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July 2006

A-Squared Free Version 2.0 Released

31 July 2006

The A-Squared Free Trojan Scanner has just been updated to Version 2.0 (10MB). If you already have A-Squared Free installed, you can update to this new version using its built-in online updater. For those of you downloading the new version from the A-Squared site, make absolutely certain that you're downloading A-Squared Free 2.0, not A-Squared Personal 2.0, as the first is totally free while the second is only free for the first 30 days. Use of the new version is fairly straightforward, the default settings are fine for everyone to use, and fortunately the new version remains non-intrusive and doesn't initiate any resource-hogging background programs or processes. For most people I recommend running the Deep Scan about once a week.

Windows Vista Built-in Undelete

31 July 2006

This is something which caught my eye: Windows Vista will have a built-in undelete feature called Previous Versions. This means that should you choose to leave this option enabled, you won't need any restoration utilities to bring back accidentally deleted files. And more importantly the previous versions of files will be preserved without being overwritten by new disk activity.

Site Update

30 July 2006

After loving the Call of Juarez demo, I'm now going to spend the next few days trying to work out how its complex game engine works so I can do up a tweak guide for it ASAP. If you haven't yet played Call of Juarez, I again urge you to try the demo - it's a heck of a lot of fun, especially if you've ever enjoyed westerns like A Fistful of Dollars or The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It's really heartening to see game developers coming up with relatively fresh games, and so far this year there's been a bumper crop of good quality PC games hitting our screens.

Now I want to ask you guys a small favor. It's hardly a secret that I'm still trying to get good sponsors so I can maintain and expand the site without selling out. However there's something practical you can do to help: promote TweakGuides around the web. It seems sites offering 'recycled' content (to put it nicely) are starting to crowd out original content providers. If you like TweakGuides, or indeed any site which offers original content, I encourage you to actively refer the site to others; anyone you think could benefit from the content here. In doing so you not only help them, you also help TweakGuides, and it won't cost you a cent.

Update: I will provide a range of buttons and banners shortly for those who have generously offered to use them in forum signatures and on their websites.

mIRC 6.2 Released

29 July 2006

A new version of the popular Internet relay chat program mIRC has been released, bringing it up to Version 6.2. For those of you who use mIRC, it is recommended that you update to this new version as it contains a range of new features and many bug fixes as detailed here.

ATI Catalyst 6.7 Released

29 July 2006

ATI have released the Official 6.7 Catalysts, with the change list detailed here. These drivers contain improvements for Crossfire users, as well as a range of general fixes, so they are recommended to all ATI users. I have updated my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide for this version, but there are no significant changes.

Call of Juarez Demo

28 July 2006

You might not have noticed, but a demo version of the game Call of Juarez has just been quietly released. I almost missed it myself, but I gave it a try and it turns out it's actually a visually impressive and immersive FPS set in the wild west - a setting rarely used for games these days. I've posted my initial screenshots, thoughts and tips here, and I really do recommend that you download the demo (535MB) for yourself and give it a try, I think you'll enjoy it. I'll also do up a tweak guide for the game shortly.

Red Orchestra Booster Pack & Free Trial

28 July 2006

A free Booster Pack has been released for Red Orchestra players to download through Steam. It contains a range of new features, weapons and maps. If you don't know what Red Orchestra is, between August 2 and 7 you will be able to find out as the full game will be available for a free trial.

FEAR Combat Coming

27 July 2006

A mysterious Combat is Coming site, complete with a countdown, indicates that some sort of new FEAR-related add-on is going to be with us in around 20 days.

Firefox Released

27 July 2006

Mozilla have released an update to bring the Firefox browser up to Version As I write this, the update is only available via Mozilla's FTP. It should also shortly be available on the Firefox front page and via Firefox's built-in update method (go to your Help menu in Firefox and select 'Check for Updates'). The update primarily contains security and stability fixes as detailed here and is recommended for all Firefox users. I personally suggest waiting until it becomes available through the Firefox auto update method.

Update: It can now be grabbed through the regular auto update method within Firefox.

Internet Explorer 7 Final Due Soon

27 July 2006

Microsoft have released a new Blocker Toolkit designed to allow IT admins to block the rollout of Internet Explorer 7 as a high priority update via Automatic Updates. While the toolkit may not be much use to most of you, of note is that MS specifically says that the final version of IE7 will be released in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Network Diagnostic Tool Reissued & IE7 Beta 3 Update Released

26 July 2006

Microsoft appears to have re-released a new version of the Network Diagnostic Tool, something I had discussed in a news item here on June 30. This is not an essential update, and previously it appeared not to be working correctly, however this time it seems to work fine. Once installed, to run the diagnostic tool go to your \WINDOWS\network diagnostic\ folder and run the xpnetdiag.exe file, or in Internet Explorer go to the Tools menu and click the 'Diagnose Connection Problems' item.

