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December 2006



Creative X-Fi Beta Vista Driver 2.13.0001

31 December 2006


Creative have released a new Vista Beta 2.13.0001 Driver for the SoundBlaster X-Fi series of sound cards.



TweakGuides in 2007

31 December 2006


As we approach the New Year, it's time to talk about what's coming up for TweakGuides.com in 2007. The honest answer is that it will be more of the same, but with improvements where possible. I would love to promise a range of new features, but many of these depend on whether I can get more sponsors. The generosity of quality sponsors like EuroVPS has been instrumental in keeping the site free to you, so hopefully we can get more on board in the coming year.


The most immediate and also the most challenging thing for me in 2007 will be to write a decent guide for Windows Vista. I'm going to spend all of January working on this guide, and I hope to have a basic form of it out around the time Vista is officially released to the public on January 30. It won't be as long as or as detailed as the current TweakGuides Tweaking Companion (TGTC) to start with, but over time and with more experience and feedback I can develop it into a similar guide. Remember that when I wrote the first version of the TGTC, I'd already had over three years of experience with XP. Speaking of which, Windows XP users won't suddenly be ignored when Vista comes out; I realise that XP is still going to be a widely-used OS in 2007.


Next year is also looking like another great one for PC games, and so the game guides will keep coming. Check out this list of Upcoming Games in 2007 - I'm already planning to do guides for major games like Unreal Tournament 2007 and Crysis, but if experience has taught me anything, it's that there will probably be several amazing games which will take all of us by surprise in 2007, so I'll need to play it by ear.


Finally, as you've come to expect, I'll do my best to report the latest relevant tech news as quickly and as accurately as possible on the front page. So the bottom line is that I'll continue to improve the site in a steady and realistic manner as I have over the past two and a half years. I hope to see you back here in 2007, safe and sound and ready for another year of tweaking!



Kaspersky Antivirus 6.0 Beta for Vista

31 December 2006


Kaspersky has incorporated Vista support into their latest beta build of Kaspersky Antivirus 6.0. You can obtain this beta version here.



Internet Explorer 7 & Verified Safe Sites

30 December 2006


As of next month Internet Explorer 7 will attempt to identify 'Verified Safe Sites' for e-commerce and banking. Such sites will have to meet a range of stringent requirements to confirm that they are legitimate and safe to use. While this is a positive step, unfortunately some small businesses and individuals will not be eligible for certification, and this could create the impression that they are untrustworthy. Still, this is an added a layer of protection against phishing and scams which are becoming far too commonplace on the Internet.



Site Update

29 December 2006


You may have noticed that the site was effectively down for most of the past 12 hours, with just a generic Plesk page showing. This is due to a last minute move to a new server late yesterday, and because of a change in IP address as well as some server configuration issues, the forums have been closed and the main site has not been available to everyone. This appears to have been resolved now, and the forums will reopen shortly. I apologize once again for the inconvenience.



Game Patches

29 December 2006


  • Nexuiz - 2.22 Patch
  • Alien Arena 2007 - 6.02 Patch


  • Game Patches

    28 December 2006


  • Original War - 1.071 Patch
  • Richard Burns Rally - RSRBR III Patch
  • Sailors of the Sky - 6.16 Patch
  • Starsiege 2845 - 1.1a Patch


  • First Security Flaw in Vista Found

    27 December 2006


    Given the lack of news during the Christmas period, this particular story has been overhyped, however I'll still report it given it is technically accurate. The First Security Flaw in Windows Vista has been found, posted on a Russian website recently. It is important to note that this flaw is virtually impossible to execute remotely, making it an extremely low-risk threat. MS has said they will patch this flaw, and it is important to remember that no operating system will ever be totally impervious to security flaws or exploits as long as human beings with malicious intentions exist on this planet.



    PC World Top 20 Most Innovative Products of 2006

    27 December 2006


    Another Best Of 2006, PC World list their Top 20 Innovative Products of 2006. It may surprise some people to see that their No.1 spot goes to Microsoft Office 2007.



    HardwareZone Top 100 Products of 2006

    27 December 2006


    Continuing with the Best of 2006 lists, HardwareZone have posted their Top 100 Products of 2006. They haven't listed them in any order though, just to play it safe. Still an interesting read as there are some nifty devices in the list.



