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 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,23 2006 - tech 
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.
    ATI CATALYST Drivers v6.1 - tech
    (hx) 04:09 PM EST - Jan,18 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
    ATI has released a new ATI Catalyst drivers (release notes / download ~ 34MB) bringing them up to version 6.1. The package contains: RADEON display driver 8.205, Multimedia Center 9.13 Catalyst Control Center 6.1 (requires NET Version 11 Framework), HydraVision Basic Edition 3.25.9006, Remote Wonder 3.03, WDM versions 8.20 and 4.07 and Southbridge/IXP Driver.
    Issues Resolved in Catalyst Software Suite 6.1:

    - BattleField 2 Special Forces: A blooming or ghosting effect is no longer noticed when playing the game in night vision mode. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21263
    - Beyond Good and Evil: Flickering artifacts are no longer noticed on the game characters after approximately 15 minutes of game play. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-20795
    - Dark Age of Camelot: The game no longer exits to the desktop immediately after launching, or after playing for up to 15 minutes. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-20794
    - Everquest II, The Fall, and World of Warcraft: A VPU Recover event or the operating system failing to respond no longer occur when playing the game. Further details on these resolved issues can be found in topic number 737-21437
    - Half-Life2: Enabling Catalyst AI no longer results in the outer edges of the water appear dark or black in color. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21448
    - World of Warcraft: Rotating or zooming within the Blackwing Lair or Seering George level of the game no longer results in a VPR Recover occurring after approximately a few minutes of game play. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21265
    ATI Super AA vs. NVIDIA SLI Anti-Aliasing - tech
    (hx) 03:27 AM EST - Jan,18 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
    Radeon X1800 XT 14xAA/16xAF
    GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB 16xAA/16xAF
    Firing Squad has published an article called ATI Super AA vs. NVIDIA SLI Anti-Aliasing which provides in-depth analysis of ATI's Super AA implementation versus NVIDIA's SLI Anti-aliasing. Here's a taster:
    As you've just seen in the benchmarks, CrossFire's key advantage over NVIDIA SLI is ATI's Super AA performance advantage with the Radeon X1800 XT over the GeForce 7800 GTX cards. ATI's redesigned compositing engine brings a massive boost to Super AA performance, resulting in little or no performance hit for 8xAA at lower resolutions. In a graphically-intensive game like F.E.A.R for instance, at 1280x960, performance is nearly cut in half for the GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB SLI setup, from 93 fps to just 42. Meanwhile, the X1800 XT CrossFire is cranking along at 51 fps, a drop of just 16%, or 10 fps! Even 14xAA is quite playable at resolutions as high as 1280x1024 in some games. You can't really say this for the GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB with 16xAA.

    As we noted in our Radeon X1800 CrossFire story though, NVIDIA's key advantage they have over ATI CrossFire is infrastructure support. Since it's been around for over a year now, NVIDIA's SLI ecosystem is not only more mature, it's considerably more robust as well. You can find SLI motherboards starting right around $100, all the way up to nearly $200, while the boards themselves are often more feature-complete as well. ATI on the other hand only has a handful of CrossFire motherboards on the retail market at the moment, and as such, they tend to sell for higher prices than a comparable nForce4 SLI motherboard.

    ATI's CrossFire implementation isn't as elegant as NVIDIA SLI either. In the case of X1800 CrossFire, you have to mess with thick dongles to connect both graphics cards to each other, while only ATI's flagship X1800 XT has a corresponding CrossFire master board to pair it with. This leaves ATI X1800 XL users out in the cold unless they want to pay $100+ more for a X1800 XT CrossFire card that will be running with half its memory disabled. With NVIDIA you can mix and match cards as long as they're based on the same GPU: you don't need to pair the GeForce 7800 GT for example to a more expensive master card to get SLI to work.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,17 2006 - tech
    Nvidia's SLI XE - First Look - tech
    (hx) 12:55 PM EST - Jan,17 2006 - Post a comment
    The chaps over at Bit-Tech take a looks at Nvidia's SLI XE motherboards. What's XE, and where does it fit in to the Intel line up from Nvidia?  Here's a bit:
    XE is an updated version of the original SLI chipset, and is designed to occupy the mid-range of Intel SLI systems. Between the nForce 4 Ultra (entry-level), the nForce 4 SLI XE (mid-range)and the nForce 4 SLI X16 (high-end), NVIDIA aims to have all tiers of Intel systems covered. The idea is that if a system builder is putting together a new range of systems for customers, it could feasibly use NVIDIA motherboards top to bottom.

