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Guide: Firewalls and Software Problems

The greatest tool for personal PC security is the firewall. In fact, a software Firewall is one of the 10 Steps PCstats recommends for securing your PC. Yet, how many of you have turned on the Firewall built into WindowsXP, only to discover your favourite interent-based programs no longer work? The biggest complaint we hear has to do with MSN Instant Messenger File Transfers... To get around this, you have to manually turn WinXP's Internet Connection Firewall off, do your MSN file transfer, and then turn it back on to safeguard your PC. There is an easier way, thankfully. PCstats latest Guide answers this, and a few other Firewall Setup an Configuration problems you are likely experiencing.

Next in line is our review of MSI's PCX5750 PCI Express videocard, a look at the Samsung 173P 17" LCD monitor, and some benchmarks for Gigabyte's RX60V128V PCI Express X600XT videocard. Over in the PCstats Weekly Tech Tips there is a handy little trick to backing up your login password. Industry Insights dishes out the info on several new graphics card technologies, and down in "A Reader Asks..." we cover the mystic art of repair installs. Remember, if you have a question, send it in to PCStats, and we'll do our best to cover it in the Newsletter.

Beginners Guides: Firewall Setup and Configuration

Continue on... Firewalls are a necessity, but configuring them so that every internet-based program still works is often troublesome. With this guide, you can have your Firewall, and MSN File Transfers too.
Today's Internet is a dangerous place for your computer; there's just no denying it. To prepare yourself for today's Internet environment, you need the holy trinity of computer security: effective antivirus/anti-spyware software, regular updates and a firewall. In this guide, we will walk you through every procedure involved in setting up and configuring a hardware or software firewall to protect your computer or network.

We will also cover how to circumvent the problems firewalls can often cause to applications, and tackle the issue of hosting a game, web or FTP site on a firewall protected system. In short, this should be the last firewall article you'll need to read. As for the first article you should read, our original guide to firewalls and Internet security contains more information on how firewalls work and the kind of threats you face on the web. Continue Here>>

MSI PCX5750-TD128 PCI-E Videocard Review
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As PCI-Express motherboards slowly filter into the market, manufacturers are quietly placing emphasis on getting their mainstream PCI-E cards out and into PCs. The MSI PCX5750-TD128 is a PCI-Express x16 solution based on the venerable nVidia GeForcePCX 5750 core, and comes with 128MB of standard DDR memory running at 500MHz. Aside from the PCI-E x16 connector on the bottom of the card, it would hard to tell the PCX5750-TD128 apart from the reference GeForcePCX 5750 AGP videocard.

Both feature pretty similar components, and indeed the GPUs are identical. Beneath the small aluminum heatsink situated below the brains of the videocard is the HSI bridge chip. The HSI chip allows the natively AGP core to communicate over the PCI-Express interconnect. Continue Here>>

Samsung Syncmaster 173P 17-inch LCD Display Review

The compact little 17" screen of the Samsung Syncmaster 173P boasts a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels, and an industry standard dot pitch of 0.264mm that makes for a crisper image than current 19" LCDs can muster. While the 173P does retail a bit higher than the average 17" LCD, priced a little over $ 600, it does offer up a contrast ratio of 700:1 and brightness value of 270 cd/m2.

Its pixel refresh time is pretty standard at 25ms, but its viewing angles break the barrier at 178 degrees (horizontal/vertical). I'm not sure what person would expect to work on a screen from an angle of 2 degrees, but at least you have the option open to you. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: My Windows 2000 machine had been working fine for several years, just decided to die on me. I had kept the machine on for several weeks straight, and when I finally rebooted it, it dropped me into an error screen with a bunch of letters and numbers followed by "inaccessible boot device." It does this every time I restart, though it seems to get about halfway into loading Windows before it flakes out. Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I desperately need the data on the machine.

A: This is actually a fairly common problem with Windows 2000. First of all, it's almost certainly not the actual hard disk which is at fault, so relax, your data is safe. This error usually occurs because the boot sector, the section of the hard disk that Windows uses to locate the files it needs to load, has become corrupted. This could have happened one of several different ways, but let's look at how to fix it first.

You'll need to boot your computer from the Windows 2000 CD. Once it has loaded, press ENTER, then press 'R' to repair your existing win2k installation. At the next screen, press 'C.' This will bring you into the Windows 2000 repair console, a text based operating system that you can use to carry out certain repair operations on your installation.

Choose your Windows 2000 installation (generally there will only be one option here). Once you are at the command prompt, type 'fixboot c:' This will replace the boot sector on your C: partition, and should fix the error. Once the command has completed, type 'exit' to leave the recovery console and reboot. Next week: The perils of second-hand systems.

To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.
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Gigabyte GV-RX60X128V PCI-E Videocard Review

The Gigabyte GV-RX60X128V is equipped with 128MB of Hynix 2.5ns DDR DRAM, a nice little heatsink, and Video in / Video out. Gigabyte has bundled in a few extra's, such as a DVI-to-analog converter (for dual monitors), a full version of PowerDVD 5 and Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. The VIVO cable is about 120cm in length, so its easy to hook up the PC to a TV. It's a much better option than having those small VIVO boxes that stick out only a few cm from the computer. Now, time for a little overclocking!Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Password Reset Disk
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Forgetting one's WindowsXP Login password can be a real problem. Luckily, you can be prepared for such occassions by making a password reset diskette.

Creating a password reset disk is quite simple, first open up your Control Panel and go to User Accounts. Once that window is open on the top left hand corner under the Related Tasks bar you should see the "Prevent a forgotten password" link. Clicking that opens up a wizard, simply follow the instructions and you're set.

Once you've created your password reset disk store it in a safe place, one where you'll remember. ;-) If you ever forget your password again in the future have no fear, the diskette will save your hide. Make sure you're folding for team PCStats with your spare CPU cycles.

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PCstats Issue
Circulation: 251,182

Industry Insights

Intel's 925X and 915P chipset launch came in a flurry of excitement about newfangled technology and quietly subsided in the face of meager performance improvements. Even still, the developments that were unveiled will take a much stronger hold in the months to come. Take PCI Express, for example. One of a number of serial technologies (the others being Serial ATA and Serial Attached SCSI), PCI Express skirts the bandwidth issues imposed by the parallel PCI bus.

In recent discussions with Intel and VIA, I've learned that, to begin, Intel anticipates that half of its shipping platforms will support PCI Express graphics exclusively by the end of 2004. Moreover, any motherboard manufacturer that boasts AGP support on a 900-series Intel chipset is actually using the PCI bus, and not delivering true AGP performance. Despite Intel's insistence that AGP disappear, though, VIA plans to release its K8T890 in September of this year for the Athlon 64 and its PT890 for the Pentium 4 in Q4, each with AGP support. According to representatives at VIA, there will also be a version of the chipset with support for two PCI Express graphics cards. The VT8251 south bridge is expected around the same time frame with two PCI Express x1 connectors and high-definition audio.

So it doesn't matter if you're looking for a new platform with AGP 8x or PCI Express x16; there should be plenty of core logic in 2004 to keep you satisfied.
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