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April 2006



Internet Explorer 7 Problems?

29 April 2006


As you would know from earlier news, Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 has been released and is gaining prominence among Internet users. However because it is a beta, and because certain sites still don't recognise it as a supported browser, you can try the solutions posted in this thread as a workaround. If you have any constructive tips or feedback on IE7, post it there as well.



Google SketchUp

29 April 2006


Google have released another handy tool, this time called Google SketchUp. This one is a free 3D modelling utility which you can use to create 3D objects for insertion into Google Earth, or the new 3D Warehouse for sharing Google SketchUp models.



FEAR 1.04 Patch Released

28 April 2006


Monolith have released the 1.04 Patch for FEAR, weighing in at 23MB. The main reason for this update is to maintain compatibility for the newly released FEAR SDK 1.04 (for developing mods), however the patch also adds two new multiplayer game modes: Control mode and Capture All mode. For people who only play FEAR single player, there's no urgent need to update to 1.04.



Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter Demo Released

27 April 2006


A Demo of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter has been released, weighing in at 532MB. I mention this because the game has been widely anticipated, and looks to be a good game. It's also one of the first games to incorporate support for the Ageia PhysX card to provide realistic physics effects (see further below). I'll try out the demo and see if it's tweakable enough to do a guide for the game.


Update: The game looks tweakable, and I've put some very basic tips here to start with. Please add any working tips/tweaks to that thread, and I will try to do a GRAW Demo Tweak Guide as soon as possible in anticipation of the full version when the game is released.



Microsoft Security Updates Released

27 April 2006


I notice Microsoft has released a couple of Security Updates for Windows XP which you should install. You can get them from Windows Update as usual, or here and here. Note also that the WGA Notifications update is out now, and installing it on a legitimate version of Windows has no impact at all. However if you don't want to install it, turn off Automatic Updates and make sure it isn't selected when manually downloading/installing Windows Updates.



Battlefield 2 1.3 Patch Soon

26 April 2006


EA Games have released an Update about the upcoming 1.3 Patch for Battlefield 2. It contains a couple of new features and a range of bug fixes/balance changes. It's still not clear when it will be released.



Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Released

25 April 2006


Microsoft has released Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2. Now to clear up any confusion, MS released an IE7 Beta 2 Preview a little while ago, however this is the final Beta 2. I recommend this version to all IE7 users as each iteration of IE7 fixes up a range of bugs and problems. If you're still using IE6, it may be worth installing this, as so far I've had few problems with the IE7 betas. Note that you should first uninstall any previous versions of IE7 before installing this new one. Furthermore, to encourage users to install and use IE7, MS is offering Free Phone Support for IE7 Beta 2 users.



Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications

25 April 2006


Starting Tuesday next week, Microsoft are stepping up their fight against piracy. The new addition is called Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications, and basically creates nag prompts at Windows startup, login and during normal Windows usage for people who aren't running legitimate versions of Windows. That's pretty much all this does; it doesn't prevent you from using a pirated copy normally. Fortunately, this tool will only be deployed using the Automatic Update feature, and even if you get it installed on your system you can uninstall it if you wish under 'Add or Remove Programs' in the Control Panel. The main aim seems to be to inform people who otherwise wouldn't know that they're using a pirated version. For people who knowingly pirate Windows, this has no real impact at all.


Update: Apparently the WGA Notifications tool is not uninstallable. However if you really want to avoid its installation set Automatic Updates to anything but 'Automatic' in the Control Panel, and pay attention to which Windows updates you install.



Quick Update

24 April 2006


Some site housekeeping matters I thought I'd fill you in on, given important tech-related updates are relatively quiet at the moment. To start with, I've implemented a new theme for the TweakGuides Forums, and I think it looks a bit more open, professional and uncluttered. It has become the default theme for all users, however the old theme is still available for those who want that - change it by using the style picker at the bottom left of the screen, or in User CP>Edit Options.


For those of you purchasing the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion Deluxe Edition, my genuine thanks as your support is greatly appreciated, particularly as I have still not drawn in any major Sponsors. For people purchasing the PDF version, please keep in mind that I always send a reply email within 24 hours - if you don't receive it please check your spam filter or bulk email folder. If you still can't find my reply, Email Me from your PayPal email account, stating the date you made the payment, and provide me with an alternate email address if possible. I apologize for the inconvenience, but the prevalence of spam means that some spam filters on servers are over-zealous and block or bounce legitimate emails. The same advice goes for those registering on our forums and not receiving their activation emails.


