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May 2005



Hardware Confusion Update

31 May 2005


Regular readers may know that I'm currently in the process of choosing new hardware to update my PC setup. There have been some interesting developments recently as both Intel and AMD released dual-core CPUs - the Intel Pentium D and the AMD A64 X2. Now ATI has announced its Crossfire dual graphics card technology to compete with Nvidia's SLI. There's no clear winner among these new products, so I'm hanging back until I can see which is best for gaming.


However I did buy a couple of new items I can highly recommend to all of you: I bought a 19" Hyundai ImageQuest L90D+ LCD monitor which is one of the fastest 19" LCD displays available (8ms response time) and is absolutely fantastic for gaming. Crystal clear at 1280x1024, without a hint of ghosting or blurring, this is one of the cheapest and best 19" 8ms LCDs you can get. I also bought a Microsoft Wireless Desktop Optical (Comfort Edition) wireless keyboard and mouse set, and once again it's excellent. Wireless technology has got to the point where you can comfortably game with these devices without any lag or problems. I'll update you as I decide on which CPU, Motherboard and graphics card(s) to buy and hopefully put together a short article on the positives and negatives of these new technologies.


Note: This advice is completely unbiased - I am not sponsored nor have any affiliation with any hardware companies in any way. I don't receive any free samples either.



Kkrieger - A 96KB 3D FPS Game

29 May 2005


That's right, Kkrieger is a free downloadable 3D FPS game with excellent graphics and special effects which is only 96KB! It may not be in the same league as Half Life 2, but given the size difference, you will be amazed at how good this game looks - give it a try yourself.



VIA Hyperion 5.00a Released

29 May 2005


VIA have released the latest version of the Hyperion Drivers for VIA-based motherboards. However there are now two different versions - the basic Hyperion 4-in-1 package for most VIA-based chipsets; and a new HyperionPro package for VIA motherboards which use SATA/RAID and those using a 64-bit Operating System. If you have a newer KT4## or P4X4## VIA motherboard, install the HyperionPro drivers, otherwise stick with the regular Hyperions. I have updated my VIA Hyperion FAQ to reflect these changes.



Ad-Aware 1.06 Released

28 May 2005


A new version of the free and highly recommended spyware scanner Ad-Aware Personal 1.06 has been released. There are several changes to this version, and I strongly suggest you download it and install it.



Intel Driver Updates

28 May 2005


There are two new Intel motherboard drivers available: the official Intel AA RAID Edition 5.0.0.1032 and an unofficial (but WHQL) Intel INF 7.2.0.1006. It is not critical that you download and install these, however if you have a recent Intel Chipset motherboard it is recommended that you do.



DirectX Video Acceleration

28 May 2005


Microsoft has released a new patch which enables DirectX Video Acceleration when playing back High Definition WMV files in Windows Media Player 10.



Anti-Phishing Toolbar

27 May 2005


Phishing is a form of Internet scam which involves unsuspecting users being lured to fake versions of popular websites and entering their details - which are then stolen and abused. Netcraft is a company which provides software to prevent phishing. You can download and use the free Netcraft Toolbar on Internet Explorer or Firefox, and it will then detect and block known phishing websites. Over 7000 such sites have been found by Netcraft to date.



Doom 3 1.3 Patch Released

25 May 2005


Doom 3 has received a third official patch, bringing it up to Version 1.3. This patch can be installed on Doom 3 and/or Doom 3:Resurrection of Evil. To find out more about this patch, see page 4 of my Doom 3 Tweak Guide.



Star Wars Battlefront Beta 1.3 Patch Released

25 May 2005


Star Wars Battlefront has recently had a beta 1.3 patch released which improves online gameplay. Check page 4 of my SWB Tweak Guide for more details. Note that LucasArts are going to release Star Wars Battlefront 2 before the end of this year.



SoundBlaster Live/Audigy/Audigy 2 Beta x64 Drivers

25 May 2005


Creative has released beta Windows x64 drivers for SoundBlaster Live, Audigy and Audigy 2 sound cards. You can download these and other Windows x64 sound card drivers from the Creative Labs Preview Site.



