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 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,28 2006 - tech 
ATI X1900 hits image quality snag in 3DMark06 - tech
(hx) 07:32 AM EST - Jan,28 2006 - Post a comment / read (3)
Radeon X1900 XTX
GeForce 7800 GTX 512
TechReport discovered a problem with Radeon X1900 cards in 3DMark06. They grabbed some screenshots that clearly capture the problem. First, the Firefly Forest scene on the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 looks like so. Note especially the glow of the green light on the forest floor. Now, look at the same frame as rendered by the Radeon X1900 XTX.
They also contacted ATI and they confirmed that were able to duplicate it themselves. Pixel shader programs are compiled in the graphics driver, of course, so ATI should be able to fix the problem with a driver update, and that's exactly what they expect to do.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,27 2006 - tech
The AMD-Ferrari collaboration - tech
(hx) 03:38 PM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment
The chaps over at Bit-Tech take a look at the AMD-Ferrari collaboration:
Crucial to the team's success is the Opteron processor. Why? Because so much of the car's design and engineering relies on high-powered computing systems. AMD is being used for:

- Telemetry: During every race and practice session, data from the onboard computers are sent back from the car to the pit garage. This data needs to be crunched and analysed very quickly so that the engineers can extract race-defining information. Pit stop strategies, tyre decisions and fuel loads are all based on computer simulations of the race extrapolated from telemetry data.

- Car design: The precision required to design every millimetre of the car obviously requires a high-powered CAD/CAM programme running on a meaty workstation.

- Wind tunnel: Crucial to the speed of the car is the aerodynamics of the wings and the body shape. To test this, the team uses a wind tunnel and then records how the air flows over the car. By recording the airflow, they can work out how to make the car sleeker. This data recording is called Computational Fluid Dynamics, or CFD for short.

AMD is involved in all these areas. Opteron machines populate the pit garage, and AMD's pair of technicians are always visible hunched over machines on race day. When it comes to design, Opteron-based workstations run the sophisticated software required. Wind tunnel data is analysed in a new state of the art facility built especially for the purpose, populated with a mammoth 400-node cluster of dual-core Opteron machines.

The software running in the data centre is called Fluent, which is the leader in CFD analysis. With the help of AMD, it's been written to take advantage of the extra memory allowed by the 64-bit processors that AMD has. AMD has also been able to significantly up Ferrari's computing performance over the last year. Just as many of you will have upgraded to a dual core AMD processor, merely flashing the BIOS to enable the extra functionality, Ferrari has done exactly the same thing - times 400. Because Fluent is a threaded application from the ground up, dropping in effectively another 400 processors literally doubles performance. That's a pretty cool real world application of the technology.
Itanium gets $10 billion commitment - tech
(hx) 03:28 PM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment
A group of Itanium backers, including Intel, HP, Unisys, Silicon Graphics, NEC, Fujitsu, and Hitachi, have pledged to spend $10 billion through 2010 to try to increase adoption of the Itanium processor. The companies said Thursday that they will spend the money on research and development, marketing, and work to help software companies support the high-end processor. Intel recently revealed that it will drop 32-bit emulation hardware from future Itanium processors, including upcoming dual-core Montecito chips. 32-bit apps will still be supported through software emulation. (thanks TechReport)
Asus EN7800GT Top Silent graphics card - tech
(hx) 12:36 PM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
Trusted Reviews take a look at Asus EN7800GT Top Silent graphics card. The GPU is only modestly overclocked at 420MHz, but the memory - which coincidentally happens to be 1.6ns compared to 2.0ns on most 7800GT cards - is clocked at 1.24GHz, that's 240MHz over stock speeds.
As you might already have guessed from the specifications the EN7800GT Top Silent this is a rather fast card. It might not compare to the GTX's or the latest X1900 cards, but then again neither of those are passively cooled. 131.2fps in Doom 3 at 1,024 x 768 is in itself quite impressive but the EN7800GT Top Silent scores 107.78fps in Half Life 2 and 102.8fps in Far Cry at the same resolution. Asus has definitely managed to squeeze a lot of performance out of this card.

It's only in F.E.A.R. that it doesn't manage to break the 100fps barrier, but this is an extremely demanding game. Considering that the EN7800GT Top Silent was tested using an AMD FX-57 processor and 2GB of Corsair XMS Xpert PC3500 memory, you might not hit these numbers on your PC. I doubt most people would be disappointed with the performance of the EN7800GT Top Silent regardless of their computer.
US Army to Test New Electronic Ignition Weapons - tech
(hx) 07:29 AM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment
Metal Storm Area Denial Weapon System (ADWS)
The US Army will begin thorough tests on more Metal Storm weaponry in early February. The tests will serve as demonstrations of Metal Storm's electronically ignited, high rate of fire small and heavy arms.
Metal Storm's technology revolves around the principle of using electronically ignited ammunition stacked along a barrel. The traditional magazine is replaced by rows of ammunition in the barrel that are fired in sequence. There is no delay while another projectile is chambered, so the electronic ignition can fire the next round immediately after the previous one. The extremely high rate of fire makes Metal Storm weapons likely candidates for defense against other high speed projectiles, such as mortars. The Area Denial Weapon System (featured right) may be the US Army's solution to destroying enemy mortars in the sky.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,26 2006 - tech
Torvalds: No GPL 3 for Linux - tech
(hx) 07:18 PM EST - Jan,26 2006 - Post a comment
Linus Torvalds said Wednesday that he won't convert Linux to version 3 of the General Public License, as he objects to digital rights management provisions in the proposed update. Torvalds founded the Linux project in 1991, the same year the current GPL version 2 was released, and is still its leader.
Torvalds specifically objected to one new provision in the GPL 3 draft that opposes digital rights management, which is technology that uses encryption to control the use of content and running of software. "I think it's insane to require people to make their private signing keys available, for example. I wouldn't do it," he said.
OK, so it appears Linus has decided that Linux will not be converted over to GPL v3. In my opinion, converting offers basically no major advantage anyway. GPL v2 is just as good as GPL v3 for the purposes of Linux. There doesn't seem to be any kind of compelling advantage... What's your opinion?
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,25 2006 - tech
Nightly Reading - New Audigy Drivers - tech
(hx) 09:45 PM EST - Jan,25 2006 - Post a comment

SECURITY...

  • Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for January 2006 (Updated) - Microsoft has updated the Security Bulletin Summary for January 2006.
  • Netscape 8.1 takes aim at spyware - Netscape 8.1 offers (download) built-in spyware and adware protection that scans files that Web users try to download as well as those that are sent to them without their interaction. The updated browser will also let consumers run complete memory and disk scans. Other security features include an updated blacklist of potential phishing sites and a security center people can access to see if they need to take action on their computer.
  • Zone Labs says its firewall is no spy - Zone Labs claims the communications detected by Infoworld boffin James Borck between its Zone Alarm Firewall and a bunch of remote servers are benign.
  • Cisco Aironet Wireless Access Points DoS  - A vulnerability has been identified in Cisco Aironet Wireless Access Points (AP) running IOS, which may be exploited by remote attackers to cause a denial of service. This flaw is due to an error in the management interface that does not properly handle spoofed ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) messages, which could be exploited by an attacker who has successfully associated with a vulnerable device to exhaust all available memory resources and cause a denial of service.
  • Editing tips from the NSA - The 13-page paper (PDF) is called: "Redacting with confidence: How to safely publish sanitized reports converted from Word to PDF."

CRIME/LAW...

  • Major Piracy Bust Against Top Providers - At approximately 10 AM yesterday, local police in a wide spread coordinated effort raided over 300 homes and offices associated with top warez providers. The raids took place in Germany, Austria, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic. According to GVU (translated to German Federation Against Copyright Theft), over 30 individuals were arrested in the raids.
  • 'Rent-a-Zombie' Ringleader Pleads Guilty - A man who leased networks of infected computers to criminals to carry out denial of service and spam attacks has pleaded guilty and could receive six years in jail. Twenty-year old Jeanson James Ancheta of California faces felony charges after making $61,000 from renting the infected machines and infecting US military computer systems. After his sentencing on May 1st he stands to lose his BMW and more than $58,000 in addition to jail time.
  • MPAA is accused of piracy for unauthorised copying of a movie - The Motion Picture Assn. of America, the leader in the global fight against movie piracy, is being accused of unlawfully making a bootleg copy of a documentary that takes a critical look at the MPAA's film ratings system.
  • US Tops Spam List - Q4 of 2005, the US was the source of 24.5 percent of reported spam, with China coming in second at 22.3 percent. While still coming in third, South Korea's spam output dropped dramatically, down to 9.7.
  • Google launches censored China site - Google Inc. launched a search engine in China on Wednesday that censors material about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing - defending the move as a trade-off granting Chinese greater access to other information.

OFF-TOPIC

  • Eye Scan Technology Comes to Schools - Parents who want to pick up their kids at school in one New Jersey district now can submit to iris scans, as the technology that helps keep our nation's airports and hotels safe begins to make its way further into American lives.
  • Scientists Discover World's Smallest Fish  - Yahoo news is reporting that scientists have found the world's smallest fish in Thailand. It wins the prize by 0.1 mm, being 7.9 mm in length.
  • Scientists solve puzzle of flu virus replication - Scientists have solved the genetic puzzle of how influenza A viruses--including the H5N1 bird flu--replicate inside cells, which could help to speed up the development of new drugs to avert a pandemic.
  • New Gravity Theory Dispenses with Dark Matter - According to New Scientist, a theory of modified gravity, which has no need of dark matter, has just explained why the Pioneer 10 probe is 400,000 miles off its expected course as it leaves the solar system. It sounds pretty convincing, although in dispensing with dark matter, they've had to utilize the theoretical particle, called a graviton, which appears from the vacuum of space wherever stars are densely packed, making gravity stronger. (thanks Slashdot.org)
  • Microsoft bans best Xbox 360 Video ad ever - Heard about the Xbox 360 advertisement that Microsoft is refusing to air?

TECHNOLOGY...

  • Microsoft: "Xbox Support to Continue Through 2006" - Rumours circulating the Internet suggesting that Microsoft has ceased manufacturing of its Xbox console and shifted its focus entirely towards its next-generation machine have been dismissed by the company.
  • Disney Acquires Pixar - It is official: Pixar has been sold to Disney. Steve Jobs will join the Disney board, and John Lasseter is now Disney's Chief Creative Officer.
  • Microsoft opens up Windows source code - Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith today announced that the software giant is offering to license its Windows Server source code in a bid to end its long-running antitrust battle with the European Union. The company is making this "voluntary move" in order to address all the issues raised by the European Commission.
  • Windows Vista Build 5270 impressions - We were quite surprised by the amount of disk space the installer required. It needs a minimum of 8GB+ of free disk space, which goes on to show Microsoft's capitalization of cheap storage.
  • Microsoft Office 12 will be Office 2007 - Now with Office Online Beta the name Office 2007 appears again, so we can expect to launch as Office 2007.
  • 14% of Internet Uses iTunes - According to the BBC, Statistics gathered by Nielsen NetRatings shows that traffic to Apple's iTunes Music Store grew by 241 percent in 2005.
  • Intel Says 45nm Process On Track - Intel has created test chips made using the 45nm fabrication process and expects to see processors, flash memory, and other products based on the technology available in the second half of 2007, according to director of process architecture and integration Mike Bohr.
  • Intel ships 1m 65nm dual-core chips - Intel has shipped more than one million 65nm dual-core processors, the chip giant announced today. That figure comprises all the Core Duo chips, 'Presler' Pentium D 9xx parts and the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 that have gone out to makers of notebook and desktop PCs, not to mention the products Apple's using in its latest iMac and upcoming MacBook Pro.
  • MSI ships GeForce 7300 GS - MSI has reportedly begun volume shipments of its GeForce 7300 GS graphics card. It's unclear when the cards will actually be available in North America, but they're expected to sell for around $110.
  • Nokia develops crime-buster handset - Nokia is seeking a US patent for a mobile phone feature allowing users to summon help at the touch of a button. An alarm is triggered by pushing two buttons on either side of the phone. The handset then speed dials an emergency centre while recording pictures and sounds of the surrounding events for transmission to a pre-arranged location. GPS technology integrated into the phone automatically keeps track of the victim's location.

HARDWARE... 

GUIDES...

