keeps you busy, but it is also exiting to be constantly faced with new and surprising challenges, create new connections and innovations, so you end up being tired in the evening, but also feeling to have achieved something meaningful. Only in a truly rewarding field it would make sense to keep on traveling around and working in this way.

New gaming machine specs

I have now the full specs for my suggested new gaming PC. Here is a quick rundown (skip this if not interested in current gaming PC gear; this is written mostly just as my own review notes):

A Data Vitesta memory

The memory: two 1GT DDR2 800MHz, Vitesta, 240-pin DIMM from A-Data. It appears to have a lifetime warranty, which is encouraging. The full product specs from Taiwanese manufacturer are here:

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS

The graphics card is another key element. That is coming from a company called EVGA, and the full title of the model is e-GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB/320Bit DDR3, PCI-E. Also this manufacturer claims to offer “lifetime warranty” for registered customers. The manufacturer specs are here: and the PDF spec sheet here:

The essential facts are: DirectX 10 (for Windows Vista Premium), SLI capable (good if you want to plug in another one and really go for the overkill), 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate, 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max Analog, 2560 x 1600 Max Digital; PCI-E 16X, two DVI-I outputs, and one HDTV (through a DVI-I, also a S-Video output in DIN-style, but not a HDMI). They also link to one online review: nV News’ EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS SLI Review (done in February, they were running two of these in SLI parallel mode):

They conclude: “I won’t lie: when I first saw the (seemingly) “crippled” specs of the 8800 GTS, I scoffed at the thought of using one or two of those cards when the GTX has SO much more power. But after using these for the past few weeks, I can say without a doubt that these cards are amazing. The almost-free antialiasing in a number of games, the overall amazing picture quality and DirectX 10 support are just three of MANY reasons you should own an 8800-based card.” Well, ok, I think I can live with that for a while. Btw, if you want to see the tester being killed by a troll in The Dark Messiah, here is a video clip:

This is clearly mainly built to be a gamer’s card; the HDTV side is crippled since HDCP protected content can only be output in single-link DVI mode and only 1280×800 resolution is supported, which is a bit disappointing.

The disk will be a Samsung: 500GB Spinpoint T166, 3.5″, SATAII/300, 16MB, 7200RPM. The manufacturer specs are here:
It is a rather cheap drive, hope it will last (no lifetime warranty here…) There seem to be no real reviews, but see e.g.

The optical reader / writer would be a LG: DVD+-RW DL LS, GSA-H12/22/42LRBB, 18x8x8x. They claim that this would burn a regular DVD in 5 minutes and support also burning dual-layer (8,5 GB) DVD burning (which is nice, because my stand-alone dual-layer burner is now broken). It is really difficult to find anything from LG’s own pages, but previous models have fared well in reviews. Here are some specs from a British store:

LG's CD/RW/DVD reader/burner

The CPU will an Intel: Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz, 4MB, FSB1066 Boxed (Conroe). Tom’s Hardware Guide is a good resource of information when you want to know more about processors; here is an Intel platform overview (dated, 2004):

In 2006 they announced Core 2 Duo as the new king of the hill:

In a more recent article they compare Core 2 Duo to the Core Duo Extreme:

This one is mostly interesting for those who will go into the overclocking game, but it appears that these “older” CPUs can actually outperform Intel’s top processors (in 1000-dollars range) by some proper overclocking. Hmm.

Core 2 Duo processor

Game PC took a closer look at E6600 in last October:

Their verdict? “The Core 2 Duo E6600 mixes together excellent performance at stock clock speeds, low power consumption, a robust feature set and lots of overclocking potential all at a very tolerable price point.” Nice.

Then into the motherboard: this will be an Asus P5B I965P S775 Core 2 Duo SATA2, FSB1066. A motherboard is a crucial component since it pretty much sets the limits for the peripherals, extendibility and overall reliability you can expect from your PC. The integrated audio chip and connectors might be setting limits to your audio experience. Tom’s Hardware gives you the quick overall idea:

Asus P5B from top
Asus P5B from back

As to this specific MoBo, you have the ASUSTeK manufacturer specs here:
They also advertise the silence and power-saving features of P5B in a flash show from a “lifestyle” (home theatre) perspective:
The board also supports something called AI NOS (Non-delay Overclocking System) to boost performance:
The noise filtering system claims to rely on a bundled “Superbeam Array Microphone”: (wonder whether that will come bundled with my system?)

The audio part is important for my media room setup (as are of course the system bus, integrated chipset, processor and memory supports, heat control solutions etc.), and even if any serious audiophile would probably upgrade for a separate hi-fi audio card, I will be happy to test the integrated “8 channel HD audio” — at least it has the digital sound output through an optical/coaxial connector so that is a plus.

