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January 2006

Timeshift Demo Released

31 January 2006

Timeshift is a new sci-fi FPS which introduces the novel ability to manipulate time - shifting it forward or back around the character. The demo of the game has been released and is definitely worth downloading, weighing in at 578MB. You can get the demo from the usual places like Fileshack or FilePlanet. Note that the full retail version will be released in late March. For more details of the game, including tips, tweaks and thoughts, see this thread on our forums. I'll look into doing a quick tweak guide for the demo if it is tweakable.

Update: I've posted screenshots and thoughts - and solutions to some common problems - in my post on the first page of the Timeshift thread on our forums. However the game lags oddly on my machine for no explicable reason, and according to user feedback it does on a lot of other machines too. This is a major bug with the demo and makes it fairly much unplayable until fixed by Atari.

Forums Hit 1,000 Members

28 January 2006

The TweakGuides Forums have hit 1,000 Registered Members today. They were only opened 3 months ago and steadily they are growing into a unique rubbish-free, abuse-free place for mature discussion of all things PC an non-PC. I once again invite you to look through the forums and get involved in the discussions, keeping in mind the Forum Rules are strictly enforced precisely to keep the place mature and pleasant.

Crash Day - and a Warning

27 January 2006

Atari has released a playable demo of a game called Crash Day. It's similar to Need for Speed: Most Wanted in many ways, but the aim is to destroy other cars with missiles and miniguns, or do insane stunts. It's quite fun and looks to have some potential - check out my screenies, thoughts and tweaks in this thread.

Now here is the warning part. Without meaning to be overly dramatic, the Crash Day demo uses the SecuROM copy protection system. This is highly annoying and may cause problems on your machine. You can either avoid installing the demo, or if you install it and then eventually want to uninstall it and remove SecuROM, including the 'SecuROM User Access' Service it installs in Windows, follow these steps:

1. Uninstall the game as normal.

2. Manually delete the game directory (typically \Program Files\Atari\Crashday-demo\

3. Go to Start>Run and type "Services.msc" (without quotes) and press Enter.

4. Go to the 'Securom User Access' Service, double click on it, click Stop and then set it to Disabled.

5. Go to \Windows\System32\ directory and delete the UAService7.exe file.

6. Go to Start>Run and type "sc delete useraccess7" (without quotes) and press Enter.

Note: This Service may be recreated by one of your other SecuROM games, in which case you will have to keep it running to play them.

The following steps are very risky and only for people who are certain none of their currently installed games use or need SecuROM:

7. Go to \Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\ and delete the SecuROM sub-directory.

8. Go to Start>Run and type "Regedit" (without quotes) and press Enter. Then find the [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\SecuROM] key and delete it if possible.

I am really annoyed at SecuROM as it is an intrusive system which causes a vast range of problems for legitimate users. I'm giving you a clear heads-up that it is on this demo, and that it may cause problems on your machine as it has for recent games like F.E.A.R.

Windows Defender

27 January 2006

Microsoft is renaming their Windows Antispyware (currently in beta) to Windows Defender. It will be available for all versions of Windows, and will incorporate features like automatic updates and Outlook integration. Most importantly, it is expected to remain free to Windows users who own a valid copy of the OS. It is likely to come out around the same time as Windows Vista - late 2006.

AC97 Onboard Audio 3.83 Driver Released

27 January 2006

Realtek have released Version 3.82 audio drivers for their AC97 audio chipsets, found on most motherboards with onboard audio solutions. If you're using onboard audio and are having problems, check this out as it may suit your motherboard. Otherwise it is not vital that you update.

Firefox 2 Coming Soon

25 January 2006

Soon after the major release of Firefox 1.5, it seems that Firefox 2 is being planned for release around mid-2006 with a list of possible new features to keep the browser at the forefront of user requirements. Given Internet Explorer 7 will also be out soon, the battle of the browsers is hotting up. Remember that there is no outright "best browser". I personally prefer Firefox, but it all depends on which particular feature(s) you value the most. Keep an eye on both Firefox and Internet Explorer, as I have a feeling the next iteration of both these browsers will be excellent.

Audigy 2.08.0004 Drivers Released

25 January 2006

Creative have released an official new driver for SoundBlaster Audigy, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 series sound cards, Version 2.08.0004. These are for both Windows XP 32 and 64-bit.

