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Fess Up: Who Bought It?

I always try to link to products I mention here on Amazon, in order to earn a small referral fee if one of you guys buys something. However, if you click an Amazon link here, then go buy something else entirely, I get credit for that too, which results in me getting referral fees for some strange items.

So now, I want to know, who bought the “Mr. Beer Deluxe Edition Home Microbrewery System”? On August 23, last Thursday, someone bought this $30 home brewery thing after following one of my links, and I want to know who it was.

Also, I’d like some of that beer. :-)

Seriously, if one of you guys bought a home beer kit from here, I’d love to see the final product. Let me know.

Other things people bought from here recently:

This one I wrote a post about, because $200 for what used to be a very expensive networked DVD changer was too good to pass up.

Another one I wrote a post about. This one is a peripheral used for navigating in Google Earth.

Ah, the Digital Rebel XTi

Okay, who’s on a fitness kick and bought the body fat tester

… and the pedometer?

Nine people bought that book? I don’t remember linking to it. Anyone want to explain how that happened?

Well, that’s been fun. Of course, if you don’t like paying for things, you could always get a free magazine or white paper thanks to our partnership with TradePub. Most popular there: eWeek, followed by Oracle, InformationWeek, Dr Dobb’s Journal and InfoStor. If you don’t like those, I’ve been reading TelevisionWeek lately, and it’s really interesting if you’re into insider TV stuff.

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August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

A Real Vista Time Saver For Running Programs Elevated

I’m not sure what’s a bigger timesaver from this Lifehacker post:

    That you can run a program in Windows Vista with administrator priveleges by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER when it is selected in the Start Menu


    That you can hit confirm in the elevation dialog (which asks if you want to run a program as administrator) by hitting ALT+C

The second one is really obvious, but will probably save me more time, since I never thought of it. Both deserve to be put to good use.

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | no comments

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Microsoft Partners With Limelight to Improve Xbox Live Networking

Microsoft announced a partnership with Limelight Networks, a competitor of Akamai (which Sony and Nintendo use) to deliver better media streaming to Xbox Live. Live users will benefit from Limelight’s better servers and pipelines when downloading music, movies and games, an increasingly important part of Microsoft’s online service. Limelight powers Facebook and MySpace, so you can trust them to get this big job right.
(via OLGn > Digg)

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | one comment

TweakVista 1.0 Released

Stardock’s TweakVista application has left beta, with the 1.0 commercial release available for download or purchase. The program is a central application for changing certain settings in Windows Vista to improve your user experience, and in many cases get more performance out of your PC.

You can get the free version or the more featured full version for $19.99 (or as part of Object Desktop). The free version brings:

  • Start-Up Management - Disable unnecessary software increasing performance
  • Process Identification - Identify unrecognized software
  • Service Profiles - Easy to use, tailored, one click profiles
  • Performance Recommendations - With one click hyperlink to features
  • Display Driver Update Reminders - With links to vendor download locations on the web
  • Cost of Use and Carbon Footprint Analysis - How “Green” is your computer?
  • User Access Control Configuration - Select a UAC profile from predefined settings
  • Benchmark Assessment - View results for your PC
  • Supports Windows Vista (32bit and 64bit)

The full version has all that, plus:

  • Advanced Service Profile Management - Change settings of the default profiles
  • Startup Timing Analysis - Identify programs slowing startup
  • Benchmark Assessment Reports - Compare your machine against other users!
  • SMART Guard Detailed Statistics - Predict hard drive failures!
  • Advanced Security (UAC) Configuration - Change default security profile settings
  • Automatic Updates through Stardock Central

(via Download Squad)

You can check out my initial notes on the beta here.

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows | no comments

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Finally Officially Announced

Microsoft finally admitted in a public official way that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 actually does exist. They pretty much confirmed most of the leaks, and announced that a beta is coming in mid-September, just over two weeks away.

The Windows Vista Team Blog has a post making the announcement, and they said that they are in the process of deploying a beta of SP1. They also said that Service Packs are less of an important part of operating systems than they used to be, as witnessed by the Performance and Reliability patches that were pushed out through Windows Update yesterday.

A small group of testers have already been testing SP1, with the beta coming through in the next few weeks. Later on, a pre-release version of SP1 will be distributed to MSDN and TechNet subscribers (possibly an RC1 or something), leading up to Release To Manufacturing and a public release in the first quarter of 2008, the same time as Windows Server 2008.

