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Paint.NET - A Better Windows Paint
28 February 2006
Students at Washington State University have created a completely new full-featured version of the basic Windows Paint program called Paint.NET. As you may be able to guess from its .NET ending, Paint.NET needs the .NET Framework 2.0 to run. It's worth it though, since not only is Paint.NET completely free, it is optimized for 64-bit and dual core processors to boot.
25 February 2006
I want to have a bit of a chat with you about some stuff, and I may as well do it all in one big news post. If you're not in the mood, you can skip it.
Firstly, for those of you wondering where the new guides are, the next guide I'll be putting out is for The Godfather, which is due out on 21 March. For better or worse I can really only do guides for the more popular games which I personally play, so I apologize if your favorite game doesn't get a guide. I strongly urge you to download my free TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, especially as it's been thoroughly updated and revised as of January 2006. If you read through it carefully I promise you your performance in all your games and apps will improve.
I'm finding that I'm sinking a lot of my time into the TweakGuides Forums, but it's starting to pay off. We have a good community on there, and the quality of the forums is extremely high. You don't have to post on the forums, but there is a vast amount of useful information already on there - information you may find just as useful as any of my guides. For example, I just posted details on how to Remove StarForce from your system after uninstalling a StarForce protected game. Take the time to look through the forums regularly as there are some great tips for optimizing or troubleshooting particular games, software and hardware.
Personally I'm at the point where I have to change my day job, perhaps even my career path. I would love to get a job in something related to IT - I'm currently an Economist with very little job satisfaction. Come what may though, I will always dedicate a large portion of my spare time to this site, but I want you to know that I have to ration my time to serve the widest number of people. So unfortunately I can't answer emails which ask for personal advice or tech support, I can't do guides on older games or minor applications, and I also need time to do research, even play games, all to keep my own PC and gaming knowledge up to scratch.
This site is becoming increasingly popular and I'm well aware of why you come here: for the guides and advice, not for my winning personality. So have faith that I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve the site, provide genuinely useful guides, and give better advice to help out as many of you as possible. Unlike other sites which provide poorly written articles or misleading reviews on ad-covered pages, or discuss important topics in sensationalist ways just to get traffic, I am dedicated to keeping this a humble yet quality-driven site. Stick with me guys, I promise to deliver the goods!
Google Page Creator - Create Your Own Site
25 February 2006
Google, as part of their continuing plan to dominate the Internet, have released a beta Google Page Creator service. This is a free online tool to help you create your own web page without having to know any HTML, and also gives you a place to host it on Google as well. Speaking as someone who now runs their own site, but knew nothing about HTML a few years ago, I say go for it - big things start with small steps. Note that this service can be a bit buggy as it is a beta, but still worth a look-see.
Quake 4 Beta 1.1 Patch
23 February 2006
Id software have released a Beta 1.1 Patch for Quake 4, as a prelude to the upcoming official version. This patch apparently adds a range of new features and fixes, including voice chat in multiplayer, HyperThreading support, and fixes for several sound-related issues to name a few. However I recommend that if you're not desparate to fix a particular problem in Quake 4, that you hold off on this patch as installing it means you'll only be able to play against other Beta 1.1. Patch users online. If you do install the patch, use this form to report bugs to id.
Battlefield 2 Update
21 February 2006
Thankfully EA Games have listened to the community feedback about the many bugs and problems with the latest 1.2 Patch for Battlefield 2, and are planning another patch to rectify these. Hopefully it will be out soon.
More interestingly for me, I notice that work is progressing on the BF2 Project Reality Mod. This mod is designed to make Battlefield 2 more realistic, and while most BF2 players enjoy the more "arcadey" gameplay of BF2 - which is perfectly fine - some others want things like more realistic bullet physics and more realistic damage for example, and thankfully this mod is here to help us out.
Update: Apologies, I posted the wrong link to the BF2 Update, the correct one has been used instead now.
Windows Vista Editions Revealed
19 February 2006
Neowin have revealed that Microsoft's next operating system Windows Visa will come in 7 separate versions:
The 'N' denotes versions of Vista which come without Windows Media Player built in, designed for European countries as a result of an anti-monopoly settlement against Microsoft. More details of these editions can be found at Windows Vista Help & Support, and you can discuss this further in this thread.