Microsoft has also released an Update for Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3, mainly to fix an issue with pluggable security managers, especially the Yahoo Toolbar. Once again, this is not an essential update, and both updates are available through Windows Update as normal.

New Crysis Screenshots

26 July 2006

Just as a follow-on from the earlier story about Crysis, check out these new screenshots. They may help convince some of you why there is so much fuss and hype about this game.

Update: Well it looks like the original site was asked to take them down. At the moment you can view them here, though not sure how long that will last either, so I've put some of the screenshots here as well.

Update for Windows XP MCE 2005

26 July 2006

Microsoft have released the July 2006 Update Rollup for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. This update supercedes all updates since Update Rollup 2, and all XP MCE owners should install it.

Microsoft Live Toolbar Released

25 July 2006

Microsoft have released the final version of the Windows Live Toolbar. This toolbar adds a range of customizable features to Internet Explorer 6/7, but of course is not an essential add-on or even something I'd use myself. See for yourself if it suits your needs.

Dead Pixel Tester 2.2

25 July 2006

If you run an LCD monitor, one of the concerns you may face is dead or 'stuck' pixels, especially if you just bought it. There is no easy way to find these other than carefully looking over your screen, but Dead Pixel Tester 2.2 is a small free utility which allows you to cycle colors and patterns which will help you detect a dead pixel. Read the instructions on the linked page and go to the bottom of that page for the download link. If you do find a dead/stuck pixel, you can attempt to fix it using Dead Pixel Tester's 'Stuck Pixel Exerciser' option, or by using UDPixel 2.1 (requires .NET) or Stuck Pixel Fixer. Note that not all pixel faults on an LCD can be fixed.

AMD and ATI Merger Official

24 July 2006

It looks like the rumors were true, AMD and ATI have officially announced that they are going to merge in a deal worth $5.4 billion. In particular, one indication of the reason for the merger is that AMD claims it will help them "... move beyond current technological configurations to transform processing technologies, with silicon-specific platforms that integrate microprocessors and graphics processors to address the growing need for general-purpose, media-centric, data-centric and graphic-centric performance." The deal is expected to be completed by Q4 2006, and although I believe it will have a positive impact for consumers, clearly we will have to wait and see.

Crysis System Requirement Estimates

24 July 2006

An Admin on the Crysis forums has posted his best guess as to the System Requirements for the upcoming DirectX10 game Crysis. As with most game specs, the Recommended Specifications are the one to look at if you want a playable experience, but again note that these are simply an indication and not a final set of specs. Crysis is now being watched very closely, as it is indicative of just how demanding the next generation of DirectX10 games will be on Windows Vista, and what they'll be capable of doing.

Update: The Crysis Forums appear to be down due to exceeding their bandwidth, so I have linked to the copy of the specs on our own forums.

Update 2: The original source is up again, so I have now linked back to it.

New Microsoft Homepage Preview

24 July 2006

Microsoft have released a preview of their New Homepage. You will need to use Internet Explorer to view the page properly otherwise you may receive an error. The new site layout is Vista-themed, and has some neat effects. Try clicking on one of the links in the small box on the top right of the page for example.

Site Update

23 July 2006

As you can imagine I'm glad to have the Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide finally completed. Some of you have said you've found it very interesting, some of you probably haven't, but either way it's out now and a real relief for me to be able to move on! I have a couple of ideas for some more guides which are similar, but shorter and more practical. However next up is the guide revision for America's Army 2.7 as planned, and since this new version of AA will have quite a few new features, it will be more than a simple revision. After that, as promised I will delve into Windows Vista as much as possible, and who knows what else will come up soon which may deserve a guide. My time is also currently being split between helping run the forums, searching for site sponsors, keeping on top of tech developments and churning ideas in my head as to how to improve the site without compromising the site philosophy. I can honestly say that running this site remains a challenging but extremely satisfying part of my life.

AMD & ATI - Possible Merger

22 July 2006

The Internet is rife with rumors of a possible merger between the Microprocesser manufacturer AMD & graphics chipset manufacturer ATI. Both companies will not comment on the alleged $5.5B deal, but clearly if it goes ahead it will have a major impact on the consumer PC industry. I for one believe that this may be a good thing for consumers as the combined resources of such a merged company would be better-placed to tackle industry giants Intel and Nvidia in their respective fields, thereby increasing innovation and reducing prices.

