Chess Computers – The Novag Carnelian II

If you’re thinking of buying chess computers – the Novag Carnelian II is a good candidate for under £100. The Carnelian is an improved version of the Carnelian I version which originally had the same software as the Novag Opal Plus. Novag have seen fit to improve the software to enable the Carnelian II to stand out as a program in it’s own right and superior to the Opal Plus. They’ve succeeded royally. The C II is superb as a software diven chess engine with a well endowed database of openings.

The cabinet falls short of the genuine wood cabinet of it’s big brother Citrine, but does at least have real wood (sheesham) pieces. The pieces have some magnetisation and interreact with reed switches below the surface to register the move from the ‘from’ square and the ‘to’ square. The board is strictly press sensory, but you’d hardly notice the pressure needed to make the computer recognise a ‘move. The faux wood is a little irritating, but since we’ve been conditioned to think of the computer as unnatural, it’s kinda reassuring. Real wood-everything might confuse our concepts. The chess machine has LED’s on the x-axis and y-axis to indicate the ‘from’ square and ‘to’ square. It knows you can read algebraic notation, it’s just making sure – a kind of belt and braces approach.The machine has over 100 levels of teaching modes, hints, take-back etc. and has a 8,500 move openings database. Here is a summary of it’s features:

  • 16K RISC Style processor with 28Kbyt ROM, 1K Ram, 8 MHz
  • Wide-ranging opening book with more than 24,000 half-moves
  • 128 level settings, including training, tournament and problem solving levels
  • Move TAKE BACK, HINT, TRAINING, and REFEREE features
  • Can play against itself and also makes Check, Stalemate and Mate announcements
  • Overall Dimensions 300mm x 273mm
  • Requires 6 x AA batteries or an optional mains adapter
  • Hand carved wooden Staunton chess pieces
  • 81 LED lights to indicate each move, i.e. each square has 4 LED lights
  • Will connect to the PC to print/store/follow games
  • 1900 elo – able to beat very strong players on it’s higher settings

When you’re ready to play the machine, it feels like a huge computer ready to receive it’s first instructional challenge. What? Just this feeble human? Don’t insult me. It’s understated nature feels like it’s waiting for your initial attempt before it helps you – trains you – to make the right evaluation, the right build up of strategy which it’s silicon zero’s and one’s have mastered. Don’t feel intimidated, don’t feel stupid – you’re only human. After all – humans are it’s programmers – so the Carnelian’s intelligence is about to take over your miserable chaotic world with an abscence of strategy or logic. Just press the button, it won’t change anything, press it – it’s safe, you’ll still be in control.

Do Computers Suffer From Obesity?

Remember the day when you bought your new PC with Windows installed? It was lightning fast. It took only about ten seconds to boot. When you opened the Start menu or the load/save file dialogs, they showed up

instantly. But, after a year of heavy use, you now realize that your PC has some serious performance issues. It takes more and more time to boot each time you start it. When you open your Start menu, file

dialogs or other Windows Shell powered components, also seem to always need more time. Your computer is grinding its hard disk for seemingly forever as if it was thinking whether you are worthy to see what you

had hoped to see.

Modern computers are very complex systems. They are much like the human body. By consuming large amounts of non-certified products from unknown sources, you increase the level of cholesterol in your blood very

quickly. Soon, you would have an obesity problem. You couldn’t run fast either. This is the same reason why your computer slows down over time. The truth is that there are no certified software products for

computers. All of the so-called software certificates can only guarantee the authenticity of a software product and not its quality. There are no PC medicine organizations that can certify software. Even large

software companies produce software that may harm your system integrity and leave some “cholesterol” in your computer’s veins. And, we won’t even discuss the software from unknown vendors that you download from

the Internet!

Unlike humans, computers may have many lives. All you need to do is to format your hard drive and install the system from scratch. However, this is not a good solution. By formatting your disks, you lose all your

installed programs, preferences and system integrity. Is there another solution? If you need a personal medic for your computer to provide required treatment without killing the patient first, you may want to

give SmartPC from SmartPCTools a try. It’s an all-in-one medicine package for your system. You can download it using the following link:

http://www.smartpctools.com/smartpcpro.exe

There are two versions, Personal and Professional. They differ only by the number of features available. I use the Professional version. Thus, I will guide you through its features. You will then be able to decide

for yourself whether you need the Professional or the Personal version.

Back to the “cholesterol” problem. What is considered to be bad “cholesterol” for your PC and where are the veins? The Registry is your computer’s blood system. All other organs rely on it. All the vital system

information is stored in this unified database and all Windows applications poll this information. But, there is a downside. Normally, users log into their Windows with full administrator privileges. You need

the administrator privileges in order to install new software and to configure your system and network settings.

All the applications that you run receive full administrator privileges as well. This means that

any program started by you can change almost any section of your Windows Registry, including the settings of other applications. This is how, for example, malicious scripts from the Internet change the Home and

Search pages in your Internet Explorer. With the passing of time, even normal applications from reliable vendors leave some records in your Registry that may cause an “obesity” problem. Most computer programs

never un-install completely! Users rarely complain about such issues and, as such, developers often ignore the problem. They don’t seem to be worried about such things.

No complaints – no problem. But this is a

problem. After a year of heavy use, your Registry becomes really fat. It occupies more memory, and it takes longer for every application to access the Registry. This can reduce the performance of many applications

and increase their start time. But, even worse is that some of the leftovers in your Registry point to non-existing or damaged objects. Here’s an example: When you right-click on a file in Windows Explorer, a

contextual menu pops up. It is called “contextual” because of the file type specific actions displayed in this menu.

