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.nForce 250Gb
.A Reader Asks...
.Skype Reviewed
.Albatron FX5900XTV
.Corsair PC4400PT
.Matrix Orbital
.PCstats Weekly Tips

Introduction to Skype and VoIP

At CES earlier this year, I was speaking with some folks from IBM about new and notable technology, when the word "Skype" was mentioned. Never having heard of this program from the Swedes who created Kazaa, I pressed for the full low down on what turned out to be a Beta-version Voice over IP pseudo Instant Messaging service. VoIP is an acronym for making phone calls over standard computer networking infrastructure, which has the benefit of doing away with those nasty long distance charges from the phone company. In any event, Mike has written up a good review of the "Skype" software; taking time to explain VoIP, what Skype's call quality sounds like, and some of the limitations and benefits it brings to the table. This is pretty cutting edge stuff, so be prepared to sell those shares in Ma' Bell after you give our review a read.

Also in the PCstats Newsletter this week, we test out Albatron's GeForce FX5900XTV videocard - a blazing-blue-blurr of FPS action if I don't say so myself. Corsair are currently leading our PCstats Memory Poll, so it's only fitting we have a review of the Twinx1024-PC4400 DDR for you to glance over. After that, Colin tests out the Matrix Orbital, a neat little device the case modders in the crowd will like. PCstats' Industry Insights talks about the new nVidia nForce3 250Gb chipset, while in "A Reader Asks..." Mike dishes out helpful hints to rid yourself of a nasty worm. Last, but not least, Colin's Weekly Tech Tip is a must read! Oh the suspense....

Skype Reviewed - Kazaa`s Voice over IP Calling
Read it Now!

It is likely that almost all computer users are familiar with email, and probably instant messaging as well. In a matter of a few years, the Internet has completely changed the way we communicate with each other, with one exception, the Telephone. However, the Internet does provide possibilities for making the calling process more flexible, and most importantly, more affordable. Today we are going to look at Skype, an Internet Phone application currently going through a free beta-test, and generating a lot of buzz. We'll also examine how Internet telephony works, and why you should care. It's been said that Internet based voice calling will replace traditional telephone networks, the only question being how long it will take. Skype could be one of the applications that make this a reality. Continue Here>>

Albatron FX5900XTV Videocard Review
Read it Now!

Mirroring many other FX5900XT implementations, the Albatron FX5900XTV comes backed by 128MB of DDR RAM. It supports VIVO thanks to the Philips SAA7114H chipset, and comes with the traditional VIVO break out box and S-Video cable so you can hook your PC up to a television. The Albatron FX5900XTV is based on the standard nVIDIA FX5900 PCB reference design, albeit with a custom copper heatsink and classy blue colour. Even at stock speeds the Albatron FX5900XTV is a pretty fast videocard... but who this day ever settles for stock speeds? Continue Here>>
Corsair TwinX1024-4400PT Platinum Memory Review
Read it Now!Corsair has recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, which is quite a milestone for a memory company! These two TwinX1024-4400PT Platinum Edition DDR modules are 512MB in size, and run at 550MHz. This memory isn't as fancy as the LED-illuminated TwinX1024-4000PRO models PCstats tested previously, but they are faster. As you can see Corsair use platinum coloured aluminum heatspreaders to help keep the memory cool. Officially the TwinX4400PT is designed to run on Intel systems (Corsair state that in their documentation) and is rated for dual channel configuration at 275 MHz, with 3-4-4-8 memory timings and at a voltage of 2.75V. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q:My computer has recently became slow so I decided to format and start fresh. I installed windows 98 and upgraded with Windows XP upgrade version. Everything seemed to work but then a popup message began telling me "computer is going to shut down because of NT AUTHORITY/SYSTEM" and then it shuts down. It seems to happen every time I'm connected to the Internet. Can you help me?

A: Sounds like you have a nasty case of the 'Blaster' worm. W32.blaster.worm and its many variants exploited a now patched vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows 2000 and XP operating systems. Until the security update was put into place, this virus was able to infect non-firewalled XP and 2000 systems at will, without the usual giveaway email attachment. Blaster attacks computers directly, exploiting the security vulnerability to install itself onto unsuspecting surfer's systems.

Once in place, it attempts to infect computers on the local network, as well as randomly contacting other Internet addresses. It also may shut down the system (as you know), though it's quite possible to have the virus without seeing the shutdown messages.

First seen back in August of last year, Blaster is much less common these days since the majority of users eventually patched their systems. As you found out though, new XP and 2000 installs that are not firewall protected or immediately updated when they are connected to the Internet are still at the mercy of the worm. Fortunately, there is an easy cure for your condition, go here for instructions on how to remove the worm and protect your system from further infection.

Once you've done that, take a look at PCstats Firewall and Internet security Beginner's guide for details on how to preempt this sort of infection in the future. Next week we'll find out what you really need to go wireless in the city. To submit your question to PCstats, send us an email.

Matrix Orbital MX212 PC-Bay Insert Review
Read it Now!The Matrix Orbital can report on a long list of programs with its back lit LCD screen; so for example you can monitor your memory usage from one moment to the next, or even something as mundane as your IP address. With a backlit blue LCD screen, this USB controlled bay insert interacts with software you load onto your PC, bringing more than a host of useful features and information right to the front of your modded computer. With the Matrix Orbital MX212 you get a very cool interactive unit that can control various pieces of software within your PC, from Winamp to weather reports (via internet link to standard weather information providers), or even displaying the amount of free space on your hard drive.Continue Here>>

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips CPU Utilization
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Super Micro

One of my many pet peeves about WindowsXP is how CPU utilization goes up to 100% when viewing AVI files. When this happens it slows the rest of the system to a crawl. As always though, there's a registry hack that can solve this problem, you just have to know where to look!

Load up regedit (start -> Run then type regedit and press the Ok button) and follow this path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Classes -> CLSID -> {87D62D94-71B3-4b9a-9489-5FE650DC73E}. Once you're there delete the "InProcServer32" key then save and exit. Once that's done AVI files will no longer suck up all the CPU resources. =)

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PCstats Issue
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Industry Insights

Two weeks ago, representatives from NVIDIA dropped by with the newest chipset in the company's repertoire, named nForce3 250Gb. While not drastically different from its predecessor, there were several notable additions that add appeal to what was already a stable architecture. First of all, the nForce3 250Gb adds badly needed Serial ATA connectivity; specifically, four channels of SATA to complement the two PATA headers. NVIDIA's implementation also looks to be particularly robust, as it supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, and JBOD. A Windows-based utility monitors and controls connected drives and, if applicable, RAID arrays.

Further, the single-chip nForce3 250Gb sports a Gigabit Ethernet connection that NVIDIA claims is much more efficient than any of its competitors. To prove it, representatives set up a server/client configuration and demonstrated the chipset's integrated Ethernet running significantly faster and with lower processor utilization than an Intel Gigabit adapter. The final feature touted by NVIDIA reps is a powerful software firewall designed to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. Security is the main focus of Microsoft's upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2, and the NVIDIA Firewall will offer many of the same features as Windows Firewall, but for my money I'd rather double the protection than suffer unwelcome intrusion.

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