Mary Jo Foley has more details, including that the beta will be distributed to 10-15,000 testers in mid-September via the Connect site, followed by a broader beta later (which seems to contradict what the Vista Team Blog said). The features are mostly those we’ve heard already:

  • Support for Direct 3D 10.1
  • support for Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA) to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization
  • Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files, shut down and resume Vista machines
  • Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
  • Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
  • The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
  • Improvements to battery life by reducing CPU utilization be “not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers”

The Service Pack should be about 50 megabytes to download, 1 gigabyte on a standalone install DVD. Ed Bott writes that Vista SP1 will not contain the “Fiji” update to Windows Media Center, but we kind of expected that. SP1 will contain changes to Windows Vista Search to satisfy antitrust complaints. Ed also lists these fixes:

  • Improved reliability and compatibility of Windows Vista when used with newer graphics cards in several specific scenarios and configurations.
  • Improved reliability when working with external displays on a laptop.
  • Improved Windows Vista reliability in networking configuration scenarios.
  • Improved reliability of systems that were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
  • Increased compatibility with many printer drivers.
  • Increased reliability and performance of Windows Vista when entering sleep and resuming from sleep.
  • Improves the speed of copying and extracting files.
  • Improves the time to become active from Hibernate and Resume modes.
  • Improves the performance of domain-joined PCs when operating off the domain; in the current release version of Windows Vista, users would experience long delays when opening the File dialog box.
  • Improves performance of Windows® Internet Explorer® 7 in Windows Vista, reducing CPU utilization and speeding JavaScript parsing.
  • Improves the logon experience by removing the occasional 10-second delay between pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and the password prompt displaying.
  • Addresses an issue in the current version of Windows Vista that makes browsing network file shares consume significant bandwidth and not perform as fast as expected.

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | no comments

Turtle Beach Ear Force X3 Xbox 360 Semi-Wireless Headset/Headphones


Turtle Beach has announced their Ear Force X3 wireless headset/headphones for the Xbox 360. They’ve got a really interesting site on the headset, going into details about how it works. Basically, I call it semi-wireless because the wireless part refers to how it transmits audio from the game to your headphones wirelessly, but still needs to be connected by a wire to the Xbox 360 controller.

The headphones come with an IR transmitter that sits between the Xbox 360 and your TV, grabbing the audio signal and still passing it onto the TV through a pass-through cable. The headphones play the game audio in your ears, perfect for gaming without waking up the spouse, and they also have a microphone so you can speak to your teammates (which will wake her up).

Smartly, it even has a feature that boosts chat volume if game volume gets too high, so you can hear your teammates over the gunfire, and lets you adjust chat and game volume independentally. It also plays back a small amount of your microphone audio, in order to eliminate that thing where you yell into a microphone because you can’t hear yourself. It even has a suction cup and velcro tabs so you can clip the IR transmitter to the side of anything to get a better signal.

It looks like a solid product, and even if they didn’t eliminate the cable between the controller and the headset (and jacked up the price a lot more), it’s still a useful accessory for gamers. It’s supposed to retail for $100, but Amazon’s got it now for as little as $82.68.

Here’s a video Turtle Beach made showing off the headphones:

(via Engadget)

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments

New Geometry Wars Coming Inside PGR4

A new version of Geometry Wars, the arcade-style space shooter that evolved from a PGR2 minigame into an Xbox Live Arcade classic, is coming, and it will be available exclusively as a minigame inside Project Gotham Racing 4. Geometry Wars has become a surprise hit, showing up as an arcade game in the garage in PGR versions, then achieving cult status on Arcade and coming to the Wii and mobile phones.

It’s a shame you’ll need a copy of PGR4 to get the new version, but it seems like Geometry Wars: Waves will not really be a sequel, just an update, and it’s fitting to have it go in the game where it gots its start. I doubt you could make a good full sequel to this game anyway.
(via Digg)

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments

Second Live Action Halo Short Revealed, Mountain Dew Game Fuel Ad, Stupid PS3 Ads, Halo Wars Footage

Gamersyde caught some low quality camera footage of Neill Blomkamp’s second Halo live action Halo short, this one with some Warthog action. The purpose of this seems to be to show what a movie could be like, but I don’t see enough to really capture the excitement of the games. Take a look:

You can download higher resolution versions (though the quality doesn’t improve) at Gamersyde.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s that you expect more people shooting at each other, more aliens, more personality from the soldiers, more music, but it just doesn’t feel like Halo to me. Put this guy on a World War II movie, that could work better.
(via Joystiq)

To see a full quality version, use any browser with Silverlight installed and go to, which is featuring the short and a bunch of other Halo videos in a great experience.
(via Mark Johnston)

Then there’s also this Mountain Dew Game Fuel commercial, centered around the drink’s promotion as the drink of Halo 3:

If you ask me, the other players were probably drinking too much Game Fuel. Anyone try out this drink yet? Is it any good?

Kotaku’s got another ad, one of those awful internet ads that ask you to do something to win something. What’s hilarious is that this one asks you to help Halo’s Master Chief defeat the Covenant in order to win a PS3. Is there any way to lose on purpose?

Finally, if you want a good look at what to expect in Halo Wars, the real-time strategy game coming in the Halo universe, here’s ten minutes of new footage, including a little background and a lot of in-game footage:

Once again, I feel like this looks nice, and will probably be fun to play, but it doesn’t have the gameplay I feel when I play Halo. Shouldn’t units be taking cover? Why do they stand around, shooting at each other, only moving after the other side has died (and they’ve taken a lot of damage)? Shouldn’t the units in these games take cover when under fire?

August 29th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Halo 3, Halo, Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments