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APRIL 2005

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A pril 2 0 0 6

LMsto

Letter from the Editor


Extral

Check out our new sections


Digital Imaging
Home Entertainment
Personal Computing
Wireless
Total Gamer

Ex Ital
SetenBI

snetne SNNBS

Exttal
Seltinsl
Qexlle Sall

Bacanshl

Bacehlht

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MENU

>

Inc

P er sonal Co m p u t i n g
Income tax returns made simple,
Four tax software packages reviewed

Test Lab

..10

Networked Attached Storage[NAS) solutions

l3!gital Imaging
Digital Photograph!I Tutorial 15 .
Learning to see as the camera "sees" Part 3

W ir e les s
A network to call !lour own!

..13

i @tel Ga m e r
Splinter Cell 3: Ubisoft's ascent into Chaos....... . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Handheld reviews: WarioWare Touched!, Klonoa 2 and more ..22

C ont e s t s
Letter of the Month

Photo spree
z

Oe '.
In selecte d r e g i ons ... end online
Not all stories run in all regions due to space constraints. Check our online
archives for the full index of stories across all regions:
www.hubcanada.corn/TheMagazine

Upgrading brand name PCs


PMA: The megapixel m!Ith
Home theatre project primer
Chewing the Core

vvvvvv.hubcanada.corn

A pril 200 5

H U B : Digital Living

Editor ia l
If you listened to
the hype of yesteryear, you may
be wondering
where
the
Ethernet port on
your refrigerator
is. Likewise the
oven, microwave
and p e rhaps
even the George
Foreman Lean
Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine(with plexiglass
dome for warming hamburger buns, if so equipped].
To update the hype for currency, the above would likely
be wirelessly connected to the home network. Meal
plans are created in advance and shared across the
network such that all the appliances run like a welloiled machine. Upon arriving home from work, the oven
has preheated and once-frozen meat has defrosted
and is ready for preparation. Meanwhile, the fridge has
ordered the ingredients for next week's meal plan from
an online grocery retailer.
While some such networked appliances exist, they' ve
hardly enjoyed wide-spread adoption as yet.
TMIO's Intelligent Oven was on display in the Microsoft
Digital Home, a concept home at CES
with all manner of
hidden and overt technology as a demonstration of
what's currently possible. The Intelligent Oven is at its
heart a refrigerator and oven hybdid. Hooked up to the
network via CAT-5cable or wirelessly, the oven will keep
food cool then turn itself on at a specified time so the
casserole is ready when you arrive home. If plans
change and you' re going to be later than originally
planned,you can change the oven-on time via the
Internet or a cellular phone. At about $9,000 (from
US$7,50O], it's likely too expensive for widespread
adoption but is proof positive of the fact that, despite
some false starts and over-excitement, we' re inching

,/'

ever closer toward a truly networked home.


In the future, gettingappliance
s installed or delivered
could involve more than just a couple of delivery persons to lug the thing upstairs. Following close behind
might be a network technician perhaps even a member of Best Buy's Geek Squad making a tech support
house call to lead new appliance owners through the
"plug and pray" installation process.
And until technology reaches a point where it's completely reliable and literally plug and play, we' ll probably
all end up trying to figure out why the fridge just blue
screened.
Anddropped packets willhave as muchto do
with the Old El Paso TacoSeasoning Mix that spilled on
the floor as they will the fact that the oven can't preheat because it's showing a 404 "page not found" error.
The fully networked home of lore is still just a concept.
However, with more and more devices in the home finding their way onto the network starting in the living
room, perhaps it is only a matter of time before said
network connects with every room in the house.

LWIIEDI
Vsalumts i8 s Number 4

EDITORIAL

Editor-in-Chief

Andrew Moore-Crispin
endrewSppubhshing.ca

Erin Bell

Editorial Assistant

erinSppublishing.ca

Contributing Editors
S e an Carruthers
Ray Richards, Lee Rickwood
Merc Saltzman, David Tanaka
Art Director

Steven Sloner

Advertising Sales
V.P. Sales

Chris Cole
chriseppublishing.ca

ONTARIO/TORONTO
Corporate Account
Managers

Ralph Ventriglia
ralphappubliehingce

April Lensen
epriluppublishing.cs

Enjoy the Issue,


Andrew Moore-Crlspin
Editor-in-Chief

Ad Sales

Karim Rizk
keiimsppublishing.cs

Vik Deonanan
vik5ppublishmg.ca

Heather Knight

Lastmonth,we asked:What gadgetordevice do you


use most often?

hesihersppublishing.co

Sebastien Dernier
sebesiienoppublishing.cs

Karim Sahnine

J.T writes: The gadget that I use most often is my computer for Adobe Premiere Pro. Video editing has come a
very long way since I was in college back in the mid
eighties, The creativity these days can rival what is
shown on broadcast television in regards to effects,
graphics, transitions, as well as general editing. Who
would have thought we could produce Hollywood-style
movies and videos without too much of a learning
curve? Now, it takes me in one hour to produce what

would have taken ten or more just over ten years ago.

kerimssppublishing.ce

WESTERNCANADA

Vivian Jin
vivianSppublishing.ca

Jason Hay
jssonsppubkshing.ce

Business Group
President
V.P. Finance

Scott Piccolo
scon5 ppubhshing.ce
Frank Diecidue

and Operations
frankSppublishing.ce
Production Coonilnator
C h r istie Swail
chnsiieoppublishing.ca

Production Assistant

L i z Van Der Wee


Lizsppublishingce

Circulation Manager

D e bbie Johnston
debbieS ppublishing.ce

L etter of the Mo n t h
Our Letter of the Month comes from Graham Wilson
who writes:
After thinking of all the gadgets that I have in my life
and trying to decide which one I use most often, it suddenly came to me that the piece of technology I use by
far the most is: the battery charger. It seems all I do
today is concentrate on the current battery level of my
PDA [which I'm lucky to go 3 hours at work on without
AC], laptops, cell phones, cordless phone, shaver, beard
trimmer, drill, power screwdriver, flashlights, digital
cameras,and the AAA's in the MP3 player,mouse and
alarm clock. I' ve recently noticed the real meaning in
the term "connected" lifestyle. Thanks for this opportunity to rant. If I am fortunate enough to win the S+arck
mouse I have only one question; It isn't "cordless" is it?

For his letter, Graham wins a spiffy Microsoft 5+arck


mouse, which he' ll be happy to learn is not cordless.
Congratulations Graham.
4

H UB : D i g i t al Living A pril 20 0 5

This month, in addition to general feedback on the


issue, we' re asking for your thoughts on our question of
the month: How networked is your home? Are you constantly bombarded with waves from your wireless network or do you live a luddite's life? Either way, we want
to hear from you. Send your thoughts to:
letters@ppublishing.ca

The Letter of the Month will win a retail copy of McAfee


VirusScan 2005. McAfee's VirusScan prevents viruses
when emailing, downloading and surfing, and automatically identifies viruses, worms, Trojans and other
threats. It also provides defense against spyware and
pop-up ad programs.
www.mcafee.corn

McAfee

AR Manager

Scott Robichaud
sconrSppublishing.ce

IT Manager

Steve Duinney
steveqsppublishing.ca

Piccolo Publishing Inc (HeadOffice]


20 DuncanSt.Suite 201 Toronto,ON,MSH 3GB

Teb416348 9666 Toll-free:B66.757-Ozzg


Fax: 416.348.%53
CanadianPublication Mail,
Sales ProductAgreement atl03p518, pnnied in Canada.
ISSN V10 0143 HUB:Digital Living (Bio ed.)

IssN zzto 0151HUg: oigital Living [Calgary ed )


ISSN 1Z10.016XHUB:Digital Living [Edmonton ed.)
ISSN Vio Ozzs HUB:Oignel Living (Eastern ed.l
ISSN t710-0186 HUB:Oignal Living (Montreal ed.)
ISSN 1710 0194 HUB:Digital Living [Prairie ed.]
ISSN 1710 0268 HUB: Digital Living[SW Onc
ed.)
ISSN 1Z10.0216Hug: Digital Living [Toronto ed.)
HUB: Oigoal Livmg is published monthly bg Piccolo
Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Reprodunion in
whole or in part without the permission of the pub.
sher is strictly piohibited. Information presented
here is compiled from sources believed to be accu
rate, however, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. The pubgsher
reserves the nght to refuse ads. The opmions
expressed in the articles end columns and ads are
those or the writer/advertiser and not necessarily
those of HUB: Digital Living.

vvvvw.htzbcanada.corn

F ir a t -. & l a n c e
A topic as dry as set.
ting up, maintaining
and troubleshooting a
home network needs a
lively style to keep
gfifggt Ygm NameNgtwdlkfrom sliding into tech
mufcuffruu
manual territory, and
ccrcM
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ffhurg ffh uu ffu
author Kathy Ivens
delivers the goods with
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kuue. Mclff fee
Home N e tworking
lgur rrMIM
ffrhruf fugue
Annoyances: How to
uffrfftf. Icf uuf
Fix the Most ANNOYING
Things About Your
H ome
Netw o r k
(O'Reilly, $36.95, ISBN:
0-598-00808-2).
- '- > S y j tjt~s
The book is essentially
a giant FAOdivided into
chapters like Software Annoyances, File-Sharing Annoyances and
Network Printing Annoyances. In each chapter, common home networking issues are identified under a heading called "The Annoyance", followed by a section called "The Fix", which tells you how to deal with it.
Covering everything from adding mailboxes, disabling the Windows XP
firewall, configuring network adapters and routers, running cable
between multiple floors of the house and configuring older computers to
find a newer printer, Home Network Annoyances covers it all. To read a
sample chapter, visit
httpJ/www.oreilly.corn/ catalog/homenetannoy/chapter/index. html.

, AN,(I(oY
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Another month, another North American high-tech trade show. for


March, it was CTIA(Cellular Telephone Industry Association), the
show for cell phones, wireless and related technologies held in New
Orleans, Louisiana.
Rich data and multimedia applications like TV broadcast delivery seem
to be the biggest points of pride as manufacturers released handsets
with these purposes in mind and software / services companies let
loose the appropriate applications. Similarly, camera phones with ever
increasing megapixel ratings were displayed on the floor, eclipsed perhaps by video recording phones and digital audio player phones.
Among some products at the show that will likely never make their way
to North America or if they do, they' ll be a while coming was
Samsung's
SCH-V7'70,a 7-megapixelcamera phone using the manufacturer's own MMC Micro memory card available in capacities up to only
128MB thusfar.The SCH-V770 is thefollow-upto Samsung's SPH-S2300
3.2-megapixel
camera phone (pictured). At a truly tiny 12 x 14 x 1.1mm,
MMC Micro is designed for applications in shrinking cellular phones with
expanding capabilities.
Sony Ericsson's first Walkman phone, the WBOO
was also on display, The
phone has a 2-megapixel camera on board and will ship with a 512MB
MemoryStick card. While the storage media used is a proprietary Sony
technology, the music formats it supports surprisingly aren' t. Sony has
bull-headedly stuck with
its own ATRAC3 in the past
vvvvw.hvbcanada.corn

Apple (www.apple.ca) recently rolled out the "second generation" of its


colourful iPod Mini, including a brand new GGB
unit for $319.99. Sitting
between the mammoth 20+ GB standard iPod and iPod Photo and the
tiny 512MB/1GB iPod Shuffle, the GGBiPod Mini can hold between 1200
and 1500 songs (depending on length and level of compression), and
has a much-improved battery life of approximately 18 hours per charge.
The new Minis have had some minor cosmetic surgery; the colours in
the trademark metallic shells have been tweaked so that they' re more
vibrant. The buttons on the scroll wheel now match the colour of the
body as well. Second generation colours are silver, blue, pink and green,
the gold model having been discontinued.
The GGB Mini comes packaged with the standard white bud headphones, belt clip, USB cable and install disc containing iTunes 4.7.1 and
iPod Updater software. Missing are the FireWire cable and power supply, the latter of which now has to be purchased separately for $49.99
-the alternative being to charge the Mini through USBwhile connected
to your computer, or to use a docking station or speaker system.

f' u

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but has apparently realized that a format war when consumers have
already decided upon the formats they use perhaps isn't such a great
idea. Instead, the phone plays AAC
and MP3 files.
Nokia used the Cellular tradeshow to announce a substantial price drop
for its second-iteration N-Gage the N-Gage 00. The drop applies to both
the handset itself as well as games in the much-maligned game deck's
library, existing and future. The unit itself can be had for US$99.99 without carrier discounts, and games for between US$14.99 and US$24.99
(Canadian pricing yet to be confirmed.).
April 200 5

- HU B : D igloal Living

Personal Comp uting Feature

Income tax r eturns made simpler


Throw away the giant bundle of pink and blue forms, chewed up pencils
and gigantic calculator. Completing and filing your income tax return electronically is a far more convenient way of doing things. Not only are the
forms easier to navigate and all numbers calculated automatically, but
upon completing your return you' re one click away from filing it electronically over the Internet using NetFile.
So choose one of these software programs, do your taxes in a matter of
minutes, and then go outside and enjoy the spring weather.

QuickTax
$39.95 [standard version)
www.intuit,ca 40MB free disk space
Platforms:
Win 95/98/Me/NT 4 SP Sa/2000/XP
OuickTax is the most expensive tax software in our roundup, but the
extra features, attractive interface and ease of use that it brings to the tax
filing process justify spending the few extra dollars.
When loading the software for the first time, the user is given the option
of starting a new return or carrying forward information from a OuickTax
2003 return. You can also import financial details from Ouicken or
OuickBooks software.
OuickTax offers two methods of input depending on your familiarity with
tax returns. The "Forms" method simply provides you with digital versions
of the paper forms and lets you go to it, assuming you already have the
necessary knowledge of how to fill out your taxes.
The second method, called "EasyStep", is one that walks you through the

process step by step and offers the necessary guidance on what to fill out
where
it's the approximate digital equivalent of walking into H 8: R Block.
Using EasyStep, OuickTax will fill out your return by asking you a set of
questions (for example, were you a student in 2003? Were you selfemployed?An employee> and so on]. It takes you through each section
o f th e r e turn, prompting you i n a d vance a s t o w h a t
documents you should have prepared and on hand forthe
upcoming section.
As information is entered into the return, OuickTax displays it on the bottom half of the screen as it
would appear on the blue paper
forms.
OuickTax will also download
and import tax slips such as
T4s that you may h ave
received through epost or certain banking i nstitutions
'+

tI
that have online document
managing features.
When it has finished calculating your return, OuickTax automatically scans it for errors or
IF
warnings the company that
makes OuickTax promises to
C1WSk I
I IC$1 allNO
pay any penalty caused by a
re SarSWisr

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Quick Tax error and even suggests potential tax-saving opportunities


within the return that you may have missed based on how you responded to its questions. From there, you have the option of saving the return,
printing it, arranging a direct deposit for your refund, or filing your return
directly using NetFile or TeleFile.
The QuickTax license permits you to fill out six individual returns, or
unlimited returns if the tax payer's income is $25,000 or less. You can
also file directly online(quicktaxweb.ca] without using software. This
costs $19.95 per individual return or $24.95 for an individual plus
spouse's return.

