To view the latest news click Here

July 2019

Chrome 76.0

31 July 2019

Google has released Version 76.0.3809.87 of the Chrome browser. This update provides improvements, as well as security and bug fixes.

AMD Chipset Driver 1.07.29 & Ryzen Master 2.0.1

31 July 2019

AMD has released an Official Update on their site providing more details regarding the Ryzen 3000 issues and links to the new 1.07.29 chipset driver, as well as Ryzen Master, which address some of these issues.

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 19.7.4

30 July 2019

AMD has released the Adrenalin Edition 19.7.4 driver for the HD 7700, HD 8500 series and above on Windows 7 and 10. This driver fixes a GTA V bug, along with a range of other bug fixes.

Ryzen 3000 Issues Update

30 July 2019

AMD's Technical Marketing guru, known as AMD_Robert on Reddit, has posted an Update on the status of some of the key launch issues facing Ryzen 3000 CPU owners. This includes a beta chipset driver which should help Ryzen 3000 owners play Destiny 2 again.

TGTC Deluxe Editions Now Free

29 July 2019

Given they haven't been updated in quite a while, but still contain what I consider useful information, I've decided to release all of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion Deluxe Edition ebooks for free. You can download them from the TGTC page linked above, and you are welcome to share them however you wish, as long as the ebooks are not modified, sold, or bundled with harmful or deceptive software. Thanks again to all of the readers who supported the site by buying a copy, it made a big difference in keeping the site going during difficult times.

Site Update

29 July 2019

If the site layout looks wonky, it's because I've removed all of the Google ad, Google Search and Google Analytics scripts, and altered the page layout accordingly. Press CTRL+F5 on your desktop browser, or clear your history if using a mobile browser, to fully load the new HTML and CSS code. If you check your browser's privacy reporting features, it should now tell you that there are no trackers to be blocked here. I was getting a ridiculously small amount of revenue from Google despite still giving them a fair bit of traffic, so it was an easy decision to make. Another bit of housekeeping: if you write to me but don't hear back, then check your spam settings or junk mail folder. I always reply to every email I receive, unless you ask for tech support or personalized tips. Unfortunately years of spammers spoofing my email address, and not getting a digital certificate until just a few months ago, means mail from my domain is either blackholed or flagged as spam by some servers. And sorry, no, still haven't got around to even starting the Linux Experiment. It's just too big a chunk of work for me to tackle right now.

VLC Tweak Guide

28 July 2019

As promised, here's the VLC Tweak Guide. It's aimed at helping people who are new or resistant to VLC, or who've had problems with it in the past and gave up on it. So please pass the link on to anyone you know who fits that description. I actually learned how to resolve a couple of small VLC annoyances while writing the guide, as well as discovering a great new skin, so give it a quick run-through even if you're a VLC veteran, it's only a page long.

Windows Updates

27 July 2019

Microsoft has released a new Cumulative Update for Windows 10 version 1903.

Update: There are some reports of problems with this update, and Microsoft seems to have reissued it at least once now, so probably best to avoid it until the situation clarifies.

Nvidia GeForce 431.68 Hotfix

27 July 2019

Nvidia has released the 431.68 Hotfix graphics driver. This driver is for the GeForce 600 series and above under Windows 10. It addresses a problem where the mouse cursor may render incorrectly after exiting a game.

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 19.7.3

26 July 2019

AMD has released the Adrenalin Edition 19.7.3 driver for the HD 7700, HD 8500 series and above on Windows 7 and 10. This driver adds support for Wolfenstein: Youngblood, as well as Radeon GPU Profiler and Microsoft PIX on RX 5700 series GPUs, along with improved Vulkan support and a range of bug fixes.

VLC Security Vulnerability Update

25 July 2019

VideoLAN, developer of the VLC media player, has responded to the earlier disclosure of an alleged critical security vulnerability in the current version of their player: they state that VLC is not vulnerable; the exploit was fixed as of VLC 3.0.3. Furthermore, they're angry that security firms and tech outlets repeated these false claims without asking them first.