    The nForce 4 Ultra doesn't support SLI, but the XE does, making this the entry level SLI motherboard. You don't get dual 16x slots, just dual 8x. Primarily, the XE is designed to replace the i945 and i955 chipsets as the mid-range performance mainboard of choice.

    The XE includes support for all Intel dual core processors. Those with good memories will recall that the original Intel SLI chipset didn't support the awesome 2.8GHz Pentium D - no worries with that here. This combination will make for a pretty awesome gaming system at a fairly low price. Gamers can choose to have two reasonably priced graphics cards, like the 6800GT or go for one expensive one (7800 GTX) and add another later.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,16 2006 - tech
    XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition - tech
    (hx) 04:54 PM EST - Jan,16 2006 - Post a comment
    nV News has published a review of the XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition, which is overclocked out-of-the-box. Game performance is tested in F.E.A.R., Battlefield 2, Chronicles of Riddick, Far Cry, and Doom 3 with an Athlon 64 3700+ processor. Here's an excerpt:
    The GeForce 6600 GT cannot compete with it nor can the GeForce 6800 GT. Yes, the GeForce 6800 GT can stay within range, performance-wise, but when you consider the higher price of the GeForce 6800 GT and compare the attributes of the GeForce 6800 GS, in both price and performance, it's a no-brainer. For those budget-minded gamers who are considering an upgrade to PCI-E this card should be on your short-list for consideration.

    Going with two GeForce 6800 GS cards in SLI is another matter and I hesitate to recommend taking this path. One GeForce 6800 GS, like the XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition, will provide enjoyable gaming performance in the latest games, albeit at moderate resolutions, with use of antialiasing. Going with two cards in SLI will allow use of 4xAA at moderate resolutions but at double the expense. This is the touchy point as paying $400 for the two cards is more than you would pay for a GeForce 7800 GT and almost the price of a GeForce 7800 GTX. I would strongly consider either of these cards as a single card solution over the 6800 GS in an SLI configuration.
    Acer Ferrari 20" widescreen monitor - tech
    (hx) 03:37 PM EST - Jan,16 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
    Bit-Tech take a look at Acer Ferrari 20" widescreen monitor (Amazon  ~ $648.82) which features a 800:1 contrast ratio and a 300 cd/m2 luminescence. The response time is 8ms. The LCD panel itself is has a native resolution of 1680x1050 (WSXGA+), which is pretty much spot on for a 20" desktop display and it also includes a TV tuner:
    F.E.A.R. is a brilliant test because it really taxes a monitors ability to differentiate between shades of grey and black. On poor monitors, dark colours all bleed together, making it almost impossible to distinguish characters from the backgrounds. The effect is what I like to call the 'Counter-Strike Contrast Conundrum', where it becomes impossible to spot Counter-Terrorists in dark areas of maps such as Aztec on a poor monitor.

    Thankfully, the Ferrari monitor looked brilliant, even outperforming our reference Viewsonic VX924 when it came to the black differential. This is a monitor you can happily play games on, especially since ghosting was also non-existent.

    Lost in Translation is a great DVD to run through any display. The film contains a mixture of high-contrast scenes with some great gaudy colour, and also has some very subtlety coloured scenes which can look washed out on bad monitors. The Acer was pretty good in this test, although didn't manage to deal with the subtler elements quite so well.

    Viewing angle was average-to-good. As with many displays, it suffered more on the up-down range than the left-right range. This means that you should be able to get a couple of mates around it to game, but is especially unfortunate given the lack of height adjustment.
    HP LP2065 LCD Monitor - tech
    (hx) 11:54 AM EST - Jan,16 2006 - Post a comment
    The chaps over at DesignTechnica take a look at HP LP2065 LCD Monitor which comes with an 800:1 contrast ration and support up to a 1600x1200 resolution at 75Hz, including a blazing fast 8ms response rate. Here's a taster:
    In our tests the LP 2065 proved to be a very bright monitor. We still felt that the consumer-centric HP F2105 is a brighter monitor, but not by much. The LP2065 has fairly deep black levels and the grayscale is good enough for a positive DVD playback experience. Transitions between light and dark scenes were very smooth with little, if any, pixelization. The black levels are dark enough to where hospitals could use the LP2065 for accurate X-Ray viewing for example.

