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Vol. 1 Issue 3

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PCs

How to keep your ID secure in MS Word

Mobile The tops apps for your smartphone

Imaging An in-depth look at the Nikon D5000

Games A roundup of the scariest games ever made

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Plus! Will robots take over the world? Security threats to watch out for

www.TechKnowMag.com


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Contents 10 Boo! How to Deal with Scary Online Threats Along with five ways you can fight back for free 12 A Word to the Wise How to keep your personal data private when working with Word 15 Robotic Ambassadors Before robots take over the world, they’ll come bearing gifts like Wi-Fi, VoIP, webcams and... mops 18 Free-to-Air Satellites, pt. III For satellite receivers and a wedding: A tale of poor reception, and how to change that with your FTA satellite setup 20 A Baker’s Dozen of Mobile Apps Whether you’re an iPhone, Windows Mobile, Symbian or BlackBerry user, here are some great mobile apps for various smartphones 24 Nikon’s D5000 One option for those advancing from point-and-shoot cameras to a DSLR

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25 Apple Product Highlights Taking a brief look at Apple’s new iPod Touch 26 Gamer’s Corner A history of horror games lined up from various systems and decades past 29 Halo: ODST The latest Halo game stands up to the rest, and without the help of Master Chief 31 The PSP Go Does Sony’s latest handheld signal a paradigm shift in video game distribution? 32 Gran Turismo PSP A decent portable racer for when you’re on the go 33 Affordable, Portable HD Video Some options to take high-quality videos wherever you want for cheaper than you’d expect 36 Last Call Andrew Moore-Crispin gives us his perspective on the pace of change 37 Up Next A look at TechKnow Magazine’s content for next month

TechKnow Magazine 136 Craighurst Ave, Toronto, ON, M4R 1K2 Phone: 416-898-9563 Fax: 416-487-7807

Editor-in-Chief Dorian Nicholson editor@techknowmag.com 416-823-5059

Advertising Sales Darcy Weir sales@techknowmag.com 416-898-9563

Contributing Editors Helen Bradley, Andrew Carruthers, Kevin Freeman, Gord Goble, Andrew MooreCrispin, Mike Palermo, Ray Richards, Marc Saltzman

Business Consultant Karim Rizk sales@techknowmag.com

Distribution Ontario TorStar Distribution Services British Columbia Trader Printed in Canada by Ricter Web

Graphic Design Clipperart clipperart@gmail.com

October 2009 – Toronto – TechKnowMag

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EDITORIAL

Dorian Nicholson Editor-in-Chief

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TechKnowMag – Toronto – October 2009

A Change of Seasons Well, fall is officially here. If the fact that the weather is now cooling and the leaves are changing colour wasn’t enough of an indication, we also have much shorter days, soon to become even shorter once daylight savings time ends. It’s scary really, but only a few months ago it seemed as though summer would never come and that the weather would never warm. Now the summer is finished and it feels almost like it never came at all. Either I’m getting older and time is speeding up on me or the global warming theorists are correct and all of our seasons are getting catastrophically thrown out of whack. Regardless of which is true (or if both possibilities are) it’s just plain spooky. But maybe that’s just the time of the year creeping up on me. October is an appropriate month to feel a trifle frightened. After all, it’s that time of year when the summer clothes get packed away and the heavy coats start coming out. Winter becomes a reality again as skies grow grey and leaves fall away. Halloween is coming up too, which is sure to bring some frightening content both to movie theatres and game systems alike. To commemorate All Hallows’ Eve we’ve even put together a history of horror games for all sorts of systems dating all the way back to 1972 and an old classic called Haunted House. Of course, most of the titles listed are more recent, and you may see some that you recognize… or some that you don’t, and might want to look into finding in order to honour the occasion. But perhaps it’s not just the Autumn chills that are giving me the shivers. Maybe it’s the fact that technology is all around us and it’s hard to stay on top of it all. I just finished watching a new episode of The Simpsons (possibly the first new episode I’ve watched in years) that saw the kids of Springfield Elementary all with smartphones. It’s been a while since I’ve visited an elementary school, but I wonder how far this is from the truth. Gone are the days when cell phones were a rarity, and most youngsters have them for reasons ranging from staying in touch with family to keeping on top of homework (yeah right). Yet the fact that they might all have Internet-accessible smartphones, the likes of which were only for executives and business types only a few years ago is more than a

little scary. On one hand, there’s the “with great power comes great responsibility” angle, which is obvious to any parent whose child has Internet access — that is to say virtually all of them. But on the other hand it is somewhat hard to fathom that technology has come so far ahead in such a short span of time that what was an unthinkable luxury roughly a decade ago — the ability to connect to the Internet without wires or even a computer — is now so common a feature as to be placed in the hands of a 10-year-old. Yet just as spooky is the thought that our right to get the Internet anywhere, everywhere, or at all for that matter, is one that is not supported in any law, nor is the Internet regulated by any official body. Andrew Moore-Crispin points this out quite poignantly in his Last Call column and mentions a few places you can go to research these should-be rights. After all, how frightening do you think a world without Wikipedia or Google would be if their services were suddenly made unavailable? Think about it and try not to scream. Of course, there are much less intellectual worries to be found on the Internet. The fact that any jerk with half an opinion can go online and voice it, potentially turning a great debate into a pointless flame war is pretty unsettling. The fact that the same bozo might have the skills and ill intent to spread or create viruses and malware is just plain horrific. Marc Saltzman has a list of some of these web worries just a few pages in. But it’s not all doom and gloom this month. While there are some things that might be worth screaming in terror over — including the possibility of our technology going sentient and raining satellites down on us, or perhaps just reversing our vacuums — there are some articles that should calm your nerves. We’ve got camera reviews, brand new video game reviews and a roundup of great mobile apps. And if that’s not enough to quell the horror, our photo contest winners are announced with great pictures concluding the magazine on the last page. So with that I’ll leave you to stop worrying and get to reading… just don’t forget to check over your shoulder from time to time. Enjoy the magazine, Dorian Nicholson Editor-in-Chief


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LETTERS Welcome to TechKnow Magazine’s letters section, where readers get a chance to tell their stories or express their feelings about the tech industry today. Not only do letters sent in get a chance to be published in this section right here and viewed by countless other readers nationwide, we also send the author of the Letter of the Month a brand new copy of McAfee Total Protection 2009. Letter of the Month Though I understand that your magazine promotes technology, I feel that you should also let your readers know that it is not crucial to be on the cutting edge. We are a wasteful society, for example: I recently found an Acer TravelMate 2480 laptop in the garbage. I didn’t have much hope for it, but my techie instincts told me to pick it up. As soon as I got back to my apartment, I plugged it in and it worked! Though it wasn’t the best laptop, it was an Intel Celeron 1.73Ghz, 14.1” WXGA, 60 Gb hard drive, with only 512 Mb RAM, a slightly beaten keyboard and the battery life only lasted 1 hour. I went on eBay, purchased a new keyboard for $20, 2Gb RAM from Futureshop for $40 and a 9-cell 7200 mAh battery for $80. For a total of $140 I got myself a laptop that runs slightly better than my Dell Inspiron 2200. My point is not that we shouldn’t care about the latest technology, in fact I encourage that everyone should be well informed so that they can better spend their money and make their dollar lasts longer. I have a $30 cellphone from Rogers: Motorola V190, that’s all I need, even though I still drool over the iPhone and the Blackberry Storm. Keep up the good work! Nathaniel

I am glad for the creation of this magazine and I am thankful for the current, relevant and forward thinking content. I wish you many years of success. Thanks TechKnow Magazine. Sincerely, Gerry Hey... I just watched the second part of the video on the PC museum. Thanks, it brings back a lot of memories. I started my dark journey into computers when I first saw a TRS-80 in a Radio Shack store, but my first purchase was a Commodore PET, which cost me $1700 (2 years of paper route savings!) What a loaded machine... a full 16K of RAM with a separate cassette drive! From there, I stuck with Commodore, to the C64, and then the Amiga 500... too bad they didn’t invest in third party support, as that killed them. Did you know they were on the board ahead of Apple and IBM with the concept of clicking onto icons instead of typing commands? Thanks again, Richard

TK: A prime example of why we need to focus more on reusing and recycling when it comes to our technology. Thanks Nathaniel. Your prize is in the mail.

The Oxford dictionary describes Oasis as being a “fertile spot in the desert, thing or circumstance offering relief in difficulty”. TechKnow is my new oasis. A welcome sight during times of a great free printed technical information drought. Many years ago I realized the value of knowing what components went into making a computer and other technical devices and how they perform their many, albeit limited tasks well. I began to search the local library and Internet (wow what a rush my first time getting on the web was) and came to appreciate the importance of having a monthly paper/magazine with current content.

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Hi there, Thanks for writing the PC Museum article. I honestly did not know we had one here in Ontario. If I had known that a few years ago, I would have had so much to donate to them. Now I wished I didn’t get rid of all those old computers I had. I’m planning to go visit the museum some time for memory’s sake. Signed, Debbie


CONTEST

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We here at TechKnow Magazine know just how important it is to have the right equipment for your portable computer. We know that whether you need your faithful laptop or netbook for school or for business, it’s good to have the right peripherals to get the job done. That’s why every one of our subscribers who subscribes to TechKnow Magazine is getting a free entry into our Microsoft giveaway, where in our December issue we will give away two of these Microsoft Prize Packs. Included are: ● A Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3000 Special Edition ● A Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 3000 ● A Microsoft LifeCam VX-5500 ● Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 ● Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition ● And it’s all wrapped up in a handy laptop bag!

