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Portables (Games) Entertainment Games Hardware

Via-based Handheld Game Console Runs PC Games 208

An anonymous reader writes "Via Technologies has teamed up with Ministry of Mobile Affairs (no, it's not a government agency) to build a handheld game console based on Windows XP Embedded that runs existing PC games. Described as the world's first handheld gaming device based on the x86 architecture, the Eve Mobile Gaming Console is said to be capable of instantly running thousands of existing PC games. Eve's embedded computer is built around a 533MHz Via Eden-N processor (which supports SSE and MMX) equipped with 128MB DDR266 SDRAM, and a 20GB hard drive. A built-in 4-inch LCD screen supports resolutions up to 640 x 480 pixels." The initial impressions are pretty grim, and the form factor leaves something to be desired, at least for a product vying for a share of the GBA market.
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Via-based Handheld Game Console Runs PC Games

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  • by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:24PM (#9145729)
    First thing I thought when I looked at it, is where are you going to carry it? That thing wouldn't fit in a pocket or bookbag or briefcase. The pictures don't quite jive with this comment from the Moma website:

    Modular -- Screen unit detaches from the controller. Carry just the screen unit around for media on the go. Swap controllers for a customized gaming experience.

    This and the fact that there's nothing on the screen lead me to believe this is a Very early prototype and I'm doubting it's going to make it out 1st Q 2005.

  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:24PM (#9145730)
    Sometimes folks come up with a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Then, they try to reverse-engineer the problem. Anyway, from one of the articles:

    "It's funny that you say that it comes out of nowhere," said Andrew "Bunnie" Hwang, the "minister of mobile affairs" at The Ministry of Mobile Affairs (MoMA), based in San Diego. "It actually fills a vacuum in the market," of an X86-based handheld, he said.

    It actually gets better when he explains that you can pay to "unlock" the device (like hackers won't figure this out within a day or two...":

    If a user wishes, Hwang added, he can purchase a separate SIM card "for a reasonable price" that will completely unlock the console, so users can download whatever content they wish.

    I guess we will see what happens in the marketplace.....

    Happy Trails!


    • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:39PM (#9145903) Homepage Journal
      like hackers won't figure this out within a day or two

      Can you say iOpener?

      • Except i-Opener hacking is poorly documented. You have to run all over the web to find out everything you really need to know. I think you should say "Xbox" instead or you'll give people the wrong idea.
        • no, you're missing the point. the iOpener was a $99 device which really should've cost something like $249... the only reason it was so cheap was because the company was expecting people to subscribe to their ISP services with it ... in the end, though, it became a "$99 PC", courtesy of wily hackers...

          and hey, its not so freakin' hard to hack an iOpener, or find details on how to do it ... there's this web site called 'google', which you might be able to find the URL for if you're really elite ... that'll
          • Frankly, if they can make THIS for under $500, that gets me pretty damn excited. Why? Because it means they can tear off the controller, slap a keyboard on there, and make a PDA/ultratiny PC that would far outstrip the capabilities of your run-of-the-mill Pocket PC or Palm (something that no one has been able to do cheaply yet).

            Seriously, I'm pretty jazzed.
      • What did folks end up doing with that little thing? Anything useful besides a terminal server?
      • The security "features" are designed to make a compromise between developers and users like you and me. So there are two options you can take. You can take the blue pill, and have XPe pre-installed, but have a locked console that you can later unlock with a card. Or you can take the red pill, and get a console with no OS, but unlocked. From the cost perspective to us, the price is about the same. However, XPe is not free to us, so we have to pass on the cost of that to users somehow, hence the unlock card.
    • I'll point out the truely ironic part, Andrew "Bunnie" Hwang, is the hardcore X-Box hacker who figured out a number of ways to overcome the X-Box security features. A number of slashdot articles have mentioned him, or his projects. Including the facts that he had a really hard time publishing his books on hacks for the X-Box.

      Interesting. Very intersting.