    Those who do a lot of writing will find the LP2065 to be a suitable partner. Text is very sharp with true-looking white backgrounds. You can adjust the brightness to softer levels if you want without getting the fading effect that some monitors give off.

    In our gaming tests the LP2065 did a fantastic job especially in first person games and at the 1600x1200 resolution. Believe it or not, the LP2065 actually has a faster response rate than the F2105 (8ms versus 12ms) but it was hard to distinguish the difference between the two monitors. If you are a hardcore gamer and just want a good LCD for strictly gaming, we would recommend looking at the new BenQ FP71V+ which has a 5ms response rate. We even heard that BenQ will be announcing a 2ms LCD here in the states shortly, so you may want to save your money for that bad boy.
    BenQ DW1655 LightScribe 16x DVD+-RW DL - tech
    (hx) 11:42 AM EST - Jan,16 2006 - Post a comment
    ExtremeMhz take a look at BenQ DW1655 LightScribe 16x DVD+-RW DL Writer:
    In terms of performance, the drive did not fail to impress in all areas of testing. Its read performance with all media tested was excellent and write quality was impressive as well with both CD and DVD recordable media, including double layer media. For those primarily into DVD ripping, this is the drive for you. It can rip a single layer disc in just over 5 minutes and dual layer discs can be ripped in record time as well.

    Also note that BenQ drives feature full overburning capabilities and 99min CD-R media is supported. The drive also loads all media formats quicker than a majority of other drives on the market, however, the load times were slower than their DW1625. Media compatibility was good with the exception of DVD+R DL media. Its overspeed feature can be quite useful for those who know their media well and are looking to take advantage of its high speed burning. The feature does work well. Also note that the drive does support booktype change to DVD-ROM with all +R DVD media when using their utility. While I personally prefer automatic booktype support, it at least supports this recommended feature that will increase playback compatibility on a majority of standalone DVD players.
    WiMax vs WiFi - tech
    (hx) 11:20 AM EST - Jan,16 2006 - Post a comment
    Techware Labs explores the differences between two wireless technologies, Wimax (FAQ) and Wifi. Here's an excerpt:
    WiMax (MAN) deployments are similar to a WiFi network. First the ISP would have their T3 or higher access. The ISP would then use line of sight antennas (Bridges) to connect to towers that would distribute the non line of sight signal to (MAN) residential/business clients.

    WiMax line of sight antennas operate at a higher Frequency up to 66MHz. Distribution antennas do not have to be in the line of sight with their clients. Non - line of sight towers operate on a range similar to WiFi . WiMax can operate right next to cell phone towers with no interference.

    WiMax networks are similar to Wifi in deployment. The Wimax Base station/Tower will beam a signal to a WiMax Receiver. Similar to a WiFi access point sending a signal to a laptop. As far as I can tell laptops will be shipping with Wimax receivers in 2006.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,14 2006 - tech
    Weekend Tech Reading - Thunderbird 1.5 Final - tech
    (hx) 07:07 PM EST - Jan,14 2006 - Post a comment / read (3)

    SECURITY... 

