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October 2006

Windows Vista Packaging Revealed

31 October 2006

For those of you curious as to what the Windows Vista packaging will look like, you can see it on the Vista Team Blog. I couldn't help but notice that it says "...the new packaging is a small, hard, plastic container thatís designed to protect the software inside for life-long use" when ironically the new Vista license means individual copies of Vista are specifically not designed for long-life use.

Update: This is what Vista Ultimate will look like.

Windows Media Player 11 Final Released

31 October 2006

Microsoft have released the final version of Windows Media Player 11. Given the Beta version has been out for some time and has proven very reliable and useful, I recommend WMP users upgrade to this latest version as it provides improved functionality over WMP10. Note that you don't have to uninstall the beta before installing this version.

SoundBlaster X-Fi 2.09.0007 Drivers Released

31 October 2006

Creative have released a new Version 2.09.0007 driver for the SoundBlaster X-Fi range. These drivers provide improved OpenAL 1.1 support as well as some bug fixes. It is recommended that all X-Fi owners upgrade to this version.

Launch IE7 with IE6 Interface

30 October 2006

If you've installed Internet Explorer 7, but you don't like its new interface, there's a handy tip I ran across here which can help you. Go to your \WINDOWS\ie7\ directory, right-click on the iexplore.exe file, select Send To>Desktop and you can now use this new shortcut to launch IE7 with the IE6 interface. To confirm that it is indeed still IE7, go to Help>About Internet Explorer and you'll see it has the same underlying version number (currently 7.0.5730.11) as your normal IE7. You'll lose tabbed browsing and some other new features, but if you ever get frustrated with IE7's interface, this option is here for you.

Update: As noted by some readers this doesn't work properly for everyone, and is more a novelty than a long-term browser solution.

Vista Licensing Issues Clarified

30 October 2006

After the initial anger over Windows Vista's restrictive new license, Microsoft came out and tried to confuse things by referring to the number of activations allowed (ten) as opposed to the number of transfers allowed (one). This falsely comforted some enthusiasts who mistakenly took it to mean ten major PC upgrades were allowed, and that MS wouldn't enforce the transfer limit. However there is now further information from Microsoft which makes it crystal clear that as we initially thought, even though up to 10 activations may be allowed, if the activation algorithm determines that you've essentially changed the 'device' on which Vista resides (i.e. substantially altered your PC), then you've used up your one and only Vista transfer. So for example you can change your motherboard and hard drive ten times over, but change your graphics card, CPU and/or RAM along with them and you've just used up the transfer. In the coming years you'd have to buy a new copy of Vista should you want to substantially upgrade your PC again. Microsoft states that it has no plans to change the wording of this licensing. We're back to where we started and quite frankly it's no surprise - there are no market forces working on MS to make them change their stance no matter how angry we get.

Oblivion: Knights of the Nine

30 October 2006

For fans of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion - a game I believe to be one of the best PC games ever - there is good news: substantial new content is coming in the form of a Knights of the Nine expansion pack/plugin. It will be a 155MB download priced at $9.99US and available on 21 November for PC users.

Spam & Phishing Emails

29 October 2006

While there's a lull in the news, now's a good time to discuss spam and in particular Phishing and malware emails, as these are getting ever more cunning and deceptive. The golden rule when dealing with any email is never click on any links or images. Just the other day I noticed what appeared to be a very realistic email emanating from my ISP, discussing possible breach of Terms of Service. The link in the email looked correct too, and my first inclination was to quickly click it to see which rules I'd breached. But common sense took control and instead of clicking the link, I right-clicked on it and selected 'Copy Shortcut', then pasted the result into a blank space (in my case the Google search box): the real link address was an obvious fake and in fact was a download link for a malware executable file. Malicious emails are now coming in all forms, including fake order confirmations from major online stores, reported abuse emails, even fake forum registration links. If in doubt, always copy and paste the link shortcut to a new location to see the real underlying address behind the link - if it doesn't exactly match the domain name or link you expect it to be, then don't click/activate the link. And of course always treat any attachments with huge caution - if there is even the slightest doubt, scan them with at least a couple of malware scanners. Check the PC Security chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for more details.

Need for Speed: Carbon Demo Released

28 October 2006

A playable demo for the new Need for Speed: Carbon street racing game has been released, weighing in at 650MB. If time permits I will look into doing a guide for this game, but for the moment try out the demo to see if the latest installment in the hugely popular NFS series suits your tastes.