    TweakGuides Folding@Home

    27 December 2006


    For those of you who want to contribute in a practical manner to the prevention and cure of various diseases, you should consider Folding@Home. To join the small but dedicated TweakGuides F@H Team, see the details here. These guys punch well above their weight, already ranking within the Top 500 teams in the world.



    RivaTuner 2.0 Final

    26 December 2006


    Unwinder has released the final Version 2.0 of the popular graphics card tweaking/overclocking utility RivaTuner. This tool can be used on both Nvidia and ATI cards, and this new version provides support for the latest graphics cards. Importantly it now also allows people to easily force enable Triple Buffering in Direct3D for both ATI & Nvidia cards.


    Update: See the bottom of this page of the Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details of how to use this new functionality.



    TweakGuides Best PC Game of 2006

    24 December 2006


    Given the 'Best of 2006' theme currently doing the rounds on various sites, we thought we'd do our own TweakGuides Best PC Game of 2006 poll. The clear winner with over 54% of the vote is The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In second place at around 16% is Company of Heroes, and in a distant third place at 4.5% comes Battlefield 2142. The remaining 25% of the votes are scattered across a range of games, and indeed some voters felt they had more than one favorite, so it wasn't necessarily as clear-cut as it seems.


    I personally loved Oblivion, and without hesitation would consider it one of the best PC games to have ever been released. I'm not a huge fan of the RPG genre, but the amazing detail, total freedom and lush immersive graphics, not to mention the near-infinite customization potential of Oblivion means that I've invested well over 200 hours into the game, and still play it regularly. Also important from my perspective is that Oblivion's developers Bethesda Softworks spent four years meticulously designing and developing this game, released it at the standard price, did not load it with advertising or an intrusive copy protection system like StarForce, nor release it in a beta state. While the game is certainly not flawless, it serves as a great example of what PC gaming is like at its finest.



    GameSpot Game of the Year 2006

    24 December 2006


    GameSpot have posted up their take on the Game of the Year for 2006 across all platforms. The winner they choose is Gears of War for XBox 360.



    Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

    23 December 2006


    Most of you should be getting ready to enjoy the holidays with friends and family so I'll take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. I truly hope it's been a good year for you and your loved ones, and I'm sure 2007 will see even better things ahead.


    Regardless of whether this time of year holds any religious significance for you or not, it's as good a time as any for reflection on where you've been and where you're going. We each have the capacity to achieve great things, as long as we can periodically take our heads out of the here and now and think in terms of the bigger picture. Many of the problems the world faces today are the result of too many people thoughtlessly pursuing short-term self interest. Yet one of the greatest gifts we have is our ability to fill our minds with information and use it to solve almost any problem. Therefore I encourage you to always avoid the easy answers, the quick fixes; use every opportunity available to you to seek out new food for thought. The events on this planet are far too complex and dynamic for anyone to ever fully comprehend their significance, but I believe our role is to try, not just sit back and wonder why, or allow someone else to do our thinking for us.



    Game Patches

    23 December 2006


  • ANNO 1701 - 1.01 Patch
  • Live for Speed S2 Alpha - Version V
  • Stronghold 2 - 1.3.1 Patch
  • Sims 2 Pets - Body Shop Patch
  • For Liberty - 1.75 Patch
  • Panzer Elite Action - 1.43.87 Patch
  • Sprint Cars: Road to Knoxville - 1.04 Patch
  • Gary Grigsby's World at War: A World Divided - 1.008 Patch

  • Update: Game Patches news item format changed to make it easier to read.



    FRAPS 2.82

    23 December 2006


    A new Version 2.82 of the screen/video capture & FPS measurement program FRAPS has been released. It contains some bug fixes and removes resolution restrictions on dual/multi core CPU systems.



    Armed Assault Demo

    22 December 2006


    An 845MB demo has been released for the upcoming Armed Assault game. The full version of this game has already been released in parts of Europe and is set to be released elsewhere in February 2007. It is effectively an updated version of the popular Operation Flashpoint, and is well worth trying if you like tactical FPS games. I will be doing a tweak guide for this game in the coming weeks as time permits.