  • Setting Up a Portable Office on a USB Drive - To do this all the things you will need are: a USB flash drive (practically any size) and a few minutes. When you get to your destination you will simply need a Windows computer, something which can be found in almost any library, office, hotel, or internet cafe any in the world.
  • Running high VDIMM & low VCORE you risk to killing your Athlon 64 CPU - check it out

SOFTWARE...

  • The Netscape Browser 8.1 - download
  • Damn Small Linux 2.2 RC1 - DSL (download) is a very versatile 50MB mini desktop oriented Linux distribution.
  • Winamp 5.2 build 359 Beta - WinAmp supports playback of many audio (MP3, OGG, AAC, WAV, MOD, XM, S3M, IT, MIDI, etc) and video types (AVI,ASF,MPEG,NSV)...
  • AM-DeadLink 2.8 Beta 1 - AM-DeadLink (downloads) detects dead links and duplicates in your Browser Bookmarks. If a Bookmark has become unavailable you can verify it in the internal preview and delete it from your Browser. Additionally you can download FavIcons for all your Favorites and Bookmarks.
  • Blender 2.41 - Blender, the open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback.
  • GAIM 2.0.0 Beta 2 - Gaim (download) is a multi-protocol instant messaging client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows. It is compatible with AIM (Oscar and TOC protocols), ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and Zephyr networks
  • DC++ 0.6811 - DC++ (download) is an open source C++ client for the Direct Connect protocol. Direct Connect allows you to share files over the Internet without restrictions or limits.
  • Skype 2.0.0.76 - Skype (download) uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to connect you to other users. Not to share files, but to talk with them for free.
  • ATITool 0.25 Beta 12 - ATITool is an overclocking utility designed for ATI and Nvidia video cards
  • XTreme-G 83.20.v2 - This set started out as a Laptop driver from ASUS with International language files and has been modded into the latest XTreme-G modded Forceware driver.
  • [!] Creative Sound Blaster Audigy, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 series Driver 02.08.0004  - Creative has released new Soundblaster drivers for its family of sound cards (Audigy series). Download: Driver v.2.08.0004 for Sound Blaster Audigy, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 (34.26MB) / Creative MediaSource DVD v.2.00.75 for Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 (20.3MB)
Gigabyte's i-RAM storage device - tech
(hx) 05:28 AM EST - Jan,25 2006 - Post a comment / read (4)
Gigabyte's i-RAM storage card is no doubt one of the more innovative products that I've seen in months. With the ability to hold up to 4gb in data using up to 4 sticks of standard DDR memory, the i-RAM plugs into a standard PCI slot and uses a Serial ATA interface to transfer data!
Since it relies on volatile memory chips for storage, the i-RAM will lose data if the power is cut. Fortunately, the card can draw enough juice from a motherboard's PCI slot to keep its four DIMM slots powered, even when the system is turned off. The system does have to be plugged in and its power supply turned on, though. To allow users to unplug their systems for periods of time and to protect against data loss due to a power failure, Gigabyte also equips the i-RAM with a rechargeable lithium ion battery that packs 1600 milliamp-hours of power. The battery charges while the system is plugged in, and according to Gigabyte, it can keep four 1GB DIMMs powered for more than ten hours. Battery life will vary depending on the i-RAM's memory module configuration, though. It's probably a good thing to back up anything you actually store on the drive, just in case.

To be honest, we didn't actually expect Gigabyte to turn the i-RAM into an actual end-user product, much less make it available in North America. But they have, and at $150 online, the i-RAM is actually pretty affordable, all things considered. With the price of 1GB DDR modules is hovering around $80, it's possible to build a 4GB i-RAM drive for under $500. That's a horrific cost per gigabyte for a hard drive or RAID array, but it's pretty good for a solid-state storage device with this kind of performance.

Of course, the i-RAM isn't without limitations. Performance is undoubtedly constrained by the 150MB/s Serial ATA interface, and I shudder to think how much faster the i-RAM could be if it supported 300MB/s transfer rates. Size is an issue, as well. With only four DIMM slots and no support for 2GB modules, the i-RAM hits a capacity ceiling at 4GB. That might be enough storage for certain applications, but it leaves us wanting more. We'd gladly accept a double-wide design if it allowed for a greater number of DIMM slots and a larger overall capacity. As it stands, you'll have to rig up multiple i-RAM drives in RAID to breach the 4GB barrier.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,24 2006 - tech
ATI Radeon X1900XTX 512MB impressions - tech
(hx) 09:53 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment / read (7)
Half Life 2 is the first benchmark where we start to see huge performance increases for the X1900XTX. At the higher resolution the X1900XTX is a massive 84% quicker than the X1800XT and the X1900XTX is only just behind the dual X1800XT Crossfire configuration.
The chaps over at TweakTown have tested the most high-end card - ATI Radeon X1900XTX 512MB. The X1900XTX comes with default clock speeds of 650MHz on the core and 775MHz (1550MHz DDR) on the memory which seems to be yielding well for ATI and comes with a total of 512MB of memory. The memory used (K4J52324QC-BJ11) on the XTX version of the X1900 series is very fast (and expensive) GDDR-3 memory from Samsung at 1.1ns which operates at 2.0 volts. That means it is capable of running at 900MHz or 1800MHz DDR - which is of course, extremely fast. Here's a taster:
After a full day of testing the ATI Radeon X1900XTX graphics cards at the Gigabyte offices here in Taiwan, we are pretty happy with the performance numbers we see from ATI's newest GPU. In our benchmarks we saw increases from 13% all the way up to 84% over the previous generation X1800XT which is fairly impressive. As expected, the X1800XT Crossfire setup still manages to win every benchmark but that's because it is two GPU versus one. What we can all look forward to though is X1900XTX Crossfire which should offer some really serious performance, whenever ATI choose to release a master card version of the X1900 series.

If you've just bought a new X1800XT graphics card, should you upgrade to the newest from ATI? If you have plenty of money to spend and demand the best 3D gaming performance for your computer, then yes. Although, unless you are playing games at a resolution of 1600 x 1200 or above (with all the settings turned up), you won't start to see the performance advancements of the X1900XTX. Sure, we see the X1900XTX doing a good job of beating the X1800XT at the lower resolution but in most of the real-world game tests we don't see much of an improvement until the resolution is increased.