32-bit Explorer Shell on a 64-bit OS

24 May 2005


If you are running Windows x64 you might want to check out this article. It tells you how to enable a 32-bit Explorer shell on a 64-bit OS. As I understand it this trick will then allow shell integration for your 32-bit applications, such as application-specific context menu entries, toolbars, and so forth.



BattleCruiser Millenium - Free Game

23 May 2005


If you fancy a free space-themed game, you can now download the full version of BattleCruiser Millenium absolutely free. It weighs in at 230MB, and you can see some screenshots here.



America's Army Tweak Guide Updated

21 May 2005


After a great deal of testing and rewriting, I've managed to update my America's Army Tweak Guide for the newly released Version 2.4 of the game. The fact that the game has been upgraded to the Unreal Engine 2.5 means many changes under the hood, and my guide covers all of these - from basic to advanced. Even if you have read the guide recently you should definitely go through it again to fine tune your America's Army setup.



Quick Update

20 May 2005


I'm still working on finishing my major update to the America's Army Tweak Guide which should be up in the next day or so. Fortunately AASF Version 2.4 now uses the Unreal Engine 2.5, which is the same engine used by Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, so once my AA Tweak Guide update is finished, I should be able to complete the SC:CT Tweak Guide much more quickly. Stay tuned.



ATI Catalyst 5.5 Released

18 May 2005


ATI have released the official Catalyst 5.5 graphics drivers. This includes the Windows x64 Catalysts version 5.5. These drivers contain a range of fixes for many current games and applications. There are no major changes, so check my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide for details of how to tweak the Catalysts.



America's Army Version 2.4 Released

17 May 2005


The highly anticipated America's Army: Special Forces (Q-Course) Version 2.4 has been released. You can download it for free from one of the mirrors listed on the America's Army Downloads page. Note that only the full version (855MB) is available, and there will be no patches to 2.4, since it is a major upgrade of the core game engine and therefore has too many changes for a patch. Make sure you completely uninstall any previous versions of America's Army before installing the new one. The changes to the new version are covered here, and in the next few days I will update my America's Army Tweak Guide to cover all of the changes.



Tweak Guide Update

16 May 2005


I finally went out today and bought a copy of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and hence my next guide will be a Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Tweak Guide. Given the game uses a modified version of the Unreal Engine which I am familiar with, it should hopefully take less time to complete this guide. If you want to help speed things up, Email Me with links to any SC:CT tips or tweaks. In any case keep an eye out as I will release the guide as soon as possible.


Update: For those of you who have again asked me how I go about writing tweak guides, why it takes so long, etc. check out this answer from the TweakGuides FAQ for the details. It's a tedious but necessary process.



Hardware Confusion Update

15 May 2005


You may recall earlier this month I posted about my impending major system upgrade. Given all the new technological developments, it's all a bit overwhelming even for a seasoned PC users like me, and I've had to do a lot of research. I'm hoping to turn all of this research into a PC Buyers Guide of some sort. That way my research methods and tips can form a general set of guidelines, links to useful sites and recommendations which may assist you in figuring out how to get the best hardware for yourself. For example, I recently found this Interactive CPU Comparison at Tom's Hardware. It's excellent for doing quick performance comparisons between all past and present AMD and Intel CPUs, so give it a try. Meanwhile I'm currently leaning towards an AMD X2 dual core system with SLI. But who knows where I'll end up as my research continues, so stay tuned!



Microsoft Updates

15 May 2005


Microsoft have released the latest Windows Installer 3.1, which updates the application Windows uses to install software on your machine. I suggest you download this however it is not critical that you do, and you can wait until it becomes a release on Windows Update. Speaking of Windows Update, Microsoft have released the latest version of their Malicious Software Removal Tool for May, which you can get through Windows Update. This 'tool' is actually just a small program which checks your system for malicious software when installed and run, and is not an anti-virus package or a standalone program. I suggest you go to Windows Update now and let it check your machine.



