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Hamachi is a tiny app that lets you create a virtual private network between multiple computers. These direct links work over the internet, but is recognized by your computer as a local network connection. LAN emulation is useful for many reasons, including adding multiplayer gaming capability to games that either best support LAN games (classic games like Duke Nukem 3D) or modern games that for some reason or another just have poor internet support (Demigod at its launch comes to mind).
In addition to gaming and file transfers, Hamachi can also facility a secure remote network connection between two computers. To do this, we're going to combine Hamachi with another free networking app, UltraVNC.
Hamachi should be installed on both computers that you want to network together. Just download the installer from the link in the header above, and run the executable. In the install wizard, you'll come across a prompt that asks if you want to disable Windows File Sharing. Leave the checkbox empty.
Once Himachi has finished installing, launch the program and click the power button on the lower left hand corner. Windows will give you a prompt asking you if you want to block or unblock Hamachi from accessing Windows network services, and you should click 'unblock.' Hamachi, when powered up, assigns each computer a IP in the 22.214.171.124 range. For example, in the screenshot below, the local IP Hamachi has assigned is 126.96.36.199. Each computer should have a different IP.
Next, click the Networking menu that's the second from the right on bottom of Hamachi's interface. Select the "Create a new network..." option. It doesn't matter which of the two machines you do this on, but that machine will be the host. Follow the instructions to create a name and password for this network.
After you're done setting up a new Hamachi network, join that network on the second computer using the Networking Menu. If the machines successfully connect, the name of the system will pop up in the Hamachi window with a green star next to it.
At this point, the two machines think they're connected on a local network, and you can browse shared folders, play Starcraft LAN games, etc.
The other component to this combo is UltraVNC, an open source remote networking frontend that uses Windows' VNC protocol to control the screen of networked computers.
Download and run the Ultra VNC installer. In the installation wizard, make sure to check the boxes that asks if you want to download specialized Windows drivers that lower remote control response times and optimizes CPU load.
On the machine you want to access remotely, the version of UltraVNC you should install is the UltraVNC Server, though you can install the entire package if you want. The installer will also ask if you want to run UltraVNC as a service, which means it launches as a part of the Windows startup, before any user even logs in. This is completely up to you. Since we're relying on Hamachi to provide the network connection, and that has to be launched after you log into Windows, we chose to install UltraVNC as just a plain application.
Once UltraVNC finishes its install, it'll automatically show you a Server Property Page. Leave most of the settings as their defaults, but input your own VNC password in the Authentication section (highlighted in the screenshot). Minimize UltraVNC to the taskbar notification area.
On the other machine, go through the UltraVNC install process again. If you're only going to be using this system for remote viewing and access, just install the UltraVNC viewer app.
When you launch the viewer, you'll be given a prompt to input the VNC server IP. This is where you want to type in the Hamachi IP of the PC you want to access (which should be running the UltraVNC server). Hit the big Connect button, and enter your VNC password in the prompt.
If everything goes smoothly, the viewer will pop up with a Window that shows you the Desktop of the host machine. Here, as long as the mouse is inside the viewer window, you can interact with the system as if you were sitting in front of it. Aero is turned off by default, and the VNC viewer renders in 256 colors, but you can max out the screen fidelity in the Viewer options.
UltraVNC also sports a handy File Transfer option that lets you moves selected files from the remote machine to the local one. It's better than using Public and Shared Files with Windows, since you have access to every file on the remote system, not just ones marked as shared. Feel free to mess around with UltraVNC's viewer settings, since it's a pretty powerful app.
If there's anything Halo 3 has taught us, it's that hardcore gamers are also exhibitionists. Gamers love to show off their exploits by sharing demo files, but the easiest way showcase that 20-kill streak in Call of Duty or that rare crab-walking spy to the masses is with video sharing sites like YouTube or Vimeo. But unless you have a premium account for those services, you'll likely have to wait in a long queue while your game footage is processed into a low-res flash file. But you want to show your friends NOW to earn those e-props! We give you a way to automatically optimize your video for sharing sites.
The first thing you'll need is Fraps, which is the de-facto screenshot and video-capture utility for PC games. Fraps requires a license to unlock all of its features, but the free version will still let you capture video with a small Fraps watermark embedded in the frame.
Download, install, and open up the Fraps tool. Navigate to the Movies tab and direct Fraps to save movie files to a staging folder. Here, we called ours "to be processed". Bind a hotkey (default is F9) for video capture, and set the framerate to 30fps or 29.97. Depending on the speed of your CPU, set Fraps to record in full or half-size video. Let Fraps detect and pick the best sound input option to also record game sounds.
The next time you want to record a game video, just load up your favorite game and hit F9 to start recording. Fraps outputs a large AVI vide file in the designated folder once you hit F9 to stop the recording session. This video is uncompressed and full-resolution, making it not only massive, but impractical to upload to Youtube.
Sites like Vimeo recommend that you upload videos that are already encoded in H.264 compression, with AAC audio and a resolution no higher than 1280x720 for HD and 640x480 for SD streams. Here's where a nifty program called iPoifier comes in handy.
Like some of the other apps in this feature, iPodifier monitors a specified folder and automatically processes it based on your chosen settings. In this case, we want it to process full-resolution AVIs to smaller H.264 youttube-optimized videos that can also be shared on your iPod or iPhone.
After you download and install iPodifier, run through its setup wizard. The settings here can all be changed later, so don't mind what you select.
From the main window, enter the Video source parameters settings. Create a source named Fraps and direct it to the staging folder you created before, where all your full-res AVIs are held. Let iPodifier know that you want it to look for files with the *.avi extension.
Next, select h.264 as the codec, mark quality as "best", and choose "custom" for resolution. Here, you'll need to decide the dimensions of the new video. 640x480 is recommended for standard Youtube videos, but if you're playing games on a widescreen monitor and want to upload in HD, select 1280x720 or 872x480.
Make sure you choose not to delete the source video after transcoding if you want to save the original full-res video for posterity.
Here's the cool part: you can set iPodifier to only transcode at certain times of the day, and only when your CPU is idle has under low load. This way, it won't automatically start recording as soon as your're done recording and playing a game, and can just automatically run overnight or while you're at work. Modify the Transcoding options to tweak these automation settings.