UFile / Im pot Expert


$29.99
www.ufile.ca 25MB free disk space
Platforms: Win 95/98/NT4/Me/2000/XP (online version supports Mac
05 running the latest version of IE, though UFile says it hasn't fully tested the product on all versions.)
Not quite as elegant or user-friendly as QuickTax, UFile uses the interview method exclusively to fill out the tax return without actually giving
access to the raw forms. Questions appear in the main box, with a dropdown menu on the left to
navigate the various secl% TA gtCCIIUiT lgg
ag ~
tions of the tax return,
Users may chafe at the
fact that sections of the
ey
return only become available after you click them off
in the "interview setup"
phase. For example, if you
SW\ IU MI
answer that you are selfemployed, then the selfemployed tab and its relevant boxes will appear in
the left-hand-side naviga0
tion menu,
After the interview is complete, UFile calculates your
return and, if applicable, provides a helpful summary of errors with a link
back to the appropriate section of the return where the error is and suggestions on how to fix it.
Help icons after each line of the return link to a comprehensive built-in
help database.
At any point during the interview, the user can navigate using one of five
tabs across the top that lead to tutorial, interview, results, or a window
where you can either print your return for mailing or file your return online

ile

If you know what you' re doing,


you c an navigate around the forms
and enter relevant information
exactly as you would had you been
filling out the paper versions. If
you' re not as confident however,
the virtual forms are just as confusing as the real thing.
The interview method doesn' t
hold the user's hand nearly as
much as UFile or QuickTax. For
example, when you answer what
types of employment you have, it
will simply produce a drop-down
menu listing the various slips (T4,
75, and so on.], assuming you already know what they are and how to fill
them out and essentially leaving you to wade through the forms yourself.
Processessuch asadding new taxdocuments such as T4s and toggling
between multiple documents are clearly marked and easy to navigate.
Another advantage to repiicating the paper forms is that you can see how
everything is being calculated on the fly, including what formulas the
program is using, and so on.
You can check the status of your refund at any time by clicking the "tax
forms" tab displayed at the top, and tabs along the bottom helpfully display ongoing calculations of taxable income, taxes due, total credits, and
refund/owing amounts.
TaxWiz includes notepad and calculator applications, and a calendar
drop-down menu for selecting dates
nice touches.

TaxTron
$29.99
http: //www.taxtron.ca
60MB free disk space(40MB on Mac)
Platforms:
Win 98/ME/2000/XP; Mac OS 9.2/X with Classic
In addition to the CD-ROMversion, TaxTron can also be downloaded for free from the soft,l(II(I
ware's homepage at www.tax~
R
tron.ca. If you then decide to complete your return and either file it
h~(
online or print and mail it, you
"" ri.
w,~
I!g,
then must pay a fee to purchase
i
4 ~ gt ~ 4
~. hot'
the cornPlete version of the software.
Like TaxWiz, TaxTron is another
no-frills program with a spartan
khaki-coloured display and simple tab-driven interface. When

IIIi;

via NetFile.
UFile can import QuickTax information, and UFile online can be used to
prepare tax returns as far back as 2000,
UFile can be installed on two computers and will prepare 10 returns, or
you start a new tax return, you re
unlimited returns for those with an income of $25,000 or less. Additional given a menu with five easily-navigable tabs of forms to fill out, organized

returns can be purchased online at $29.99 for 10 or $59.98 for 20(free by taxpayer information [address, social insurance number and so on],
for people with an income of $20,000 or less).
income and deductions, federal and provincial tax credits, summary of
results, and filing your return.
TaxWiz
Functions such as adding a new T4 and juggling between multiple docu$24.95
ments are extremely intuitive, and the software provides help files on
www.taxwiz.ca 14MB free disk space
each box that contain basic information as well as links to a more comPlatforms:
Win 95/98/NT/2000/Me/XP
prehensive explanation from the detailed faq on the Canada Revenue
Definitely not a program for beginners, TaxWiz is tailored towards those Agency's homepage.
who are already fairly income tax-savvy. It offers two methods of com- The nicest feature of TaxTron is the prominently displayed box that
pleting a return: the first basically provides an electronic version of the shows your refund as it is calculated in real time.
actual paper forms with boxes to enter numbers into, and the second is TaxTron is free for those with a net income of less than $30,000.
the option of completing the forms by answering questions.
By Erin Bell
vvNNv.hubcanada.corn

April PC305 -

H U B : Digital Living

Digital Imag ing

Oigital Pho t o g r a p h y T u t o r ial 16


Learning tosee as the camera "sees"
Part 3 Focal lengths end composition
Suppose you want the subject of your photo to be a particular size in the frame. You
have two options: move the camera closer or further away from the subject, or change
the focal length of your lens. Zoom lenses, which offer a range of focal lengths within
one unit, make it easy to do the latter, and because zoom lenses are now so common,
we often forget that the other option even exists. Rowever, moving the camera results
in quite different compositions compared to zooming.
Try the following: Set your zoom to maximum wide angle and then adjust the size of
a subject by moving the camera itself closer or further away until it is about half the
height of the frame. Once you take that shot, set the zoom to maximum telephoto and
then move camera back until the subject in your second shot is roughly the same size
as it was in the first.
One of the accompanying photos was taken at 28 mm wide angle and the other at
450 mm telephoto(in 35 mm camera terms], The photos don't look much alike in
spite of the fact that the main subject [Miss Bear) is roughly the same size
in both.
Telephotos offer a narrower angle of view, so you don't see much behind the bearin
the telephoto shot. Wide-angle lenses offer a wider angle of view so more of the background appears in the photo. That's quite obvious. What's less obvious is the change
in perspective. To make the bear the same relative size using a wide-angle lens, the
camera has to be much closer to it, so the perspective changes
perspective being a
function of camera-to-subject distance.
The perspective from a telephoto compresses the apparent distance between
objects. Thus, rush hour traffic taken with a telephoto accentuates congestion by
making the vehicles look even more jammed together than they actually are. Photo
essayists of the 1970s and 19BOs used telephotos in this manner to make strong
statements about mass culture and urban congestion.
The perspective from a wide-angle lens expands the apparent distance between
foreground and background. These lenses are often used to shoot interiors of homes
because they allow a photographer to take in more of a confined space, and at the
same time have the effect of making the space look bigger. The result can sometimes
be seen in brochures of 300 square foot condos that look elegant and expansive.
While not apparent in the sample photos, another significant difference between
wide angle and telephoto focal lengths is their differing depth of field[zone of sharp
focus). The bigger depth of field on a wide-angle lens makes them a good choice when
you want a lot of your scene, from foreground to background, to be in sharp focus. A
telephoto, with its relatively shallow depth of field, helps put emphasis on a single
subject by throwing the background out of focus.
By David Tanaka

H U 8 : D i g i t al Living - A p r i l 2 0 0 5

Below: Miss Bear's field trip, captured using a 45D mm


telephoto lens.
Below left: Miss Bear captured at 2B mm wide angle.

Questions and comments relating to the Digital imaging section of


HUB: Digital Living, including David Tanaka's monthly Digital
Photography Tutorial, can be sent to digitalimaginglppubgshing.ca.
David Tanaka has covered digital technology as a writer and editor for
more than a decade. Also an avid photographer, he became a digital
convert in 199B.

Fun with Photoshop Elements 3


Foto-Fakery for Everyone
Aatbar.Rhonda Grossman
Publisher. Sams (www.samspublishing.corn)
ISBN 0-672-32730-9 Paperback, 215 pages
$34.99

The words "foto-fakery" in the subtitle of this book gives a


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instruction on a wide range of Photoshop effects that
move, remove, add, distort, tint oi otherwise put stuff
into photos that wasn't orig
inallythere.
The result" can be somewhat juvenile doyou really
want to know how to
plant creepy-crawly
things in food, or give
someone a bad complexion? If you do, you' ll
get p I ent y of heIp fr om
this book. But even if
you don't and can look
I
beyond the general
-goofiness of the examples, you' ll benefit from
the instruction on some
powerful features of
this junior image editor
from Adobe.
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F eat u r e : T ea t L a b

Teat Lab: File carving a go-gn


NetworkedAttached Storage (NAS) solutions
Network attached storage(NAS] solutions are gaining some ground in
homes with a huge volume of data being stored and, in some cases,
shared across home networks. No one seems to want to make upfront
references to the NAS acronym for fear of scaring consumers off. The
manufacturers that submitted solutions for this installment of the Test
Lab each use their own descriptive buzz phrase: "Net Disk," "Shared
Storage Drive," "Network Storage Center," and so on. The fundamental
function remains the same.
NAS gained some popularity in small and home-based businesses; in
such office environments, email is often administrated off-site, as is Web
site hosting and, where applicable, FTP[file transfer protocol) site administration. Thus, the need for expensive server racks for network storage is
gone. Rather than drop several thousand dollars on rack-mounted
servers, a small or even medium-sized office could get similar benefit
from a much cheaper, smaller and more easily-administrated NAS drive.
In the home, the value proposition isn't quite as clear. However, as a
means of drive backup, sharing of large files(such as video] across the
network, and as an accessible repository for digital images, home NAS
(or
whatever
name you decideto use]hasa place in some networked homes
amidst a steadily growing repository of data.
The key factor to NASadoption is the growth of video on demand [VOD],
say industry experts. When users can download high-resolution even
high-definition video en masse and easily share it across the network
so that any computer or networked entertainment device can access it,
high-capacity network storage options will become all but a requirement.
While a hard disk drive installed in a PC and offered as a shared drive
across the network uses the resources of the computer it's installed in for
file sharing across the network, NAS devices store and share data independent of a computer and its resources.
NAS devices differ from external HDD-based backup solutions whose primary purpose is to archive a PC's contents should the unthinkable(read:
inevitable] happen. In most cases, NAS drives offer network printing and
other USB-connected device sharing across the network via USB ports.
While NAS solutions cost more per gigabyte than external drives, and
considerably more than internal HDDs, the fact that they operate independently and can share USBdevices across the network make the price
premium much easier to justify.

Info Box
Maxtor
Shared Storage Drive
Model: H01R300 www.maxtor.corn
Capacity as tested: 300GB
Estimated price as tested: $469
(fi om $US399.95)
Estimated price per GB: $1.63
Dimensions: 271x140x41 mm
Pros:
-Veiy simple setup procedure
-Good looking drive
-"Drag and Store"

Cons:

No Mac or Linux support

Physically lai ge

drives tested, it's also arguably


the coolest looking. This isn't a
factor if the NAS is to be hidden
away, but if it's going to be in
plain sight, users likely want
something that screams "high
tech."
A NAS is only as good as the
software that ships with it, and
to that end, Maxtor's solution
takes the cake in our tests. Not
only was the drive recognized
within 15 seconds of plugging it
in, attaching an Ethernet cable
and turning it on, but the setup
software pre-defined standard
share folders and offered to set
aside password protected,

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While Maxtor's Shared Storage Drive is physically the largest of the

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F eat u r e : T es t L a b
administrator-only space on the drive. Simply put, Maxtor's setup utility
was by far the easiest to navigate.
Even with little networking experience, most users should be able to finish the setup procedure in less than 1S minutes. All that's required under
Windows XP SP2 as tested is for users to plug an RJ-4S cable from the
drive to an open port on an existing router or hub, plug in the power supply, turn the drive on, insert the included CD into a computer running
Windows XP, 2000 or 98 on the network, and run the setup process. The
Shared Storage Drive shows up immediately after the software completes
basic configuration as a network drive behind the scenes under Windows.
The drive can then be used as an installed drive and users can navigate
and save files to it as they would an internal hard drive.
A neat touch is Maxtor's own Drag and Sort feature. With it, any files
dragged and dropped into the root folder will automatically be placed in
the appropriate pre-conhgured folder. An MP3 file is automatically routed
to "My Music" while an AVI or MPEG
file will be routed to "My Movies" where
it is accessible only to administrator account holders on the drive or those
who know the administrator password. Dragging files into the shared portion of the drive will drop them in "Our Music" or "Our Movies" and so on,
where they are accessible to anyone on the network. The Drag and Sort
option can be turned off by toggling a checkbox in the drive's user interface. In this interface, administrator account holders have access to more
advanced functions like setting access privileges for shared and private
folders. Unfortunately the drive doesn't support Mac OS.
Two USB 2.0 ports allow for network sharing of two printers, two USB
drives or one of each.
The drive is also fairly quiet when in standard operation. When idle, it
clocks in at about the level of a soft whisper, even with the rear-mounted
internal fan spinning.

Simple Tech
SimpleTech's SimpleShare drive is clearly aimed at small or home office
(SOHO}users rather than general home users. Its setup isn't as simple as

Ion
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the average home computer


user might hope, and it would
SimpleShare Office Storage Server
look more at home in an ofgce
Model: STI-NAS/250
environment.
www.simpletech,com
The browser-based configuraCapacity as tested: 250GB
Estimated pnce as tested: $450
tion utilities offer more adminisEstimated price per GB: $1.80
trator control over shared foldDimensions. 225x140x34 mm
ers, disk mirroring, striping and
creating pools, which make it a
Pre:
viable option for savvy network
-Advanced administrator options
administrators.
-Mac and Windows compatible
Running "NASFinder," the drive
was quickly discovered on the
Cons:
-Potentially confusing to average
network and reported no probusers
lems. However, the browserUSB parol too close together
based application i nitially
refused to move through its
next steps, which allow users to set an admin password and map the
SimpleShare to an available local drive letter for full integration with
Windows. Some trial and error later, disabling software firewalls, trying different browsers, swearing and turning the thing on and off several times,
the drive finally saw fit to cooperate. It's unclear what the problem was,
alas. The SimpleShare also integrates with Mac OS
X, but was only tested
on machinesrunningWindows XP and 2000.
Two USB2.0 ports mounted vertically and side-by-side allow printers and
USB disks to be shared across the network. However, the physical layout
of these ports is such that wider USBkeys have a hard time living beside
each other. SimpleShare is unremarkable to look at and is fairly quiet,
clocking in at around the level of a soft whisper.
For home use, the SimpleShare's deep and potentially confusing customizabiiity is overkill. However, for SOHO
applications where users have a
better than average knowledge of networking, the advanced functionality
of the SimpleShare make it a good bet.