DirectX10 Gaming

23 January 2006

Many of you would be aware that DirectX10 is coming. The changes that DX10 will bring should be more noticeable than any recent updates to DirectX, in large part because of the fact that it is built to accommodate the features of the next Windows OS - Windows Vista. To give you a taste of what DirectX10 games will look like, you can view screenshots and download a gameplay video of an upcoming game called Crysis. Note that you will need a graphics card with DirectX10 hardware support to be able to play this game with this sort of eye candy, and since none is available as yet, if you're looking to spend big bucks upgrading your graphics card you may want to wait until they arrive - hopefully in the second half of this year. As you can see, it will be well worth it given what's in store for PC gaming on DX10.

Quick Update

22 January 2006

Just a quick update to firstly say that I've updated my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide with a lot of small changes and corrections. I still have to incorporate ATI Tray Tools into the Advanced Tweaking section but I will do that in a little while. I've also spent a fair bit of my time fixing up Forum moderation issues and resolving server issues on my new host, so that both the main site and the forums are back to being fast and responsive. Now that these are out of the way to some extent, when new games start coming out this year I will have more time to dedicate to writing guides on them. As mentioned earlier my personal hot favorites are The Godfather and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, but who knows what other great games will take me by surprise. Stay tuned.

3DMark06 and Upgrade Anxiety

20 January 2006

I've just run 3DMark 2006 on my reasonable system, consisting of an X2 4400+, 7800GTX and 2GB of RAM. While my score is alright - 4275 at stock settings - I am very disappointed with this latest version of 3DMark. For starters, in an effort to force everyone to buy the Pro edition, this is the first in the 3DMark series to rehash the previous one's tests. Only the 'Deep Freeze' test stands out as an amazing new demo. Next, on my 6-month old but still fairly high end system, almost the entire demo runs like a slideshow, at around 10FPS. The CPU test in particular runs at 0.5 - 1FPS the entire time.

So am I to believe that it's time for me to ditch my crappy X2 4400+ and my lowly 7800GTX and upgrade? Of course not. I doubt I'll even have to upgrade a thing when Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or any other new game comes out in the next few months. My system has been running games like FEAR, Call of Duty 2 and NFS:Most Wanted at 1280x1024 with 2xAA, 4xAF and all settings max comfortably and I have no reason to believe it is suddenly useless now.

As I said, I am disappointed that Futuremark have taken the usual 3DMark formula of inducing upgrade anxiety, and increased it tenfold. By both forcing you to buy the full version of 3DMark to get decent new demos, and making subtle changes like increasing the base resolution to 1280x1024 to make the benchmark too strenuous on virtually every system on the planet, they may have just knocked themselves off the top of the heap as an actual objective "gamers" benchmark. Do not upgrade because of 3DMark - wait for games which actually prompt you to upgrade. You can discuss this further in this thread.

CounterStrike: Source & Source Engine Updates Released

19 January 2006

Valve have released fairly large updates for CS:S and the Source Engine - read about them here, and restart your Steam client while online to download them.

ATI Catalyst 6.1 Released

19 January 2006

ATI has released the official Catalyst 6.1 graphics drivers. The changes from these can be seen here, but it is predominantly just bug fixes. These Catalysts only come with the Control Center, and the Control Panel has been phased out. I recommend you get used to installing the Control Center for maximum functionality and minimal problems, and configure it according to Page 7 of my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide. Alternatively you can simply install the driver only, and use ATI Tray Tools to access Catalyst functionality. I will update my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide shortly for this version, though not much has changed.

3DMark06 Released

19 January 2006

Futuremark have released the next version of the popular graphics benchmarking program 3DMark 2006. The free Basic Edition weighs in at 577MB and I strongly recommend you give it a try. Don't feel discouraged if you find it runs extremely slowly on your machine, as is normal with most 3DMark releases, the features and visuals shown will take a fair while to filter into actual game releases.

Site Problems

18 January 2006

There are some major problems with heavy load on the server which holds my website. Even though I recently changed hosts and upgraded to a Virtual Private Server, something is causing a massive load on the server (likely another site on the same server), and as such TweakGuides and our Forums have been almost totally unresponsive over the last 12 hours. I apologize for the inconvenience and hopefully the issue should be resolved shortly.

Update: The site seems to have returned to normal. I will pursue this issue with my host to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Star Wars Battlefront II Patch Soon

18 January 2006

Given the many genuine problems Star Wars Battlefront II players are facing, Lucasarts has shamefully neglected to address these for many months. However there is light at the end of the tunnel - Lucasarts has just announced that a Patch is in the works, and due at the end of this month. Check my SW BFII Tweak Guide page for an update when it comes out, and hopefully I can do up a full guide for the game once the patch resolves the major bugs in the game.