    • Security expert Steve Gibson claims WMF exploit is a deliberate back-hole - Microsoft has patched the WMF vulnerability in Windows 2000 and XP, but in his research for a fix for Windows 95/98/Me Steve has come up with a blockbuster (check out this podcast) It is his considered opinion that the WMF vulnerability could not have been a mistake. It was an intentional backdoor inserted into Windows by Microsoft for reasons unknown. Gibson , who has come under harsh criticism on Slashdot, a news comment web site, isn't surprised that people call him a conspiracy theorist or even paranoid.  "I completely understand them," he said in an interview. "We will never have proof one way or the other because we will never know for sure what Microsoft's intentions were."
    • No 'rootkit' vulnerability in Kaspersky Anti-Virus - Mark Russinovich, an independent researcher, has recently been reported as suggesting that Kaspersky Lab makes use of 'rootkit' technology in its Kaspersky Anti-Virus products. According to Russinovich, this makes Kaspersky Anti-Virus products potentially vulnerable to abuse. Kaspersky Lab wishes to state that using the term 'rootkit' to describe technology implemented in Kaspersky Anti-Virus is inaccurate. It seems that Russinovich's concerns arise from the use of Kaspersky Lab iStreams technology. Kaspersky Anti-Virus' use of iStreams technology is not a vulnerability. Referring to this technology as a rootkit is incorrect as it cannot be exploited by a malicious user to attack a system.
    • Apple QuickTime Player StripOffsets Improper Memory Access - Apple QuickTime has a vulnerability in parsing the specially crafted TIFF image files. This is due to application failure to sanitize the parameter StripOffsets value while parsing TIFF image files. A remote attacker could construct a web page with specially crafted tiff file and entice a victim to view it, when the user opens the TIFF image with Internet Explorer or Apple QuickTime Player, it'll cause memory access violation, and leading to potential Arbitrary Command Execution. Apple Computers has released a security update for this vulnerability, which is available for downloading from Apples's web site under security update.
    • Anti-spyware guidelines get final version - The Anti-Spyware Coalition, whose members include Microsoft, Symantec, Computer Associates, McAfee, AOL and Yahoo, said on Thursday that it has finalized its spyware detection guidelines.
    • Malware - Future Trends - This publication (PDF) is in no way intended to be a complete future prediction or a reference, as future can never by fully predicted, that s the beauty of it. Instead, its intention is to discuss the possible future trends backed up by a little speculation, and also use some of the current ones as a foundation for future developments.
    • Symantec Caught in Rootkit Controversy - Symantec has been forced to fix a "flaw" in Norton SystemWorks which could possibly allow malware authors to hide files from users. While the feature is designed to prevent SystemWorks users from accidentally deleting files vital to the software package's NProtect feature, weaknesses in the technology could be exploited by opportunistic developers of malicious software. Users of 2005 and 2006 versions of SystemWorks and SystemWorks Premier are urged to run LiveUpdate to patch the flaw, which will then allow the directory to be seen and scanned by antivirus software.
    • Symantec Competing Unfairly Against Spybot? - Symantec has been claiming for months that the anti-spyware program Spybot-Search & Destroy corrupts Norton Ghost images. Spybot has tried to convince them this is a false positive. After having been ignored, and this is the second time Symantec has claimed a false positive against Spybot, the makers of Spybot have gone public. Ed.note: Yet another reason to stay away from Symantec products...Norton Ghost? Well, I recommend you to check out Acronis True Image.
    • Phone Records Easily Purchased By Anyone - Americablog, a political weblog, recently purchased one month of General Wesley Clark's cell phone records from a private company for $90. In doing so, they brought to light a security hole which has only recently gained media attention
    • iTunes Includes "iSpy" Feature - Apple recently launched iTunes 6.0.2, what appears like a minor version update of iTunes 6.0.1. However, besides their announced stability and performance improvements, the new version actually includes an iTunes MiniStore, which monitors the user's listening habits and recommends music and artists based on this gathered data.
    • [!] Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-002 - Vulnerability in Embedded Web Fonts Could Allow Remote Code Execution - download patch! (Win2k/XP/2003)
    • Security Update for Office 2003 -  Security Update for Office 2003 Multilingual User Interface Pack (KB892843) / Security Update for Office 2000 Multilanguage Pack (KB892842) / Security Update for Outlook 2000 (KB892842).
    • January 2006 Security and Critical Releases ISO Image - This ISO-9660 CD image file contains all security and critical updates for Windows released on Windows Update on January 5th and January 10th, 2006.

    CRIME/LAW...