I'm looking forward to going full-time here as of 1 May, and have already started a new guide on Refresh Rates, VSync and Frames per Second (FPS). The aim is to put something together which explains these clearly and simply, clarifies a few myths, and tells you the best configuration for your system. I'm also looking for the next relatively popular game to do a guide on. In the longer term I'm going to implement a new Content Management System for the site which should allow me to provide additional features, such as clearer indications of updated sections in existing guides. These things take time and money though, so please bear with me as I steadily improve the site and provide more content :)



Crysis - Next Generation Gaming

20 April 2006


For those of you recovering from the arrival of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its amazing graphics, to put it mildly you ain't seen nothin' yet! A new game called Crysis, from the makers of Far Cry, is now the most anticipated next-generation DirectX10 game, and with good cause: take a look at the screenshots here, and you'll see precisely why. The game may be a way off yet, but clearly PC gamers have a lot to look forward to.



CS:S, HL2 and Source Engine Updates on Steam

20 April 2006


Valve have released another set of updates for CounterStrike: Source, Half Life 2 and the Source Engine. Full details are here, and you can download them by simply restarting your Steam client while online.



Quake 4 1.2 Patch Released

20 April 2006


After the withdrawl of the faulty 1.1 Patch a little while back, Activision have released the final 1.2 Patch for Quake 4, weighing in at 120MB for the full version. The patch has a huge list of changes, as detailed here, and is a must-install for all Quake 4 fans. I've updated the Quake 4 Tweak Guide for the changes.



TweakGuides is Looking For a Few Good Sponsors

19 April 2006


As you may know, I've given up my day job and will be running this site full-time starting in May. I'm really looking forward to it - I have a lot of great guides and features planned to help this site steadily become more useful to readers. Unfortunately I can't do that without financial support. Furthermore, I want to keep the site free to users, and I want to avoid annoying and intrusive advertising, so I am calling for several major sponsors to step forward and support the site. If your company or that of someone you know may be interested, please read the Sponsorship Package details, and contact me for more information. Readers and sponsors alike please note that I will only allow sponsors who meet the rigid sponsor conditions detailed on the sponsorship page; I will not sacrifice the quality and reputation of this site for anyone.



AMD 'Reverse HyperThreading'

18 April 2006


According to this article, AMD are working on a way of allowing dual core CPUs to function as a 'virtual single core' - the opposite of HyperThreading which allows a single core CPU to work as a virtual dual core. The advantage of this would be similar to the concept of SLI for graphics cards: both CPU cores would combine to work together as a very fast single core. Since most games and applications are still primarily coded for single-threading, this would result in superior performance for dual core CPUs.



Windows Media Player 11

18 April 2006


It appears that Windows Media Player 11 will arrive in June for Windows XP prior to its full release for Windows Vista. The main difference between the current Windows Media Player 10 and the new version will be in additional features for portable media players such as the ability to upload from the device to PC through WMP, as well as a few other touches like more playlist options.



Ageia PhysX and Gaming

17 April 2006


Ageia Corporation has released a new piece of hardware you may have heard of called the PhysX Card. You can read more about it in the PhysX FAQ, but basically it is a processor dedicated to physics-related effects in games. For games which are programmed to take advantage of it, it promises to provide much better performance combined with more complex physics effects. Already New Titles are available to take advantage of PhysX, including Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and the soon to be released Unreal Tournament 2007.


Now here's the tricky part. When I watch the demos of PhysX-enhanced effects in action, such as the comparison shown on this page, or the demos here, I'm a little bit underwhelmed. The effects are nice to be sure, but not quite the 'next generation' effects I was expecting. It leaves me wondering precisely why I need a PhysX card when ideally games developers would be much wiser investing their programming efforts into better utilization of existing multi-core CPUs.


However just like the way SLI was met with skepticism at first, perhaps PhysX will find its place in the gaming community by providing genuine value - I reserve judgement until I get my hands on one and test it for myself. When I do, you will hear about it in honest detail. For the moment though these cards are not available separately, and can only be purchased as part of high-end pre-built systems. Stay tuned as I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about PhysX and game physics acceleration in coming months, including competition from the Nvidia/Havok Collaboration.



