Web Exclusive http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/147/ en Best Windows 8 Apps http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_windows_8_apps832 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Helping you make the most of Windows 8.1</h3> <p><a title="windows 8.1 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/windows_81_review_2013" target="_blank">Windows 8.1</a> is here and no, <a title="microsoft" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/microsoft" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> has not removed the modern UI. So to make the best of the situation, we decided to update our <strong>best Windows 8 apps</strong> story by adding over 20 new app recommendations! We've got game suggestions, picks for best RSS reader, and more.</p> <p>Do you use the modern UI? If so, let us know your favorite Windows 8 apps in the comments below!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_windows_8_apps832#comments best hulu plus metro NetFlix OS programs skydrive Skype smartglass Software Windows Windows windows 8 apps windows store xbox Features Web Exclusive Fri, 15 Nov 2013 21:34:41 +0000 Justin Kerr &amp; Tim Ferrill 24436 at http://www.maximumpc.com Getting Loco with Video Cards http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/getting_loco_video_cards_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u160416/titan_botb.png" alt="Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan" title="Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan" style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Maximum PC's Best of the Best Updated</h3> <p>We're closing in on Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico's Battle of Puebla fought on May 5, 1862, a victory against overwhelming odds and an important step towards Mexican independence from European rulers. These days, it's a popular holiday for getting drunk, dancing and making loud noises, but maybe that's just me. I think I'm gonna play it low-key this year instead, and take the opportunity to update our&nbsp;<a title="Maximum PC Best of the Best" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/best-of-the-best" target="_blank">Best of the Best</a>&nbsp;with a couple new entries: the EVGA GeForce GTX Titan and AMD's Radeon HD 7850.</p> <p>This time around, we're changing the "high-end video card" category to the best "Single-GPU video card." Every GPU category will be getting a refresh. Because at Maximum PC, we care about your wallet.</p> <p>Below, there is more text and words that you may find informative and entertaining.</p> <p>And as always, let us know in the comments what you think about our picks!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/getting_loco_video_cards_2013#comments 7850 best of the best computer geforce gpu Hardware maximum pc nvidia radeon recommended titan Video Card News Features Web Exclusive Fri, 03 May 2013 18:28:11 +0000 Tom McNamara 25477 at http://www.maximumpc.com Virus Protection Guide http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_free_antivirus_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Best free antivirus programs and virus propection tips&nbsp;</h3> <p>So you got caught with your pants down on the Internet (figuratively, folks) and contracted a virus. That sucks. Or maybe you were wearing protection but still fell victim to some nasty bit of code that managed to slip by your antivirus software undetected. That sucks even more. Either way, it's nothing to feel ashamed about. The web is a dangerous place and even the most tech savvy users sometimes slip up. You can even get a virus through no fault of your own simply by visiting a reputable website that, unbeknownst to you, has been compromised by a hacker with malicious intent. The web is a war zone, and even if you're not a target, you can still end up a casualty.</p> <p>That's not to say you can't stack the odds decidedly in your favor, because you can. And you should. To help you do that, we've put together a comprehensive guide on how to protect your PC from malware. We cover everything from smart (and not so smart) computing habits, the&nbsp;<strong>best free antivirus</strong>&nbsp;programs, and what tools work best for removing an infection when all else fails. Don your hazmat suits and let's get started!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/spyware.jpg" alt="Spyware" title="Spyware" width="620" height="443" /><br /><strong>If your PC looks like this, you're doing something wrong.</strong></p> <h3>Virus 101</h3> <p>If you're reading this, it's safe to assume you already know what a computer virus is, and certainly the majority of <a title="maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/" target="_blank">Maximum PC</a> readers are well informed. So, we won't spend a ton of text dissecting the different kinds of viruses, but we do want to quickly cover the basics. Strictly speaking, a virus is a program that can replicate itself and is designed to spread from one computer to another, doing things the end-user doesn't want and/or doesn't know about.</p> <p>A broader term is malware, short for malicious software, and there are many different forms, including viruses, Trojan horses, keyloggers, worms, adware, and spyware, to name a few. These days, malware is most often spread through web browsers. <a href="http://www.securelist.com/en/analysis/204792255/Kaspersky_Security_Bulletin_2012_The_overall_statistics_for_2012#2" target="_blank">According to Kaspersky</a>, there were nearly 1.6 billion browser-based attacks in 2012, up from 946 million a year prior.</p> <p>A common misconception is that only <a title="Windows Maximum PC" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/windows" target="_blank">Windows</a> users need to concern themselves with malware, but that isn't true. Malware writers have traditionally focused their efforts on Windows, but have started targeting other platforms as they become more popular, <a title="android virus" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/mobile_malware_grew_163_percent_2012_almost_all_it_aimed_android" target="_blank">including mobile</a>. Even <a title="mac" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Mac" target="_blank">Mac</a> users have to be on the lookout.</p> <p>"In early 2012, the Flashfake botnet was discovered, consisting of 700,000 computers all running under <a title="mac os x" href="http://www.apple.com/osx/" target="_blank">Mac OS X</a>," Kaspersky states in its most recent security bulletin.</p> <p>The bottom line is, if you use the Internet, you're a target.</p> <h3>Safe Computing is a Start</h3> <p>Your best line of defense is still you, the end-user. The less risks you take, the lower your chance of becoming just another statistic, and it all starts with developing smart computing habits. Here are five easy ways you can remove yourself from the line of fire:</p> <ol> <li>Never open unexpected email attachments, even if you know the recipient. If a PC belonging to someone else is infected, it could be auto-generating malicious emails with dirty attachments or booby-trapped URLs.</li> <li>It's easy to spoof URLs within emails. Instead of clicking on email links, type the URL directly into your browser, especially if you receive a notice that appears to come from your banking institution or PayPal. This exponentially decreases your risk of falling for a phishing scam. You know what they say about a fool and his money...</li> <li>Stay diligent with updating and patching your software. These updates often patch security holes that malware writers can otherwise exploit. If a program has the option of automatically checking for updates, enable it. We also recommend running Secunia's <a href="http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/" target="_blank">Personal Software Inspector</a> (PSI) on occasion, which is a free security tool that scans for and identifies vulnerabilities in many third-party programs.</li> <li>Avoid visiting shadier sides of the web. We're in no way trying to play the part of moral police, but sites that serve up illegal downloads or triple-X rated content are popular places to set digital landmines.</li> <li>Use Alt-F4 to close suspicious pop-up ads instead of clicking on the X button. Why? Sometimes the X button is really a part of the ad, and clicking it could redirect you to a malicious website.</li> </ol> <h3>A Word About Passwords</h3> <p>As much as you might love your significant other, using his or her name as your password is a really dumb idea. It's far too easy to guess, just like "123456," "iloveyou," "letmein," and others found on SplashData's <a href="http://splashdata.com/press/PR121023.htm" target="_blank">list of worst passwords</a>.</p> <p>A good password will be at least eight characters long and will use a mix of letters, numbers, symbols, and capitalization. For example, "Ey3LMpC!" which stands for "I love Maximum PC" is relatively easy to remember and much more secure than a word or phrase that can be broken with a brute force dictionary attack.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/1password.jpg" alt="1Password" title="1Password" width="620" height="438" /></p> <p>You also should be using multiple passwords for different websites so that if one account is compromised, your others are still safe. The downside to this approach is that it can be difficult to remember multiple passwords, especially strong ones. An alternative to remembering them all is to use a password manager like <a href="https://lastpass.com/" target="_blank">LastPass</a> or <a href="http://keepass.info/" target="_blank">KeePass</a>, both of which are free. <a href="http://www.roboform.com/" target="_blank">RoboForm</a> is another option, and though it isn't free, it also fills in forms and allows you to access RoboForm Logins and Identities on all your devices, including mobile. The same is true of <a href="https://agilebits.com/onepassword" target="_blank">1Password</a>, though it doesn't fill in forms.</p> <h3>Second Line of Defense: Antivirus Software</h3> <p>Whenever the topic of security software comes up, inevitably someone chimes in that it's completely unnecessary so long as you surf the web safely. They'll then provide anecdotal evidence based on their own personal experience, and while it's true you can get by without AV protection, it's a constant roll of the dice. And for what? To save a few CPU cycles? It's simply not worth the risk, and certainly not the cost when there are free options out there. Let's focus on those first.</p> <p><strong>-Avast Free Edition (<a href="http://www.avast.com/en-us/index">Free, www.avast.com/en-us/index</a>)</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="/files/u69/avast.jpg" alt="Avast Free Edition" title="Avast Free Edition" width="620" height="440" /><br /></strong></p> <p>Every year we run a roundup of security software and you can read the latest one in the April issue of <a title="Maximum PC magazine" href="https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/IM/MAX/MAX-subscribe.jsp?cds_page_id=63027&amp;cds_mag_code=MAX&amp;id=1366661924499&amp;lsid=31121518443026100&amp;vid=1&amp;cds_response_key=IHTH31ANN" target="_blank">Maximum PC magazine</a>. In it we tested three free antivirus programs -- <a title="avast website" href="http://www.avast.com/" target="_blank">Avast</a>, <a title="Microsoft Security Essentials" href="http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download" target="_blank">Microsoft Security Essentials</a>, and <a title="Avast" href="http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage" target="_blank">AVG</a> -- and out of those three, we found Avast to be the best free antivirus software.</p> <p>We like Avast because it scans for viruses and spyware, and has a built-in remote support tool that allows you to dish out (or receive) assistance to other trusted Avast users, which is extremely handy if you're the IT guy for family and friends. It also offers tons of fine grain control.</p> <p>One of our few complaints is that Avast doesn't guard against Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) by default. To change that, click on Security &gt; File System Shield &gt; Settings &gt; Sensitivity and check the box underneath "PUP and suspicious files."</p> <p>We also recommend doing a full system scan at least once a month. If you keep your PC on 24/7, it's not a bad idea to schedule nightly scans when you're asleep. This ensures that any potential threats are caught before they have much chance to do any harm, provided they get past Avast's real-time scan engine to begin with.