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 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,27 2006 - tech 
Don't Get Stampeded By The 7.1 Parade - tech
(hx) 06:23 AM EST - Feb,27 2006 - Post a comment
Home Theater expert Mark Fleischmann explains why you should not fall for the 7.1 hype and why 5.1 surround sound is adequate for most homes. Here's an excerpt:
In film exhibition, 6.1- and 7.1-channel systems make sense. At home, however, 5.1 channels are quite enough. It's easy to generate a solid soundfield in a small space with three speakers in front and two on the rear of the side walls. To me it's self-evidently nonsensical to have four surround speakers outnumbering the three in front.

Your family's attention is riveted on the screen and that's where a home surround system should deliver most of its firepower. Adding more channels gives your surround receiver more work to do. That's never a good thing. Despite the "100 watts per channel" specs you see in spec sheets, the majority of surround receivers measure at more like 35.

So when an action-movie soundtrack swells up, it drives the receiver into clipping. This might sound like a slight deflating of dynamics. Or the sound may get harsher as it gets louder. In the worst-case scenario, the receiver overheats and shuts down. If you don't like what you hear when you turn up the volume, clipping is what you're hearing.

There are two ways to minimize clipping. One is to dump your receiver for separate components-a multi-channel power amp and a surround preamp-processor. This will cost you more money and make your system bulkier and more complex. The alternative is buy speakers with a high sensitivity rating, measured in decibels (dB), say in the low to mid nineties. Unfortunately they're not always the best-sounding ones. (Klipsch is one of the rare exceptions.)
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,26 2006 - tech
Sunday Tech Madness-Microsoft's Origami info - tech
(hx) 05:16 PM EST - Feb,26 2006 - Post a comment / read (3)
Microsoft's Origami Project

SECURITY...

  • Kaspersky AV Update Troubles Microsoft Users - Kaspersky Labs and Microsoft have recovered from an error that caused significant email troubles for some users of Microsoft's Antigen email security software.
  • WinACE RAR and TAR Directory Traversal Vulnerability - The vulnerability is caused due to an input validation error when extracting files compressed with RAR (.rar) or TAR (.tar). This makes it possible to have files extracted to arbitrary locations outside the specified directory using the "../" directory traversal sequence. The vulnerability has been confirmed in version 2.6. Other versions may also be affected.

CRIME/LAW...

  • MPAA targets Usenet - files lawsuit against news servers - The Motion Picture Association of America has found a new target in its war against piracy: search engines providing links to copyrighted material. Although they distribute no files themselves, such sites are a critical piece of the infrastructure that enables movie piracy, the MPAA says. Lawsuits were filed Thursday against: BinNews.com, Torrentspy.com, IsoHunt, BTHub.com, TorrentBox.com, NiteShadow.com, Ed2k-It.com, NZB-Zone.com, and DVDRs.net. The suits mark the first time the MPAA has gone after Usenet, which has largely been spared in the crackdown on illicit file sharing.
  • Met Police clamps down on movie pirates - The Metropolitan Police has joined forces with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) to target organised criminal networks involved in the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit films.

OFF-TOPIC

TECHNOLOGY...

  • Microsoft's Origami Project - Origami looks to be small (approx 7"), Tablet PC style device. A marketing company has a promo video for it online - see it here (click work, then 'brandtheatre', then Microsoft Origami). From the video, it would appear that these devices can play back music, connect to WiFi networks (and possibly Bluetooth devices), and has enough power to handle graphics work and games.
  • ATI Preps First HDMI-HDCP Video Card - As you would expect, the card itself is PCI Express based and comes in a surprisingly low profile design which should appeal to those with SFF cases or heavily packed out systems
  • Video sites blamed for web-traffic crisis - CNET News have published an article documenting how the recent explosion in online video sites has experts worried and searching for more efficient technology to deliver the goods.

HARDWARE... 

GUIDES...

  • Mounting Socket 462 Coolers Onto Socket 939 Motherboards Guide - Thermalright actually modified the SI-97 slightly to make it compatible with Socket 939 motherboards. The result was a new Socket 939-compatible model called SI-97A.
  • Taking the SLI Plunge - Part 2 - check it out
  • A Beginner's Guide to Air Cooling Your Smokin Hot Computer - The most common method of keeping a computer cool is to use a combination of fans, heat sinks and a little bit of chemistry to move the hot air out of your computer and into the surrounding air, replacing it with cool, friendly air.
  • How To Replace A Broken Laptop or Notebook Display - The old lamp base somehow broke and gave way, Murphy's Law took over, and the sharp edge of the metal lampshade found its way into the top surface of my notebook display. After that, the LCD was basically unusable. The edges of the sickle-shaped gouge in the anti-reflective film glimmered with rainbows, and markedly curbed my enthusiasm for using the unit.
  • How to Build a WiMAX Network - The TechZone show you how to build one.
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot Security Tips - The best defense is to implement some simple security practices and measures that will safeguard your business and personal information
  • Keyboard Cleaning Guide - In this guide I will show you how to thoroughly clean you keyboard with some simple household items.
  • How to Buy a Cheap Laptop Computer - When planning to buy a cheap laptop computer, you need to consider factors that go well beyond performance and memory. You need to consider many factors like size, weight, screen dimensions, battery life, keyboard quality, built-in memory, and also certain other options like wireless connectivity.
  • Why You Should Not Attempt a "Do It Yourself" Data Recovery - They are some common techniques that can cause permanent data loss.
  • How Safe Is Safe - The only definite way of safeguarding against the many different kinds of threats is to have a copy of the valuable information and keep it away from the computer, this is commonly referred to as back-up
  • Top 10 reasons you should (not) buy a music phone - Want a new music phone but can't explain your significant other (or financial advisor) just why you deserve one? Fret not; infoSync World is here to help clear things up a little.
  • Office 2007 FAQ - My Microsoft Office 2007 FAQ is now available with information about the product editions, individual applications, features, and pricing

SOFTWARE...