Update: My initial thoughts, screenshots/movies and tips are here.

Gothic 3 1.08 Patch Released

28 October 2006

Having just mentioned the bugs in Gothic 3, I notice that a new 1.08 Patch (59MB) for the European version of the game has been released. The patch improves performance and fixes a range of bugs and gameplay issues, and is a must-install for all players. Note that apparently before installing the patch you must load up the game, unequip all your items, save your game, then apply the patch, otherwise you may trigger an equipment bonus exploit!

Browser Vulnerabilities

28 October 2006

Given the recent release of both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2.0, various stories are circulating about the vulnerabilities each one of these browsers has introduced, some of them quite sensationalist. While I strive to provide all critical security alerts on the front page, I can't provide a daily blow-by-blow of the less critical holes found in these browsers. At the moment neither browser has any genuinely critical vulnerabilities, but to verify this for yourself at any time, check the IE7 Advisory or Firefox 2.0 Advisory pages maintained by security organisation Secunia.

FRAPS 2.8.1 Released

28 October 2006

Last week an update for the very useful FRAPS FPS monitoring, graphics benchmarking and video capture utility was released, bringing it up to Version 2.8.0. However a few bugs were introduced, and now Version 2.8.1 has been released to fix them. All FRAPS users are encouraged to get the latest version.

Caveat Emptor

27 October 2006

Ducking into my local games shop today, I notice that a fair few big-name new games are hitting the market after a bit of a lull. As more games are coming out, so too are the complaints about certain games. Now more than ever, I strongly recommend that you wait before buying a game. For example at the moment it is quite clear that Gothic 3 is still a buggy and somewhat unbalanced game; Battlefield 2142 still has disconnection issues and hasn't had its in-game ad system enabled to show the real nature of the ads; and Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is apparently quite problematic on some systems. While I realise that virtually every new game which comes out these days has people complaining that it's "buggy", I have reason to believe the cases above are accurate. It is up to you as a smart consumer to resist the urge to rush out and buy a game. Wait to see the real story behind a game's alleged problems, and of course if you can, wait for at least the first or second major patch to see if these problems are resolved. Of course it's hard when there's so much hype surrounding a game's release, but I'd like to think we can break the cycle of games companies knowingly releasing incomplete or buggy games, and we won't do it with petitions or angry letters - only through withholding our purchases.

Vista Licensing Clarification?

27 October 2006

This article claims to clarify Microsoft's stance on Windows Vista's new licensing arrangements, in that Microsoft says it will allow up to 10 activations. Given activations are only required for a core system change, such as changing your hard drive plus a major component like the motherboard, this would seem to imply that you can do 10 major upgrades. However I suspect there's some wordplay involved here, as MS was very clear in previous statements that you are only allowed to transfer Vista once to a new machine. It could be for example that MS still tracks whether you're using essentially the same machine or a new machine (through how many components are changed at once), and thus still restricts the license to one transfer to a 'new machine'. We will need more details before this can be confirmed, but if it turns out that we are effectively allowed 10 major upgrades, it will definitely address enthusiasts' concerns about Vista's license.

Half Life 1 Engine Update Released

26 October 2006

Just to demonstrate that some companies don't give up on their customers even when there is no real financial benefit, Valve have released an engine update for the original Half Life 1 engine to fix a couple of small but annoying issues. To get the update simply restart Steam while online, and kudos to Valve for fixing these issues quickly despite the game's age.

Two Windows Patches Released

26 October 2006

Microsoft have released two new patches for Windows. The first is Peer Name Resolution Protocol Version 2.0, and the second is the Network Diagnostic Tool Version 1.4. Neither is critical, but both are recommended.

AMD + ATI Merger Complete

25 October 2006

As announced a while ago, microprocessor maker AMD bought graphics chipset maker ATI. Today they are officially merged and interestingly enough, their new website is called As I stated before, I don't believe this is a bad move for consumers - the combined might of ATI and AMD should result in greater innovation and more competition in the consumer PC market, and I don't believe AMD will limit or heavily skew ATI graphics chipsets solely to AMD platforms.

