Composer Releases Original Cuts of Goldeneye N64 Music

Growing up, I was a massive fan of the Nintendo 64 classic, Goldeneye. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that the game was a major contributor to my early interest in firearms and technology, not to mention the James Bond franchise as a whole. Fortunately, the original composer of the game’s music has released uncompressed versions of the Goldeneye tunes. While all the tracks take me right back to my N64 days, I was amazed by how much better these original cuts sound.

Check them out: http://www.grantkirkhope.com/goldeneye.html

Advertisements

Improving Photos with a DIY Light Box

So you just picked up a cool new firearm and you are looking to share some not so subtly boastful photos of it with your buddies. Often, this involves snapping a few shots with your cell phone with the firearm strategically placed on your kitchen counter as soon as you get home. Sometimes the end result is impressive while other times, this amateur photography leaves us saying “trust me, it looks better in person.” While there are times when a quick, casual photo does the job, how can we step up our game without breaking the bank? As it turns out, the answer is simpler and cheaper than you might expect. With little more than a large cardboard box, some poster board, and a couple of lamps, it is possible to achieve near-professional photos with very little effort.

What you will need:

  1. Large cardboard box (mini-fridge boxes work great for this)
  2. Utility knife (I used a Leatherman Sidekick)
  3. Large poster board of various colors (pick up at least two sheets of white)
  4. Bright white or “full spectrum” light bulbs
  5. Two 7” clamp lights
  6. A few sheets of 8.5×11” printer paper

Putting the whole thing together is extremely easy. First, cut off the top flaps of the box. Next, cut large rectangular holes in three sides of the box. After you have completed the cutting, simply slide one of the large white sheets of over the remaining side of the box and let it bend several inches up what used to be the bottom of the box, but will now be the back of our light box.  This helps us to prevent unwanted shadows in the back corners of our light box and will also help to give us a seamless background for photos.

DIY light box

DIY light box

White base

White base

My preferred matte black background

My preferred matte black background

My preferred bulbs

My preferred bulbs

Once the box has been completely prepped, mount the lights on the top rim. I recommend softening the light by taping some of your printer paper over the lamps’ faces. I have also found that my shots are better when I place some white poster board on at least one side opening. This helps to reflect more light back into the box and will soften your shadows some as well.

Shot using Nikon D3200 with one indirect light and one direct light

Shot using Nikon D3200 with one indirect light and one direct light

Shot using Nikon D3200 with one indirect light and one softened direct light

Shot using Nikon D3200 with one indirect light and one softened direct light

Shot using Samsung Galaxy S5 with one indirect light and one direct light

Shot using Samsung Galaxy S5 with one indirect light and one direct light

Shot using Samsung Galaxy S5 with one indirect light and one softened direct light

Shot using Samsung Galaxy S5 with one indirect light and one softened direct light

That is all there is to it! Your photos, whether they are of firearms or anything else, will be hundreds of times better than the old countertop shots. Be sure to take some time to experiment with different lighting for more interesting photos.

A Filipino Supercar?

Last month, The Manila Times reported that a trio of young Filipino entrepreneurs had recently completed development of a new sports car built almost entirely from the ground up using Philippine-produced parts. The design, dubbed the Aurelio after its primary designer, touts over 460 hp per ton and is capable of speeds in excess of 180 mph. While you probably will not see many car articles here on Modern Rifleman, I can certainly appreciate the work that goes into something as impressive as the Aurelio. Perhaps more impressive is that the car will run around $37,000 , but production will be limited to less than 10 builds per year due to manufacturing capacity limitations.

 

Manila Times article: http://www.manilatimes.net/fast-furious-filipino/104576/

Boldride article, via Yahoo: https://autos.yahoo.com/news/philippines-homegrown-supercar-lovely-123043365.html

 

AMD Looking to the Future: Next Gen Xbox and PlayStation Soon?

Last week, I saw articles from BGR and Ubergizmo reporting that AMD’s CFO, Devinder Kumar, was quoted as saying, “the lifecycle of the products are probably going to be shorter.” This took place during a discussion regarding AMD’s role as the sole APU (GPU+CPU) provider for both Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Given that we are just coming off of a nearly ten year console refresh cycle, such news seems to be a departure from tradition. However, there are some factors that make a new console release model appealing.

Beginning with this round of consoles, both Microsoft and Sony have finally transitioned to a traditional x86 processor architecture. This means that the CPUs in the Xbox One and PS4 are very similar architecturally to those found in most PCs. As such, not only will it be easier for developers to code for both consoles and PCs, but this also marks the first time that both Microsoft and Sony have made use of such similar components.

Because the x86 platform has been the standard in the PC realm for ages, developers should already be used to coding for it and have already been scaling their games to run on different PCs for quite some time. Likewise, the GPUs present in both current generation consoles are very similar to their PC counterparts and make use of similar APIs for graphics rendering.

By now, I am sure some readers are beginning to wonder what all of this means; so let’s dig into why Kumar’s statement is significant. Now that we are finally beginning to see some standardization across PCs, Xbox, and PlayStation, a logical next step would be for both Microsoft and Sony to advance on this same path for their next releases as it reduces R&D and production costs compared to designing custom architectures. This would mean the Xbox (insert name here) and PlayStation 5 should also make use of the x86 CPU architecture and DirectX/OpenGL compatible GPUs.

Were Microsoft and Sony to take such a route, questions surrounding backwards compatibility would finally be put to rest as legacy support could (relatively) easily be maintained. Furthermore, forward compatibility could also be made possible. Much like some PC games optimize their settings for specific components, a single game could be set to render at different resolutions or load different textures based on the console version being used. As an example, while the Xbox One may only be able to run Bungie’s upcoming shooter Destiny at 1080p/30fps, the Xbox Two could potentially play the same game at 1440p/60fps. In the same vein, future releases designed for the PlayStation 5 could be downscaled to work on the PlayStation 4 if users are willing to sacrifice some visual fidelity.

If the big two take this route, developers could then advertise their games as being compatible with certain console versions, much like mobile application designers do for specific iPhone models or Android releases. While I am excited about such prospects, I have my doubts that such drastic development changes will come to fruition as console manufacturers will most certainly resist sacrificing future sales to allow such interoperability. Still, the mere possibility of such changes is intriguing. What do readers think?

BGR: http://www.bgr.com/2014/06/05/playstation-5-and-next-gen-xbox-launch/

Ubergizmo: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2014/06/next-gen-consoles-could-arrive-sooner-than-we-think-according-to-amd/