Category Archives: pc

Bioshock 2 – Hack and Win a Top Gaming PC

BioShock 2 launches on February 9th, 2010. And to celebrate the fact, 2K Games have teamed up with PC gaming gurus Scan Computers and HMV Gamerbase to offer one lucky contestant the chance to win a top-of-the-line PC.

All you need to do is make like you’re in Rapture, and hack the PC! Just rock up to the HMV Gamerbase at London’s Trocadero Centre, from now until the 14 February 2010, look for the BioShock area, and try your hand.

It won’t be easy though… you’ll need to guess a six-digit code. If you don’t succeed, you can always come back the following day and have another crack.

Hand-built by the performance specialists at Scan Computers (www.scan.co.uk), this puppy is packed to the paws with power-user parts. Feast your eyes on these monstrous specs:


Intel Core i7 870 (Overclocked)

Asus P7P55D motherboard

Corsair Obsidian Chassis

Corsair H50 Cooler

Corsair 550Watt PSU

Corsair 4GB TwinX memory

XFX GTX285 NVIDIA graphics card

500GB Samsung Spinpoint hdd

DVDRW

Windows 7

Internal blue lighting

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself down to HMV Gamerbase at the Trocadero. PC gaming heaven is but a hack away…

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Freeview TV on your PC

By Neil McCormick

For the growing number of people, who find themselves rarely watching tv, and using their pcs more, the wonderful folk at TV Catchup have come up with a solution.

How do you fancy having access to over 50 channels including Sky Sports News and not have to pay a penny? Well if you live in the UK its possible. All you have to do is sign up on the website http://www.tvcatchup.com/

I have been using it all morning, and have seen no sign of buffering, and it is pretty much live tv, there was approximately 30 seconds delay between live tv and it.

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Installing Windows 7 – Or a Bit of a Wait and 2 Cups of Coffee Later, Job Done.

By Neil McCormick

windows_7

Hello Vista veteran, does the idea of installing a new version of your operating system of choice fill you with fear? Perhaps the mere idea, has set you off in a cold sweat and the need to lie down in a darkened room? Maybe you have suffered a post traumatic flashback to your attempts and more likely failed attempts to get Vista up and running on day one? No drivers, inability to get devices working, sound familiar?

Well fear not, read on as I inform you of my ventures into the frontiers of Windows 7. I should explain from the start, I am not a pc expert by any manner of means, I am your “average joe”. To me a computer is a computer, it does what I need it to do, its not that I am not interested in how it gets there, I just want my devices to work without a hassle.

Firstly you can relax, it was a hassle free dream to install. Let me take you through my experience of installing Windows 7. .

I think I should explain what my set up was prior to moving to Windows 7,

Processor :- Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz, 2331 Mhz, 4 Core(s)

Memory: – 4 Gigs of Ram

Graphics Card:- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260

Operating System :- Windows Vista 64 Bit

Display :- Connected via HDM to a 40 “ Sony Bravia LCD TV

Before you begin, it really should go without saying, do a system backup, you do not want to lose anything, if something should go wrong. Not that I am saying it will go wrong. You do not want to be without a precious memory tucked in a photograph, or a crucial document if it should get lost in the ether of your hard drive due to something being off kilter with your install. Anyway you should have been backing up on a regular basis, so this should be no great hardship to do.

win 7 1

In my case I was installing Windows 7 Ultimate. This gave me 2 options, as it comes with 2 disks. I could either go with a 32 or 64 bit version of the operating system. As I said im your “average joe”, whilst I should have known which version of vista I had I was not sure.

Easily sorted!

There are two ways on vista to find out what version you are running. You can either go to the System window in the control panel. The operating system is displayed as follows:

· For a 64-bit version operating system: 64-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.

· For a 32-bit version operating system: 32-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.

The other method is to View System Information window.
Click Start, type system in the Start Search box, and then click System Information in the Programs list.

1. When System Summary is selected in the navigation pane, the operating system is displayed as follows:

o For a 64-bit version operating system: x64-based PC appears for the System type under Item.

o For a 32-bit version operating system: x86-based PC appears for the System type under Item.

