PC Tips: How To Increase Your Internet Speed

Posted in Tips with tags , , , , on 03/09/2009 by chickensiomai

If you use Windows XP Professional then it is possible to squeeze an extra 20% out of your internet connection. By default Windows XP Pro holds back 20% of your Internet speed for various services like windows update and spyware checks.

If you want to tap into this locked speed then make the following changes:

1. Go to Start-> Run-> and type gpedit.msc
2. Expand the Administrative Templates branch
3. Expand the Network tab
4. Highlight QoS Packet Scheduler
5. Click on Limit Reservable Bandwidth and check the enabled box
6. Then Change the Bandwidth limit % to 0 %

Once you have done this click apply and restart your PC. After rebooting you should see a noticeable improvement in your net speed.

Source:  PCTipsBox

PC Reviews: Best Free Antivirus Software

Posted in Reviews with tags , on 03/07/2009 by chickensiomai

Antivirus software provide an essential layer of protection from a multitude of virus, trojan and in some programs, spyware and rootkit threats. With the huge increase in malware, anti-viruses cannot fully keep up with all the viruses and other malware. This is why it’s so important to use a layered security setup. Using more than one real-time antivirus can cause conflicts and uses a lot of system resources, so I recommend you only choose one antivirus for real-time protection.

Avira AntiVir Personal Edition is my top pick if you’re looking for the best protection against viruses. It is very light on resources and the detection rate of viruses and rootkits is outstanding, however, there are some reservations. First, it does not include anti-spyware and anti-adware protection or e-mail scanning, they are only available in the paid version. The lack of an e-mail scanner means that AntiVir won’t warn you of infected emails before you open them. However, should you open an infected email, AntiVir will still spring into action, so it doesn’t mean that you’re not protected from email-based infections. Second, AntiVir’s updates are very slow, and occasionally stops updating due to server problems. Although AntiVir has advertisements that appear with every update, these ads can be disabled. Finally, AntiVir has a time-limited license. It is renewable, but be aware that you’ll have to periodically go through the hoops. You can also disable AntiVir’s splash screen if you wish, as some people find it intrusive. Neither Avast or AVG is as effective in detection of viruses as AntiVir, but both are more complete products.

Avast! Home Edition is an excellent product for average users, in particular those who do not have a real-time antispyware product. Although its funky media player style interface is not to everyone’s taste, skins can be downloaded for free, such as the MacLover OS X skin. Avast is the least restricted product out of the three, with both anti-rootkit and anti-spyware capabilities. It also has full real-time capabilities, including web, e-mail, IM, P2P and network shields. Avast is very stable, fairly light on resources, and is also the only product out of these three to continue support for older Windows platforms. However, Avast has a relatively high rate of false postives. It also requires periodic re-registration, whereas AVG Free does not. The shareware version adds various features but nothing of significant importance.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition has been continuously refined since it was initially released in 1991. The latest version makes further improvements to an already solid product. It now includes spyware, phishing, and email scam protection. Its detection rate is still very good. Regular automatic updates come quickly as before and, despite rumors, the new email scanning feature is not trial limited to 30 days. However, it has grown considerably in size, is heavy on resources and has very slow scan speeds. AVG also has advertisements, but they can be disabled. Free and paid versions are available; the differences are that the free version has anti-rootkit disabled, provides Linkscanner Lite instead of Linkscanner Pro and has no technical support other than a free user forum.

These are excellent free antivirus that provide a real alternative to the major antivirus software.

You can increase your protection if you run on demand scans with another antivirus. On demand scans can be run regularly to check for viruses and other malware that may have been missed by your main scanner. If you have a good preventive security strategy in place, however, the extra protection this offers is minimal.

Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool is an excellent on demand scanner, with good detection rates and strong removal capabilities. However, it requires you to download the whole file again if you want to update it. Also, bear in mind that the detection won’t be as good as the current Kaspersky products, which has a newer engine.

Another option is a-squared Free, which started off as an anti-trojan but has recently included the Ikarus antivirus engine. The detection rate is outstanding, however, it is riddled with false positives. A-squared also provides context-menu scanning.