Sadly we couldn't compare the X1900XTX against the GeForce 7800GTX 512 but from what we can tell the new ATI GPU will be able to perform quite well against the GTX 512. The real question is, how will the X1900XTX perform against nVidia's upcoming G71 GPU which is due to be released in March of this year. And the second most important question is supply by ATI, especially at launch. ATI have been criticized over the past while for not having any product available at launch but from what we've heard this time around, ATI has well and truly heard the cries and moans from their customers and end-users and you should be able to buy the X1900XTX and X1900XT from today, the launch day!
Prices for the X1900 chip are, as one might expect, very high with the high end Radeon X1900 XTX having a suggested price of $649 and the slightly lower end Radeon X1900 XT having a suggested price of $549. The dual Radeon X1900 Crossfire has a price of $599 and the All-In-Wonder X1900 has a price of $499.

Another reviews can be found on Beyond3D, Digit-Life, Guru3D, HardOCP PC Perspective, Hexus.net and Tech Report.
InterVideo H.264 Codec accelerates hi-def decoding - tech
(hx) 07:48 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment
InterVideo announced today that its H.264 Codec now supports the new NVIDIA PureVideo H.264 decode acceleration available on GeForce 6 and 7 Series graphics processors from NVIDIA.
H.264 is the digital video codec specified for the Blu-ray (BD) and High-definition DVD (HD DVD) formats. The H.264 specification, which is also known as the Advanced Video Codec (AVC) specification or MPEG 4-Part 10, delivers two to three times the compression efficiency of solutions such as the MPEG-2 standard, which is used in DVD video. H.264 also delivers high-definition video with six times the resolution of standard definition DVDs.

InterVideo's H.264 codec technology leverages highly advanced algorithms to deliver superior quality and performance on today's personal computers. One of the key new features is the ability to divide the decoding tasks among several hardware cores and hardware threads on both the CPU and the GPU. Using traditional single thread decoding techniques, H.264 with high definition would not be feasible on today's personal computers because much of the overall processing power is unused. InterVideo's H.264 codec partitions the decoding tasks through algorithm and data decomposition into multiple threads to use all the processing power of the dual core and hyper threading technologies from Intel and AMD CPUs, as well as the GPU acceleration from NVIDIA graphics hardware.
ATI RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition - tech
(hx) 06:10 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
The GeForce 7800 GTX SLI platform boasts a total of 48 pixel pipelines, but its memory is slower than the graphics memory subsystem of the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire, which also has efficient memory controllers into the bargain. This is why ATI's solution takes the lead in 1280x1024 resolution, leaving the others far behind, and then yields over 70fps in 1600x1200. Both the multi-GPU subsystems perform close to their theoretical maximums, NVIDIA's SLI being as high as 100% efficient in 1600x1200!
X-Bit Labs take an in-depth look at ATI RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition:
It's only in one game, in the 3D shooter Project: Snowblind, that the multi-GPU rendering mode brought about a negative performance gain, and not only with CrossFire but also with SLI. It means that the problem must be in the game rather than in these two technologies. In the majority of applications we have observed a performance growth ranging from 10-20% in F.E.A.R. (probably due to some problems with SuperTiling) to 80-90% in other games. In three more games the speed proved to be limited by the CPU performance despite our using full-screen antialiasing. We were also pleased with excellent stability of the CrossFire platform which never hung up and never produced any image artifacts during our tests. This is another sign of maturity, we guess. ATI CrossFire does work now and it works quite well.

So ATI now offers a working alternative to NVIDIA's SLI, but how appealing this product is? The recommended price of the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition being $599, the combined cost of the corresponding CrossFire platform will be $1200 - without the mainboard and power supply. This is not too much in comparison with the cost of two GeForce 7800 GTX, which is about $1000. Multi-GPU systems are assembled to make high resolutions with turned-on full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering playable and the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire looks preferable to the GeForce 7800 GTX SLI in almost all the games we've used in this review. The Super AA 14x mode is available most of the time, while SLI AA 16x, although it does ensure a noticeably higher antialiasing quality, is such a difficult algorithm that the performance of the SLI platform sinks below playable level in nearly every game. Moreover, the RADEON X1800 architecture allows using FSAA and HDR simultaneously, while the GeForce 7 architecture does not.
Panasonic Oxyride Extreme Power - tech
(hx) 05:51 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment
The new Oxyride Extreme Power batteries (product page), according to Panasonic spokesperson Lindsay Singler, deliver 20 percent more power than the current generation and will ship this spring in AA and AAA packs. They are already available in Japan, where reportedly they've been a hit.
The next generation of Oxyride batteries, according to a Panasonic press release, "combine newly adapted cathode materials (nickel oxyhydroxide and newly-developed manganese dioxide and graphite) with advanced vacuum pouring technology that allows the volume of electrolyte in the battery to be increased, leading to a higher voltage of 1.7 volts."

This higher voltage, said Singler, provides for the overall increase in battery life. She explained that, in an independent lab test conducted across major battery brands and their life span in regards to the number of photos taken on a digital camera, the new Oxyrides came out on top.

"They did comparisons of Oxyrides with Duracell and Energizer," said Singler. "The Duracell Coppertop came out at 71 shots, the current Oxyride was 153 and the new and improved one 187."
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,23 2006 - tech
Asus WL-550gE Wireless Router - tech
(hx) 07:08 AM EST - Jan,23 2006 - Post a comment
The chaps over at Trusted Reviews take a look at Asus WL-550gE Wireless Router. It has a separate 10/100BaseTX Ethernet WAN port which is designed to accept an external cable or ADSL modem or it can be placed on a LAN where Internet access is provided by a gateway device. The router also offers a standard four-port Fast Ethernet switch and comes equipped with a wireless access point that supports 802.11b/g operations. It employs a Broadcom B5352E 54g chip which implements its BroadRange technology that aims to offer a 300 per cent improvement in range over standard 802.11g operations.
Overall wireless performance wasn't as good as the current cop of MIMO routers. Using a Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook equipped with the WL-100GE card we ran the open source Iometer over open and WPA-TKIP encrypted links. At one metre, Iometer reported 29.6Mb/sec for an open link and 28.5Mb/sec with WPA enforced. The BroadRange technology did have an impact though as moving the notebook down a floor and putting three bricks walls in the way saw these speeds only drop to 26.5Mb/sec and 24.4Mb/sec respectively. We also tried these tests with Asus' proprietary AfterBurner feature enabled but saw no appreciable difference.