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October 2009 – Toronto – TechKnowMag

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Boo! How to Deal with Scary Online Threats Along with a list of five free ways to protect your identity and your PC 1. Avira AntiVir Personal Edition (free-av.com) Free antivirus software 2. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Free Anniversary Edition (lavasoft.com) A free spyware detector 3. SPAMfighter (www.spamfighter.com) A free email filtration plugin for Outlook 4. www.snopes.com A site that helps separate email truth from fiction 5. www.hoaxbusters.org A site that lists various email hoaxes and scams

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TechKnowMag – Toronto – October 2009

For all the awesomeness that is the Internet — on-demand information, 24/7 shopping, free email, IM and video chats, photo sharing and countless videos to entertain you — cyberspace is also home to malicious types who want to harm your computer or wallet with viruses, spyware, phishing attacks or scams. And then there are harmless yet annoying inconveniences, such as spam and hoaxes. Considering it’s Halloween time, we thought it would be a good time to identify each of these spooky Internet realities and ways to fight them all — for free. Viruses and Spyware Just as you wouldn’t leave your front or backdoor unlocked at home, your PC shouldn’t be running without decent antivirus and antispyware protection, respectively. Spyware, of course, refers to malicious software (“malware”) you might accidentally download (or find it was buried

A computer crawling with bugs and parasitic malware is the last thing you need


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inside another program) that can monitor your Net surfing behaviour, cause inappropriate pop-up windows, hijack your browser’s home page and slow down your computer’s performance. While less common than spyware, viruses and worms can be more damaging — they refer to programs spread throughout cyberspace, with the potential to damage or even cripple a computer. Avira AntiVir Personal Edition (free-av.com) offers free real-time computer protection against malicious viruses and nasty spyware. With its frequent updates, intuitive interface and fast performance, this freebie — which can scan both internal and external drives — is a recommended pick for those low on cash or looking to save a buck. For those who already have a good antivirus solution might opt for free antispyware, such as Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Free Anniversary Edition (lavasoft.com), a handy software tool that scans your hard drives, RAM and registry and removes privacy-threatening tracking and advertisement software.

They’re known as email hoaxes — relatively harmless pranks spread through cyberspace with the intent to trick the recipient into believing something is genuine when it is not. There isn’t any software that can prevent these hoaxes reaching your computer — especially as they’re often sent by friends who think they’re helping you out — so, again, common sense is your best weapon here. Plus, there’s some websites like snopes.com and hoaxbusters.org that can tell you what’s a hoax or urban myth and sometimes where it originated from. Scams are a related but potentially more dangerous problem. If you get an email from a Nigerian banker who wants to make you rich by helping him bring his cash into the country, um, simply tap the Delete key. You know the old adage: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. By Marc Saltzman

Spam and Phishing Attacks Spam, or unsolicited junk mail, isn’t just a productivity drain as you can spend a lot of time deleting these unwanted messages per week, but often they contain viruses, spyware or phishing attempts that try to lure you to authentic-looking websites to steal your identity for financial gain (see below). If you use Microsoft Outlook, however, a free plug-in program called SPAMfighter (spamfighter.com) dramatically reduces the amount of junk mail you get by segregating suspicious messages and dropping it into a folder. It catches quite a bit (with few “false positives,” meaning it thinks mail is spam when it’s not) and doesn’t slow down your PC. A word of warning: while free, SPAMfighter does add a “signature” to the end of your outgoing emails that is meant to spread the word about the software — and you can’t remove it if you try. That, and you’ll get reminders to upgrade to the paid version with additional bells and whistles. Phishing attacks are malicious attempts to steal one’s identity online. They begin innocently enough as an email in your inbox from what appears to be a legitimate source, such as your bank or favourite online shopping site, but when users click a embedded link and then taken to a “spoof” site, which also looks legit, the unsuspecting web surfer might be defrauded by giving out their credit card number or other financial or personal information. While good anti-spam software can identify a “phishing” attempt and drop the messages into a segregated junk folder (and newer web browsers, such as Internet Explorer 8, can also warn you about faux websites) be sure to exercise some common sense and refrain from filling in personal information online if the request stems from one of these emails. Your bank or credit card company isn’t going to contact you via email to confirm your account info — even if the logo looks the same — plus you’ll see the site address (URL) you’re on isn’t legit (e.g. paypalinfonow.cn instead of paypal.com). Hoaxes and Scams “Don’t lick the envelopes at your local ATM.” “Send this e-mail to everyone you know and Bill Gates will cut you a cheque for $321.00.” “If you have the file “Jdbgmgr.exe” on your computer — delete it immediately — it’s a deadly virus.” We’ve all read these email messages in our inbox (or variations of them), and a staggering number of us actually fall for them.

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A Word to the Wise How to keep your personal data private when working with Word Most people are concerned about privacy and keeping personal information private. In the office so long as you stay clear of saying things you shouldn’t say on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter you’d think you’d be safe. Unfortunately the opposite is true. In fact, a lot of things that you think are private or deleted and gone forever can turn up in the most embarrassing of places courtesy of your Microsoft Office documents. In this article, I’ll explain some of the potential problems with sharing Office documents and how you can avoid them.

Some Security settings in Word 2003 can alert you to problems such as hidden data and stored tracked changes in your documents.

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Understanding the Problem The problem with even simple things like Word documents is that all sorts of personal data such as the name of anyone who has edited the document and even the humorous comments that you’ve made in an aside in a document


and which you deleted may well be still there for anyone to view. So, just because you think something has been removed doesn’t mean that it has. Microsoft Office documents include personal data about the person who created them. To see what might be stored, in Word 2003 choose Tools > Options > User Information and you may find your name and even your address entered here. Data like this may be stored with your file unless you specify that it should not and anyone receiving the file can access it. Another problem that can arise is where you make edits to a document. If you turn Track Changes on when you are working, all the changes that you have made to the document are not only marked up in it but they are also saved with it. So, for example, if you’re writing a press release and type a disparaging comment about one of the products as a joke to share with your coworkers even though you think you deleted it before sending it out this may not be the case. Someone opening the document could find information that you thought you had removed and certainly did not want to make public causing you and your business harm. Of course, good business practice is to never type anything like this in a document even as a joke but sometimes it happens and sometimes it gets found out and made public — and you don’t want this to happen to you. If you’d want some horror stories about people who did get caught, Shauna Kelly has a list that makes interesting reading: www.shaunakelly.com/word/trackchanges/PublicExamplesOfTrackChanges.html Not all problems arise simply because of the use of the track changes tool, although this is a big one. Even changes that you make to a document in the regular course of editing the document can, in some cases, be saved with the file and accessible to anyone who knows where to look. While many of these problems can be avoided by applying various settings to your Microsoft Office program, in most cases you have to know that things can be stored that you may not want to be stored and you have to be proactive in making sure that they are removed. It’s up to you to take the initiative to protect yourself — Microsoft Office won’t do it for you. Protecting yourself A simple protection in Microsoft Word 2003 is to choose Tools > Options > Security tab and enable the “Remove personal information from file properties on save” checkbox. Also enable the “Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments” checkbox and the “Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving” checkbox. These latter two settings are sticky so, once you have enabled them, they stay enabled. The first setting is not though, and must be enabled for each new document and done so some time before you save it for the final time. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of enabling this option for all documents likely to be shared with others so if there are problems, you will be warned about them. There is also a Hidden Data removal tool for Office XP and 2003 which you can download from Microsoft at http://tinyurl.com/4mnrw. Once installed it adds a Remove Hidden Data option to the File menu for Word, PowerPoint and Excel. When you choose this you will be prompted to save the file with a new name. It is then checked to see if it contains hidden data and, if so, it is removed. It is important to run this tool just before you share your file. Office 2007 comes with a new set of tools to make it a little easier to remove hidden and personal data from your file. To see this tool, with your file open, click the Office button and choose Prepare > Inspect Document. The Document Inspector


shows a list of the things it can search for and all are checked by default. Click the Inspect button and any items that the property inspector finds will be marked in the dialog. You can then click Remove All to remove them from the document and then, if desired, re-inspect it. Save the document when you are done.

For Office 2003 and XP there is A Hidden Data Removal tool you can download, install and use.

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The Danger of Fast Saves One situation where information may be stored in a document and where you may not realize that this is the case is when you use the fast save feature. In Microsoft Word 2003, for example, select Tools > Options > Save and you will see an “Allow Fast Saves” checkbox. When this is enabled, the document can be saved much more quickly than it would otherwise be because Word saves the changes you’ve made to the document, not the entire document itslef. Over time this means the document contains an entire history of edits that you have made including things you have deleted. Everyone is advised to disable the fast save option so that this editing history is not saved and so no one can ever see it. While good business practices are the key to ensuring that information that you do not want to share with others does not leave your workplace, there are tools that you can use to help make sure this does not happen. Being aware of the problems and how these can be avoided is a first step to protecting yourself and your business from embarrassing revelations. By Helen Bradley


www.TechKnowMag.com is your one step solution for the latest news on new tech and gadgets

Robotic Ambassadors on Earth Before robots take over the world, they’ll come bearing gifts like Wi-Fi, VoIP, webcams and... mops As any sci-fi fan will attest, the robots that we welcome into our homes today will eventually develop sentience and plot to take over the world. Only the genre of film or book can dictate whether or not this attempted overthrow will succeed; optimistically, we’ll knock the robots back, shut down Skynet and rebuild the earth. Pessimistically, our children’s children’s children will be enslaved in the energon mines.