Depending on your current operating system, you are faced with two options either to do a clean install or upgrade. Clean install means reinstalling all your drivers , and install disks for your devices, graphic card etc. Upgrade as it suggests is simply upgrade your existing operating system. Unfortunately if you are coming from XP you will have to do a clean install.

So how do you decide what version and method of install? Microsoft takes the load off, for you, download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from their website at the following address:-

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/get/upgrade-advisor.aspx

This scans your pc and advises in a report if your PC can run Windows 7 and if there are any known compatibility issues. If an issue can be resolved, you’ll get suggestions for next steps. For example, it may let you know that you need an updated driver for your printer and where to get it from.

When I installed and ran the advisor, it informed me that the minimum system requirements for Windows 7 are:-
CPU – 1 GHZ
Ram – 1 gig for 32 bit or 2 gig for 64 bit
Hard drive space – 16 gigs spare space for 32 bit windows 7 or 20 gig for 64 bit Windows 7
Windows aero compatible.

My computer passed all of the tests. I would be able to install the 64 bit version of Windows 7. The only thing it suggested, I may have a problem with was iTunes, however after 3 weeks of use, I can say I have not noticed any problems with Itunes at all.

So with what would turn out to be unfounded trepidation, I put the 64 bit disk into the pc. The Wizard popped up and I clicked yes to install.

At this point the system copies the temporary files it requires and acquires via your internet connection any important updates for install. Not sure if it is standard, but my system proceeded to download a 1076kb update file, and during this time upgraded my direct x to the latest version.

Once this was completed, the Microsoft licence terms appeared on the screen, this had to be agreed to in order to proceed with the upgrade. Once completed, the option to choose to upgrade or do a custom install appears. As I was told I could do an upgrade, I chose the upgrade option.

The system informed me that there would be 5 steps involved with upgrading:-
Copying windows files
Gathering Files, settings and Programs
Expanding windows Files
Installing Features and Updates
Transferring Files, Settings and Programs.
Next I was advised that the computer may need to restart several times during the install process – it does. In all according to my notes, there were 2 restarts during my installation. The first restart occurred after expanding the windows files (2,888kb). The second occurred after installing features and update.

So after 1 hr 53 minutes, Windows 7 was now installed on my pc. On now to tweak it to my liking.

windows-7-theme
Windows 7 had identified, without me having to select, that it was being displayed on a Sony Tv and set the resolution for me. However it was not quite right, all of the text on the screen was too small. Probably perfect if you are sitting directly in front of it, but as I said previously, I have my pc hooked up to my tv, so I am at a distance from it.

In case this should happen to you on Install day, it is easily remedied. If I can do it, you can easily do it. All you have to do is Click Start, and in the handy search box key in the word “text”. Just choose the first option that comes up “Make text and other items larger or smaller” When you do this you will face 3 possible options, the default, smaller (100%), medium (125%) or large (150%). In my case none of the 3 were right. Instead I had to click on the left hand side of the page “Set Custom Type Size” At this point you can either drag the pointer on the ruler or type in the box a suitable percentage. In my case 140% is perfect. Then click apply. In order for your settings to take effect, you will be asked to log out.

I have to give praise, the search box in Windows 7 is brilliant, with this one item, you can do so much. Want to change settings?, maybe search for a document?, or you can not remember where you have an mp3 or avi file saved. No problem, Microsoft claim if its on your computer, the search box should be able to track it down. And I can assure you in all my searching it has not let me down. Simply click the windows logo on the left side of your task bar, in the search box type what you want to find, it will list all possible alternatives, and choose the one you want. Click on it and it takes you straight to it.

Ok, I now have windows 7 installed, next thing I want to do is customise the theme. Windows 7 comes with 7 Aero themes pre-installed:- they are Windows 7, Architecture, Characters, Landscape, Nature, Scenes and the final one is a local one which is determined by your geographic location. In my case its the United Kingdom. Having tried all of the pre-installed themes I tend to use the United Kingdom or Landscape theme. The picture’s used are a delight to the eye, the Giant’s Causeway picture looks stunning. I am led to believe the Microsoft Development team are currently working on an Irish aero-theme.

All you have to do is click on the theme you want to use and, windows 7 applies it for you.