</p> <p><strong>-Second Opinions</strong></p> <p>No virus scanner is capable of catching and neutralizing every single threat; it's simply not possible due to the sheer number of new malware that is created on a daily basis. For this reason, it's in your best interest to solicit a second and/or third opinion on occasion using a dedicated spyware scanner. How often depends on how risky your online behavior. If all you're doing is surfing Maximum PC, sports sites, and updating your Facebook feed, quarterly scans should be sufficient.</p> <p>One of the best programs out there is <a href="http://www.malwarebytes.org/" target="_blank">Malwarebytes</a>. It's free (there's also a paid version) and it does an excellent job of detecting deeply embedded threats that other scanners miss. Malwarebytes is also great at cleaning up remnants left behind after you've eradicated a virus, such as lingering registry entries.</p> <p>Another popular program is <a href="http://www.superantispyware.com" target="_blank">SuperAntiSpyware</a>, which is also available in free and paid flavors. Scanning with both Malwarebyes and SuperAntiSpyware on occasion is a potent one-two combo to supplement your daily AV program.</p> <p><strong>-Internet Security Suites</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="/files/u69/nis.jpg" alt="Norton Internet Security" title="Norton Internet Security" width="620" height="414" /><br /></strong></p> <p>If you're willing to pay for security software, an Internet security suite offers more robust protection than what's available in any single free program. One of the best available is <a href="http://us.norton.com/internet-security/" target="_blank">Norton Internet Security</a>. Put your pitchforks away, if you haven't taken Norton for a test drive in several years, then you have no idea what you're missing. It's not the same bloated program that it was prior to 2009. That's when Symantec re-wrote the software from the ground up with an emphasis on performance. These days it offers top-notch protection with little impact on system performance</p> <p><em>Click the next page to see what you should do when your computer has already been infected!</em></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Stick Your Head in the Cloud</h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A substitute for installing security software is to tap into the cloud. There are several cloud scanners at your disposal, but only a select few will go the extra mile and actually disinfect your machine if it finds something wrong, while others try to upsell you. Panda Security's <a href="http://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/solutions/activescan/" target="_blank">Panda Active Scan</a> detects and removes, though it only works with <a title="Internet Explorer maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/internet_explorer" target="_blank">Internet Explorer</a>. There's also an option to install a small front-end, but even if you go that route, it's still a cloud-based scanner that won't suck up your system resources.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/malwarebytes_gui.jpg" alt="Malwarebytes" title="Malwarebytes" width="620" height="473" /></p> <p>Another handy bookmark is <a href="https://www.virustotal.com/en/" target="_blank">VirusTotal</a>, a free, on-demand online scanner with a twist. Let's say you downloaded a file or email attachment, but are suspicious of its contents. Before you open it up, just upload it to VirusTotal and it will be put under the microscope of dozens of scan engines. It's the ultimate second opinion for single files and URLs, albeit the maximum file size is 32MB.</p> <h3>Hide Behind a Virtual Machine</h3> <p>Have kids that share your PC? You're a brave soul. Kids have a tendency to click on pop-up requests willy-nilly, but there are steps you can take to mitigate any potential headaches. Here they are:</p> <ol> <li>Teach them smart computing habits. It's never too early to learn, and since their brains are like little sponges, they may surprise you with how much they retain.</li> <li>Set up a different user account. It won't save your PC from nasty infections, but hey, do you really want to login and find that your Windows theme has been changed over to Spongebob or Dora the Explorer? We didn't think so.</li> <li>Install <a href="http://www.sandboxie.com/" target="_blank">Sandboxie</a>, a free application that runs selected programs in an isolated environment. You can configure Sandboxie to run any time a browser is opened, so when your kids inevitably download something they shouldn't have, the changes aren't permanent. This is also a wonderful tool for installing on PCs belonging to friends and family. It works with any browser, too.</li> </ol> <p><img src="/files/u69/sandboxie.jpg" alt="Sandboxie" title="Sandboxie" width="620" height="423" /></p> <p>If you're particularly reckless on the web, a full-blown virtual machine is the next best thing to a dedicated web box. A virtual machine isn't completely fool proof, but it's close to it. Microsoft's <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/default.aspx" target="_blank">Virtual PC</a> works relatively well, especially if you're mostly interested in surfing the web, and so is <a href="http://www.vmware.com/products/player/" target="_blank">VMWare's Player</a>. Another thing VMs are good for is installing suspicious programs and beta software. If something turns out to be malicious, the damage is contained away from your OS.</p> <h3>I'm Already Infected, Now What!?</h3> <p>Despite your best efforts, sometimes the bad guys win. If that happens, or if a family member drops off a badly infected PC, follow these steps to clean it up.</p> <p><strong>-Scan, Scan, and Scan Again</strong></p> <p>First, try installing a free antivirus program. If it works, great, proceed to scan the system, and then follow that up with Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware sweeps. This three-pronged approach should rid the system of most, if not all malware, unless it's a particularly nasty infection. If it doesn't, don't worry, we're not ready to throw in the towel.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/taskmanager.jpg" alt="Task Manager" title="Task Manger" width="620" height="439" /></p> <p>Before we proceed, are you even able to install security programs? Some malware detects when security software is being installed and stops it dead in its tracks. If that's happening to you, try to disable the offending program. Hit CTRL+ALT+DEL to start the Task Manager and look for any suspicious entries in the Processes tab. Anything that's gibberish -- for example, "mgbelwisfl" -- is probably up to no good. Highlight the entry and press End Process. Are you now able to install AV scanners?</p> <p>If not, you'll need to boot into Safe Mode, which only loads the bare minimum drivers required to run Windows. To do that, hit the F8 key during boot (press it repeatedly during during bootup if you have trouble with the timing). When prompted, select Safe Mode with Networking. Now try installing/running your security software.</p> <p><strong>-HiJackThis</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u69/hijackthis.jpg" alt="HiJackThis" title="HiJackThis" width="600" height="533" /><br /></strong></p> <p>If your system's still displaying malware symptoms (slowed performance, random pop-ups, etc), you may need to dig deeper. <a href="http://sourceforge.net/projects/hjt/" target="_blank">HiJackThis</a> is a free utility that generates an in-depth report of registry and file settings, but be warned it doesn't discern between good and harmful settings. If you don't know what the settings are, solicit outside help by posting a HiJackThis log to a computer forum like <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=36&amp;sid=831c0c1efb5f5e2d4a2eb9bcbd307bd6">one here at Maximum PC</a>. Alternately, you can post the contents of the log on <a href="http://www.hijackthis.de/" target="_blank">HiJackThis.de Security</a> and/or <a href="http://hjt.iamnotageek.com/" target="_blank">I Am Not a Geek</a> for quick and basic parsing, though you should still seek outside help before nuking an entry you're unfamiliar with.</p> <p>Running HiJackThis is simple. Just click the "Scan" button and wait for it to finish scanning your system (it only takes a few seconds). When it's finished, click on "Save Log" to save the contents to a Notepad file, which you can then copy/paste into any of the sites mentioned above.</p> <p>Assuming you recognize an obvious malicious entry, check the appropriate box(es) and click "Fix checked."</p> <p><strong>-Comodo Cleaning Essentials</strong></p> <p>At this point, we're starting to run out of options, but all is not yet lost. <a href="http://www.comodo.com/business-security/network-protection/cleaning_essentials.php" target="_blank">Comodo Cleaning Essentials</a> (CCE) is a tool that any geek should be toting around in his/her tool chest. It doesn't require any installation, meaning you can run it direct from a USB key, which is perfect for making house calls.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/comodo_cleaning_essentials.jpg" alt="Comodo Cleaning Essentials" title="Comodo Cleaning Essentials" width="588" height="425" /></p> <p>CCE digs deep for a variety of infections, including rootkits, making it an indispensable tool. It even scans the Master Boot Record (MBR), so to say it's thorough is an understatement.</p> <p>Inside the CCE directory, you'll also find an entry called KillSwitch.exe. It's a much better version of the built-in Task Manager because it provides a bunch of additional information, and will even tell you if a program that's running is safe or known to be malicious. If you can't get into the Task Manager to kill an offending program, try using KillSwitch. If you want, you can even have it replace the Task Manager by enabling the setting in the Options menu.</p> <p><strong>-TDSSKiller</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u69/tdsskiller.jpg" alt="TDSSKiller" title="TDSSKiller" width="600" height="466" /><br /></strong></p> <p>Persistent infections that manage to evade your best efforts to eradicate could be indicative of a rootkit. A rootkit is particularly stealthy, though not entirely invisible. Download and run Kaskperky's <a href="http://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/solutions?qid=208280684" target="_blank">TDSSKiller</a> if you think you might have a rootkit. Like CCE, this utility doesn't require installation and can be carried on a USB stick.</p> <p><strong>-ComboFix</strong></p> <p>When you're at your wit's end and ready to reinstall Windows, that's when you should try <a href="http://www.combofix.org/" target="_blank">ComboFix</a>, a powerful cleanup tool that can either save the day or leave your PC unable to operate correctly. Before downloading and running ComboFix, backup any data as if you're reinstalling Windows, because in the end, you might have to anyway. Before you proceed, you should also read through the extensive usage guide on <a href="http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/" target="_blank">Bleeping Computer</a>.</p> <p>If you've gotten this far and your system is still infected, throw in the towel and start with a fresh Windows installation. Sure, you could keep plugging away in hopes of cleaning up your system, but by the time you're done, you could be rocking a fresh Windows install with no trace of malware.</p> <p>Know of any tips we missed or have software recommendations of your own? Let us and other readers know by posting them in the comments section below!