Site Update

25 October 2006

Within the next 24 hours, TweakGuides will be moving to a high quality dedicated server, courtesy of our generous sponsor EuroVPS. While our current VPS configuration has proven to be very robust and reliable, the truth is that TweakGuides is continuing to increase in popularity, so to ensure that the site remains responsive at all times, and to give me some headroom to provide more features down the track, an upgrade is necessary. What impact will this move have on you? None really; the forums will be closed for a short while, and there may also be a brief site outage, however nothing else will change, it's all 'under the hood'. For the techies among you, I'll have more details of the new server configuration shortly.

Having completed the Battlefield 2142 and Firefox 2.0 Tweak Guides, it's now time for me to turn my attention immediately to the next two games to get a guide: Dark Messiah of Might & Magic and Gothic 3. Tweak Guides for these games should be out within the next two weeks. After that I turn my attention to a minor update of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, and then on to preparing for Windows Vista. Any other major games which arrive during this period may receive a guide, but please keep in mind that I can't do guides for every game that comes out. This is a very busy period for me, so I can't just keep pumping out guides one after the other like a factory. With your patience though I should have all the major games and software releases covered with a decent quality guide, and of course all existing guides will continue to be updated as necessary.

Windows Defender Final Released

25 October 2006

Microsoft has released the final version of Windows Defender, a free anti-spyware program for Windows XP and Windows 2003. I don't necessarily recommend that you use Defender as there are better free anti-spyware packages out there such as Adaware.

Firefox Tweak Guide for Firefox 2.0

25 October 2006

The Firefox Tweak Guide has been completely revised for the release of Firefox 2.0. Everything in the guide has been retested, refined, and new tips, tweaks and details of the new features for Firefox 2.0 have been added. I strongly recommend that you start with a fresh install of Firefox 2.0 and then follow the guide from start to finish to get excellent results.

Firefox 2.0 Final Released

24 October 2006

Mozilla have released the final version of Firefox 2.0. At the moment it is only available on the Mozilla FTP, with the official release tomorrow. Firefox 2.0 comes highly recommended, and I am currently putting the finishing touches to my total revision of the Firefox Tweak Guide for this major new release.

Update: There's been some controversy over this 'leak' as reported here. The link above is fine, and shouldn't have affected Mozilla as it's a mirror, however to be honest the onus falls on Mozilla to coordinate their releases better and provide additional information on their FTP servers to prevent such confusion from happening again.

Update 2: Firefox 2.0 is now available on the main Firefox Site as it has been officially released.

Battlefield 2142 Tweak Guide Updated

22 October 2006

I've gone through and revised the BF2142 Tweak Guide for the full version of the game. Although the demo and retail versions of the game are almost identical, I've added some more solutions to common problems on page 3, details of the new patch and in-game advertising on page 4, and added a range of console commands on page 8, as well as generally fleshing out the guide for the full range of options.

FEAR 1.08 Patch Released

21 October 2006

Monolith have released a new patch for FEAR, bringing it up to Version 1.08. The incremental version of the patch weighs in at 44MB, and the changes in this patch are mainly related to multiplayer gameplay, although the patch also adds proper widescreen support.

Update: It's worth mentioning that FEAR Extraction Point, the expansion pack for FEAR, is due out in the next week or so.

Site Update

20 October 2006

For those of you wondering what I'm doing on the guide front, here's a quick update. Right now I'm updating the BF2142 Tweak Guide for the full version of the game. Shortly after that I'll complete the revision of the Firefox Tweak Guide to bring it up to date for the changes in Firefox 2.0, hopefully in time for its final release. Then I'll start on a Gothic 3 Tweak Guide once the game is released in Australia, likely by next week. If I can come up for breath, I'll then start on a Dark Messiah of Might & Magic Tweak Guide. After that I plan on a minor revision to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion to keep it up to date, and then as we head towards Christmas I will start to prepare the Vista Tweaking Companion, though that's a longer term project.

In-Game Advertising

20 October 2006

Recently there's been a lot of fuss over Battlefield 2142's in-game advertising software. I admit I, like several other sites, incorrectly stated initially that it monitors your general browsing habits, when in reality it only monitors your behavior while playing in-game. I apologize for any confusion, and the correct technical details for how this type of advertising technology works can be found here. Essentially while you're playing, information is collected about (among other things) which in-game ads are in your field of view, from how far away, for how long and from what angle.