      • It is me. The security "features" are designed to make a compromise between developers and users like you and me. So there are two options you can take. You can take the blue pill, and have XPe pre-installed, but have a locked console that you can later unlock with a card. Or you can take the red pill, and get a console with no OS, but unlocked. From the cost perspective to us, the price is about the same. However, XPe is not free to us, so we have to pass on the cost of that to users somehow, hence the unl
    • This is a pretty good idea, with some changes.

      Dump XP (or make it dual-boot). Change the form factor. Lose the stupid DRM. Make it foldable, with various controller options (SMS style keyboard, d-pad, a-pad, track-ball), jump up the horsepower a bit and you have a tiny laptop.

      It could give my Zodiac a run for it's money.

    • "It actually fills a vacuum in the market," of an X86-based handheld, he said.

      Some vacuum. [] Perhaps just a lack of demand?
  • by Kelz ( 611260 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:25PM (#9145750)
    Can it play monkey island?
  • by Kjuib ( 584451 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:27PM (#9145787) Homepage Journal
    That should run most of the older emulators just fine. From console to PC back to console, go figure. Now if it would only butter my toast for me.
  • by tsunamifirestorm ( 729508 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:28PM (#9145801) Homepage
    most PC games have too many buttons.
    • by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:35PM (#9145867) Homepage Journal
      Whereas this has too many joysticks. The renderings show a directional pad, a pair of joysticks, four buttons, and what looks like a rocker switch. How are you going to emulate games that need all that on a PC?
      • The renderings show a directional pad, a pair of joysticks, four buttons, and what looks like a rocker switch.

        In other words, the standard set of controls on a typical console game pad these days.

        So, this will be great for playing any game that can be mapped to those controls, and doesn't need more performance than a VIA Eden chip at 533 MHz can provide. (Hint: Doom III is not going to run on this thing.) Oh, and don't forget that the screen is only 4 inches, so you'll never play games like StarCraft o
        • Standard for consoles, yes. For PC? No. The second analog pad will never, ever be used.

          IMHO, they're taking the wrong approach. Ditch the control stick, make it just a screen with ports on the side. Just make the damn thing run USB and make some custom control devices that you can attach the screen to. Then, if you want to use their analog control pad, you can - or they kan make a keyboard that you can use as a screenmount instead. Or I can wire up four USB gamepads and my friends can crowd around t
          • I couldn't agree more, there are some pretty small mice out there too. 50% of the reason I HATE consoles is the lack of the mouse. Give this thing a WASDF, Spacebar, CTRL, ALT and a mouse and I'd be more likely to think about it. Basically as I see it this thing is perfect for Halflife, Natural-Selection, CS, pick up games.
            • Exactly - although I'm certain any gamepad for it will be able to bind to keyboard keys. Gravis has been doing that since the 90s. Although I might prefer a trackball just so I can play in my lap. While I don't have the skillz myself, I've seen people mouseaim with a trackball as well as I can with a mouse, so I know its doable.

              And don't stop at neolithic Half-Life - this thing could do UT.
  • nice.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:31PM (#9145828) Homepage Journal
    but is it going to be ever built by anyone and sold at retail? sounds like a support nightmare. also in the pics it's good to use, but only at places you could bring your laptop to(it's bulky).

    would be fucking awesome for emulators and stuff like that though..

    but I'll put my dollar on the bet that says "nice research project for pr purposes, to be never really hit the market properly if at all."
  • Existing games. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Humorously_Inept ( 777630 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:32PM (#9145842) Homepage
    When they say existing PC games, they must really mean it! Not current, but existing. The question is how long do those games have to have existed for? The hardware config is totally insufficient, aesthetics and usability aside.
    • Well, it would probably run games like Starcraft just fine.

      Just not the shiney new games like Battlefield.
      • But games are supposed to be fun. Playing starcraft without a keyboard would be a bit slow but not impossible. Playing starcraft without a mouse and with a tiny screen would be horrible.
        • Pretty sure they had it for the playstation or something, and it was really popular.

          But I know what you mean.