    • Attacks mounting on 'Million Dollar Homepage' - The wildly successful pixel-powered webpage of a British university student is coming under increasingly intense distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks trying to knock down the profitable brainstorm. Another article can be found here.
    • Annoying Online Posts Could Be Illegal - Writing annoying, anonymous online posts or e-mails could land you in jail for as long as two years. That's according to the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, which was signed into law last week. According to a section of the act, anyone who uses the Internet anonymously "with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person" can be tried for violating federal telecommunications law and face fines or jail.
    • FBI warns of sick Sago disaster spam - The FBI has issued a warning that spammers are exploiting the Sago mining disaster in which 12 miners lost their lives. The emails purport to be raising funds for an operation to save the life of Randal McCloy, the only survivor of the disaster. McCloy is currently in a critical condition in hospital after spending nearly two days trapped underground.
    • Detroit spammer faces slammer - A US spammer likely faces at least two years in jail next week after he admitted using networks of compromised PCs to distribute junk mail messages.

    OFF-TOPIC

    • NASA Mission Will Explore Solar System's Frozen Edge - On Tuesday, a powerful Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket is scheduled to send a spacecraft called New Horizons on a journey to the dim outer reaches of the Sun's realm for the first close-up look at Pluto. If successful, the mission will complete the initial exploration of the nine planets that defined the solar system at the beginning of the space age.
    • Taiwanese breed fluorescent pigs - Researchers at the National Taiwan University Department of Animal Science and Technology have bred pigs that glow in the dark. Three male piglets, born three months ago, have green eyes, teeth and trotters and their skin glows green under blue light. The researchers said that the fluorescence continues through the piglets' bodies including their internal organs.
    • Sci-Fi channel to show new Doctor Who in US - According to the two media organisations, the show's first 13-episode run will air Friday nights at 9pm next March, a year after they were shown in the UK and around the time the second series kicks off in Britain following the Christmas special's successful introduction of the tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. The Sci-Fi Channel has the option to show the 2006 season too.
    • Fast-spinning neutron star smashes speed limit - The fastest-spinning neutron star ever found is discovered in a crowded star cluster near the centre of the Milky Way, a new study reveals. The star rotates 716 times per second – faster than some theories predict is possible – and therefore may force researchers to revise their models

    TECHNOLOGY...

    • US game sales hit record $10.5 billion in 2005 - The NPD Group reports U.S. game retail sales hit a record $10.5 billion in 2005, breaking the previous record of $10.3 billion set back in 2002. And get this; software sales for the GBA, Nintendo DS and Sony PSP increased by 42 percent over 2004. Nintendo's five-year-old GBA comprised a whopping 52% of total handheld sales. 
    • 600,000 Xbox 360 consoles sold in US - Reuters reports that Microsoft has sold 600,000 Xbox 360 consoles in the United States since its November 2005 launch. Data comes from the NDP Group which measures and projects nearly two-thirds of all US retail sales. In case you are still interested, Amazon.com and Wal-mart finally have some Xbox 360 bundles in stock.