OK, so what's the harm in that? This is no big deal, we have ads all around us already, right? It's not quite that simple. This issue is different, and has great bearing on the future of gaming in my opinion. To start with, advertising exists to be noticed. Advertisers don't pay large sums of money to have their ads just blend into the background. Using the data gathered above, advertisers will be able to see which ads gain the most attention, and focus on putting up more of them, in more prominent locations over time. There's no other reason for monitoring ad viewing behavior than to customize ads for 'maximum impact'. So if you're expecting ads to remain as innocuous out-of-sight novelties, think carefully about how pointless that would be for advertisers. The gaming experience relies greatly on immersion, and I oppose anything which can ruin that immersion, such as distracting ads.

However the most legitimate complaint that gamers should have about in-game advertising is that it currently gives us no benefit whatsoever. We put up with ads on TV and on websites for example because they are what makes TV and websites free to consumers. If we don't want annoying ads, we then pay a premium price for Cable TV, or buy DVDs, or subscribe to a website. But that's not how in-game advertising works. EA Games, which is pioneering this approach, expects us to pay full price for a game like BF2142, in return for the privilege of turning our machines into an ad server while gaming. They reap additional profits while we gain absolutely nothing. EA argues that this model will allow for 'additional support' for the game, yet aren't they the same company which already puts out multiple non-free expansion packs to supplement their revenue, take months to address concerns via delayed patches, and are now also charging gamers to activate cheats in games like Tiger Woods 2007? Doesn't our initial payment for a game already entitle us to proper support and functionality, as it has in the past for so many other great games?

I apologize for the long front-page article, as this is not what I normally like to post, but I honestly believe we're on a slippery slope with this new business model that is being forced upon us. Using their market dominance, and given the allure of extra revenue streams, it seems EA is having their cake and eating it too, at our expense. Think carefully before purchasing a game based on this sort of model - there are many games out there with far better gameplay, which can be purchased at a lower price, and receive much better support than these 'ad supported' titles.

Update: EA has not yet actually activated the ads in BF2142. This could be to ensure maximum sales during the critical initial release period, where negative word-of-mouth over the ads could harm sales. Note further that some maps in BF2142 have as many as 26 ad billboards/placeholders.

Battlefield 2142 Security Patch Issue

20 October 2006

Some people have noticed that BF2142 requires that you uninstall Windows Security Patch KB917422 - which most people would have on their systems - to play the game properly. It must be made clear though that this requirement has not been introduced in the BF2142 1.01 Patch; it was also in the BF2142 Demo as well. Of course you shouldn't have to uninstall a security patch to be able to play a game, but fortunately Microsoft have released a New Patch which fixes this issue, which I recommend that BF2142 players install.

Windows XP SP3 Delayed to 2008

20 October 2006

Microsoft has delayed the release of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP to the first half of 2008 according to their Service Pack Roadmap. It seems very likely that this is an attempt by Microsoft to push more people into buying Windows Vista sooner, but it also needs to be kept in mind that SP3 will likely consist primarily of patches and software which are already being released individually through Windows Update over time.

AVG 7.5 Free Edition Released

19 October 2006

A new version of AVG's excellent free antivirus is available: AVG 7.5 Free Edition. It has a slightly nicer interface and Windows Vista compatibility, and more importantly it contains improved virus detection capabilities. I strongly recommend that all AVG Free users upgrade to this version. You should uninstall any previous versions of AVG and manually download and install this new version - it cannot be obtained through AVG's built-in updater. Details for configuring AVG 7.5 Free Edition are still much the same as specified in the PC Security Chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.

Internet Explorer 7 Final Released

19 October 2006

Microsoft have released the final version of Internet Explorer 7. Internet Explorer 7 has several improvements over IE6, so I recommend that all IE users upgrade to this version. Note that if you've been using a Beta or RC1 version of IE7, the Internet Explorer 7 final version will automatically uninstall these prior to installing itself.

Diskeeper 2007 Released

18 October 2006

A new version of the popular Diskeeper defragmentation program has been released: Diskeeper 2007. The new version introduces a feature called InvisiTasking. There is a trial version you can download to see the difference for yourself.

Battlefield 2142 1.01 Patch Released

18 October 2006

On the day of its official release, Battlefield 2142 has already received a 1.01 Patch (17MB). The only listed update for the patch is that it fixes client-side crashes in Titan mode, so it's necessary that you install this if you've bought BF2142.