          PC games, since the age of the GUI (and even before, to an extent) often revolve around the mouse and the availability of many keys.
  • If it folded (or better, slid open to reveal a mini-keyboard) I'd buy it to replace my Zaurus and run 20GB of MP3s and a copy of xmms (or winamp).

    But with that elbow bend, it's useless.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:36PM (#9145871)

    Looks like a low power server to me. Or a GPS unit with software you can update. I'd sit one on the dash of my van.

    It'd also be great for emulation. The thing just screams MAME. Or Ultimate Amiga Emulator.

    How about portable network analyzer? It'll probably run standard Linux distros.

    This thing is not a toy. Well..ok. It is a toy, but it's useful too.


  • PC games (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:36PM (#9145875) Homepage Journal
    If it plays Diablo II, it's a lot smaller than the thing I currently lug to LAN sessions.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:37PM (#9145886) Journal
    ... and maple or mathmatica?

    Yes it wont sync but it would be nice to use it as a pda/calculator/game machine. Why settle on just one this.

    Hmm maybe if any VIA employee's are reading this, you may want to consider mathmatical keys and a mini qwerty keybord. If it runs more things than games you could expand your marketshare.

  • by lethalwp ( 583503 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:39PM (#9145900)

    Via is proud to present its first new line of handheld game console that has all the abilities of windows XP, this all into your pocket!

    - it bluescreens
    - it eats more power than required, replace the batteries every 2 hours
    - you have to reinstall windows xp every month
    - it can get worms if you plug it on internet! (no need to install outlook, the disk share will be enough)
    - ... :)

    Can it run linux? :)
    • I love how this is a troll when at least two of the four points (1 and 4) are fairly accurate and the other two aren't far off either.

      Someone mod this funny, damnit... or something.

      • by raodin ( 708903 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @09:25PM (#9146754)

        Um, ok?

        1 - Don't be silly, I use XP on one of my machines daily and I haven't had a bluescreen in more than a year. Last time I did it was bad memory.

        2 - I get slightly better battery life on my laptop in XP compared to linux - About 15 minutes better. I could probably eek out a bit more in linux, but the point is neither has a big advantage.

        3 - The XP machine mentioned in point one hasn't been reinstalled in an even longer time period than the last bluescreen.

        4 - No real argument here, MS ships with atrocious defaults regarding security.

        Its mildly funny, and certainly not a troll, but its not exactly accurate.

  • by AVryhof ( 142320 ) <> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:41PM (#9145934) Homepage
    I hope this thing comes to market. Then Fails, Think Dreamcast Folks!

    It's likely to be cheaper than an iPaq, and if it has USB (which makes me wonder how you get the games onto the 20GB Hard Drive) you can plug a USB Mini Hub into it for Keyboard/Mouse and have a sweet little Linux Box... or even a portable Emulation System....The possibilities look appealing.

    Arrgh! But I don't think you'd want to try word processing on a 4" screen.
  • Vaporware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:42PM (#9145937)
    This is just plain vaporware. According to the Gizmodo article, it's a mini-ITX. Gee, the advantages of that over an x86 laptop are what, exactly? The lack of a folding screen?

    So let's's a 500MHz x86 with only 128MB of RAM, a fixed LCD that goes only to 640x480, and a case that exists only in the crappy renders of second-rate designers. And it seems like it's meant to be limited only to games, not other Windows applications. Sure beats a standard laptop...

    Anybody care to explain why I should think this is more than (exceptionally incompetent) vaporware?

    • "Sure beats a standard laptop... "

      On an airplane it sure would. Though I'd rather have a Nintendo DS.
      • I've gotta go PSP from what I've seen so far. If it has the pressure-sensitive buttons of the PS2 I'm going to love playing Gran Turismo on long drives. Granted, the last Nintendo I owned was an N64/GB color, but I've played a few of their more recent games, and I can't say that they capture my attention any more. I think the PSP is going to be the Portable Gaming System for the Experienced Gamer/eye candy-loving connaiseur. Just like the PS and PS2 are (versus Nintendo's offerings, not XBox)..