Ximeta
Ximeta's NetDisk is a NAS of a different ilk as it can connect to and be
shared over a network via Ethernet or to a single PC via USB2.0 to act as
a direct drive on one system. Hence it is afforded a slightly different
acronym: NDAS
for network direct attached storage.
The Net Disk housing is attractive and its small footprint relative to other
NAS drives tested gives it a leg up if it is to rest on a desktop.
NetDisk's setup process is a little strange; rather than auto-detecting on
the network and guiding users through a simple setup, the install process
has users inputting a 20 character code and a five character "write key"
found on the bottom of the unit.
Once installed, the drive acts
I1 0 OX
exactly like an installed physical drive. The downside to this
Model: NDU10-120
approach, however, is that by
www, ximeta.com
Capacity as tested. 12DGB
functioning like an installed
Estimated price. $240 (truss>sass
drive, NetDiskdoesn'tlookafter
Estimated price per GB: $2
setting up shared folders.
Dimensions: 211x119x36mm
I

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Pros:

Cons:
-No USBportsfor peripheralsharing
' gs
-No on-board sharin
vvvvw.hubcanadei.corn

shared and users must use


other methods to protect personal files on the drive from
other network users.
Where other drives in the lab
use fans as a method of cooling,

April ROOD -

H L I EI: Digital Living

11

F eat.-ure: Test L a b

Net Disk uses its aluminum frame as a heatsink. The only moving parts in
the NetDisk are in the actual hard drive. As such, it's the quietest of all
drives tested so quiet in fact that whatever noise it might make while
idle is lost in the ambient sound of even a quiet room, making it impossible to get a proper dB reading.
Ximeta claims a transfer rate that is faster than any NAS solution and
speaks the truth. Transferring several test files most notably, a folder of
video clips just under 1GB in size took under 2:30. Transferring the
same folder to all the other NAS drives tested took just under 3:45
Since the Net Disk doesn't have USB
ports beyond its USB type B port for
direct PC connection, it can't share printers or other USB devices across
the network. By purchasing a second NDASdrive, users can set up RAID
for data safety in the form of redundancy or striping for faster
data access.

Buffalo LinkStation Network Storage Center

utility which in our best estimation is intended to find and/or assign an


IP address to the drive on the network when multiple LinkStations are
available on the network repeatedly failed and resulted in the following
strange and potentially amusingIif it weren't so frustrating] error message: "Firewall can be put into effect. If not being used correctly stop the
firewall and preform setup again."
Scanning through the 23-page PDF
manual, we find out that since in this
case the automated setup didn't work as intended and didn't launch the
browser-based administration page, this utility must be accessed
through a browser window using the address http//LinkStation name.
Once discovered, the LinkStation's administration page proved worth the
search. In this page, the LinkStation or a portion thereof can be set up as
an FTP server, accessible from outside to authoiized users. Also, a utility
called PCast allows the drive to be set up as a media server. Other options
include automated backup of the LinkStation's contents to an attached
USB drive and the standard options to set up shared folders, individual
users and, a decidedly business touch, user groups.
Two USB2.0 ports, one mounted on the front, one on the back, allow for
the sharing of USBprinters and drives across the network.
If users have some networking knowledge at the ready, Buffalo's
LinkStation has the most to offer behind the scenes. However, it's certainly not the most user-friendly option.

The bottom line


The NAS solutions in the lab were tested with an average home user in
mind a user without extensive networking knowledge who hopes for a
simple setup process and easy administration thereafter. Maxtor's
Shared Storage Drive is the clear winner when ease of use is the main criteria. Its overall good looks and intelligent network integration make it the
best choice for non-Network Administrator users. Other options offer buyers more control and access to deeper functions of the drive, but lack the
simple usability.
By Andrew Moore-Crispin

It's not the most elegant solution, either aesthetically or functionally, but

Buffalo's LinkStation is a highly capable NAS


device.
Another drive more at home in a small office environment preferably
one with a network admin with a penchant for broken English than in
the typical home network setup, the LinkStation packs in some useful features like an automatic or user initiated backup process and FTP server
setup and administration.

Info Box
uffalo LinkStation Network
Storage Center
odel: HD-120LAN
.buffalotech. corn
apacity as tested: 12OGB
strmated price: $300 rr rrsSa4ar
stimated price per GB: $2.50
ireensros: 175x85x60

Advanced utilities such as an FTP


erver
SB ports front and back
orrbc

otenti
ally confusing setup process
otterribly attractive
12

The automatic detection utility


that starts off the setup process
was hit or miss in our tests, both
on a corporate and home network with software Brrewalls disabled on the latter. The drive
showed up in both cases in
Windows' "My Network Places"
folder, but LinkStation's own
"Client Utility" reported only
about 400MB of available space.
Mapping the root of the drive as
a network drive is a simple matter of choosing the appropriate
menu option in the utility menu
and reported about 110GB of
available space.
Attempting to use the IP setup

H UB : D i clrbal Living - A p r i l BOC36

UnkStation

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Digit-.al Imaging

D V, ar N o C D V
An ongoing look at digital video tips, tools and techniques upon several years ago bymany of the leading manufacturers, describes

very precisely how video signals will be processed digitally. DV, for examDV products are getting smaller every day, but they' re getting bigger, too, ple, moves from a video camera along a special cable to a dedicated comThat seemingly contradictory statement is my way of introducing this new puter at 25 megabits per second no more and no less,
HUB column. It's all a bout video, large and small, digital
and not.
This column will look at the latest and greatest digital video products now
or soon on the market those are the ones getting smaller and smaller.
Some oF today's digital video camcorders will Dt in your pocket, or on the
end of a keychain. Maybe that's good, but whether they have the functions, features, capabilities and price points you want or need is another
matter.

This column will also look at the huge impact that digital video is having on
our world one that is only getting bigger. No longer are video tools
reserved solely for established media companies to use. As the state of
the art advances, access to the tools of the trade is open to consumers,
hobbyists and aspiring professionals.
If you are new to digital video, this column will inform you and point the
way to an exciting and creative new world. If you have some experience
with the medium already, it will inspire you to greater heights with new
insights and ideas.
First though, another seeming contradiction: DV is always digital video,
but digital video is not always DV.That affects how you use, and choose,
your equipment.
DV, as an acronym, is the proper name of a internationally recognized set
of technical specifications. DY, originally a consumer standard agreed

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H U B: D i g i tal Living - Toronto BacCIon - A p r i l 20 0 5

www.hubcanada.corn

Digital Imag in g
As a generic phrase, digital video includes DV, but also a number of other
formats and technical specifications. For example, a high-end, high definition digital video format known as D-9 or sometimes Digita)-S, moves at
1DD Mbps four times faster than DV, with a corresponding increase in

image uality.
q
DV, as a format, is recorded to tape those familiar one-hour Mini DVcassettes, or longer lasting full. sized cassettes. But other types of digital
video can be recorded to tape, memory cards, and now even DVDs
or other
optical disc-based media. There are significant differences, both technical
and aesthetic, between DV and other digital video formats that will be
explored and explained in future columns.
For now, just keep that contradiction in mind: DV is always digital video,
but digital video is not always DV.
Because here comes another contradiction: you may have heard about
HDV, or high definition video. In the consumer electronics world, HDTV is
hot, hot, hot these
days.
Well, HDV is not HD.
\
Not yet, at any rate.
HDV is very exciting,
Elf odn+
vs~
and a big deal in the
consumer and professional media world. It
opens a very affordable path for video
makers to create and
deliver video with the
look, feel and quality

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Lee Rickwood is a freelance writer and independent video producer. He


operates Word Dn A Wire, an independent company providing editorial,
media production and consulting services to individuals and companies
acrossNorth America.He can be reached atvideodazeLGgoodmedia.corn.

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expected in a movie theatre. But it is still not


really HD.
Again technical specifications define the differences, as do prices. But
cheaper, lighter and
more capable DV and
HDV camcorders will be
formally announced by
the time you read this,
so digital video enthusiasts will have even more
issues and opportunities
to deal with.
By the way, just in case all this tech talk about digital specifications leaves
you cold, keep in mind this column is called DV, or Not DV because there
are still good reasons to use good old analog.
We'(( explain why next time,
By Lee Rickwood

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TC3 4

HU E): D igital Living - Toronto Section April 2005

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Digital Imag in g

P M& : Th e m e g e p i ~el my t h
The megapixel battle is over, according to many of the digital camera
makers at this year's Photo Marketing Association trade show in Orlando,
Florida, which took place Feb 20 to 23.
That's not to say that a particular camera maker has broken a barrier
making it impossible for other manufacturers to follow suit. Rather, the
megapixel is no longer perceived as the all-telling factor in digital camera
purchase decision-making it was once was.
Entry-level cameras on the show Roor started at about 4MP while the
higher-end point-and-shoot digicams started off in the 7MP range.
However,
consensus seemed to be that many consumers, having
already purchased at least one digital camera, have since decided that

while the megapixel count is an important factor in overall image quality,


it's becoming second to a host of usability considerations especially
given the new defacto minimum megapixel count of four in even the lowend consumer cameras.
Since running into the limitations of earlier generation digital cameras,
consumers have realized the importance of factors like battery life, shutter lag/image processing and start up speed along with overall form factor and ease of use, says GregPoole, director of sales for FujiRilm Canada.
It's a sentiment that's echoed by all the manufacturers HUB had a
chanceto speakto atPMA.
The shift from tech specs as the major influencing factor in digital camera purchasing can be attributed at least in part to the fact that women
control a large portion of household spending, especially on bigger ticket items like digital cameras. "She doesn't want to know about the underlying technologies," says Nancy Carr, director of worldwide strategic
brand alliances for Eastman Kodak Company, "she wants to take good
pictures with a good camera at a good price."
The loudest announcements on the show floor those that feature
hourly presentations with models, microphones and light shows are
for "lifestyle" or "wearable" cameras. While the "prosumer' contingent
with its very specific and advanced requirements for cameras is being
taken care of by Canon, Pentax, Nikon and Olympus, the SLRwasn't the
star of this show. The SLR manufacturers made their new product
announcements at Photokina in late 2004 and have little left to add
except a few extra letters and numbers to existing models the photographic equivalent of a "New and Improved!" starburst.

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H LIB: D i gital Living - Toronto Section A pril ZQQB

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The star of this show is found in the mid-range of digital imaging,


where the retailer's margins are still reasonable and, says Rob
Sturgess of Nikon Canada, where second-generation digital camera
buyers are most likely to look after running into the limitations of
their previous models.
Kodak's EasyShare 27590 is a mid-range point and shoot with some
more advanced features like manual control in among the
EasyShare line's mandate of "sharing made simple" and the handholding shooting modes and actions symbolic of Kodak digicams. It
breaks with recent Kodak tradition by sporting a huge 10x optical
zoom that is graduated for fast or slow zooming, a slick black casing
and a rotating LCOscreen. Shipping in May, the five-megapixel camera should go for about $550 in Canada [from US$450].
Casio showed off its Exilim 3.2MP EX-S100 around the neck of a
female tether. The BBx57x16.7 mm camera incorporates clear
ceramics in much of the optical assembly, allowing this ultra-slim
device to include a 2.Bx optical zoom. One of few cameras that satisfy both the "wearable" or fashion market segment while incorporating mid-range camera features, the EX-S100 has a two-inch LCD
screen and goes for an estimated $310 [from US$250].
Casio also announced two new additions to its Exilim line, the EX1750 and EX-Z757, two thin format cameras with large LCD screens
at 2.5 and 2.7-inches respectively. Both are housed in slim brushed
aluminium cases, and feature Casio's own extended battery life in
the order of 325 shots on a single charge, measured to Camera and
Imaging Products Association [CIPA, www.cipa.jp/english] standards. Both of the 7,2MP cameras are expected on the market in
early April, prices to be determined.
Fuji showed off several cameras from each of its lines at the show,
including its newest addition, the "2" line of fashion cameras. Only
one entry strong thus far, the Z series breaks with Fuji's traditionof
sequentially alphabetizing its line with A being entry-level, E being
about mid-rand, F being the higher end of its line while the 5 sedies
tries to satisfy prosumers. The FinePix 21 is a 5.1MP "fashion camera" and features an impressive 2.5-inch LCD screen and a slick
outer shell in black or silver complete with sliding lens cover. The
camera has a 3x optical zoom and is the first Fuji camera without an
optical viewfinder. Fuji says it has compensated for this lack by
incorporating its own LCO anti-glare screen film a technology
commonly found in larger format LCD displays, according to Poole.
Set to release in June, it's expected to carry a retail sticker of around
$S50 [from US$450],
Nikon meanwhile, a company already well-known in the SLR space,
is growing its presence in the point-and-shoot entry-level and midrange by making some additions to these lines with the Coolpix
4600,5600 and 7600. As the numbering scheme suggests,price,
performance and feature set increases accompany the higher
model numbers.
Coolpix cameras in the company's PMAline take a close look at ease
of use for consumers, Sturgess says, by offering features like incameracropping and red eye reduction,about15 scene modes and
a proprietary Nikon technology dubbed "D-Lighting" that evens out
dark or light areas of an image after capture, saving the original
image for future use in its higher end models. The 4600, 5600 and
7600 have1.B-inch LCD screens,feature Nikon's own ED [Extra Low
Dispersion] optical glass and have 4, 5.1 and 7.1MP resolutions
respectively. The cameras are expected in early spring, pricing to
be determined.
By Andrew Moore-Crispin

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- H UB : D igital Living - Toronto Saction

TD B

H om e E n t e r t a i n m e n t

C anada: Br ing nn t: he HDT V


If anyone ever tells you Canada lags behind the LIS when it comes to
adopting new technology, remind them that we were first to have highspeed Internet connectivity in the home, we bought MP3 players long
before there were iPods, and the latest statistics show Canada is buying
HDTV faster than our friends to the south.
That's right a new study conducted by Decima research for LG
Electronics Canada found that Canadians are buying high-definition televisionsat amuch faster rate than Americans.
Specifically, 16 per cent of Canadian households have already invested in
an HDTV-ready television, which is a per capita rate more than SOper cent
faster than Americans(who are currently at 11 per cent adoption).
What's more, G3 per cent of Canadians surveyed knew about the video
and audio benefits of HDTVover standard definition TV.
The snag, however, lies in the availability of HDTVprogramming or lack

thereof. Only 42 per cent of Canadians who own an HDTV-ready setare


currently subscribing to high-definition service through their digital cable
or satellite provider.
"On one hand, these results are very encouraging" explains Steve Preiner,
director for LGElectronics Canada. "Canadians are embracinH
gDTV, which
is promising for the industry." But Preiner believes the survey's secondary findings on the weak customer commitment to high-definition service should make the industry open its eyes.
"The problem is the fact that many Canadians are unsure what the future
holds when it comes to HDTV
programming,' says Preiner. "There is a clear
gap here between the consumers, the broadcasters, the CRTC
[Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission] and the manufacturers. As manufacturers, there is only so much we can achieve. It is
essentialthat an industry-wide timetable be established to ensure HDTV