There are two aspects to this issue: I agree with VideoLAN that security firms must be, and be seen to be, a reliable source of warnings - if they get it wrong, they not only hurt affected companies, they also desensitize ordinary users by crying wolf. Conversely, security issues can be exploited so quickly these days, and companies are often just as quick to initially downplay or outright deny any breach or vulnerability. Who do we believe? What should tech sites do? In my opinion, for tech/news sites, our role is to pass on the news from reputable sources. I saw the breach notice on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (US Govt. Cybersecurity agency) site here and I reported it as it stood, as soon as I could. For better or worse, I'll keep doing that, because I don't have sufficient cybersecurity expertise to start judging which just-announced critical vulnerability is accurate, and which isn't. My sympathies to VideoLAN, as I'm sure it's caused their reputation some harm, but frankly, from a user perspective, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to potential critical vulnerabilities.

Update: As a small gesture to help VideoLAN overcome the stigma of this recent security mix-up, I've decided to do a one-page VLC Tweak Guide this weekend. VLC has been my player of choice for watching movies on my PC for several years, but this year I made it my all-round PC media player. So I figure a guide that provides brief, clear details on how to customize VLC's key features and appearance to suit your needs may persuade some people to give VLC another try.

iTunes 12.9.6

25 July 2019

Apple has released a new Version 12.9.6 of the iTunes software. If you don't wish to use the Windows Store to download iTunes, direct download links are provided: 64-bit Version, 32-bit Version. This version provides minor app and performance improvements, as well as security and bug fixes.

Bluekeep Threat Level Rises

24 July 2019

A serious security vulnerability dubbed Bluekeep was recently discovered in Windows versions including XP, Vista and 7; Windows 8 & 10 are not affected. Microsoft released a Patch for Windows 7, as well as special patches for XP & Vista. Make sure you've installed these, because the threat from Bluekeep has now significantly increased with the dissemination of what is basically a guide on how to exploit it.

Nvidia GeForce 431.60 WHQL

24 July 2019

Nvidia has released the 431.60 WHQL certified graphics driver. This driver is for GeForce 600 and higher graphics cards under Windows 7, 8 and 10. It is the recommended driver for Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, and Madden NFL 20, and adds support for the new RTX 2080 SUPER GPU, as well as new G-Sync compatible monitors.

Windows Updates

23 July 2019

Microsoft has released a new Cumulative Update for Windows 10 version 1809.

Intel Rapid Storage Technology 17.5

22 July 2019

Intel has released Version of the Rapid Storage Technology driver for optimal RAID and AHCI drive performance on Intel chipset-based motherboards.

VLC Security Vulnerability

21 July 2019

A serious Vulnerability has been found in the current version of the VLC media player. It can allow an attacker to remotely view and alter data, as well as execute code, on affected systems. VideoLAN is working on a fix to be incorporated into the next version of VLC, but there's no ETA.

Update: If you're after a free alternative to VLC, I recommend Media Player Classic BE (MPE-BE) because it's open source and very similar to VLC. I don't recommend Potplayer; aside from not being open source, it has borderline deceptive nonsense like this prompt - Accept means accepting the installation of Potplayer, not Hotspot Shield, but only if you first untick the check box. For a much more comprehensive open source home theater solution, the free Kodi is excellent.

Firefox 68.0.1

19 July 2019

Mozilla has released Version 68.0.1 of the Firefox browser. This update provides bug fixes.

Java Runtime Environment 8.221

17 July 2019

Oracle has released an Update 221 to the Java Runtime Environment 8.

Windows Updates

17 July 2019

Microsoft has released new Cumulative Updates for Windows 10 versions 1803, 1709, 1703 and 1607.

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 19.7.2

17 July 2019

AMD has released the Adrenalin Edition 19.7.2 driver for the HD 7700, HD 8500 series and above on Windows 7 and 10. This driver adds support for GEARS 5 Beta, as well as providing a range of bug fixes.