Battlefield 2142 Adware/Spyware

18 October 2006

As we've discussed here before, Battlefield 2142 sees the introduction of dynamic in-game advertising, something I'm already not too happy about given it's a full-price game. However sadly it seems that to power this dynamic advertising, EA Games is asking you to install Adware/Spyware on your system. Software included in the game will monitor your general usage habits to determine the best ads to serve to you - which is exactly what most adware/spyware does. The benefit to you is nil, the benefit to EA Games is additional profits at our expense.

Update: According to EA this adware/spyware will only run while the game is running, though I have yet to confirm the extent of its intrusion and whether it has any performance/stuttering impacts. I will provide more details in the upcoming full version BF2142 Tweak Guide

nForce 500 Series Intel Edition 9.53 Drivers Released

18 October 2006

Nvidia have released new Version 9.53 drivers for nForce 500 series Intel Edition motherboards. Make sure to uninstall any existing nForce drivers first before installing these.

Nvidia Forceware 96.85 for Vista RC2 Released

18 October 2006

Nvidia have released a new Forceware 96.85 graphics drivers for Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit. These drivers include a new control panel, new OpenGL driver and improved performance, but are only compatible with Vista Build 5744 or newer.

Firefox 2.0 RC3 Released

17 October 2006

A third Release Candidate for Firefox 2.0 has been released on Mozilla FTP. There don't appear to be any changes over RC1 or RC2, so it's mainly bug fixes, and it's tipped that this version will likely turn into the final release version of Firefox 2.0 if no major bugs are found.

Reply To Paul Thurrott: Windows Vista's Enthusiastic Licensing Restrictions

17 October 2006

Following on from the recent controversy over Windows Vista's licensing arrangements, Paul Thurrott at asked me to prepare a public reply to his earlier article, and has posted it on his site. My article is entitled Windows Vista's Enthusiastic Licensing Restrictions. I've tried to elaborate the concerns from a PC enthusiast's point of view, and hopefully I've captured all the main points in a reasonably balanced manner. This isn't exactly a life or death issue, but if you read the article you'll understand why it's not a good thing for most of us. Thanks to Paul for being gracious enough to post a different point of view on this topic, I have even more respect for his work.

Definitive BIOS Optimization Guide Version 9.1

17 October 2006

Adrian Wong has updated his free Definitive BIOS Optimization Guide to Version 9.1. I mention this guide in the TGTC, however I notice that a lot of people often ignore it - I strongly suggest that you check the guide out for clear answers on what most BIOS settings do.

Windows Vista Security Concerns Addressed

15 October 2006

Microsoft has agreed to loosen Vista's new PatchGuard security feature which would have previously prevented third party security software - such as antivirus packages - from working properly under Vista. I am neither pro- nor anti-Microsoft, but it seems obvious that without any real competitor to Windows, and as witnessed by the licensing issues below for example, MS is constantly skirting close to anti-competitive behavior with the way they are preparing Vista.

Windows Vista License Concerns

14 October 2006

This article highlights an important aspect of Windows Vista's new software licensing terms: that you may only "...reassign the license to another device one time...". This effectively means that you can run Vista on the first machine you install it, and then only one significant upgrade/new machine is allowed after that before your license expires. This could have a significant impact on enthusiasts who might upgrade major portions of their PCs several times over the coming years, and is an unwelcome move by Microsoft given Vista's steep price.

Update: Paul Thurrott argues that this is not a big issue. He has some valid points, but I don't agree with him overall. We have yet to see details of precisely what happens once you exceed the two installation limitation, particularly for enthusiasts who regularly upgrade their machines.

Windows Media Player 11 & Internet Explorer 7 Release Dates

13 October 2006

Neowin posts details that the final version of Windows Media Player 11 will be available on October 24, and that the Internet Explorer 7 final should be out by October 18. Having used the betas of both these applications for quite a while, I believe they will both be worth upgrading to when they arrive.

CounterStrike: Source & Steam Updates

12 October 2006

Valve have released a new Steam Update which adds the beta for the new CSS Weapon Pricing algorithm, and also has general Source engine and SourceTV updates. Restart your Steam client while online to get the update.

Update: A 'patch' for this update is already out on Steam, restart your Steam client again to get it. The fix is for the beta weapons pricing.