Dr.Web CureIt! is also a good choice as an on demand scanner. It is a portable application and has strong removal capabilities. However, it suffers from the same flaw as the Kaspersky AVP Tools – it cannot be updated without downloading the whole file again. Also, Dr.Web has not been scoring that well in recent tests. Nevertheless, it is still a good choice as a portable on-demand scanner.

Source:  TechSupportAlert

Reviews: DVD Formats Explained

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on 03/05/2009 by chickensiomai

When DVD technology first appeared in households, users were simply popping DVD discs into their DVD players to watch movies — an attractive option to the then-conventional VCR. But just as compact disc (CD) technology evolved so that users could record and erase and re-record data onto compact discs, the same is now true of DVDs.

With so many different formats — DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-ROM — how do users know which DVD format is compatible with their existing systems, and why are there so many different formats for DVDs? The following information sheds some light on DVD’s different flavors, the differences between them and the incompatibility issues that the differing technologies have sprouted.

Why So Many DVD Formats?
The crucial difference among the standards is based on which standards each manufacturer adheres to. Similar to the old VHS/Beta tape wars when VCRs first hit the markets, different manufacturers support different standards. Often called a “format war”, both the industry and consumers are still waiting to see which format will emerge as the industry standard.

Plus or Minus – What’s The Difference?
The different variations on the term DVD (e.g. +R, -R, -ROM, and so on) describe the way data is stored on or written to the disc itself. These are called physical formats.

DVD+R and DVD+RW
DVD+R and DVD+RW formats are supported by Philips, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Ricoh, Yamaha and others.

DVD+R is a recordable DVD format similar to CD-R. A DVD+R can record data only once and then the data becomes permanent on the disc. The disc can not be recorded onto a second time.

DVD+RW is a re-recordable format similar to CD-RW. The data on a DVD+RW disc can be erased and recorded over numerous times without damaging the medium.

Note: DVDs that have been made using a +R/+RW device can be read by most commercial DVD-ROM players.

Key Terms To Understanding DVD Formats:

DVD
Short for digital versatile disc or digital video disc, a type of optical disk technology similar to the CD-ROM.

DVD-Video
A video format for displaying full-length digital movies.

DVD-ROM
A type of read-only compact disc that can hold a minimum of 4.7GB (gigabytes), enough for a full-length movie.

burn
Slang term meaning to write data to a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.

Divx
Short for Digital video express, a new DVD-ROM format promoted by several large Hollywood companies. With Divx, a movie (or other data) loaded onto a DVD-ROM is playable only during a specific time frame, typically two days.

DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM
These formats are supported by Panasonic, Toshiba, Apple Computer, Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp. These formats are also supported by the DVD Forum.

DVD-R is a recordable DVD format similar to CD-R and DVD+R. A DVD-R can record data only once and then the data becomes permanent on the disc. The disc cannot be recorded onto a second time. There also are two additional standards for DVD-R disks: DVD-RG for general use, and DVD-RA for authoring, which is used for mastering DVD video or data and is not typically available to the general public.

DVD-RW is a re-recordable format similar to CD-RW or DVD+RW. The data on a DVD-RW disc can be erased and recorded over numerous times without damaging the medium.  DVDs created by a -R/-RW device can be read by most commercial DVD-ROM players.

DVD-RAM discs can be recorded and erased repeatedly but are compatible only with devices manufactured by the companies that support the DVD-RAM format. DVD-RAM discs are typically housed in cartridges.

DVD-ROM

DVD-ROM was the first DVD standard to hit the market and is a read-only format. The video or game content is burned onto the DVD once and the DVD will run on any DVD-ROM-equipped device. DVD-ROMs are similar to CDs.

DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL
Dual layer technology is supported by a range of manufacturers including Dell, HP, Verbatim, Philips, Sony, Yamaha and others. As the name suggests, dual layer technology provides two individual recordable layers on a single-sided DVD disc. Dual Layer is more commonly called Double Layer in the consumer market, and can be seen written as DVD+R DL or DVD-R DL.

DVD+R DL (also called DVD+R9) is a Dual Layer writeable DVD+R.
DVD-R DL (also called DVD-R9) is a Dual Layer writeable DVD-R. The dual layered discs can hold 7.95GB
The dual layered discs (DVD+R9 and DVD-R9) can hold 7.95GB and double sided dual layer (called dvd-18) can hold 15.9GB.

