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September 2006

'Hidden' XP Music

30 September 2006

Windows XP has a nice little tune which most people wouldn't have heard. I got the tip-off from this article - all you need to do is go to your \WINDOWS\system32\oobe\images\ directory and open the file Title.wma in a media player. It runs for 5 minutes and I think it's neat.

ATI Tray Tools Released

29 September 2006

ATI Tray Tools is a complete ATI tweaking and customization utility, and while most ATI users would likely have tried this utility, a new version of it has been released bringing it up to Version Note that the version on the main ATI Tray Tools English Homepage is several months out of date, so now is your chance to install the new version as it fixes a range of bugs and also adds proper overclocking support for the X1000 series graphics cards. General usage/tweaking instructions for this tool are in my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide.

The Chuck Patch Tool

29 September 2006

Many ATI X1000 series users would know that if you want to enable HDR and Antialiasing together in games like Oblivion, you will need to use a special driver called The Chuck Patch. However it is annoying to have to uninstall your existing ATI drivers and install the new driver just to gain this feature. Fortunately, now you can use the Chuck Patch Tool which allows you to turn the Chuck Patch functionality on or off on your existing ATI drivers without having to constantly change drivers.

Sophos Anti-Rootkit 1.1 Released

29 September 2006

A new Version 1.1 of the free Sophos Anti-Rootkit utility has been released. I recommend everyone add this utility to their anti-malware arsenal. Note that the program doesn't really come with an installer, so simply extract it to a new directory and run the sargui.exe file to initiate the program.

Vista 'Font Fix'

29 September 2006

Chris Pirillo has noticed that the fonts usage in the Windows Vista user interface is inconsistent, with old and new, jagged and smooth fonts being jumbled together. He has posted a 'Font Fix' Registry Patch which makes Windows Vista use its smooth new Segoe UI font in all cases. Read the details of his patch first before deciding whether to apply it, and make sure to set a restore point beforehand as well.

iTunes 7.01 Released

28 September 2006

Apple have just released iTunes 7.01, which apparently addresses stability and performance issues with Cover Flow, CD importing, iPod syncing, and more. Hopefully this version will resolve many of the problems introduced in iTunes 7.

Major IE Vulnerability Patched

27 September 2006

As mentioned in an earlier news item, a major vulnerability was recently discovered in Internet Explorer 5/6 which could result in certain sites installing malware on your system. Fortunately Microsoft have responded quickly and released a Patch to address this issue. I strongly suggest all users download and install this patch as soon as possible. If you used the temporary fix suggested earlier, undo it by going to Start>Run and type regsvr32 "%ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\VGX\vgx.dll" (including quotes), then apply the patch. If you installed the ZERT Patch, ZERT recommends that you uninstall it and use the MS Patch. Finally, it doesn't look like IE7 is affected by this vulnerability.

Firefox 2 RC1

26 September 2006

It appears the final version of Firefox 2 Release Candidate 1 has been released on the Mozilla FTP site. The changes in this version are not clear, and note that this version is also not to be confused with the Firefox 2 Beta 2 RC1 and other previous beta and RC versions released before. The very final release of Firefox 2 is likely to still be at least a month or two away.

Update: You can use the standalone Portable Firefox version of this release which is recommended.

Site Update

26 September 2006

Well once again there hasn't been any significant news over the past few days, hence the lack of news updates here. I've been playing around with Windows Vista Build 5728, and I'm confident that I can put out a preliminary Vista Guide in the next month or two, covering the basics. It can then be built upon through further research and feedback to create the full guide hopefully just in time for Vista's retail release. In the coming weeks some very popular big-name games will also be coming out, including Battlefield 2142, Gothic 3 and Dark Messiah of Might & Magic. I will try to do guides for all of these games, so stay tuned for those as well.

Windows Vista Build 5728 Public Download

23 September 2006

Having mentioned further below in an update that the new Build 5728 of Vista (RC1 was build 5600) had been released to Connect Testers, it turns out that Microsoft has also released it as a Public Download for a limited time. Note that Build 5728 while being newer may also be more unstable than RC1 since it has not undergone the same level of testing.

Update: I've just installed Vista 5728 and it has resolved my XP/Vista dual boot issues, and also appears to have some other valuable improvements.

Update 2: Here is the link to Vista 5728 64-bit. Screenshots of Build 5728 at WinSupersite. General feedback on this build is that it's quite good.