With the eventual uprising of robot kind, we have a limited window in which to enjoy our dominion; today’s robots, while they can’t yet fetch a cold one from the fridge or cook dinner (in that order, that’s important), they can clean up after us, guard our homes while we’re at work or traveling or even let us check in on the pets while away.

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Binary to English Dictionary I welcome our robotic overlords. 010010010010000001110111011001010110110001 10001101101111011011010110010100100000 011011110111010101110010001000000111001001 10111101100010011011110111010001101001 011000110010000001101111011101100110010101 11001001101100011011110111001001100100 011100110010111000101110

Would you like WD-40 with that? 010101110110111101110101011011000110010000 10000001111001011011110111010100100000 011011000110100101101011011001010010000001 01011101000100001011010011010000110000 001000000111011101101001011101000110100000 10000001110100011010000110000101110100 00111111

Spykee the Wi-Fi Spy Robot $299 Erector / Meccano www.spykeeworld.com Spykee is the coolest robot you’re ever likely to have in your home. At least until the Rosie of Jetsons lore finally comes on the scene. We were a little surprised to see such well thought out high-tech gadgetry coming from a 100 year-old company... though perhaps given Nintendo’s innovation and century-long legacy, we should perhaps rethink that position. Spykee comes in kit form with over 200 parts. His caterpillar track base which contains all the circuitry comes pre-assembled, thankfully. All you have to build is the torso, which can be put together in one of three different ways. The build process took just under two hours. For a look at the process, check out www.butterscotch.com/spykee for a review and timelapse video. Once assembled, Spykee shows up to your Wi-Fi ready laptop as a wireless device. Connect and, with the Spykee software (Mac and PC versions available)

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Byte me! 010000100111100101110100011001010010000001 1011010110010100100001

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TechKnowMag – Toronto – October 2009

If he were ten feet tall and had blasters for arms, he’d be menacing

installed, you’re ready to move Spykee throughout the house. He can also connect to your home network for local control or remote control from any Internet connected PC with the Spykee software installed. We’d love to see an iPhone app or even an online no software install required version to exert our dominion over Spykee from more places, but the available software does work well. Spykee has a webcam for an eye and can be used to have remote two-way VoIP conversations. He can also guard your house and, upon detecting movement, will snap a picture and send it to whatever email address you specify. You can even remotely send him MP3 songs up to 8MB and have him play them in your absence. If Spykee does ever develop sentience and plots to take over your home, rest assured his battery life will be his undoing. Rovio $299 WowWee www.wowwee.com Another robot that offers remote or local control over


Wi-Fi, this little guy is less humanoid and therefore a little less threatening. While his battery life leaves a little something to be desired (he’ll make it a couple of laps around the living room before he needs to go back to his charging dock), he has the benefit of a positionable camera. With three wheels in what seems like a strange configuration — two toed in in the front and one sitting sideways in the back — it looks like Rovio would be hard to control. However, as each of his three wheels has 10 independent rollers, he’s actually quite maneuverable. Rather than requiring users to install software on the remote PC that controls Rovio, registered users can log into a web interface and, with a username and password, control their Rovio from any Internet connected PC with a web browser and Adobe Flash installed. Rovio comes with a charging dock that includes an infrared beacon. Shine the IR beam at the ceiling using

the red LED positioning light and he’ll be able to find his home if he’s within a line of sight with the beacon. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive him to within range to initiate the charging cycle. Booster “True Track” beacons can be purchased from WowWee’s site and allow Rovio to extend his range. This little guy comes from the same company that brought us the Robosapien. However, rather than personifying Rovio by calling him a Wi-Fi controlled robot companion, WowWee has opted to call him (or it) a “mobile webcam.” Clever, but we’re not going to let that lull us into a false sense of security. We see what’s really going on here. Roomba 562 $369 (USD) iRobot www.irobot.com The parallels are too obvious to point out between the company that makes this, an innocuous floor cleaning

robot and I, Robot, an arguably crappy film remake of an arguably awesome collection of short stories. Let’s be honest here; if the world is to be overrun by robots intent on our destruction, we’ll want them to be robots that are low to the ground so we can either stomp on them or flip them over to render them helpless. Enter iRobot’s line of Roomba cleaning robots. Until they inevitably turn on us though, we’re offered these very functional (if a little too practical for our tastes) housework robots. This model in particular will make laps around the house to clean up pet hair, kitty litter as well as the detritus of everyday life. Put him down, hit a button and the Roomba scoots around, picking up stuff until his canister is full or his battery empty. iRobot also makes a line of aquatic pool cleaning robots, a gutter-cleaning robot called the Looj, a shop cleaning robot and a mopping robot called Skooba, among others. By Andrew Moore-Crispin

October 2009 – Toronto – TechKnowMag

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FTA Satellites pt. 3 “For satellite receivers and a wedding” I was recently at a friend of a friend’s wedding reception for a no holds barred, well, no bar actually, Canadian remake of The Uninvited. This was no gay wedding but a dour, parsimonious pairing of two corporeal entities merging with all the joy of the signing of the Tripartite Pact. Thin-lipped bankers declaring vows of unholy sanctimony followed by a feast fit for a discount airline. The horror of an unhosted bar and my consequential vehement lack of enthusiasm for this most nascent union caused my mind to wander wilfully during the worst speech ever made by a best man. My mind flew from cloud to cloud and from repercussion to repercussion as to what “bad reception” meant in all its forms. Bad wedding reception… bad audience reception… bad satellite reception… Sure, the lead here is lead (the metal) and all the victims are now happily divorced from the marriage reception but, hey, let’s at least make sure our satellite reception is good. The choice of satellite receiver you make is going to make the largest impact to the quality of your FTA satellite system as a whole. LNBs, dishes, cable, switches and motors do have variances in performance but these are much more straightforward than assessing the quality and value of those ever mercurial receivers. Sorting the wheat from the chaff requires going over which features matter, watching out for knock-offs, checking support track records and weighing the advantages of a set top box versus a PC-based DVB card receiver. Fun Features One of the most sought after features is PVR (personal video recorder) capabilities whether supported by an external hard drive or internally. For instance, the KBOX K1 PROdigy supports an external USB hard drive up to 500GB in capacity. PVR capabilities vary so try to download the manual to make sure you get what you expect. For example, you need a dual tuner to record one channel while watching another which is a premium feature and not commonly found. Further, instant replay, pausing and starting-replay-before-recording-is-finished (chasing playback) are features assumed to be inherent in a PVR/DVR but may not be supported by a particular receiver. Again, check the manual and not just the bullet list on the web. Another handy feature is a built-in ATSC tuner to handle terrestrial digital and HD broadcasts. While you’re likely to already have a tuner in your HDTV, routing the two through one device saves fishing for that second remote. Also, getting a fast processor will help with the general responsiveness of the receiver like quickly changing channels or working with the program guide. Also, a large memory capacity will help store more program guide data. So instead of holding a guide for the next three days, more memory might hold a seven day electronic program guide (EPG). Other spiffy features available are MP3 and JPEG playback and some receivers even support DIVX.

An example of a satellite receiver

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TechKnowMag – Toronto – October 2009

Core Features All of the previous features are nice to have but others have more impact on the core functionality of your receiver. Can I get the channels I want now and will I get them in the future? PBS beaming down from the AMC-3 satellite only offers audio in Dolby AC3 format. This means you’ll want Dolby decoding capability even if you don’t care about this particular network right now because stuff changes all the time and other channels may follow suit. Without Dolby, you will see PBS but you won’t hear it. To further future proof your receiver, consider one that supports DVB-S2. While the current DVB-S standard is going to be around for quite some time, DVB-S2 allows for the use of the more efficient MPEG-4 video compression standard which, in the bandwidth challenged world of satellite, may be a compelling upgrade to broadcasters. DVB-S

W


!