DirectX 9.0c October Update

12 October 2006

Microsoft has released an October Update for DirectX 9.0c. As with most DirectX updates there is no performance improvement, updating is done primarily to ensure maximum compatibility with the latest games. You don't have to update but it's recommended. To update, download the redistributable package, extract the contents to an empty directory and run the DXSetup.exe file.

Beta 2.11.0000 Audigy & X-Fi Vista Drivers

12 October 2006

Creative have released new Beta 2.11.0000 drivers for Audigy and X-Fi sound cards on systems running Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit.

Ageia RealityMark Released

11 October 2006

Ageia, the makers of the PhysX physics add-on card, have released a benchmark called RealityMark. It purports to objectively show the benefits of systems equipped with PhysX cards over those without one, however in reality it is simply a giant 380MB ad for PhysX, with exaggerated differences and ultimately misleading results. It's unfortunate that companies like PhysX are using tactics like this to ride on the crest of the add-on card wave which other companies like the Killer NIC are attempting to do as well. Add-on cards may well have some marginal value eventually if games are coded to take advantage of them, but right now I personally believe they are a total waste of money.

Prey 1.2 Patch Released

11 October 2006

Human Head Studios has released the 1.2 Patch for Prey, weighing in at 40MB. This patch primarily contains new multiplayer maps and game modes, and a few bug fixes. It's not a must-install if you only play Prey singleplayer. There are no significant changes to the Prey Tweak Guide.

Microsoft Patches Released

11 October 2006

Microsoft have released the latest batch of their monthly security patches for Windows. You can get these through Windows Update, or see more details and download them individually from here.

Update: Despite being widely speculated, IE7 final was not released today. Furthermore the Windows Update website appears to have experienced some glitches, but is working fine now.

Audigy Series 2.09.0016 Drivers Released

10 October 2006

Creative have released a new official 2.09.0016 driver set for Audigy, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 sound cards. These drivers appear to contain a range of general improvements and bug fixes, and are recommended to all Audigy users.

Internet Explorer 7 Tomorrow?

10 October 2006

This Washington Post article claims that Internet Explorer 7 final will be coming out tomorrow along with Microsoft's monthly security patches, and that it will be a 'High Priority Update', automatically installing itself for those who have Automatic Updates fully enabled. If you don't want IE7 to install this way, make sure to go to Control Panel>Automatic Updates and turn it off, or install this patch. I personally recommend installing IE7 as it is much improved over IE6.

Google Buys YouTube

10 October 2006

Google has officially announced that it will be buying YouTube, the video sharing site for $1.65 billion. This will give Google greater market share in online videos and social networking, and of course online advertising.

Battlefield 2142 Tweak Guide Released

10 October 2006

The new BF2142 demo is based on a slightly improved version of the Battlefield 2 engine, and indeed also performs roughly the same as BF2 does. Although tweaking BF2142 is similar to BF2, there are several important differences, a range of changed commands, and of course a series of problems which people may not experience in other Battlefield games. Therefore I've prepared this Battlefield 2142 Tweak Guide to give you all the information you need to customize, optimize and troubleshoot BF2142 so you can experience the game as smoothly as possible.

MS Ends Support for XP SP1

10 October 2006

Just a reminder that Microsoft Officially Ends Support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) as of October 10. I strongly recommend that anyone running SP1 update to SP2, there is no reason home users should still be running SP1.

Tweaking Vista

9 October 2006

As I've mentioned previously, I will definitely put out a Windows Vista version of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion (TGTC) in the coming months. However as I play around with Vista myself, I'm surprised to find much of the existing basic tips and tweaks in the current TGTC apply to Vista. It appears even certain XP Registry cleaning utilities such as RegSupreme can be used safely in Vista. Therefore while you're waiting for a more comprehensive Vista-specific tweak guide, I recommend that Vista users carefully use the TGTC, making sure of course to create restore points before testing out anything complex. In some ways this seems to indicate that Vista is not quite the significant leap ahead over XP which we thought it would be, at least not for the moment.

Windows Vista RC2 Build 5744 Released

7 October 2006

Microsoft has released what will be the final test build of Vista available to the public prior to its release to manufacturing. Vista RC2 Build 5744 is available for download to the general public, with the 32-bit version currently available in a 2.6GB ISO file, and the 64-bit version as a 3.6GB ISO file (recently added).