CounterStrike: Source Pricing Algorithm Change

23 September 2006

In an interesting development which may flow on to other online games, Valve have announced a new Pricing Algorithm for weapons purchases in CS:S. What this means essentially is that weapon prices will not remain static - they will be determined by the popularity of the weapon across the entire global CS:S community. This in effect makes CS:S partly a traditional online game, and partly a massively multiplayer experience. Imagine if this system were propagated to games like BF2, BF2142 or UT2007.

Major Internet Explorer Vulnerability

23 September 2006

A major Internet Explorer vulnerability has been discovered and is being exploited by a range of websites. If you use IE 5 or above to browse a site which is using this exploit, you risk being infected with malware. Fortunately there are several methods for fixing this vulnerability until Microsoft releases a patch - which may not be until October 10. The simplest method involves using an alternate browser for the moment, such as Opera or Firefox; this is my recommended method. Or you can use an unofficial ZERT Patch which should be safe. Or you can go to Start>Run and enter regsvr32 -u "%ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\VGX\vgx.dll" (including quotes) to temporarily disable this functionality in IE.

Opera 9.02 Released

23 September 2006

A new version of the free Opera web browser has been released, bringing it up to Version 9.02. This version contains primarily stability and bug fixes.

Vista On Track

22 September 2006

Microsoft have released a Statement to Developers confirming that they are on track for the release of Windows Vista to businesses late this year, and to the general public in January 2007. A new promotional site called also increases the pre-release hype surrounding Vista. Whether you're anticipating Vista or dreading it, it looks like it's going to be here soon and will likely dominate the OS market as its Windows-based predecessors have for so many years.

Update: A new 5728 build of Vista has been released to Connect Testers only.

SoundBlaster X-Fi 2.09.0001 Drivers Released

21 September 2006

Creative have released a new Version 2.09.0001 driver for the SoundBlaster X-Fi range. These are an improved version of an earlier driver set which provided full support for OpenAL 1.1, as well as Prey, Quake 4, Doom 3, UT2004 and Battlefield 2 audio enchancements and bug fixes. It is recommended that all X-Fi owners upgrade to this version.

ATI Catalyst 6.9 Drivers Released

21 September 2006

ATI have released the 6.9 Catalyst graphics drivers. The changes from these drivers are listed here, and include performance improvements for X1000 series cards, game fixes and bug fixes. I recommend most ATI users upgrade to this version. There are no significant changes to the ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide.

Microsoft Patches Released

20 September 2006

Microsoft have released some patches for Windows Vista RC1, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000. None of them are critical, however you can view more details and download them from here.

Site Update

19 September 2006

There haven't been any major news stories in the last few days so I'll do a Site Update instead. As you know I've started working with Windows Vista RC1, and I have to say it's actually quite daunting learning a new Operating System, even one which is predominantly an evolution of Windows XP. Vista is definitely much prettier than XP, and runs quite well on my machine; I get a 5.0 on the Vista Experience Index with my year-old machine. Even though it's not a final product, RC1 feels fairly responsive and appears quite stable so far. It's going to take me a bit of time to delve into Vista's internals and start to understand what exactly is going on in terms of properly tweaking it. Vista tweak guides, tweaking utilities and tips are popping up everywhere, but I refuse to join the rush to put out a guide until I can understand just what it is I'm recommending. For the moment I urge you to also be cautious when tweaking Vista. Though many of the settings appear similar to XP, the architecture is different in areas such as memory management for example, so we can't just apply the same methods and concepts. Let me know if you have any interesting Vista details to share, and hopefully I can have a Vista version of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion out in time for its retail release next year.

America's Army Tweak Guide Updated

17 September 2006

I've gone through and updated my America's Army Tweak Guide for the latest Version 2.7 of the game. While the changes are not as major as I had anticipated - the game engine has remained essentially the same as 2.6 - there is important information about the known bugs in the game including the texture bug, details on how to play against the new AI in offline mode, and of course all the information a starting player needs to get up and running with this complex but enjoyable free game.

Apple iTunes7 'Rollback'

16 September 2006

Well it seems that amidst overwhelming complaints about Apple's new iTunes7, many users are interested in going back to their previous version of iTunes. This thread on the Apple forums describes how to 'roll back' your system to the way it was under iTunes 6.05, so give it a try if you're finding iTunes7 too hard to deal with.

CCleaner 1.33.382 Released

16 September 2006

CCleaner, the handy free utility I recommend for cleaning out unnecessary files from your Windows, has been updated to Version 1.33.382. The changes in the latest version are listed here, and it's recommended that most users upgrade to this version.

