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  • RIAA wants to raise price of legal downloads
    raise the price of legal music downloads The Register The Wall Street Journal reports that the major five labels think that 99 cents per song is too cheap and are discussing a price hike that would increase the tariff to 1 25 up to 2 99 per song The current price is too high Getting copy protected restrictive files encoded at low bitrates with no case and liner notes should not cost the same or more than the CD The motivation for the change is that most people only want one or two songs from an album since the other tracks often suck The record industry could previously get 15 for two good songs but now they re getting only 1 98 Here the real motivation shows Unfortunately they don t seem to accept economics As much as piracy can be proven illegal it s still a competitive force The record industry must treat piracy as competition not just as a lawyer target and adjust their practices accordingly When your competition offers free music downloads with no restrictions but with unreliable availability and quality what would be the logical product to offer A huge inventory of high quality restriction free

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/41 (2016-04-30)
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  • Rise Of Nations (PC)
    rate accuracy strength etc could vary randomly within a 10 20 range for each unit of the same type and you could bias the variations in either direction by certain variables such as morale Unfortunately no RTS currently suits all of my desires The varied combat realistic shots and planes were done quite nicely in Total Annihilation in 1997 yet games are still released that lack such basic elements In fact one was released on May 30 It s called Rise Of Nations I was very excited about this game From the previews it looked like the first RTS to have heavy Civilization like elements such as politics diplomacy cities national borders populations and other attributes outside of simple battles It appeared to take the focus away from battle and provide a very well rounded game that you could win without simply killing your opponents if you desired It didn t Rise Of Nations turned out to be what I d expect from an Age Of Empires 4 It looks and plays like AOE2 with many additions Big Huge Games the developer seemingly dropped AOE2 in a 3D engine but still kept it looking amazingly similar to its 2D predecessor complicated and greatly expanded the upgrade research trees added features and released it as a new game There s a lot of new stuff and it s plenty to keep the RTS gamer busy for a long time Many great features have been added such as automatic modes for peasants civilians to find something to do on their own if you don t tell them anything for a certain period of time after they re created Resource gathering micromanagement has been greatly reduced as all resources are now infinite farms never die mountains for stone and forests always stay the same size and the remaining resources food gold oil knowledge all come in at constant rates depending on the number of gathering buildings you have built and the upgrades you have purchased One might argue that infinite resources degrade the quality of the game by promoting stalemates and discouraging late game expansion but I found the new resource system to be a welcome relief from the micromanagement crazy system in AOE2 While the map is now 3D and contains mountains which are quite small and look more like stalagmites you can t build or move anything on top of them The height of the usable terrain varies somewhat but not enough to make any difference In fact while this is technically a 3D game it definitely qualifies as a Painfully 2D RTS The combat system is boring and outdated bearing the same line up stand there and shoot until dead system as AOE2 and every other painfully 2D RTS I only really enjoy Rise Of Nations when I m not in combat because the combat lacks any fun The non combat elements of the game are done quite well but every game boils down to combat Diplomacy politics national borders

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/40 (2016-04-30)
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  • Desktop Sidebar 1.03
    nice outline of the features that I couldn t have said any better The Register Fortunately the Desktop Sidebar is an excellent replacement It assembles all essential information into a slim window that docks at the side of the screen The bar displays emails appointments tasks and notes straight from Outlook Messenger contacts stock quotes and weather forecasts The program also lets you monitor your PC s performance and disk space and you can control Windows Media Player or WinAmp from the Sidebar Even Google is only one key click Win Q away This utility too has a nifty RSS reader one of the best we ve seen so far as it runs in a nicely animated carousel mode The Newsroom panel also integrates with Internet Explorer so you can subscribe to news feeds from pages displayed in the browser with one button click We re proud to say that the Desktop Sidebar comes included with The Register RSS feed It was enough to convince me to use the program For those of you who aren t familiar with RSS it s a text format based on XML that functions as a universal news post format intended to be viewed on internet connected devices and programs that aren t full scale browsers such as cellular phones The content is stripped down into its bare elements title author link URL body text etc Usually no layouts images or advertising are present Many news sites and blogs are now offering these RSS feeds feeds are really just regular files that are downloaded periodically Personally I don t think they ll last long in their current advertising free state but I ll enjoy it while I can Desktop Sidebar comes with an assortment of skins so I picked the one I liked the most and began customizing the layout Each panel has its own options I disabled the functions I didn t need stocks MSN Messenger Outlook s Notes and Windows Media Player It came with a handful of RSS links but a few of them were outdated and didn t work Fortunately adding new RSS feeds was simple just browse to the page with Internet Explorer and click the new XML button on the toolbar It was a breeze The Winamp control panel was not as helpful It hid the main Winamp window completely and I couldn t figure out how to temporarily pop it up The panel itself only has basic functions play pause stop next previous and standard Winamp shortcut keys like J don t work The song title is displayed in a text box with the option to scroll it but when I enabled that option the box just stayed black Even after disabling the Winamp panel entirely it still didn t restore the main window and I had to manually go into the Winamp tray icon s menu to turn it back on By contrast Outlook s associated panels Inbox Notes Calendar Tasks were excellent with tons of

