Gran Turismo 5: Prologue (to the REAL thing)

April 17, 2008

So how many of you have bought a Playstation 3 just to play Gran Turismo? I admit I am one of these people. The full version of Gran Turismo 5 won’t be ready for another year or longer, but Polyphony is giving us an early preview of what GT5 looks like. Thus we have the Gran Turismo 5: Prologue version. It is released in the US on April 15th, 2008, you can get it here from Amazon store.

Although it will cost you $40 to purchase the Prologue, it is well worth the money and wait, since the game has enough contents to be a stand-alone game. GT5: Prologue contains over 70 different cars, and 6 race tracks. And for the first time in Gran Turismo history you can play this game online, pit your racing skill against other players, and move up (or down for some) the ranking ladder.

If your racing skill isn’t quite top-notch yet, you can also get enjoyment from GT5 simply by sit back and watch it on your HD 1080p television. Every detail of the game, from the race track, to the crowd, to the car itself is rendered to perfection on the screen. Sound effects are also just stunning, for example, you can tell the difference of each car’s horse power by the vibration coming from the engines.

If you like cars, or racing, or just the need for speed, then try this game. It’s a must have for PS3 owners. Sorry Xbox and Wii owners, you are just not cool enough to play this game yet.



Kobe Jump for MVP

April 16, 2008

The 2007-08 NBA regular season ends today. As intriguing as the Western Conference playoff match-ups are, the debate of who is most deserving of the Most Valuable Player honor seems to draw more interest from the media and fans.

Is it Chris Paul, KG, Kobe Bryant, or King James?

With 2008 an election year in the States, one of these NBA superstars is learning campaigning maneuvers of Hillary Clinton and Obama, and is doing commercial for his MVP cause. If you haven’t seen this video yet, Kobe Bryant is jumping over a speeding Aston Martin in a Nike commercial. I am sure this video got Kobe more MVP votes than the Lakers clinching best record in the Western Conference.

Call of Duty gets a Modern Make-over

April 15, 2008

I just recently upgraded my desktop, and it has all the hardware necessary to play the latest PC games.  Here is my system spec: AMD phenom Quad-Core 2.3 GHz, 4 GB of RAM (of course Windows XP can only access 3 GB of it, but that’s for another story), 512 MB Nvidia 8500GT, 500 GB SATA HD.  Total cost?  $550 including case, power-supply, etc.  Not a top-of-line system, but enough to get by and able to play most of the graphic-intensive FPS games running at decent frame-rate.

Anyway, I am a huge Call of Duty fan.  I played since CoD1, then the expansion, and CoD2.  Never played Call of Duty 3 though, because I only play FPS games on PCs and Call of Duty 3 does NOT have a PC version.  I was just so fascinated by the whole WWII setting in Call of Duty franchise, but I am also ready to move on to the next stage in world conflict, so the first thing I did after I got my new system is to install Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  I was really looking forward to play it.  After installation complete, I dived right into the single-player campaign, and started playing as the British special-op, code-named “SOAP”.  Cool name, eh?


As the name suggests, this game takes place in a setting similar to what the world is currently going through: middle-east conflict, renegade Russian general armed with nuclear warheads, and all these good stuff.  As either a British agent or US marine, you will go on various missions such as assassination, search-n-rescue, and my favorite mission is playing air-support for ground troops from a high-flying aircraft.  I especially enjoy the sarcastic comments from the co-pilot as I set the little dots (enemy personals) on the ground in seas of flames, “KAAABOOOM”.


As for performance of the game, I have all the video settings at moderate levels, and I see no lag what-so-ever at all,  I guess I was been too conservative, and when I play this game again, which is soon, I will try to crank up the settings to see how my system handles it under the pressure.


Overall, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the best first-person shooter out there right now.  Especially if you are a CoD fan, some of the cool things you can do in the game are just mind-boggling, but I don’t want to spoil too much of that for you right now, go try it out for yourself.  Only negative thing I can say about this game is that the single-player mode ended too fast, I think I finished the easiest mode in less than 4 hours, I wish it was longer and I can’t wait for the next expansion of this game.

Brian Goetz Tech Talk

April 2, 2008

One of many great things when working at Sun is you get to meet some of the smartest people in the industry, and Brian Goetz is one of them. Brian Goetz is the author of Java Concurrency in Practice, a must read for anyone who programs in Java and has to deal with threads, locks, memory, performance, and the likes at some point.

Mr. Goetz is the speaker at our Brown Bag TechTalk this week, and the topic is one of my favorite, “Java Performance Myths”.  You probably heard a lot of myths regarding Java, some are true, some were true at one point of time, some are just flatly false. 

Some common myths are:

  • Java is slow
  • Garbage-collection is slow
  • Synchronization is slow
  • Object allocation is slow
  • Making methods “final” makes them faster

During the session, Mr. Goetz went over some of these myths, commented on their origins, and how these myths are no more myths thanks to some major improvements made to the modern JVM. For example, garbage-collection was made orders of magnitude faster by switching to generation-partitioned heap. Synchronization cost was reduced by JVM through the uses of adaptive locking, lock coalescing, lock elision, etc.  See the References section for more details.

The take home lessons from the session? Don’t try to outsmart the JVM. Small performance tricks are not worth the effort. Important to make your code clean and functionality correct first, ie.,  the classic Double-checked locking scheme.  JVM optimization will do the rest for you, most of the time.

With multi-cored CPUs a standard on modern day hardwares, it is especially important to utilize the concurrent capability of Java programming language to scale you application when it has more processing power.  But Java concurrency can be tricky to even the experts, and the pitfalls are difficult to reproduce, and they can be hidden in your code for a long time before they crash your application at mission critical time.

You can get a better understanding of Java concurrency by reading Brian Goetz’s book on Java Concurrency in Practice, I found it very useful and real enlightenment to read it from cover to cover.