    Update: My thoughts, tips, screenshots of this game are here.



    America's Army 2.8

    22 December 2006


    The US Army has released Version 2.8 of the popular free America's Army Special Forces game. This version contains a range of bug fixes and includes a new Map Editor for creating custom maps. I will update my America's Army Tweak Guide for the changes shortly.



    Game Patches

    22 December 2006


  • A 1.12 Patch has been released for Gothic 3.
  • A 1.02 Patch has been released for Rainbow Six: Vegas.
  • A 1.10 Patch has been released for Sid Meier's Railroads.
  • A 1.1 Patch has been released for GTR 2.


  • Site Update

    22 December 2006


    We've had a few server-related issues in the past few hours which have meant that TweakGuides has been intermittently slow or unreachable for a range of people. I apologize for the inconvenience and things should be resolved now. We have yet to move to a dedicated server which will fix these issues more permanently, as they are related to the generally heavy traffic this site gets.



    Dark Messiah of Might & Magic 1.02 MP Patch

    21 December 2006


    Arkane have released the 1.02 Multiplayer Patch which you can get through Steam. The patch contains a range of changes and is recommended to all DMOMM MP players. I will update the DMOMM Tweak Guide shortly for the changes.



    Sony BMG Rootkit Settlement

    21 December 2006


    Residents of Texas and California who purchased a Sony BMG music CD which contained rootkit-like copy protection can submit a claim to obtain part of the damages paid by Sony BMG to these States as part of a settlement. The full details and claim forms are here. Note that in future Sony BMG can still include intrusive DRM on their discs, but they must disclose this clearly and fully on the packaging.



    Microsoft Windows Updates

    21 December 2006


    Microsoft has released a few more general patches for Windows. They're not on Windows Update yet, but you can browse and download relevant ones here. Notably this includes two updates to address potential problems for AMD Dual Core users who utilize power management features in XP.



    Firefox 2.0.0.1

    20 December 2006


    A new final 2.0.0.1 build of Firefox 2.0 has been released on the Mozilla FTP. The changes it contains are a range of bug fixes, listed here for the moment, however I suggest waiting until it becomes available through the Firefox built-in updater.


    Update: It is now available on the official Firefox Site as well as through the auto updater.



    Battlefield 2142 1.10 Patch

    20 December 2006


    EA Games have released the final version of the 1.10 Patch for Battlefield 2142. It appears to be identical to the Beta 1.10 Patch in terms of content. The patch contains a range of bug fixes, gameplay tweaks and some minor new features, and is recommended to all players. I will update the BF2142 Tweak Guide for any changes shortly.



    GameSpy Game of The Year 2006

    20 December 2006


    GameSpy has released their Game of the Year list for 2006, and the overall top spot belongs to Company of Heroes, followed by Oblivion in 2nd place and Half Life 2: Episode One in third. The results are further broken down by category.



    Game Patches

    19 December 2006


  • A 1.02 Patch has been released for Armed Assault.
  • A 1.20 Patch has been released for Space Empires IV.
  • A 1.11 Patch has been released for Wildlife Park 2.


  • Google Top Searches 2006

    19 December 2006


    Google has released their 2006 Zeitgeist showing top searches and trends in a range of categories.



    Opera 9.10

    18 December 2006


    The final Version 9.10 of the free Opera browser has been released. The changes include a new anti-phishing filter and general bug fixes, so it is recommended to all Opera users.



    Site Update

    18 December 2006


    Given that a lot of gamers visit this site, starting today I will announce all new game patches - not just patches for games on which I have written guides - as they are released. An example of how this will appear is provided in the news item further below. Due to the fact that I want to maintain the brevity of the front page, I won't detail actual changes/fixes, but by following the links you can see these for yourself. I link to FileShack by default only because I find it the least ad-ridden and most easy-to-read free file hosting site, but you can check your own preferred file host as necessary. If you're curious about what else makes the front page, read this FAQ Item, and of course I welcome people emailing me with important news if they feel it meets the criteria.


    Update: Format of game patch post below changed through user feedback to better separate items.


    Update 2: Announcements will primarily be for English versions of patches.



    Game Patches

    18 December 2006


  • A 1.11 Patch has been released for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Dark Crusade.
  • A 1.1 Patch has been released for Medieval II: Total War.