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_free_antivirus_2013#comments adware anti-malware best free antivirus features how-to malware protect Remove Security Software Trojan virus News Features How-Tos Web Exclusive Mon, 22 Apr 2013 21:07:34 +0000 Paul Lilly 25238 at http://www.maximumpc.com Win a Custom-built Crysis-themed Maingear Rig from AMD! http://www.maximumpc.com/win_custom-built_crysis-themed_maingear_rig_amd2013 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u154280/reviews-6671_medium.jpg" alt="Maingear F131" title="Maingear F131" width="300" height="390" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Crysis-themed rig comes equipped with Maingear F131 case, i7-3770K, and two Radeon HD 7970s</h3> <p>Everybody loves tent-pole releases like <a title="Crysis 3 review maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/crysis_3_review2013" target="_blank">Crysis 3</a>. Not only does it mean more shooty fun in the post-apocalyptic ruins of the greatest city in the world, but in this case it also means you might win a totally sweet Crysis-themed <a title="Maingear" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Maingear" target="_blank">Maingear</a> gaming rig courtesy of <a title="AMD maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/AMD" target="_blank">AMD</a>. This choice system is stocked with bad-ass componentry, and includes the following hardware:</p> <p><strong>Case:</strong> &nbsp;<a title="F131" href="http://www.maingear.com/custom/desktops/f131/" target="_blank">Maingear F131</a> with VRTX Cooling Technology, black brushed aluminum and a SilenX 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm) affixed with artwork from the Crysis 3 game</p> <p><strong>Motherboard:</strong> <a title="Asus Maximum V Gene" href="https://www.asus.com/ROG/MAXIMUS_V_GENE/" target="_blank">Asus Maximus V Gene</a>, featuring <a title="Lucid Virtu" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/node/24581" target="_blank">Lucid Virtu</a> MVP, <a title="SupremeFX III" href="http://rog.asus.com/tag/supremefx-iii/" target="_blank">SupremeFX III Sound</a>, CrossFire, and SLI</p> <p><strong>CPU:</strong> <a title="3770K" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/core_i7-3770k_ivy_bridge_chip_gets_benchmarked" target="_blank">Intel Core i7-3770K</a></p> <p><strong>CPU Cooler:</strong>&nbsp;Maingear EPIC 120 Liquid Supercooler&nbsp;</p> <p>MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking Service: Intel Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>RAM:</strong> 8GB <a title="corsair platinum ram" href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233305" target="_blank">Corsair Dominator Platinum</a> DDR3-1600 (2x4GB)</p> <p><strong>GPUs</strong>: 2x <a title="Radeon 7970 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/xfx_radeon_hd_7970_black_edition_review" target="_blank">AMD Radeon HD 7970</a> 6GB Total GDDR5 in CrossFire&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>SSD:</strong> <a title="Corsair SSD" href="http://www.corsair.com/en/ssd/accelerator-series-ssd-cache-drives/accelerator-series-60gb-solid-state-cache-drive.html" target="_blank">60GB Corsair Accelerator SSD</a> Caching Drive</p> <p><strong>Hard Drive</strong>: 1TB <a title="Seagate" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Seagate" target="_blank">Seagate</a> 7,200RPM</p> <p><strong>Power Supply</strong>: 800-watt <a title="Corsair Gamer Series" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/corsair_launches_power_supply_line_gamers" target="_blank">Corsair Gamer Series</a>, 80-Plus Certified</p> <p><strong>Optical Drive:</strong> Slot-Loading 8x Dual-Layer DVD RW</p> <p>LAN: On-board Gigabit Ethernet</p> <p>Operating System: <a title="Windows 7" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Windows_7" target="_blank">Microsoft Windows 7</a> Home Premium 64-bit</p> <p><strong><em>Note that this system does not include a monitor, keyboard or mouse. Hey, we spent all of our budget on the system itself, and had nothing left for some of the small things. Besides, you probably already have your own personal favorite peripherals so we’re sure you’ll survive.</em></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/maingear_contest_rig.jpg" alt="Maingear Contest Rig" title="Maingear Contest Rig" width="571" height="627" /></p> <h3>How to Enter</h3> <p>"Like" or already be a fan of <a title="Maximum PC facebook page" href="http://www.facebook.com/maximumpc" target="_blank">Maximum PC on Facebook</a>. &nbsp;Then, write an email to <a title="Maximum PC contest email" href="mailto:contests@maximumpc.com" target="_blank">contests@maximumpc.com</a> with the subject "AMD Maingear Crysis F131 Contest" and in the body put your answer to this question – <strong>The Intel CPU architecture that will succeed Ivy Bridge goes by what name?</strong> Along with the answer, email us your complete name, address, city, state/province, zip/postal code, country, birthdate, and phone number. One prize winner with the correct answer in alignment with reporting by Maximum PC will be randomly selected by April 19, 2013. This contest is available to readers in the USA (excluding Arizona) and Canada (excluding Quebec). This giveaway has rules, so please read them on the next page.</p> <hr /> <p>OFFICIAL RULES &nbsp;</p> <p>Maximum PC’s AMD Maingear Crysis F131 Contest</p> <p>NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. &nbsp;</p> <p>1. SPONSOR; ADMINISTRATOR: This promotion (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Future US, Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (“Sponsor(s)”), is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc., Maingear Corporation, Crytek GmbH, or Electronic Arts Inc., and is subject to the following terms and conditions. &nbsp;Contest is being administered by Future US, Inc. (“Future US”), 4000 Shoreline Court, Suite 400, South San Francisco, CA 94080, United States of America, +1 (650) 872-1642. &nbsp;</p> <p>2. ELIGIBILITY: Contest is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia (excluding Arizona, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. military installations in foreign countries, or in any other U.S. territories or possessions) and Canada (excluding the province of Quebec). &nbsp;Void where prohibited by law. &nbsp;Entrants must have attained the age of majority in their state and country of residence and citizenship (usually at least eighteen (18) years of age) at time of entry; possess a valid form of unexpired government-issued photo identification; and have a valid email address. &nbsp;Employees of Sponsor(s), its/their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliated companies, advertising, promotion, or production agencies, any companies who are promotional participants or prize providers, web masters and web suppliers, and the foregoing employees’ household or immediate family members (defined as parent, spouse, child, sibling, or grandparent) are NOT eligible to enter Contest. &nbsp;By their submission of entry, entrants warrant they are legally entitled and authorized to make such submission, either on their own behalf, or as to information submitted upon the express authorization of another on whose behalf the information is submitted. &nbsp;In the event of a dispute as to the winner’s identity for online entries received from multiple users having the same email account, entries will be deemed made by the authorized subscriber of the email account associated with the entry. &nbsp;The authorized account subscriber is the natural person who is assigned the email address by the internet service provider (ISP), on-line service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses. &nbsp;Invalid or ineligible entries shall be excluded from consideration. &nbsp;</p> <p>3. TIMING: &nbsp;Contest begins at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time on April 8, 2013 and ends at 12:00 p.m. Pacific time on April 19, 2013. &nbsp;Future US’ computer will be the official time clock for the Contest. &nbsp;Online entries must be received by Future US by 12:00 p.m. Pacific time on April 19, 2013 to be eligible. &nbsp;</p> <p>4. HOW TO ENTER: &nbsp;Send an email to contests@maximumpc.com with the subject “AMD Maingear Crysis F131 Contest” and in the body submit your answer to the question: “The Intel CPU architecture that will succeed Ivy Bridge goes by what name?” You must also include your complete name, address, city, state/province, zip/postal code, country, birthdate, and phone number in your email. &nbsp;No team entries and no corporate or institutional entries are permitted in Contest. &nbsp;</p> <p>Limit one entry per household.</p> <p>5. PRIZES AND ODDS: The prize consists of one Crysis-themed Maingear F131 gaming desktop PC that has been customized by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. as described above (“Prize”). &nbsp;The Prize has an approximate retail value of US$3,000.00. &nbsp;Prize must be delivered to address listed on Winner’s entry, and delivery may take six to eight weeks.</p> <p>The odds of winning will be determined by the number of eligible entries received.</p> <p>Prizes cannot be transferred, assigned, substituted, or redeemed for cash, and must be accepted as awarded, but Sponsors reserve the right to substitute any prize with a prize of equal or greater value should the advertised prize become unavailable for any reason. &nbsp;Prizes will not be fulfilled: outside the United States and Canada; in Arizona, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. military installations in foreign countries; in any other U.S. or Canadian territories or possessions; in the province of Quebec; or where prohibited or restricted by law. &nbsp;Winners will be responsible for all taxes (federal/national, state/provincial, and local) and all expenses not listed herein related to acceptance and use of any prize. &nbsp;Any person residing in the United States and any United States citizen living abroad, who wins US$600 or more worth of prizes from Sponsors in a calendar year will receive an IRS form 1099 after the end of the calendar year in which the prizes were awarded, and copy of such form will be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). &nbsp;</p> <p>Limit one Prize per household.</p> <p>6. JUDGING: One (1) winner will be selected by a judging panel comprised of the editors of Maximum PC (“Judges”). &nbsp;The Judges will randomly draw entries from all entries received, until they find an entry containing an answer that is accurate in alignment with Maximum PC’s report on the question. &nbsp;Judging will be completed by April 19, 2013. &nbsp;Sponsors’ decisions on all matters related to Contest, including Judges’ selection of the winning entry shall be final and binding and within their sole discretion. &nbsp;Winning is contingent upon compliance with all terms and conditions set forth in these official rules; any entry or any potential winner identified thereby found at any time to fail to comply with these official rules will be held invalid and ineligible for award.</p> <p>7. NOTIFICATION: &nbsp;</p> <p>The Winner will be notified by phone by April 26, 2013. &nbsp;The Winner so notified must within three (3) business days of notice of prize award, complete, execute and return the provided Affidavit, Waiver, Release and Indemnity Agreement including, where lawful, a Publicity Release (plus any additional documents required at the discretion of Sponsors). &nbsp;Failure to comply with the requirements of this paragraph (or the return of any prize or prize notification as non-deliverable) may result in disqualification and in the forfeiture of any right to a prize. &nbsp;</p> <p>To obtain any legally-required winners list, send a self-addressed envelope with sufficient prepaid postage to: Maximum PC’s AMD Maingear Crysis F131 Contest, c/o Future US, Inc., 4000 Shoreline Court, Suite 400, South San Francisco, CA 94080, United States of America. &nbsp;(Residents of Vermont do not have to include return postage.)</p> <p>8. PRIVACY POLICY: &nbsp;By participating in the Contest, you acknowledge and agree that Sponsors may collect the personal information submitted by you and use the information pursuant to Future US’ standard privacy policy, the terms of which can be found at http://www.futureus.com/privacy.php , which terms and conditions entrants accept and agree to by submission of entries pursuant to these official rules.</p> <p>9. &nbsp;RELEASE: &nbsp;</p> <p>By participating in the Contest and/or accepting a prize, an entrant/winner agrees to defend, release and hold harmless the Sponsor(s), Facebook, Inc., Maingear Corporation, Crytek GmbH, and Electronic Arts Inc., and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, advertising, production and promotion agencies, any companies who are promotional participants or prize providers, web masters and web suppliers, and the foregoing companies’ officers, directors, shareholders, employees, representatives and agents (collectively “Releasees”) from and against any actions, claims and/or liability for injury, loss or damage of any kind to persons, including death, or property (including the violation or infringement of any proprietary or personal right of any individual or entity) resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participation in the Contest, and/or the use, acceptance, or possession of a Contest prize, and/or participation in a Contest prize-related activity, including any action, claim or liability arising from the unauthorized submission of any information, and/or for any printing, production, technical, typographical, human or other error in the printing, offering or announcement of any prize.&nbsp;</p> <p>By participating in the Contest and/or accepting a prize, an entrant/winner consents to and gives the Sponsor(s) the right to use, publish, and display a winner’s (and where applicable an entrant’s) name, likeness, city and state, and prize awarded, for the purpose of advertising, trade, publicity and promotional purposes in any media now known or hereafter discovered, worldwide, and on the Web, in perpetuity, without review, notification or approval, and without additional consideration, unless prohibited by law. &nbsp;Each entrant/winner also understands and agrees that he/she is providing information to Future US, Inc. and not to Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Facebook, Inc., Maingear Corporation, Crytek GmbH, or Electronic Arts Inc.