Call of Juarez and FEAR Tweak Guide Updates

15 September 2006

With useful feedback and help from a range of people, I've updated the FEAR Tweak Guide up to and including the FEAR Extraction Point demo - see pages 4, 5 and 7 in particular for new details. I've also updated the Call of Juarez Tweak Guide for the full version - check the entire guide for a range of updates, and in particular note the nifty mod on page 10 to remove the large 'Red X' annoyance in the game. Thanks to all those who help me keep the guides up to date with constructive feedback and notification of errors and dead links. It's virtually impossible for me to keep the 25 or so 'active' guides on this site up to date on a daily basis without your help.

America's Army 2.7 Released

15 September 2006

The US Army has released America's Army 2.7, the latest version of the full free tactical online shooter/simulation. The new version has been significantly revised, with the changes listed here. All existing America's Army players will need to uninstall their current versions and download and install the full new version which weighs in at 2.5GB; there is no incremental update available. If you haven't tried America's Army before, now is the perfect time to take up this great game. I will of course be fully revising my America's Army Tweak Guide for Version 2.7 over the next few days, so keep an eye out for that.

Update: Due to huge size of this file a lot of people are struggling to find a suitable download location. For those of you with slower connections I suggest simply waiting till the initial surge in demand dies down. Furthermore as noted on Fileshack, it is recommended that you use a browser like Firefox to download the file, as Internet Explorer may not be able to successfully complete the download.

Update 2: You can now also use the Official America's Army Downloader to help make downloading the file easier.

Firefox Released

15 September 2006

Mozilla have released an update for the Firefox browser, bringing it up to Version This is another stability/bug fix version prior to the release of Firefox 2.0. At the moment the update is only on the Mozilla FTP site, but will be available on the main Firefox site shortly as well as through the built-in Firefox updater (Help>Check for Updates).

Update: It's now available through the Firefox built-in updater, so I recommend getting it that way.

FEAR Extraction Point Demo Released

14 September 2006

A demo of FEAR Extraction Point, the upcoming expansion pack for FEAR, has been released and weighs in at 552MB. The full version of the expansion pack is due out on 24 October, and will not be free.


13 September 2006

The makers of the A-Squared Trojan scanner have released a free utility called HiJackFree. This utility allows you to view and control a wide range of startup programs, background processes and services, and even open ports on your system among other things. It's intended for more advanced users, and I recommend that you add it to your anti-malware/system analysis arsenal.

QuickTime 7.13 & iTunes 7 Released

13 September 2006

Apple have released a new version of the free QuickTime 7.13 media player, as well as iTunes 7. However a range of people on the Apple Forums are complaining about audio glitches with the new iTunes.

CS:S & Source Update Released

13 September 2006

Valve have put out updates for CounterStrike: Source, the Source engine and SourceTV. Details here and simply restart your Steam client while online to get them.

Microsoft Patches Released

13 September 2006

As part of its monthly patch cycle, Microsoft has released several new important updates for various versions of Windows. You can see all of them here, and the quickest way to get them is to run Windows Update.

GRAW 1.30 Patch Released

13 September 2006

Ubisoft have released the 1.30 Patch for Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. This 273MB patch is also known as 'Map Pack 3', and contains new game modes, new features, bug fixes, and importantly a dedicated server executable. Details of the changes are here, and the patch is a must for all GRAW players. I will update my GRAW Tweak Guide shortly.

Microsoft Live Search Released

12 September 2006

Microsoft has released its own search engine to compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo. Live Search has the same minimalistic look of Google, but it remains to be seen just how popular it will be if it just imitates Google.

Site Update

11 September 2006

Well as promised, with Vista RC1 having been released I will start working on figuring out how to optimize Windows Vista. I'm about to receive a new hard drive on which to install Vista, allowing me to keep my existing XP environment unaltered. It's not clear how long it will take me to write a basic Vista Tweak Guide, but I'll do my best to prepare one as soon as possible. However shortly a range of great games will be coming out, and I'll be doing as many game guides as possible. Keep your eyes on the site, more good stuff coming up soon.

Update: Well I've got Vista RC1 up and running, and now it's just a matter of time before I decipher all the new features and annoyances. Many of Vista's settings are similar to XP, and performance wise it appears at least as quick as XP on my machine.

Operating System Nostalgia

9 September 2006

At a time when there's a lot of fuss and hype over Windows Vista, take a moment to go on a nostalgic tour of operating systems from years gone by. This site does exactly that, with screenshots, sounds and icons from such memorable OSes as Amiga OS, the AppleII OS, and Windows 1.0 to name a few. It even has a range of Vintage ads and various Splash Screens from popular applications of the past.