Quick Update

16 January 2006

Well things have been relatively quiet tech-wise, as well as in the gaming world, hence the lack of news items. Instead I've been putting a lot of my spare time into improving and modifying the TweakGuides Forums. At times I feel like giving up and closing the forums because of how much time it's taking me and the moderators to strictly enforce the rules. I really do want it to stand out from other forums by having mature people from a variety of backgrounds, and I guess I'll have to do what it takes to bring that about. If you want to be part of a growing community of interesting people, if you can agree to and follow the Forum Rules, then please join in. Even if you don't have much tech knowledge, at least post on the Community Sub-Forums. This is one of the few places where I've seen such a diverse range of people, discussing a wide range of things without abuse, spam or childishness - and I want you to be involved.

Quake 4 Beta 1.05 Patch Version 2

13 January 2006

A second Quake 4 Beta 1.05 Patch has been released, this time fixing a few minor issues in the first beta 1.05 patch. You can download it from Filefront or 3DGamers among other places, although if you're already using the first Beta 1.05 patch without problems, you may as well wait for a final release instead of trying this second beta. Note that the 1.05 beta patches are specifically for Dual Core/HyperThreading systems.

Battlefield 2 Update

12 January 2006

In an effort to rake in even more cash from the Battlefield franchise, EA are releasing two new expansion packs - neither of which is free: one is Euroforce, and the other is Armored Fury. You can read more about them here. More importantly, EA says "we are of course still utterly devoted to providing updates for Battlefield 2". This sign of their devotion really brought a tear to my eye - so devoted are they that 8 months after the game was released they're only just now beta testing a 1.2 Patch which addresses major concerns raised by players many months ago, like the overwhelming superiority of airpower and problems with Stinger missile lock-ons, "Dolphin diving", "Prone spamming", jumping and shooting at the same time. Fingers crossed this much-anticipated 1.2 Patch comes out before Battlefield 3 comes out and starts the whole cycle of Buy, Wait, Patch all over again...

Microsoft Security Updates Released

12 January 2006

Microsoft have released new security updates which you can download through Windows Update, or directly through here.

Dual Core CPUs - Time to Upgrade?

11 January 2006

With the release of the new AMD FX-60 Dual Core 'Gaming' CPU, a lot of people are probably wondering if it's time they should be generally upgrading to a dual core CPU. There are a range of performance reviews you can read around the Net to see how the FX-60 and other dual cores perform, such as the reviews at AnandTech or Bit-Tech for example.

However as someone who's been using a dual core AMD X2 4400+ for 6 months now, I have my own opinion. And rather than write a long article about it, I'll summarize it here: If you're a gamer and money is not your number one concern, then I recommend getting a dual core AMD CPU (Intel dual cores are notably slower in gaming and also produce much more heat), since some of the more recent games are starting to display marginal performance improvments on dual core CPUs. However, if you're on a tight budget, or you're happy with your current CPU, then I recommend waiting for the next generation dual core CPUs to arrive towards the middle of this year. These will be on a more efficient architecture and more importantly, this will give games developers and driver teams a bit more time to incorporate more dual core optimizations.

The bottom line is while I love my X2 CPU, and the fact that it allows me to do several things at once without ever slowing down on my Desktop, and it also runs games extremely well, it is not a necessity just yet. The performance gains just aren't enough to warrant the extra cost, unless you have the spare bucks or want the best, in which case an FX-60 is just the ticket.

Bunny Hopping - What Do You Think?

9 January 2006

Over the last few days I've been getting back into some online gaming while on holidays, and in all the online games I've been playing - America's Army, Call of Duty 2, Battlefield 2, even Star Wars Battlefront 2 - I've noticed that bunny hopping has reached epidemic proportions. I'm not just talking about hopping every now and then because we all do that instinctively when shot at for example.

I'm talking about the kind of hopping/jumping where the person spends more time in the air zig zagging around than they do walking, running or dodging normally. Now I'm not a competitive gamer, so I don't mind being in the bottom half of the score table every round. But these sort of cheap tactics are really starting to bug me. People are jumping around so franticly in games it's hard for me to play without either laughing myself stupid or wondering what drugs these kids are on.

Of all the games mentioned above, America's Army has the least bunny hopping, because the developers specifically addressed this complaint with the fatigue meter and the way jumping drastically reduces it. But other games seem to reward these tactics by reducing the damage bunny hoppers take from explosives and grenades for example. What do you think - vote in this poll and let's see what the majority's opinion is on this practice. Am I just getting old, or is it bugging you too?