Battlefield 2142 Demo - General Release

7 October 2006

Just a reminder - as noted in a news item further below, the Battlefield 2142 Demo was released yesterday to those who had preordered the game. However today it has been released to the general public, but on Gamespot only for the moment. Again the demo is 1.1GB in size, and people who aren't Gamespot subscribers will get a very slow download speed, so I suggest waiting until tomorrow when it will be available at all the usual file hosts around the Net.

Update: The demo is now available at a range of file hosts such as Fileshack.

Update 2: BF2142 has a similar engine to BF2, so tweaking it is much the same as well. Refer to my BF2 Tweak Guide for Advanced Tweaking details until I can prepare the BF2142 Tweak Guide. I've posted some basic tips, tweaks and screenshots here.

Upcoming DirectX 10 Games

7 October 2006

With all the fuss and hype over DirectX 10 and its impact on gaming, this post on the NVNews Forums gives a good rundown (complete with detailed screenshots) of upcoming games confirmed to take advantage of DirectX 10. This might help you see more clearly exactly what all the fuss is about.

SpeedFan 4.3

7 October 2006

SpeedFan 4.30 is a free utility which can monitor and change your PC's fan speeds, monitor system and hard drive temperatures and also help diagnose hard drive problems through SMART. It works under all Windows versions, including Vista.

Firefox 2 RC2 Released

7 October 2006

The second Release Candidate of Firefox 2 has been released. I'm not sure of the changes between RC1 and RC2 yet, but I suspect it would only be bug fixes. I've been running Firefox 2 RC1 as my main browser for over a week now without any problems, so if you want to give Firefox 2 a try it should be safe to do so.

Battlefield 2142 Demo Released

6 October 2006

EA Games have released the Battlefield 2142 Demo for all users who have pre-ordered BF2142 on EA Downloader. For the first 24 hours the demo is only available to these people, followed by its release through Gamespot on 12:00am Friday US PST, then the full release to all other file hosts on Saturday. The demo weighs in at 1.1GB and I will be putting together a BF2142 Tweak Guide using the demo, which will then be updated when the full version comes out.

Internet Explorer 7 Add-Ons

6 October 2006

Much like Firefox and its Extensions, Microsoft has released a range of official IE7 Add-Ons, most of which are free to download and use. Add-ons like IE Spell for example provide useful added functionality to IE7 and are well worth checking out.

More Details on Nvidia DX10 Card

5 October 2006

DailtyTech has posted more details here and here on the upcoming Nvidia G80 DirectX 10 graphics card. The card will apparently come in 768MB GeForce 8800GTX and slightly slower 640MB GeForce 8800GTS configurations, will be fully DX10 and SM4.0 compliant and also HDCP complaint for full HDTV playback capability in Vista. As mentioned previously, it is due in stores in mid-late November.

Realtek AC97 Driver Version 3.93 Released

5 October 2006

Realtek have released Version 3.93 of their drivers for AC97-based onboard audio solutions.

Vista Tightens Antipiracy Measures

5 October 2006

There's a lot of Net chatter around the revelation that Windows Vista will have significantly tighter protection against piracy. Not activating a Vista install online within 30 days will result in a crippled OS. Volume license keys, long the source of a great deal of XP piracy, are also being changed to require online/network activation. I'm not sure why this news would surprise anyone. Noone likes to shell out big bucks for a new OS, but let's be honest here - none of us has the right to get Vista for free. There's no rush to switch to Vista either; if you're planning a system upgrade soon hold off until next year so that you can get a much cheaper OEM copy of Vista for example.

Update: Paul Thurrott also offers some advice about Sticking with XP which I generally agree with, except of course that gamers will need Vista for DX10.

Far Cry 1.4 Patch Released

4 October 2006

In a surprising move, Crytek have released a 1.4 Patch for Far Cry. The incremental version weighs in at 124MB, and contains a large number of changes primarily for Multiplayer, as well as some general bug fixes and the requirement that some console commands now be run in Devmode. If you already enjoy Far Cry as it is and/or you don't play multiplayer, there's no real need to install this patch. I will update my Far Cry Tweak Guide shortly for the changes.

Firefox Flaw a Hoax?

4 October 2006

One of the hackers claiming to have demonstrated a critical Firefox flaw (see item further below) has now said it was a Hoax, and that the flaw(s) do not exist. These hackers share something in common with true malware coders - a total lack of consideration for others and huge inflated egos.