Audigy 2 Driver Updates

15 May 2005


Creative has a couple of new driver updates for SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound cards. The first is a set of Audigy 2ZS x64 Drivers for those running this sound card under Windows x64. The second is a Audigy 2 and Audigy 2ZS 1.84.55 Driver Update which in actuality just combines a range of previous updates into one package.



Tweak Guide Update

14 May 2005


At the moment I'm deciding on which guide to do next. The front-runners are Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Battlefield 2, and 3DAnalyze. The background to this is that I don't have a copy of SC:CT, so if I decide to do a guide on it I'll have to go out and get a copy. Battlefield 2 isn't out until late June, so I can't do the guide till then but I will definitely do a huge BF2 guide. Finally, 3DAnalyze is a tool which removes shaders from games, making them run on low-end graphics hardware and improving performance as well at the cost of image quality. It's probably likely I'll do the SC:CT guide next given the lack of any other material at the moment, however if you have any other suggestions for recent popular games/applications then Email Me.



Large HL2 & CS:S Steam Update Released

14 May 2005


A very large update has been released for Half Life 2 and Counterstrike: Source via Steam. It contains a lot of changes which you can read about here, including new maps and a range of important fixes. I strongly suggest you download this as soon as possible by restarting your Steam client while online.



Firefox 1.04 Released

12 May 2005


The Firefox browser is up to Version 1.04. This version has a range of security updates so it is strongly recommended that you upgrade your Firefox to 1.04. If you haven't used it already, see my detailed Firefox Tweak Guide for details on how to optimize this version of Firefox.



TweakGuides FAQ

12 May 2005


In response to reader requests I've done up a short FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document which answers most of the basic questions people may have about my site. Have a look through it and see if it helps satisfy your curiosity about TweakGuides.com.



Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

12 May 2005


When people ask me what single game I am looking forward to most at the moment, I have one simple answer: The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. This game has been in development since 2002, and is the sequel to Morrowind, the hugely successful RPG/FPS and one of my all-time favorites. If you want to see what Oblivion looks like, drool over these amazing screenshots. The developers say this game will be even bigger than Morrowind, will have more NPC interaction, more realism and a better combat system - and that's saying something considering how fantastic Morrowind was. It will also benefit from a multi-processor setup, and will obviously need some graphics grunt given the screenshots, so this is the game I am updating my system for at the moment. If you're wondering about where PC gaming is heading, have no fear, Oblivion looks to be taking it in the right direction.



Far Cry 64-bit Upgrades

11 May 2005


Ubisoft have released two new patches for Far Cry which provide additional content and improve performance specifically for 64-bit systems. While Ubisoft claims these patches are for AMD 64-bit systems, they will run on Intel 64-bit CPUs as well. AnandTech has a nice article detailing the new features of these patches, and how they work. You can download the patches from places like 3DGamers Far Cry.



Unreal Tournament 2007

10 May 2005


More information has come to light regarding Unreal Tournament 2007, the next major game to be based on the new Unreal 3 engine. The good news is that not only will it be a tech showcase, the game will also return UT to its roots. More importantly the amazing Unreal 3 engine will be used in many other games like America's Army, so it's something worth waiting for in itself.



The Future of Windows Graphics Technology

8 May 2005


The next version of Windows is codenamed Longhorn, and this ExtremeTech article looks at how graphics will work under Longhorn using the new 'Windows Graphics Foundation' method (WGF 1.0 and 2.0). By all accounts Microsoft is aiming to make 3D graphics work more smoothly than ever before, and hopefully make things easier for users to upgrade and maintain their graphics-related drivers and settings.



Game Manuals

7 May 2005


If you've ever bought a second-hand game and found the manual is missing, or your favorite game's manual is lost or damaged, you can turn to ReplacementDocs.com to find a PDF copy of the manual. To be honest I'm not sure of the legalities of the site, but they've been around in one form or another for a couple of years now. Aside from the 1,000+ PC game manuals they have available, there are dozens of popular manuals for XBox and PS1/PS2 consoles, as well as classic Amiga, Atari and Nintendo games.