  • AVG Free 7.1.375 Build 716 (Free Anti-Virus) - AVG Free for Windows is a free anti-virus protection tool developed by Grisoft for home use. We invite you to join the millions of satisfied customers worldwide who have downloaded the software and now enjoy the benefits of AVG Free for Windows.
  • AnyDVD 5.9.4.1 - AnyDVD can be used to remove the various copy protections on audio Cd's and DVDs, CloneDVD is able to compress movies to fit them on a DVD recordable and CloneCD is able to bypass copy protections on e.g. game Cd's. This new version Adds support for a new version of the Sony Arccos protection as found on "A Killer Within" R2 (German) to the option to remove "Protection based on unreadable Sectors.
  • ImgBurn 1.2.0.0 - ImgBurn is a free tool that enables you to burn CD/DVD images with ease.
  • DiskInternals CD and DVD Recovery 2.0 - DiskInternals CD and DVD Recovery, as the name implies is a software solution capable of recovering data from CDs and DVDs, including multi-session ones. CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVR+R, DVD-RW, DVR+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL and DVD-RAM disks are supported. (free alternative can be found here)
  • Real Alternative 1.47  - Real Alternative will allow you to play RealMedia files without having to install RealPlayer or RealOne Player from Real Networks. Supported are: RealAudio (.ra .rpm), RealMedia (.rm .ram .rmvb .rpx .smi .smil), RealText (.rt) and ReadPix (.rp). It also supports RealMedia content that is embedded in webpages.
  • SyncBack Freeware 3.2.10 - SyncBack (download) is our freeware program that helps you easily backup and synchronise your files to: the same drive; a different drive or medium (CDRW, CompactFlash, etc); an FTP server; a Network; or a Zip archive.
  • Opera 8.52 -download
  • Winamp 5.2 Build 473 (2/23/06) - Nullsoft Winamp (download full / lite) is a fast, flexible, high-fidelity media player for Windows. Winamp supports playback of many audio (MP3, OGG, AAC, WAV, MOD, XM, S3M, IT, MIDI, etc) and video types (AVI,ASF,MPEG,NSV).
  • WinDVD Platinum 7.0.B27.172 - WinDVD Platinum 7 is the ultimate DVD software player, providing you with the finest quality video and audio playback.
  • Google Toolbar 3.0.131.1 - The Google Toolbar (download Win2k/XP / Win9x/ME) increases your ability to find information from anywhere on the web and takes only seconds to install.
  • x264 Video Codec r440 - x264 is a free library for encoding H264/AVC video streams
  • Drivercleaner PLATINUM - Driver Cleaner Platinum Editon is a program which helps you to remove parts of drivers that are left after uninstalling the old drivers. The program is for ATI, nVidia, Creative, Realtek, SIS, 3Dfx, S3 and more drivers.
  • ForceWare 83.50 Win2000/XP (Unofficial) - This is an unofficial driver, use it at your own risk.
  • Nvidia Driver Beta 87.15 Drivers for Vista - No word on whether this version includes a control panel or even the new updated Nvidia control panel. Download: Windows Vista Beta Drivers x86 - 87.15 / Windows Vista Beta Drivers x64 - 87.15.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,24 2006 - tech
Enzyme Computer Could Live Inside You - tech
(hx) 01:27 PM EST - Feb,24 2006 - Post a comment
New Scientist reports the creation of an enzyme-based computer that performs AND and XOR calculations, and combinations of the two, based on the presence or absence of specific chemicals:
The team built their computer using two enzymes - glucose dehydrogenase (GDH) and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) - to trigger two interconnected chemical reactions. Two chemical components - hydrogen peroxide and glucose - were used to represent input values (A and B). The presence of each chemical corresponded to a binary 1, while the absence represented a binary 0. The chemical result of the enzyme-powered reaction was determined optically.

The enzyme computer was used to perform two fundamental logic computations known as AND (where A and B must both equal one) and XOR (where A and B must have different values). The addition of two further enzymes - glucose oxidase and catalase - connected the two logical operations, making it possible to add together binary digits using the logic functions.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,23 2006 - tech
ATI Radeon X1900 XT vs XTX - What's in $100? - tech
(hx) 11:19 AM EST - Feb,23 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
EliteBastards have an interesting article that reveals how much performance you gain with a Radeon X1900 XTX over an X1900 XT part.
At the end of the day, the numbers speak for themselves - Although how much money an additional boost in framerate is worth is a subjective thing, I really can't imagine that anybody will truly be willing to part with as much as an extra $100 to benefit from only a couple of extra frames per second across the board. Factor in the lack of speed binning of R580 cores and the use of the same memory modules on both X1900 XT and XTX parts, and you really have very little reason to go for an XTX at all. This becomes even more so the case if you don't have a problem with grabbing some software (or simply using ATI's own OVERDRIVE facility) to overclock to XTX speeds, which should be possible in the vast majority of, if not all, cases.