Firefox 1.5.0.2 Update Released

14 April 2006


A new update for Firefox 1.5 has been released, bringing it up to Version 1.5.0.2. The update contains several compatibility, stability and security fixes, and so is highly recommended. Of course the best way to get this update is to open Firefox on your machine, go to the Help menu and select 'Check for Updates'.



Nvidia Official Beta 84.43 Forceware Released

13 April 2006


Nvidia have released an 'Official Beta' Forceware 84.43 graphics driver set. The changes from these drivers compared with the 84.25 Official Betas essentially seems to be just an added SLI profile for Tomb Raider: Legend. However if you want to provide feedback on any more changes you notice after installing them, please do so here.



ATI Catalyst 6.4 Released

13 April 2006


ATI have released the new 6.4 Catalyst graphics drivers. These drivers contain a range of performance improvements and fixes, including proper Crossfire support for Oblivion. I'm not sure if they boost performance in Oblivion or not, but you can read the full release notes here.



Oblivion High End Graphics Card Comparison

12 April 2006


No, it's not a formal review of high-end graphics cards in Oblivion. In fact to be honest, after reading some of the performance reviews which have come out recently for Oblivion, I'm left scratching my head as to what the real story is. Fortunately, members of our own forums have done a much better job of providing genuine, honest image quality and performance comparisons on setups using 7800GTX SLI, X1900XTX and similar high end cards. You can read it in this thread, and note that there is no fanboy nonsense, noone claiming victory for ATI or Nvidia, and noone making up stories to make themselves feel better about a particular card - just people giving real stories about how things are on their systems, warts and all. This is why I really like our forums and feel that they're quite unique.



Call of Duty 2 1.2 Patch Released

12 April 2006


Activition have released the Call of Duty 2 1.2 Patch, weighing in at 32.6MB. This patch contains all the fixes from previous patches, as well as a range of new fixes, two new multiplayer maps and importantly, support for PunkBuster anti-cheat software. Full details of the patch contents are here.



Microsoft Security Updates Released

12 April 2006


Microsoft have released several important Security Updates, including ones for Windows Media Player 10 and Internet Explorer 7. You can get these quickly and easily by running Windows Update, or by using the links here.



Firefox 3.0 Alpha 1

12 April 2006


There appears to be a 'tinderbox' build of Firefox 3.0 available for download. I don't have the full details of what it contains, but it is basically an Alpha (pre- pre-release), since Firefox 3.0 final is a long way off, and as such should be treated with great caution.



Oblivion Tweak Guide Update

10 April 2006


No sooner had I mentioned that I quietly update the Oblivion Tweak Guide regularly for minor additions (see below) than it turns out there's an important update worth drawing your attention to. It seems I made a mistake in my advice about the bPreemptivelyUnloadCells variable in the guide. Based on further experimentation, particularly on systems with higher iPreloadSizeLimit and cell buffer variable values, it needs to be set to 0 to fully take advantage of those settings. Check Page 9 of the guide for the updated info. On my system this change has made things amazingly smooth. So basically for all systems except perhaps those with 512MB of RAM, bPreemptivelyUnloadCells should be set to 0. Apologies for the mixup, be sure to spread the word on this.



Quick Update

10 April 2006


Well it's been a busy week here at TweakGuides, so I thought I'd give you a personal wrap-up on the goings on this past week, and where we're headed. The obvious focus recently has been on Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, culminating in the release of my Oblivion Tweak Guide which drew in hundreds of thousands of visitors, and still continues to do so. This has caused some server headaches, but in general it's a good thing - the more people acquaint themselves with the site and start optimizing their machines, the better! Note that I'm constantly updating the Oblivion Tweak Guide as useful bits and pieces come in, so re-check it now and then just to be across the changes.


I'm sure some of you are pretty sick of hearing about Oblivion by now. I apologize to those of you that are, but the reality is that I'm fairly certain this one game is now a major driver of the supporting hardware and software market, at least for the next few months. People are madly rushing out looking for ways of upgrading their system as cheaply as possible to cope with its demands. It's interesting to see this phenomenon each time a big game comes out, and it also reconfirms my advice that there are few ways of 'future proofing' your PC: it's best to upgrade after a major new game comes out, so you can see which hardware actually performs the best. Fortunately, the PC I built in July last year has stood the test of time (see this article) and runs Oblivion nicely, but who knows what will happen in 6 months' time.