&nbsp;</p> <p>10. &nbsp;LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: &nbsp;</p> <p>Entrants agree that by participating in the Contest they release the Releasees from any liability in connection with: (a) Entries that are ineligible as a result of being lost, late, illegible, damaged, incomplete, inaccurate, delayed, unintelligible, non-delivered, stolen, postage due, or misdirected, or the failure to capture any such information; (b) Any typographical or other human or technical errors in the offer or administration of the Contest, including but not limited to errors in advertising, these official rules, the selection and announcement of a winner(s), or the distribution/awarding of a prize(s); (c) Any omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay, misdirection, damage, availability, accessibility, miscommunications, injury, technical malfunctions or traffic congestion on the Internet/telephone network, or at any website (including Facebook, Inc.’s), satellite, computer, telephone, cellular or cable transmissions or lines, or any combination thereof; (d) The unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries; (e) Jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions, computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or for any other errors of any kind, whether human, technical, mechanical, electronic or network, including, without limitation, any errors which may occur in connection with the administration of the Contest or in any Contest-related materials; and (f) Damage to en entrant or other person’s system or equipment occasioned by participation in this Contest or downloading materials from the Contest website, or any combination thereof. &nbsp;Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of the Contest or website, as solely determined by the Sponsor(s), will be disqualified (and all associated entries will be void), and Sponsors reserve the right to terminate such entrant’s eligibility to participate in this or any other promotion offered by Sponsor(s). &nbsp;Entries generated by robotic, programmed, script, macro or other automated means or by any means which subvert the entry process will be disqualified. &nbsp;</p> <p>Sponsor(s) reserve the right to modify these rules for clarification purposes without materially affecting the term and conditions of the Contest. &nbsp;In the event that the Contest is infected by a computer virus/worm/bug, or is not capable of running or being executed as planned (as a result of but not limited to an error, omission, defect, delay, misdirection, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, action of entrants, or technical failure) or any other cause which in the sole opinion of Sponsor(s) corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest, Sponsor(s) reserves the right in their sole discretion to disqualify any suspect entry or entrant and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest. &nbsp;In the event of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, notice thereof will be posted at the entry website(s) mentioned above, and winner(s) will be determined solely by Sponsor(s) from among all eligible non-suspect and/or non-disqualified entries prior to action taken or as otherwise deemed fair and appropriate by Sponsors. &nbsp;In such event, Releasees shall have no liability to any entrant who is disqualified due to such an action. &nbsp;Failure to enforce any term of these official rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision.</p> <p>IN NO EVENT WILL THE RELEASEES BE RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR LOSSES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE WEBSITE OR DOWNLOADING FROM AND/OR PRINTING MATERIAL DOWNLOADED FROM THE ENTRY WEBSITE(S) MENTIONED ABOVE, OR ANY OTHER WEBSITE ASSOCIATED WITH SPONSOR(S). &nbsp;WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, EVERYTHING ON THE ENTRY WEBSITE(S) IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT, SOME JURISDICTIONS MAY NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES SO SOME OF THE ABOVE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. &nbsp;CHECK YOUR LOCAL LAWS FOR ANY RESTRICTIONS OR LIMITATIONS REGARDING THESE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSIONS.</p> <p>11. &nbsp;LAW: &nbsp;Subject to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. &nbsp;Void where prohibited or restricted. &nbsp;All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of entrants or Sponsors in connection with any drawing or award, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with the laws of, the State of California, without regard to conflict of law principles. &nbsp;Any cause of action by you with respect to the offer (and/or any information, products or services related thereto) must be instituted within one (1) year after the cause of action arose or be forever waived and barred. &nbsp;All actions shall be subject to the limitations set forth in above. &nbsp;The language in these official rules shall be interpreted as in accordance with its fair meaning and not strictly for or against either party. &nbsp;All legal proceedings arising out of or in connection with the offer of these official rules shall be brought solely in San Mateo County, California, United States of America. &nbsp;You expressly submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of said courts and consent to extraterritorial service of process.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/win_custom-built_crysis-themed_maingear_rig_amd2013#comments amd contest Crysis PC facebook free maingear win News Web Exclusive Thu, 18 Apr 2013 22:45:25 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 25295 at http://www.maximumpc.com No BS Podcast #200: Epic Videocast Edition http://www.maximumpc.com/article/no_bs_podcast/no_bs_podcast_200_epic_videocast_edition <!--paging_filter--><p> <h3>Now with video!</h3> </p><p>Today the Maximum PC crew has crossed a huge milestone and present the&nbsp;<a title="Maximum PC No BS 200" href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/maxpc_200_20130416.mp3" target="_blank">200th episode of the No BS Podcast</a>! And because you guys have asked for it, this special episode is also in video format! Yay!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KwZKwL5pyNw" width="420" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: left;">In the epic podcast/videocast, Maximum PC Editor and podcast host Josh Norem invites Deputy Editor Gordon Mah Ung, Online Managing Editor Jimmy Thang, and Associate Editor Tom McNamara to discuss a wide variety of topics that include:</p> <p>- The history of the <a title="Maximum PC No BS podcast" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/articles/no_bs_podcast" target="_blank">Maximum PC No BS podcast</a></p> <p>- Our awesome&nbsp;<a title="amd maingear pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/win_custom-built_crysis-themed_maingear_rig_amd2013" target="_blank">AMD gaming rig giveaway</a></p> <p>- The <a title="Adam orth" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/snarky_microsoft_director_tweets_support_always-_consoles2013" target="_blank">Adam Orth always-online Xbox 720 controversy</a>&nbsp;(Update following the podcast: He is <a title="Microsoft no longer" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/microsofts_adam_orth_resigns_following_twitter_outburst2013" target="_blank">no longer with Microsoft</a>)</p> <p>- <a title="Razer Edge review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/razer_edge_review2013" target="_blank">Razer Edge review</a></p> <p>- Your reader questions</p> <p>- And rants from Gordon!</p> <p>Let us know what you think of the video format!</p> <p>If you want to catch future episodes, you can:</p> <p>Subscribe on&nbsp;<a title="iTunes" href="http://go.redirectingat.com/?id=92X1160522&amp;site=maximumpc.com&amp;xs=1&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fpodcast%2Fmaximum-pc-no-bs-podcast%2Fid213247824&amp;xguid=627db7057ac7ccfd23f9a503957ff08e&amp;xcreo=0" target="_blank">iTunes</a></p> <p>Fan us on&nbsp;<a title="maximum pc facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/maximumpc" target="_blank">Facebook</a></p> <p>Tweet us on&nbsp;<a title="twitter" href="https://twitter.com/maximumpc" target="_blank">Twitter</a></p> <p>Check out&nbsp;<a title="Maximum PC windows 8 app" href="http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-US/app/maximumpc-online/4db21697-1f67-4152-9e45-488de8ac0f0e" target="_blank">our Windows 8 app</a>&nbsp;in Microsoft's app store</p> <p>Email us at&nbsp;<a title="maximum pc email" href="mailto:maximumpcpodcast@gmail.com" target="_blank">maximumpcpodcast@gmail.com</a></p> <p>Subscribe to our&nbsp;<a title="Maximum PC feed" href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/maximumpc/1337" target="_blank">RSS feed</a></p> <p>Leave us a voicemail at 877-404-1337 x1337</p> <p>Thanks for listening all these weeks/months/years! We truly appreciate your support!</p> <p>-Maximum PC Staff</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/no_bs_podcast/no_bs_podcast_200_epic_videocast_edition#comments # 200 adam orth crysis maingear pc episode gordon mah ung Jimmy Thang josh norem Maximum PC No BS Podcast MPCTV razer edge tom mcnamara video videocast Windows Gaming News No BS Podcast Web Exclusive Tue, 16 Apr 2013 23:30:06 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 25351 at http://www.maximumpc.com Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Beta Impressions http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/adobe_photoshop_lightroom_5_beta_impressions_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Adobe Photoshop Lr5 Beta Now Available</h3> <p>Today <a title="adobe maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/adobe" target="_blank">Adobe</a> officially lifts the veil on the next version of <strong>Lightroom 5</strong>. &nbsp;While still very much a beta product, this is our first chance to take a peek at the new features that await.</p> <p>If you haven’t encountered Lightroom before, this is Adobe’s combination DAM (Digital Asset Management) and RAW processing application that specifically targets workflow for professional photographers. &nbsp;If you’re a photographer and still using a combination of <a title="Photoshop" href="http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html" target="_blank">Photoshop</a> and Adobe Bridge, this application will save your ass.</p> <p>So what’s new and cool in Lightroom 5? &nbsp;We’ve stated in the past that every time we need Photoshop to accomplish some basic manipulation, it feels like a failure on the part of Lightroom to deliver. &nbsp;We’re pleased to see that Adobe has taken this to heart and supercharged a number of Lightroom’s existing tools which we will outline below!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/01_healing-brush.jpg" alt="healing brush lr5" title="healing brush lr5" width="620" height="388" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Healing Brush</strong></p> <p><strong>Healing Brush: </strong>&nbsp;If you chose to simply click the tool in-place, it functions as before. &nbsp;If you click and drag the cursor around, you can paint custom shapes to heal non-circular patches. &nbsp;Another awesome change here is the ability to set the transparency on the correction, so you no longer need to build layers in Photoshop when attempting to merely soften the appearance of flaws, but not remove them entirely. &nbsp;(A good example would be a portrait photographer who wants to soften a line, but not completely eliminate it.) &nbsp;If you often heal dust spots in your images, you’ll also appreciate an overlay that helps you to locate spots more quickly. &nbsp;This stands out as one particular operation that previously required Photoshop for more sophisticated operations, and now we can accomplish more right in Lightroom itself.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/02_upright-tool-a-before.jpg" alt="upright tool before" title="upright tool before" width="620" height="388" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Upright tool (before)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154082/03_upright-tool-b-after.jpg" alt="upright tool after" title="upright tool after" width="620" height="388" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Upright tool (after)</strong></p> <p><strong>Upright Tool:</strong> &nbsp;The upright tool automates straightening images. &nbsp;A new panel on the existing <em>Lens Corrections</em> pane in the develop module offers multiple options for correcting skew, rotation, and other little slips that can happen when photographing subjects by hand. &nbsp;It offers a fully automated option, and other options for prioritizing vertical lines or horizontal lines. &nbsp;Our experience with this so far has been pretty good - saving a lot of time over tinkering with the manual sliders in Lightroom, or even worse going out to Photoshop to manually stretch and pull corners into correction. &nbsp;Again, here’s a tool that should save you from depending on Photoshop for all but the most complex corrections.