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A SUS AON-E
+$2 9

P4 3JGbz(LGA775)
ASUS PIGDI M/8

ASUS PIGDI-VM M/8


$12MB DDR 400 RAM
160 GB HDD 7200RPM
INTEL GRAPHICS 900
16X DVD-/+RW DRIVE
SOUND I GB-LAN / FDD
KB/MOUSE ISPK
FRONT VSB CASE
P432G
+$59

ASUS PSP800 M/8


512MB DDR 400 RAM
160 GB HDD 720QRPM
RADKON 92$0 128MB
16X DVD-I+RW DRIVE
SOUND / GB-LAN / FDD
KB / MOUSE SPK
/
FRONT VSB CASE
P432G
+$$9

AMD Athion44 3000+


ASUS ASV DX (S-939)
512MB DDR 400 RAM
160 GB HDD 7200RPM
RADEON 9250 128M
16X DVD /+RW DRIVE
SOUND / GB-LAN / FDD
KB /
MOVSK / SPK
FRONT USB CASE
htbioa-64 3200+ +$$9

All system parts are lgplradeable I Dealers are welcome

P4 3.4 G

+$79

IIPGR4DE KITS

INTEL Ca(earn D2.4 Gbz

ECS P4VMM2 M/8


WIRELESS
40GS I 80GB $$6/$66 Radcon 92$Q
128M $$$ 54Mb G ROUTER $65 256 MB DDR333 RAM
$195
DVD+CDRW/LAN/Modem
120GB / 160GB $85 / $99 Radeon 92$0 2$6M $95 54MbGPCIAdepter $39
ATI R9700 PRO I Wireless Acer 19" 1913LCD $399
200GB/250GB $12$/$175 Radeon 96NXT 2$6M$18$54Mb G USB Adapter$35 AMD SEMPRON 2400+
LG
$2X
CD-ROM
$
19
Acer 17" 1715 LCD $289
80G/120G SM 575 /$95 X600Pm PCI-E 256M $13$54Mb G Cardbns $35 ECS KM400-M2 M/8
Samsung793DF CRT $139 52X24X32 CD-RW $25 160G/200G SM $105/$129 X700Pm PCI-E 2$6M $2$9 D-Link GS20 GPCI $6$ 256 MB DDR333 RAM
ASUS SPI/t/ $10 89
$17$
15" XGA/Centrmo 1.6G
Samsung997DF CRT $25$ LG 16X DVD-ROM $29 250GBSM
16 9
X050XT PCI-E 256M $599D.LinkGI22GUSB $79
$ 47 120G/160G sate$$109/115
2562M/40GB/CDRW+DVD Samsung 710V/713V $32$ 1G CDRW+DVD
ATI AIW R9600 128M$2 D-link G6$0 Gudbus$65 INTEL P4 2.4 GHZ CPU
LG 16X DVD+/-RW $75 200G/250G sate $139/$175 ATI AIW R9800Pro $265 D-link 624 G Router $79 ASROCK P414$GV M/8
7
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$3
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Samsung
ASUSMOSNE $1499
Teshibz Notebook HBD AIW X600Pm 256M $289 D-Link 714P GRouter $99 256 MB DDR333 RAM
$259
15.4" WXGA/Ceatrino 1.6G L G 17" 1715SK $ 2 9 9 BENQ 16X DVDRW $65 4200RPM 8M Cache:
WUSB$4G $67
MSI NX6600 256M $199 Linksys
NEC
16X
DVD+/-RW
$79
$13 $
40G/60G/80G $95/125/1$9 MSI 6600GT 128M $239 Linksys WMP$4GPCI $67 INTEL P-4 3.0 GHZ 800Mhz
$12MINGB/CDRWoDVD A OC 17" FlAT
$ 2 1 9Pioneer 16X DVDRW $1055400RPM 16M Cache:
ATI Radeon9700/ Was(ass A OC 19 FLAT
MSI Nz6800 256M $429 Liaksys wrt$4G Roster$79 ASUS P4S800 M/8
Acepowm 17"
FLAT $125 Pieztor 16X DVDRW $149 40G/60GI80G$99/I 39/I 79 MSITV WHERE $69 L'
s WPC Czrdbns $67 256MB DDR333 RAM -$329
Mora. Oar tsebslte
AMD ATHLON 64 3000+
15" SXGA/$12M/NGB

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160 GB HDD 720QRPM
ATI X600 Pm 256M PCI-E
16X DVD-/+RW DRIVE
SOUND / GB-LAN / FDD
KB/MOUSE/ SPKS
FRONT USB CASK

www.hubcartmdta.corn

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MSNP M725

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FfDI Maxtor 40GB IDE HD 7200rpm 2M
Video: S(S 616FX Chipset
Optical Drive: Pioneer 108 16X DVD-RW
Saund: Onbaord Sound
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ApFT'I 2ClQS HUB : Digital Living Toyont o Section

TQ 11

Our 17th Year


550 A{dan Rd., Unit ttf 1 0
Markham, Ontario L3R 6AS
Telephone: {905) 470-1425
Fax: {905) 178-955$

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S O F T W A R E o oA C C E S S O R IE S

INTEL PENTIUM4 PGARetail Boxed CD-ROMS

ENVIBI' 'N

2.40Ghz(533Mhz,embcache) .... 176 LG 52x ..................................20


3.00Ghz(800Mhz,embcschs) .... 255 DVD4EOMS

E1-7410

3.20Ghz(aooMhz.fmbcache) .... 301 LG/Liteon DVD 16X ........ 33/34


INTELCELERONLGARetell Boxed CDWRITERS

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2.53Ghz(533Mhz.saakbcache}
... fpti LQ(GCE4L538$)53xazx53,............ 36

2.93Ghz(533Mhz.saakbcache)
... 146 COMBINATION DRIVES
INTEL PENTIUM4 LGARetail Boxed LG{4521)52xconw. 16xovDR ..... 54
2.80Ghz(800Mhz,
tmb, P4-520) .. 228 DVDWRITERS
3.00Ghz(800Mhz.1mb,P4-530) " 248 Pioneer(ovslnoa)16x+/isx.DL'... 94
3.00Ghz(544xl,zmb.p4630)..... 313 Pioneer external OVD writer kit

~~
$4%th~
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3,20GhZ (8OOMhz,1mb. P4-540) .. 302 DVR-1 Oadrive insluminum endosurewith

f 7" E70/E70B ....................... 162


17" ETOF / E70FSB ... 173 /181
19" PSSF+
.. 3f g
21" G8 1 0.....,........................478
21" G220F/G220FB ...
.537 /548
22'P22OF/P220FB ............... 677
22 P 2 25F/P225FB.742
... /732
SAMSUNG
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- """" 1 gg "
17" AC711/AC711B ....,.....,., 149
3.40Ghz(sooMhz.
emb,P4-550> ..382 Plextor ( x-738A>
lax+ ax- ...,.... 154
360Ghz(800Mhz1mbP4580) . 563 Piextor(Pxr{6sATA) lax+8x-...169
AMD ATNLON84 Retail Boxed
LG(4363$8>lax+Max-oL............. 80
SDL.D}634
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17 VGSQOBzsaoo:3
VP171 B-28msmnov
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19" VP191B-2
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3800+ Socket838{333Mhz> ......... 471
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IENsdLCD Display.
15" 510Nisms45on ................. 335
RELESSNETWORKING
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Ream 0/434{8) ........... 68
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RMC464unsckmo
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ANTEC
PX-TV402U O(xNERIXI/883MPE03 225 ewe a

SONATA(saowana.uss>...,...... 137

SI.K1650 (350 wana.


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SLK1650B(35owslls, Uss) ......... 81

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Atalfl EQD6 -

H U E X Digital Living - TorontO SSCtian

TO 13

H om e E n t e r t a i n m e n t

services keep up with the growing demand for HDTVprogramming.'


Preiner says consumers would adopt HDTVeven faster if there was
more high-definition programming to entice them to upgrade their
set. Currently, Bell ExpressVUhas the most HDTVchannels at 25, fol
lowed by Rogers at 24 and Star Choice at nine. Some stations rotate
between movies, sports and prime-time programming.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has
already established such a timetable: By July 1, 2006, 50 per cent of
television receivers in the 25- to 36-inch screen size must include a
digital tuner capable of receiving HDTV signals. The CRTC, on the
other hand, is asking digital television broadcasters to ensure that
two-thirds of their schedule is available in high-definition by
December 31, 2007.

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TD 14

HLIB: D i gital Living - Toronto Section - A pni BOOL

A word on HDTV tt)pes


Confusing as it may be, consumers today have a range of options
when it comes to purchasing a new HDTV.
Here's a brief look at a few
of the technologies in the marketplace today, including pros and
cons for each,
Plasma televisions contain a mixture of neon and xenon gases that
fills the small space between two sheets of glass. When this mixture
is stimulated by an electrical current, the process creates a vibrant
picture. These flat-panel TYs are thin enough to hang on a wall,
though they should be mounted as they can weigh considerably
more than LCD displays. Plasma TVs can be pricey, and they suffer
from 'burn-in" should a static image be left on the screen too long,
but their lifelike picture makes them a preferred big-screen technology among many home theatre enthusiasts. Also, there is some concem over a plasma TV's lifespan, but current generation models may
last up to 30,000 hours(or between 13 and 20 years, depending on
usage).
While significantly smaller in screen size than plasma and projection
HDTVs, LCD
TVshave their advantages. They are extremely thin and
lightweight and can be hung on a wall like a picture frame, and they
are much more energy efficient compared to other TV technologies.
These televisions also enjoy a bright, crisp display, with deep blues
and rich reds, and do not suffer from burn-in, making them ideal for
garners. That said, LCO televisions may have problems displaying
fast motion(such as in games or sporting events), causing viewers
to see "ghosts or "trails" that follows a moving subject. Therefore,
look for a 1S ms (millisecond) response rate or lower (12 ms is
ideal).
Based on the Digital Light Processing technology from Texas
Instruments, rear-projection DLPTVsoffer a big and bright display in
a relatively lightweight cabinet (less than BS pounds). They' re still
not thin enough to hang on a wall like plasma or LCO
sets, but with
some DLPcabinets asnarrow as seven inchesdeep,theywon'ttake
up too much space in the family room either. DLP
televisions can be
50 per cent cheaper than plasma televisions, or about two-thirds the
cost of LCD.At the heart of every DLP projection TV is an optical semiconductor that can be considered the world's most sophisticated
light switch. This chip contains more than one million microscopic
mirrors [each one less than one-fifth the width of a huinan hair) that
moves back and forth to create the picture on the screen,
By Merc Saltzman
Duestions and comments relating to the Home Entertainment section, including Merc Saltzman's monthly column, can be sent to
homeentertainmentNppublishing.ca.

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H om e E n t e r t a i n m e n t

Hom e theatre pr oject primer


Projectors are capable of making the largest images you can buy. They
can weigh as little as two pounds and make images as large as 20 feet
diagonally or bigger. Costing on average between $1,300 and $2,000,
projectors have come down in price to the point where even mere mortals
can afford one, but it's still a large amount of money to spend on something you may not know much about. Hopefully, this article can take
some of the voodoo out of buying a projector.
No matter what type of projector you' re considering, creating a 20-foot
image has its challenges. For instance, the light output from a projector
competes with the ambient light within a room. The image can look dim
and washed out or even disappear if the projector isn't bright enough.
Light output is measured in lumens and you should get as many as you
can afford, particularly if you use the projector for presentations.
However, for home theatre, a projector doesn't need to be incredibly
bright to do the job. Typically, home theatre units are no more than 1500
lumens since manufacturers assume they are used in a dark room.
The most important specification to a home theatre user is contrast ratio.
It is expressed as a ratio like 1000:1, where the brightest white is 1000
times brighter than the blackest black. The higher the ratio, the more greq
levels and colours you can put between those high and low points. Well,
theoretically anyway. More grey levels add detail to the picture so you
would see, for example, black curtains instead of a big, black,nonde
script
thingy. Above a certain point, B00:1 for me, contrast ratio differences are
hard to notice. Also, ambient light spilling onto a screen can quickly
reduce contrast ratio, because the darkest part of the image gets brighter
and this shrinks the ratio. Even a little ambient light can change an B00:1

contrast ratio to 80:1. This can be impossible to control if you' re on the


road making business presentations but it is imperative that you make
your home theatre as dark as you can. If you do have ambient light
issues, it is better to get a brighter projector than a higher contrast one.
The contrast you see will be nowhere near the capability of even the lowest contrast projector.
Another issue of concern to home theatre users is fan noise, which can be
distracting during the quiet moments of a movie. Fan noise is expressed
in decibels(dB )
the lower the number, the better. A person whispering
is about 15 to 20dB, and a quiet conversation starts at around 40 to

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H L JB: Digitel Living - Toronto Section

TCI 17'

Horne Entertainment
50dB, with most projectors being somewhere in between.
All-important to any type of projector is its "native resolution," the higher
the better. If you are using PowerPoint or watching 0VOs, SVGA
(800xG00) is usually enough. Every common type of digital projector
uses a fixed-resolution imaging device. This means it must scale the
incoming image to fit its native resolution. If you feed an XGA
[1024xPGB)
signal into a SVGA
native projector, it comes out SVGA no matter what,
The quality of that scaling is important, too. If a projector is good, it
smoothly scales the incoming video with no noticeable errors or jaggies.
Non-computer video is also decoded and de-interlaced, which can be an
additional source of error. This is something that you must inspect yourself and is more important for horne theatre projectors than business
ones, If the internal sealer isn't very good, you can always change the
output resolution of your computer to match the native resolution of the
projector,
essentially bypassing the sealer - but you can't do that with
the video sources in a home theatre.
Finally, the last big issue for a projector buyer is lamp life. Replacement
lamps are surprisingly expensive, starting at $400, and are typically
rated to last 2000 hours. That works out to 20 cents per hour to run. Keep
in mind that if you watch a two.hour movie a day, your lamp will still last
you more than two-and-a-half years. It's still cheaper than going to the
theatre. No matter what imaging technology the projector you are considering uses, if it is bright, high contrast, quiet, high resolution, a good
sealer and has a cheap lamp, you' re doing well.
By Andrew Carruthers