WinRAR Security Vulnerability Discovered

22 July 2006

An important Security Vulnerability has been found in WinRAR. If you use WinRAR to access .LHA format archives then it is recommended you upgrade to the latest Beta Version which fixes this flaw.

Windows XP SP3 Not Until 2007

20 July 2006

Microsoft's Service Pack Roadmap shows that Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Windows XP is indicated as likely to be released in the 2nd half of 2007. I would suggest this is to encourage the early adoption of Windows Vista.

D-Link Router Vulnerability Discovered

20 July 2006

A buffer overflow vulnerability has been found in a range of D-Link routers. D-Link has apparently issued new firmware to resolve the problem, so if you own a DLink router check the D-Link Support Site to see if one is available for your router. The routers affected are listed here.

Nvidia NForce5 9.37 & 8.22 Drivers Released

20 July 2006

Nvidia have released a new set of official NForce5 motherboard drivers, with Version 9.37 for NForce590 SLI Intel Edition and Version 8.22 for NForce570 SLI Intel Edition motherboards.

The Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide

20 July 2006

I looked around and realised that many of the most basic and commonly used graphical and display-related settings such as FPS, Resolution, Refresh Rate, Triple Buffering and Vertical Synchronization are never really explained in sufficient detail in plain English, particularly with a gaming audience in mind. In fact virtually nowhere can you find even a simple rundown of how exactly a game goes from being a set of files on your hard drive to an animated image on your monitor. So I ambitiously took it upon myself to do just that, and the Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide is the result. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran to PCs, the guide should help you gain a clearer understanding of exactly what is happening on your machine when you play games, and what all those settings really mean.

Intel Desktop Control Center 2.1 Released

19 July 2006

Intel have released a new version of their Desktop Control Center utility. This utility is designed for Intel motherboards, and allows you to view system temperatures, adjust fan speeds, and even overclock the system while in Windows.

Windows Vista and AVG Antivirus

17 July 2006

For those of you running the Windows Vista Beta who haven't heard, Microsoft recently fixed a bug in Vista which was preventing the use of the very handy AVG Antivirus software. You will first have to update Vista via Windows Update, and then you can download and use the AVG Free Antivirus package, the installation and configuration advice for which is in the PC Security chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.

Windows Genuine Advantage False Positives

16 July 2006

This brief but interesting article on the Microsoft blog provides some statistics and explains some of the potential reasons behind the reportedly high rate of 'false positives' - i.e. systems failing to pass - the Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy system.

Microsoft Private Folders and IE7 Beta 3

16 July 2006

Two separate Microsoft-related issues I'll deal with in one update. Firstly, Microsoft is removing their new Private Folders utility. Apparently there are concerns from IT Administrators and parents that people will lose passwords or use the utility to hide information from them. This is very surprising to me, since there are already other utilities which can also do the same thing. Microsoft pandering to the lowest common denominator is not a good sign in my opinion. Surely the utility could be easily modified to require Administrator-level access to install for example, and re-released?

Next, some people who have installed Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3 have noticed that it changes the name of the Downloaded Program Files item in the Disk Cleanup Utility to \WINDOWS\system32\occache.dll,-1701 or similar. To fix this harmless but annoying bug, go to Start>Run and type "regsvr32 occache.dll" (without quotes) and hit Enter.

Update: It appears Microsoft still hasn't removed the Private Folders software from their site, so perhaps the original news story might be in error.

Battlefield 2 Beta 1.4 Patch #2 Released

16 July 2006

EA Games are continuing the Beta patch releases for Battlefield 2, with the Beta 1.4 #2 patch released. Once again, if you're game to try this make sure to provide your feedback so that EA knows what to fix. If you're interested in reading others' general feedback, read this thread on the EA Forums.

WarRock - Full Free Game

15 July 2006

Around 6 months ago, you may recall I told you about a free Battlefield 2 clone called WarRock. Well since then the game has apparently undergone a wide range of changes, including tightening up on the many bugs and the use of PunkBuster to defeat cheating, and it has now once again been released to the public to play for free. Installation and gameplay instructions are here, and while it may not be a replacement for BF2, it looks like it's still a fun game - give it a try.