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/04_radial-gradient-tool.jpg" alt="radial gradient tool" title="radial gradient tool" width="620" height="388" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Radial Gradient tool</strong></p> <p><strong>Radial Gradient Tool:</strong> &nbsp;Have you ever wished you could apply an off-center post-crop vignette? &nbsp;Your prayers have been answered with this little addition. &nbsp;In fact the name “radial gradient tool” doesn’t fully reveal the tool’s true capabilities, because it provides all the same controls available to the Graduated Filter tool, so you have control over not just exposure, but also sharpness, contrast, whitebalance, etc. &nbsp;By default, this tool affects anything outside the selection area, but it can also be inverted to affect anything inside the selection. &nbsp;In previous versions of Lightroom, you could build this effect manually using the mask brush or graduated filter tools, but this is a more precise and much faster way of achieving the same result.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/05_smart-previews.jpg" alt="smart previews" title="smart previews" width="620" height="388" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Smart Previews</strong></p> <p><strong>Smart Previews: </strong>&nbsp;We’re very excited about this one. &nbsp;We keep our master catalog on our supercharged desktop computers, but often we have to work on the road. &nbsp;Shifting all the RAW files to a laptop for transportation can mean a huge data move, but without the RAW files we can’t do any meaningful work in the Develop module. &nbsp;Enter Smart Preview files. &nbsp;This is an enhanced preview that’s based on the DNG’s lossy spec. &nbsp;It’s high-res enough to zoom in and judge focus and sharpness, but not so high res that the files are large. &nbsp;In fact, they move around quite snappily. &nbsp;The quality is good enough to allow some pretty dramatic exposure adjustments (we’re seeing +/- 2 to 3 stops) and full whitebalance control. &nbsp;We’d even go so far as to suggest that you could produce output good enough for a blog or social media post from Smart Preview files. &nbsp;Once you’re done working on the road, re-import the catalog, and Lightroom is smart enough to apply all of your advanced retouching to the original master RAW files. &nbsp;Sexy!</p> <p><strong>Video Slideshow:</strong> &nbsp;The cinematographers and hybrid shooters in the crowd will enjoy the ability to mix video and stills into a single slideshow. &nbsp;You’ll also get enhanced color and effects abilities right inside of Lightroom for your video files.</p> <p><strong>Book Module Updates:</strong> &nbsp;A smattering of updates to the Book Module provides additional flexibility in layout and customization controls.</p> <p>All in all, there are a number of great changes coming in Lightroom 5 that will further reduce our dependence on Photoshop, and when working in a volume production environment, that’s something we can get behind.</p> <p>Conspicuously left off this list are changes relating to the performance and efficiency of some of the core Lightroom behaviors that we’ve <a href="lightroom 4 review">criticized in the past</a>. &nbsp;We hesitate to dive too deeply into performance criticism when our tested product is still pre-announcement beta, but we also don’t think there’s any reason to hope these issues will be addressed before final release of version 5.</p> <p>If you’re curious about the new features and would like to tinker with them yourself, the beta is now available for download at <a title="lightroom 5 official site" href="http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom5/" target="_blank">http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom5/</a>. &nbsp;Remember, never use beta products on your master files!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/adobe_photoshop_lightroom_5_beta_impressions_2013#comments Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 batching beta download image impressions light room lr5 maximum pc Media Applications photography photos processing Software Software News Features Web Exclusive Tue, 16 Apr 2013 19:28:57 +0000 Gavin Farrington 25371 at http://www.maximumpc.com 20 Awesome Screensavers http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/screensaver2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A screensaver retrospective</h3> <p>Turn back the clock to about a decade ago, and the <strong>screensaver</strong> was THE standard piece of software on any computer. This wasn’t because they helped PC performance – if anything, they wasted memory space. The real reason they were an accessory every PC couldn’t go without was because of our <a title="CRT" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode_ray_tube" target="_blank">Cathode Ray Tube</a> (CRT) monitors. These CRT screens were the standard display used by millions of computers worldwide. However, they suffered from the threat of "<a title="burn in" href="http://parishmc.com/parish/DSCN2774.jpg" target="_blank">burn-in</a>." For the uninitiated, burn-in&nbsp;was when an image remained on the screen for too long and caused a phosphor compound that would leave a ghostly etching of the image permanently on the screen.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/matrix_0.jpg" alt="matrix screensaver" title="matrix screensaver" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>For a gallery of our 20 favorite screensavers, scroll to the bottom of the page!</em></strong></p> <p>Enter the screensaver, a clever piece of software that would automatically start up when a computer was left idle for a certain amount of time. Living up to its name, this was a clever little program that came to be the savior of monitors everywhere. The first ever screensaver was just a <a title="blank screensaver" href="http://img188.exs.cx/img188/4155/screensaver.jpg" target="_blank">blank screen</a>, but that all changed in 1989 when the <em>Magic Screensaver&nbsp;</em>was developed and freely distributed among almost all PC users worldwide. Its incredible popularity soon gave birth to a new genre of programs, led by Macintosh’s <em><a title="After Dark" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Dark_(software)" target="_blank">After Dark</a></em> (quickly ported across to the PC). Soon idle computers in offices across the world were displaying <a title="flying toasters" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1w1SQ3ezh8" target="_blank">flying toasters</a> and all sorts of visual oddities.</p> <p>The 1990s were the boom period for computing. You could find a computer in offices, schools and homes everywhere. More computers meant more screensavers, with hundreds of developers releasing all manner of monitor saving applications. Companies soon clicked onto the branding and free advertising possibilities, with films, cars and sports screensavers proving to be particularly popular. You couldn’t avoid screensavers then; they were as pervasive as could be.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, that was then, and nowadays CRT monitors are yesterday’s technology. In fact, you would be hard pressed to even find a CRT monitor for sale these days. With the advancement of the LCD (<a title="LCD" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid-crystal_display" target="_blank">Liquid Crystal Display</a>) and other monitors, displays that no longer suffer from burn-in, the humble screensaver has largely become obsolete. Of course, Microsoft still bundles screensavers with its modern Windows releases (with 3D Text, Bubbles, etc.), but they are just an optional extra.&nbsp;</p> <p>While the industry is not as large as it used to be, there are still plenty of reasons to open the digital door to screensavers again. Granted, the majority of today’s free screensavers you find on the Internet are aimed at children, but delve a little deeper and you can find some crackers out there. Just have a look at what you’re missing out on in our free Screensaver gallery below and let us know what your favorites are!</p> <p><em>Note: You are welcome to check out the third-party download links for these screensaver programs below, but it's a good idea to use&nbsp;<a title="virustotal.com" href="https://www.virustotal.com" target="_blank">virustotal.com</a> to check if these programs contain any adware.&nbsp;</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/screensaver2013#comments background CRT fish tank free screensaver gallery HAL lcd matrix maximum pc Windows Features Web Exclusive Tue, 09 Apr 2013 19:51:39 +0000 Mark Pilkington 25321 at http://www.maximumpc.com Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Review http://www.maximumpc.com/starcraft_2_heart_swarm_review2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Heart of the Swarm is one great (Zerg) rush</h3> <p>Absence makes the heart grow fonder. &nbsp;That, or tentacles – because it’s certainly not <a title="StarCraft Sarah Kerrigan" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Sarah_Kerrigan" target="_blank">Sarah Kerrigan</a>’s disposition that keeps cowboy-turned-space-marine&nbsp;<a title="Jim Raynor SC" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Jim_Raynor" target="_blank">Jim Raynor</a> chasing after his queen in <a title="blizzard maxpc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/blizzard" target="_blank">Blizzard</a>’s <strong><a title="heart of the swarm official site" href="http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/games/hots/" target="_blank">Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm</a></strong>.&nbsp;</p> <p>We’re not spoiling anything you haven’t already seen on any of the game’s trailers – or box art. &nbsp;Kerrigan is back and ready to lead her squishy-sounding army of <a title="Zerg SC2" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Zerg" target="_blank">Zerg</a> to victory once again, flattening out any speed bumps in her way within one of the three plots Blizzard knows how to write nowadays: The good old Revenge Quest. &nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/heart_of_the_swarm_review.jpg" alt="Heart of the Swarm review" title="Heart of the Swarm review" width="620" /></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Kerrigan is back, and she's pissed!</em></strong></p> <p>The speed at which her allegiances flip would give Two-Face a run for his money, though we commend Blizzard for at least giving Kerrigan more of a <a title="Stannis Baratheon" href="http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Stannis_Baratheon" target="_blank">Stannis Baratheon</a>-like depth versus, say, the <a title="Terminator" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088247/" target="_blank">Terminator</a>&nbsp;— as in, she’s more of an honorable badass than just a blatant killing machine (though she sure does her fair share of killing!).</p> <p>The basic plot of the game takes 20 total missions to get through and two sentences to write out, not counting some of the campaign’s evolution-themed mini-missions (we’ll get to that in a bit). &nbsp;Kerrigan wants to kill Dominion Emperor <a title="Arcturus Mengsk" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Arcturus_Mengsk" target="_blank">Arcturus Mengsk</a> because he tried to have her bumped off in <a title="Starcraft 2 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/starcraft_ii_wings_liberty_review">Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty</a>. &nbsp;A stranger “find the origin of the Zerg” and “prepare for battle against the great unknown” storyline interweaves with the revenge plot, but it’s not nearly as exciting to kill regular, old Zerg or the religiously high-strung <a title="protoss" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Protoss" target="_blank">Protoss</a>&nbsp;as it is to tear little humans limb from digital limb.