Chrome 75.0

17 July 2019

Google has released Version 75.0.3770.142 of the Chrome browser. This update provides security and bug fixes.

Site Update/Rant

16 July 2019

Software news is fairly slow right now, so yes, another (long) Site Update/editorial/rant, whatever you want to call it. I've been reading up on the Ryzen 3000 launch issues. The long and the short of it is that there are problems ranging in severity from not being able to play Destiny 2, to potentially overvolting your chip, producing hardware (WHEA) errors and corrupting data on drives - though this last one now appears likely to be a recent Windows bug. As I noted in a post two months ago, a new platform will always have teething problems, and this is not unique to AMD or Ryzen. Unless you have urgent need, or enjoy being an unpaid beta tester, it makes sense to hold off on running any new hardware until key initial updates are released. Most, if not all, of these Ryzen 3000 issues are being resolved as we speak.

Unfortunately, fanboyism is again coloring much of what passes for tech journalism and commentary these days. Aside from the fact that 90% of the "news" is coming in the form of obnoxious, often inaccurate and attention-seeking, YouTube videos - because YouTube is now the easiest way to monetize content - the dominant theme on most sites and channels is to blindly support AMD and ridicule Intel irrespective of facts. One review of the Ryzen 3000 series, from a site I previously considered reasonably professional, talks about AMD "bitch-slapping" Intel. This sort of pandering to popular bias, and a lack of balanced reporting, means many readers become oblivious to the facts. For example, how many people know that in terms of serious security vulnerabilities, AMD matches Intel: AMD has had 7, Intel has had 7. Virtually everyone knows about Intel's issues with the Spectre, Meltdown, and Zombieload vulnerabilities; how many have even heard of the AMD-specific Ryzenfall, Masterkey and Chimera vulnerabilities? In practical terms, none of these vulnerabilities has been knowingly exploited in the wild, and importantly, many of them require local Administrator access to your PC. Still, they're typically dropped into conversations in a biased fashion to promote AMD over Intel. As I noted in the Hardware Confusion 2019 article, AMD is a publicly held company like Intel. While they are increasingly making better and better chips, and I applaud them for that, their motive is maximizing profit, just like Intel. Recent CPU and GPU releases highlight that AMD is just as willing to increase prices, and just as likely to fail to live up to promises, as Intel, especially as they gain market share. Please, let's not go through another blind-support-turns-to-rude-awakening phase as people came to see the Internet darling Google transform from "Don't Be Evil" to "We Run the Matrix". Please don't be a fanboy, and don't accept it from others.

Lastly, you may have been surprised by my recent focus on the dangers of HT/SMT in my Hardware Confusion article and subsequently on front page posts. What's my thinking? Simple: hardware vulnerabilities are increasingly being seen as the next major channel for attackers, on everything from CPUs, to routers, to even the venerable Bluetooth protocol. Once again, <insert your favorite company> is not immune, just because you think they're great and care about you. I've been accused in the past of being an Nvidia and/or Intel and/or Microsoft fanboy, but long-time readers would know that I've spoken out and even outright condemned Intel, Nvidia and Microsoft when they've done wrong. Now more than ever we need facts to propagate, not personal biases. Let's demand more from tech news than advertorial videos and populist articles.

Site Update

14 July 2019

You may have noticed that web browsers are rapidly gaining new features these days, to the point where they seem to be trying to take over virtually every role on your system. This may actually be a good thing. Specifically, while recently considering the best open source PDF viewing alternative to replace Adobe Reader DC on my system, I suddenly realized that I don't need a dedicated PDF viewer at all! If you haven't paid much attention to them, look again; browser-based PDF viewers are now extremely competent. I've switched to just using the built-in Firefox PDF viewer, and in the few instances where Firefox doesn't quite do what I want (e.g., it doesn't remove annoying watermarks as demonstrated in this comparison), then in a pinch the built-in Edge browser does the job for that particular task. So the question is: do you really need to install and maintain dedicated PDF software anymore? In my case, the answer is now 'No'.