    • Playstation 3 might cost $500 - A CNN Mone article projected that Sony's PS3 might cost $500. The strongest argument behind the $499 price point is the PS3's inclusion of a Blu-Ray drive.
    • Microsoft nearing ad system for MSN searches - Microsoft said Thursday that by the end of June it would begin selling advertising alongside its MSN Web search results. It previously relied on a partnership with rival Yahoo! for those ads, but has been testing its own system in the U.S. since October.
    • LCD Monitors to Take 80% Share in 2006 - Displaybank have brought out an interesting report on the projected market share that LCD monitors will have this year. "LCD monitors are expected to account for more than 80%", stated CEO Peter Kwon. They also expect LCD Monitor shipments to hit 125 million, 20 million more than 2005. If true this will equal a impressive 80.4% share.
    • CES 2006 Coverage @ X-bit Labs - check it out + Extended64 has 151 pictures from the show. Highlights include some awesome Microsoft products, huge plasmas, and rollup displays.
    • Sky Available Through Wires - skybybroadband - Sky TV has launched a broadband only service which allows users to download films and programmes legally. Customers who are on Sky's Digital package and have either Sky Sports or Sky Movies will be able to access a wide range of videos, at no extra cost. The videos are encoded at 860kbps and are at a resolution of 540x432. Sky reckons a 2 hour movie will be about 750MB. Windows XP is needed to watch the videos according to Sky. They hope to offer over 1,000 films through their back catalogue, whilst Sky Sports subscribers will be able to watch sports clips. Films will usually be viewable for 30 days until the license expires.
    • New Network Could Compete With Cellular Phone Service -
    • Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) fired a shot across the bow of American Cellular carriers, announcing it has placed an order with Boeing for three satellites. The company intends to launch the satellites by 2010 in order to provide mobile voice and data to customers across North and South America.
    • Free VOIP USB Phone - Bargain electronics store Computer Geeks has a great deal on a USB VOIP Handset. It sells for $39.99, but you get a $39.99 mail-in rebate (valid until 1/31/06), making it a for free deal. The generic brand AU-100 Voice Over IP USB Phone connects via USB 2.0 and features full duplex communication, noise reduction and echo cancellation. It is for sure not the best VOIP PC handset, but its free, just do not forget to mail-in the rebate form
    • Nvidia is shipping 6800 AGP - The cards are clocked at 350MHz core and 1000MHz GDDR 3 memory and in the UK they cost around L187 including VAT. In Euroland, at least in the German part of Euroland, the cards will cost EURO249 including VAT. In Austria it will cost you a little bit more as you have to pay more VAT in Austroland. The 6800 GS AGP is a twelve pipelines part powered with 256 bit memory interface and it is more or less declocked Geforce 6800 GT, for much less money. It does support Shader Model 3, something that Nvidia has been preaching so long and ATI just jumped on its bandwagon. It is AGP, so it will fit into your AGP upgrade systems and won't cost you a fortune to change the whole PC to get a faster graphic card.
    • GeForce 7900 Reportedly Coming in March - HEXUS.net appears to have received confirmation that NVIDIA's next graphics processor, codenamed G71 and its first using the 90nm process, will be launched this March at CeBIT 2006 as the GeForce 7900. The flagship 7900 GTX will sport 32 pixel pipelines and have a clock speed between 700 and 750MHz.
    • ATI R580 will do 1.1 teraflops - TheInquirer reports that when ATI launches its R580 chip on the 24th of January next, the beastie will perform at a staggering 1.1 teraflops.