        But that
  • x86? So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by homeobocks ( 744469 )
    It claims that having an x86 CPU is a big plus, but how many consumers either: a) know what a processor architecture is, or b) care? It could be so that it runs Windows, to play Windows games, but with the size of the hard drive (20gb) and the current size of games (UT2004 is >5gb), how many PC games will fit? In a year, when the MoMA is released, I don't think that games will be getting any smaller.
  • CD-ROM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rayde ( 738949 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:47PM (#9145991) Homepage
    how about all those PC games that require the CD to be in the drive while playing??

    *COUGH* vaporware *COUGH*

  • I might buy one... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:49PM (#9146020) Homepage about a year, after this crashes and burns horribly in the marketplace, when they dump the remaining inventory through TigerDirect or eBay or something. After the miserable failure of this product, we will probably be able to get one for a couple hundred dollars or so.

    I mean, look at the thing. $500, then you get to pay more to turn on the disabled features? A weird, non-foldable shape that won't fit in a pocket and might not even fit in a briefcase? This thing is a trainwreck of a product.

    I just hope the product engineers planned ahead for the dismal sales, and designed it to be easy to hack (bootable from USB, etc.)

    This would make a decent little gadget for playing my old Atari 2600 games. The tiny screen wouldn't be a handicap and the controls are right there. If you can get MAME on it you could play quite a lot of stuff.

    You could also use it as a "photo wallet" (each day on vacation, dump all your photos to its hard drive, look at them with the screen to verify that they are there, and wipe your camera's chips clean for the next day). It only has CompactFlash, though.

    You could even use it as a universal remote for your home; with 802.11 networking, it could talk to a computer and you could then do anything.

    Of course you could use it as a portable audio/video player, if you can deal with the awkward shape.

    Let's hope they make lots of these things before they figure out that no one wants them; they'll be really cheap!

    • Emulation looks like one of the few things for which it might be decent--assuming the gamepad feels ok. Locking users into a specific version of an operating system running at a low screen resolution with a gamepad interface severely limits the number of games that would be playable on this unit.

      Attempting to play ScummVM [] games with a stylus on a Clié PEG-N760C was hard enough.
  • Notebook? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ryan Mallon ( 689481 )
    A small notebook pc would be about as easy to carry around as that thing, and it will play most existing pc games too. Plus the notebook's screen will actual ly fold down, meaning you could store it somewhere when you aren't using it.
  • PDA/iPod Hybrid? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SamBaughman ( 74713 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @07:51PM (#9146037) Journal
    Look at Palm devices: more and more games are being added to the library for this family of PDA's. A lot of games are coming out for Microsoft's Pocket PC platform. The only drawback for these systems is a lack of internal storage.

    Look at iPods: a ton of local storage, a well-designed user interface, and the "cool" factor that marketing companies spend billions searching for. But other than video and some basic text notes (that you can't edit on the device), the iPods and other hard drive-based media centers can't play games or do other "computerish" tasks.

    What happens when we combine these two products? Eve. It's a Pocket PC, but since it runs "XP Embedded" you can theoretically run any existing PC game. Spend a little time and effort, and you won't even need a USB keyboard. You could also just store music or video on there.

    It's an RCA Lyra with a bit more processing power and an add-on controller. If they can hit the $500 point next year, there might (might) be a market, but I think more people will buy it for high quality video on a teeny screen than for any gaming options.

    Ooooh, and wi-fi, so you can watch the videos on the other Eves are you...
  • by Eagle5596 ( 575899 ) <slashUser.5596@org> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @08:00PM (#9146123)
    Warcraft I, Dungeon Hack, and the entire Zork Trilogy with your blazing fast 533MHz processor!
  • Boomerang! (Score:2, Funny)