  • Nvidia Gelato 2.1 Beta 5

    16 December 2006


    Nvidia has released a new version 2.1 of an interesting free program called Gelato. This program allows Nvidia graphics card users to create cinema-quality 3D images utilizing hardware acceleration.



    Steam Servers Down

    16 December 2006


    After a major storm in Seattle it appears that most of the Steam servers are down due to a power outage and will remain so for a while. Obviously this will impact on you if you attempt to play certain games which require Steam to be active. Valve are working on resolving this, however no ETA for resolution has been given.


    Update: Most of the Steam problems have been resolved, though game purchases are still disabled.



    Skype to Start Charging for Phone Calls

    16 December 2006


    The free Internet phone service provider Skype will start charging for all calls to phones as of 1 January 2007. However PC to PC calls through Skype will remain free.



    Photoshop CS3 Beta

    16 December 2006


    Adobe have released a free beta of the image creation/manipulation program Photoshop CS3 accessible only to Photoshop CS2 owners. The final version of Photoshop CS3 is due out by around March 2007.



    New Microsoft Homepage

    15 December 2006


    The homepage for the Microsoft Site has been redesigned to make it much simpler and easier to read. The main links at the top right of the page also pop up in small Ajax-driven windows which is neat. It's good to see a major corporation taking steps to simplify their site rather than stuff it full of links, text and images.



    DirectX9.0 December Update

    14 December 2006


    Microsoft has released the December Update for DirectX9.0. It is generally recommended that you update to the latest build of DX9 particularly if you play recent games.



    ATI Catalyst 6.12 Released

    14 December 2006


    ATI have released the 6.12 Catalysts. These contain primarily fixes for Neverwinter Nights 2 and Black & White 2, resolve various general issues, and also introduce DirectX video acceleration for CrossFire configurations. They are recommended for all ATI graphics card owners except those with cards older than the Radeon 9500.



    Update for Internet Explorer 7

    14 December 2006


    Microsoft has released an Update which resolves an issue with the phishing filter in Internet Explorer 7. This update is not yet on Windows Update nor was it included in the security patches released yesterday.



    Intel Desktop Control Center 2.2 Released

    13 December 2006


    Intel has released a new version of the Desktop Control Center motherboard information, stress testing and overclocking utility for Intel chipset-based motherboards.



    Microsoft Security Updates Released

    13 December 2006


    Microsoft has released another set of security updates which you can get through Windows Update, or by viewing and downloading them from here. There are several critical updates you should install as soon as possible.



    Dark Messiah of Might & Magic 1.02 Patch Released

    13 December 2006


    Ubisoft has released the much-anticipated 1.02 Patch for Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, which contains a large range of changes and fixes. It is strongly recommended that all DMOMM players update to this version. I will update my Dark Messiah Tweak Guide shortly for the various changes.



    Realtek AC97 Driver Version 3.96 Released

    13 December 2006


    Realtek have released Version 3.96 of their AC97 Audio driver for onboard audio solutions.



    OpenOffice 2.10 Released

    13 December 2006


    OpenOffice.org have released a new Version 2.10 of their totally free, open source office productivity suite. OpenOffice 2.10 has a large number of changes as listed here and is recommended for all OpenOffice users, as well as those willing to try out this free alternative to MS Office.



    Java Runtime 6.0 Released

    12 December 2006


    A new Version 6.0 of the Java Runtime Environment has been released with a range of changes. It is recommended that all users who have Java enabled on their machine (e.g. in their browser) install this new version for security reasons. I recommend uninstalling any previous Java versions first, then click the link above, scroll down to 'Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6', click the Download button, accept the license agreement and download and install the offline version.



    MS IntelliType & IntelliPoint Drivers for Vista

    12 December 2006


    Microsoft has released final versions of the IntelliPoint drivers for MS Mouse and IntelliType drivers for MS Keyboards under Windows Vista. Make sure to uninstall any beta versions before installing these.



    Windows Media Player 9 & 10 Vulnerability

    12 December 2006


    A new critical security vulnerability has been found in Windows Media Player 9 and 10. It involves .ASX format playlists, and the current workarounds to avoid this vulnerability are listed here.