All in all, it feels rather strange that ATI have decided to release two SKUs based around R580 in this fashion at all - It almost seems as though the decision was made before yields of the core were known, and these two parts were subsequently shoehorned into their respective positions even though there was little technical need to do so. Of course, high-end graphics boards mean high margins for both ATI and their AIB partners, but to my mind that still doesn't excuse the feeling that buyers of the Radeon X1900 XTX are being somewhat ripped off, while those who are perhaps more technically astute (or at least better read on their potential video card purchases) are coming away with a much better side of the deal.

So, the advice from us is really quite simple here while prices stand as they currently do - Unless bragging rights are your greatest concern, forget about picking up the Radeon X1900 XTX, and find yourself a Radeon X1900 XT-based part instead. It'll give you just as many gaming thrills and spills as its more expensive brother, and leave you a hefty chunk of change to enjoy on whatever else you please
AMD's Opteron 165 and 180 processors - tech
(hx) 04:30 AM EST - Feb,23 2006 - Post a comment
TechReport take a look at the AMD's Opteron 165 and 180 processors:
Fortunately, characterizing the performance of these two CPUs is fairly easy, thanks to a startling amount of consistency in terms of relative performance across a range of benchmarks. The Opteron 180 performs exactly like an Athlon 64 X2 4800+, which is to say, exceptionally well. This thing outruns the Pentium D 950-ostensibly its most direct competitor from Intel-virtually across the board. The Opteron 180 also outperforms the more expensive Pentium Extreme Edition 955 in the lion's share of our benchmark suite. For high-end, single-socket workstations, the Opteron 180 is as good as it gets right now. Only the Athlon 64 FX-60 is faster, but that chip is targeted at gaming PCs rather than workstations.

The performance picture for the Opteron 165 is more complex. More often than not, the 165 scores higher in the benchmarks than its closest real competitor, the Pentium D 930, but the Opteron 165 doesn't have nearly the dominance that the Opteron 180 does. Although AMD's K8 architecture delivers quite a bit of performance per clock, the Opteron 165's 1.8GHz clock speed is low enough to keep it from really exploiting that architectural advantage. The 165's relatively low memory bandwidth and high memory access latencies in our synthetic memory tests compared to the other K8 chips we tested are testaments to that fact. I would recommend stepping up to a higher clock speed if possible. At 2GHz, the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ looks like a better option for those building their own systems, at least if we're talking about running at stock speeds.
IBM To Release Cell Compiler - tech
(hx) 04:29 AM EST - Feb,23 2006 - Post a comment
It isn't easy to write code for Cell, with its central processing core and eight accompanying special-purpose engines. Octopiler, which IBM Research plans to outline at a tutorial next month, aims to change all that. The software development tool converts a single, human-written program into several different programs that run simultaneously on Cell's various cores.
Octopiler has more work to do than most compilers. For one thing, it must create instructions in a different language for the eight SPEs than for the PowerPC core. For another, it must divvy up software among the nine cores and govern how those programs communicate and share memory.

And it has to scrutinize source code for the specific "single instruction, multiple data" tasks that SPEs can perform. Those tasks economize chip operations by performing the same operation on multiple data elements in one fell swoop.
The article is a bit unclear and really doesn't say too much, but it will be interesting to see how well it works.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,22 2006 - tech
NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT and 7900GT Info - tech
(hx) 04:41 AM EST - Feb,22 2006 - Post a comment / read (6)
Dual DVI support and SLI capable
Daily Tech has the scoop of two new NVIDIA parts, the 7600GT and 7900GT. Both cards target very different segments of the market and should be worthy successors to cards like the 6600GT and 7800GT respectively. NVIDIA's newest GPU, dubbed G71, will debut at CeBit 2006 in Hannover in a few weeks.
NVIDIA's new 7900GT is expected to use new Samsung GDDR3 memory that's reported to be operating at 1.4ns but frequencies are unconfirmed at this point. In contrast, ATI's X1800XT uses GDDR3 memory with a 1.2ns time running at 1400MHz. NVIDIA's 7800GTX 512 uses memory running at an effective rate of 1.7GHz.

Quick specifications for GeForce 7900GT from NVIDIA documents:
- PCIe native
- 450MHz core frequency
- 256-bit memory interface
- 40GB/sec. memory bandwidth
- 11B pixels/sec. fill rate
- ~900M vertices/sec.
- 24 pixels per cycle
- Built in dual-link DVI support for 2560x1600 resolution
Quick specifications for GeForce 7600GT from NVIDIA documents:
- PCIe native
- 560MHz core frequency
- 128-bit memory interface
- 20.2GB/sec. memory bandwidth
- 7B pixels/sec. fill rate
- 730M vertices/sec.
- 12 pixels per cycle
- Built in dual-link DVI support for 2560x1600 resolution
Logitec Japan to launch first 12x DVD-RAM Burner - tech
(hx) 04:25 AM EST - Feb,22 2006 - Post a comment
Japanese Logitech announced its first external optical drive in Japan that burns DVD-RAM at 12x, DVD+ or -DL at 8x and DVD+R/-R at 16x:
The external DVD-RAM is powered by the Panasonic technology. Logitec plans to release two versions of the drive. The LDR-MA16FU2/WM will come with a dual USB 2.0 and FireWire interface, offering compatibility with both Windows and Mac OS X users. The USB 2.0 version of the drive, called LDR-MA16U2, will be also available in the Japanese market at the same time, by the end of March. The drives will cost 16,380 Yen ($139) and 14,175 yen ($121) respectively, according to Logitech.