Ok, so with Oblivion's impact crater behind us now, "What's the plan man?" I hear you ask. Well in a nutshell, here's what I'll be doing in the next month or so:


  • I Wrap up and leave my day job on 1 May (hallelujah!) giving me more time to devote to the site.
  • I really need to update my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide to include ATI Tray Tools, however ATI won't answer my requests to provide a new ATI card to use. This is probably because I don't promote any particular brand over another. It can't be for lack of the guide's popularity - do a Google search on 'ATI Catalyst' and you'll see what I mean
  • I have a general guide coming up in the next few weeks - details on that later.
  • I need to stabilize the site server situation. This may mean some site responsiveness issues in the short term, but I'm trying my best to sort this out ASAP (this is also related to the point below).
  • I need to find a generous site sponsor(s) to provide me with some means of supporting my work and paying site bills after I leave my day job, while keeping the site free, unbiased and devoid of annoying ads.
  • I'm continuing to focus on gathering a close, mature community on the TweakGuides Forums, and this sometimes takes up a lot of my (and the Moderators') time.
  • Finally, I need to sit down (after 1 May) and think of new features and appropriate changes to make to the site to better suit the readers' needs while still being manageable.

  • Sorry for the long update, however as you can see there a few things to keep me busy, but I'm also looking forward to growing this site over the next few months while also preserving its primary focus and keeping things simple. Believe it or not, TweakGuides is now starting to take its place among the top tech sites in terms of traffic, so I owe it to you guys to keep up my end of the deal and maintain the site's usefulness. Stay tuned!



    Welcome Mac Users

    7 April 2006


    If you run an Intel-based Mac, you should be aware by now that Apple is going to incorporate technology into the next release of Mac OS X to allow you to boot into Windows XP as well as the regular Mac OS. A public beta of this software is currently available, and is called Boot Camp. If you do get Windows XP up and running on your mac, be sure to download the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion to better understand what XP can do, and how to make it run better - most of the advice should apply to Macs.


    I know there's been a lot of fuss and bother about this development from the die-hard Apple fanboys. However let me make one thing clear - we here at TweakGuides are anti-fanboyism. It can be fun to choose favorites and take sides, however when it stops you from learning new things and broadening your horizons, it's a bad thing. Computer fanboyism and brand loyalty is counter-productive and quite frankly childish, so Mac users are welcome here as are PC users, and both will get along with each other on this site without trading insults. To me the fact that Mac users can now use Windows XP just means they now have access to a whole new range of software they couldn't use before, and surely that's a good thing.


    Update: This article provides actual (non-fanboyish) experience of running Boot Camp, and apparently the results are very good. Mac users can now play great PC games like Far Cry with acceptable performance, however a bit of tweaking is required - check our guides ;)



    April DirectX Update

    7 April 2006


    Microsoft has released an April DirectX Update, weighing in at 52MB. This update is recommended, as some games or apps require the latest DirectX update to run properly, plus to be honest it can't hurt to always have the latest DirectX version.



    The Chuck Patch

    7 April 2006


    For ATI users wanting better performance for Oblivion, ATI has released a Beta 6.3 Catalyst driver set, also known as The Chuck Patch. This driver allows ATI users with X1000 series cards to enable HDR and Antialiasing at the same time. Furthermore it provides improved performance for ATI cards in Crossfire mode.



    More Oblivion Stuff

    5 April 2006


    For the week ending March 25, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has taken out the No.1 & No.2 spots. If there was any doubt about Oblivion's popularity in my mind, it was erased around 3:00am this morning (Australian time) when traffic to view my recently released Oblivion Tweak Guide took down my server twice and caused several hours of work to get things stable. I've never had so much traffic for any guide before - over 200,000 page views in the last 12 hours alone. It's forced me to have to upgrade my server specs again, though this time I can hopefully doing it without having to move the actual site.


    Now that I've had the chance to start playing through Oblivion in earnest, I can really feel the difference these tweaks can make to both FPS and stutter reduction. Oh, and a big thank you goes to Shaja and Loreroth, the authors of the Landscape and Normal Map LOD Replacement Texture mods. These make a tremendous difference to the game's appearance. Who says you have to pay to get a decent mod or plugin? Don't get too upset at Bethesda's decision to charge for plugins, I'm absolutely certain that a truckload of great Oblivion user-made mods and plugins will keep pouring out for you to try for free.


    Finally, for those of you sick of hearing about Oblivion - and I imagine there might be some people out there in that boat - then don't worry, my next guide is going to be one that's of interest to gamers in general. I'll be starting on it in the next couple of weeks, and once I leave my job in May expect to see more guides, more often!



