While we're big fans of the proven awesomeness of open-source software, we don't automatically download every free application that's labeled as an open-source project. What make more sense is the use of open-source as the tool that effects some kind of massive or otherwise unreachable change in a common device. Case in point is open-source firmware, named not for any philosophical belief behind its creation, but because few would want to heft the banner for these changes themselves. After all, creativity comes from a wide range of sources and inputs--as does software testers. You sure wouldn't want to be the one person working on third-party iPhone firmware, bricking device after device in a quest to add additional functionality that Apple didn't first design.
But that kind of unintended funcitonality is the sole benefit to open-source firmware. Throw those aspirations of community membership and open-source allegiance out the window: You want to increase the power of your device akin to a Sim tinkering his or her hardware to gain mechanical skill points. There's no shame in that. In fact, you can accomplish much by adopting third-party firmware in place of standard manufacturer packages. For example, building increased sound codecs into your MP3 player of choice, or adding on-screen level meters to your digital SLR. You can even turn your router into a bridge, perfect for extending the range of your neighbor's wireless signal so you can thieve his connection from additional locations in your apartment. You can also brick your device.
We jest, but only partially. For the danger of running third-party firmware--safe as many of the packages can seem to be--is that you could render your device of choice unusable. It happens to "real" firmware upgrades; it can happen to "unofficial" firmware upgrades as well, only I venture that you'll probably find more problems in the latter scenario than with a manufacturer's tried-and-tested update. But still, the benefits can often outweigh the risks, especially if you're looking to extend your legacy devices with additional features. An entire ocean of open-source firmware fixes awaits your perusal -- we take a look at some outstanding examples of open-source firmware, and teach you how to install them on your own gadgets!
Windows Vista replaced the antiquated, tape-oriented Windows NT Backup wizard with a new backup system optimized for external hard disks, and some editions also included true "bare metal" disaster recovery. However, Vista's Backup and Restore Center was missing some vital functionality: there was no way to create a Recovery Environment disc to boot your system (you were expected to use your Windows Vista DVD), file and folder backup and system image backup were performed with different programs, and Home Premium users who needed image backup had to purchase a third-party program.
To find out how Windows 7 has completed the transformation of Windows Backup from awkward adolescence into full maturity, join us after the jump.
There’s possibly nothing more confusing than trying to buy a new SDHC card. Do you buy Class 2 or Class 6. Do you care about the “X” rating and should you pay for spring for a premium card? Frankly, even geeks can get confused when faced with a selection of 14 different SDHC cards of varying sizes and ratings – none of which readily make sense. Fear not, we waded through the specs and grabbed a selection of cards for testing to see what really matters.
We begin another trip through the freeware files with a focus on graphics this time around--graphics and zombies. While a majority of the free games in this roundup feature some kind of interesting graphical treatment, there's one straggler that looks a bit like the sprites from SimCopter. But this little gem, of all the games on said list, features a healthy dose of zombie-killing. So for that, I can forgive its less-than-ideal looks.
But enough about that. You want to get to the games. I don't blame you. In fact, just to make sure I'm appeasing your interests, I'm taking a look at a number of different genres this time around. If zombies aren't your thing, or you can't stand the thought of an 8-bit, FPS-style puzzle title, then you'll surely find a winner in one of the other titles on this week's list. From marble-smashing arcade games to awesome little racecar rallies, you're guaranteed to find at least one gem amongst these super-fun freeware titles.
Finish up your finger exercises and put on your wrist sweatbands. Then click the jump, 'cause it's time to game!
Sometimes, you just have to keep things real. Last year, our Dream Machine was a paean to excess, a chrome-plated $17,000 wünder-rig. While we’re still quite fond of that machine, this year we decided to take a different tack and see if we could build a more reasonably priced, but still lust-worthy Dream Machine. Well, actually, we built three of them. While the combined cost of these three machines is about half the price of last year’s rig, we packed a lot of awesome into our relatively tight budgets. The lesson is simple: Dream Machine isn’t about spending a ludicrous amount of cash on a PC, it’s about getting the best rig you can for the money you spend. I think you’ll agree that these three machines pack a ton of power and are all great values.
Without further ado, we give you this year’s crop of Dream Machines.
Previous versions of Windows have included separate folders for documents, music, videos, and photos (such as Windows XP's My Documents, My Pictures, My Videos, and My Music folders). These folders made it convenient to organize and open different types of files - as long as they were stored in the appropriate folder. However, with the increasing popularity of using network shares and external hard disks for media storage, Windows users have faced challenges in file management.
Although shortcuts to additional media locations, symbolic links to other locations (introduced in Windows Vista), and changing the default location used by a user's media files have all been used to cope with the problem, the results for Windows users have been:
A lot of clicking to find media files
No easy way to see all of the media files of a particular type in different locations at the same time
Enter the new Windows 7 libraries feature. To learn how libraries make media management easier and more powerful, join us after the jump.
As we close up yet another month of freeware goodies, it's important to look back and reflect on some of the awesome programs that received a version bump in the past 30 days. It was tough to nail down five free applications that not only upgraded themselves to a new iteration, but ones that successfully packed new and interesting features into their latest builds. There's no overarching theme this week save for that. It's a grab-bag of awesome new software to install; if the lack of a unifying concept horrifies you, don't worry. I'll list out all of this month's freeware roundups in the article below, which you can use as a guide of-sorts to travel back to safer downloading waters.
Click the upgrade button (okay, the jump) and check out the best of this month's updated freeware!
Florence had a moment to chat with Valve's Chet Faliszek about Left 4 Dead 2, including info on the new boss monsters, the new uncommon common zombies, and the best costumes he's seen at the show. Hit the jump for the full story!
This is it – the post you've been waiting for. After four days of wandering the show floor, sitting in on movie studio panels, and epic line waiting, we've come out of Comic-Con 2009 with the mother load: 600 (yes, SIX HUNDRED) photos of the most intricate, sexy, and spellbinding cosplay that showed up this year. Star Wars and Superheroes were well represented, but we also snapped up shots of PC gaming icons, including several Team Fortress 2 teams and an amazing Left 4 Dead group. Legions of slave Leias weren't afraid to bare their skin and the forces of Cobra proudly showed off their guns. We even saw a bunch of familiar faces from last year's pictorial. Grab and seat, put your day on hold, and enjoy the best cosplay gallery from the best year of Comic-Con ever!
Click on to check out our most amazing gallery yet.