A Note on DVD Burners
Until 2003 consumers would have to choose a preferred DVD format and purchase the DVD media that was compatible with the specific DVD burner. In 2003 Sony introduced a multi-format DVD burner (also called a combo drive or DVD-Multi) and today many manufacturers offer multi-format DVD burners that are compatible with multiple DVD formats (as listed above).

Non-standardized DVD formats

DVD-VCD is a DVD-Video disc that has data on it that has been encoded by using the MPEG-1 video format with the same definitions VCD has.

DVD-SVCD is also not a valid DVD standard, since the DVD standard does not support the SVCD resolution. The term DVD-SVCD is used to describe a hacked, or non-standard DVD-Video disc that has SVCD compatible content on it.

DVD-MP3 is created with and contains only digital audio files in the MP3 format. Not all DVD players can play DVD-MP3 discs.

DVD-D is a disposable DVD format that provides a limited time play duration of up to 48 hours after the packaging has been opened. After the designated time has passed, DVD players are unable to read the disc. The packaging of the disc is airtight and the DVD itself has a special coating that begins to deteriorate when exposed to air. The DVD-D format is currently being used for video game and movie rentals where not only can intellectual property rights be better protected, but consumers have no need to worry about the hassle of DVD rental returns. According to the manufacturer’s Web site, both the DVD-D disc and the cardboard packaging it comes in can be recycled.

The DVD-D format was developed by German company FDD Technologies AG, and while no official definition of the D has been offered, many use the abbreviation to mean DVD-Destroy or DVD-Destruct.

Successors to DVD
Several technologies are seen as successors to the standard DVD. These include HD-DVD, Blu-ray, AOD and HVD (Holographic Versatile Disc). With so many formats competing, it is similar to the old VHS versus Beta wars, but with one main exception; the difference in quality between VHS and DVD was extremely noticeable, and this encouraged consumers to quickly and easily transition to DVD from VHS. With these new standards, however, consumers are not seeing the drastic quality difference of, HD-DVD over DVD for example, and adoption has been slow. Additionally, the media players and the media itself is quite expensive (compare $35 or more dollars for a Blu-ray movie versus $24 for a DVD movie). Overall the industry suggests that consumers are just not ready to leave DVD behind quite yet. Here are some of the standards which are believed to be successors to the standard DVD.

HD-DVD
Short for high definition-DVD, a generic term for the technology of recording high-definition video on a DVD. In general, HD-DVD is capable of storing between two and four times as much data as standard DVD.

On February 19, 2008, Toshiba issued a release stating that it would no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders, with cessation of the player and recorders targeted for March 2008. Several major retail chains, such as Wal-Mart followed with plans to no longer carry the product, and major Hollywood studios have also dropped plans to release product in HD-DVD format as well.

Blu-ray Disc (BD) – uses a 405nm-wavelength blue-violet laser technology, in contrast to the 650nm-wavelength red laser technology used in traditional DVD formats. The rewritable Blu-ray disc, with a data transfer rate of 36Mbps (1x speed) can hold up to 25GB of data on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. On a 50GB disc, this translates into 9 hours of high-definition (HD) video or approximately 23 hours of standard-definition (SD) video. The Blu-ray format was developed jointly by Sony, Samsung, Sharp, Thomson, Hitachi, Matsushita, Pioneer and Philips, Mistubishi and LG Electronics.

Advanced Optical Disc (AOD) – AOD and Blu-ray are similar in that they both use 405nm-wavelength blue-violet laser technology. While Blu-ray has a storage capacity of 25GB on a single-layer disc, AOD has a storage capacity of 20GB on a single-layer disc. and the capacity to hold 30GB on a dual-layer disc. AOD was developed jointly by Toshiba and NEC.

Source:  WebOpedia.com

Game News: Court Tosses Gibson’s Guitar Hero Suit

Posted in Game with tags , , , on 03/04/2009 by chickensiomai

A California court has tossed out Gibson Guitar’s patent infringement lawsuit against Guitar Hero maker Activision, saying Gibson’s arguments “border on the frivolous.”

The iconic guitar manufacturer filed suit in March 2008, charging that Guitar Hero’s mock guitars infringed on a 1999 patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,990,405 (PDF).