Basic specifications of both drives include 12x recording for DVD-RAM (Class 1, DVD-RAM Ver.2.2 media only, read more here), 8x for DVD+R/-R DL, 16x for DVD+R/-R, 8x for DVD+RW, 6x for DVD-RW and 48x/32x for CD-R and CD-RW media. Of course, the drive is able to read DVD-RAM Ver.2.2/2.1/2.0 media too (5x and 3x). For increased compatibility with DVD players, the drives suport the Booktype setting for DVD+R media.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,21 2006 - tech
SOHO Voice over IP Telephone Roundup - tech
(hx) 01:52 PM EST - Feb,21 2006 - Post a comment
TrustedReview take a look at 4 Voice over IP Telephones - the Polycom SoundPoint IP300, the Sipura SPA-841, the Grandstream GXP-2000 and the Aastra 9133i. Here's a taster:
The IP300 supports two VoIP accounts as standard, with SIP or MGCP protocols (not both) being your only options. That means no support for other protocols such as SCCP (Cisco "Skinny"), H.323 or IAX either. This won't be a major problem unless you're running either an old or a proprietary system that doesn't support SIP or MGCP and you can't upgrade. SIP is pretty much the industry standard these days, and just about everyone bar Cisco uses it as standard and even its phones can be upgraded to support SIP.

Once the IP300 is on the network, either using DHCP or by manually entering the IP address details directly into the phone by the keypad, you can then enter the phone's IP address into a web browser and configure it there.

One of the first things I had to do was upgrade the phone to the latest release of the Polycom firmware. This requires you to place the firmware on an FTP or TFTP server, and supply these details via the web interface. As annoying as this might initially seem, in that same FTP or TFTP space, you can put a series of XML files named after each phone's MAC address, where you store SIP account details and a couple of generic files where you can store global variables that are common to all phones. Every time the phone is powered up, the phone looks at this storage space and checks to see if there's a new revision of the firmware – and downloads it if there is one.

Despite the use of a non-standard cable (that Polycom can supply), the phone supports both the Cisco standard for Power-over-Ethernet (POE) and the industry standard 802.3af. The phone also supports Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP), so a Cisco POE (or compatible) switch/router can see each and every phone using this protocol, for ease of management.
HD DVD/Blu-ray launched with unfinished AACS - tech
(hx) 02:18 AM EST - Feb,21 2006 - Post a comment
Heise Online reports that manufacturers of drives for HD DVD and Blu-ray discs still plan on a March launch date. This is even though the AACS copy protection is incomplete. The first devices will have an interim license according to Blu-ray manufacturers. These licenses will allow the drives to be upgraded with the necessary AACS keys before the specification is finished.
Hollywood movie studios are insisting that AACS be included in all drives. Without AACS, it will not be possible to play high-resolution movies at all. A Mandatory Managed Copy (MMC) can, however, be made. Only if the holder of the copyright gives explicit consent may a limited number of copies of the original disc be created; the movie may also not be streamed via a Media Center or to mobile devices without express consent. An online connection is required to check for rights to make a permitted copy. The holder of the copyright may, however, completely rule out copies or demand a fee. AACS can renew device keys, thereby blocking manipulated drives.

Toshiba plans to ship the first HD DVD players in the US as early as March. The HD-A1 will cost 500 USD; the XD-XA1, 800 USD. Toshiba pointed out that the devices will not initially support all of the interactive features of HD DVD, but they will be added later via firmware update. Both players have an Ethernet interface for online functions. Toshiba will be sending a marketing team to 40 cities in the US to make the players better known.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,20 2006 - tech
Devolo MicroLink dLAN Highspeed Starter Kit - tech
(hx) 05:15 PM EST - Feb,20 2006 - Post a comment
Trusted reviews take a look at the Devolo MicroLink dLAN Highspeed Starter Kit. This is the second generation of the dLAN kit, rated at a theoretical 85Mbit/sec which is a major improvement over the 14Mbit/sec previous generation products. This means performance should lie somewhere in between that of a 54Mbit/sec wireless solution and a 100Mbit/sec LAN. Experience dictates there is often a large difference between theory and practice though:
Finally, we took the dLAN modules. One notebook was wired directly to the switch. We then took a cable from the switch to the dLAN module and plugged it in to the nearest mains socket. Our notebook was then plugged into another electrical outlet. Transfer was 3.75MB/sec which equates to 30Mbit/sec. This is still a fairly good result and near to that of close range wireless, but no where near the stated 85Mbit/sec. When compared to wireless at a distance (which is more than likely the way most users will implement it) that this solution really shines. The loss in speed is no where near as drastic over the power lines and you don’t have the other associated issues with wireless networks.