Samsung Site Hosting Malware

9 September 2006

It appears the Samsung US website is inadvertantly hosting files which are serious malware. It looks like they were hacked a while ago. If you've downloaded anything from their site recently make sure to do a thorough scan of your system, and I'd suggest not downloading anything from the site until this issue is resolved.

Battlefield 2142 Beta Expanded

9 September 2006

EA are expanding the Beta Test for BF 2142 to the general public, by providing an additional 10,000 CD Keys shortly. This will allow a lot more people to test out the recently released BF2142 Beta, prior to its intended release on October 17.

Update: Looks like the Keys came and went out the door in under an hour.

VIA Hyperion Pro 5.10A Released

9 September 2006

VIA have released the latest Hyperion Pro 5.10A chipset drivers for VIA-based motherboards. These drivers are suitable for all VIA chipsets.

Windows Vista RC1 Public Release

7 September 2006

Microsoft have released Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1) to the public. You can get it from the Vista RC1 Download Page, with the 32-bit version being 2.6GB and the 64-bit version being 3.6GB. You will need to have either a Vista Beta 2 CD Key, or register to get one through the Customer Preview Program. If you are going to attempt to use Vista RC1 as your primary OS, I recommend using Vista 32-bit, even for 64-bit CPU owners, since 64-bit drivers are still lacking. I'm personally going to install Vista RC1 32-bit on a separate hard drive and thus boot up XP or Vista RC1 depending on the drive chosen at boot.

Update: Microsoft has temporarily run out of Vista Keys and will have more keys in the next 72 hours.

Update 2: Apparently Microsoft has more CD Keys available again now for new registrants.

Official Windows Vista Pricing

6 September 2006

Microsoft have finally revealed the Official Prices for Windows Vista - click on each edition's link and the price is shown at the bottom of the next page. The prices for Full Versions range from $399 for Vista Ultimate, down to $199 for Vista Home Basic. The Upgrade Editions (for existing full version XP owners) range from $259 down to $100.

Update: More Vista details from MS provided here.

Battlefield 2 1.4 Patch Released

6 September 2006

EA Games have released the final version of the 1.4 Patch for Battlefield 2. The incremental version of the patch is 140MB, the full version is 530MB. The change list is covered here, and includes a new map, some gameplay tweaks, and a range of bug fixes. Initial feedback is mixed, some people report similar problems to those under the 1.3 Patch. I will update the BF2 Tweak Guide shortly.

zCodec is Malware

5 September 2006

A new multimedia codec called zCodec has been identified as serious malware. The codec's site appears legitimate, and promises 'up to 40% better quality'. In reality, installing zCodec can install serious malware on your system such as a trojan or rootkit. This is a timely reminder that malicious/deceptive software is evolving beyond the obvious. Be extremely careful when you are presented with a 'new and exciting' piece of software which promises you things which are too good to be true. Do a bit of basic research and see what other users or the tech press have to say. I'm personally very conservative about what I choose to install on my system. Even if it doesn't contain malware, some programs can make a real mess in your Registry, damage certain functionality and/or conflict with games and other programs and be very difficult to uninstall.

Browzar Internet Browser - Update

5 September 2006

I recently mentioned a new entry into the browser market called Browzar. A range of people have discovered that Browzar is not all it claims to be. It does not completely hide all traces of your Internet activity, and indeed its default search engine serves up subtle advertising. While the software is not malicious, I would now definitely recommend that people not use it as it is not fit for purpose. I strongly suggest that you use Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer and learn to utilize their privacy and security functionality correctly. Check the Firefox Tweak Guide or the Internet Explorer chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for more details.

TweakGuides Folding@Home Team

4 September 2006

For those of you who are interested in doing something practical to help find cures for major illnesses, you can join the TweakGuides Folding@Home Team. For more details of what Folding@Home is and how to join, see here.

Savage - Full Free Game

3 September 2006

S2 Games have made the 'Real Time Strategy Shooter' game Savage: The Battle for Newerth 2.0 available as a full version free download. It weighs in at 350MB, and during installation you can simply use 00000000000000000000 as the CD Key.

Site Update

3 September 2006

In the next few months things are going to get very busy. Some prominent game releases will be out including: Battlefield 2142 and Dark Messiah of Might & Magic (both in late October); America's Army 2.7 (well overdue by now); Call of Juarez (in Europe/Australia this month); and Need for Speed: Carbon (early November). All of these games will be getting guides. Add to that an even more difficult task I have now of balancing Windows XP and Windows Vista information on this site. My immediate strategy is to continue the focus on XP as it will still be the major OS for most people, but I'll start working with Vista once RC1 is publicly available, and provide additional Vista-related tips or notes to guides as required, hopefully with the help of reader feedback.