    Official Oblivion Plugin Released

    5 April 2006


    A new Official Plugin has been released for Oblivion, and is available for download at OblivionDownloads.com. The newly released plugin provides armor for horses, and two more plugins are to be released soon. Note these plugins are not free ($1.99 each), however I don't think it's unreasonable of Bethesda to charge for them, since there are free mods/plugins a plenty which you can download from various places, and these plugins don't seem to be 'must-have' items anyway.



    Oblivion Tweak Guide Released

    4 April 2006


    After a lot of testing and tweaking, my 13-page Oblivion Tweak Guide has finally been completed. My main aim in writing this guide was to sort out the fact from fiction by personally testing all the .ini file options and performance tweaks floating around and document only the safe, working ones; to accurately describe all the in-game settings correctly; and draw together all the available sources of optimization and troubleshooting information into a single reference source which will remain up to date as we find out more about this amazing game. There are no 'magic' tweaks which instanly double your FPS, but I genuinely believe that if you go through and follow the advice in the guide, your Oblivion experience will improve.


    Update: As you can imagine, the site is under a lot of load right now from the massive increase in traffic due to the guide. Please be patient if the site is relatively unresponsive, as there's not much I can do.


    Update 2: The site is seriously being hammered by a monstrous amount of incoming traffic. I am working with my host to stabilize the server configuration, but there will be periods of unresponsiveness due to the sheer load.



    Oblivion Tweak Guide Update

    2 April 2006


    By now a lot of you are getting very anxious and want to know when I'll be releasing my Oblivion Tweak Guide. I apologize for keeping you all waiting for so long. Even though there are a lot of tweaks and results already available, I am personally testing every single item in the Oblivion.ini file to see what it actually does, and documenting all the in-game settings, .ini tweaks, console commands and useful tips in easy-to-understand language, accompanied by screenshot comparisons, all in one reference source. This is unfortunately a time-consuming task, made worse by the fact that I have a day job which is getting in the way at the moment. However I believe I should be able to release the guide in the next few days. Please don't expect any miracle tweaks, however if you read my guide carefully I promise you'll be able to improve your performance with a range of safe but effective tweaks.


    By the way, for those of you caught trying to mess around with the uGrid settings in the .ini file to make the distant textures appear better, try this Landscape LOD Texture Replacement Mod instead. Basically it increases the resolution of the distant textures without the performance impact or glitches which altering the uGrids settings bring with them.


    Update: Ok, looks like it should be ready for release on early Wednesday - again sorry for the wait, it's a big guide!



    It's Our Birthday!

    1 April 2006


    On 1 April 2004 I decided I wanted to run my own site. It would be a site featuring tweak guides, so I spent many hours thinking long and hard and came up with an incredibly inventive name: "TweakGuides.com" Within hours of this stroke of genius, I had bought the domain name, set up hosting and within a week my UT2004 Tweak Guide was out. This is what the site looked like 2 years ago. To say it was humble is an understatement. You'll note that originally the 'About' box had my mission statement in no uncertain terms: You won't find week-old news, boring heatsink reviews, emotional editorials or spam-filled forums here. I like to think I've stuck fairly firmly to that philosophy, and aside from the occasional emotional editorial, I believe we're on track to continue in the spirit the site started. I have received a great deal of support for this site over the past two years, and for that I am genuinely grateful.


    It was while I was thinking about the site's impending birthday that I came to a realization: I really don't like my day job. I mean I really don't like it. I'm a Government Economist with a good career path, but boy is it boring as all get out. I'm lucky if in an average day I've done anything genuinely useful. All around me I see plenty of activity, but very little achievement. It dawned on me that I get more satisfaction out of this site than I do from my job, so starting in May I am leaving my day job. Yep, just like that. What does this mean for you? Well in the coming months I can focus more on the site: I can add new features, I can help shape the forums, and most important of all I can write more guides. In the long run, I am aiming to find a more rewarding day job, but right now I will devote my energies to improving this site's usefulness as best I can. I hope you stick with the site to see it improve over the coming year!


    P.S - Right now I'm still working hard to get the Oblivion Tweak Guide out to you, but it's shaping up to be the most detailed and complete guide for Oblivion I think you'll see anywhere.


    P.P.S - No, the above post is not an April Fool's Day joke :)



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