Want more TechKnow? Check online for the latest issue and our distribution locations. and DVB-S2 are the wrapper signals that hold the candy, where the actual candy is the video data inside, being either MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. It’s a bit like Quicktime written in microwaves. Another important feature is blind scan. Blind scan allows you to find undocumented channels and view them without waiting for your receiver to be updated with data about a particular transponder (transmitter) on a particular satellite. The pervasive “autoscan” is faster but blind scan allows you to find undocumented wild feeds sent from sporting events and news as well as coping better with channel shuffles. The Extra Mile At present, networks send the occasional wild feed using DVB-S2 in 4:2:2 colour space to their affiliates. Searching these broadcasts down is a hobby that will take your equipment choices from the mere future proofing to cutting some edges with professional features. That said, your receiver will need to support 4:2:2 in order to see these feeds. This is not a mainstream feature for a set-top box nor is it really necessary for the casual user. A PC-based DVB card or USB device is more likely to support 4:2:2 than a standalone receiver. A TechniSat SkyStar 2 DVB card coupled with the right software would do the trick. Be aware that, while DVB cards might do the trick in the codec department, decoding all manner of esoteric output, there may

be some support left out in the areas of scanning capability and support for motors and switches. Another cutting edge feature is support for 8SPK which is a method to stuff more data into a given transmission while losing some fault tolerance. All current equipment supports QSPK (Quadrature Phased Shift Keying) which the newer 8SPK transmission method enhances. Finally, look for USALS support. USALS is the latest standard for motorized dish pointing which, while you may not start off with a motorized set up, is a nice option. Attack of the Clones Once you’ve decided on a set of features that you absolutely can’t live without and narrowed your selection to a few prime candidates, Google them. Input the name of the receiver and check out what people are saying. Are there a lot of problems locking on to satellites or with image quality? Be sure to weigh experienced users’ comments more heavily. Also, make sure you avoid buying a counterfeit receiver. Check the manufacturer’s site for authorized dealers and buy from them only. Otherwise, you might end up with a dud. Knowing your receivers will allow you to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, excellent satellite reception. And be sure to host the bar. By Andrew Carruthers

October 2009 – Toronto – TechKnowMag

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A Baker’s Dozen of Great Mobile Apps Whether you’re an iPhone, Windows Mobile, Symbian or BlackBerry user, here are some great mobile apps that will boost your productivity and blow off some steam. Over the last several years our society has become increasingly mobile. More and more so-called “dumbphones” are more like smartphones, and more and more people carry them. We use our mobile devices to keep track of appointments, find directions, play games, surf the Internet and more. Here at butterscotch.com we’ve evaluated, rated, and reviewed hundreds of software products for mobile devices including programs for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile. Today we’d like to point out some of our favourites on these three platforms. Vlingo Multiple platforms www.tucows.com/preview/608795 Vlingo for BlackBerry is a slick program that lets you use your voice to search the Internet, send email, call friends and send text messages. Vlingo’s features vary a bit from platform to platform, but the overall concept is the same. On the BlackBerry you can actually speak your text messages which is an amazing feature. Vlingo is free or you can buy a Pro version for about $17 a year. It’s also available for iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Nokia devices. Evernote Multiple platforms www.evernote.com Another great tool is Evernote, which started out as a mobile app on the BlackBerry. Evernote helps you to remember everything and provides so many ways to add new information. You can access it from the web, as well as from iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android and Palm Pre devices. Save audio, photos, text and clips from the web. Evernote lets you capture everything. It gives you a wonderful way to keep your data accessible, no matter which platform you’re using to connect.

The iPhone 3G, one of the most app-friendly phones on the market 20

TechKnowMag – Toronto – October 2009

Agendus BlackBerry and multiple platforms www.agendus.com Agendus for BlackBerry is a powerful tool for tracking time

and schedules. You can view information in a large number of view modes including week, day, month and agenda. Bring all your task and calendar items into one place where you can manage them easily. Agendus is also available for iPhone, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Pocket PC devices. Facebook for BlackBerry BlackBerry and multiple platforms www.tucows.com/preview/608794 Another handy application is Facebook for BlackBerry. You can update your status, check on your friends, upload photos, and more. There are Facebook applications available on a wide variety of other platforms including, of course, the iPhone. iheartradio iPhone and BlackBerry www.iheartradio.com Speaking of iPhone, if you have an iPhone and you’re in the Apple App Store here are some good, free programs to check out. iheartradio is a great way to get all the music you want. You can even pull in stations from cities around North America and the world, keep a list of favourite stations, listen to featured stations and tag favourite songs to purchase from the iTunes store. If you’re feeling tired of the same-old same-old, you can even shake your iPhone and get a totally random city and genre of music. It can be a lot of fun and is a great way to discover new music. There’s also a version of the software for BlackBerry. Remember The Milk iPhone and multiple platforms www.rememberthemilk.com Another great app is Remember The Milk (RTM). It’s an excellent way to keep on top of all the things you need to do and helps you to get things done. There’s a version for iPhone, BlackBerry and other platforms. You can also access your to-do items via the RTM website or via Google Gadgets that allow you to add RTM to iGoogle and Gmail, among others, and keep yourself on task.


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Fliq Notes iPhone www.fliqnotes.com Take a look at Fliq Notes which can be synchronized with your Mac or PC. This is a slick note program for iPhone that lets you break notes down into categories, alphabetically, or by date. There’s a whole line of products by Fliq that help you with documents, tasks, and keeping it all synchronized with your computers. Google Mobile App iPhone www.google.com/mobile Perhaps one of our favourite apps for the iPhone is the Google Mobile App. You can use it to search the Internet with your voice which often beats trying to type out a search query on the iPhone’s software keyboard. Google Mobile App also gives you instant access to the full range of Google applications like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Documents, Google Reader, GOOG-411, Google Earth, Tasks, Talk, and the list goes on. You configure which applications show up in your list so you only have the ones you use showing.

Remote iPhone www.apple.com/itunes/remote Handy and powerful. Another favourite in the Apple App Store is a little program called

Remote. Configure it to access your iTunes library and you can then control iTunes over your wireless network. This means you can control iTunes running on your computer in the office or den and control what’s playing from your living room or kitchen. You can also control multiple iTunes libraries. IM+ All-In-One Messenger iPhone and multiple platforms www.shapeservices.com Another top-notch application is IM+ All-In-One Messenger. It gives you access to instant messages via ICQ, Google Talk, AOL, MSN and other chat protocals. A great way to IM with your friends right from your mobile device. When you’re not chatting with your friends the program pushes messages and notifications to your iPhone to keep you connected even when you’re running another app. There are versions for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and iPhone. Spb Mobile Shell Windows Mobile www.tucows.com/preview/610173 Another favourite of the butterscotch.com gang is Spb Mobile Shell which works on Windows Mobile platform and supports Window Mobile versions 5 and 6 with a touch screen. Spb Mobile Shell transforms your Windows Mobile device and gives you weather, a clock with world time, a media player, a calendar, a wireless manager and profiles. It also transforms the total look of your device.

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TechKnowMag – Toronto – October 2009

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WorldMate Live Gold Windows Mobile and multiple platforms www.worldmate.com If you’re into traveling you’ll also want to check out WorldMate Live Gold. WorldMate Live can help you track flights, handle missed connections, tell you what gate you’re arriving at, check the time around the world and check currencies. It’s available for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and iPhone. Battery Pack Pro Windows Mobile and multiple platforms www.omegaone.com Another cool program for your Windows Mobile device is Battery Pack Pro. It has all kinds of configurable options and lets you quickly see the status of your battery, but it does so much more. A “Program Bar” gives you quick access to programs on your mobile devices right from the Today screen. Battery Pack Pro also gives you complete information about your device’s memory and makes it easy to shut down programs. So, there you have it. A “bakers dozen” of some of our favourite mobile applications on butterscotch.com. There’s a world of great software out there for mobile devices and the number is growing every day. All of the programs we’ve mentioned are excellent and we’ve run them on our own devices. You’ll note that many are available on multiple mobile platforms. Check them out for yourself and see what you think about these top-notch programs for going mobile. By Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

Michael “Dr. File Finder” Callahan is a Senior Content Producer at butterscotch.com, an online video technology help and entertainment portal. Butterscotch.com is a division of Tucows.com, an Internet elder statesman that’s been offering its software download library of more than 40,000 unique titles across multiple platforms to visitors since 1992. Butterscotch.com came online in November, 2008 and has already built a catalogue approaching 1,400 pieces of unique video content from feature length tech help shows like Lab Rats (www.butterscotch.com/LabRats) to better than 800 unique video how-to tutorials and tutorial series (www.butterscotch.com/Tutorials) on subjects like IrfanView, Beginner’s Guide to Facebook, Twitter User’s Guide and many others.