The router provides an SPI firewall which is enabled by default and will provide all the protection most users will require. However, you can use the virtual DMZ option to allow one IP address on the LAN to circumvent the firewall allowing full access to it from the Internet. Services such as web, mail and FTP servers can be opened up to the Internet by creating virtual server entries for each one and filters can also be applied for LAN to WAN traffic. A useful feature is bandwidth management as you can create different policies for inbound and outbound traffic. These can be applied to a specific IP address or a port and each policy enforces the chosen bandwidth limitations for each one. URL filtering simply involves applying a list of keywords to web page URLs which will be blocked if there's a match. Unlike the domain blocking option provided by D-Link's DSL-G624M you can't block access to all web sites except those listed.
Ed.note: Has anyone had any experience with this router?
Logitech Z-5450 digital 5.1 speaker system - tech
(hx) 06:10 AM EST - Jan,23 2006 - Post a comment
Laptop Gamers take a look at Logitech Z-5450 digital 5.1 speaker system:
Logitech's THX-certified, 315-watt Z-5450 is a Digital 5.1 speaker system with digital hardware decoder and dual wireless rear speakers. The Digital SoundTouch Control Center supports Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, and includes digital and analog inputs for connecting DVD players, PCs, video game consoles, MP3 players, and more. Users can fine-tune their listening experience with a convenient wireless remote, and wall-mountable satellites help make installation easy in any room. The patented dual-chamber subwoofer enhances your games, music, and movies with distortion-free bass.

Good Points
  • Powerful enough to fill most mid-sized to large rooms
  • Solid craftsmanship. None of the satellites feel cheap and the sub is rock solid
  • Wireless rear satellite speakers eliminate clutter of wires
  • Sleek looking Digital SoundTouch Control Center that will complement your home theater setup
  • 315 watts RMS power distributed all speakers, provides an immersive sound experience no matter what you are doing
  • Satellite speaker wires are all detachable


  • Bad Points
  • Suggested retail price is a little high, but it's not hard to find them at a discounted price ($349.99 Amazon)
  • 6.5" subwoofer may not be enough for those that have a hunger for some deep heart-thumping bass
  • No optical cable included
  • Vista x64 to require digital signatures for drivers - tech
    (hx) 05:23 AM EST - Jan,23 2006 - Post a comment
    Microsoft silently announced that the x64 version of Windows Vista will require all kernel-mode code to be digitally signed. This is very different than the current WHQL program, where the user ultimately decides how they want to handle unsigned drivers:
    Vista driver developers must obtain a Publisher Identity Certificate (PIC) from Microsoft. Microsoft says they won't charge for it, but they require that you have a Class 3 Commercial Software Publisher Certificate from Verisign. This costs $500 per year, and as the name implies, is only available to commercial entities.

    Also, drivers must be signed for devices that stream protected content. This includes audio drivers that use Protected User Mode Audio (PUMA) and Protected Audio Path (PAP), and video device drivers that handle protected video path-output protection management (PVP-OPM) commands.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,21 2006 - tech
    Are 32" LCD TVs Ready For Prime Time? - tech
    (hx) 04:10 PM EST - Jan,21 2006 - Post a comment
    Philips 32PF9630
    Finally, there are some 32" LCD TVs worth testing! The chaps over at DenGuru have tested six different 32" LCD TVs - the LG 32LP1D, Acer AT3201W, The Sony WEGA KLV-S32A10E, Philips 32PF9630, The Samsung LN-R328W and The Sharp Aquos LC32D6U. Here's a taster:
    In the end, which TV should you buy to start off the new year? The answer to that obviously depends on your budget. For general-purpose use, we recommend the Samsung LN-R328W. Its video qualities, at low as well as high definition, are impressive and its price is really affordable for a TV this size.

    But, if pure performance is what you're after and you can spare the extra cash, the Philips 32PF9630 will make you very happy. For $1,600 you'll have the best LCD TV set currently available and probably the best 32 inch set we've ever tested!
    Weekend Tech Madness - Intel abandons x86 - tech
    (hx) 03:59 PM EST - Jan,21 2006 - Post a comment

    SECURITY...

    CRIME/LAW...

    • Federal Government Wants Google Search Records - Google has not complied with a White House subpoena that was issued over the summer, which has led to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to ask a federal judge in San Jose for an order that would force Google to turn over search records. The Associated Press has reported that the federal government has asked for two specific things: The first thing requested is that Google turns over a sample of a million random web site addresses found in the Google search engine index. The second request is for records of Google search queries over any week.
    • Computer crime costs $67.2 billion, FBI says - Dealing with viruses, spyware, PC theft and other computer-related crimes costs US businesses a staggering $67.2 billion a year, according to the FBI.
    • Mistakes found in 98% of US patents - Almost every US patent contains at least one mistake, according to new research. The vast majority are trivial errors, most of them the fault of the USPTO; but two per cent of the patents examined were found to contain serious mistakes that weakened the core claims.

    OFF-TOPIC

    • Doctors Claim Suspended Animation Success -  Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that US doctors have developed a process to induce hypothermia in trauma patients, shutting down their bodily functions for up to three hours.
    • NASA launches Pluto probe successfully - NASA successfully launched the unmanned probe, New Horizons, on Thursday afternoon, on a mission to study Pluto, the smallest and the most remote planet in the solar system.
    • Water will 'walk' uphill under its own steam - Liquid droplets have been made to traverse horizontal surfaces, and even move uphill - such liquids could one day be used to cool microprocessors.
    • No raised cancer risk from mobile phones, study says - Using a mobile phone does not increase the risk of developing the most common type of brain tumor, according to a study released yesterday.
    • Demystifying the eBay Selling Experience - check it out

    TECHNOLOGY...