So simple. Maybe however, none of these themes are of interest. Simple matter, on the same page top right click “Get more Themes Online”. This will take you to a Windows page to download more themes.
windows7_boot_screen
One final feature, and probably I have saved the best to last, is the fact you are able to pin specific programs to the task-bar, for quicker access. There are two ways to do this, either drag the program onto the taskbar, or right click on the program with your mouse and choose “pin to taskbar” Now all you have to do to open the program is simply click its icon on the taskbar. Like wise it is just as easy to unpin a program, simply hover your mouse cursor over the icon on the task bar, then right click and select “Unpin this program from the taskbar” Mac users have had this option for a while, so its good to see Windows catching up.

I have been running Windows 7 for about three weeks. Its great, its the little things that set it off. Things I now take for granted, but have made things so much easier. Lets face it life is so busy these days, we want things to be easy. For example getting connected to wireless networks is so easy compare to before. Simply click the wireless icon on the bottom right of your taskbar and it lists all possible networks, and more importantly indicates how secure they are. You do not need to search for the networks, windows 7 does all the hard work behind the scenes for you.

Windows 7 is, in my opinion, probably the most important release of a Windows operating system in quite a while, probably up there with the move from Windows 3.1. Lessons have been learnt from consumers, bad experiences when they upgraded to Vista. The company needs this to be a success. However one of the main obstacles that needs to be removed, is the legacy of Windows XP. It’s success undoubtedly cast a detrimental shadow on Vista. There was no noticeable incentive for users to upgrade so uptake was marginal. Microsoft will need to clearly demonstrate the benefits and reasons for switching.

Despite the cautionary paragraph above, I personally believe Windows 7 should succeed. My own experiences have shown to me that, if I had not have upgraded, my computing experiences would have been a paler version of what they are now. Life in a Windows 7 world seems somewhat easier – it is more user friendly than ever. If you are scared to upgrade do not be. If you do not upgrade , you are the one missing out.

If you want more information , you should visit http://www.microsoft.ie/windows7

Windows 7 is released on the 22 October 2009 in Europe.

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Microsoft Quest to find Ireland’s Biggest Inner Geek

By Neil McCormick

Search For Ireland’s Biggest Inner Geek Launched

geek2
To celebrate the launch of Windows 7 on Thursday 22nd October, Microsoft has launched a nationwide search for Ireland’s biggest inner geek. Technology plays a key role in everyone’s lives today and Microsoft is calling on the public to nominate people with an inner geek.

For example, this person might:

• Know more people online than in the real world;
• Use Skype to keep in touch with friends and family members in different parts of the world;
• Get their kids out of bed at an unearthly hour on Christmas morning just so they can play with their kids’ new gadgets;
• Prefer to instant message someone even though they are in the same room;
• Always have to have the latest and greatest MP3 player, mobile phone or computer game;
• Be prone to bouts of nostalgia, discussing Wolfenstein, Windows 3.0, Comic Chat and 8-bit gaming at every possible opportunity;
• Text more than talk to their friends.

The competition has been launched to celebrate the role that ordinary people from all walks of life have played in developing Windows 7. Thousands of people from across the globe and Ireland gave feedback to Microsoft on the features they would like to see included in Windows 7 and were involved in testing the new operating system. Some of the features incorporated as a result of this feedback include having to make less clicks, the ability to watch TV on a PC, parental controls and less popup interruptions.

The public is free to nominate the person they believe merits the title of Ireland’s biggest inner geek; it can be a friend, family member, neighbour or even themselves. All that is required to enter is to log onto http://www.celebrategeek.ie, enter their nomination and to outline the important role that gadgets and technology plays in the nominee’s life.

Commenting on the competition, Ronald Dockery, Microsoft Ireland, said, “We are so excited by the role that ordinary people from all walks of life have played in making Windows 7 a reality that we want to publicly salute them for this. We think lots of us have a little bit of an inner geek just waiting to get out and this is your chance to celebrate that love for gadgets and the net. That’s why we want the public to nominate a person they know with an inner geek just bursting to get out.”

Nominations close at 6pm on Wednesday 14th October 2009. A panel of judges will select the winner and the prize will be awarded at a special party being held in Dublin on 21st of October 2009 to mark the launch of Windows 7 in Ireland. The panel of judges includes Marie Boran, technology journalist with Gadgetrepublic.com, Darragh Doyle, Community Manager for Boards.ie and twitter addict, and Rick O’Shea, 2fm DJ and twitterer.