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TO 19

P er s o n a l C o m p u t i n g

Bit:s Ea
Bytes: The changing face of convergence
Industry mavens have been predicting convergence for years. Had the
public actually bought in, we'd all be seated in front of our computers
every time we wished to make a phone call, watch television, see a
movie, check our messages or listen to music. Currently though, none of
these have any significant basis in reality.
We all seem, despite the inherent inconveniences, to prefer compartmentalizing our technology. VCR/television combo units, all-in-one
stereo systems, combination telephonelanswering machines and the
like have been around for years, and yet have never been as popular as
their component-based competitors.
While we may see the advantages of computer-based versions of our
favourite tech toys, we simply don't purchase them as replacements. Are
we just slow to change old habits? Are we perhaps concerned about the
risks that single points of failure represent in potentially bringing all our
technology to a gdnding halt? Or do wejust like having more shiny boxes
around the house? Well, perhaps we can have our cake and eat it too.
Companies are now turning to client server technology in aneffort to
position computers as core repositories for all our digital content. The
concept is that given the vast and inexpensive capacity available on
today's hard drives, you can centrally store your entire music collection,
record television shows, archive movies and photos indeed anything
you can create digitally and stream this content to unobtrusive client
devices throughout your home by way of wireless networking.
For example, a new product called MP3 Beamer[www.mp3beamer.corn]
targets consumers who want to store their entire music collection digi-

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some free open source software originally designed for the Linux OSbut
now also available on Windows and Macintosh. SlimServer may be downloaded at no cost from www.slimdevices.corn and features all the functionality oF MP3Beamer.
Once your collection is digitized, you are ready to either serve your content to other networked devices or stream live to a wireless audio adapter

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April 2DD5 H L IB: Digital Living - Toronto Se c t ion

TD 21

P er sonal C o m p u t i n g

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like SMC's SMCWAA-B gate and even complete novices can undertake some of the traditionally
(www.smc.corn). This more challenging computing tasks with ease. With the addition of a wireproduct enables you to less client box supplied by HP,Cisco or even an adapter for your Xbox, you
enj oy a l l your computer-can enjoy your audio- or video-based digital content from anywhere in
hosted tunes over the the home. The DS
supports up to three video capture devices (one HDTV),
home stereo with full digi- which allows you to record one programwhile watching another, or
tal clarity without ever simultaneously view different feeds on a variety of devices. Users can
having to change a CD. also create photo slideshows complete with soundtrack, see who's callIncluding a full-featured ing on the telephone(or set to "do not disturb" while watching a movie),
r emote control, t h i s author and edit DVDs or share photos with friends over the Internet.
device at around $1SD While there is clearly a bright future ahead for digital media, it remains to
[from US$125] not only be seen whether this new client server strategy will bear fruit for manufacilitates playback of facturers. Were I a betting man, I'd wager this equipment will not become
your own audio collection mainstream for a year or two at least.
By Ray Richards
but allows you to stream
thousands oi internet
over the planet.

a a e Ie I IeeneIaeeeee Microsoft, not to be left

out of the action of


course, recently launched Windows XPMedia Center Edition
2DDS [www.microsoft.corn/windowsxp/mediacenter]. This software is
considerably more comprehensive than MP3 Beamer as k includes provisions for all digital media types. Media Center is a full desktop operating system (XP Service Pack 2) with tons of extremely easy to use applications housed in a completely redesigned user interface,
Clearly focused on the home user, Media Center Edition is a snap to navi-

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P er sonal C o m p u t i n g

PC M u a ic M a k in g R
Last month I talked about how easy it is to record music into a PC by
plugging your instruments and/or microphones directly into the computer's soundcard and using an inexpensive software program to edit.
Now that you' ve got a barebones studio set up and have familiarized
yourself with the basics of how audio input and editing works, you can
start paying attention to the quality of the sound itself. While recording
directly into a computer soundcard is an acceptable way of creating
cheap and ditty audio tracks, you have limited means of controlling the

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from only

quality of that sound. Common problems include a sound level that's too
quiet, or so loud that it distorts, or has unwanted noise, popping and
hum, or a collection of tracks that vary wildly in volume from one to
the next.
A good way to curb these problems and acquire more control over the
way your tracks sound is to invest in a preamplifier. This external box
acts as the middle-man between the instrument and the computer, and
can be used to filter, clean-up and boost the initial audio signal to make
for a better sounding recording,
To use a preamp, simply connect your instruments and/or microphones
to the device's inputs, and run a 1/4-inch cable from the box's output to
the line-in of your PC's soundcard,
Preamps typically have both an XLR
input [for connecting certain microphones), and a 1/4-inch input for connecting instruments [keyboards,
electric guitars, and so on). Microphones that have an 1/g-inch stereo
mini connection instead of XLR can also use the 1/4-inch input via an
inexpensive stereo mini-to- 1/4-inch adapter.
The most basic advantage to using a preamp is that it will boost the volume level and strengthen a quiet audio source. When audio is recorded at
a low volume level, it invites problems later on in the mixing stage; when
you try to boost the level with your editing software, you' ll find that the
level of unwanted background noise will be boosted as well, resulting in
a dirtier signal. The louder and cleaner the audio is when recorded at the
source, the easier it will be to manipulate it later on.
A preamp can also add warmth toatrack by boosting the level of upper

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H U B : D igital Living - Tononto Sect ion

TD 25

P er s o n a l C o m p u t i n g

harmonics or "overtones" in a sound. Vocals will have more "presence",


instruments will have more depth, and drums will pack a bigger punch,
By the same token, preamps have LEO
indicators to warn you when an
incoming audio signal is too loud, so that you can reduce the input volume accordingiy in order to avoid clipping and distortion. You can also
make use of the limiter and compressor tools to set and maintain the
audio at a consistent volume and eliminate high and low peaks.
Another handy function of the preamp is noise suppression that is,
getting rid of unwanted hiss and hum that can get in the way of a clean
audio signal. White noise
the inherent noise produced whenever electricity flows through a component is a common problem that can be

dealt with by using a preamp's white noise reduction function.


Preamps also have switches to eliminate low-end signal interference
like rumble and pop, which are problems generally associated with
recording acoustic instruments through a microphone.
Another feature preamplifiers offer is "phantom power." Basically, this is
a power supply that supplies condenser microphones with the required
+4BV operating voltage.
Like any piece of studio gear, there's a wide variety of products and
price ranges that encompass the professional studio down to the humble
home studio and everything in between. Luckily, preamps that cater to
home studios can be quite affordable.

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T Q 28

H LIB : D i g ital Living - Toronto Se c t io n - A pr i l 2 0 0 5

Decodingthe jargon
clipping
A kind of distortion that occurs when the input level of th
audio is sa high that it exceeds the equipment's capacity ta hsndl
rrjt. resulting in the peak audio levels being cut aff.
,cain - Refers ta the ratio at which the audio signal changes withi
he preamp from input to output. Measured in decibels (dBI. Fo
xample, if the preamp changes the audio signal from a power of on
.stalt at the input to a power of 10 volts at the output, it's said t
have a gain of 10 dB.
'Limiter
A setting that adjust the audio's output level to ensure i
neverexceeds a certain threshold in orderta avoid clipping

''
Phantom panier- This conf
iguration supplies the correctvoltage fo
pawering microphones that generate their own electr ic signal, such
s condenser microphones.
hase reverse -This function inverts the audio signal, literally turn
ng it upside down." You' ll only need to worry about this function i
au planon recording your audio in stereo (across two channels s
t comes through both the left snd right speaker,as opposed to
mono recording,which is one channelthrough the leftspeakeronly.
'
hase reversing a stereo audio signal helps you detect tf one of th
hannels has accidentally been recorded aut of phase, which wil .
esult in a blurry ar incomplete sound.

op A pop occurs when there's a sudden spike inthe gain,typical


y caused when vocalists make "k", "p" and "t" sounds int
he microphone,

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April 2OC36 - H U E): Digital Living - Toronto S ection

TQ 2 9

P ei-sonal C o m p u t i n g

Upgrading Brand N am e P Gs: Pare One


For years I struggled with home-made PCs that had
one software problem after another. Fed up, I bought a
Dell. It arrived, I took it out of the box and plugged it in,
and it worked!
Unfortunatelg, a quick-starting brand name PC can
cause gou headaches at upgrade time, especially if
it's an older model. The reason: "There are some brand
name PCs that are hard to upgrade due to their use of
proprietary parts," sags Dan Chu, product development manager for Ottawa's Northern Micro.

t4fitoleaalePrtoe,
Dealer Welcomed.

Open to Public.

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"Generallg, this problem only occurs with older brand


name PCs those using Pentiurn II-generation
processors or earlier."
Another potential issue with brand name PCs is
motherboard limitations. To get a great price, you mag
have unwittinglg restricted the system's upgradability. A case in point is the Dell Dimension 2100 sitting
on my desk. Equipped with a Celeron 1.1 GHz Intel
chip, its Intel CA801E motherboard onlg has two DIMM
memory slots and four PCIexpansion slots for daughterboards. Add the fact that the case only has one
5.25-inch and two 3.5-inch bags, and there's not
much I can add to this machine.
Or is there? Let's find out what can be done to
upgrade this machine and some other Dells as well.

Step One: Learn what's in tiour brand


name PC

Pttshole Camera
Wtte ... Starts Itorn $88
INIreless..Starts fnm $80

OVtt Board

4 Channel(30 fps)...$70

4 Chennolff20 fpsJ,$170
8 Channel 240 s. $380

42, I.KO Oayl Nltt t


Outdoor WeatherProof
Camera eoooeeoeoeeoeoe$380

Toahltsa IPCamera
eoeeeeoeooo
eooooeoe$$80

FTA Satellite ttecelver

.....................4135
"

TD SD

Finding out what's inside gour brand name PC is


easg, right? You still have the packing slips and manuals, so all the statistics are at your fingertips,(Okay,
enough silliness. We both know that all of this vital
stuff is long gone.] No worries, gou can get the details
bg searching through gour PC's Sgstem Properties in
Windows. For instance, in Windows 2000 (which I
use], the path is Settings, then Control Panel,
then 5gstem.
An easier method is to visit
www.powerleap.corn and click
on the ePowerLeap Online
Upgrade Configurator" icon.
(Powe
r Leap makes CPU
upgrades that can boost a 350
MHz Pentium II PC to a 1A GHz
Educational Toys
Celeron; we' ll talk more about
Microscopes
Telescopes
Electronics
them later.) This site will look
Weather Instruments
Binoculars
at your system's innards, then
Metal Detecto
give you acomp
lete report of
Night
what's inside.
Vision
Experiment
Once the PowerLeap Online
Kits
GPS
U pgrade Configurator has done
Magnets
its stuff, be sure to print the
Lasers
onscreen report. You' ll want
Robotics
L.
Fiber Optics
this as reference material
Magnifiers
when gou are looking for
Gadgets
upgrade parts.
GPS
Lab Equipment
Next, go to Google and tgpe in
Health & Biomedical
the name of gour system's
motherboard. This will provide
Bring this ad to
theSdanceRiAstronomySuparStora and
gou with links that describe
gour mobo's specifications,
RECENE
5$ N OFFanypurchaseover 550, orshoponline ond
requirements and limitations.
getFREESIIIPptfttfwhenyouusePROiyIOCODE: HOB0405
Don't be concerned if you see a
message onthe mobo manufacturer's Web site that sags
(.
your mobo is 'no longer being
3350 Dufferin St., Toronto, just south of Hwy. 401
supported". This just means

Feed Your8 j'I jg

(416) 787-4581 (888) 777-5255 www.e5cience.ca

HUB : D igital Living Tcrcntc


Section - A p r il 2006

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that the manufacturer will no longer help with service sairmicro.corn) and clicked on their "RAM Guy" link,
which let me search for memory strips to max out my
issues,notthatyourm obo has become unusable.
2100. As it turns out, this unit can handle two?56MB
DIMMs. By adding them {which I subsequently did] I
Step Two: Oefine tlour Pt."s limits
With a little bit of research, you' ve found out what quadrupled my system's memory!
kind of parts your mobo will and will not accept. This The next item to upgrade is storage. If your older PC
information is vital because you don't want to buy doesn't have enough space, add an extra hard drive.
non-proprietary parts that won't work in your brand In some cases,you may only have the space inside
name PC, Meanwhile,newer brand name PCs your case to replace the older drive with a newer one.
{Pentium II and up) that don't have proprietary issues If so, be warned that you will have to install the operwill still have limits. For instance, the fact that my Dell ating system, drivers and all of your software on the
new disc, so make sure that you have all the program
Dimension 2100 only has PCI expansion slots and
only four at that! severely restricts my ability to add discs you need before pulling your old drive out.
a newer video card with its own onboard CPU. I' ve In the case of the 2100, it currently has a 19GB
been thinking of doing this because this extra pro- Maxtor hard drive onboard. I have got a newer 300GB
cessingpower would reduce the demand on my 1.1 Maxtor sitting on the shelf, ready to take its place.
The third upgrade you can make is to add better
GHz CPU.
video and sound cards to your older PC, if the architecture allows it. Adding a video card with onboard
Step Three: What can be upgraded
processing can help an older PC play some of the
Even with the limits of an older mobo, there are still newer, more system-intensive videogames being
an amazingnumber ofchanges that can be made to released,
In the same way,adding a new sound card
boost its performance.
can turn a stereo PC
into a 5.1 surround system {once
First and foremost is memory, If your brand name PC you add the right speakers).
isn't as loaded with memory as it could be, then now
A word of advice: Talk to the techs at your favourite
is the time to max it out. My Dell Dimension 2100 was computer store before attempting this upgrade. Your
only running 12BMB of SDRAMDIMM; surely adding older PC may not have the ability to accept newer
more would help my performance.
cards, or your system's inherent limitations {such as
To find out, I logged onto Corsair Memory{www.cor- having a Celeron chip with a small onboard cache)
may restrict its ability to handie new games even with a
better video card onboard.
A fourth option is a CPU
upgrade. A CPU upgrade is a
special module that fits into an
older PC's CPU slot. Often this
modulehas been designed to
allow older PCs to run new CPU
chips. A case in point is the
upgrade I made to a Den 350
MHz Pentium II by installing a
PowerLeap SiotWonder 1400
{1.4 GHz) Celeron CPU
Upgrade. The installation is
very simple, as I will explain in
<~ 4 ~
r
I ~l l a l S I OL
Part 2 next month. Within min.
utes, this PC has quadrupled
Ilol o ~
.d
its processing speed with no ill
Also available at. .
effects!
Best Buy
I have also installed some
The Bay
Lollcloll DFLI95
Belkin USB 2.0 cards in my
older PCs, increasing the data
throughputon USB from 12
Mbps to 4BD Mbps.
Next Time: We show how to
install the i mprovements
'%n
described above, and look at
. %'E A n
nn w n c
'w w
w% & n m
the cost of doing so as
opposed to buying a new PC.
By James Careless