October 2009 – Toronto – TechKnowMag

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Nikon’s D5000 The Basic Specs Sensor: 12.9 megapixel DX format (1.5 crop factor) CMOS Frame Rate: 4 images per second with a buffer of 7 RAW images or 25 JPG fine Viewfinder: 95% frame coverage LCD: 2.7” TFT LCD display with 100% frame coverage and Live View capability Video Modes: 1280x720, 640x424, 320x216, all at 24 frames per second ISO range: 200-3200 native with 100-6400 expanded range (HI & LO) available Metering: Matrix, Centre Weighted, and Spot are supported. Focus Points: 11 Outputs & Storage: SD Card, High Speed USB, HDMI Video

Over the past two months we’ve been exploring various aspects of what to look for in purchasing your very first digital SLR camera. With so many models on the market aimed squarely at the budding enthusiast, I thought it best to review one of these for the publication. To this end I contacted Nikon, who were kind enough to send me the D5000 — an upper entry level camera which when paired with the higher-end kit lens (the 18-105mm f/3.5-4.5 they additionally included), retails at approximately $1139.99. First Impressions Upon opening the box, I was quite surprised, being now used to Nikon’s pro bodies, with how small the D5000 is. At 12.7x10.4x8cm, the camera is fairly well matched with the 18-105, but when I popped a pro lens like the 28-70mm f/2.8 on, it was quite strange looking indeed. They say good things come in small packages however; so I tried not to pass judgement on this characteristic alone, though it’s true that it took some getting used to when shooting. I fired it up and, glancing down to view the current settings, noticed that there was no top LCD display. This was somewhat mitigated by the articulated rear screen however, which features an innovative, crisp 230,000 dot TFT panel that tilts and swivels. It certainly facilitates some tricky shots, as you can put the camera in places you mightn’t otherwise be able while still being able to see the image preview on the screen. This model clearly targets those who are graduating from point-and-shoot, and used to holding their camera at arm’s length to compose shots on the LCD versus using the viewfinder. This is of course the absolute worst way to attempt to capture sharp images, but the camera design apparently seeks to ease the transition between framing methods. Some of the shooting information I would like to see (metering method, shooting mode, shots taken etc.) while looking through the viewfinder is instead displayed on the rear screen — though certainly the essentials are indeed available and provide more than enough info for most people. Unfortunately, the LCD also has the annoying habit of activating (for a variety of reasons as you adjust the controls) and spilling light into your eye while trying to compose an image through the viewfinder. You quickly get used to turning this off however, so ultimately it isn’t much of a bother. The shutter has a soft, yet pleasing sound and the response of the camera seems fairly snappy for its class. The unit even has a feature I wish was present in Nikon’s pro line-up: an automatic sensor cleaner that activates upon start-up and shut-down. Nothing is more annoying than having to clone out dust bunnies on every shot in Photoshop, or more nerve-wracking than trying to clean your own sensor and risk potentially damaging it. Default Settings Before I take a camera out in the field for any reason, I ensure to first zero the controls. This entails setting the ISO to its native value, in this case 200, setting white balance to auto, removing any dialled in exposure compensation, selecting my most frequent shooting mode (aperture), and choosing a reasonable aperture that will serve if I have to take a quick snap. Obviously, when I start shooting, I make adjustments based on lighting conditions and subject matter; however, there are few things more irritating to a photographer than arriving on-scene, having to take a shot immediately, and discovering that you’ve botched the image by failing to realize that some of your settings from the previous shoot were still active. In the D5000’s case, there were numerous additional settings that I would have to change from the default in order that I might have the exposure latitude that a photographer (as opposed to a holiday snapper) would require. I switched from JPG standard to RAW, sRGB to Adobe RGB (the Adobe RGB colour space has a wider gamut), Active Auto D-Lighting to off (D-Lighting helps maintain shadow and highlight detail in scenes with high contrast, but I like to have full control over my camera and activate a D-Lighting mode only when necessary), and auto-area focus mode to single point, enabling me to select exactly where I want the focus of the image to be instead of having the camera make this decision for me.

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iPod Touch (3rd gen)

APPLE PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

The D5000 in Action I spent two weeks with this camera in a variety of settings, and after becoming accustomed to its quirks, can honestly say this little machine is quite impressive. The auto white balance is excellent, often leaving one less thing to adjust — a relief for most learning photographers. Noise at high ISOs is well controlled and will render cleaner images than even the last generation of Nikon pro bodies at these settings. This is great news for natural light photographers who often find themselves shooting indoors. Colours seem a little saturated and images more pre-sharpened than I am used to; however, this clearly points to the fact that the camera is aimed at a market with less experience at RAW processing, and designed to produce useable images right out of the camera. The supplied 18-105mm f/3.5-4.5 kit lens featuring vibration reduction technology is a fine performer in its class. Barrel and pincushion distortion is relatively well controlled at the extremes of its range though the unit does seem prone to chromatic aberration (purple fringing in high contrast areas of images). Given the low cost however ($379.99 retail when purchased separately), I was surprised by how well it rendered most images. Video performance on the other hand, is less impressive. While the D5000 makes a good first DSLR from a still image perspective; it won’t replace dedicated video cameras any time soon. The lack of autofocus once the video has started recording, no external microphone jack, and the appearance of image banding while recording fast moving objects or when rapidly panning, limits its utility fairly significantly. However, the D5000 allows you to take advantage of the prime reason you’d want to capture video on a DSLR beyond simple convenience: access to professional lenses. So, if you choose your shots carefully and piece them together later in a video editor like the new Adobe Premiere Elements 8, you can achieve some excellent results.

So what’s all the hype about this time? Apple has released a third generation model of the iPod Touch and, as expected, a massive media-saturating advertising campaign to support it. Except these commercials seem like something we’ve seen before, something very familiar… Ah, that’s right, it seems that the commercials are strangely reminiscent of those for the iPhone 3G. So what’s the difference? Well, first of all, the iPod Touch won’t force you to break any arrangements you might have with your current phone and then expect to pay monthly fees on a contract. Secondly, even simply as a one-off purchase the new iPod Touch is less expensive with the base model (8GB) costing just $199. Yet most users will probably see the value in picking up one of the higher capacity models of $299 (32GB) or $399 (64GB) in order to gain the extra capacity and the increased horsepower of the improved models. It is these versions of the iPod Touch that allow users to use all the hottest apps — and, as in those ads, to play the games — at impressively smooth speeds. And since the new iPod Touch has most of the functionality of the iPhone 3G such as access to Apple’s App store including games and top applications, and Wi-Fi capabilities including access to the Internet and social networking sites, the new Touch might just have what it takes to convince non iPhone users to switch over. Even if it may not have come out with a camera as many had hoped (and won’t allow you to make outbound calls) the other multimedia functions of the iPod Touch make the device one of the most versatile on the market at the moment.

Final Thoughts As a transitional piece of gear leading from point-and-shoot to DSLR, I think the camera achieves a fine balance, with a well thought out menu structure, good image quality, and consumer friendly features. While there are certainly some limitations — which are mostly a function of cost, other manufacturers are going to be very hard pressed indeed to match the versatility and quality of the D5000 at this price point. By Ray Richards

The Nikon D5000

October 2009 – Toronto – TechKnowMag

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A History of Horror

Two scary old school games below, with ET at the top. Guess which one wasn’t deliberately terrifying

‘Tis the prelude to All Hallows’ Eve — a time when disfigured apparitions materialize from the shadows, buried bones somehow burst forth from shallow tombs, and the thought of what lurks around that next corner stops intelligent men and women dead in their tracks. Even here at TechKnow, where we’re privy to the latest in futuristic gear and awash in the comforting whirr of cooling fans, something just isn’t right. We can sense it — in the air, in the walls, and all around us. Something indefinable yet all too real. Something… Wait. What was that? NO!! Please…stop!! NOOOO!!!! Clearly, we’re merely trying to humor you. (Or are we?) But such is not the case in the genre of horror video and computer games. Here, there’s very little room for kidding around. Developers are trying their best to scare the bejeezus out of you and they’ll spare very little expense doing it. Why? Because as much as we abhor horror in our real lives, we’re somehow fascinated by it in our flights of fancy and we certainly flock to it in our search for entertainment. Our Halloween gift to you, then? A chronological yet oh-sofrightful look at gaming horror throughout the ages. We’ll offer up a few games you’ll find on retail shelves right now, and we’ll also take several creepy backward glances at past efforts that helped shape and redefine the genre. And, just for kicks, we’ll even take a BOO! at a few infamous titles that weren’t necessarily designed to terrorize, but did anyway. You’ll see what we mean. So gather ’round, all ye who crave chills, as we trundle forth into the unknown….

1972 Haunted House The musical world was still reeling over the breakup of The Beatles, the Goodyear Blimp flew for the very first time, and personal computers were nowhere to be found. But 1972 was also a big year for console gaming. Indeed, it was the first year for console gaming — an event signaled not only by the release of the Magnavox Odyssey gaming system, but also by the release of what is widely considered to be the first-ever horror title, aptly entitled Haunted House.

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Somewhat convoluted, not at all scary, and involving physical props and display screen overlays, Haunted House would be all but forgettable if it weren’t for its inalterable place at the head of the horror lineup.

1981 Haunted House Okay, we know. This game bears the same moniker as the one above it. But Haunted House circa 1981 — released on virtually every platform of the early 80s — was in fact a substantially different affair. Featuring an environment often cloaked in utter darkness and an emphasis (through depleted inventories and minimal weaponry) on mere survival rather than glorious conquest, it is usually cited as the very first “survival horror” game. Other, more recent examples include heavy hitters such as the Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Dead Space series. But, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Haunted House was a true original.

1982 ET the Extra-Terrestrial Buried in the middle of the desert, crushed beyond recognition by tons of sand! Do not fret — such is not the fate of sweet little life-giver ET in this brutally awful 1982 side-scroller. But it’s exactly what happened to tens of thousands of copies of the game when producer Atari tragically misfired on sales projections. That’s right, they buried ’em in New Mexico. ALIVE!!

1987 The Lurking Horror Sometimes, the greatest fear comes from what you can’t see, and in 1987’s The Lurking Horror, you couldn’t see much of anything. Apart from lines and lines of text, that is. You see, home computers were relatively new in the early 80s, and few of them could support graphics of any kind. Thusly, text-based adventure games (“You are in a room. It is dark.”) became all the rage. And rightfully so — even in


1992’s Alone in the Dark (top) and 2005’s Resident Evil 4 (bottom)

today’s age of visual wizardry, text-based games are just… fun. In any case, The Lurking Horror sold a ton of copies and made most users even more terrified of schools.

helpings of live action, expensive sets, and high production values. Not to mention gruesome beheadings, violent sexual acts, and, of course, the obligatory Georgian choir.

1992

The Dark Eye Based loosely on the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, The Dark Eye was developed in Germany and thusly receives less attention on this side of the water than it should. Festooned with detached voices and whispers, and focusing on the psychological rather than the graphic, it is perhaps the polar opposite of Phantasmagoria. Creepy, just creepy.

Alone in the Dark One of the most celebrated series in the history of gaming, Alone in the Dark began its journey way back in 1992. Looking back today at its rudimentary graphics and dreadful voice acting, the game seems more humorous than horrifying. Come to think of it, it didn’t seem particularly horrifying 18 years ago either. But it did concern itself with devil worship, and it was one of the first three-dimension action titles ever. And for that, it rightly has a spot in our hall of dread.

1993 DOOM Unlike Alone in the Dark, id Software’s murderous 1993 rampage poignantly entitled DOOM withstands the test of time and plays well even today. Killer sound effects and a synthy musical score just dripping with dark intent didn’t hurt, neither did gaming’s first truly immersive 3D environment and first truly intimidating graphical monsters.

1994 Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties Cruelly bypassed in many worst-games-of-all-time lists because it wasn’t so much a game as a photographic slideshow, PDWT nonetheless must be cited for its utter worthlessness. Was it a love story? A peep show? Or merely a barbaric joke on the innocents who dared purchase it? If horror exists, it exists here.

1995 Phantasmagoria 1995 was a killer year for horror, and nowhere was that horror bloodier, more graphic, and more disturbingly “real” than the highly controversial Phantasmagoria. Interactive movies were all the rage during this, the dawn of CD-ROMbased games, and Phantasmagoria served up heaping

1996 Resident Evil Cannibalism? Zombies? Bloodthirsty mutants? The first installment in the ridiculously successful Resident Evil series had all of this and more — including plenty of tension between the killing sprees. The series was so successful that it had numerous sequels, not to mention big screen movie adaptations.

1999 Silent Hill It’s really quite amazing how subtle, unspoken threats, eerie environmental variables such as fog and darkness, and a few perfectly-placed sound effects can scare the you-knowwhat out of you more so than a screen filled with gnashing monstrosities. Gamers who prefer the view from the edge of their respective seats flocked to it in droves.

2001 Hologram Time Traveler This title wasn’t merely a bad game, for the expression “bad game” denotes that it was in fact a “game.” It was, instead, an exercise in severe and unrelenting pain, successfully plumbing the depths of flawed software unlike anything that had come before it. In a game where nothing at all worked as it should, could there be anything else but utter, deathly agony?

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2002

2005

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem Proof positive that we Canucks know how to chill players to the bone just as well as our international counterparts, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, developed by Canadian-based Silicon Knights, skillfully toyed with the craniums of its disciples. Were you really losing your marbles, or were you just a pawn of the game’s now infamous “sanity meter?” Brr..don’t get us started about sanity meters.

Resident Evil 4 One of the best games ever, regardless of genre? That’s what a lot of critics thought when Resident Evil 4 emerged from the developer’s lair in 2005. Granted, the just-released RE 5 has received a number of similar comments, but 4 really seemed to hit home.

2003

Sci-fi horror games Dead Space of 2008 (top) and DOOM 3 (below)

Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. If you purposely and malevolently set out to formulate the foulest video game of all time, wherein consumers, if they were familiar with your face, would hunt you down, kill you, and eat you in a zombie-inspired frenzy, you couldn’t possibly create a stinkier slab of software than 2003’s utterly broken Big Rigs. It simply doesn’t get worse than this. Fatal Frame: Crimson Butterfly The 2001 original was no walk in the park, but its sequel, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, pegged the spook-o-meter at 10. Still regarded as one of the finest horror games of all time, the Japanese-produced and gorgeously rendered Fatal Frame II forsakes gore for subtle, unsettling mind games that fully succeed in their unstated yet obvious goal — keeping you awake at night, trembling under the sheets.

2004 DOOM 3 A decade after it thrilled the gaming world with DOOM and its immediate follow-up, DOOM II, id Software returned to the fray, once again at the forefront of 3D immersion. This was not an exercise in subtlety — the game hit you over the head, over and over again, with some of the nastiest, most convincing monsters and bleakest environments to ever hit the first-person shooter genre.

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Condemned: Criminal Origins Somehow capturing the two most common approaches to horror — brutal sadism and psychological panic — within a single game, Condemned: Criminal Origins shocks you with its depiction of violence, plays with your brain, and basically destroys all inner feelings of well-being. Enjoy!

2008 Dead Space Atmospheric, nightmarish, and at times too ghoulish for many, Dead Space nevertheless was no mere fright fest. It blended its slick yet graphic horror with challenging, compelling gameplay that kept it at or near the top of the charts throughout much of the last year. And don’t forget — no game has ever served up this many ways to grotesquely perish. Left 4 Dead Dogs have cats. Godzilla has Mothra. And we, as humans, have zombies. It’s no secret; they’re our natural enemies, and we gotta fight ’em anywhere we find ’em. And there’s been perhaps no better place to do just that than Valve’s Left 4 Dead. The game paints a bleak picture throughout and it’s generally a manic bloodfest, but isn’t that what Halloween is all about? By Gord Goble


Halo 3: ODST Halo 3: ODST Developer: Bungie Studios Publisher: Microsoft Genre: Action/Shooter Rating:

The soldiers of Halo: ODST

The latest entry in Bungie and Microsoft’s popular line of shooters delivers the series’ most enticing and engrossing narrative yet — and without a single reference to the franchise’s adored front-man, Master Chief. As it turns out, the Master Chief, star of Microsoft’s inimitable Halo franchise, has been hampering series’ writers. How else to explain the incontrovertible fact that Halo 3: ODST, the first Halo game not to star the gravelly-voiced, armour-clad überhero, offers up the series’ most compelling narrative yet? Originally conceived as a humble expansion to the final game in the Halo trilogy proper, ODST has ended up as its own full-blown adventure — albeit, at just six or seven hours, a relatively short one. It tells the story of a group of orbital drop shock troopers who have crash landed in the city of New Mombasa circa 2552. Taking on the role of a new hero known only as the Rookie, players explore urban ruins in search of missing squad mates. We don’t find them right away, but we do discover clues that offer a glimpse as to what happened to them, such as a broken sniper rifle and a smashed helmet. As the Rookie checks out the final moments of video recorded on these devices we suddenly find ourselves in the boots of their owners, experiencing firsthand what happened after the crash. It’s through these action-packed interactive vignettes that we learn about, for example, the relationship between squad leader Buck — voiced by Firefly’s always affable Nathan Fillion — and intelligence officer Dare, played by Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica fame. As the Rookie collects more information and we play out additional squad members’ stories, these seemingly disparate yarns begin to interconnect in clever ways, creating what ends up feeling like an expertly constructed detective story.

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Of course, the story is just one half of the puzzle. The other is the play, and Halo 3: ODST delivers the same sort of accessible and exciting action that has become the franchise’s hallmark. We use a familiar arsenal composed of a mix of human and alien weapons plus a couple of new ones — like the ODST’s standard issue suppressed submachine gun, which spits out bullets at a satisfyingly quick rate — and drive the same vehicles seen in Halo 3, including warthogs with gauss cannons and brute choppers (the alien equivalent of a Harley-Davidson). Unlike the Master Chief, our ODST troopers are not biologically enhanced and do not wear the UNSC’s pricey Mark VI advanced power armour. That means that, among other things, they cannot jump as high and haven’t got a regenerative shield. Instead, we’ve been provided instead an adrenaline system that works much the same way.

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However, what the ODSTs do have is a helmet with a heads-up display that outlines bad guys in red, good guys in green, and important objects in yellow, giving them a significant advantage in both combat and navigation. It still feels like the Halo players know and love, we’re just experiencing it from a slightly different perspective. All of the multiplayer content from Halo 3 is here on a second disc, including the original and downloadable maps plus three new ones exclusive to ODST. But the main multiplayer draw is a new co-op mode dubbed Firefight, which lets up to four players team up and take on wave after wave of Covenant forces in some of the campaign’s most memorable locations. It’s like the Horde mode from Gears of War 2, only longer and with some interesting game modifiers added, such as grenade-happy aliens. Firefight is fun, but the most memorable part of ODST is its story. It may not be as epic as previous Halo narratives, but it’s much more personal and engaging. More importantly, it paves the way for more offshoots. The Master Chief is fun to play, but after experiencing this tale I’d be just as happy getting to know some other characters in the Halo universe. By Chad Sapieha


The PSP Go A paradigm shift for game distribution?