Performance is a little lower than we would have expected and is certainly not out to replace traditional cabling, but the Devolo MicroLink dLAN does offer the same reliability of transfer. There are also no issues of reception and it can in theory travel up to 200m, which is pretty much any power outlet in your house. Add to this the fact that you're not going to have to muck about with MAC address filtering, hiding your SSID or go through the trials and tribulations of WEP and WPA keys, and it's clear that this will be an attractive proposition for the non-techie home user.
Leadtek WinFast Walkie TV - tech
(hx) 10:40 AM EST - Feb,20 2006 - Post a comment
Bjorn3D take a look at Leadtek WinFast Walkie TV:
Leadtek has once again produced its usual high quality product that users have come to expect. There are, however, several small things worth mentioning that I feel would have helped make the Walkie TV capture system even better. As I stated earlier in the review, the inclusion of the MPEG 4 codec would have greatly enhanced the program's worth. There are also a number of other capture formats that might bear strong consideration for inclusion in future iterations of this product.

I had difficulty finding this product at any of the major retailers in the US. I did find it at a Canadian retailer, Logic Computer House for a price of $145.99 CAD which would convert to approximately $125.00 USD. As feature-laden as this product is, I still find that price to be a bit steep.

I only highlighted my favorites amongst the vast array of features provided in the WinFast Walkie TV. There are numerous others that had I elaborated on would have made this review way too long to hold your interest. I should also note for the record that I'm sure my screen captures do not do the product product image true justice as my cable system still requires analog conversion to digital. True digital cable would have probably presented an even better representative sample. Leadtek also claims this device has the fastest channel surfing available; I found no evidence to the contrary to contradict this claim.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,19 2006 - tech
Sunday Tech Madness-Total Commander v6.54a - tech
(hx) 11:31 AM EST - Feb,19 2006 - Post a comment / read (4)

SECURITY... 

  • Hackers follow Microsoft patches with malware -  Hackers have released software that could be used to take over Windows PCs that lack the latest Microsoft security patches. But while this code is dangerous, security experts said today that it had yet to be used by attackers in any widespread way. The attack code exploits two separate bugs (explot 1 / exploit 2) in Windows Media Player, which were addressed in Microsoft's MS06-005 and MS06-006 advisories released Tuesday.
  • Second OS X virus exploits Bluetooth flaw - Security experts have reported a new OS X proof of concept virus that spreads using a known vulnerability in the way that the operating system handles Bluetooth wireless communications. F-Secure referred to the worm as OSX/Inqtana, and emphasized that it is only a proof of concept worm and is unlikely to cause any actual harm.
  • Microsoft could be teaching police to hack Vista - Microsoft may begin training the police in ways to break the encryption built into its forthcoming client PC operating system Vista.

CRIME/LAW...

  • Google to feds: Back off - Google lashed out at the U.S. Justice Department on Friday, saying that a high-profile request for a list of a week's worth of search terms must not be granted because it would disclose trade secrets and violate the privacy rights of its users.
  • Homeland security urges DRM rootkit ban - US government officials took Sony BMG to task over its controversial use of rootkit-style copy protection at a security conference this week
  • RIAA Claims Copying CDs to iPods is Unlawful - US record-label body the RIAA and movie-industry moguls at the MPAA are attempting to argue that copying a CD to a computer for carrying on an iPod does not, and has never, constituted fair use.

OFF-TOPIC

  • Cameron Confirms Project 880 is Next - Titanic director James Cameron confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that he will first make the secretive Project 880 before moving on to Battle Angel, based on Yukito Kishiro's Japanese graphic novels. "We've moved 'Project 880' into first position," Cameron said. "It's as classified as the Manhattan Project." Many believe it is actually a version of Avatar, the director's oft-rumored love story set against interplanetary war.
  • Mathematical proofs getting harder to verify - A mathematical proof is irrefutably true, a manifestation of pure logic. But an increasing number of mathematical proofs are now impossible to verify with absolute certainty, according to experts in the field. "I think that we're now inescapably in an age where the large statements of mathematics are so complex that we may never know for sure whether they're true or false," says Keith Devlin of Stanford University in California, US. "That puts us in the same boat as all the other scientists."
  • Looking for other Earths? Here's a list - An astronomer involved in a NASA mission to look for Earthlike planets beyond our solar system has winnowed through thousands of stars to come up with a top-10 list that includes some of the favorite haunts for science-fiction aliens.

TECHNOLOGY...