The winner will receive a home entertainment package including a copy of Windows 7, a laptop, an Xbox 360 Elite, Xbox LIVE subscription, a selection of video games and a mobile phone. Everyone nominated and those who nominate them will be entered into a draw to attend the launch party in the Temple Bar Music Centre on Wednesday 21st October.

Competition terms & conditions
1: You can nominate only once.
2: The closing date is 6pm on Wednesday 14th October 2009 and late entries will not be accepted.
3: The judges’ decision is final.
4: The person being nominated must be resident in the Republic of Ireland.
5: Microsoft employees cannot nominate themselves but can nominate family or friends.

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Windows 7 Preview held in Dublin 1st October 2009

By Neil McCormick

windows_7
I gladly accepted an invitation from Microsoft to go down to Dublin and attend a preview event for Windows 7, last night.

This was my opportunity to go along and see a demonstration of the final build of the new operating system, hear about new elements that have been added since development began to replace VISTA.

Ok I have to profess, after making the jump to Vista on its Launch day and the amount of pain, soul searching and regret I experienced that day, trying to get the darn thing to work with my various devices, I was deeply convinced I had no plans to make any such move this time round. I have Vista working now how I want it, and it adequately meets all my needs. Therefore I was sure, it would take Herculean efforts to get me to consider the switch to Windows 7.

I WAS WRONG!

I came away from the event last night, enchanted at what I had witnessed. So much so I am now using Windows 7 as I type. So what made the change of heart? Quite frankly from the brief preview I could see the operating system had not got any of the annoying problems Vista has had. And Quite simply IT WORKS!

The structure of the evening was as follows, we were told about the development of the operating system with particular regard to the key role played by Microsoft’s Dublin Team.
windows-7-theme
We were then shown one of the new Features of Windows 7 – “local themes”. These are region specific themes that represent their specific regions. The Dublin team are currently developing an Irish theme and hope to have it available by Christmas. These themes are free and consist of Wallpapers, Sounds, and Aero-glass colors. I have to say they looked nice and are a nice touch to personalize the OS for a specific region. As the Microsoft Demonstrator said “You dont always want to see the Red, white and Blue of the USA style, when you are using your desktop in the African Savanah”

Following that we were shown some of the less known features like, if you hover over the bottom right corner (beside the clock) all the open windows will become transparent and you can see through to the desktop, click that corner once and everything minimizes, click again and everything pop’s back up! More than a nice head’s up, the practical implications for someone in a workplace are well documented.
It was also explaind that from windows 3.1 right up to Vista there remained only 1 element from 3.1. That was the installation dialogue box. Windows 7 has gave them the chance to finally do away with it.

Another thing – who had spotted the bug in the analogue clock in previous Windows operating systems? Yes whenever the clock was at ten minutes to whatever, about 1/3 of one of the hands would disappear from the screen. That doesnt happen it Windows 7 – its been fixed!

Then we came to the feature I enjoyed the most, seeing how touch screen had been implemented in Windows 7, of course reliant on you having the necessary Hardware. Our demonstrator Will, hailed from Regina (yes the obvious gag was cracked), Canada, and showed us with great ease how you can find his home town using Microsoft Earth and the Touch technology.
windows7_boot_screen
If you have a netbook, you will be interested in what followed. As you know with the limited resources, the netbook has only until now been able to run a specific version of XP, Vista was beyond its capability.
Well, the Microsoft Rep I spoke to, demonstrated to me that Windows 7 can run without a hitch on a netbook, and it could have quite a modest spec.
dublin preview
Finally we were walked through setting up your Windows 7 PC on your home network whilst using a Windows Server and media extender linked to a Xbox 360. Will explained how his own house was linked so that the whole family could have access to their media content throughout the house.

Windows 7 is released globally on October 22nd. I was advised that retailers will have hardware be it pc or laptop / netbook with Windows 7 on launch day.

Electro-candy will be running a twitter competition over this weekend to win an exclusive Windows 7 Tshirt. Keep an eye on our Twitter for more details

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