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Vol. 2, Issue 11
February 11, 1999

Down the Pipe

Back to Basics

by Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon


irst off I’d like to welcome Paul Steed back to the pages of loonygames. I love Paul’s writing style and I’m always happy to work beside a fellow philogyner. Hopefully he won’t bore us to death with modeling and animation tutorials. I love to see messageboards across the internet blow up after one of his controversial editorials. What a hoot.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to give loonyboi a good kick in the crotch. The man doesn’t like mods and stated so in his column this week. I still don’t understand his reasoning, thus I’ll give him a kick just ‘cause. When I think about it, I’ve played mods waaaay more than I’ve ever played the original game. I’ve had addictions, at one time or another, to each of: original Capture The Flag (Q1), Team Fortress (Q1), Rocket Arena 1 & 2 (Q1 & Q2), Superheros (Q2), Action Quake (Q2), and my current favorite Counter-Strike (HL). Oh my god how many hours have I spent. Ratio of time spent playing Half-Life deathmatch compared to Counter-Strike: 1:100. I think it’s cool that Valve is funding some of these mod ventures, but it scares me to think of what will happen to my “spare time” as these mods only get better.

Ok, on to the real topic of this column, helpfully titled “Back to Basics”. I have two computers at home that I share between myself and three hardcore gaming toddlers. Now, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment, so if I have to buy something new, I tend toward the cheap no-name brands. Curse me if you like, but you gotta do what you gotta do. The headphones I use for my main machine ($10 pair) finally gave up the ghost and it was far past time I got them replaced.

I don’t usually do my computer hardware shopping at Radio Shack, but that’s where I happened to be when I laid my eyes on a nice pair of Koss SX-20 speakers for $14.95CDN. What a bargain! While waiting to purchase my goods, the ever-present salesman came up to me and began his little spiel about how I should go with the more expensive speakers; the ones with the built-in amplifier, the treble, bass, and volume controls, the power button. No way man, I said. These babies are perfect.

And they are! We don’t need no steenking knobs on our speakers. I’m serious. I have another pair of speakers on my second machine that does have all those options. And I have nothing but problems with it. The sound doesn’t work worth a damn, just spits out noise when I’m adjusting the volume, and I never get anything out of the left speaker. The knobs are obviously just meant to be played with, cause that’s all my kids ever do with them. The amplifier? Just another thing to plug into my power-bar (and I’m running desperately short on outlets).

These Koss speakers, on the other hand, just sit there and work! No knobs, no extra cables. They’re powered straight off the sound card so no need for another outlet. Sure, I can’t crack the paint with the deafening noise and I can’t make the floor shake with reverberating base, but I’ve never been that big on sound anyway. In fact, I used the 8-bit Soundblaster card for years. I remember the day it went funky-doodaa and I went over to Computer City to get a new one. My conversation with the clerk on duty went something like this:

<me> Soundblaster Pro please.

<clerk> Did you saw Awe-64?

<me> No, I said Soundblaster Pro.

<clerk> What is that?

<me> You know, 8-bit sound card. The one that every other company tried to emulate.

<clerk> Give me a break, I’m only 14.


So it’s back to basics for me. I honestly can’t tell the difference between $40 speakers and these ones I got for $14.95. Why would I spend more? As long as I can hear the guy sneaking up behind me to harvest a quick frag on my ass, I really don’t care.

click to enlarge!

This pathetic image is how RadPipe plays CounterStrike. (45k).

Ready for another shock? I still use an original Pure3D from Canopus in my main machine. Yep, that’s first generation voodoo graphics from 3dfx in there. I get decent visuals and frame-rates in everything I play, so why should I upgrade? I could be on top of things and bandaging wounds from sitting on the bleeding edge, but why bother. I’ll use this card until it breaks. I mean really breaks. It does some pretty funky things right now, like mixing up textures in games, so I suppose it won’t be long. Yeah that’s right, mixes up textures. It creates the absolute funkiest designs sometimes, so it’s kinda cool. Check out the screenshot.

I am such a naysayer. I still use an HP IIIP LaserJet printer. Had the same one for almost 5 years. My keyboard? A good old keytronics with the soft-tap keys. Love it. I don’t know how many million words I’ve typed on the thing, including 300,000 for my fantasy novel. Mouse? Age old non-ergonomic 3-button Logitech. Heck, I think the chair I’m sitting in is older than me. Now that’s getting pretty old. I better stop soon before I start telling, “You know, when I was a kid...” stories about my Vic-20 while resting my hand in the waist of my pants.

Am I back to basics or just stodgy? I might be just stodgy, I’m not sure. I did splurge on a 17” TTX monitor, and I’ll smooch Roseanne Barr before I’ll give up my precious cable modem. Did I really need 128 Megs of ram? Well, try playing Kingpin without.

Well that about wraps it up for this week. I’d let you in on what I’m going to talk about next week, but I never know until about 10:00pm Thursday evening when loonyboi starts sending me those “Column?” emails and I think, “Oh shit!” So check back with me then.

- Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon currently holds the world record for using the word "exhumed" 15 times in a single sentence.


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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. Down the Pipe is © 2000 Russell Lauzon. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it. Please? Pretty please? Okay, fine...be that way. But don't ask me for your allowance, young man.