Nvidia NTune Released

15 July 2006

Nvidia have released a new version of the NTune utility for NForce motherboards, bringing it up to Version No specific changelist is provided, however it is recommended that all users of previous NTune versions uninstall it, reboot and install this latest version for maximum stability when using NTune functionality.

Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 Now Free

14 July 2006

Microsoft has made its Virtual PC 2004 software completely free. It weighs in at 583MB and allows you to run multiple operating systems on the one machine in separate 'virtual environments'. Note that a Virtual Machine is not the same as running different operating systems on separate partitions of your hard drive. Click the 'Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 Demo' link on the page above and it will be explained in more detail.

Update: Apologies, the download is only 18MB in size, not 583 which is the version number.

Site Update

14 July 2006

Another slow news day, so I thought I'd give an update on the guide front. Firstly the Prey Tweak Guide has been updated for the full version of the game. As expected there are few real differences between the demo and the full version. The major one is that you can force 'Ultra Quality' mode in the full version (see page 5 for details). America's Army will shortly be updated to Version 2.7, bringing with it some important changes, and this will require a revamp of my America's Army Tweak Guide. And yes, I'm still struggling to complete the Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide, though it is now very near completion. I think I bit off far more than I could chew with this one, and what started out as a simple explanation of basic graphics settings has now expanded to a fully detailed guide on how computer graphics works, from your graphics card to your monitor, and all the key graphics and display settings you thought you knew all about. Along the way I've learned a lot myself, so I suspect even the more veteran gamers among you will as well. The next time I mention this guide will be to announce its release, whereupon I can breathe a giant sigh of relief!

Creative X-Fi Vista Beta Drivers Released

13 July 2006

Creative have released new Beta X-Fi Drivers for all Windows Vista users.

Penumbra - Free Full Game

12 July 2006

Frictional Games have released a free full version game called Penumbra. The download weighs in at 156MB, and although I haven't had a chance to play it myself just yet, it looks quite good from the screenshots.

Windows Vista 80% Likely to be Released in January 2007

12 July 2006

While I don't normally report tech rumors, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has recently announced that he believes that there is an 80% chance that Windows Vista will be ready for release in January 2007. However importantly he noted that if feedback from Vista Beta testing shows problems it will be delayed as long as necessary to "get it right".

Steam Update Released

12 July 2006

Valve have released an update for Half Life 2: Deathmatch via Steam. More details here, and to get the update simply restart your Steam client while online.

Windows Patches Released

12 July 2006

Microsoft has released the latest set of new security and compatibility patches for Windows XP and Vista Beta 2, including an update for .NET 2.0. The quickest way to get them is to use the Windows Update site. More details of these updates and individual download links can be found here.

Unreal Tournament 2004 X-Fi Patch Released

11 July 2006

Creative have released a special X-Fi Patch for UT2004. The patch weighs in at 180MB and provides full 128 voice support for X-Fi cards in UT2004, and also dynamically alters the music in the game to match the pace of the battle.

AC97 Audio Driver Version 3.90 Released

11 July 2006

Realtek have released a new Version 3.90 of their audio drivers for motherboards using AC97 onboard sound.

MS Drops Support for Windows 98/SE/ME & XP SP1

11 July 2006

Microsoft has officially ceased support for Windows 98/SE/ME as of today. I would seriously question why any user still has a Windows 98 variant as their primary OS, mainly due to the security risks involved. There may be exceptions such as businesses running legacy hardware for example. Of more relevance is the fact that as of 10 October 2006 MS will also cease support for Windows XP SP1. Once again, I would find it odd that any home user has not yet upgraded to SP2, and any business users on XP should upgrade to SP2 for maximum security and compatibility. Connecting to the Internet in particular with Windows 98/SE/ME or XP SP1 is not recommended at all.

Site Update

10 July 2006

Bit of a slow news day, so I thought I'd talk about something that's been bugging me. I've noticed that a few people have taken to personally attacking me recently, both on gaming forums and via email. The specifics vary, but typically it is either anger over the fact that I won't answer their tech questions, or accusations that I am not a tech expert and my guides suck. Not due to any errors mind you, they apparently just suck. Now aside from the fact that the anonimity of the Internet tends to make heroes of cowards, and while it is only a handful of people who do this, I still want to deal with these issues openly here for the benefit of anyone else who may feel the same way.