Update: WindowsITPro has posted some more details about the separate editions and their differences.
Updating PunkBuster the Easy Way
19 February 2006
Those of you who play online games would know about PunkBuster, the anti-cheating software designed to reduce the annoyance of cheaters in modern games. PunkBuster often releases updates to their software for various games, and usually these are downloaded the next time you connect to a server to play. Well you may not be aware that a quicker and easier way to update your PunkBuster software is to use the PBSetup utility.
Download and install this small free application, then launch it, and click the 'Add a game' button and add all your currently installed games which are in the list (some of your games may not support PB, so they won't be listed). Now click the 'Check for Updates' button, and the utility will connect to the PunkBuster master server and update all your PB versions quickly and easily. The next time you connect to play your favorite online game, no more waiting for PB to update, no more disruptions and no more being booted because your PB version can't be updated.
F.E.A.R 1.03 Patch Released
17 February 2006
A new 1.03 Patch has been released for F.E.A.R, weighing in at 261MB. This patch mainly contains multiplayer-related fixes, such as introducing PunkBuster anti-cheat support. The full change list can be seen here.
Note: I have updated my FEAR Tweak Guide however the main changes are only on page 4, since the patch has not really changed much aside from bug fixes and added multiplayer functionality.
Star Wars Battlefront II 1.1 Patch Released
16 February 2006
After almost four months since Star Wars Battlefront II came out, and given the many serious problems the game has had, Lucasarts have finally released the 1.1 Patch for the game. This patch is 27MB (57.6MB for the 'International Edition'), and is a must-install for all Battlefront II players. It contains a range of fixes, in particular it fixes problems caused by dual core CPUs, improves performance and has gameplay and bug fixes. You can discuss your results with the patch in this thread.
Note: A lot of users are complaining about problems after installing the patch on the LucasArts Forums. In particular, do not install the 'International Edition' patch - see this post for more details of how to avoid/resolve problems due to this patch.
Battlefield 2 1.20 Patch Released
15 February 2006
After much ado the Official 1.20 Patch has been released for Battlefield 2. The full patch weighs in at a whopping 357MB, though an 82MB 1.12 - 1.20 incremental patch is also available. You can download it from a range of places such as Fileshack or Fileplanet. To see the change list and discuss the changes see this thread. I'll go through and update my Battlefield 2 Tweak Guide shortly, though obviously most of the changes are gameplay fixes and hence won't affect the guide. Some players will love this patch, while others will hate it - either way the game dynamics have now changed, hopefully for the better.
Microsoft Security Updates Released
15 February 2006
Microsoft have released several new Security Patches - use Windows Update to download them, or you can download them from here. Note, one of the patches may fail to install through Windows Update, so download and install it separately from here.
Battlefield 2 1.20 Patch Preview
14 February 2006
TotalBF2 have released a Battlefield 2 1.20 Patch Preview. The much-anticipated 1.20 Patch for BF2 may well be a make-or-break for some BF2 players (like myself), so it will be very interesting to see how it turns out, and whether it does indeed fix up the various issues with the game which have annoyed many of its players. The patch should be out "any time now", so keep an eye out - I'll tell you as soon as it hits, and update the Battlefield 2 Tweak Guide accordingly. Speaking of which, make sure to check out the last page of the guide as I recently updated it with the correct procedure to get automatic login to work for BF2.
Update: The final version of the 1.20 Patch has been leaked, but it is strongly recommended you don't apply this leaked version until the final is officially released. Obviously it is going to be out shortly.
America's Army Tweak Guide Updated
11 February 2006
I've had the opportunity to go through and update my America's Army Tweak Guide for the new Version 2.6 release. For the most part there are no major changes, since Version 2.6 is almost identical to Version 2.5 in almost every respect. The main changes are the new Server Browser options and PBSetup utility, both covered on Page 5 of the guide. If you're having problems with the game, or haven't read the guide before, or are new to America's Army I suggest you read through it thoroughly for all the details of how to setup, optimize and play this great game.
America's Army 2.6 Released
10 February 2006
The US Army has released the latest version of the popular free America's Army game - Version 2.6. This version contains two new maps, and a range of enhancements, including a new server browser and PunkBuster updating system. The full list of changes is here. This is one of my favorite games, so I strongly suggest you give it a try! I will update my America's Army Tweak Guide for this version shortly.