Firefox 68.0

10 July 2019

Mozilla has released Version 68.0 of the Firefox browser. This update improves Extension security and discovery, particularly via About:Addons, rolls out WebRender to users with AMD GPUs on Windows 10, and provides security and bug fixes.

Microsoft Security Updates

10 July 2019

Microsoft has released its monthly set of Windows security updates which you can view here and obtain via Windows Update. This includes the latest Windows 7 Rollup and Windows 8.1 Rollup updates, as well as Windows 10 Cumulative Updates.

Nvidia GeForce 431.36 WHQL

10 July 2019

Nvidia has released the 431.36 WHQL certified graphics driver. This driver is for GeForce 600 and higher graphics cards under Windows 7, 8 and 10. It is the recommended driver for Tom Clancy's The Division 2, Strange Brigade, and Metro Exodus, and adds support for the new RTX 2060 & 2070 SUPER GPUs, as well as three new G-Sync compatible monitors. The driver contains PhysX version 9.19.0218 and updates GeForce Experience to version 3.19.0.

Flash Player 32.0

10 July 2019

Adobe has released Version of the Flash Player plugin for browsers. To download the full offline installer, use these links depending upon your browser: Internet Explorer or Firefox or Opera. Use Windows Update to update the built-in Flash Player in IE11 under Windows 8 and 10, and Edge under Windows 10. Update to the latest version of Chrome to update its built-in Flash Player.

AMD Chipset Driver 1.07.07

9 July 2019

AMD has released Version of its drivers for use on AMD chipset-based motherboards. These drivers add support for 3rd generation Ryzen desktop systems.

AMD Storage Driver 9.2.0

9 July 2019

AMD has released Version of its storage driver for optimizing RAID storage configurations on AMD chipsets. These drivers add support for 3rd generation Ryzen desktop systems.

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 19.7.1

8 July 2019

AMD has released the Adrenalin Edition 19.7.1 driver for the HD 7700, HD 8500 series and above on Windows 7 and 10. This driver provides support for the new RX 5700 series GPUs, adds new features including Image Sharpening, Anti-Lag, Auto Low Latency, and Settings Snapshot, improves Radeon Chill, Link and Wattman, as well as providing a range of bug fixes.

Site Update

8 July 2019

One of the most divisive PC hardware dramas of recent times has culminated in the official launch of AMD's new Ryzen 3000 series, and the reviews, such as this one, show that AMD has indeed managed to match or beat Intel's top of the range in most areas, except perhaps gaming, at a lower price and greater efficiency. Instead of fanboy arguments, everyone should be supporting this development; it's already resulted in price cuts from Intel and Nvidia, hopefully more will follow. What would I buy if I were in the market right now? Truthfully, I'd still be split over getting a 9700K at the mid-end, or splurging on the 3900X at the high-end for future proofing. Why? I know I sound like a broken record, but HT/SMT is a greater issue than people consider, and not just for Intel as AMD CPUs rise in popularity. AMD noted last year regarding PortSmash for example that "...the issues are related to any processor that uses simultaneous multithreading (SMT), including those from AMD..." Thus I recommend the CPUs with the fastest performance when excluding HT/SMT: i.e., the 9700K for 8 physical core and the 3900X for 12 physical core performance dominance. But that's just my (possibly alarmist) 2c worth, feel free to spend your money as you wish!

With a lot of people upgrading now, you may be wondering what happened to my "Linux Experiment". Unfortunately I got sidetracked, first with other work, then for the last 6 weeks with a health issue. But I should be firing on all cylinders shortly and I definitely plan to get some new material out in the next few months - well before Windows 7 goes kaput in January 2020. In the meanwhile, for those of you who are upgrading to Ryzen, remember that page 7 onwards of the Hardware Confusion guide applies to all systems, and enjoy playing with and getting the most out of your new toys :)

GPU-Z 2.22.0

2 July 2019

GPU-Z, a free graphics card information utility, has reached Version 2.22.0. Changes in this version include support for new chipsets and features, including Navi and PCI-e 4.0, as well as bug fixes.

To view the latest news click Here