That patent, also known as “The ‘405 Patent,” covers “a system and method for generating and controlling a simulated musical concert experience.” Specifically, it details a head-mounted display that includes stereo speakers and is worn while playing an instrument along with a simulated concert.

Earlier that same month, in a series of legal volleys preceding the suit, Gibson filed for declaratory relief–asking for compensation, in other words. But Activision decided it didn’t need a license under Gibson’s patent and said so in a legal countermeasure. Then came Gibson’s suit.

In last week’s ruling, a U.S. District Court basically decided that Gibson’s patent only applies to devices that output an analog signal. “As a general observation, no reasonable person of ordinary skill in the relevant arts would interpret the ‘405 Patent as covering interactive video games,” the ruling stated.

The court added that Gibson’s interpretation of its patent could be extended to cover things from a “button of a DVD remote…to a pencil tapping a table.”

But Activision isn’t Gibson’s only target. It sued major retailers–including Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, and K-Mart–that sell games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Plus, it added MTV, Harmonix, and Electronic Arts to its list of plaintiffs. MTV, which acquired Guitar Hero developer Harmonix in 2006, uses EA as the distributor for Rock Band and is likely turning up the celebratory tunes following the Activision ruling.

Source:  CNet.com

PC Reviews: Top 5 iPhone 3G Killers

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on 03/02/2009 by chickensiomai

The iPhone 3G has just released and we have reviewed it already. It is a great phone but definitely not the best out there. We take a look at some phones which, while priced similarly to the iPhone, have many features that are much better than the iPhone 3G. They can easily kick the iPhone 3G’s ass in a one to one face off. So here we present the devices, that we think, can dethrone the iPhone to become the king of smartphones. All these phones have all the regular features like calling, messaging, email, high speed web browsing etc, so we won’t be elaborating much on those points. We will highlight and compare just those features which are in direct contrast to the iPhone. All these devices will be releasing, hopefully, by the end of 2008. All new phones now have accelerometers, touchscreens and other sensors, all thanks to the iPhone. Do note that the devices are in no particular order.

Side note: The iPhone 3G has changed the history of mobile phone development and set the path for constant innovation. Its Multi Touch UI is its biggest asset. It was so cool and innovative, that even after a year of the iPhone’s release, no manufacturer has been able to beat it in terms of user interface capabilities. However even after the release of the iPhone 3G, it still has some very stupid shortcomings like – no video recording, no cut paste abilities, no MMS, no A2DP, no Flash support etc.

Samsung Omnia i900

The creators of the Omnia i900 at Samsung definitely had the iPhone 3G as a target in mind when they made the Omnia i900. Whatever features the iPhone lacks in, the Omnia makes up for it in the best possible way. It is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 and sports an iPhone esque Multi Touch interface – Touch Wiz. Though it is not as refined as the iPhone Multi Touch UI, it does come very close. It sports a superb 5MP cam and has everything that the iPhone does not – Flash, Video recording ( VGA at 15 FPS & QVGA at 30 FPS ), FM with RDS, A2DP. The audio quality is close in line with the iPhone 3G. Being a Windows Mobile phone, it offers a greater variety of softwares and games. It offers up to 8 GB expandable memory compared to iPhone 3G’s 8 / 16 GB.

HTC Touch Pro

The HTC Touch Pro is the most powerful and feature packed phone ever on Earth. It sports 288 MB RAM, coupled with a very powerful 528 MHZ processor. It runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro and features a very cool User Interface – TouchFLO 3D which is just as good as the iPhone’s UI. In addition it features many more softwares and games from the Windows Mobile stable. The 3.2 MP Cam with AF & Flash is much better than iPhone’s 2 MP Cam. It supports CIF ( 352*288 ) Video recording at 30 FPS. It comes with a QWERTY keypad too which slides under the back of the phone. It combines style (Multi Touch) with usability (QWERTY) and is much more suited for office executives.