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/vCsGTP3-Jlw" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Heart of the Swarm's official trailer</em></strong></p> <p>We sound like we’re grumpy about the game; we’re not. Blizzard struggled to come up with an interesting plot that wasn’t downright guessable in <a title="Diablo 3 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/diablo_iii_review" target="_blank">Diablo 3</a>; it continues to struggle in Heart of the Swarm. &nbsp;But, ignoring this bit, this title delivers plenty of engaging gameplay (and a lovely tweaked interface, to boot) that kept us satisfied through two full playthroughs. &nbsp;</p> <p>Kudos to the company’s ingenious designers —Blizzard’s gotten much better at using the Starcraft II engine to stretch the limits of typical real-time strategy gameplay. We loved the diversity of the missions the game summons forth: Smaller <a title="alien ridley scott" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078748/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">Alien</a>-like battles in ships or buildings (including a delightful bit where you evolve from a small, chestburster-like larva to a unit-pooping <a title="Broodmother" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Broodmother" target="_blank">Broodmother</a> by infesting innocent animals), frantic missions that require you to complete objectives before something horrible happens (like a giant <a title="battlecruiser" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Battlecruiser" target="_blank">Battlecruiser</a> mowing you over), and missions that attempt to throw boss fights into a real-time strategy game.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/2_smaller.png" alt="Heart of the Swarm snow" title="Heart of the Swarm snow" width="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">One of our favorite campaign missions has you decimating the poor Protoss after they periodically get frozen still. &nbsp;Clearly, they never quite mastered space heater technology.</span></p> <p>Granted, the major example thereof – the mission entitled "Supreme" — does contain a final battle that’s nearly a carbon copy of the <a title="Belial Diablo 3" href="http://diablo.wikia.com/wiki/Belial" target="_blank">Belial</a> fight in Diablo III. &nbsp;We’ll forgive Blizzard for drawing from the same well on that one if for nothing else than our sheer surprise at seeing the faithful recreation in an RTS game. &nbsp;Also, it’s a pretty feisty challenge on “Brutal” difficulty.</p> <p>Since Heart of the Swarm centers on Kerrigan for most of the campaign, the star of the show gains power as you complete various missions and the bonus objectives sprinkled therein. &nbsp;You aren’t going to want to overlook these extra bits, as a fully-stacked Queen of Blades is quite the force to be reckoned with – one that’s able to singlehandedly drive the pain train across a number of baddies even on the game’s toughest difficulty setting. &nbsp;Which brings us to one of our few beefs with the raw gameplay of Heart of the Swarm: It feels pretty easy.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/1.png" alt="Heart of the Swarm Kerrigan" title="Heart of the Swarm Kerrigan" width="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Blizzard’s writers might not be able to create a plot, but its CG department can sure make some breathtaking cutscenes.</em></strong></p> <p>To clarify, we’re not Starcraft II experts; Bronze League is where we spend most of our time, the lowest challenge tier within Blizzard’s multiplayer matchmaking. &nbsp;Still, Heart of the Swarm’s single-player campaign is more of a cakewalk compared to its predecessor, Wings of Liberty. &nbsp;To say Kerrigan is overpowered is a bit of an understatement. &nbsp;Combining her formidable powers with decent strategy and plenty of <a title="hydralisks" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Hydralisk" target="_blank">Hydralisks</a> and <a title="StarCraft 2 roach" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Roach" target="_blank">Roaches</a> took us to victory after victory without nary a sweat being broken.</p> <p>Part of the Heart of the Swarm’s appeal lies in the fact that the Zerg – biological creatures that they are – can benefit from a variety of upgrades that you can use to customize each unit you bring to the battlefield (technically, hatch) based on the kind of Starcraft player that you are. &nbsp;And that’s what made our second playthrough just as fun as the first: The ability to try out different combinations of units and unit upgrades – not to mention Kerrigan’s powers – are wickedly fun for those looking to spice up the campaign with a little creativity.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/3_smaller.jpg" alt="StarCraft 2 swarm" title="StarCraft 2 swarm" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong><em>Sometimes, Heart of the Swarm gives you a ton of units and says, “Hey, go destroy stuff.” &nbsp;And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.</em></strong></p> <p>Blizzard’s smart, as encouraging players to experiment with diverse tactics also teaches you how to think strategy like a true multiplayer Starcraft player. &nbsp;To get even more meta, many of the campaign missions themselves gently introduce you to techniques that you’ll want to master — like micro control (to win the campaign’s boss battles) and macro strategy (when a campaign mission forces you to divide your attention as far as it’ll go) — if you expect to have any hope of beating your online peers.</p> <p>Each of the races get a few new goodies to play with in the multiplayer matches, and it appears that no one faction has really been able to dominate the competitive landscape with any of the additions (go figure; the <a title="Protoss Mothership Core" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Mothership_core" target="_blank">Protoss Mothership Core</a> isn’t sealing victories left and right). &nbsp;In fact, the Protoss are still the least-used of the races among the top-20 Starcraft players in the Americas region as of this review’s writing, but we wager everyone will realize just how cool these bravado-gushing warriors are once the game’s second expansion, <a title="Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void " href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/StarCraft_II:_Legacy_of_the_Void" target="_blank">Legacy of the Void</a>, hits shelves. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/7_smallest.jpg" alt="heart of the swarm moba" title="heart of the swarm moba" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong><em>Heart of the Swarm even tips its hat to the popular “Defense of the Ancients”-style gameplay that originated as a Warcraft III custom map.</em></strong></p> <p>If anything, the Zerg get hosed on the home field advantage in Heart of the Swarm’s multiplayer. &nbsp;Again, this depends on your playing style – if you’re big on casting units, you’ll love the insidious <a title="Viper" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Viper" target="_blank">Viper</a>, though we never found much joy slapping the Zerg’s new “Swarm Hosts” slash mobile guard towers in a defensive position. &nbsp;Give us something with big teeth and painful punching any day – or explosions. &nbsp;We’d rather burrow some <a title="Baneling" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Baneling" target="_blank">Banelings</a>.</p> <p>The Protoss get nothing but flyers: The aforementioned Mothership Core, which you can ultimately upgrade to the game’s biggest multiplayer insult, as well as the ever-annoying <a title="Oracle" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Oracle" target="_blank">Oracle</a> and a flying homage to the Siege Tank, the Protoss <a title="Tempest" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Tempest" target="_blank">Tempest</a>. &nbsp;Terrans can shift their speedy <a title="Hellion" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Hellion" target="_blank">Hellions</a> into <a title="Hellbet" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Hellbat">Hellbats</a>, which ups their ability to pour painful flames over ground troops even more. <a title="Widow Mine" href="http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Widow_mine" target="_blank">Widow Mines</a>, the second new Terran unit to join Heart of the Swarm, are just downright gleeful to plant around potential expansion chokepoints. &nbsp;Your friends will quickly learn to never again try to sneak in a base expansion using a lone worker.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/5_smaller.jpg" alt="Heart of the Swarm boss" title="Heart of the Swarm boss" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong><em>If Dune’s sandworms belched fire, well, that’s about what you’d get for this boss battle in Heart of the Swarm. &nbsp;Spoiler: Avoid the fire.</em></strong></p> <p>We also commend Blizzard for doing everything it can to ease a tentative gamer’s transition to multiplayer in Heart of the Swarm. &nbsp;The game’s built-in training mode, a “Versus A.I.” that automatically adjusts difficulty based on an analysis of your Starcraft skills, and the game’s comprehensive replay feature (and the minutia of its per-match data dumps) couldn’t possibly hold a gamer’s hand any more in those first, nervous steps before one starts sending waves of units to their online deaths.</p> <p>It can be said that Blizzard’s only real reason for providing a campaign within its Starcraft series is to encourage tentative gamers to jump into the real reason for the game’s existence: online multiplayer. &nbsp;Heart of the Swarm’s poor plot and relatively easy gameplay does seem indicative of that fact, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t have plenty of fun laying waste to planet after planet in Kerrigan’s (not quite) epic tale of revenge.</p> <p>Blizzard saves much of its designer polish for the raw game itself: Heart of the Swarm looks great, plays great, and comes with plenty of ways to extend your interest in the Starcraft universe as a whole once you’ve strolled your way through the game’s core campaign. &nbsp;We only hope that Blizzard hasn’t made its game too tight to tweak; a few extra new units, a new building or two, or even bringing some of the upgrade focus of the game’s single-player campaign into the multiplayer world could have really blown the Heart out of this Swarm. But we still love it so.</p> <p><strong>Price: $39.99</strong> (requires Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty to play), <a title="StarCraft website" href="http://www.starcraft.com" target="_blank">www.starcraft.com</a></p> <p>ESRB: Teen</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/starcraft_2_heart_swarm_review2013#comments blizzard changes expansion Heart of the Swarm review ii maximum pc sc2 StarCraft 2 units Software Games Gaming News Reviews Web Exclusive Thu, 04 Apr 2013 20:40:00 +0000 David Murphy 25301 at http://www.maximumpc.com April Fools' 2013 Roundup http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/april_fools_roundup2013 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/aprilfools.jpg" alt="April Fool's Meme" title="April Fool's Meme" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>15 of our favorite April Fools' gags</h3> <p>For the most part, we tend to steer clear of totally bogus tech stories on April Fools' Day, though it's not always easy separating fact from fiction. <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/urinal_gaming_good_idea_or_horrible_concept2013">Crazy things</a> happen all the time, and since April Fools' fell on a Monday this time around, traditionally one of the busiest news days of the week, it was even more challenging discerning between factual and phony announcements.</p> <p>It's also part of the fun. For example, is Scope's brilliantly conceived <a href="http://www.scopemouthwash.com/bacon/" target="_blank">bacon flavored mouthwash</a> a real thing? That's a good question to ask Maximum PC Deputy Editor Gordon Mah Ung if you decide to <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/maximum_pc_introduces_rent--gordon_program2013">rent him for a day</a> to help with his legal woes (while you're at it, ask him what became of the "<a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/[primary-term]/old_school_monday_9_best_fake_ads_review_parodies_bizarro_pc_perspectives">Bitchin' fast! 3D 2000</a>" graphics card featured in the September 1999 issue of the magazine). That's but one example of many, and rather than skip over them all, we've put together a gallery of our favorite faux announcements.</p> <p>What was your favorite prank this year? Let us know in the comments below!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/april_fools_roundup2013#comments 900d april fools day best pranks Deus Ex: Human Defiance features gallery google nose Toshiba Shibasphere News Features Web Exclusive Tue, 02 Apr 2013 18:19:25 +0000 Paul Lilly 25282 at http://www.maximumpc.com PAX East 2013: Cosplay Gallery http://www.maximumpc.com/article/gaming/pax_east_2013_cosplay_gallery <!