Firstly I have to make something quite clear: I am not a 'tech expert', nor do I pretend to be. I am a self-taught PC user with many years of experience who happens to be fortunate enough to be able to work out how to optimize and troubleshoot PCs with a combination of research, observation and intuitive understanding. I use these to compile the guides on this site for anyone who wants to use them, to help clarify things and save you time and effort. I have also made it clear that I can't provide a personal tech support service, whether via email or on our Forums. The guides are the best and most detailed way I can help the widest group of people with the time and resources I have available. And to be honest noone is too new to tech, or too busy to read and understand these guides if they genuinely want to solve their problems and learn more in the process. In the end though the choice is up to you. If you don't like my guides, or you don't like me, then it would make sense that you don't visit this site. If you want to write to me, then by all means please provide useful feedback or constructive criticism. But if you write to me asking for personal tech support, or with the attitude that I or this website somehow owe you something then you won't get a reply for the reasons above.

ATI X1000/NForce4 Compatibility Hotfix

9 July 2006

ATI have released a Special Hotfix for use with systems using X1000-series graphics cards on certain NForce4 motherboards. This driver apparently helps address freezing and instability in games played on such systems.

Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 Released

9 July 2006

A new Beta 1 version of Firefox 2.0 has been released. Note that many new features, including a visual refresh, aren't due until the Beta 2 release. As this is Beta software, I strongly suggest that instead of installing it normally, you use the Portable Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 version. The portable version isolates Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 to its own folder, and thus won't impact or alter your existing installation of Firefox 1.5.

Nvidia NForce4 6.86 Drivers Released

9 July 2006

Nvidia have released a new set of official NForce4 motherboard drivers Version 6.86. It is recommended that you uninstall any existing NForce Networking Drivers before installing these.

ATI Catalyst 6.6 with Chuck Patch Released

8 July 2006

ATI have released the new Catalyst 6.6 with Chuck Patch graphics driver for ATI users with X1000-series graphics cards who wish to play Oblivion with Antialiasing and HDR enabled at the same time.

Diskeeper 10 and I-FAAST

8 July 2006

For those of you who use Diskeeper 10 Premier Pro and its I-FAAST feature, I have recently discovered through correspondence with Diskeeper that this feature explicitly requires the Windows NTFS Last File Access functionality be left enabled. For more details of this setting and how to check or alter it, see the NTFSDisableLastAccessUpdate key on page 106 of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.

Microsoft Private Folder 1.0 Released

8 July 2006

Microsoft have released a new Private Folder 1.0 (1.5MB) utility. When installed this provides a single password-protected folder called 'My Private Folder' wherein you can safely store any files you like. The utility is only available as a 'Windows Genuine Advantage Special Offer' - that is it can only be downloaded if you have passed the WGA check. Make sure to use Internet Explorer or use the WGA Plugin for Firefox to get the link above to work properly.

Note that this utility adds a new 'Private Folder Service' which can apparently be disabled without any impact on its main functionality, and it also adds a new system tray item and process called ShellHelper.exe whenever you access the My Private Folder in a session.

Microsoft Vista Beta 2 Patch

7 July 2006

Microsoft has released a Patch to fix connectivity issues when using third party routing hardware in Windows Vista Beta 2.

Battlefield 2 Beta 1.4 Patch Released

6 July 2006

EA Games have released the Beta 1.4 Patch for Battlefield 2. The full patch is 522MB, and the incremental version is 138MB. It must be stressed that this is a beta patch, and there are only a few servers on which you can play it. If you're curious about how it's performing for others, read through the Official BF2 1.4 Feedback Thread on the EA Forums, and of course if you install the patch yourself then make sure to report any issues or problems to EA. This will help them produce a final 1.4 patch that should be mostly bug free. If you're not game to experiment, then I recommend that you do not install this 1.4 patch.

GRAW 1.20 Patch Released

6 July 2006

Ubisoft have released another patch for Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, bringing it up to Version 1.20. The patch weighs in at 128MB and contains all the changes from the previous patches as well. This patch adds three important bug fixes for both multiplayer and singleplayer, and should be installed by all GRAW players. The GRAW Tweak Guide has been updated but there are no significant changes.

Steam Update

6 July 2006

Valve have released a general update to the Steam Client, details of which you can read here. This update should make Steam less troublesome for some, and improve downloading of updates in the future. Restart your Steam client while online to get the update.

