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August 2005

Steam Update Released

31 August 2005

Valve have released another Steam update for Source games, including a special Half Life 1 HiDef Model Pack pack which you can install by clicking this link while the Steam Client is running in the background. More details on this update can be found here.

Amiga Emulation Guide Released

28 August 2005

Here's something different you might like to check out. The Amiga 500 was a great entry point into computing in the late 80's for people like me who couldn't justify the cost of a "serious" PC. The Amiga 500, much like the Commodore 64 before it, was the platform of choice for budding programmers and enthusiasts, and this Amiga Emulation Guide is my homage to the mighty Amiga 500. Using the software and tips in this guide, you should be able to get an almost-perfect emulation of an Amiga 500 on your PC. Everything from the famous "hand-holding-the-disk" loadup screen, to the drive loading sounds, through to how to download and play (free legal) games like Defender of the Crown or R-Type. Even if you've never used an Amiga before, come and see the nostalgic 80's in all their glory, and marvel at how advanced stone-age computers actually were!

Windows x64 Compatibility List

28 August 2005

Here's a great Compatibility List for applications under Windows x64 - very handy if you're wondering what works and what doesn't under the 64-bit version of Windows XP.

Google Talk Tweaks

28 August 2005

Several sites have started to post tweaks and tips for Google Talk. Sites like this one and this one to name a couple. Give them a try, although I haven't tested any out personally as yet.

Centrino Hardware Control

26 August 2005

I don't usually post much information for laptop users, however there is a utility called Centrino Hardware Control which users of Intel laptops may want to try. It allows you to monitor and control fan speeds, battery life, hard drive temps and processor speeds among other things.

Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Drivers

25 August 2005

Creative has released new drivers for the newly released X-Fi Sound Card. These drivers should be the same as on the X-Fi install disk, and word has it they also work on Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 sound cards, however I personally won't install them on my Audigy 2.

Google Talk Released

25 August 2005

If you're not already aware, Google have released an Instant Messaging/Voice Over IP (VOIP) program called Google Talk. It seems quite good, but is still in beta at the moment and is available for Gmail users. Give it a try if you want to instant message or talk to your friends over the Internet for free.

BlackViper is Back

24 August 2005

After several months absence, BlackViper's Site is back up again and in particular his excellent XP Services Guide is available again for all to use. No word on why it was down for so long, but it seems like everything is back to normal again.

Windows x64

24 August 2005

Tom's Hardware have an article which Looks at Windows x64, and compares its performance to regular Windows XP. Without wanting to pre-empt the article, it arrives at the same conclusions many previous articles have - that you're better off sticking to regular Windows XP because of the lack of performance improvements or otherwise, even on dual core and 64-bit CPUs.

Guide Update

23 August 2005

Just a quick update to tell you which tweak guides I'm planning to release soon. Firstly, my Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Tweak Guide is on hold, perhaps indefinitely. I apologize to all SCCT fans, but I just can't work up the motivation to finish off this guide. I think this is the first time I've promised a guide and not delivered on it. I'll try to see if I can complete it in my spare time, but I can't make any promises.

Next up, in the coming few days I will be releasing a small guide which I think will please many older gamers (like me), and might be interesting for younger gamers as well. You'll find out what I mean shortly, but it involves free software which anyone can use, so check back soon to see what it is and to try out the guide.

Finally, the next few months look like they're going to be big for games. Games like F.E.A.R, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted are slated to be released by October or November, and I'm sure a couple of other decent titles will hit by then. I should be in a position to do guides for each of these major games. As usual, stay tuned!

Battlefield 2 Update from EA

20 August 2005

EA Games have put up another BF2 Community Update which spells out among other things that the much-anticipated 1.03 patch for BF2 will not arrive by the end of August as promised. Isn't it great when you buy a game only to have it "fixed" months later? EA also mention that the new 5.8 Catalysts are highly recommended for BF2 players with ATI graphics cards as they resolve several issues. Finally, they give a possible solution to those experiencing problems with their stats in BF2.

Site Changes - Thanks to Microsoft

19 August 2005

Given Microsoft's recent legal action (see below for details), I've been forced to implement some site changes. These have been time consuming and annoying, but they had to be done to make sure Microsoft has no grounds to shut down. These are the changes:

  • The Windows XP Tweaking Companion (XPTC) is now called The TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. The name and the logo have changed, so have the link and all references to the XPTC, but the guide contents remain exactly the same.
  • The WinXP Guides link has been removed from the site menu. All Windows XP-related guides are now listed under the System Guides link.
  • The Longhorn/Vista Theme article has been removed altogether - at least until I get further clarification from the MS lawyers.