--paging_filter--><h3>40 images from the PAX East 2013 show floor</h3> <p>What are conventions without cosplay? Freaking boring! We spent last weekend having a blast at PAX East, and found no shortage of cool get-ups to drop our jaws at. The dedication, time, and craft that these folks put into their outfits is formidable, as we learned first-hand in Boston. Take a look through and see some amazing costumes that range from hulking space marines to a gender-bending Batman! Or should that be Batwoman? Either way, check out the gallery below!</p> <p><em><strong>Note:</strong> Our CMS automatically crops to the middle of each image for the previews. You can click on each individual photo for the full-size shot.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/gaming/pax_east_2013_cosplay_gallery#comments ahre akali ashe cosplay costume ezreal fiddlesticks League of Legends lol maximum pc pax east 2013 Gaming News Features Web Exclusive Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:20:48 +0000 Adam Harshberger 25246 at http://www.maximumpc.com PAX East 2013: Indie Games Roundup http://www.maximumpc.com/article/gaming/pax_east_indie_games2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Highlighting 11 indie games from PAX East 2013</h3> <p>At PAX East, indie games booths often lack the flair and sheer bombast of the imposing fortresses that the AAA games inhabit. But venture inside and you’ll often find games that boast more sheer imagination and passion than what major studios are producing. We took it upon ourselves to dive headfirst into the bass-booming, fanboy-shrieking, awesome-stuff-riddled show floor to find the coolest indie games. Take a gander through the gallery below to see what caught our eyes.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/gaming/pax_east_indie_games2013#comments apotheon contrast divekick don't starve drunken robot indie games maximum pc outlast pax east 2013 pc raysthedead Gaming News Features Web Exclusive Tue, 26 Mar 2013 22:00:30 +0000 Adam Harshberger 25243 at http://www.maximumpc.com 20 Weirdest Adventure Games http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/20_weirdest_adventure_games2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A look back at the weirdest PC adventure games</h3> <p>PC<strong> adventure games</strong> have seen a much-needed resurgence in the past couple of years, attracting newer audiences and developers who wish to get in on the fun. With renewed interest in the once-forgotten genre, we're seeing sequels to cult classic, new tales with familiar heroes, and in the case of some newcomers, those who dare to push the boundaries of convention. Going beyond simple detective stories, murder mysteries, and real-world trappings is welcome, and while we have a handful of modern examples doing so, the edgiest games were found in the genre's formative years. Some hardly made sense. Others ended up weirding out or offending and alienating audiences completely. We're celebrating the oddities of twenty of the strangest PC adventure games ever. Let's get weird.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/20_weirdest_adventure_games2013#comments adventure games dark eye day of the tentacle full throttle Gaming grim fandango maximum pc pc weird weirdest News Features Web Exclusive Mon, 18 Mar 2013 22:32:22 +0000 Brittany Vincent 25204 at http://www.maximumpc.com Column: EA Should Feel Ashamed About SimCity's DRM http://www.maximumpc.com/article/columns/column_ea_should_feel_ashamed_about_simcitys_drm2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>EA's SimCity DRM is bad and they should feel bad</h3> <p>Some people believe <a title="simcity piracy" href="http://torrentfreak.com/swiss-govt-downloading-movies-and-music-will-stay-legal-111202/" target="_blank">piracy has no negative effect</a> on sales. I am not one of those people. So I sympathize with EA's desire to combat piracy with <strong>SimCity</strong>. However, I do not believe that requiring users to always be connected to EA's servers to be the best solution to the problem, especially when those <a title="server crash" href="http://herocomplex.latimes.com/games/simcity-server-failures-lock-out-players/" target="_blank">servers come crashing down</a> and prevent honest customers from playing legitimate copies of their game.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/simcity2013.jpg" alt="disaster NOT averted" title="disaster NOT averted" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Disaster NOT averted</em></p> <p>As a result of this massive fiasco, gamers have flocked to Amazon in droves to negatively rate the game, giving it <a title="amazon sim city average" href="http://betabeat.com/2013/03/amazon-takes-down-sim-city-but-not-before-the-haters-gave-it-more-than-4000-one-star-reviews/" target="_blank">a one-star average</a> from over 4,000 reviews. This prompted the large e-tailer to <a title="block the sale" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21712910" target="_blank">block the sale</a> of the game.</p> <p>Dealing with the game purchase through EA's digital download <a title="origin" href="http://store.origin.com/" target="_blank">Origin</a> service can be even <a title="EA worse" href="http://www.gamechup.com/ea-refuses-to-refund-user-for-simcity-threatens-account-ban/" target="_blank">worse</a>. One customer pointed out that he was not only refused a refund, but was threatened with a ban for trying to force the issue.&nbsp;</p> <p>Why, EA, would you do all of this when you've recently received the reputation of "<a title="worst company in america" href="lhttp://www.gamespot.com/news/ea-named-worst-company-in-america-by-consumerist-6370000" target="_blank">worst company in America</a>?"&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/ea_response.jpg" alt="EA response" title="EA response" width="620" height="582" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>An EA representative refuses to refund a customer for SimCity and threatens to ban him</em></p> <p>But the bigger question I have for EA is, "Did you really think this was going to be a good idea?" We don't have to look back very far to see how well it panned out for <a title="diablo 3" href="http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/games/d3/" target="_blank">Diablo 3</a>. Blizzard's game was met with staunch criticism for requiring users to always be connected, even if gamers only wanted to play the single-player portion of the game. The result was the <a title="error code" href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/05/15/diablo-3-errors-plague-launch-are-you-struggling-to-connect/" target="_blank">infamous error code 37</a>, which, like SimCity's DRM issue, was greeted by server crashes and prevented legitimate customers from playing the game. Diablo's online community is now a barren wasteland of its former self.&nbsp;</p> <p>Does DRM prevent piracy? No, and sometimes it can even encourage it. EA should know this best considering its game <a title="spore" href="http://www.spore.com/ftl" target="_blank">Spore</a> became the most pirated game when it was released in 2008 <em><a title="DRM fail" href="http://torrentfreak.com/spore-most-pirated-game-ever-thanks-to-drm-080913/" target="_blank">because</a></em> of its draconian measures. One lesson history has taught us is that if pirates want to pirate your game, they'll do it.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the end SimCity's DRM measure hurt the honest customer, tarnished the reputation of a <a title="maxis" href="http://www.maxis.com/" target="_blank">respected development studio</a>, and has clearly begun to hurt the game's sales (which is ironic considering its intentions). It's a lose-lose situation no matter how you spin it.&nbsp;</p> <p>I understand if EA wants to take measures to protect itself from piracy, but there are other creative, more beneficial ways to do it. Some developers like Valve have even given away games for free (see: <a title="TF2 free" href="http://www.teamfortress.com/" target="_blank">Team Fortress 2</a>&nbsp;and <a title="dota 2" href="http://blog.dota2.com/" target="_blank">Dota 2</a>) and have made <a title="fortune" href="http://www.neogamr.net/news/valve-in-game-store-has-made-more-money-than-direct-team-fortress-2-sales" target="_blank">a fortune</a> off of selling purely cosmetic items. I don't see why SimCity couldn't have done something similar. Instead, we got a lazy solution that resulted in a colossal mess.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><em>The last SimCity game Jimmy Thang played was SimCity 2000 back in 1995. He didn't have an internet connection then but was still able to enjoy the hell out of the game.&nbsp;</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/columns/column_ea_should_feel_ashamed_about_simcitys_drm2013#comments always online diablo 3 download drm EA maximum pc Maxis origin piracy simcity News Columns Features Web Exclusive Sat, 09 Mar 2013 01:03:56 +0000 Jimmy Thang 25156 at http://www.maximumpc.com League of Legends - Team Curse Interview http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/team_curse_league_legends_interview2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>An in-depth Q&amp;A with one of the best professional LoL teams</h3> <p>With an astounding <a title="32 million players" href="http://na.leagueoflegends.com/news/community-grows-32-million-players" target="_blank">32 million registered players</a> and <a title="lol one billion hours" href="http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/league-legends-players-log-1-billion-hours-month-1C6423906" target="_blank">one billion hours</a> of collective playtime each month, <strong><a title="League of Legends" href="http://na.leagueoflegends.com/" target="_blank">League of Legends</a></strong>&nbsp;(LoL) is the <a title="most played videogame lol" href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57531578-1/league-of-legends-the-worlds-most-played-video-game/" target="_blank">most-played videogame</a> in the world. The free-to-play title pits two teams of five players against each other and has them destroying enemy bases: think team-based tower defense gameplay where players have different designated positions. The deep, complex game is just as competitive as it is popular and features unprecedented lucrative tournaments that have&nbsp;<a title="millions" href="http://www.gamebreaker.tv/esports/league-of-legends/three-million-dollar-tournament/" target="_blank">multi-million dollar prize pools</a>. Throughout the process, LoL has created several gaming rockstars in the burgeoning eSports world.&nbsp;</p> <p>One such rockstar team is top-10-world ranked&nbsp;<strong><a title="team curse" href="http://www.lolpro.com/teamcurse/about" target="_blank">Team Curse</a></strong>. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, the American team currently has a record of 9-2 this season and has garnered sponsorships from such companies as <a title="cooler master" href="http://www.coolermaster.com/" target="_blank">Cooler Master</a>. Team Curse is so well-respected in the community that its players charge up to <a title="lol lessons" href="http://www.lolpro.com/teamcurse/about" target="_blank">$250 an hour</a> for gameplay lessons. While this fee sounds astronomically high for what is nothing more than a videogame practice session, Team Curse tells us that requests for lessons can be at times overwhelming.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC</strong> had the opportunity to conduct an in-depth interview with the beloved team where they talk about their insane practice regimen, discuss what it's like to recieve so much attention from fans, share tips on how to become a better player, and much more. Read on for the full interview.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/team_curse_ad2.jpg" alt="team curse" title="team curse" width="620" height="588" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>From left to right (with played positions): Cop (AD), Nyjacky (AP), Elementz (support), Voyboy (top), Saintvicious (jungler)</em></strong></p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: While you guys have done well in the past, Team Curse is currently destroying the competition this season. What changes to your practice regimen have you guys made?</strong></p> <p>LiQuiD112 (Curse Director of eSports): Preparing for our qualification matches to earn our spot in the <a title="LCS" href="http://competitive.na.leagueoflegends.com/article/season-3-league-legends-championship-series" target="_blank">League of Legend Championship Series</a> (LCS), we knew that we had to put everything on the line. &nbsp;We adopted a strict scrimming (practicing against an opposing team) and replay [watching] schedule. In addition, we use communication exercises to improve synergy in the game that we have leveraged from the military and other high-stress team environments.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: How many hours do you guys practice a day and what does your practice regimen look like?