It'll be tricky, as some early adopters are moving to Vista as soon as possible, while a large group of people will stick with XP well into 2007, whether for cost, compatibility or other reasons. I don't want to ignore one group at the expense of the other, but I also don't want to stretch myself too thin so it'll be a gradual transition here until Vista Ultimate becomes my main OS when it goes retail. A Vista version of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion won't be out until at least February next year because it'll be such a mammoth task. In the meanwhile please keep the constructive feedback coming, and stick around as the site continues to improve with your help.

Update: Note that the TweakGuides Forums are open again, apologies for the downtime.

Nvidia 91.47 Forceware Released

2 September 2006

Nvidia have released the official 91.47 Forceware drivers. These drivers primarily contain fixes for a range of issues, and improve support for newer Nvidia graphics cards.

Update: Make sure to check the Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for the changes, particularly page 8 of the guide.

Windows Vista RC1 Released to Testers

2 September 2006

Microsoft have released Windows Vista RC1 to Connect Testers. The build number is 5600, with the 32-bit version weighing in at 2.6GB and the 64-bit version at 3.7GB. Paul Thurrott provides some Screenshots of RC1 on his site, and the first impressions appear to be quite good. The Vista Team Blog also makes it clear that RC1 will be released to MSDN and Technet subscribers next week, and then to the public shortly after that.

Update: A lot more Vista RC1 screenshots can be found here.

.NET 3.0 Pre-Release Version

2 September 2006

Microsoft have released a 'pre-release RC1' community preview of .NET 3.0. This version is not recommended for most users; I firmly recommend you stick to using .NET 2.0. However if you're curious to test out what .NET for Vista is like on XP for example then give it a try.

AOL 9.0 Branded 'Badware'

1 September 2006

The organisation know as, which is supported by Google, Sun and Lenovo, has branded the free AOL 9.0 Software as Badware. The reason behind this is that the software makes a range of changes and installations without the user's explicit consent or knowledge, and does not uninstall properly. AOL have said they will issue a patch or a new version of the software to address these issues, but for the moment the best thing to do is to avoid using AOL 9.0 as it is unnecessary and certainly not optimal.

EA to Embed In-Game Ads

1 September 2006

Starting with Need for Speed: Carbon and then moving on to Battlefield 2142, EA Games will begin embedding dynamic contextual in-game advertising. These ads will appear in various places throughout the virtual world, and according to EA will actually 'enhance' game play. While I don't want to turn this news item into a rant, it must be said that I'm rather fed up with EA Games and their cookie-cutter formulaic commoditization of gaming. If these games are to carry prominent in-game advertising, then I would expect that they retail for less than normal price - which does not appear to be the case. I also expect innovation and reliability to be the major focus of a games company, not just the generation of new revenue streams. EA would do well to examine their rusty model of rushing out essentially the same bug-ridden games every year with slight changes and charging premium prices for them. Remember that as a consumer it's up to you whether you want to reward this business model or not.

Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 Released

1 September 2006

It seems the Betas just keep on coming. Microsoft has just released Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2. You can install the Beta 2 over your existing WMP without any problems, you don't need to uninstall previous versions first. The main differences between Beta 1 and Beta 2 are bug fixes, slight appearance changes, more online music stores and changes to sharing digital content as detailed here. I'd recommend all Windows Media Player 11 users upgrade to this version. Users of other versions of WMP would also do well to upgrade as WMP 11 has been very stable in my experience.

Site Update

1 September 2006

Apologies to TweakGuides Forum users, but I've kept the forums closed to maintain responsiveness on the main site. We've had a lot of exposure around the web recently, with articles on Digg and The Inquirer and a whole range of other places encouraging people to download the TGTC 3.2 in particular. When the forums are active the combination of heavy main site traffic and moderate dynamic forum traffic results in noticeable server slowdown. EuroVPS are building a dedicated server for TweakGuides at the moment and we should be on there shortly. This should resolve these sort of issues, and I thank you for your patience. It's nice to be popular, and I'm glad the guides here are being read widely, but boy it can sure cause headaches sometimes!

Firefox 2 Beta 2 Released

1 September 2006

Firefox 2 Beta 2 Final is now available for download from Firefox 2's new features are detailed here, and this build should be stable enough to use as your main browser, but if in doubt either wait for more user feedback or for the 'portable' version of it to come out.

Update: The Portable Version has now been released. I recommend this version for most people as it's self-contained and won't ruin your current install of Firefox 1.5

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