  • Please help spread the word about what's happened to the XPTC. For example, if you have linked to it on a website or forum, it would be helpful if you change the link to this one, and explain that the guide is now called the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Thankfully nothing significant has changed, and I am left confused as to why Microsoft bothered to target in this way, but hopefully it is all over now.

    Audio Console for Creative Sound Blaster Audigy

    18 August 2005

    Creative have released an Audio Console update for the Audigy range of cards. The console allows access to all the major settings for your Audigy card in one place, however it is not vital that you install this.

    ATI Catalyst 5.8 Released Early

    17 August 2005

    DriverHeaven have been given permission by ATI to release the Catalyst Version 5.8 drivers early, a day ahead of their official release on These drivers contain a large range of mainly fixes for various problems with previous Catalysts. If in doubt, wait for the official release tomorrow, but these are the real thing. I have updated my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide accordingly.

    Update: The official 5.8 Catalysts are now available directly from the ATI Website as expected.

    VIA Hyperion Pro 5.0.1 Beta Released

    17 August 2005

    The (beta) VIA HyperionPro 5.0.1 drivers are available for download. Note that since these are beta, you are installing them at your own risk, and I would only recommend them for those with the very latest VIA chipset-based motherboards who are experiencing problems. Check my VIA Hyperion FAQ for more details of what VIA drivers do.

    Microsoft's Lawyers - Clarification

    16 August 2005

    First of all, thanks to everyone who has written in so far expressing support for the site - I really do appreciate it. For those who suggest that I fight Microsoft - well enormous costs aside, the truth is that they are legally correct in saying that they have the right to refuse the use of the term 'Windows XP', 'WinXP' or 'Windows' in a product name. Of course I'm not going to pay a large licensing fee just to use these terms in my guide title. However there will have to be a few changes to the site.

    To start with I will be renaming my Windows XP Tweaking Companion to simply The TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. I will then redesign the various XPTC logos and manually edit all the references to the XPTC throughout my site, and that will take up a fair few hours of my time. I also have to remove the 'WinXP Guides' item from the site menu list at the top of each page - talk about silly! Finally, I'm still seeking further clarification from the MS lawyers about why they want the 'Vista Theme for XP' article removed from my site, since I am not hosting any of the files required to do it. That one has me stumped.

    Anyway things aren't that bad - is not going anywhere, and my Windows XP Tweaking Companion guide will live on, just with a new name, new logo and redesigned cover. I'm not sure why Microsoft has decided to target my site in this way. It may be an indication that the site is now popular enough to catch their attention. It may just be that they were bored. I personally think it's a ridiculous waste of time and will use up a fair bit of the free time I had set aside to put towards writing guides. I'm starting to see why people don't like Microsoft.

    Microsoft's Lawyers Swing Into Action Against

    16 August 2005

    In what can only be described as an amazing move, Microsoft's lawyers have sent me an official letter asking me to rename my Windows XP Tweaking Companion, as well as removing my Vista Theme for XP article altogether. Not only that, but I am to drop the term 'WinXP Guides' from the top menu of my site. I'm supposed to substitute terms like for Windows XP, rather than have Windows XP or WinXP in the main part of the title. Well what can I say...I didn't expect Microsoft to officially support me while I try to help XP users with my free guides, but I also didn't expect them to threaten me with legal action either. Right now I am very, very pissed off to say the least.

    Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide Updated

    12 August 2005

    I've gone through and updated my Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide to account for the changes and new features in the Official 77.77 Forceware drivers. The main changes are on page 6 of the guide, and in particular you should check out the new Triple Buffering setting. Have a quick run through the rest of the guide as well to make sure all your settings are optimal.

    Nvidia Forceware 77.77 Released

    12 August 2005

    Nvidia have released the Official Forceware 77.77 drivers for Nvidia graphics cards. These drivers improve SLI performance, add official support for SLI Antialiasing and for the new 7800GT graphics card released today among other things. I recommend you install these if you run an Nvidia card on your system, and of course I will shortly update my Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide to reflect all these changes.

    Far Cry Version 1.33 Patch Released

    11 August 2005

    A new patch for Far Cry has been released, bringing it up to Version 1.33. The patch primarily has fixes for Far Cry multiplayer, and you can read more about it on page 4 of my Far Cry Tweak Guide.