  • Intel strikes back with next-generation chips - Intel expects its forthcoming Conroe and Merom chips to deliver a performance advantage of at least 20 percent over chips from AMD that are slated to be released at the same time, an Intel executive said Friday.
  • AMD AM2.. What We Know So Far - There has not been that much info released about the AM2 yet, but there is enough to cover. Will this be a CPU that we should wait for before building another system? Let's take a look at what we know so far and see. Another interesting article can be found on X-bit Labs.
  • Seagate Announces 12GB Micro Hard Disk - Seagate has announced a new 1-inch 12GB hard disk that is substantially smaller and faster than its current top of the line 8GB model. The ST1.3 series 12GB disk is 23 percent smaller, has a 50 percent greater capacity, and consumes 30 percent less power than its predecessor. The disk is designed for use in mobile phones and portable media devices.
  • DRM Based on Trusted Computing Chips - According to Information Week, Lenovo has demonstrated a Thinkpad with built-in Microsoft and Adobe DRM that uses a Trusted Computing chip with a fingerprint sensor
  • Microsoft confirms USB bug that drains laptop batteries - An unfixed bug in the USB driver of Windows XP Service Pack 2 causes a notebook's battery to drain faster than usual when there is a device connected to its USB port, Microsoft Corp. confirmed today.  In a statement through its public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom Inc., Microsoft also admitted that the flaw, which lies in the ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) driver of Windows XP SP 2, will remain without an easy-to-apply fix indefinitely.
  • Apple Embeds Message to OS X Hackers - Apple has confirmed it embedded a message in the form of a poem to those who would hack its version of OS X on Intel hardware. "The embedded poem reads: 'Your karma check for today: There once was a user that whined/his existing OS was so blind/he'd do better to pirate/an OS that ran great/but found his hardware declined./Please don't steal Mac OS!/Really, that's way uncool./(C) Apple Computer, Inc.'Apple also put in a separate hidden message, 'Don't Steal Mac OS X.kext,' in another spot for would-be hackers."
  • PlayStation 3 Delayed, Over $800? - Cnet is reporting that a research report issued by Merrill Lynch suggests that the Sony PlayStation 3's American release may be postponed until 2007. The official report (pdf) would also seem to indicate that the console will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 when it launches.
  • Ten Reasons to Buy Windows Vista - PCWorld.com gives us ten reasons to buy the next version of Microsoft Windows. In related news, Windows Vista Editions were revealed.
  • New motherboard, new Microsoft Windows license? - Microsoft recently made a change to the licence agreement saying that a new motherboard is equal to a new computer, hence you need to purchase a new Windows licence.

HARDWARE... 

GUIDES...

  • Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide Rev. 10.0 - Currently covering over 260 desktop graphics cards, this comprehensive comparison will allow you to easily compare 17 different specifications for each and every card!
  • Data Recovery Guide - How Hard Drives Fail - Hard drives are extremely fragile and can suffer failures in many different ways, leading to a loss of data. The five most common types of drive failures are: logical errors, mechanical failure, electronic failure, firmware corruption, and bad sectors.
  • How To Take Great Nighttime Digital Photos - This first part of this article on nighttime photography will cover tricks not necessarily related to digital camera settings, but tricks nonetheless that can result in better photographs or a more pleasing photo-taking experience.
  • The New HDMI Video Connector - Everything you need to know about the new digital audio and video HDMI connector, which will be used by DVD players, videoprojectors, HDTV sets and LCD panels.
  • Catalyst 6.2 performance guide - check it out (in German)

SOFTWARE...