Site Update

5 July 2006

You guessed it, I'm stlll writing The Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide, the title of which has changed again as you can see. It's taking me longer than expected to research and present the facts as accurately and succinctly as possible with no technical jargon. But I'm not going to rush it and put out a guide which only states the bleeding obvious or is a regurgitation of Wikipedia. I may have to put it on hold briefly though, as America's Army 2.7 is expected shortly and I will hence have to completely revise my America's Army Tweak Guide for that. Once these are out of the way, I want to spend some time with the Windows Vista Beta and try to find tweaks, however I suspect Vista will evolve greatly between now and when it is released early next year, so I'm hesitant to invest a great deal of time on it just yet - XP is still the OS of choice for stability, compatibility and performance. Aside from Vista, we have to wait and see what the next big game will be to deserve a guide in the coming months.

Once again another big thanks to those who have expressed their support for the site, and who continue to provide moral and/or financial support. There is definitely a core audience of very intelligent and diverse people who read this site, and I owe it to you guys to keep this site rolling straight and true. Every day as I scour the web to find my daily news, I despair at the sheer amount of garbage piling up on the Internet. Then I realise we each can - and should - make a difference in our own small way. To quote Dylan Thomas: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light". Or to use a phrase from a more recent cultural icon, namely the Firefox browser: "Take back the Web" :)

X-Fi Drivers Version 2.09.0001 Released

3 July 2006

Creative have released a new non-Beta SoundBlaster X-Fi driver Version 2.09.0001. This driver weighs in at 41MB and appears to be the final version of the beta X-Fi drivers released a short while ago - the change list is almost identical. Regardless, all X-Fi users should update to this latest official version as it has a range of fixes for games like Prey, Battlefield 2 and Quake 4 among others.

Update: The X-Fi Elite Pro has problems with Cubase LE and this driver. If you don't mind or don't run Cubase LE, then you can install this driver on the Elite Pro as well.

AMD Dual Core Optimizer Released

2 July 2006

AMD has released a new Dual Core Optimizer utility. This is not the same as the previous CPU drivers they have released; apparently it's designed to improve performance in certain games on dual core CPUs. This is because some games use RDTSC timing rather than the native Windows timing method, and this can cause problems with dual core CPUs. To understand more about this, read this Microsoft MSDN Article and this Microsoft KB Article. I'm not certain how many games are doing this, or which particular games, but it looks like it may be a few.

To test it out, I installed it on my X2 4400+ and after a reboot I noticed that it has added a new startup item called amd_dc_opt.exe. Fortunately this file is only 104 bytes so it adds nothing at all to startup RAM usage. Then I ran 3DMark06 just to get an indication of the general performance impact - my score was near identical, up a few points from 4260 to 4264. I then tested out Need for Speed: Most Wanted, a game which I know has some odd issues with dual core CPUs and usually requires manually setting processor affinity to only one core to work. This time it seemed to work without any problems. I tried Oblivion but didn't see any noticeable performance difference.

In general, if you run any AMD dual/multi core CPU and use your machine for gaming then I would recommend that you install this application. It appears to do no harm whatsoever, does not use up any significant background resources, and as there are a range of games which apparently use RDTSC, it will help prevent potential problems and might improve performance as well. Note, you don't need to install any other AMD drivers for this to work, and in general I recommend against installing additional AMD CPU drivers.

Update: This utility only appears to officially be for AMD FX and X2 CPUs, and may not work on other AMD dual core CPUs.

Google Web Accelerator

2 July 2006

A while back Google released a Web Accelerator utility which claims to speed up web browsing specifically for broadband users. I thought this seemed odd so I've investigated a bit further, and it seems that this is really nothing other than a Google Proxy service. In other words every site you want to visit is loaded up on Google's servers first, including pages and links they anticipate that you will visit ('Google Prefetch'), and then the Google servers deliver this to your browser. The page may even be out of date since it is often coming from the cache on their servers. And various people have raised privacy concerns about your data stored on the Google servers. It may not be as scary as some commentators make it out to be, but it's also nowhere near as useful as Google makes it out to be either. I recommand against people using this application; the safest and fastest method to view the web on balance is through a direct Internet connection with a properly-configured browser as per the instructions in the TGTC or my Firefox Tweak Guide.

Prey Update

1 July 2006

Just a quick update about the upcoming Prey game - firstly it has gone gold and will be released on July 11 in the US and July 14 in Europe and Australia. Secondly, a method has been found for enabling the demo playback and timedemo features in the Prey Demo. I have updated the Prey Tweak Guide accordingly (see pages 10 & 11 in particular), and I'll give the guide a revision once the full version of the game comes out.

VIA Hyperion Pro 5.09A Released

1 July 2006

VIA have released the 5.09A Hyperion Pro drivers for VIA-based motherboards. If you run a recent VIA chipset motherboard, download and install these.

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