    In-Game Advertising Expands to CS 1.6

    11 December 2006


    Long-time readers may recall my outburst against the introduction of dynamic in-game advertising in Battlefield 2142 - for more details see this page. The main issue wasn't the ads themselves as such, rather the precedent set by their introduction: namely that consumers see no benefit whatsoever for having an added nuisance into a game they pay full price for. Well now it seems that it has proven too tempting for Valve, who are going to introduce in-game advertising to CounterStrike 1.6 as of next year, with plans to expand it to CounterStrike: Source and other games down the track. Doug Lombardi from Valve says: "We believe that gamers are going to expect and accept well-done advertising in games" which basically translates to "Like it or lump it".



    Spam Set to Worsen in 2007

    10 December 2006


    As you no doubt may have noticed, the volume of junk emails, known simply as 'Spam', has steadily increased over the past year. Apparently it is only going to get worse in 2007 according to industry predictions. While there are many spam prevention solutions available, the truth is that none of them are completely effective. There is still the possibility of important legitimate email being caught up by spam filters, or cleverly crafted spam emails slipping through. However there are a couple of practical things we can all do to reduce the prevalence of spam. To start with, spam only proliferates because of the malware which spammers implant on unsuspecting home PCs, creating botnets to distribute spam emails. So step one is to regularly scan and secure your own PC and those of friends and relatives - see the PC Security chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Step two is related, and involves making sure you drill into the brain of all your friends, relatives, co-workers and even total strangers who may be within earshot the concept that they should never click on any image, link or attachment in a suspicious email, nor ever send any reply to such emails. Spam will always exist as long as there is the lure of an easy buck to be made, but we do have some ability to influence the volume of spam.



    Firefox 3.0 Alpha 1

    9 December 2006


    For those of you interested in trying out the preliminary builds of the next-generation of the Firefox browser, you can download the Firefox 3.0 Alpha 1. Clearly as an alpha build it is nowhere near complete and is recommended for those who want to use it for testing purposes.



    Official Nvidia Forceware 97.44 Released

    9 December 2006


    Nvidia have released a new 97.44 Forceware for the GeForce 8800 series only. GeForce 8800 owners should update to this version to help resolve any outstanding issues.



    BF2142 Beta 1.10 Patch Testing

    9 December 2006


    If you're interested in testing out the upcoming 1.10 Patch for Battlefield 2142, see these details on the EA Forums. Even if you don't want to be a beta tester, the link provides details of the fixes included in the upcoming patch.



    Call of Juarez Map Pack

    9 December 2006


    Techland have released a free Call of Juarez Map Pack (222MB) containing 8 new multiplayer maps for the game.



    Excel 2002 Security Patch

    7 December 2006


    MS has released a patch to fix a security vulnerability in Excel 2002.



    ATI Tray Tools 1.2.6.964 Released

    7 December 2006


    A new version of the ATI graphics card utility ATI Tray Tools has been released, bringing it up to version 1.2.6.964. There are no major changes but it may resolve issues people are having with previous versions, particularly on newer cards.



    MS Word Vulnerability

    6 December 2006


    Microsoft is looking into a possible security vulnerability in several versions of MS Word and MS Works, though it is likely to be rarely exploited. Obviously the best precaution is not to open any untrusted files using these utilities, and a patch should be released soon.



    Adobe Reader 8.0 Released

    6 December 2006


    Adobe have released Version 8.0 of their free Adobe PDF Reader software. The main changes are the addition of proper Vista support and a redesigned interface. In general if you're happy with your current version of Adobe Reader or if you use another PDF reader like Foxit, there is no urgent need to upgrade to 8.0.



    UniveRSS - 3D RSS for Vista

    5 December 2006


    Microsoft has released a new 3D RSS Reader for Windows Vista called UniveRSS. It has a very innovate way of presenting feeds - click the link above to see screenshots. Due to its 3D nature it's recommended for systems which can run Vista Premium.



    Neverwinter Nights 2 1.03 Patch Released

    5 December 2006


    Obsidian have released the final version of the 1.03 Patch for Neverwinter Nights 2. All NWN2 players are encouraged to upgrade to this version by using the game's auto updater. If you've installed the 1.03 Beta Patch, you must first use this uninstallation utility to roll back to 1.02 before updating to the 1.03 Patch through the auto updater. I will update the NWN2 Tweak Guide for any changes shortly.