  • AutoPatcher XP February 2006  - This release is based on the all-new AutoPatcher 5.1. Although it was made with Windows XP SP2 English in mind, it will load on any (English) Windows version, showing only the items which match the running environment.
  • Total Commander v6.54a Final  - Total Commander (download / changelog) is a file manager for Windows, a program like Windows Explorer to copy, move or delete files. However, Total Commander can do much more than Explorer, e.g. pack and unpack files, access ftp servers, compare files by content, etc..
  • PSPad 4.5.0 (2181) - PSPad editor (download) is freeware programmer editor, useful for people who: work with various programming environments, like highlighted syntax in code, need a small tool with simple controls and the capabilities of a mighty code editor, are looking for a tool to work with plain text and want to save money and still have the functionality of professional products.
  • DirectX 9.0c February 2006  (official download) - Microsoft DirectX (previously WinG) is a group of technologies designed to make Windows-based computers an ideal platform for running and displaying applications rich in multimedia elements such as full-color graphics, video, 3D animation and rich audio. (thanks format)
  • AVG Free 7.1.375 Build 703 (Free Anti-Virus) - AVG Free (download) for Windows is a free anti-virus protection tool developed by Grisoft for home use. We invite you to join the millions of satisfied customers worldwide who have downloaded the software and now enjoy the benefits of AVG Free for Windows.
  • avast! Virus Cleaner 1.0.209 - download
  • AIM Ad Hack 5.0 Beta 19 for AOL Triton IM Beta - With this small file you can effectively remove all the ads from AIM
    you must be using
  • Miranda IM 0.4.0.3 - Miranda IM (download) is a multi protocol instant messenger client. Miranda IM is designed to be resource efficient and easy to use.
  • Weather Watcher 5.6.6 - Weather Watcher is your personal Windows desktop weather station. Automatically retrieve the current conditions, hourly forecast, daily forecast, detailed forecast, severe weather alerts, and weather maps for over 77,000 cities world-wide.
  • Apple iTunes 6.0.3.5  - download
  • KoolMoves 5.2.2 - KoolMoves (download) is web animation software that creates Flash movies and frames for animated gifs. It is powerful yet easy to learn and easy to use.
  • DivX Web Player 1.0 Plugin - The DivX Web Player (formerly known as the DivX Browser Plug-In Beta) lets anyone embed high quality DivX videos in their web pages or blogs without using special streaming servers or installing server-side software. Video plays live inside the browser or full-screen while it downloads.
  • VEMoDe 0.12 Beta - VEMoDe (The Video Encoder for Mobile Devices) is a free program that gives you a quick and easy way to turn your videos and movies into portable videos. It will convert from many formats and includes settings for several mobile devices.
  • CloneDVD2 v2.8.8.2 - CloneDVD 2 (download / changelog) copies movies in unparalleled picture quality. If it`s only the main movie or a complete DVD – CloneDVD compresses even long footage in brilliant quality and at high speed: A special transcoding technology compresses your choice of DVD titles according to your audio and language selection automatically to a freely adjustable target size.
  • CCleaner v1.27.260 - CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history.
  • Fresh UI 7.53 - Fresh UI is a fresh solution for configuring and optimizing Windows operating system. Loaded with hundreds of useful hidden settings in Windows XP/2000/NT4/98/ 95/Me.
  • GAlert 2.5.4 - A Better GMail Notifier - GAlert (GMail/Google News Notifier) is an easy to use and high performance skinable Google notifier supports Google News, multiple GMail accounts, label filters and automatic login. It brings clean, easy and elegant look to the way people check their new message.
  • mIRC 6.17 -  Download the popular shareware IRC Chat client mIRC here. Khaled added support for displaying UTF-8 text as unicode to mIRC. mIRC can also encode outgoing text in UTF-8, based on the script/codepage you selected. Among the various other changes are a better check for timed out connections, support for passive dcc send/chat connections, resizable file dialogs, lots of SSL related improvements and various additions of "dangerous" commands to the Lock options dialog. 
  • SecureCRT 5.0.5 - SecureCRT (download / changelog) gives you an encrypted SSH session with both SSH1 and SSH2™ servers. SSH security goes far beyond the basic secure logon, rerouting data or local applications using TCP/IP ports through an encrypted channel. The VCP utility secures file transfers using SFTP.
  • 3dfx Voodoo3/4/5 - SFFT Driver Alpha 34 - It's on line the latest release (Alpha 34) of SFFT driver for 3dfx hardware and Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP Operative Systems. It comes out with two packages, one for VSA-100 cards, and so Voodoo4 4500, Voodoo5 5500 and Voodoo5 6000 are supported as well, and one for Voodoo3 family, including Voodoo3 2000, Voodoo3 3000 and Voodoo3 3500 cards.
  • NGO NVIDIA Optimized Driver 83.62 - The NGO NVIDIA Optimized Driver is a tweaked version of the NVIDIA ForceWare driver.
  • ForceWare 83.90 Win2000/XP (unofficial) - This driver supports GeForce series 6 and newer cards.
  • Realtek AC97 Driver v3.83 - Realtek released version 3.83 driver for their ALC AC97 audio chipsets. The driver supports all ALC series audio chipsets from ALC100 up to ALC850 mainly used as onboard sound on various motherboards.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,18 2006 - tech
Multifunction printers round-up - tech
(hx) 02:52 PM EST - Feb,18 2006 - Post a comment
THG tested five middle-of-the-range multifunctuion printers from five of the biggest manufacturers - Canon Pixma MP500, Dell AIO 944 Photo, Epson Stylus Photo RX700, HP Photosmart 3210 and Lexmark P6350. Here's a slice:
After having subjected these five multifunction printers to our rigorous tests, our overall impression of them is rather good. The exception is the Dell, which is a bit disappointing, notably because of the mediocre quality of its prints and its high cost of use. Each model has points in its favor, but two of them stand out. The first is the Photosmart 3210 from HP; thanks to its use of separate ink cartridges, and the great progress made by the leader in this market in speed and print costs, it comes up with top marks. The second is the Pixma MP500 from Canon, which benefits from the excellent ink quality of its manufacturer. Both also provide features not normally seen on printers in this market sector, including LCD screens and memory card slots.
GeForce 7900 Series Specs - tech
(hx) 03:29 AM EST - Feb,18 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
VR-Zone has posted some specs for the upcoming 90nm G71 series already. There will be two models as we have revealed before; the GeForce 7900 GTX and GeForce 7900 GT. GeForce 7900 GTX will be clocked at 650MHz core / 1.6GHz memory and has 512MB GDDR3 1.1ns memories onboard while GeForce 7900 GT will be clocked at 450MHz core / 1.32GHz memory with 256MB GDDR3 1.4ns memories.
GeForce 7900 GTX will be clocked at 650MHz core / 1.6GHz memory and has 512MB GDDR3 1.1ns memories onboard while GeForce 7900 GT will be clocked at 450MHz core / 1.32GHz memory with 256MB GDDR3 1.4ns memories. We have also heard that GeForce 7900 GTX will win Radeon X1900 XTX in most benchmarks so we shall eagerly wait for the launch on March 9th at CeBIT.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,16 2006 - tech
F-Secure confirms rootkit-like copy protection - tech
(hx) 06:06 PM EST - Feb,16 2006 - Post a comment
The German DVD of Hollywood blockbuster Mr and Mrs Smith, released on 24 January, contains copy-protection software called Alpha-DVD, according to Heise Online, which first reported the issue. The disc will not play on Windows PCs unless the software is installed. Alpha-DVD contains user-mode rootkit-like features that hide its own process, according to F-Secure. (thanks TechWorld)
The Settec Alpha-DISC copy protection system used on the DVD contains user-mode rootkit-like features to hide itself. The system will hide its own process, but does not appear to hide any files or registry entries. This makes the feature a bit less dangerous, as anti-virus products will still be able to scan all files on the disk. However, as we note in our article on rootkits, it's not that uncommon for real malware to only hide their processes.