    • Intel abandons x86 support on Itanium - Circuitry to let Itanium run software for x86 chips, such as Pentium and Xeon chips, is not present in the forthcoming "Montecito" processor, according to the 176-page reference manual for the chip published this week. Instead, anyone wishing to run programs for x86 chips on Montecito must use Intel emulation software called IA-32 Execution Layer, or IA-32 EL, that was first released in 2004.
    • 5MB L2 cache coming from AMD? - EE Times has details on AMD getting a license for Innovative Silicon's SOI memory. Are we looking at embedded Z-RAM on next generation CPUs from AMD? Z-RAM promises 5 times the density of SRAM so could we see dual core chips with 5MB of L2 per core?
    • AMD set to cut, raise dual-core prices - The Inquirer is reporting that AMD will cut prices on its Athlon 64 X2 processors next week. Those price cuts will apparently be accompanied by price increases for some members of the 939-pin Opteron line. On the Athlon X2 front, the 3800+ will drop from $322 to $295, the 4200+ from $400 to $355, the 4400+ from $497 to $458, and the 4800+ from $787 to $630. The FX55 will stay at $811, while the FX57 will drop from $1,011 to $811. The $1,011 chip will be the FX60. The Opteron 165 939 will rise from $295 to $325, the 170 from $384 to $394, the 175 from $490 to $504. But the Opteron 180 939 pin CPU will drop by a fairly large percentage - from $811 to $693.
    • IEEE approves 802.11n Wi-Fi draft  -The proposed IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard will enable high-performance, next-generation wireless local area networking (WLAN) products. The draft supports speeds of up to 600 Mbps, a significant leap over today's Wi-Fi networks which promise speeds of up to 108Mbps, and will enable wireless systems to deliver greater range.
    • Blu-ray Disc Drive Coming Soon? - TechWeb News is reporting that it may not be too long and a Blu-ray PC drive will become available for those early adopters out there
    • Pioneer predicts 4-7m PlayStation 3's to ship by end of 2006 - According to an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, an estimate of 1 million PS3 consoles will become available for a launch of the PlayStation 3 this summer in Japan followed by a further 1 million units for a US November launch.
    • AACS to support forced down-converting on analog outputs - It's now clear that AACS, the copy protection system both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD are going to use, will support a function called ICT (Image Constraint Token). This is bad news if you have an HDTV without an HDMI input (or a DVI input with HDCP support) because if the ICT flag is set on a disc the player needs to down-convert the high definition video to max 960x540p when sending the signal to the analog outputs. That means that you will only get a quarter of the original resolution if it's 1920x1080p.
    • Is 3DMark Really the "Gamers Benchmark" ? - The program's authors, Futuremark, refer to it as "The gamers' benchmark". However, there is a dark side to this innocuous little app. 3DMark uses various game tests which help to decide your score, and all of these game tests are based on the DirectX9 platform. The question remaining on the silent majority's lips is "Where are the OpenGL game tests?"

    HARDWARE... 

    GUIDES...

    • All Sempron Models - A series of quick reference tables containing the main specs of all Sempron processors released to date.
    • How To Prevent Laptop Computer Theft - Think about it - What other piece of equipment or personal possession do we routinely carry around that is worth over a thousand dollars, by itself, and may be worth thousands more in data? Why wouldn't that be attractive to thieves?
    • Keeping Windows Clean - Protecting Windows and keeping it clean from malware (malicious programs) is a full time job these days.
    • ATI Catalyst 6.1 Performance Analysis - @ Tweaktown / @ NeoSeeker ~ Doom 3 and Far Cry showed a noticeable increase in FPS, which will help ATI considerably in the Open GL market. Fill Rate has also increased, as shown by the results in 3DMark 05. Pixel and Vertex Shaders had no increase in performance. Call of Duty 2 has shown improved scores using 4X AA and 8X AF, mostly in the lower resolutions.

    SOFTWARE...

    • Total Commander v6.54 Public Beta 2 - New (beta)version of the best file manager has been just released.
    • Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) Updated - Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) is a security technology that helps protect Windows users from spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Known spyware on your PC can be detected and removed.
    • Internet Explorer 7 Build 5299 -  The build number is 5299 and it is labelled "Beta 2 Preview". Unfortunately, the downloads links were removed :]
    • First Page 2006 (free) - The latest version includes hundreds of new features and bug fixes. First Page 2006 now includes full support for HTML, XHTML, PHP, ASP, Cold Fusion, Javascript, CSS, SSI and Perl.
    • Regex Coach 0.8.3 - The Regex Coach is a graphical application for Windows and Linux/x86 which can be used to experiment with (Perl-compatible) regular expressions interactively.
    • Look@LAN 2.50 Build 35 - It is an advanced network monitor (download), that is easy to use and automatically detects and analyzes your network nodes, including operating system. The program can monitor the nodes and alert you of any changes (new nodes, offline nodes etc)
    • Skype 2.0.0.73 - Skype (download / release notes) is the next phenomenon from the people who brought you KaZaA. Just like KaZaA, Skype uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to connect you to other users – not to share files this time, but to talk for free with your friends.
    • Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility - The Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility helps you determine if an MPEG-2 video decoder (also called a DVD decoder) is installed on your Windows XP computer and whether or not the decoder is compatible with Windows Media Player 10 and Windows XP Media Center Edition.
    • Win32Whois 0.9.10 - Win32Whois (download) is a small and efficient Whois client. It is able to retrieve domain information for most of the common TLDs (top level domains). It has it is internal list of servers that it connects to in order to provide a detailed report on a requested domain.
    • AutoHotkey 1.0.41.00 - This program can remap keys and buttons, and make almost any key, joystick button, mouse button, or combination into a hotkey.
    • YamiPod for Windows 0.91 - YamiPod is a freeware application to efficiently manage your iPod under Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.
    • nVHardPage SE v3.2 - nVHardPage nVidia videocard tweaker is tweaking utility for nVidia display adapters running under Windows 98 (SE) / Windows ME / Windows 2000 and Windows XP. With this tweak utility you can enable/disabe hidden features in nVidia control panel, tweak nVidia Direct3D and OpenGL settings and overclock your nVidia display adapter.
    • ForceWare 85.05 and 86.70 For Laptop and Desktop GPUs - Here's two new set of Forceware Drivers in the shape of 85.05 and 86.70 for Windows Vista! Your going to need a modified .inf file if your card is not listed!
    • Omega Catalyst 3.8.205  - These drivers are based on ATI's catalyst drivers 5.12 and they include a customized version of ATI Tray Tools instead of Radlinker. These drivers offer exellent performance versus great image quality and are known by their great reputation.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,20 2006 - tech
    ATI's Radeon X1900XT specs - tech
    (hx) 07:03 PM EST - Jan,20 2006 - Post a comment / read (3)
    The chaps over at DailyTech ran their X1900XT against their eVGA GeForce 7800GTX 256MB in a few popular game timedemos. The cards were both benchmarked on an Opteron 165 workstation with 2GB of PC-3200.
    Radeon X1900, or R580, is in many ways what the R520 should have been before all the die respins. R580 uses the same memory controller found on R520, with the 512-bit internal ring bus. Externally, the chip can address 256-bits at a time. Our Radeon X1900XT came with 512MB DDR3 running at 1.45GHz, but the X1900XTX version comes with a default memory clock of 1.55GHz. As anticipated, the R580 core features 16 pixel pipelines with 48 pixel shader processors. R580 is produced on a 90nm process. Unfortunately, all X1900 series cards are double width cards; the additional width is needed to properly cool the GPU.
    Intel's Pentium-D 900 Series - tech
    (hx) 11:38 AM EST - Jan,20 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
    GamePC take a look at the new Pentium-D 900-series:
    Intel has also beefed up the individual processing cores over previous generation Pentium-D processors. Each core now is equipped with 2 MB of on-die L2 cache, opposed to 1 MB of cache per core on the Pentium-D 800series. Since each core has 2 MB of cache to utilize, this effectively means that the Pentium-D 900-series have 4 MB of on-die cache (although 2x2MB is seemingly more accurate), double that of rival AMD's high-end Athlon64 X2 models. Since the chips are fabbed on state of the art 65nm technology, even with 2 MB of cache per die, each of the individual cores are impressively small. Not only does 65nm technology allows cores to be smaller, it also gives Intel more breathing room in terms of clock speed. While the Pentium-D 800's were stuck at 3.2 GHz as their ceiling, the Pentium-D 900's are starting off at 3.4 GHz (3.46 for the EE model), and will likely increase over the next six months as yields on these new chips improve. Let's take a quick look at the chip lineups on paper.