    HARDWARE... 

    GUIDES...

    • All Opteron Models - A series of quick reference tables containing the main specs of all Opteron processors released to date.
    • How To Correctly Apply Thermal Grease - Everything you need to know about thermal grease: learn how to correctly apply it in order to prevent your CPU from overheating. A complete guide full of pictures.
    • How Many Cores Do You Need To Be "Hardcore"? -
    • Screencasting: Make Your Own Tutorials! - The fact that screencasting is gaining popularity is hardly surprising. What's more, neither screencasting nor the technologies it employs are new. There has been screencasting software (i.e. - Lotus ScreenCam) for more than a decade, not to mention the existence of audio and screen capture techniques that have existed for more than twenty or thirty years.

    SOFTWARE...

    • Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5 Final - Thunderbird (release notes / download) is a full-featured email, RSS and newsgroup client that makes emailing safer, faster and easier than ever before. Thunderbird 1.5 now features support for podcasting, as well as improvements to how the client deals with RSS feeds.
    • QuickTime 7.04 - download (WinXP/2k) / release notes
    • Bart PE Builder v3.1.9  - Bart's PE Builder (changelog / download) helps you build a "BartPE" (Bart Preinstalled Environment) bootable Windows CD-Rom or DVD from the original Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 installation/setup CD, very suitable for PC maintenance tasks.
    • AbiWord 2.4.2  - AbiWord (download) is a free word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.
    • Google Talk 1.0.0.82 Beta - Google Talk (download) enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free - anytime, anywhere in the world.
    • PHP 4.4.2 - This release (download) address a few small security issues, and also corrects some regressions that occurred in PHP 4.4.1. All PHP 4 users are encouraged to upgrade to this release.
    • PHP 5.1.2 Final - The PHP development team is proud to announce the release of PHP 5.1.2 (download)
    • µTorrent 1.4 - µTorrent 1.4 (download) is finally out. This new version adds Bitcomet style add dialog, RSS Reader and Speed wizard to select your proper settings based on upload speed.
    • FileZilla Server 0.9.12c - FileZilla Server (download) is a reliable FTP server.
    • 1by1 1.51 - 1by1 (+mpglib.dll 0.92) is a very small sized player which is not only small: It plays whole directories without any playlist.
    • FastStone Image Viewer 2.30 Beta 2 - FastStone Image Viewer (download) is a fast, stable, user-friendly image browser, converter and editor. It has a nice array of features that include image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping and color adjustments.
    • AnyDVD 5.8.2.1 - AnyDVD works in the background to automatically remove the copy protection of a DVD movie as soon as it's inserted into the drive, allowing you then to backup the movie using a DVD backup tool such as CloneDVD. Word is: "Added support for a new version of the Sony Arccos protection as found on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" R2 (Swiss German) to the option to remove "Protection based on unreadable Sectors" NOTE: This Arccos version is not yet supported with DVDShrink and Nero Recode. With elby CloneDVD 2.8.5.1 the quality bar will not work, but this is only a cosmetic problem. We will try to support this Arccos version better in the future. "
    • aTuner 1.9.40.8198 - With aTuner (download), you can change so calles "quality features" very fast and easy. On GeForce- and Radeon-Cards you can alter the antialiasing-mode, the degree of anisotropic filtering, and the VSync-mode. That's of course far less than any other tweaker offers, but aTuner's usability is unique.
    • Z-Tweaked drivers 82.12 - Z-Tweaked drivers are a modified version of nvidia's forceware graphics card drivers and are tweaked for the purpose of improved performance.
    • Forceware 81.97 Win2000/XP - A new ForceWare driver is out today as released by Dell. Seems like a good quality build. This driver supports most GeForce Graphics cards available.
    • ForceWare 82.65 Win2000/XP x32 -  These drivers support some new cards like a 7300 LE and 7300 GS. Among other things some users report that AMD's X2 (dual core) processor issues seem to be fixed in this release.
    • ForceWare 82.65 Windows XP x64 -  These drivers support some new cards like a 7300 LE and 7300 GS. In it's current state these drivers are WHQL certified and this is why they left the .inf file intact.
    How Many Cores Do You Need To Be "Hardcore"? - tech
    (hx) 08:28 AM EST - Jan,14 2006 - Post a comment
    The chaps over at Twitch Guru have posted an interesting article called How Many Cores Do You Need To Be "Hardcore"? They compared an Intel based system with high end hardware that typical consumers would be able purchase  - an Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz, an 2GB DDR2-4300 RAM, a WD800JD 80 GB, XFX 7800 GT 256MB against The Falcon Northwest Mach V (AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+) and All American Computer's Liquid XS (AMD Athlon 64 FX-57):
    As you can clearly see, even a high end computer like our reference system can't stand up to either of these two giants. For gaming, the single card solution is no match for the NVIDIA SLI enabled systems from AAC and Falcon Northwest. As Quakecon 2005 attendees can attest, they get their product decision choices from seeing the doubling and tripling of scores instead of 30-60% performance increase with the addition of a second graphics card.

    The most interesting results are seen in Unreal Tournament 2004, which is a CPU limited game, thus the small deviation in the frames per second as resolutions and rendering options are applied. The X2 system with the added second card and 900 MHz CPU handicap outperforms the reference system by 40+ frames per second. The AAC Liquid XS pulls ahead of the reference system by 60 frames per second. Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 showed the power of multi-threaded code at its best. Both of these games perform better with the 300 MHz handicap to that of the FX-57 system, but make up for it in extra core horsepower.

    Dual core will be the way of the future, but we are still waiting on applications and drivers to fully support the added capabilities. In the short term, single core is the best approach if you are solely running games. If you are looking for solid gaming while multitasking like running music, using some form of voice over IP service to communicate to your friends, or encoding/decoding, then multi-core is for you.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,13 2006 - tech
    ASUS Extreme Dual N7800GT - tech
    (hx) 07:04 PM EST - Jan,13 2006 - Post a comment
    Trusted Reviews take a look at the ASUS Extreme Dual N7800GT graphics card. Here's a slice:
    In Half-Life 2 and Day of Defeat with HDR it's again slightly behind but again the overclocking results pull it ahead, though not by so great a margin as in the other titles. So while the Asus Extreme N7800GT Dual is an achievement technologically, it's slightly disappointing performance wise - unless you overclock it. However, with its ability to do this above and beyond single cards, you'd be mad not to.