New Technology & Confusion

7 May 2005


I'm ready to upgrade my system at the moment however just like every other PC owner out there I'm struck by the amazing range of emerging technology. Aside from 64-bit CPUs (which have been around for a while), there are now dual-core processors to consider, SLI (from Nvidia) and MVP (from ATI) for dual graphics card capability, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 RAM, and of course PCI-Express devices (other than just graphics cards) coming up. I believe I have reasonable tech knowledge, but my head is spinning as to when to upgrade and what exactly to buy right now! I feel really sorry for those of you who have less familiarity with PC hardware...it must be an absolute nightmare. Anyway to cut a long story short, as I upgrade to some of these new technologies shortly I will try and incorporate tips and tweaks for them into my existing and upcoming tweak guides, so stay tuned. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes as to what to buy for yourselves :)



Differences Between Windows XP SP2 & Windows x64

6 May 2005


Followng the general theme of trying to work out what the differences are between Windows XP SP2 (32-bit) and Windows x64, Microsoft has released a Book of x64 downloadable document which highlights the functional differences between the two operating systems. This is handy if for example you want to use my XPTC on x64 and are wondering which tweaks will work and which won't.



Gaming on Windows x64

5 May 2005


HardOCP have put up an excellent article which looks at the differences in gaming performance between Windows XP (32-bit) and Windows XP x64. They test a wide range of popular games including Doom 3, Half Life 2, World of Warcraft, Sims 2 and Chronicles of Riddick, and find that in almost all cases performance is identical. In fact in a couple of cases Windows XP 32-bit has up to 10% better performance over Windows x64. The article also covers compatibility issues they encountered with Windows x64. Obviously if you run a 64-bit system you should be in no hurry to upgrade to x64 until both drivers and software start to become more optimized and compatible with a 64-bit environment.



Windows Media Player 9 & 10 Fixes

5 May 2005


Microsoft has released another fix for Windows Media Player versions 9 and 10. This fix relates to MPEG4 Playback Problems. If you run one of these media players then you should definitely download the relevant update and apply it.



TweakGuides on MSNBC.com

3 May 2005


I recently gave a short interview on my site, and what I believe are some of the problems facing PC gamers to Tom Loftus of MSNBC.com. The article has now been released and you can read it yourself - The Perils of PC Gaming. Note that in the article they accidentally refer to TweakGuides.com as 'TweakZone.com', though fortunately the link comes here. That's probably one of the perils of having a tweak-related website - the dozens of sites with similar names! Anyway if you're visiting here from MSNBC.com welcome to TweakGuides.com, and have a good look around, I think you'll find some interesting reading here :)


Update: The article has been fixed - TweakGuides.com is now referred to correctly!



Firefox Tweak Guide Released

2 May 2005


After teasing you with a one-page placeholder, and after plenty of delays, I've finally released the final version of my Firefox Tweak Guide. Whether you're a first-time user or a veteran, this Firefox Tweak Guide brings together all the major tips, tricks and tweaks for Firefox. From the basic to the advanced, the 12 page guide is sure to enhance your Firefox experience. Most of all you can rest assured that the guide is not written by a raving Firefox fanboy - it's a true objective TweakGuides tweak guide, and not a gushing ad for a free web browser.



Steam Survey Results

1 May 2005


I just saw the Steam Survey Results and they look interesting. The Steam Survey has been running for almost a month now, and obviously has a large sample to draw on given there are over 1 million unique samples. I was surprised to see that the ATI 9800 and 9600 series for example have such a major lead over the other graphics cards. And it's sad to see that over 25% of those surveyed are still using an older version of Windows XP, when XP SP2 is a necessity for secure computing. Anyway check the results for yourself, it gives a great snapshot of the types of systems modern gamers are running.



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