    The key word to notice is improvement. Intel's Pentium-D 900 series show improvements in just about every area imaginable compared to older Pentium-D's. They perform quite a bit better in comparison to the Pentium-D 800 series with faster clock speeds and double the amount of L2 cache, while at the same time consuming less power, allowing for quieter running systems. Topping it all off, these chips are cheaper for Intel to produce, leading to overall lower chip prices. They also have Intel's new Virtualization technology thrown in to the mix as well, although no one has had the proper software configurations in order to properly test this feature yet. Frankly, I think this could be the most interesting new feature of this processor, although it will take some time to test properly. At this point, it's still a question mark, but it's something we want to look into for the near future.

    On the flip-side, we should note that the new Pentium-D 920/930 models are still quite good values, as their price tags are typically at the same level or lower compared to the cheapest Athlon64 X2 model (the 3800+), and their performance levels are surprisingly good considering their cost. These models are also quite tolerable in terms of heat, and ran close to silent throughout our testing. We certainly wouldn't have a problem recommending these models for a base dual-core system.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,18 2006 - tech
    Wednesday Tech Reading - MS Delays WinXP SP3 - tech
    (hx) 06:54 PM EST - Jan,18 2006 - Post a comment

    SECURITY... 

    • Windows porn worm spreading fast - Security firms are warning about the W32/Nyxem-D worm which pretends to be a pornographic email attachment. Emails containing the worm come with a variety of subject lines, including 'School girl fantasies gone bad', 'Fwd: Crazy illegal Sex!' and 'Arab sex DSC-00465.jpg'. The attachment is a .PIF file with a similar variety of salacious file names.
    • Cisco Security Agent Vulnerable to Crafted IP Attack - A malicious attacker may be able to send a crafted IP packet to a Windows workstation or server running CSA 4.5 which may cause the device to halt and/or reload. Repeated exploitation will create a sustained DoS (denial of service).
    • Linux Kernel Socket Buffer Memory Exhaustion DoS (Exploit) - Local exploitation of a memory exhaustion vulnerability in Linux kernel versions 2.4 and 2.6 allows local attackers to cause a denial of service condition, the following exploit code can be used to determine whether your system is vulnerable or not.
    • Microsoft downplays Windows Wi-Fi 'anomaly' - A design flaw in Windows XP and Windows 2003 systems with built-in wireless capabilities could be exploited by hackers to lure Wi-Fi users into connecting to malicious wireless networks, according to Microsoft Corp., which recently completed an investigation of the issue. In a statement, Microsoft said that its investigation of the flaw has "determined that customers who have connected to an 'ad hoc' wireless network in the past that was not protected with wireless encryption could be lured into connecting to a malicious advertised 'ad hoc' wireless network under limited circumstances." But those using firewalls and a fully updated system should be at "reduced risk" of attacks following such ad hoc connections, Microsoft said.
    • Microsoft Refutes Windows 'Back Door' Claim - Microsoft has denied allegations that the Windows Metafile (WMF) bug is actually a "back door" planted by the company's developers so they could secretly access users' PCs.  The charges were raised last week by Steve Gibson, security researcher best known for his ShieldsUp Web site, in a podcast. Program manager Stephen Toulouse wrote a detailed explanation of the "SetAbortProc" function's vulnerability, and said that the flaw was an inadvertent bug, not coding by design.
    • Firefox's Ping Attribute: Useful or Spyware? - The Mozilla Team has quietly enabled a new feature in Firefox that parses 'ping' attributes to anchor tags in HTML. Now links can have a 'ping' attribute that contains a list of servers to notify when you click on a link. Although link tracking has been done using redirects and Javascript, this new "feature" allows notification of an unlimited and uncontrollable number of servers for every click, and it is not noticeable without examining the source code for a link before clicking it. (thanks Slasdot.org)

    CRIME/LAW...

    • Cyber criminals target pixel-student - MillionDollarHomepage.com has been subjected to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack by malicious hackers who have caused the site to be extremely slow loading or completely unavailable since last Thursday, 12th January 2006," the site's 21-year old owner Alex Tew wrote on his blog.  Blackmailers at first asked $5,000 to avert an attack on the site. They launched their DDOS attack after Tew declined to pay and later demanded $50,000 to stop it. The refusal to pay on Wednesday lead the attackers deface the site, replacing the regular page with a message stating: "don't come back you sly dog! " The website later on Wednday was up again an appeared to be running normally.

    OFF-TOPIC

    TECHNOLOGY...