    Even though you can't use two of them in combination, the Asus Extreme N7800GT Dual would be worth considering if you want to go SLI without the hassle, or the noise, of two cards. The performance is there if you overclock and it is quieter, which always helps you enjoy your games more. The problem is then that at the cheapest price we could find it, it was still more expensive than buying two of the cheapest 7800 GT cards.
     Gameguru Mania News - Jan,12 2006 - tech
    WD Raptor 150GB - fastest SATA HDD - tech
    (hx) 05:10 PM EST - Jan,12 2006 - Post a comment
    The chaps over at GamePC take a look at the Western Digital Raptor 150GB drive, undoubtedly the fastest Serial ATA hard drive on the market. Here's  a taster:
    The only obvious feature missing here is a Serial ATA-II/300 interface, which was left off due to quality concerns with new SATA-II/300 components. Serial ATA-150 is a more stable choice at this point, and this fact alone should not affect performance in any way. However, it does make the drive look antiquated to someone who is not familiar with these facts, as many will want a "fast" Serial ATA-II/300 hard drive to pair with their new SATA-II/300 compliant motherboard, ignoring the fact that this Serial ATA-150 disk will be faster than any Serial ATA-II/300 disk you can possibly buy. There are rumors picking up that WD will introduce a "gaming" version of this drive with a Serial ATA-II/300 interface - although they have not confirmed such a product yet.

    In terms of raw performance, the Raptor 150 is unbeatable at this point. Most new Serial ATA-II/300 class 7,200 RPM hard drives can push around 50-55 MB/s sustained transfer rates, whereas the Raptor 74 GB could push around 65 MB/s. The Raptor 150 GB one ups them all, maxing out at around 77 MB/s for a single drive, and improvement of roughly 18% over their previous generation product. Write speeds are improved as well, as our previous page of benchmarks showed. Take a few of these drives in RAID-0, and you have some heavy duty enterprise class storage. With four disks in RAID-0 we were able to push over 300 MB/s of sustained data read speed. Simply an amazing amount of storage power at one's fingertips.

    However, it's not all roses at this point. The Raptor 150 GB has slightly higher random access times, although the Raptor 150 is still far quicker compared to every 7,200 RPM disks. In addition, the Raptor 150 GB does run a bit louder and a bit hotter compared to its predecessors. However, neither of these aspects really sways our opinion on the drive too much, as the changes are negligible for most environments.
    Gaming Notebook Roundup - tech
    (hx) 12:07 PM EST - Jan,12 2006 - Post a comment
    Trusted reviews have posted a Gaming Notebook Roundup - they compared the AJP M575A, Evesham Voyager C720 Plus and Rock Extreme CT models.
    The AJP M575A is equipped with a higher resolution 1,920 x 1,200 display, making it much more suitable for work as well as play. The processor is the highly capable Pentium M 760, which operates at 2GHz. This is coupled with 1GB of Kingston DDR II memory. These memory modules run at the slightly slower timings of 4-4-4-12, whereas the Evesham and Rock run at 4-4-4-11. This difference is barely noticeable though, with the AJP matching the Evesham in the memory portion of PC Mark. Included is a 100GB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive which is plenty of storage space and quite nippy too, showing a fairly significant improvement over the Rock's hard drive performance in PC Mark.

    Evesham Voyager C720 Plus is a very similar specification to the Rock Extreme CT, based on the same Intel Pentium M 770 (2.13GHz) processor. There are two notable differences between the machines. One is the use a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution screen, instead of the higher resolution 1,920 x 1,200 display on the Rock, and the other is the lid, which is slightly less interesting to look at.  With 1GB of Samsung memory and a 100GB 7,200RPM SATA hard drive, this machine is highly specified and will cope with almost anything thrown at it. Considering the £1,718.99 inc. VAT price point, this can be taken as a given.  

    Rock Extreme CT -  From the outside, the Rock Extreme CT is slightly different to the AJP and Evesham, in that it has a considerably nicer looking lid. There is also an option upon purchase to have a lid with "Rock" etched into it. This might sound a little off-putting, but it is actually quite nice. The differences don't end there, with more changes on the inside. Like the Evesham, the Rock runs the Intel Pentium M 770 (2.13GHz) processor and like the AJP it has a 1,920 x 1,200 display. The memory installed is 1GB of high quality Corsair goodness. This choice becomes obvious when you look inside the BIOS as there are options for overclocking.
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