    Crysis Delayed

    5 December 2006


    A statement by the CEO of Crytek indicates that the much-anticipated next-generation game Crysis will be released "later than planned". It's not clear precisely when this will be, but previous release dates had been around March 2007, so I believe we may be looking at mid to late 2007 at the earliest now.



    The EA Brand & Corporate Priorities

    4 December 2006


    This interesting article discusses a market analyst's assessment that the Electronic Arts brand is becoming 'tarnished', primarily through a decline in their games' ratings. As regular readers of this site would know, it's no secret that I'm constantly disappointed by the way in which companies like EA take something good and somehow managed to fumble and damage it to the point where we all end up wishing they'd never been involved in the first place. Innovative game ideas which turn into watered-down formulaic affairs to serve the lowest common denominator, or game franchises which are churned out year after year simply to cash in on a name. For example despite assurances from EA that their new in-game advertising scheme was not just a shallow revenue-boosting exercise, that it would also mean better support for Battlefield 2142 players, unsurprisingly now over a month since BF2142 was released it still has exactly the same problems as its predecessor Battlefield 2.


    This phenomenon of placing quantity ahead of quality is not unique to EA, nor is it unique to the gaming or IT world, but it is definitely becoming more noticeable in games. Do you ever wonder how so many grown men and women can spend so much time and money only to come out with something so mediocre? We discussed the role of game testers recently and how overworked and underpaid they are - I strongly suspect they're not to blame. And from my own contact with game developers I know how passionate they can be about their work; they put so much of their lives into creating games that they have no interest in seeing a bad game go out under their name. So who does that leave? As the Arstechnica author above points out, and in my experience as well, the culpability lies with an entire tier of what I politely like to call 'non-essential staff'. These are the Executives, Managers and Marketers who are perfectly fluent in nonsensical corporate-speak, but have no real understanding of what makes companies - indeed human beings - genuinely productive and successful in the long run. I'm sure you know who they are because you've probably dealt with them too. In fact I left my day job precisely because I was getting dragged into their ranks, to attend endless meetings discussing pointless things at extremely high pay for no real benefit to anyone but themselves.


    The truth is that companies which pay attention to quality and maintain their passion are the ones that are not only likely to last longest, but also provide the greatest satisfaction both to their customers and their employees. Short-sighted marketing-driven companies on the other hand encourage only superficiality and mediocrity in all respects, and this is deeply evident in the work they produce. I strongly adhere to an axiom which companies like EA would do well to consider: Whatever you do, do it well - if you can't then find something else to do.



    Office 2007 Free 60-Day Trial

    3 December 2006


    Along with Windows Vista, Microsoft recently released Office 2007. You can now download a Free 60-Day Trial of any version of Office 2007 with full functionality to try it for yourself.



    Neverwinter Nights 2 Tweak Guide Released

    2 December 2006


    Neverwinter Nights 2 is a fairly unique game, but it has also been quite problematic for some. Given my fondness for D&D, and after a fair bit of research and testing, I've compiled this Neverwinter Nights 2 Tweak Guide to help NWN2 players hopefully achieve better results with the game. The guide runs through clear descriptions and comparative screenshots of all in-game settings, including the new ones added as of the latest (beta) patch, as well as all the .ini file settings which allow further customization and optimization, and of course the console commands and a few neat tips to wrap things up. I genuinely believe NWN2 players will benefit from this guide, so give it a read-through to see if it can help you.



    AMD Dual Core Optimizer Version 1.1.1 Released

    1 December 2006


    AMD have released a new Version 1.1.1 of their Dual Core Optimizer utility. This utility resolves a range of dual-core CPU related issues and is recommended to all dual core AMD users. The latest version of this utility simply adds WHQL certification and includes a new 'gaming mode' for 4x4 motherboards. For those who've installed the previous version of this utility I recommend uninstalling it first before installing this new version.



    Windows Vista Released to Businesses

    1 December 2006


    As expected, Microsoft has released Windows Vista to Business customers as of today. The full retail release to consumers will be on January 30 2007.



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