When you install a program, it may add its handlers into system menus like the menu that pops up

for a file. You probably have some handlers there added by your image viewers (“Open with …”), archives (“Send to..”, “Compress with…”), printer drivers and more. If some of the Registry entries, like these,

point to non-existing objects, Windows will try to find them every time. There are also some Registry sections that contain programs to run on Windows startup. They are not shown in the “Startup” section of

your Start menu and you cannot remove them manually. Windows will try to start them on every boot.

Now, for the treatment. Get into a white doctor’s uniform and run SmartPC, your scalpel. The interface is very easy to understand. Click the “Fix” button and you’ll see two options available. Let’s start with

cleaning the Registry. In addition to fixing the problems described above, SmartPC will analyze and fix, or delete if necessary, broken links, device drivers, ActiveX components, fonts, un-install entries and more.

As a result, you will have a compact and a fragment-free database without obsolete and broken entries, resulting in increased overall performance of your system.

Not all problems come from the Registry. There is a special type of file, known as a “shortcut”. Your Desktop and the Start menu consist almost entirely of shortcuts. When you access your start menu or when

your Desktop is loading, Windows searches for the target objects that are referenced by your shortcuts. When a shortcut contains a broken link, or points to a non-existing object, Windows will try to find this

object, retrieve its icon, etc. The second option available in the “Fix” SmartPC section allows you to scan and fix all broken shortcuts on your disks.

Now, let’s move to the “Clean” section of SmartPC. This section allows you to clear all the junk files accumulated on your disks. Sometimes applications “forget” to delete temporary files, and sometimes they

leave temporary files due to software errors. SmartPC will empty directories of temporary files. It can also scan your disks to search for temporary files by extension. If you are anxious about security and

identity theft, you may want to clean temporary Internet files, delete cookies, IE autofill data, etc.

In the “Optimize” section, you will also find several useful tools to boost your system performance and tune-up some hidden settings. “Hidden” means that these settings are not available through the Control

Panel or standard Windows dialogs. For example, you can select whether you wish to log into your Windows account on boot without the need to enter your password, or whether you want Windows to show the login

screen with a passwords prompt. The Startup and Un-install Entries Editors also provide some advanced features that are not available in standard Windows configuration applets.

The “Boost Windows” option provides a tool that constantly monitors your memory, removes unusable blocks and de-fragments usable blocks for faster access. If enabled, it runs invisibly and optimizes your system

memory. In addition, this tool sets maximum processor use priority to the active window. When you watch a movie, you probably do not want it to make pauses when another application does something in background.

Normally, all running applications share processor time equally. But if you want to boost a multimedia application to its maximum, you need it to give it an exclusive access to your processor.

Does your computer experience the “obesity” problem? Is it full of junk files, broken shortcuts and obsolete registry values? If so, it needs a treatment!

The First Line Manager: Computers

I purchased my first computer in 1985. I saved up to buy this computer. I read a book on DOS 2.1 a couple of years earlier. I would learn about computers. The IBM PC Junior cost me $635.00. At this time, employees in my company worked at terminals connected to a mainframe computer in a central location. There were two IBM AT type computers in our division. One was actually used. An engineer told me I wasted my money on the computer; we would never use personal computers at work.

The programs on my computer in 1985 are gone now. Programs like, lotus, dBase, and Word Star. Now, I have in my home, a Dell desktop computer, an IMAC, a dell portable, and an IPAD2. I use each computer for my Emily and Jim web page, my first line manager blog, and my Beta Theta Pi chapter web page. I use Dreamweaver and Frontpage to build and add to my web pages. I have U-tube and Face book accounts.

Today, at work employees are effective because we have a computer on our desk. The computer expands the capabilities of each employee. That is, each employee with computer knowledge. We have no mainframe but we have hundreds of file servers. It is a world never imagined by that engineer in 1985.

Over the years I came to understand that most computer program logic is the similar. The new programs function on the same logical basis. The bells and whistles are different. Data base management is a good example. I constructed my house and placed all the material purchases in a dbase file. I created a file and a record for each item. This took a while. The next house I built was the same plan. I printed the bid sheets for materials from the dbase file. This made the bid process quick and easy. Now, I use Excel or Obivent for data base management at work and home. The same principles and logic of these new programs work simular to dbase. A record is a record.

Computer understanding is crucial for effective management of time and material. Using statistical analysis of data is the key for managing cost, and monitoring processes. First line managers must develop this computer knowledge. At least, to the point they can tell a computer analyst the statistics they need out of the vast amount of data their department creates daily. The statistics that measure their department’s effectiveness. Statistics that do not help the manager measure performance is a waste of time for the manager and the analyst.

A computer program is not flexible; it can only do certain functions. In 1985, I got out the basic programming disk that came with the PC Junior. I will learn how to program. I begin the simple process to make the computer to make a bell ringing sound. This process took several lines of syntax. I think I got it. I run the program and nothing happens. I check each line. Make corrections several times. Then, finally, the program works. The computer goes, “ding.” I put the disk back in the box. That is the last time I program any process into a computer. I learned that the computer can only do what a programmer can make it do. The programming process is very structured and complicated. This is valuable to me, I tell the programmer what I want; she says it cannot be done. I understand; we go at the process within the limits of what the programmer states is possible.

This is the point; effective first line managers need an understanding of computer use and capabilities. As programs change, managers must invest the time to understand the new programs. Getting caught in the past in computer time is like becoming an outdated machine. We put that machine in a closet until we get the time to carry it to the junkyard.