So What's Next?

7 January 2006

For those of you wondering what comes next on the site, I have a few things planned. For starters some great games are on the horizon, including Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and The GodFather to name two that I'm looking forward to. Obviously they will get the TweakGuides treatment when they arrive sometime in the next couple of months. I also have plans to revise the ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide, including details of tweaking using ATI Tray Tools, as the guide is now starting to show signs of age. For the moment I want to enjoy my brief holidays and although I will update the front page regularly as necessary and participate in the Forums, I'm going to take some time out from guide writing to actually play some of the games I write about.

Before I forget, I also want to encourage you all to mention to your friends, relatives, online buddies, clanmates - whoever you think would benefit - about the revised TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. I don't want you to spam forums or make a pest of yourselves, but every time I'm playing a game online for example I hear someone complaining about some system issue which could be resolved using the TGTC, so please let people like these know that there is a free PDF available for them to check out at Let's help stamp out PC Abuse in our lifetime!

Security Patch on Windows Update

6 January 2006

Microsoft has released a new security patch available on Windows Update. I recommend you run Windows Update and install this patch as soon as possible, as it is an important security update. Direct download link to the patch is here.

TweakGuides Tweaking Companion Version 3.0 Released

5 January 2006

After many, many hours of revising and rewriting the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, the new Version 3.0 of the guide is out. It is almost totally rewritten in one way or another. The entire layout has been rearranged to be much more logical and easier to read. There are links to dozens of new free applications and sites, tons of new advice scattered throughout the guide, existing advice has been refined or re-written for clarity, and importantly everything is up to date and accurate. It has taken me a lot of research and editing to get the guide to this point, so I urge all of you to upgrade to it as soon as possible and start going through it to see what I mean. There are gems of information all through this guide which you may not have seen before.

Please note that due to demand for the file, the server and hence this site and its forums may be unresponsive under the load. Please be patient and if you can't get the file now, come back later and try again. Further note that the file has been checked and is not corrupt - make sure you are using Acrobat 5.1 or newer to open the file or you will receive an error.

All previous Deluxe Edition donors will receive an email shortly with a link to where they can download the updated Deluxe Edition PDF. The hardcopy version of the guide has not been updated as yet, but will be shortly.

Update: All versions of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion are now available and initial feedback is very favorable and shows no problems with any of them - so go get the copy of your choice now!

It's Almost Done!

2 January 2006

I'm feverishly working to complete the revised TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, and what started out as a simple revision of the guide to fix dead links, and perhaps add a couple of bits here or there has turned into a major exercise. The guide's structure has changed significantly, there are a large range of free new applications, new advice and rewritten text all over the place. It's not quite a total rewrite but it's a major improvement over the old TGTC. I'm very proud of it, but as we speak I'm still adding in new applications, new tips, and shifting things around. I plan on getting it to you within the next few days, so please sit tight and I think you'll really like what you see when it's out.

TweakGuides Clan Video - Part 2

1 January 2006

The TweakGuides Clan (TwK) Video is getting monster traffic - so much so that we had problems hosting it. Dan (-ZS-Speedstream of Zarksnipers clan) has stepped in to generously host the file for us for free on Frontiernet. The new link is: TwK Clan Video (28MB) - it's quite a cool little video so give it a look-see. Remember you'll need the DivX codec.

Happy New Year!

1 January 2006

By the time you read this, it will already be the New Year in Australia - goodbye 2005, hello 2006!

I'll take this chance to let you know that even though I plan plenty more guides for 2006, and some new features here and there, the site will essentially remain much the same. I'm well aware that the primary reason you guys visit this site is not for the amazingly high tech and flashy layout, nor for the fabulous commentry from yours truly - you come here to learn more about your PC and how to make it faster and more stable. I will focus on bringing you more of the same, with improvements wherever possible. Speaking of which, keep an eye out for the new and massively improved TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, arriving as a free download within the next few days.

Thanks to the TweakGuides Forums team: both the Moderators Scorpion and WarDragon, as well as prominent regulars, who are helping make the forums a special corner of the Internet. If you have the time, get involved with the Forums as it's a true community effort.

Finally thank you for visiting this site, for your many emails, and most importantly for your support. I don't pretend to cure cancer through this site, it's just a simple hobby site. But it's a damn cool hobby that lets me talk to so many people around the world and share my ideas and tips on how to run a PC. So honestly, thank you guys.

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