DivX 6.4 Released

4 October 2006

The popular and efficient free video encoding/decoding software DivX has been updated to Version 6.4.

Vista RC2 Coming Friday

3 October 2006

Paul Thurrott has confirmed that MS will release Windows Vista Build 5743, dubbed 'Vista RC2', this Friday to official beta testers and a select few members of the public. This will be the final public beta build of Vista before it's Released to Manufacturing (RTM).

ATI Catalyst 6.10 Beta Released

3 October 2006

ATI have released an Official Beta of the 6.10 Catalysts. This Beta is primarily for allowing people to run Folding@Home on an ATI graphics card, as well as adding proper support for X1950 series cards, and Crossfire mode on Intel P965 chipsets. If these features aren't relevant to you, I suggest waiting for the next official final release 6.10 Catalysts.

DirectX 10 Graphics Card Coming Soon

3 October 2006

Given most gamers are greatly anticipating DirectX 10, and basing their upgrade decisions upon when a DirectX 10-compliant graphics card becomes available, it's worth noting that it appears Nvidia will release its first DX10-capable Shader Model 4.0 card in November this year. The card currently codenamed G80 will likely be called the GeForce 8800 when released, and these are allegedly some pictures of it. Keep in mind that DX10 will only work under Windows Vista, the final version of which is not out until January 2007 at the earliest.

VistaBoot Pro 3.1 Beta Released

3 October 2006

VistaBoot Pro is a utility which helps Windows Vista users customize the Vista bootup procedure much more easily than manual editing. Vista's boot files are more complex than XP's, so this utility is particularly handy for those of you who are using a Vista dual boot arrangement. The new Beta 3.1 version adds some requested features.

Potential Critical Flaw in Firefox

2 October 2006

Just to show that no browser is immune to major vulnerabilities, two hackers have apparently demonstrated that Firefox's Javascript implementation is critically flawed and can be exploited for malicious purposes. Unfortunately in this case the exploits are not easy to fix because to start with the hackers refuse to fully disclose them to Mozilla. This only serves to strengthen the fact that users need to be vigilant and secure their PCs in a variety of ways, and not become complacent that their browser is protecting them from the worst of the web.

Site Update

2 October 2006

Let's take a minute to discuss some questions I'm often asked about the TweakGuides front page. The most common question is "Why are your news items posted using tomorrow's date?" Answer: I live in Australia, and my Time Zone is up to 17 hours ahead of some parts of the world. Next up, those who are aware that I live in Australia ask me "Why do you use US spelling for certain words?" Answer: because I used to get dozens of emails from US readers 'correcting' my misspelled words, and with the bulk of readers using US English, it's just easier if I use color instead of colour for example.

Most contentious of all is the issue of what exactly makes it to the front page - what's the criteria? Well I spend a lot of time each day browsing the Net, often until 3:00am my time, to make sure I personally get across new developments and to post news updates as they happen. My aim is to bring you the most important news of the day for the broadest group of readers. This includes: important patches/updates/drivers for Windows, games and applications, especially those for which I've written a guide; genuinely significant events in the tech world; critical security warnings; useful new applications I would recommend; and sometimes just items of personal interest I want to share. If there's no real news I may throw in a Site Update or something quirky, but generally no news items indicates no important news that day. I steer clear of hardware reviews, gossip, rumors, and blogspam as these would overwhelm the front page and devalue its brevity and focus.

If you're after more general tech news here try checking our Forums regularly, and feel free to Email Me if you think something genuinely important is missing from the front page. Finally, if you have any more questions about the site be sure to check out the TweakGuides FAQ as well.

Another IE Vulnerability Discovered

1 October 2006

Microsoft has published a New Advisory on another flaw found in Internet Explorer which could be exploited by malicious websites. They're working on a patch which should be out by October 10. Note that as browsers like Firefox become more popular, they too will become subject to more exploits and vulnerabilities, so don't get complacent just because you're not an IE user. The key point of this recent batch of exploits is that now more than ever it is extremely important that you not only have a suite of anti-malware products, but that you also practice 'safe browsing'. For my tips in this regard, be sure to read the PC Security chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.

Update: Websites using this exploit are already appearing around the Net, I strongly suggest IE users switch to another browser temporarily until MS fixes this exploit.

Update 2: An unofficial ZERT Patch has also been released for this flaw.

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