Our message to software companies producing any software (not just copy protection products) is clear. You should always avoid hiding anything from the user, especially the administrator. It rarely serves the needs of the user, and in many cases it's very easy to create a security vulnerability this way.

If you suspect you have this copy protection system installed on your computer and you wish to remove it, the manufacturer is providing an uninstaller.
Will Apple Adopt Windows? - tech
(hx) 05:59 PM EST - Feb,16 2006 - Post a comment / read (7)
PC Mags writer John C. Dvorak discusses the idea that Apple may dump OS X and 'switch' to running Windows in a recent column:
The idea that Apple would ditch its own OS for Microsoft Windows came to me from Yakov Epstein, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University, who wrote to me convinced that the process had already begun. I was amused, but after mulling over various coincidences, I'm convinced he may be right. This would be the most phenomenal turnabout in the history of desktop computing.

Epstein made four observations. The first was that the Apple Switch ad campaign was over, and nobody switched. The second was that the iPod lost its FireWire connector because the PC world was the new target audience. Also, although the iPod was designed to get people to move to the Mac, this didn't happen. And, of course, that Apple had switched to the Intel microprocessor.
Saitek A-250 Wireless 2.1 Speaker System - tech
(hx) 05:47 PM EST - Feb,16 2006 - Post a comment
BigBruin take a look at the new A-250 Wireless 2.1 Speaker System from Saitek Audio. The A-250 Wireless 2.1 Speaker System offers some unique features, with one of the most interesting being the ability to stream and control music from your computer remotely via a 2.4 GHz RF wireless connection.
I am always happy when a product performs as advertised, and the A-250 Wireless 2.1 Speaker System live up to all the claims Saitek makes. They have an attractive appearance and produce better than average sound for a portable 2.1 speaker system.

Battery life is still some what of an unknown factor at this point. I estimate I have approximately 20-22 hours of use on a set of Kirkland brand AA batteries and to this point they show no signs of running out of juice. Whether they will die suddenly or fade away remains to be seen. All of the claims Saitek has made have been lived up to, and I suspect they will meet or exceed the published duration of 24 hours.

Pros:
- Wireless portability
- Ability to control music stream remotely
- Can connect to many music sources and be powered by A/C adaptor or battery power
- Better than average sound quality

Cons:
- Can not control music stream when powering speakers thru A/C adaptor
- Possible dead spots within reception range
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,15 2006 - tech
Microsoft Security Updates: February 2006 - tech
(hx) 03:46 PM EST - Feb,15 2006 - Post a comment / read (7)
As promised last week, Microsoft has released their security patch builletin for the month of February. As usual all required patches for your PC can be found on Microsoft Update
  • MS06-004: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (910620) [Critical] - A vulnerability exists in the Graphics Rendering Engine that could allow remote code execution.
  • MS06-005: Vulnerability in Windows Media Player Could Allow Remote Code Execution (911565) [Critical] - A vulnerability exists in the way that Windows Media Player processes certain files that could allow remote code execution.
  • MS06-006: Vulnerability in Windows Media Player Plug-in with Non-Microsoft Internet Browsers Could Allow Remote Code Execution (911564) [Important] - A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the Windows Media Player plug-in for non-Microsoft Internet browsers that can allow remote code execution.
  • MS06-007: Vulnerability in TCP/IP Could Allow Denial of Service (913446) [Important] - A vulnerability exists that could allow an attacker to send a specially crafted IGMP that could cause an affected system to stop responding. (Ed.note: if you have issues with this patch when installing it from Microsoft Update then download the patch and installing it manually)
  • MS06-008: Vulnerability in Web Client Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution (911927) [Important] - A vulnerability exists in the Windows Web Client Service that could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected system. An attacker must have valid logon credentials and be able to log on locally to exploit this vulnerability.
    MS06-009: Vulnerability in the Korean Input Method Editor Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (901190) [Important] -
    A vulnerability exists in the Windows and Office Korean Input Method Editor that could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected system. For an attack to be successful an attacker must be able to interactively log on to the affected system.
  • SavRow Launches AXEN-X1 Meganotebook - tech
    (hx) 03:16 PM EST - Feb,15 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
    SavRow informed us that they have launched the AXEN-X1 Meganotebook. This notebook has a 19" widescreen, AMD Turion64 processor and duel 7800 GTX Go modules. Here's the press release:
    The AXEN-X1's 19" WSXGA+ widescreen is one of our finest to date, operating at 1680×1050 pixel native resolution. Bring the next generations of games to heel with the graphical prowess of two 7800 GTX GPUs! Effortlessly power through even the most demanding 32 and 64bit applications with AMD's Turion64. As per SavRow's uncompromising philosophy the AXEN-X1 is a computer system a cut above the rest.

    SavRow's professional auto body, corporate branding and custom airbrush SavRoyal paint options are available for the AXEN-X1. In addition, the AXEN-X1 features SavRow's award winning 3 year silverspoon warranty and accidental damage cover, as standard. Moreover, as the AXEN-X1's component and feature set grows and develops, the same upgradeability that our clients have come to expect will be extended to AXEN owners. The AXEN-X1 is available to pre-order immediately.
    Nice, one of the few laptops I would actually consider buying if I had the money :P
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