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/39 (2016-04-30)
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  • Adobe Acrobat 6.0
    only one color highlighter It does not carry over between pages It frequently highlights one line below the text you want Version 6 0 added handwriting support but not for tablet pens using one will write but Acrobat gets the input so inefficiently that the text reads like scrawl and is not handwriting recognizable in any case There is also no tool to write notes in the margins and apply them to a series of paragraphs you can either write a disembodied note or else highlight all the paragraphs remember there s only one color and write a note for all of them that overwrites whatever other highlighting you had on the page Acrobat also has big problems with stability Huge Even the most routine tasks like saving can crash the program Don t even get me started on converting web pages It is not uncommon for me to crash the program ten times in an hour While reading and writing PDFs Exactly what this program was designed to do Stability like this rivals Windows 95 for Buggiest Program Ever World Heavyweight Champion By version 6 0 I expect far better from Adobe especially considering the 600 price tag These problems mar an otherwise solid product Other annoyances don t help like the PDF toolbar in Word that you cannot turn off Adobe has left a huge opening for competitors Anyone who offers PDF read and write capability and provides better editing tools can certainly cut away at Adobe s market share 600 for this buggy program is outrageous Format The PDF format is awesome You can read it across platforms and it looks fantastic even when zoomed in all the way The file size is compact too But I wish I didn t have to load Acrobat every time

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/38 (2016-04-30)
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  • Fujitsu T3010D Tablet PC
    perfectly Swiveling the screen automatically switches to tablet mode and the pen is easy to use It will not scratch the screen but I still recommend you get a 10 roll of acrylic from Staples just to be safe Editor s note Do not shop or work at Staples The tablet software for the pen writes very smoothly in digital ink and handwriting recognition is surprisingly good correctly identifying about 90 of words when I write clearly Strangely acronyms and the letter P are the hardest to recognize For this I blame Microsoft With any luck the free 2004 update will help Microsoft s Windows XP Tablet Edition is really no different than normal XP except it has tablet input and no backup CDs MS mandates that system backups be kept in an image on a separate partition Fortunately the other aspects of the tablet are great the 1024x768 12 inch screen is ample resolution and very crisp although gets washed out in sunlight It would have been nice to have Acer s superior 1280x1024 10 inch screen but Fuji s is still good and has many other features the Acer C310 lacks like a faster processor 10 GB more hard drive space and a 500 smaller price tag In fact the T3010D is the single best buy I have ever seen among tablets Tablets are normally well above 2000 like Toshiba s terrible PIII powered plasticy piece of crap that makes you purchase MS Office or Acer s C310 that makes you get the 300 CD drive I don t need either so saving hundreds of dollars was great Even with an upgrade to 512 MB of DDR2100 RAM I barely broke 1700 And Fujitsu didn t skimp on the service everything arrived as ordered four days before it was supposed to ship A great first impression With this laptop tablet you can t go wrong Speed The 1 4 GHz Pentium M is perfect It is as fast as a 2 2 GHz Pentium 4 and uses little battery power It s more than ample to run business applications for years to come Could be a little quieter though and like midline desktops still has trouble moving large graphics fluidly Battery Life I frequently get 3 5 to 4 hours of use when I am mindful and turn down the screen and wireless Far better results than even the best Pentium III M User Input Keyboard is almost the perfect size and I love the customizable touchpad and scroll rocker Everything feels very solid under my fingers If only MS would perfect the handwriting recognition Screen Crisp high resolution packed into just 12 inches But Acer does Fuji one better with even higher resolution in an even smaller 10 inches And the Fuji gets washed out in sunlight making Tablet mode especially difficult to use outside Very good indoors though with a large viewing angle Portability Very small and light at 13 inches diagonal and only 4 2