Sony’s PSP Go (below)

Sony is testing the water of digital distribution with its new handheld, and it’s up to us to let the game giant know whether it’s hot or cold. With the launch of Sony’s PSP Go, gamers are being introduced to a brave new world in which boxed games are a thing of the past. The new device has no UMD drive, relying instead on 16GB of internal flash memory (expandable via Memory Stick Pro Duo memory cards) to store games. Consequently, the only way to procure games for the device is to download them from Sony’s PlayStation Store. Are people ready for purely digital distribution? It does have its advantages. There’s no need to go to the store to buy games and no more worrying about losing or breaking small discs. Plus, the elimination of packaging and chemical manufacturing processes ought to please the green-minded among us. But there are disadvantages, too, such as an inability to trade in old titles for credit at your local game store, having to manage files as your device runs out of memory, and twiddling your thumbs as you wait for game files in excess of a gigabyte each to download. And if you expect a decrease in the price of games, given publishers’ lessened manufacturing and distribution costs, you’ll be disappointed: The PSP’s digital titles sell for the same price as their hard copy cousins. It is a paradigm shift in how we procure our games, which is why it should come as no surprise that Sony isn’t abandoning the UMD altogether. Going forward, all new PSP games will be available in both digital and UMD format, ensuring that owners of older PSPs will continue to be accommodated. That means people will not be shoved

unwillingly into digital distribution, at least not for the foreseeable future. However, should you decide to opt into the new distribution model via the PSP Go, which will initially sell for a relatively expensive $250, you’ll be rewarded with what is undeniably Sony’s best handheld hardware to date. This svelte device is 43 per cent lighter and 56 per cent smaller than the original PSP, making it about the same size as a larger smartphone — and, finally, truly pocketable. How did Sony manage such drastic shrinkage? Ditching the UMD drive helped. So did decreasing screen size (the new 3.8-inch display has the same resolution as screens found on other PSP models, but is about half an inch smaller, measured diagonally). And with the controls hidden in a panel that slides under the screen when not in use, plenty of space is trimmed around the edges. Other improvements include a more comfortable and responsive analog nub, as well as support for Bluetooth, which in the future may allow users to connect their PlayStation 3 headsets and controllers. Though not exclusive to the Go model, Sony’s new device has led to the introduction of an additional section in the PlayStation Store filled with smaller, cheaper games that players can download in just a few minutes. This places the Go in direct competition with Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, for which hundreds of such games have already been released. There’s no denying the seductive powers of the PSP Go hardware. And, should digital distribution happen to appeal to you, then your decision should be all but made — especially given the terrific crop of games that are (finally) starting to appear for Sony’s handheld, including the recently launched racers Gran Turismo and MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, as well as the upcoming games Metal Gear Solid: Peace Warrior and LittleBigPlanet. It seems the clock marking our progress toward purely digital game distribution has crept one minute closer to midnight. By Chad Sapieha

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Gran Turismo PSP Gran Turismo PSP Developer: Polyphony Digital Publisher: Sony Genre: Racing Rating:

A few pics of GT PSP in action (below)

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Sony and Polyphony Digital’s real driving simulator, Gran Turismo, has finally made its way to the Playstation Portable. All of the cars, tracks, and frighteningly real physics that have made the franchise so successful have been recreated on the handheld with surprisingly accuracy. In fact, GT psp is arguably the most realistic racing game available that can be played on the go. What will grab your attention first are the visuals; GT psp looks nearly identical to GT4 for the PS2, going as far as running at the coveted 60 frames per second benchmark. Car models look gorgeously realistic so you can actually distinguish between different makes and models, which is definitely a good thing as there are over 800 cars available in the game. Unfortunately, all of this awesomeness means races consist of only 4 cars at once, as that’s probably all the system could handle while maintaining the high framerate. The silver lining, of course, is that you’ll always place in the top four. The tracks are also highly detailed, with all of the recognizable features of their real-life counterparts. There are 35 tracks in total, most of which can be raced in reverse as well, so it actually takes a while just to play through all of them. And here’s the rub; all the courses are available from the get-go. Needless to say, when you first boot up the game your options are pretty vast and you’ll like spend a few hours just getting familiar with all the tracks. As amazing as it sounds, GT psp actually lacks one major aspect of its console brethren. It seems that because this was a portable iteration of the GT franchise, Polyphony Digital thought it would make sense for the game to go without a GT mode/campaign mode like that of all previous GT titles — the idea being that, because it’s a handheld experience, portability would be

hindered by having races or race series that last 20+ minutes (which happens; Nuremburg ring alone is over 20km long). This could only work to the game’s detriment, as it reduces the portable GT experience to, essentially, single races and time trails. Frankly, with the ability to pause and put the PSP into sleep mode, Sony and Polyphony should have included a campaign. On the flip side, with so many cars to collect and so many tracks to race on, there’s always some new car/track combination to try to master. There is also a challenge mode, but even with 100 different tests it’s still pretty short and more of tutorial than anything else. Fleshing the game out further are things like saveable replays, custom soundtrack (your PSP should already be loaded up with MP3s anyway),four player adhoc racing, and a drift mode. So there is lots to do, it’s just a matter of how dedicated you are to something that has no formal single player progression. And, if that isn’t enough to entice you, how about this: all of the cars you purchase in GT psp can be transferred to your PS3 for use in Gran Turismo 5! In a lot of ways GT psp seems like an obsessive compulsive collector’s worst nightmare. With no congruous single player to play through, you’re really only playing to satiate your desire to obtain more cars. What makes this appealing, however, is the fact GT psp plays exactly like its console-based predecessors, meaning it truly is the most realistic racing simulator for the Playstation Portable. Make no mistake, if you like racing simulators you’ll very much appreciate what GT psp has to offer. By Mike Palermo


Portable Affordable HD Video Taking high-quality videos wherever you want, for cheaper than you’d expect This digital imaging section has seen some fairly high-quality products grace its pages in the short amount of time that it has been around. This month the Nikon D5000 is featured in the review section as one of the better options for someone who wants a quality digital SLR when stepping up from point and shoot cameras. Another option offered just the month before was the Panasonic Lumix GH-1 which was effective in the fact that it could shoot HD video about as well as it could shoot top-quality stills. Yet while both of these cameras can shoot video, both are worth more than $1000 at the moment and might be a little more than the amateur videographer is willing to pitch in. To that end we have rounded up a selection of handheld

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Read TechKnow from work, home, or wherever you can get online! video cameras, all of which are capable of shooting in at least 720p and each of which is somewhat more forgiving on the wallet, albeit with fewer pro features.

Flip Mino HD

The Kodak Zi8 (below)

PureDigital $249.99 The Flip series of digital cameras has always been built around portability, and the new Mino HD version is no different. Built about the same size as a small cell phone, this model does everything that the previous Flip models did and more. Naturally the Mino HD has the same swinging USB arm that the previous editions were known for (it “flips” out) meaning that the device doesn’t need any cords in order to transfer files to the computer. It’s also safely able to hold its own weight when hanging off of the side of your computer thanks to a lightweight body and rigid design. Speaking of design, this camera is pretty sleek looking considering its only purpose is to record video at 30fps in 720p. Shiny and black, custom-designed models are available to order online. But as for functionality the Mino HD has an internal battery that can only be charged from a computer (unless you buy a charger separately) which doesn’t matter all that much as memory is limited to about an hour’s worth of footage. Playback is available on the small 1.5’’ screen with audio playback, but for a decent viewing of your footage you’ll need to get the content onto a television, via the component cables included, or onto your computer. That’s not such a problem since the built-in software is a breeze to use and allows limited video editing, photo selection from video frames, and upload to numerous social networking sites.

Zi8 Kodak $199.99 The Kodak Zi8 makes a decent argument against the Flip Mino HD, the most noticeable at first being the fact that this particular camera is about $50 cheaper. For the same price as the non-HD version of the Mino, Kodak provides a model with numerous video quality settings. Not only can users shoot in 1080p HD, but also in 720p at either 30 or 60fps or in VGA quality mode. The Zi8 can also snap pictures, which is a nice feature to have in a portable video camera. Also boosting the value of this model is the fact that it charges via a traditional AC adapter and has an expandable memory bay through an SD slot.

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Want more TechKnow? Check online for the latest issue and our distribution locations. However these extra features don’t come without a certain sacrifice. For one thing, the Kodak Zi8 is larger than the Flip model, making it slightly less portable. And the fact that it takes SD cards for memory means you pretty much need to have an SD card to use the camera for any length of time. The Zi8 also has several other important features that distinguish it from the crowd. Firstly, the ability to connect to a display with either AV or HDMI cables is a plus, and it does have a port for a microphone. Arguably more importantly though, is its toggle switch to move from distance focus to macro, which allows the Zi8 to focus on nearby objects, something that the Flip is unable to do.