====::=:=:.:==::
>v z:=-':=

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TO 3 S

Wireless

H it t h e R o a d
What to say for the first entry in an ongoing column on mobile gear? I
consulted with Andrew over lunch recently, and while menacing me with
a dull plastic butter knife he said, "Just wing it, okay? I'm trying to eat,
here. With those inspirational words in mind, I figured the best way to
start would be with a greeting. So, hi!
Over the last few years, there's been an explosion of personal technology that is, gadgets designed to accompany you as you went from point
A to point B, whether that's traveling between cities, or just heading to
schooi or work for the day. Some of those gadgets are meant to keep you
in touch with the people you love, or the people you work with. Others are
there for personal entertainment, whether it's portable audio and video or

North Yorh
Lawrence
( Re(ail ) 7 89 Lawrence West
Tel: (41 6) 781-7738
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gaming. Still others are designed to keep all your data wherever you go.
a second brain, as it were. This column will keep an eye on all of
these areas.
-

The changingface ofthe Canadian cellphone market


When it was announced late last year that wireless carrier Microcell
[better known as Fide] was being acquired by Rogers, some were worried, Though the company had been struggling somewhat in a difficult
Canadian market, Fido had nonetheless been making a name for itself
with lower pricing- something that Rogers couldn't claim
and the inno-

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Celeron 2AG $349


P4 2A G
$4 15

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P4 2AG
P4 3.0G

$4 35
$4 95

ASRock P4VSB Mainboard

256M I BOG 7200r / Floppy


ATI R7000 64M / Modem
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Keyboard I Mouse I Spk

P4 3.0G
P4 3& G

$84 9
$9 15

Asus P5GD1 Mainboard

selnpron 2400 $289


8elnpron 2600 $309

ASRock P4VMB Mainboard ASRock K7VM3 Board


256M I40G 7200r IRoppy 256M I 40G 7200r I Floppy
ATX Case / 52X CD Writer ATX Case / 52X CDROM
M odem I
Sound /Lan
Modem / Sound / Lan
Keyboard / Mouse I Spk
Keyboard / Mouse I Spk
P4 3.0G
$599
Athlon64 3000 $789
P4 3.2G
$649
Athlon64 3200 $839
Asus P48800 Mainboard
Asus ASV-Deluxe Mainboard
512M DDR400 / SDG7200r OCZ 512M Dual Channel
ATI R9200SE 128M / Floppy ATI R9250256M IFloppy
High Quality Case / Modem 160G SATA I 16x DVD-RW
52X CD Writer /16x DVD
High Quality Case I DVD
Keyboard I Optical Mouse
Keyboard / Optical Mouse
tutee Lansing Speaker
Altec Lansing Subwoofer

P4 3>G

Athlon84 3200 $1169


Athion84 3500 $1259
Asus ABN-SLI Mainboard

$ 955

P4 3A G
$9 SS
Asus P5GD2 Mainboard

Athlon84 3000 $639


Athlon84 3200 $685

Asus M5ft
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Cenbino 1.6G / DVD-CDRW
40G 5400r BM / 12" I Wireless -G

Asus KBN Mainboard


512M DDR400 / Floppy
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High Qua8ty Case! 56K
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4DG 5400r SM /256M / 802.11G
Asus ZSOK
$1349
AMD A64 3000+ / 15" SXGA
DVD-CDRW I 60G 5400r SM
Wireless -G I ATI R9700 128M

Laptops

Fujitsu laptops
58231: Centrino 1.6G I 13.3
512M / 40G I DVD-CDRW

Asus Notebooks

Wireless -G / XP Home $172$

Asus A5Me
5147 9
Centrino 1.6G I 15.4" WXGA

it351 OAI Centrino 1,7G ( 533 )


512M DDR2 Dual Channel/60G
15.4" /802.11G / Combo / XP H
ATI X300 64M PCI-E $1785

Bx Dual Layer DVD+/-RW

512M / 60G I Wireless-6


512M DDR2 Dual Channel OCZ 1G Dual Channel
Win XP Pro I 2-yr Warranty
ATI X600Pro 256M ( PCI-E ) ATI X700Pro 256M ( PCI-E )
160G SATA HD /Floppy
160G SATA HD / Floppy
A slfs M69N8
$15 7 $
High Quality Case / Modem High Quality Case I Modem High Quality Case / Modem Centrlno 1.6G I 15.4" WXGA
16X DVD Burner/16x DVD 16X DVD Burner/16x DVD 16X DVD Burner/16x DVD DVD-CDRW/ Modem/ Lan
Keyboard I Optics I Mouse Keyboard I Optical Mouse Keyboard I Optical Mouse
512M DDR/ATI R970064M
Altec Lansing Subwoofer
Altec Lansing Subwoofer
Altec Lansing Subwoofer
60G 5400r BM I Wireless-G
OCZ 512M Dual Channel
ATI X300 256M ( PCI-E )
160G SATA HD / Floppy

DDR SWemory

Video Card

Netwosh

16XDVD..... $26
52XCDRW...$29

256 M I 512M
DDR400 .$31 / 58
IG DDR2 Dual
Channel,......$147

/ITI Radeon AOP

Router......$24

DVD Re-Writers

LG 16X ( 4161B )............$63


LG 16X ( 4163B )............$71
NEC 16X ( 3520 )............$73
Pioneer 16X ( 109 ).........$82

Hard Drive
IDE I 7200rpm

40/BDG..$57 I 65
BOG /160 ( BM )........$72/96
20D I 250G ( SM )..$125/162
SATA / 7200rpm

80 / 160G (SM).........$78/ 109


200 / 250G (BM)....$135 / 167

Enclosure (usea.o)

ATI PCI Express 25elg ( 1Sx ):

aaonitor

NVIDIA Geforce

X600 I X700.......$133 / 227


XBDOXL I Pro.....$423/495
MSI 6600GT 128E.....$225
MS I 6800TD 256E.....$418
XFX FX5500 256M....$105

17" AOC Flat

CRT....$125
LCD 17" /19"
......$288/459

XFX 6600GT DualDVI 128M


AGP I PCI-E...$270 / 243

Prices already 4% cash discounled S subject to change without notice

e
TO 3 4

9600 256M......,........$125
9800Pro 128M............$249

For 2.5" Laptop HD......$10


For 3.5" Desktop HD....$23
For DVD I CDRW.........$25

s e

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AT I R9700 128M

Optical Drive

7000 64M...$39
9200SE 128M..............$47
9250 256M...................$83

N5010A: P4-3.2G / XP Home


17" / Combo / BOG I 802.11G
512M DDR Dual Channel

$ 20 7 5

I)gain Board
For AMD Cpus:

Inex Wireless&
Network Card

ASRock K7VM3

USB / PCI I PCMCIA....$30

Asus A7VSX I A7NBX....$60 I 77


Asus KBN............................$106
Asus ASV-Dluxe..................$140
Asus ASN-SLI Deluxe.........$219

(w I Video)...$51

D-Link Xtreme G Wireless

PCI NIC ( G520 )........$63


PCMCIA NIC( G650 )...$62
4-port Router DI-624....$85

For Intel CPUs:

ASRock P4VMB(w I Video)...$5S


ASRock P4VBB ( BODFSB )..$58
ASRock 775VBB (LGA775)...$69

Case/Power Supply
ATX Case with

Power Supply
. ......From $26
.I r e
Power Supply
Generic 400W..............$13
Quality 450W (2-Fan)...$29

Asus P4SSOO MX(Video)..$73/


I
71

Asus P5GD1 I P5GD2..$129/168


Asus PSGD2-Deluxe..........$210
Asus PSAD2-E Premium....$279
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vative new City Fido service, which offered users the ability to transfer their home phone numbers to a Fido wireless plan, available at a
rate similar to home phoneline service. Would the company just get
swallowed up into the corporate behemoth?
Though there were some adjustments to pricing, Fido still offers a
$5D unlimited data plan real
a boon to people who like to surf the
net using their phone
and still has competitive pricing for its other
services. Better, Fido customers now have access to Rogers' wider
coverage area all across the country. And Fido has also just rolled
out the Hiptop2, the PDA/cen phone combo aimed at a hipper,
younger crowd. {We can talk about Paris Hilton and the issue of the
Hiptop's data security later.]
With Fido heading over to the Rogers network, Microcell's GPRS
transmission towers were freed up. Primus Wireless launched in
Canada at roughly the same time that Fido was moving its doghouse
into Rogers' yard, with the aim to offer a low-cost cellular alternative
using the Microcell network. As l write this, Primus has three hand.
sets and two mobile plans; time will tell whether people embrace the
new service.
While Primus' Canadian
cell division had a fairly lowkey launch,the same can't
be said for the new Virgin
Mobility service, which
4
launched with... um, er... a
splash. Potential customers
eysead
across the country received
PARRIRO
OI~EO
a card with a tear-off strip
that changes colour when
you pee on it. If it changes,
you have "the catch" the
catch being hidden cell
phone fees. There are a lot
of really bad jokes I could
Dhemd Shee
make here about a promotion that encourages people
to pee on something, but
urine luck... I'm notcoins to
make anyofthem.
ttht
.
V ( IIO 0
Lest you think that the
e
R
momentum is s h i fting
towards the GPRS
networks,
5|e N M
Virgin is making use of Bell' s
odd
rak
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Wireless
work, and the alliance has already spurred Bell to launch an ad campaign
of its own claiming it has no hidden fees. [Of course, that doesn't necessarily translate to low fees, but that's another story)
lt*ll be interesting to see how it all shakes down in the near future: both
Bell and Rogers are the old-guard in Canada's cell phone space, with
robust networks valued by business users. With these new services tar.
gating everyone from teens to grandmas, the big players may have to
subtly change their strategy. Again, time will tell.
By Sean Carruthers
Ouestions and comments relating to the Witless section, including
Sean Carruthers' monthly column, can be sent to
wireless@ppublishing.ca

** Monthly S peci al *'

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When connected to the iPod's headphone jack, the Voice Recorder automatically initiates the device's built-in voice memo software that allows
admittedly rudimentary play/pause, record and erase functionality.
There's no pass-through for headphones on the Voice Recorder, but to
compensate there's a tiny speaker for playback a feature that also
allows you to take advantage of the iPod's alarm function on the move.
A small green LED light indicates when the unit is in Record mode. The
best results are achieved by standing at least eight inches away from the
mic, otherwise it can distort.
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easily be used to record not only personal memos but lectures in small to
mid-sized halls, although concerts would probably be a bit too much
given that audio is recorded as super-compressed .wav files: 128kbps,
16-bit, and only 8 kHz[to put things in perspective, CD quality sound is
considered to be 44.1 kHz).
The Voice Recorder names each file with a time and date stamp, which
makes it extremely convenient if you want to transfer them to a PC for
archiving. The device draws its power from the iPod instead of using a battery, but the drain is negligible.

inwotion
Manufacturer;AltecLansing www.alteclansing.corn Price:3199.99
Altec Lansing's sleek and compact inMotion portable speaker system
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can plug into the wall[acting in this capacity as a convenient charging
dock for the iPod as well), or can stand alone on four AA batteries.
For their small size, the two watt speakers put out a surprisingly powerful and clear sound with good sound depth and bass frequencies. There
is a tiny bit of hiss, however, that gets more pronounced as the volume
is increased. Therefore the inMotion is at its best when servicing a small
to medium sized room
which it does quite handily.

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iBoom
Manufacturer: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters www.dlodirect.corn
Price: approx $180 (From US$149.99)
This medium-sized boom box, with a special front-positioned slot for loading the iP'od into, isn't built for subtlety. A sturdy white and gray plastic
frame encases 20 watt speakers that emit a floor-thumping bass. The
sound is decidedly bass-heavy, resulting in some muddiness and lack of
clarity in the sound output given that some of the high end is lost
on the
other hand, the other extreme(thin and tinny) is avoided completely and
there's no noticeable hiss. The result is that the speakers can achieve a
sound that is powerful and very loud without distorting.
In fact, there really isn't a "quiet" volume setting on the iBoom, given that
the lowest sound you can get before it cuts out altogether is still moderately loud.
Without the iPod, the unit Functions as a pretty decent FM tuner with two
station memory presents.
The iBoom is powered by six Dbatteries, but can also run on an ACadapter
that folds up into a compartment accessed through the banery bay.
When the AC adapter is plugged in, the iPod will charge autamatically.
Otherwise, the batteries only power the speakers and radio while the iPod
operates on its own power,

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In order for it to work, the FM radio must be set to a weak frequency(one


that isn't broadcasting any audio). Then the TuneCast
which connects to
the iPod's headphone jack and automatically powers on as soon as it
detects audio coming out of the iPod must be calibrated to the same
radio frequency.
During our test, the TuneCast maintained its strength up to 15 feet away
from the radio source, even with a couple of walls in between and several WiRi devices running interference.
TuneCast11Mobile F)4Transmitter
If you already have an FM tuner with decent speakers attached to it, the
Manufacturer. Belkin www,belkln,corn Price: $59.99
TuneCast proved reliable enough to be seriously considered as a cheaper
The TuneCast II can be used to broadcast the iPod's playlist over the radio alternative to buying iPod speakers; also, using the the TuneCast means
frequencies broadcast by any device with an FM tuner from alarm that the iPod isn't tied down.
clocks to car stereos.
By Erin Bell

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Home computing has certainly changed a lot over the past few years.
Instead of dialing out to a modem somewhere else in the world, broadband
networking pumps the Internet into your house at almost a hundred times
the speed of that old dial-up monster.
With all of that bandwidth just ready to be used up, it's no wonder that
many people are setting up home networks to share their broadband connection
either DSL or cable with multiple computers in the same household. With a home network in place, you can also share your files between
computers and stream multimedia files to a multimedia adapter connected to a television or stereo.
For the neophyte, the idea of setting up a network is a bit intimidating,
especially since networking has long been considered the realm of tech
wizardry. No longer. While you can mess about with multiple network
cards and manually configure peer-to-peer networking connections
between your computers with nothing more than a few Ethernet cables,
it's really not worth the time, expense and effort, since the cost of broadband-sharing routers has dropped substantially. These routers, which
handle all of the networking for you, cost about $75 to $100, even with
802.11g wireless networking onboard.
Pick out the proper hardware
The first important step in setting up your home network is making sure
that your computers all have an Ethernet port onboard, or have a wireless
adapter.
For those not completely sure what an Ethernet port is, it's a jack on the
back of your computer or notebook that looks like a phone jack but a bit
wider, and with six pins instead of four. If your computer doesn't already
have one onboard, it costs $20 or less to add one, but you' ll need a free PCI
slot on your PC.[If you have no clue what any oF this means, ask a techie
you trust, or talk to your friendly neighbourhood computer shop.)For a bit
extra, you can install a wireless networking card into that PCI slot instead,
allowing you to connect to the wireless router without having to string any
cables.
If you don't have a slot Free, or if you have a notebook computer, you can
generally add wireless networking (also known as WiFi) with a USB
adapter. This has a side benefit: with a long USB cable, you can easily re-

position the wireless antenna for best reception, rather than leaving it
buried behind your PC under a desk somewhere. The third way to add WiFi
applies to notebook computers with a free PCCard slot. Most wireless networking companies also offer WiFi cards for the PC Card slot, at a slight
price premium over USB or internal versions.