    by beatleadam ( 102396 )
    Do you think if you throw it *just right* it will come back?
  • VIA vs. VAIO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @08:02PM (#9146133)
    I think this niche is already filled by the Sony Vaio TR series. At 1.4"x7.4"x10.6" the Sony is pretty darn small. The Sony has a 1 GHz pentium M, .5 GB DDR ram, and a 40 GB drive. It comes wireless equipped, and, no, I don't own one. Base model runs $2,200 US, which is probably a bit more than the VIA/MOMA will sell for, I'm sure.
    • The Fujitsu 5020D [] has similar specs - 10.27" x 7.80" x 1.55" (though only certain models have 512 megs ram), and the IBM X series [] is also thin and light, though a little wider. Unfortunately, the lousy computer stores near me have none of these three - just massive 10kg desktop replacements that produce levels of heat and noise comparable to a blowdryer.
  • My analysis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @08:05PM (#9146158) Homepage
    "It's funny that you say that it comes out of nowhere,... It actually fills a vacuum in the market," of an X86-based handheld, [said Andrew "Bunnie" Hwang)

    The reason there's a vaccuum in that segment of the market is that, at this point, anything that fits that vaccuum is going to SUCK!

    Honestly, what games are there for the PC platform that A) require only 640x480, B) run adequately at 500-odd mHz/128MB RAM, and C) require only a D-pad and four buttons to control? I sounds like this overpriced toy is going to require games written specially for it, so what's the point of making it x86 PC compatible?

    • so what's the point of making it x86 PC compatible?

      Shit load of existing dev tools, a choice of operating systems, a lot of games will already work on it, homebrew development would be a piece of piss, it has built in wireless so if I install Linux or Cygwin/Mingw under Windows then I've got an awesome wardriving tool. How to type without a keyboard? Ummmm. OK, so I'll learn Morse code and write a custom keyboard driver and then.....

      Arguably a GB Advance is a better gaming platform but shit I'd like one
  • by pridkett ( 2666 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @08:12PM (#9146201) Homepage Journal
    If you're astute and look at this picture [] you'll see that it's not just a Ministry of Mobile Affairs logo on the screen. In fact, it's a logo photoshopped over a Half Life screen. Mmm...portable half life.
  • I'm guessing the CPU power of this thing is enough to drive old non-3d dos games and that's about it.
  • It all depends... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrgreen4242 ( 759594 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @08:26PM (#9146323)
    The key to this device's success is going to come down to 2 things, imho...

    1) Price. If you can get a PSP cheaper, it's going to fail. Period. The PSP is probably going to start at, what, $200-250? So I'd say it'd better be around $150-175 MAX if it wants any chance at all.

    2) Accessories. It was mentioned above that they intend to have a detachable game pad area, and I hope that it uses some sort of customized USB 2.0 connection for that so they can have a large array of easy to develop add-ons. Examples: A mini-keyboard, a stand with a built in USB HUB, so you can plug in a mouse/keyboard or external HD/DVD drive, or whatever you want. Also, a Wi-Fi add-on (or standard built in) would be an obvious must have.

    A 533mhz cpu with 128mb ram will run some pretty decent games. If this GPU subsystem is decent at all, and they have some sort of widdled down version of widows running you could conceivably run Q3 based games, which is pretty nice for a handheld system.

    Personally, I think that if this does make it to market, it will fail on both points 1 and 2. It will likely be in the $300-400 range, since they will have to actually make money on the hardware, as they don't get licensing fees from software sales like Sony and Nintendo. The accessories will likely be available, but will be either too expensive, reach market to late, or be just plain stupid (think GB camera and printer).

    If it does manage to hit the shelves at a decent price and they improve the form factor some, it could be a very cool gadget. In all likelihood, however, I think I will be one the ones grabbing one of these as they get discontinued so I can turn it into a bathroom email/web browser!

  • Who the fuck do these people think are going to make games for these 1823192837 different devices? Here's a hint: not Nintendo or Sony.

    But if it plays exisiting pc games, they dont need an exclusive publisher of any type. The Gamepark GP32 seems to do pretty well, and people really just put MAME on it.
  • WAH (Score:2, Interesting)

    It SUX! It Blows! It's stupid looking! Sony RUL3Z!! Gamecube SUX!! BLAAAHH!!.