    New Security Patches on Windows Update

    10 August 2005

    Microsoft has released several new security patches and updates for Windows through the Windows Update site - make sure to run Windows Update as soon as possible to download these patches.

    Bad News About Windows Vista

    10 August 2005

    In what seems to be the first serious bit of bad news I've seen about Windows Vista, Microsoft appear to be lining up to neuter OpenGL in Vista. OpenGL is the open-source competitor to Microsoft's own proprietary Direct3D/Windows Graphic Foundation API, and by the looks of it MS want to make sure it runs so slowly vs D3D/WGF that it won't be worth our while to use it. If this development comes to fruition it will be bad news indeed for everyone...except MS of course.

    F.E.A.R Demo Tweak Guide

    7 August 2005

    I've managed to put together a brief F.E.A.R Demo Tweak Guide, the main aim of which is to help you get the game up and running and performing well on your machine. That way not only can you enjoy the demo now, you will also be able to better judge how the full retail version of the game will run on your machine when tweaked, and hence whether you really need to upgrade or not for it.

    Site Issues

    7 August 2005

    If you've noticed has been slow or even inaccessible over the past few days, it's because I'm having some issues with the server on which the site is hosted. We are looking at this issue at the moment and it should be resolved shortly, so thanks for your patience, and if you have problems connecting to the site keep trying!

    F.E.A.R Demo & Tweak Guide

    6 August 2005

    Vivendi Universal have released the F.E.A.R Demo - a single player demo of this high-tech horror game. The demo weighs in at over 660MB, however people are raving about this game's graphics so I suggest you give it a try. The reason I mention the demo here is that I'm already getting many requests to do a tweak guide for it. I've only just installed the game myself, but I can tell you that in the next couple of days I'll put up a brief FEAR Demo Tweak Guide, and then I'll definitely do a full guide once the game comes out. If you have any FEAR tweaks, please help me out by Emailing them to me to speed up the process.

    For the moment however I strongly urge all FEAR players to read the Readme.txt file which comes with the demo, and in particular note the very high minimum system requirements. This game is a real system-killer. In the meanwhile I'm going to start playing the FEAR demo for myself and see what I can come up with, so stay tuned.

    Battlefield 2 Editor (Open Beta) Released

    6 August 2005

    EA Games have finally officially released the Battlefield 2 Mod Editor as an Open Beta. This tool gives you the chance to create new maps and mods for BF2. There is a User Manual & Tutorial you can download to go with the editor.

    Vista/Longhorn Theme for XP - Part 2

    5 August 2005

    News item removed due to legal action by Microsoft.

    Source Engine and CounterStrike: Source Updates

    5 August 2005

    There is an update available for the Source Engine as well as CounterStrike: Source through Steam. You can read about the latest changes here, and to get these updates just restart your Steam client while online.

    Windows Genuine Advantage Loophole Fixed

    4 August 2005

    As some of you may know, shortly after Microsoft made the Windows Genuine Advantage program compulsory requiring validation before downloading MS patches, a loophole appeared. Now I don't report on these sort of loopholes/exploits/hacks, since they only help those using pirated copies of XP. However Microsoft has apparently fixed the loophole recently so it no longer works.

    Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory 1.04 Patch

    4 August 2005

    Ubisoft has released a new patch for Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Version 1.04. The most important change in this patch is the introduction of Shader Model (SM) 2.0 support for ATI graphics cards. That means if you run an ATI graphics card, using this patch will enable better quality graphics, since previously ATI cards could only run SM1.1, while Nvidia cards can run up to SM3.0 in SCCT. I will include more details in my Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Tweak Guide which should (eventually) arrive for all you SCCT fans.

    Vista/Longhorn Theme for XP

    3 August 2005

    News item removed due to legal action by Microsoft.

    A Quick Update

    2 August 2005

    Things have been a bit quiet here since I released my Battlefield 2 and Hardware Confusion guides recently - basically I've been doing other things, including enjoying my new system a fair bit. However I still have to complete my Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Tweak Guide as promised, which I'm trying to do at the moment. I'm also going to produce guides for the major games coming out soon, including Star Wars Battlefront 2, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and The Godfather. If you have any other ideas for non-gaming guides, please Let Me Know. I've got a few ideas of my own but I would like to know what aspect of computing you believe really deserves a TweakGuides tweak guide.

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