ATI Catalyst 6.2 Released
10 February 2006
ATI have released the official Catalyst 6.2 graphics drivers. These drivers add support for the new X1900 series of graphics cards. The full list of changes can be found here, and in general I recommend all ATI users upgrade to this version due primarily to the bug fixes it contains. My ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide has been updated, but there are no significant changes as such.
Acrobat 7.0.7, Acrobat SpeedUp and Foxit
10 February 2006
Adobe have released a new Acrobat Reader 7.0.7. If you use Acrobat Reader, I suggest you update to this version since it contains security fixes and some new features. For those of you who hate the additional plugins and features of Acrobat Reader, you can use Acrobat Speedup to automatically remove most of the useless functionality of Acrobat, as well as further customizing Acrobat to suit your needs and reduce its resource usage. Finally, if you don't want to mess around with any of that, you can always use the free and easy-to-use Foxit Reader, an alternate PDF reader which looks and acts almost exactly like Acrobat Reader, but is much faster and lighter.
Update: If you're going to use Acrobat SpeedUp, make sure the weblink.api plugin is ticked, otherwise hyperlinks in PDF files won't launch. It is not ticked by default.
Nvidia Re-Release 81.98 Forceware
9 February 2006
Nvidia have re-released the Official 81.98 Forceware drivers which were released over a month ago - the only difference is that they now have support for the new 7800GS AGP graphics cards as well. If you're already running the 81.98 drivers and/or don't have a 7800GS there is no need to upgrade at all, as there are no other changes.
DirectX9.0c February Update
8 February 2006
Microsoft have released another Update for DirectX9.0c. This update will bring any version of DirectX up to the latest February version. In general it is recommended that you update, but it is not critical that you do. Any games which require this DirectX version will usually come with the update on their installer disc.
Day of Defeat: Source Free for the Weekend
7 February 2006
This coming weekend, Valve will allow people to play Day of Defeat: Source for free. You can preload the game from Steam beforehand - details here - and then come the weekend you can play without the need to have purchased the game. Once the trial period is over, if you find you like the game you can then buy a key for it. Sounds fair to me! If you don't have Steam, you can get it from here.
Australian DST Update
7 February 2006
Saw this over at Overclockers Australia: due to the Commonwealth Games being held in March in Australia, several Australian States have changed their Daylight Savings Time end dates. This DST Update from Microsoft will allow your system to correctly implement the change when necessary. Obviously this update is only required for Australian users.
Intel Desktop Control Center
7 February 2006
If you run an Intel motherboard, then you can download and use the latest Intel Desktop Control Center. It's an application which allows you tune your system, monitor temperatures and stress test as well, so it's quite handy. However to be clear it is for Intel-made motherboards, not just motherboards running an Intel chipset.
Nvidia NForce4 X16 6.83/6.85 Driver Released
3 February 2006
Nvidia has released two new NForce4 drivers for people specifically running on an AMD or Intel NForce4 X16 motherboard. There's Version 6.83 for Windows x64, and Version 6.85 for Windows XP/2000. Remember, you actually have to have one of the new NForce4 X16 motherboards - check your motherboard manual or search for its specifications on Google to see if it has this newer SLI chipset (where both PCI-E graphics ports run at up to 16x each).
Firefox 188.8.131.52 Update Released
2 February 2006
An official update has been released for Firefox 1.5. If you're using Firefox 1.5, you can automatically download and install this update using the inbuilt update feature of Firefox - go to the Help menu and select 'Check for Updates'. The changes in this update are mainly bug and security fixes as detailed here, hence it is recommended all Firefox 1.5 users install the update.
Internet Explorer 7 Public Beta
1 February 2006
Microsoft have released a public beta of Internet Explorer 7. It weighs in at 11MB, is for Windows XP SP2 only, and before you can successfully install it you will have to validate your copy of Windows. For the most part since this is a public beta "preview", it should run well enough to be used by most people. However since it is a beta, if Internet Explorer is your primary (or only) browser, you may want to avoid it. Thoughts, comments and screenshots are posted in this thread.
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