    Four months ago everyone (and that means EVERYONE) said the Nintendo DS would tank. Now people can't get enough of how cool it is. Now everyone is saying the PSP will tank, when four months ago it was to "instantly stomp Nintendo out of the handheld market."

    Face it folks. Everything sux. Because everything sux, nothing has any value. When nothing has any value, it is much easier to ignore the suffering of other people.
    • FWIW I still think the DS will tank. The description of how you use the touch screen is a worry; "the faster you tap, the faster you shoot"? will it also say "If I break, buy another"?

      However, I am impressed with the PSP and I thought little of it last year.

  • The inventor... (Score:2, Informative)

    by scapermoya ( 769847 )
    Has anyone else noticed this MoMA was started by Andrew 'bunnie' Huang []? This guy is one of the formost underground experts on what has come to be called hardware hacking, and in that respect he is a genius. I seriously doubt that an MIT graduate of this caliber would let something stupid come to market, give this project some time. Plus, hes a regular /.er.
  • by thasmudyan ( 460603 ) <thasmudyan@openfu.cAUDENom minus poet> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @09:47PM (#9146911)
    I think the basic idea is pretty cool. Cramming a micro-PC into a very small form factor could be a recipe for great mobile gaming fun. But I guess that's where the VIA marketing people came in and butchered it.
    • Horrible case design, not that fatal but still a bit weird
    • Designed to be marketed basically as a Gameboy, that's not going to work
    • Almost no access to the system itself, one of the most paranoid and user unfriendly content protection mechanisms I ever heard of.

    Needless to say, this could be fixed so easily:
    • Make some minor modifications to the case
    • Appeal to the geek audience: Get rid of content protection, allow people to upload and do whatever they want.
    • Publish the specs and have a hacker community create/port cool new games.
    • Heck, throw in a decent MP3 player software and probably a PIM interface.
    • Make an IR or Bluetooth expansion card so people can create ad-hoc gaming circles (great for travellers).
    • Optional attachable keyboard would be nice.

    I think the biggest flaw of this product is that they decided not to follow through on a promising idea. It's a portable mini PC tuned for gaming, for chrissakes! Gadgeteers would love that thing if it only allowed them to tinker with it!
    • Almost no access to the system itself, one of the most paranoid and user unfriendly content protection mechanisms I ever heard of
      Huh? It's got two USB2 ports. CD/DVD drive in one, keyboard with daisy-chained mouse in the other. Plug it into a nice TV and you can do whatever you want -- heck, it's got wireless networking, just run VNC off a USB flash drive and setup whatever you want from the comfort of a normal PC.
  • Ow, ow, hot... *drop/crunch* damnit...

  • I admit it is only going to run low power games (being able to drop RAM in would be nice) but the stats for it are not that bad - 2 USB two ports - chain me up a keyboard,mouse and a link to the net. 20gb of storage on a x86? Yeah - I can run linux on that. If the price is right it looks to me like a fun little linux box (MAME, xmms, xine, and anything else you want) hot swappable batteries and video out?? Might be the "portable" computer (drag it everywhere - plug in as needed) that everyone hasa been talk
  • Doesn't everybody know that MoMA [] is the Museum of Modern Art?
  • > build a handheld game console based on Windows XP
    > Embedded that

    Chipmaker VIA posted an article on their website Friday claiming to be the first ever to port the full line of Microsoft Office and Server products to the handheld game console. The article mysteriously vanished and was later replaced by an article claiming the chip giant to be the first ever to port McAfee Antivirus to the handheld game console.
  • You can undock the keypad from the screen.

  • What are you all talking about? I had a Pentium II 350MHz until this summer, and I could play Warcraft III without much issue.

    Wing commander... That was from back in the Pentium-100 days wasn't it? I think you're underestimating or overstating, or doing something totally wrong, hehe.

  • ...teamed up with Ministry of Mobile Affairs...

    I wonder if the Ministry of Silly Walks is under the supervision of the Ministry of Mobile Affairs.

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