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/37 (2016-04-30)
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  • Mozilla Firebird 0.6.1
    of my ad blocking functions are easily accommodated by Firebird right click an ad and you get an option to block all images from the domain replacing them with completely transparent images so the page layout is unaffected It takes only minutes to block most of the common ad domains such as DoubleClick While requiring a bit more work than Proxomitron s ad filters this completely eliminates any unwanted image blocking and won t break any pages functionality Plus if you have sites that you want to support by viewing their ads you don t have to mess with bypass lists or any other clumsy interface simply don t block them And if you ever change your mind and want to re enable a domain s images simply right click on the empty space previously containing the ad and uncheck the Block Images option Tabbed browsing is incredible Simply right click any link and you can select the usual Open in new window or Open in new tab Additionally you can also open any bookmark folder in tabs so that each link gets its own tab and they all load simultaneously This is a huge timesaver if you have a group of pages that you visit every day you can put them all in a folder and have them all load at once so that they re all fully loaded by the time you ve finished reading the first one When you right click a link and open it in a new tab it does not steal the focus This means that if a page has numerous links and you d like to see them all you can right click each of them sequentially without having to switch back to the original page every time Also if you re browsing a page and find a link that you d like to read after you finish the current page you can open it in a new tab finish your page then look at it Some websites are designed only for Internet Explorer but I have not yet encountered any page that has rendered or functioned incorrectly in Firebird The only problem is that Firebird crashes on some pages Generally it crashes about once a day for me and I browse a lot of sites every day The crashes aren t on random sites every major site that I ve visited works perfectly fine and never crashes the browser But certain links that I visit will crash it every time while loading I m not sure why but the browser is still in beta so I m sure they ll figure it out and iron out the bugs soon enough I keep Internet Explorer around in my Start menu for the rare times that I need to view the Firebird crashing pages They coexist perfectly well on the same computer even when running at the same time My favorite attribute of Firebird is that it seems like it s actually designed to

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/36 (2016-04-30)
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  • D-Link “AirPlus” Wireless Card and Base Station
    was easy and fast Then I tried installing the PCI card into my computer which lives in a different room I have Windows XP and the instruction manual was printed primarily for XP including XP screenshots I followed the instructions exactly Installation went smoothly until the card tried to initialize I got the familiar BSOD with the STOP code IRQL DRIVER NOT LESS OR EQUAL which is typically caused by bad RAM but can occasionally be caused by a bad driver Since I just installed a new driver I gave D Link the benefit of the doubt and restarted the computer It got to the wireless network utility this time I chose my network name and as I was typing the encryption key my computer hard locked I reset it once more and got to this same point with the same results Wonderful I thought My computer had been acting strange earlier which turned out to be a loose IDE cable but I didn t know that yet so I decided that I should try a clean install of Windows XP The 2000 XP installation process is very sensitive to hardware problems and if there are any it will let me know or simply fail This time I double checked the installation instructions for the wireless card to be sure I was following them correctly Hard lock again same point I followed the installation instructions exactly as they are printed on a clean install of Windows XP with all default settings and the D Link AirPlus DWL 520 caused my computer to hard lock These are the instructions 1 Install the software first before putting the card in 2 Put the card in power on let Windows automatically pick the drivers that have been installed 3 Use the utility program to configure it At this point I had a wild idea I rarely read instructions for computer hardware so why didn t I discard these entirely I removed the card and uninstalled all of its software and drivers Then I installed the card the way I thought it should be done 1 Do not install the software first 2 Put the card in power on let Windows detect it and then point it to the driver directory of the CD 3 Do not install the utility program It worked That s right D Link s included instructions don t work I got the card to work by doing almost the complete opposite of what the instructions told me Thanks a lot D Link The problem which I learned the hard way is that Windows XP has a wireless network configuration tool built in so it was trying to do the same thing as the D Link utility and they were conflicting When the D Link utility wasn t installed XP s wireless configuration worked perfectly fine If you really need to use the manufacturer s utility the Windows component can be disabled D Link s instruction manual made no mention

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/35 (2016-04-30)
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  • USRobotics Sportster 33.6 External Modem
    s serial port It has a phone bypass connector and an external 6V compact power brick It has a power switch and a generous array of 8 red status LEDs on the front panel including informative RD receive data and SD send data indicators Speaker volume can be adjusted from completely silent to very loud with a knob on the side Unlike most modern modems this modem does all processing in hardware so its operation places no load on the computer s CPU and it requires no drivers enabling it to work on any modern operating system By contrast most internal modems available today for less than 80 do all of their processing on the host CPU through a driver which limits the operating system choices and often complicates installation and configuration Very few manufacturers still make all hardware modems but if you want to ensure that you get a nice all hardware driverless modem simply get an external model that connects via serial port not USB You ll pay more but trust me if you have to use a modem external hardware modems are the way to go I never thought I d use this modem after I got my cable connection but I ve actually had to use it for various purposes about once a year It s painfully slow by modern broadband standards downloading at a maximum of about 3 4 KB per second but it works It works damn well too I ve used it on every version of Windows from 3 11 through XP and setup has always been quick and painless with no problems whatsoever Even with XP which has no concept of USRobotics modems they were purchased and dissolved into 3Com many years ago I simply install it as a Standard 33600 bps

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/34 (2016-04-30)
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