    • Microsoft Delays XP SP3 -  Microsoft has apparently pushed back the scheduled release date of SP3 to the second half of 2007. Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer had originally announced that the 3rd service pack for XP would be released before the launch of Longhorn (now Windows Vista). Update: Bink.nu has received this response from MS: "Microsoft did not have any prior plans to release SP3 in 2005 or 2006. It was reported almost one year ago that Steve said SP3 'might' ship before Windows Vista; however, since that time the focus has been and continues to be shipping Windows Vista. We are tentatively targeting the second half of 2007 to release XP SP3."
    • Firefox 2 "Bon Ocho" alpha due in February - The first alpha version of Mozilla Firefox 2 codenamed "Bon Ocho" will be released on February 10, 2006 while the final public release of Firefox 2.0 is expected in middle of this year.
    • Corel Unveils WordPerfect Office X3 - Corel Corporation has announced the availability of the new Corel WordPerfect Office X3 family of desktop productivity software - the newest version of the alternative to Microsoft Office.
    • Google Talk activates XMPP server-to-server communications - It appears Google Talk has started federating with other Jabber servers. Gary Burd, a Google software engineer, flipped the switch to connect the Google Talk Service to the public XMPP network this morning. Google Talk users can now chat with users on other XMPP services and vice versa.
    • MS Office 12 impressions - PCWolrd tried out the first beta of Microsoft's major overhaul of Office 12--and for the most part, they liked what they saw. Pretty interesting article - check it out!
    • Fastest DVD to iPod software launched - Makayama Interactive announces the availability of iPod Media Studio 2.0. The new version is 300% faster than other products and it adds greater flexibility to the user interface. In less than 45 minutes a DVD can be transferred to the iPod.
    • Microsoft issues official statement: No Blu-ray for Xbox 360 - According to the statement, Microsoft believes the HD DVD format is the best choice for its consumer and thus is the reason behind planning to launch an external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 later this year. It also mentions that Microsoft has absolutely no plans to take on support for any other optical format on its Xbox 360, however they do mention that the console is a future proof system in that they can adopt its functionality to suit its customer's needs.
    • Cingular Phones Windows Mobile - Cingular, the largest mobile carrier in the United States , on Wednesday introduced the Cingular 2125, a cell phone that comes equipped with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system
    • Seagate Ships Momentus Perpendicular Storage Drives - The new design overcomes that obstacle by arranging the way that bits of data are physically stored on the drive. By arranging the particles vertically not only is potential drive capacity increased, but fewer components are needed which reduces overall power consumption. For laptop users, that's an important concern. Originally scheduled to be available in February, Seagate Momentus drives are available immediately in 4,200, 5,400, and 7,200 RPM drives with capacities of up to 160GB.
    • NVidia launches the 7300GS - It is a four pixel pipe, three vertex unit not-monster of a card, but it has a respectable 550MHz core clock and 400MHz memory, give or take a little depending on OEM. The card is based on the 7-series GPUs, so all features from the family, barring SLI, should be present
    • Crossfire X1900 XTX faster than SLI 7800 GTX 512 - It is simply faster in most ways, even when you use a lot of FSAA and Aniso. After weeks of absence, Nvidia just managed to ship some of Geforce 7800 GTX 512 cards in retail but ATI's R580 will end up cheaper and it is able to beat up 7800 GTX 512 SLI on performance. Nevertheless, Nvidia has one more SLI to release. It has G71, possibly called Geforce 7900 SLI that is meant to compete R580 based X1900 XTX Crossfire system.
    • All Geforce 6, 7 series to support H.264 - The new driver will allow all Geforce 6 and 7 series to play H.264 content. Yes, this means each and every card from Geforce 6200 to 7800 GTX will play H.264. I still wonder about NV40 based cards as they had some troubles with WMV files before. ATI R5XX generation can play H.264 but not the older R420/430/480 generations
    • Neomind Brainwave Visor - The Neomind looks like a Geordi LaForge (Star Trek Next Generations) visor. The glasses use visual and audio impulses to stimulate the brain. It can be used to improve learning or to relax. The glasses are supposed to be able to connect to a PC or mobile phone and correspond with a learning software that runs on those devices

    HARDWARE... 

    GUIDES...

    SOFTWARE...

    • AutoPatcher XP January 2006 - AutoPatcher XP is an installation package designed to get your Windows XP system up to date quick and easily. This update package features a slick looking GUI and and can be customized to install as much or as little as you please.
    • AVG Free 7.1.375 Build 691 (Free Anti-Virus) - AVG Free for Windows (download) 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.
    • 3DMark06 Build v1.0.2 - As promised, Futuremark today released 3DMark06 Build v1.0.2
    • Netscape Browser 8.0.4 - Un updated version of the Netscape Browser is available for download.
    • Vista Visual Styles Pack 3.0 - For those who already have UXtheme or another Windows skinning engine patch in place, the Vista Visual Styles pack (download) concentrates all the goods in one place, with none of the fluff. The self-contained package will install no less than five new visual styles for your Windows installation: Aero Style (Glass - 50xx), Aero Style (Glass - 51xx), Aero Style (Glass - 52xx), Aero Style (Vista - Beta 1), Aero Style (Vista - Beta 2).
    • QuickTime Alternative 1.68 - QuickTime Alternative will allow you to play QuickTime files (.mov, .qt and other extensions) without having to install QuickTime Player from Apple. It also supports QuickTime content that is embedded in webpages.
    • MediaCoder 0.3.4 - MediaCoder is a free audio/video batch transcoder, putting together many excellent audio/video softwares from the open source community into one friendly GUI.
    • CloneCD 5.2.6.1 - CloneCD (download) is a powerful CD-Copy program. It writes in Raw mode, which allows it to have total control on the data written. Therefore, it will produce real 1:1 copies of your CDs. Fixed: CD writing "on the fly" did not work correctly (bug introduced in 5.2.3.2), Program could hang on startup.
    • CloneDVD2 v2.8.5.1 - The download version of CloneDVD 2 software no longer accepts serial numbers (like the one found on the serial card in your retail box). If you want to update a box version of CloneDVD software, you need to first exchange your serial number for an online key (this exchange is free of charge).
    • ATI Tray Tools 1.0.5.820 - ATI Tray Tools (download) is a small utility that can be found in the windows tray which then allows instant access to options and settings.
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