The motherboard is nothing spectacular, but again another pretty reliable-looking mainstream solution. More on different P5B versions:

Antec Neo HE from back

Antec makes good power sources that I have been using also earlier, so I am happy this one also comes with one; Antec 430W, NeoHE 430, ATX2. This one won the MikroBitti 2/2006 power source comparison, so it should be ok (Antec has more efficient models these days, though). Powerful processors and particularly the graphics cards demand loads of electricity very fast, so this is another crucial, backbone part. The manufacturer page: and see also Hardware in Review which writes about its energy efficiency in positive terms:

CoolMaster Elite 300 from inside

The chassis is that part of PC that you will actually be looking and handling, so it would be good to have solid, well-equipped and well-designed one for my new system. In Jimm’s PC Store’s updated offer I have a newcomer specified: CoolMaster Elite 330 ATX. This is a rather basic case, but it has some nice details like the “tool-free” internal design and washable air filter: and here’s the product sheet:

I was long contemplating about getting a slick HTPC case with some proper AV style controls and connectors, but the price was in most cases ugly and there would have been some compromises in other areas (like expandability of the system) that made me finally go for a basic mini-tower.

Ok, that is pretty much it. The OS will be a MS Vista Home Premium Edition, but as I wrote earlier, there will probably be some multi-boot tweaking for this one. Or then I will just give up for all kind of tweaking altogether, and spend all my hard-earned summer vacation days (apart from the family business) just gaming, gaming, gaming! 🙂

Ilari's graduation dinner

Ilari’s graduation dinner
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Also Ilari, Laura’s brother has now finished his studies and it was again time to celebrate, with some fine dinner and wine in Restaurant Näsinneula. The servings and the views were excellent, as usual. In the slowly rotating tower-restaurant you can follow the sun going down beyond Näsijärvi Lake, while enjoying your meal. Now we have also met Anniina’s parents which was nice.

Bumblebee house

Bumblebee house
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

My birthday present this year: a bumblebee house. With its small colony of “kontukimalainen” (wonder what that species is in English?) these busy new neighbours of us will hopefully take care of visiting all the flowers in those fruit trees and berry bushes. Search for “pörrinpesä” if you are interested in getting your own.

Graveyard walk

Graveyard walk
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

The Kalevankangas Cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful place in Tampere, but it is also filled with sad and tragic memories of war. Timo Malmi (an author and expert of local history) talks here at the grave of Lauri Viita, one of the most famous Finnish modernists, whose work was also rooted in worker-class culture and folk traditions. A quiet moment was also spent in front of the mass graves from the 1918 civil war. The walk was organised by the local professors’ association.


Right after Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell — manga (by Masamune Shirow) and the original movie (directed by Mamoru Oshii) — are among my all time favourites. Stylish and often confusing, they toy with numerous philosophically resonant themes and are invaluable for anyone drawn into exploring the elemental, often subconscious, relations humans have with their technologies. Bio Rex Distribution (Matila, Röhr & Nordisk Film) have made a real cultural service by importing into Finnish DVD markets the second full-length movie in the series, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Possibly even more beautiful, even if a bit more slow in tempo, this is an essential work of late modern pop culture at its best. The low resolution YouTube trailer (actually the intro sequence) does not really convey its sophistication:

Towards the new gaming pc

Keeping your gaming PC up-to-date is always pain; tech is entering and exiting the market at such speed that state-of-the-art machine bought in January is out of date as the autumn comes. Investing into more memory and new generation graphics cards may help for a while, but eventually the entire system needs to be upgraded, again.

I used to build my own PCs; starting from the AT/286 generation (the first PC after leaving the trusty Commodore 64), tweaking memory in various varieties of 386 and 486, I have had my fair share of IRQ conflicts, motherboard-memory-processor compatibility issues, driver issues, overclocking and processor-burning experiences. No time for that any more.

Yesterday I did finally put in the order for my next PC. After not-so-thorough review round, I ended up getting the “Jimm’s Pro Gamer SE” setup from Jimm’s PC Store, who has profiled themselves as a gamers’ PC shop. The specks should be enough for a while at least: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, 2 GB of DDR2 memory, 500 GB disk, nVidia 8800GTS graphics card. The chassis is Cooltek Storm, with a 25 cm fan in the side — hopefully a silent and efficient cooling solution. At 1199 euros it still fits my budget, but I need to prepare for numerous software and possibly peripheral updates as well. The new primary operating system for this set will be Windows Vista Home Premium Edition (due to the gaming and media editing use), but a multiple OS setup is also an option. The delivery time appears rather slow though; they promised 1-3 weeks, and it might be that they are out of parts, so lets see how this finally works out.

Fan studies conference

There is a really interesting two days conference on fan studies in our university, taking place today and tomorrow. It is an open event, so please be welcome. Matt Hills from Gardiff just presented the opening keynote, giving a comprehensive overview on the various narratives that have been offered about fan studies and about its role and development. See: the programme in Finnish.

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