The second part is hooking them all up together. This is where the broadband router comes in. The basic chain of connection:
Broadband Modem <-(wired)-> Router <-(wired/wireless)-> PC
Each broadband router comes with a number of Ethernet ports on the
back. The ports labeled "LAN" connect directly to your home computers.
One of these ports is labeled "WAN" for Wide-Area Network; this is the one
you connect
to yourbroadbandmodem.
If you live in a small apartment, you might be able to make do with a simple wired router and a few Ethernet cables. As the size of the apartment or
home increases, a wired router becomes less practical because the
entirety of your living space will start to resemble a cable farm. Wireless
networking definitely helps by creating a cable-free connection between
your broadband router and wireless-enabled computers. The downside is
that the maximum range for most wireless connections is a couple hundred feet, and any heavy building materials like concrete or steel will
reduce the range substantially.
BorG?
Wondering which wireless networking standard you should go with?

802.11b and 802.1ig are the most popular wireless choices for the
home, and they each have different capabilities.
The 802.11b standard offers up to 11 Mbps data transfer rates, which is
already faster than the fastest home broadband connections. You might
think that 802.11g's 54 Mbps data rate offers way more bandwidth than
you need, but remember that you can also use your home network for
streaming your media files from the PC to a TV.The slower 802.11b just
isn't fast enough to reliably transmit a video signal, but the faster 11g can
handle video without too much problem.
Because the price difference between 11b and 11g products tends to be
minimal at best these days, it's really a moot point: go for the 11g option
www.hubcanada.corn

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Getting secure
It's something that should be drilled into every computer user in this

new era of rampant viruses, spyware, and other threats: you have to
make sure you are as secure as possible. Unfortunately, adding a
wireless network to your home without changing any of the default
settings can be a pretty clear invitation to no-goodniks who want to
take advantage.
The very first thing you should do once you get your broadband
router up and running is to change its default password, because anyone who has the password can change the router's settings.
Unfortunately, this means that someone who winds up at your router
from the outside world can also change your settings, if they can
guess at your password. Once logged in, they can find out what
machines are connected to your network and change the security

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14

and get the extra bandwidth. Just remember that even though 11b
and 11g are interoperable
meaning that you can use an 11b router
and 11g notebook, or vice versa
your connection speed will always
default to the lower of the two, 11 Mbps. For maximum bandwidth, go
11g all around.

H U B : D i g i t al Living A p ril 2OOS

tion (if you can bear to type it] is good. A combination of numbers and
uppercase and lowercase letters is ideal, especially longer strings. A
four character password is more easily cracked than a ten-character
password. Twenty would be even better,
The second thing to do is configure your wireless connection. If you
only got the wireless router because the price was low, but aren't planning to use wireless networking component immediately, turn it completely OFF.
If you' ll be using wireless, turn your wireless encryption ON, or people with wireless "sniffing" programs will be able to intercept anything
you transmit, including usernames and passwords. There are two
types of wireless encryption found on consumer routers: WEP
and WPA.
WEP comes in either 64- or 128-bit "strengths" term
a that refers to
how long the alphanumeric key is. A 64-bit key translates to 10 hexadecimal characters, and 128-bit translates to 26 characters. You simply add your WEPkey into the appropriate location on the router and
your wireless computers, allowing each end to decode the signal. If
www.hubcanacia.corn

Wir eless
your wireless network has a WEP
key set up, computers that don'1 have the
key won't be able to wirelessly connect to the network.
Newer wireless networking products allow you to create your key by using
a pass-phrase instead of a string of numbers and letters, which is more
user-friendly. But if you choosetoo easy or obvious a pass-phrase, it will lull
you into a false sense of security, since it can be easily guessed. Because
the newer WPA
encryption protocol only uses pass-phrases, you' ll definitely want to think up a good one if you use it. Once you have a good[i.e. suitably complex] pass-phrase in place, WPA will be even more secure
than WEP.
Another way to be more secure is to disable SSIO broadcast on the router
itself. That way, your wireless router won't even appear in the list of available wireless networks. If you have the proper settings, you should be able
to connect, however. This is not for everyone, though. Some computers
may not be able to connect to networks they can't "see", and determined
hackers with the proper equipment will be able to find the wireless router
anyhow with a bit of work. At the very least, changing the default SSIOname
will make it less obvious what type of router you have, which will add a
touch more security against the hacker with less dedication.
Drilling a hole through that firewall
Once you' ve got your network secured, you' ll probably want to open up
tiny holes in the router to allow certain applications unfettered access in
both directions. This could include applications involving webcam conferencing, streaming media, or peer-to-peer file-sharing.
ln general, wireless broadband routers ship with Network Address
Translation [NAT] turned on. This feature acts like a firewall, blocking computers from outside your local network from walking right into your home
network, while still allowing your local computers to communicate with
each other. The NAT
feature typically keeps open ports traditionally regarded as safe, like email or web access ports. Many other ports tend to be
slammed shut; after all, why lock your doors to troublemakers, then allow
them to enter through a wide-open window'?
The problem is, some applications require specific ports in order to function properly. Many programs, such as AOL Instant Messenger and
Bittorrent, that use specific ports are configurable, allowing you to see the
port the program uses and change it to another one. Once you know which
port you' re using, you can open that port up on your router, either by opening it completely, or by forwarding incoming traffic on that port to a specific computer,
You may be asking, "Why not just use Universal Plug and Play (UPnP] to
set up these connections?" UPnP is designed to allow your computer to
make specific requests to your router to open up ports. This makes it very
easy for UPnP-enabled applications to open up the necessary ports, but it
also makes it very easy for unauthorized applications on your computer
ti.e. Trojans or spyware] to do exactly the same thing. Secuiity-conscious
computer users will want to disable UPnP altogether and open the
ports manually.

Share and share alike


One of the beautiful things about setting up a home network is the ability
to move your files from one computer to another. The only thing is that
before yourcomputers can see each other, you' ll need to set up sharing.
With Windows machines, you can share specific folders or entire hard
drives by right-clicking on them and selecting the "sharing and security"
option. After ticking a box to "share this folder on the network", you can give
it a special name to identify it to other users of the network, who will be able
to access the folder or drive through the "My Network Places" icon.
The great news about file-sharing is that you don't all have to be using
Windows-basedmachines you can also share files between Windows,
vvvvvv.hubcansda.corn

Mac andLinuxmachines.
ForMac OS X machines, you'd go to the System Preferences menu and
choose "Sharing" from the Internet and Network sub-menu. With Linux, you
can set up Samba for file sharing between machines; Samba generally
comes standard with newer Linux distributions.
By Sean Carruthers

WiFi Glossary
If you' re just starting to look at theworldofwireless networking,you have
to master a bunch of seemingly cryptic lingo, Here's a basic primer:
Willi:Short for "Wireless Fidelity," WiFi is often used inter changeably with
802.11x but refers specifically to an adherence to a set of standards for
those two wireless protocols, designed to allow wireless networking
devices to work seamlessly with each other.
SSS.11alh/S:"802.11" refers to the IEEE classification for wireless networking, and the letters at the end denote the flavour. 802.11b was the
first out of the gate, and featured 11 Megabits (Mbps) per second data
transmission speed. The 802.11a standard followed shortly thereafter,
offering data speeds up to 54 Mbps, but its different radio spectrum I5GHz
as comparedto the 2.4GHz)me antthe two standards weren'tinteroperable, and thus it's not widely used, The 802.11g wireless standard uses the
same spectrum as 11b to facilitate interoperabilty, but bumps the speed
up to
54Mbps. Withanyofthese standards,transmissionspeeds getslowerthefurtherawayyou go from the router.
Channel:Wireless networking data is transmitted on channels numbered
'I to 11 iin North America). This is to ensure your wireless router and computers are only listening for data intendedfor them in areas where more
than one wireless network is set up. The default channel is 6 or 11 in many
routers. You can change this on the router's configurationWeb page.
SSIQ:Service Set Identifier; this is the name for your router or network.
The SSID allows users to identify different wireless networks that may be
used for different things and different departments. These SSIDs can be
changed by the router administrator for easy custom identification or to
obscure easy identification... your choice.

SSEP/WPA
eacryptiaa: Bydefault, wireless networking signals are sent over
the airwaves without any protection... anyone that could listen in on the
data stream cauld reconstruct it. Encryption creates a secure encoded
channel between the wireless router and a wireless-enabled computer. The
first standard, Wireless Encryption Protocol IWEP), is available in 64- and
128-bit strengths and requires a predetermined hexadecimal "key" to be
set up at both ends. WiFi Pr
otected Access (WPA) is a newer, more secure
encryption protocol.

Wireless Notwork Checklist


Sasic retiairements
broadband router with 802.11g or 11b wireless network
computers with Ethernet ports or wiralass adapters
Ethernetcables long enoughto reach your computers, if applicable
Broadband Internet connection (DSL, cable or even satellite)

Security
Make sureyou change your router's default password,
Change the default SSID to something more personally relevant.
Enable wireless encryption and choose the strongest encryption method
available at both ends.
Use non-obvious passwords, preferably 8-10 characters or more, with
both numbers and letter s.
Don't writs your pesswor ds down and leave them in an obvious place!

A pril 200 6

H U B : Digital Living

16

Fir at; &lance

High upon the middle ground:


C anon P o w e r S h o t S V O
In the vast middle ground of the digital camera world stand a fair
number of cameras suitable for the photo enthusiast without a particular interest in digital SLRs. Canon's PowerShot S70, residing in the
higher-end of the mid-line digicams, is an excellent example.
The S70's key distinguishing feature is perhaps its design, simple in
its rectangular shape but singularly good-looking. A black brushed
metal lens cover slides out of the way to turn on the camera and fully
expose the flash, which is slightly off-set to the lense's left. It's a
shame that, given the wider than average face of the camera, Canon
didn't And a way to put more
physical distance between the
28-100 mm equivalent, 3.8xoptiCanon iyoworShotS1Q
cal zoom lens to reduce flash
www.cenon.ca
glare and the dreaded red-eye
when shooting straight ahead.
Memory included, 32MB
CompactFlesh type ll
What sets the 7.1-megapixel 570
apart from others in its class is
an extensive feature set that
-High resolution
allow users much more control
-Excellent lens and print quality
over composition. Users can turn
Attractive
off automatic aperture andshutCO00:
ter selection to choose the best
-High price
possible shooting mode for a
-Small LCD
scene, or can set shutter or aper-

Info Box

ture priority and let the camera figure out the rest. Users can also turn
off auto focus using the MF button to the left of the viewfinder. Manual
focus has limited use in non-SLR digital cameras since using the LCD
display to set focus is far from optimal. However, the MF button doublesas an auto focus lock.Userscan compose a scene,focus on a
central object then lock the focus and recompose, putting the subject
out of the direct centre of the shot for generally more pleasing results.
The biggest complaint is its underwhelming 1.8-inch LCD display.
With even some entry-level cameras sporting the same size LCD, one
might think that the high-end of the consumer digital camera spectrum might step it up.

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HU B : D i g i t al Living - A p r i l 2D O5

wwwhubcanada.corn

Total Ga m e r Review s

S tar Fox A s s a u l t
Publisher. Nintendo Developer: Nomen/ Nintendo Platform: Gamecube

Star Fox Assault begins promisingly with a flying level. Flying, after all, is
what arwing pilot Fox McCloud has done best ever since he debuted in the
1993 Super Nintendo polygonal rails shooter Star Fox.
In this latest game, Fox and his squadron mates Falco, Slippy and Krystal
are called upon to stop the invasion of the bug-like Aperiods. Their quest
takes them to a few familiar places and they cross paths with a few old
friends and enemies along the way as well.
The graphics of the opening level are gorgeous, and Fox's arwing handles
smoothly as all the familiar Star Fox elements come together. blast enemies
with guns and bombs while spinning and rolling to avoid their fire, collect
shield
andweapon power ups,and help yoursquadronma teswhenthey get
into trouble.
Then Fox is dumped onto the ground to fulfill a lackluster ground mission,

D evil May Cr y S :
D ante's Aw a k e n i n g
Publisher / ffevefoper: Capcom

Platform: Pfnystation 2

Dante, the protagonist of


the Devil May Cry series,
has somethingofa checkered past. As a private
investigator, our hero operates for the greater good,
sometimes at the expense
of the law. Dh, and he was
sired by a reformed demon
warrior named Spa rda,
making him half-demon,

half man.
As garners progress through the largely hack-and-slash gameplay, a patchwork story reveals itself. The story, told with short but action-packed
cutscene sequences, gives fans of the series some insight into Dante's origins and the reason he's forced to eviscerate hordes of netherworld residents. Previous Devil May Cry games(named after our protagonist's private

www.hubcanada.corn

and the effect is like ice cold


water being splashed on the
face. Although Fox is eventually
able to get back into the arwing
gameplay from then on alternates between flying, running
on foot and piloting a tank-like
vehicle called the Landmasterthe game struggles to build and

maintain any kind of lasting momentum.


These ground missions are frustrating for a few reasons; one is the fetchquest nature of the goals(kill x number of enemies, disable x number of
generators, and so on], and another is the mission map. Mission goals are
represented by red dots on the map, which get smaller or larger according to
how close to them Fox gets in relation to their depth. Unfortunately the flat
map makes it impossible to gauge depth, so Fox might appear to be right on
top of one of the dots when in actual fact the goalis several levels above or
below him.
Star Fox Assault is proof positive that Fox McCloud belongs in the sky.
Here's hoping that the next franchise installment sticks to this instead of
trying to be all things to all people.
By Erin Bell

investigation agency )
satisfied themselves with
fast-paced gameplay,
slick visuals and imaginative monsters from the
netherworld. The first in
the series was heavy on
the action, receiving critical acclaim as a result,
but a true plot was hard

tofind.The second game


still forewent the plot and slowed down and simplified the action somewhat.
Bad idea.
The third installment, Dante's Awakening, maintains the frenetic pace and
high difficulty level of the first game and adds in an extensive story line. The
difficulty level, dumbed down for mass consumption in Devil May Cry 2, has
been raised by several degrees; too many degrees, some might argue. Even
on the easiest setting unlocked after dying twice in "normal" mode
inexperienced garners will find themselves routinely outnumbered, surrounded
and dispatched. However, if players take the time to overcome the intense
difficulty requiring a constantly evolving battle strategy, fast thumbs and a
little luck, they' ll find one of the more rewarding hack and slash-style games
with an interesting if occasionally cheesy
story.
Between epic battles, garners will have to solve fairly simple gameplay puzzles to progress, find new melee and ranged weapons, purchase new skills
and proficiencies and upgrade weapons like Dante's two pistols, shotguns
and even rocket launchers collected in the course of the game.
By Andrew Moore-Crispin
A pril BOOS HL IB: Oigical Living

I7

T otal G a m e r Feat u r e

S plinter C e l l 3 : U b i s o f t ' s a s c e n t i n t o c h a o s
Mathematically speaking, chaos theory refers to the concept that a
small action made in the present can have large repercussions in the
future "a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in
Texas months later," goes the common description, Or, in the case of
Splinter Cell protagonist Sam Fisher, breaking a lock or leaving a grate
open early in the game can trigger a series of events that could have
lethal consequences.
It's fitting that Chaos Theory is the subtitle of the third game in the

Splinter Cell franchise, on store shelves this month for PlayStation 2,


Xbox, PC and GameCube after more than two years in development at
Ubisoft's Montreal studio. With it, game design has moved away from the
rigidly linear structure of past games to create a playground that allows
garnersto complete tasks in more than one way; to experiment and
make mistakes and
most importantly be able to stick around to see
what long-term repercussions their actions may have.
Ubisoft Montreal began developing Chaos Theory right after finishing
the First Splinter Cell. [The second title in the series, subtitled Pandora
Tomorrow, was developed in China by Ubisoft Shanghai]. While the first
game was hailed for its technical innovations, particularly in the areas of
light and shadow, it also had a reputation For doling out harsh consequences for garners whotried to deviate from the way the scenarios
were "meant to be played." The game meted out swift retribution for mistakes, usually in the form of an abrupt Game Over that dumped the player back to the beginning of the scenario.
It's an issue that Ubisoft acknowledges."There was a bit of trial and
error in Splinter Cell One, and a lot of frustration and weird game over situations," said Chaos Theory producer Mathieu Ferland, who took the time
to chat with us despite his hectic schedule; it was Feb, 25 and Ubisoft
was in the process of submitting the Xbox version of Chaos Theory to
Microsoft for their final approval. "At one point," he continued, referring to

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T ota l G a m e r

Fe a t u re
little details. Ferland is especially proud of what he calls the "organic"
feel of the environment. When it rains, for example, you can see the
water glistening off the rocks and walls. Sam's hair will become matted
down and rain will start to soak his clothing. Puddles will slowly form on
the ground.
Sound effects like thunder occur in real-time and are generated within
the 30 environment. In other words, when you go through a door you
won't suddenly hear the ambiences of the next room because you' ve
triggered them by stepping into the new area. Instead, from the moment
Sam begins to open the door you' ll be able to hear the sounds from the
other room, and they' ll get louder the closer Sam gets to them.
"If you' re in a building and there's a helicopter on the roof, you' re going
to hearthe bass;assoon as you open the door,you're gonna hearhigherfrequencies,and then as soon as you go outside you're gonna hear
the whole sound," Ferland explained.
The innovations in audio are especially interesting given the addition

the first game, "Sam Fisher is going to enter numbers on a keypadhe


misses
one,and it's gam eover.This doesn'tm ake sense."
The goal with Chaos Theory was therefore to create a more flexible nonlinear structure that would encourage garnersto experiment, Players
are now given primary and secondary objectives that they can complete
in any order they choose by using a variety of different methods.
In order to fully support the non-linear structure, Chaos Theory allows
the gamer to save anywhere at any time, and load anywhere at any
time. "Originally it was just to give more freedom to the player, but what
we realized is that there's a lot of tension in this game, so instead of
fighting to stay alive and reach the next checkpoint,[players] can save
and then experiment with things they wouldn't otherwise do, and then
they will learn more and experiment more, and they will enjoy the game
much more."
Another major decision was to get rid of traditional cutscenes. Rather
than pulling players out of the action and forcing them to passively
watch mini-movies to advance the plot, the goal was to develop some
key dialogue situations that would appear inside the view of the character, leaving Sam free to move around as he watches the action unfold in of an ambient noise gauge, which works in the same way as the nowfront of him. If he wants to disrupt the action and shoot everyone, the familiar light gauge. Just as Sam could go undetected by using the natural shadows in a room to his advantage, now he must act below a certain
game supports that as well. But again, there will be consequences...
Sam alsohas a beefed up arsenal ofweapons he's now more than threshold of noise as well. Various things can increase the noise gauge
capable of shooting his way out of a tight spot using a rifle or shotgun. and work to Sam's advantage. Switching on a generator, for example,
He hasa few neat new gadgets as well,such as a tweaked sticky cam adds more ambient noise to the area and might allow Sam to run undethat allows him to shoot multiple sticky cams and toggle between them, tected. Sam can also synchronize loud actions with loud noises that will
creating his own personal surveillance system to monitor a specific mask the sound gun
a shot with a thunderclap, for example.
zone. Ferland stressed that the experience is still much better if stealth Chaos Theory certainly represents some ambitious strides forward
is used. You can hear the funny conversations of the guards and experi- technically and conceptually. It is, as Ferland explained, meant to serve
ence the excitement created by the tension of sneaking up right behind as a bridge between the current and next generation of videogame consomeone.Nevertheless,"some garnerslike to shoot, so the game sup- soles, some of which are expected to come out as early as Christmas
ports that too," he explained.
2005. It has also prepared Ubisoft Montreal for the demands of working
At the same time, Ubisoft on a next-generation title. To put things in perspective, around 60 people
wanted to continue to push worked on the first Splinter Cell; by contrast, 120 people worked on the
the envelope technically, This Xbox and PC
versions of Chaos Theory alone, with another 120 responsiinvolved scrapping large ble for the PS2 and GameCube versions. Ferland estimates that developparts of the existing architec- ing a next-generation game will require a team of 300 people.
tures and developing more AII told, Chaos Theory looks to be for the Splinter Cell franchise what
advanced t e c hnologicalResident Evil 4 was to the Resident Evil franchise an attempt to
structures that would carry address and remedy all the things arners
g
found frustrating about previover into the next generation. ous games, while continuing to push the series forward at the
The end result is a game that same time.
By Erin Bell
pays a lot of attention to the
vvww.hLibcanada.corn

A pril 2OQB -

H U B : D igital Living

19

T otal G a m e r Review s

S hadow o f R o m e
PuhlisherI Developer: Capcom

Platform: Playetation 2

Picture it as Ridley Scott's


Gladiator: The Game. Aswarrior Agrippa or candy-ass
courtier Dctavianus, players must solve Caesar's
murder through brute force
and subterfuge, respectively. Divided into lengthy
vignettes, play comes in
two varieties: either you' re
tearing through enemies
and lopping off limbs using one of the finest combat systems ever seen, or
slowly skulking around the Senate wishing the misery would end. Easily
the most schizophrenic outing we' ve encountered, the title's all the more
impressive as no matter how much you want to like it, the designers appear
dead-set on defying even open-minded enthusiasts.

T he M o m e n t o f
Silence
Publisher. The Adventure CompanyI Digital festers Developer. House of Tales
Platform: PC

The year is 2044. Ad executive Peter Wright is trying to get his life back
together after losing his wife and son in an airplane accident
and not doing
a very good job of it. His life takes an intriguing turn however when he gets
drawn into the plight of his neighbour and her son after witnessing a dramatic scene through his apartment peep hole of a fully-armed SWAT
team
breaking down her door during the night and dragging her husband off without an explanation.
Peter offers to make some inquiries on the wife's behalf as to her husband' s
whereabouts, and soon gets caught up in a bigger conspiracy involving noncooperative cops, skid row gangs, freedom of speech laws, extraterrestrials,
and the crazy homeless guy who lives in the nearby park.
The game is standard point-and-click stuff that involves exploring the environment, talking to people to find out more information and clicking on

20

H UB : Di g i calLiving - A p r i l 2 0 0 5

Let's back up and get a few


things straight first, however:
Audio and visuals are sound, battles brilliant and the wealth of
background settings satisfying.
You' ll have a superb time slaughtering legionnaires and barbarians by the dozen, especially considering enemies go down in a
hail of blood and gore. Using axes,
swords and even severed arms as
weapons, armchair assassins can't help but have a good time cleaving
semi-intelligent foot soldiers and gargantuan bosses in twain. Where
things fall apart, though, is during verbose storysegments,throughout
which the title's cliched script and tepid voice-overs prove almost as
painful as a glaive to the groin. And just when you think the agony is over,
guess again... tedious and lengthy stealth sequences await.
The situation's almost criminal; an amazing brawler is betrayed by its creators' need to offer items of interest for potential purchasers of all stripes.
Rather than focus on one thing
specificaily, fighting and doing it well,
the development team instead presents pointless concessions for sake of
adventure buffs, when all audiences really want is a good braining. Let' s
hope someone gets its straight in the obligatory sequel... a little less talk
and lot more action would put a lot more bounce into its sandaled step.
By Scott Steinberg

objects to interact with them or occasionally add them to Peter's inventory.


And with standard point-and-click comes the standard point-and-click complaint: that you can only interact with certain items in the environment and
not others, which requires a degree of "pixel hunting" to figure out what
Peter is supposed to do next.
There's quite a bit ofbacktracking in the game, and the gameplay itself has
its fair share of little glitches and quirks. For example, Peter seldom walks in
a straight line to move anywhere; instead, he follows illogical, pre-mapped
routes that can take far longer.
The voice-acting is generally good, but the dialogue itself is hit and miss.
There are some inspired moments, such as the comically waspish sniping
that goes on between two of Peter's co-workers, however some of the lines
are downright sketchy. My personal favourite: "No... better leave Brenda
alone. She can get really crappy."
The game is set in gritty downtown New York, and offers an interesting take
on the near-future. Instead of going sensationally "sci-fi" or post-apocalyptic, The Moment of Silence opts for a more realistic portrayal that, while it
does showcase some neat new gadgets and ideas, still gives the impression
that it could all logically happen in real-life should our society continue to
progress the way it currently is.
The story is pretty intriguing as well, making The Moment of Silence a quite
playable diversion for point-and-click fans it likely isn't a strong enough
game to be able to win over many non-fans of the genre, however.
By Erin Bell

www.hubcanada.corn

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Publisher: Electronic Arts neveioperi Exlent Plationn: n-Gage

Publisher / Developer:. Nintendo


ESRB: Everyone Platform: Nintendo DS
Star rating: 4,5
WarioWare's unique approach to gaming
hasfound a new place to happen on the
Nintendo DS. It's a home-coming of sorts;
while other WarioWare titles were an
excell
ent new take on video garnes,cramming hundreds of five-second "micro
games'ontoa cartridge or disc,the DS's
unique play inter face is perfectly matched
to War ioWare's unique style.
Using the touch-screen interface, garners
rub, chop, tap, rotate and drag their way
to the top, unlocking special timed game
modes, new characters and "souvenirs" in
the form of extra games or cool widgets
likea harmonica.One character's games
and several
souvenirs (the harmonica
among them) require garners to use the
m
icrophone input; blowing into the mic will,
forexample,make an on-screen character
blow abubble gum bubble.Blow too hard
and the bubble will pop.
With the possible exception of the microphone-basedgames, WarioWare travels
well. Players can get a quick gaming fix
while
on the bus.or sit down for an
extended play session to run through the
laborious and un-skippabla story, The only
real problem, aside from the fact that
garners are forced to watch as an insipid
and lar gely pointless story unfolds, is that
blowing into your DS is sure to garner
stares if played in a public place.
By Andrew Moore-Crispin
Pres:
-Fast gameplay
-A per fact software / hardware match
-Strong replay value
Cons:
-Laborious "stor y"
-Potentially emba
rrassing

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HLIB : D i gital Living - A p r i l BQCLi

Out of B ounds
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r'j/

console snowboarding hit SSX 3


3D graphics and
all into the mobile
environment.
Recognizable fea-

tures are certainly


there: ten snow-

boarders to choose from, prize money to purchase character attributes and new gear, and a
Historically, handheld versions of console titles mountain divided into three peaks with racing,
slopestyle (trick) and super pipe courses.
have been drastically scaled-down 2D sideThe 3D works well for the simplistic super pipe
scrolling or isometric affairs that share very litrun, but can start to break down in the other
tle with their console big brothers except the
same logo on the box.(Compare the handheld
more free-wheeling modes. Basically, control
gets sluggish, and it's unfortunately a fairly freand console versions of The Lord of the Rings
quent occurrence to get "stuck" on pieces of
and Prince of Persia, for example.)
With SSX Dut of Bounds, on the other hand, the scenery or trapped inside an un-navigable maze
of white polygons. The small screen doesn' t
developers heroically struggle to cram EABIG's
help matters either, lacking the ability to give a
decent overall perspective of where the rider is
in relation to where he or
she should be going.
By Erin Bell

Kl o t

l o cg 2 : Dr e am Champ Tournament

Publisher / Oeveiepeicnomen Platform: Game noy Advance

Following on the heels of the brilliant


puzzle/action hybrid Klonoa: Empire of Dreams,
Klonoa 2 thankfully sticks to the formula that
made the first game so enjoyable. The series'
hallmark is its simple yet ingenious level
design. Although the levels masquerade as typical 2D platformer fare complete with enemies, crates and collectible gems
they' re
actually sophisticated puzzles that require the
long-eared protagonist to jump, float, and
manipulate the environment in various ways
that require a mixture of reflexes and brainpower on the part of the player.
Forexample,Klonoa can catch enemies and
either toss them at other things(to activate
switches or break crates) or use them to vault
to greater heights and overcome his deliberately
limited jumping ability.
New level elements include flower pots that

io

Klonoa can plant enemies in to cause vines to


grow, a special wet suit for navigating new
underwater environments, and a couple of new
enemies;
one Klonoa can use tojump superhigh, and another, when thrown at another
enemy, absorbs it and changes colour before
returning to Klonoa like a boomerang.
Although Klonoa 2 is actually more than two
years old [it came out in 2002 in Japan], the
immaculate gameplay is
more than enough to
compensate for its slightly dated audio and visual
aesthetic.
By Erin Bell
www.hubcanada.corn

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Gameloft in use U 5 and/or otlier countnes. splmler cell, sphnter cell chaos Theory Sam fisher, ubiso(t. ano ttieubisoft logo are trademarks of ubisoh Entertamment in the Us and/or other coumnes

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