VPC-TH1 Sanyo $349 In a class somewhat above the first two models in this list lies Sanyo’s Xacti VPC-TH1. You’ll notice that the price is significantly more than the other cameras in this article, but there’s a reason: the TH1 is a Dual Camera. Now, when I first heard that I was expecting a camera that could take videos at decent quality one minute and then switch to taking pictures at the mere touch of a button, all with a higher-quality sensor, a flash, and other more advanced options like image stabilization, face recognition and tweakable ISO settings. And it can… but the pictures are limited to 2 megapixel quality at best. I know, you’re probably thinking that your cell phone can match that. Sure it can, but it probably doesn’t have a swivelling 3-inch screen, 30x optical zoom and the ability to take 720p videos. No, it probably can’t. Then again, maybe it doesn’t need to. Rather than going with the pistol-style grip of other Sanyo camcorders, the TH1features a more traditional camcorder design and well thought out button placements. With a hand in the wrist strap, all buttons are easily accessible. There are also many more options for both video and still images than the other two options here, but at the same time the TH1 is a much larger camcorder and also requires SD cards to be of any practical use. Those willing to spend the extra money might be more inclined to pay for Sanyo’s FH1 model that shoots in 1080p and takes 8MP pictures. Of course, for that price they might also consider upgrading further to a DSLR. By Dorian Nicholson

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LAST CALL

Standing Up for Our Online Should-Be Rights

Andrew Moore–Crispin

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Not to be a fear monger, but there’s a lot of “scary tech” out there. Of course, there’s the malware, spyware and phishing attempts that seek to gain access to your personal data like bank details, PayPal and other sensitive logins through social engineering or keystroke logging. That’s the real blackhat stuff and that’s been discussed elsewhere in this issue. There are the innocuous robot toys that some of the more imaginative and paranoid among us might have you believe will one day take over the world (no names... see pg. 15). But there’s a massive grey area too; tech that gets government or big business backing and puts our personal security or should-be inalienable digital rights at jeopardy. It’s long been understood that the Internet is owned by nobody. Attempts at regulating the interwebs have, by and large, failed. Among those that don’t understand this, the biggest social and societal change since the industrial revolution, having a large and largely unregulated space is a scary prospect. It’s also a potentially lucrative new resource to mine. While we have all no doubt encountered a fair share of Internet ne’er-do-wells, hell-bent on making inflammatory comments, adding little or nothing to an ongoing discussion or just generally making an ass of themselves, the web is still a force for the positive. Sure, there’s illegal file sharing online and granted, a number of bigoted, angry and generally distasteful people have taken up residence online. The same can be said of any technology that enables communication though. That’s not a good enough reason to limit access wholesale. The CRTC has recently held open hearings on the topic of tiered Internet service. We’ve come to accept that we pay tiered fees based on the speed of our connection to the web. For good or ill (and I for one would vote that it’s the latter) we accept that “Lite” or “Essential” Internet service gives us a connection that’s several times faster than dial-up’s 5.6 Kb/sec at a discount rate. We’re promised that we can “get more from the Internet” or “get a better Internet” (whatever that means) if we climb on up the tiered service ladder. We accept that we’ll have to pay overage fees if we exceed our monthly download / upload cap for the month. In short, we accept a lot from service providers that do a generally mediocre job of meeting our online needs. However, that’s not what we’re talking about when we mention this tiered Internet service. Rather, we’re talking about service providers actively capping the download / upload speed on certain services. Chief among them are peer to peer (P2P) networks and file sharing via torrent... for the time being at least. While the aforementioned networks are certainly used for illegal file sharing, which is the basis of the big service provider’s argument that we should accept tiered services and “bandwidth shaping,” it really is a slippery slope. We’ll ignore the completely valid argument that not all P2P sharing is illegal. It’s certainly not.

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Instead we’ll look a little further out. A tiered Internet model would allow service providers to create, in effect, an Internet slow lane. Your blog? Probably in the slow lane. Facebook, YouTube et. al? We’ll assume they’re in the fast lane for people able to pay for premium service. Your ISP’s site and its related media properties? Three guesses where they’ll be. How long before websites that bash service providers for poor service find themselves inaccessible to said service provider’s customers? What about hampering or even blocking access to competitive service provider’s sites? And what happens if this filtering becomes politically motivated? Sure, it’s a bit of a leap, but it’s still smaller than the leap of faith these service providers ask Canadians to take when they assure us they’re only looking out for the greater good and that they won’t abuse their power. Indeed, the companies that hold the Internet infrastructure in Canada are already traffic shaping; pulling bandwidth from users whose traffic they’ve decided isn’t a priority using a disturbing method called “deep packet sniffing.” Deep packet sniffing is when each packet of data sent and received is closely examined to see what it contains. The ISP then decides how important that data is and affords it more or less bandwidth. One final point on this subject: If you think that going with an alternate service provider — one that’s not a member of what is essentially a Canadian Internet service duopoly — is the answer then think again. They all have to use the big two’s infrastructure. An infrastructure that, it must be said, has long since been paid for and is certainly starting to show its age with precious little in the way of expansion or improvement. While the opportunity to speak out against a tiered Internet at the CRTC commission on “traffic management” has passed, those interested can still make their voices heard. Write to your MP to say that Net neutrality is important to you. Tell your service provider the same. Read more about how to be heard at www.competitivebroadband.com/consumer. Check out some of the alternate service providers at www.CanadianISP.com. Though they still have to use the big service provider’s infrastructure and as such, end users are subject to the same traffic shaping (that is, unless the CRTC sees its way clear to say no, which is looking less and less likely... unless we all speak out), it’s the difference between a few dollars and $40 plus going into the big guys’ pockets. These aforementioned “big guys” are, of course, trying to squash these little guys and want to change that current landscape that sees them being required to allow smaller players access to the existing Internet infrastructure in Canada... but that’s fodder for another dissertation. Cheers, Andrew Moore-Crispin


Up Next TechKnow Magazine November 2009 Welcome to the last section of the magazine, Up Next, where we give you a sneak preview of some of the things to look forward to in the next edition of TechKnow. As with every month, you can look forward to new and exciting stories in our regular sections on PCs, Mobile Electronics, Digital Photography and Video Games, where we’ll write about the latest products to enter those respective fields. Also, if you’re interested in seeing more exclusive content such as web-only stories and video content, we encourage you to take a look at www.techknowmag.com and follow along as we grow the website. In the next issue we’ll also be expanding by adding an expanded section on Apple. MacWorld Canada editor Ted Kritsonis offers his input on what’s going to be making waves for all of you Mac junkies… and why maybe you PC types should keep an eye out too. And remember, you can subscribe to TechKnow Magazine free of charge online, or check out our backlogged issues to see about any stories you might have missed. There are three issues in total now, and a chance to win a Microsoft Prize Pack is all the more reason to subscribe!

Until next time, TechKnow Magazine

Feature Story: Going Green TechKnow Magazine takes a look at various ways that the industry tries to minimize waste and maximize the way people use their three Rs. That is to say, reducing, reusing and recycling, more or less in that order. We explore different strategies that some companies have been using to try and cut down on packaging and increase the amount of recyclable materials in their products… and what you can do to help PCs Windows 7 is officially here! We’ll tell you whether it was worth all the hype or not (in our expert opinions) and what really separates it from the Windows builds of the past. While some may still be using XP after retreating from Vista, others still are wary to jump onto a new OS not three years after the last one Microsoft released. We’ll sort out the fact from the fiction for you next month. Digital Imaging To follow up our photo contest and the giving away of a few prizes in the form of Adobe editing software, Ray Richards tells us how best to use such software and how to make the most of our pictures. If you read this issue’s digital imaging section then you may be considering buying a DSLR yourself, or maybe even just a video camera. We’ll explore the software side of things. Gaming The gaming giants have been getting ready to do battle over which will rule supreme in sales over the coming months. There are some big games to look out for on both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 side of things, and we’ll give you all the details, from the latest GTA4 expansion and the new Splinter Cell to the latest in the Uncharted and God of War series. All are certain to be awesome.

The Last Call Andrew Moore-Crispin gives us his insights on what’s happening in the world of computers and consumer electronics. Take a look at the page previous for this month’s column, one which might be of interest to you if you happen to use the Internet. This is your place to find out what’s making waves in the tech industry and why it matters to you. Letters Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and yours could be in print if you send it in to letters@techknowmag.com. Send us your input today to be entered into our contest and for a chance to have your name appear in Canada’s only free technology magazine!

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PHOTO CONTEST

Photo Contest Winners With the conclusion of the summer season comes the close of our seasonal photo contest. We here at TechKnow Magazine would like to thank each and every photographer who sent in images for us to look through. While we received an incredible amount of high-quality photos — and it’s so hard to have to choose — only a select few can be crowned winners. Here you will see three of the finest photos submitted for our review and we hope that you enjoy them as much as we did. More unfortunate than our limited amount of prizes is the fact

Grand Prize Winner!

that we can display only three pictures here. There were so many that were so good. Once again, thank you for your time and efforts, and rest assured, there will be more photo contests! In the meantime, feel free to subscribe to be entered for a chance to win a Microsoft gift pack. All the best, TechKnow Magazine

Runner-up Winners Light Over Frank Slide By David Ledger of Surrey, BC This picture may not scream summer but it is quite impressive nevertheless. The huge expanse of ground pictured in the shot paired with the thick storm clouds overhead gives a sense of foreboding, yet the light breaking through shows that change is on the way.

Morning Web By Kevin Adams of Markham, ON This picture is a great shot of a web at dawn. Details that might escape lesser cameras are caught by this one and you can see dewdrops and interconnecting strands of web supporting the subject of the shot, which glistens in the sun. Toronto from the Island By Cesar Villanueva of Toronto, ON I really like this picture personally, and not because of my love for my hometown, the big city, but because of how small and far away the city looks. The sky covers the majority of the picture and is reflected in Lake Ontario below. A very nice warm picture that really shows off a nice summer night.

The grand prize winner wins a package of both Adobe Premiere Elements 8 with Photoshop Elements 8 while each runner up has won a choice of one fine piece of software or the other.



Tech Know Mag