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Saintvicious (jungler): An average day we typically work 12 to 14 hours. We work six days a week, but sometimes we work seven depending on travel schedule. We normally put in 70-80 hour weeks. &nbsp;We scrim for five to eight hours. We do an additional three to five hours of <a title="lol stream" href="http://www.twitch.tv/crs_saintvicious" target="_blank">streaming</a> and self-practice. &nbsp;We strategize, watch replays, and have team meetings where we run drills to improve gameplay. &nbsp;When we travel, our schedule goes a little out of whack depending on our access to internet, flight times, and match schedules.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: Can you guys have fun in pro games or does it mostly feel stressful?</strong></p> <p>Elementz (support): It is always fun, we have one of the best jobs in the world. When you love what you do, it’s always fun, but fun and stress go hand in hand for us.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/9vp_cpTh9sM" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Team Curse prepares for Season 3</em></p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: What kind of impact does audience reaction in tournaments have on you guys?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Cop (AD carry): The best impact is when we are on stage and there are thousands of live people watching us play. &nbsp;Even though we wear noise-canceling headsets, you can still hear the fans - they are THAT loud - shouting and screaming during big team fights. &nbsp;It feeds me this energy and after the match I love looking out into the audience. &nbsp;You see these people with Curse signs, face paint, and all kinds of stuff that makes you really appreciate what you do.</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: Would you say the game is pretty well-balanced? Considering there are over <a title="lol champions" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/League_of_Legends_Wiki" target="_blank">100 characters</a> to choose from, would you say there are some champions that are underpowered or overpowered?</strong></p> <p>Saintvicious: The game is balanced; however, from patch to patch, which happens weekly or biweekly, the champions that are more powered than others changes. &nbsp;For example, this week AP <a title="Tryndamere" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Tryndamere">Tryndamere</a> has become a common ban (in LoL tournaments, teams can ban three enemy champions) because of how powerful the champion’s heal is. &nbsp;<a title="riot games" href="http://www.riotgames.com/" target="_blank">Riot</a> has already nerfed it by 90%! But since the tournaments we play in are always a week or sometimes two weeks behind the [normal] live client, we can abuse these more powered champions. That’s why you’ll see [he] was banned against us in Week 4.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/lol_spectacle.jpg" alt="lol germany" title="lol germany" width="620" height="315" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>IEM – Grand Championships in Hannover, Germany. League of Legends has become quite the spectacle around the world.</em>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: What are the biggest pitfall newer players make and how would you suggest avoiding them?</strong></p> <p>Cop: New players will often jump to blame other players instead of trying to improve themselves. They will go into solo-queue games and complain the jungler is not coming (helping) enough or that another lane is feeding (dying) too much. &nbsp;Instead of worrying about those things, just focus on your own game. &nbsp;Read up on how to play your champion. On sites like <a title="lolpro" href="http://www.lolpro.com/" target="_blank">lolpro.com</a> you can get info on what builds to use, detailed guides on strategy and tactics. &nbsp;When you focus on yourself and improving, you’ll naturally get better at the game.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: Are people too caught up on the "meta" mechanics of the game? Or do all the roles and positions warrant their place?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>NyJacky (AP carry): The meta of the game changes when the patch changes. There is always a ‘fad’ or a champion of the week and players adopt to that champion in the tournament weekend. &nbsp;Most champions are viable, it’s just how you use them. When you play a champion, other teams see your builds and copy you - then it becomes the new ‘op’ or overpowered [setup]. &nbsp;There are a lot of jump-on-the-bandwagon strategies.</p> <p><em>Click the next page to hear who Team Curse thinks is their biggest rivals this season, what they consider their biggest comeback moment is, and more.&nbsp;</em></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Maximum PC: What would be the team's biggest comeback moment?</span></p> <p>Cop: Our match versus <a title="GGU" href="http://leaguepedia.com/wiki/Good_Game_University" target="_blank">Good Game University</a> (GGU). We had two Inhibitors down and they were hitting our <a title="LoL Nexus" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Nexus" target="_blank">Nexus</a>&nbsp;(last structure)&nbsp;ready to finish the game. We ended up acing them (killing all of them) while they were trying to finish the Nexus and counter pushed for the win. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: Which team is the one to beat this season? And what makes them so difficult?</strong></p> <p>Elementz: The best team is probably <a title="Team Dignitas" href="http://leaguepedia.com/wiki/Team_Dignitas" target="_blank">Dignitas</a>. They are a really good team, their communication is excellent and they have <a title="Crumbzz" href="http://leaguepedia.com/wiki/Crumbzz" target="_blank">Crumbzz</a> who is one of the best junglers in the game.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4BUrlfL3Aks" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Team Curse does a meet-and-greet with its passionate fans.</em></p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: What’s more important: a great individual player or five solid players?</strong></p> <p>Elementz: This one is obvious: five solid players. This is a team game, communication is paramount. &nbsp;You are only as strong as your weakest link. &nbsp;Individual skill means nothing if you can’t coordinate and move around the map properly. That is why you see teams that are made up of very high Elo (ranked) players sometimes do horribly in tournaments.</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: Do you guys ever troll (mess around) in non-competitive games? If so, what antics have you guys gotten away with?</strong></p> <p>Elementz: Sometimes when you want to relax after a long day of scrimming, you get to play some fun unorthodox champions that are fun to play. &nbsp;Sometimes those fun games turn into amazing strategies that we use in our professional games. You never know. One of my favorite compositions is <a title="Cassopeia" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Cassiopeia" target="_blank">Cassopeia</a> support and <a title="Signed lol" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Singed" target="_blank">Singed</a> on bot lane...it's so strong!&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/lol_pro_team.jpg" alt="team curse lol" title="team curse lol" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Professional gaming at the top level is serious work.</em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Maximum PC: This is situational, but in general, if you guys kill all members of the enemy team (known as "ace"), is it a better idea to use that time and destroy&nbsp;<a title="LoL turrets/towers" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Turret" target="_blank">turrets</a> or kill <a title="Baron" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Baron_Nashor" target="_blank">Baron</a> and go for the Baron buff? I’ve personally felt that going for Baron has cost me many-a-game.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Saint: This is highly situational it depends on so many different things. &nbsp;It depends on oracle control, the health bars, death timers, how many towers you already have, if you have inhibitors or not, the minion lanes and where they are pushed, item builds, and how many players are left after the ace. &nbsp;With all of that being said, if you can get inhibs - typically it is better than Baron. &nbsp;In most solo-queue games, teams will overextend at the enemy base trying to pick up an inhib and over-stay and then they will get re-aced. &nbsp;It’s always best to take small-bite advantages. When you get greedy and overextend, it almost always backfires.</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: Let’s say you’re pitted up against an unknown enemy team in a tournament. Which three characters would you ban and why?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong><span style="font-weight: normal;">Cop: This is way too hard to answer. &nbsp;It depends on the meta, the patch, red or blue side. In this hypothetical imaginary situation, I guess we would ban some of the more overpowered champions. At the moment that would be Tryndamere, <a title="Xin Zhao" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Xin_Zhao" target="_blank">Xin Zhao</a> and <a title="LoL Kayle" href="http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Kayle" target="_blank">Kayle</a>. &nbsp;Tryndamere because he can fully heal himself with his Q which is on a four-second cool down. Xin because his ganks are godlike and he can tank tower hits. Kayle because she dishes out so much damage and her ultimate can make or break team fights because you can save someone.&nbsp;</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/kcCKvF0Wucg" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Team Curse shows off it's Cooler Master gear.</em></strong></p> <p><strong>Maximum PC: What do you guys think of the other multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games like <a title="dota 2" href="http://blog.dota2.com/" target="_blank">Dota 2</a>, <a title="HON" href="http://www.heroesofnewerth.com/" target="_blank">HoN</a>, and <a title="smite" href="http://www.hirezstudios.com/smitegame/home" target="_blank">Smite</a>?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Voyboy: They don’t even compare to League. They will have their own loyal fan bases but League of Legends dominates them all. Riot games has made significant investments in eSports and ensuring that their games have more fans than all of those combined.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Maximum PC: Thanks for the time, guys. We'll certainly be routing for you this season.</span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/team_curse_league_legends_interview2013#comments cop elementz interview League of Legends liquid112 lol maximum pc nyjacky saintvicious team curse voyboy News Features Web Exclusive Wed, 06 Mar 2013 20:43:28 +0000 Jimmy Thang 25126 at http://www.maximumpc.com 20 Nerd Conventions You Should Attend http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/20_nerd_conventions_you_should_attend2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A chronological gallery of conventions for all levels of geek!</h3> <p>If you've ever wanted to dress up as Batman or Harley Quinn and mingle with fellow cosplayers in full garb (and why <em>wouldn't</em> you want to?), don't worry, you're not alone. There's a convention for that -- several, in fact -- along with conventions for all levels of nerdery, places you can go and get your geek on with fellow science-fiction fanatics, movie buffs, or whatever it is you're into.</p> <p>Don't like dressing up? That's okay, not all conventions are about costumes and makeup. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), for example, is a bona fide gadget-fest that just happens to be located in Las Vegas, as if you needed another reason to visit Sin City. The point is, there are all kinds of conventions out there, and we highly encourage you to get out of the house and attend one. To help you plan your itinerary for the coming year, we've put together a gallery of 20 conventions, in chronological order, that you should attend at least once in your lifetime if you get a chance.</p> <p>Have you gone to any of these conventions? Which ones would you like to go to? Let us know in the comments!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/20_nerd_conventions_you_should_attend2013#comments anime CES comic con comics con conventions cosplay E3 gdc image gallery nerd pax PC gaming quake con Features Web Exclusive Mon, 25 Feb 2013 22:56:04 +0000 Paul Lilly 25078 at http://www.maximumpc.com