Sony Ericsson XPeria X1

The Sony Ericsson XPeria X1 is a slightly underpowered clone of the HTC Touch Pro. It marks Sony Ericsson’s foray into Windows Mobile phones. It is slimmer and lighter than the HTC Touch Pro and with a supposedly inferior UI. It sports 256 MB RAM, a little lesser than the Touch Pro. It has a 3.2 MP Cam too, with Auto Focus, Flash and VGA Video recording at 30 FPS. The other features are almost same as the Touch Pro which mean that it pretty much pawns the iPhone 3G except in the UI department. The QWERTY keyboard is much more comfortable when typing, compared to a virtual onscreen keyboard.

Nokia N96

The Nokia N96, though not a touchscreen phone, has everything you could ever expect from a phone. A superb 5 MP cam with Auto Focus and Flash, Video recording – VGA at 30 FPS, 16 GB Internal memory, A-GPS, a DVB – H receiver, a Dual ARM 9 CPU, 128 MB RAM, a brilliant 2.8″ 16M color screen – the list just doesn’t end. It is powered by Symbian s60 V3.2 OS v9.3 – The most popular smartphone OS ever. It has huge 3rd party application support, second only to perhaps Windows Mobile. It has the most user friendly interface in smartphones. Even though it doesnt have Multi Touch, it easily surpasses the iPhone in terms of its easy to use UI. It is going to be the flagship Nokia smartphone and packs enough power to kill the iPhone 3G. The UI with the iPhone 3G comparison is subjective. Its Webkit based inbuilt OSS browser and Opera mobile are just as good as Apple OS X’s safari and even beats it in some aspects.

Sony Ericsson C905

The C905 is Sony Ericsson’s latest and greatest Cybershot. It will have a mind boggling; yea, hold your breath, 8.1 MP Super Cam with AF, Flash, VGA Video recording at 30 FPS and the likes. It is the best camera phone ever and gets precariously close to digicam territory. Taking awesome pictures is in its genes. It has 128 MB internal memory and theoretically supports up to 32 GB. It has all the other regular stuff like 3G, A-GPS, Geo tagging, WLAN, Bluetooth with A2DP etc. Like the Nokia N96, this one also doesn’t sport a touchscreen, but WTH! , does one need Multi Touch with all such features packed in?

The HTC Touch Diamond

The HTC Touch Diamond is the current reigning iPhone 3G ass kicker. It will soon be surpassed by its successor, the HTC Touch Pro. It has similar features to the HTC Touch Pro – Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro + Touch FLO 3D, except that it doesnt have the QWERTY keypad and has less RAM – just about 192 MB. The only negatives with the Touch Diamond are the absence of a QWERTY keypad and the slightly laggy Touch FLO 3D user interface.

Source: DigitGeek.com

PC Tips: Converting Vista to Windows 7

Posted in Tips with tags , , on 02/28/2009 by jpbierra

Windows 7 is popular this days. So why not have a Vista with a Windows 7 theme and taskbar.

Step 1. Download and Install EnhancMyVista. Link

EnhanceMyVista

EnhanceMyVista

Step 2. Click Customizations Tab and click TaskBar Option. Check the box: Iconize you taskbar.

IconizeTaskbar

Step 3. Save and Close the program. Restart your PC.

Step 4. Right click on the taskbar and uncheck lock taskbar. Select View >>> Large Icons.

LargeIcon

Step 5. Download Aero VG them and install it using VistaGlazz utility.

Aero VG | VistaGlazz

Note: After installing VistaGlazz utility, copy the downloaded vista themes into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes. Then right click on the desktop >>> personalize >>> Themes and apply new themes.

Step 6. After all that tweaks you will see the new look of your taskbar.

Windows7Taskbar

Hope you like your new taskbar.

PC News: Profits Plunge at Dell

Posted in News with tags , on 02/27/2009 by chickensiomai

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Dell Inc reported steep declines in quarterly sales and profit, sending its shares down more than 3 percent on Thursday.

The world’s No. 2 personal computer maker said net profit in its fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 30 fell to $351 million, or 18 cents a share, from $679 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding one-time items, Dell’s profit was 29 cents a share, above the 28 cent average estimate by analysts surveyed by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 16 percent to $13.4 billion, missing analysts’ average forecast of $14.06 billion.

Shares of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell fell to $7.90 in extended trading from their Nasdaq close of $8.21. The stock has fallen around 65 percent over the past six months.

Source: PCMag.com