VuULF Dot Com Geek, Tweak and Game


Life and Times

It has been an extremely long time since I updated anything on I apologize but, as we all know, life stays very busy. Many of you who follow this website know me personally and know, more or less, where I am and what I am doing. The difficulty, though, is that I am in California, most of the people I know are in Canada and I have been grossly negligent in contacting a lot of you. Please permit this short blog entry fill you in on the goings-on in my life of late.

As most of you know, I am a transplanted Canadian in the wonderful state of California. Life is fast paced and hectic here, but extremely enjoyable. As far as professional career goes I am still performing computing services, which should come as no surprise, and due to odd issues surrounding my education, I have returned to school as a full time student in 2011. I am enrolled in a path that will allow me to double major. This will take a lot of time, patience and energy, as I have voluntarily placed myself on an accelerated path, but the end result will be worth it.  I also did a brief but enjoyable stint as an extremely underpaid tech for a WISP. While it was a position that should have paid at least 3 times what I was making, it facilitated getting my feet wet as an employable individual in the United States, and I am very appreciative of that; with a 4 year gap on my resume while waiting for a status change to Legal Permanent Resident, it was hard to find employment. In a nutshell, that is what has been and is going on professionally.

I have met a lot of good friends while living down here; however I must name a few. Paul and Todd, a pair of amazing individuals who imparted to me a lot of wisdom and hope – I thank you! Matt, who became a little brother to me – live life well, my erstwhile friend! Very notably, someone whom I look up to as one does a father, Mr. Crazy Dan. You are one of the most intelligent, charismatic individuals I have met  in my life, and I thank you for your sage wisdom, immutable companionship and, above all, the omnipresent internal reminder to be vigilant and true to myself and to those around me. As a closing, though, I leave you with this.

A lyric from a version of Mr. Bojangles by Jim Stafford in 1974 comes to mind. This classic remake was prequeled with a title Jim called “A Visit With an Old Friend”. In this little dramatic, spoken word jaunt, Jim asks the counter person:

“Say, you ever meet somebody, soon as you see ‘em, you know they’re going to touch your life?”

I have been blessed beyond anything imaginable, to have found exactly that. I speak of my fiancé, Lee.

Lee is an amazing, well educated, outspoken and overall glorious woman. She has touched my life in ways I never thought possible, and our horizons are endless as we sail forward. Lee has stood behind me through every conceivable issue, be it good or bad. Lee is my constant and only companion in life; she is the reason I wake each day and makes me happy to draw breath when I do so. She has motivated me and challenged me; she has kept me alive. She is the reason I live; the reason I am; and the reason I Love. Nothing could, nor would, ever come between us. I look forward to the many years to come, she will be there beside me every moment of my life.

To Lee: You are a great treasure that was, and continues to be, found. I do not have the time I would like to have to simply spend life with you, unwrapping the layers that make you the central inspiration of my life; I grant you every moment that I can spare, even now, when I am supposed to be doing nothing ;). I Love You more than anything I could possibly express; You give life hope, purpose and meaning; for these, I thank you. You are my beloved; you are my Dolly; and I shall forever remain - Your Mr. Bear.


Filed under: General No Comments

ATI Mobility – Upgrade Your Drivers

As stupid as it sounds, many laptop/notebook manufacturing companies don't want ATI to officially support their systems with drivers, therefore many laptops have been blacklisted against working with the official ATI Mobility drivers. The problem here is that idiot companies (pronounced HP, Dell, Gateway, etc.) feel that if hardware is older than 10 minutes, they don't need to support their hardware anymore (especially evil, in my opinion, is HP - not just for notebooks - pretty much ANYTHING; including printers, scanners, etc. If you intend on updating your OS, check your HP hardware for support FIRST!)

Now back to the topic. I recently purchased a decent laptop from a friend that required a few things to get it working. Most notably was the power supply, but it also needs a battery, a new keyboard (letters wearing off, again, thanks HP for cheap paint) and I will probably throw a bigger hard drive in it as well. All in all I am happy with the machine and was especially happy that it included a decent video card with 256MB dedicated. The problem? HP, in their infinite un-wisdom, has a driver that was created before the birth of Buddha and no further support. While many of the games I enjoy playing do support the particular card that is on the motherboard, they require updated drivers. UGH! What to do?!?!?!

Well, I found a perfect piece of software today to get some of my favorite games going, including Mass Effect and Fallout 3! If you have the same problem I do and want to get the latest driver patch from ATI/AMD running on your mobility, download the software available at the link below and follow the instructions.

Enjoy! I hope this helped you get new drivers on your notebook!



Shadowbane: The slow, painful death – and rebirth?

Of course, it is no secret that the end is nigh for Shadowbane. In fact this time; it died twice!

The initial news of the demise of Shadowbane was posted on the Ubi news feed for Shadowbane on April 17, 2009, stating that the end of life for the game was slated for May 1, 2009. This caused a big stir in the community, but the guillotine had been set to chop the head off of possibly the best MMO in history. Rants, raves and pleadings started ensuing on the Ubi forums.

On April 30, 2009, in what has to be one of the funniest, least thought out plans Ubi has ever bungled; and believe me, they have had a great deal of bungling in their life - Ubi stayed the execution of Shadowbane and increased it's lifespan to July 1, 2009. I must admit - I laughed so hard when I saw that, knowing that everyone in the Shadowbane world had given away everything they owned, and Ubi, of course, did not think of this when publishing the extension. Enter the news posting on May 5, 2009 in which Ubi catered to the whining masses and reverted the servers back to April 17, 2009.

Of course, everyone and their dog, or, at least, those that played Shadowbane, knows that the end is coming July 1, 2009. There will be no extra time to play this time. It will be the end of life for the MMO that chugged along saying "I think I can".

For me, this is actually sad news. I enjoyed Shadowbane: a lot. The problem is, however, with the aging graphics and sound effects being destroyed by even free for life MMOs that sell items on the side and the popularity of World of Warcraft and other pay to play games, Shadowbane either needed a massive face lift or sequel or simply suffer the consequences and be thrown into the depth of gaming obscurity.

I will say, however, that at it's core, Shadowbane by any stretch of the imagination pales any MMO out there in head to head comparison. The game itself is not just Massively Multiplayer - it is simply massive. On the surface, Shadowbane was a mere grind and collect game of uber rock-paper-scissors where the characters with the best gear and the most planned characters won the day. Seasoned players, however, knew that it was much more than this. You had to be a skilled player; no matter how strong your character was and what gear you wore, if you sucked as a player, you died a quick death. So much for rock-paper-scissors. Now we have to add the political element in the game. This was no mere sign over your toons head saying "I am in this guild", each guild, or, at least, guild worth any merit, was stationed in a custom built city and each city was in a nation. Wars between nations would ensue and setting up a bane (war) between them, was a highly tactical event. The banes themselves were fantastic as we participated with hundreds of players in oft times expertly orchestrated fights against enemy cities and nations.

I will back track a bit to the cities themselves. You couldn't just plop down a city anywhere. There was a finite amount of space per province, and you needed resources to keep the cities alive. To do this you needed to mine and set up a taxation structure within the city and nation in order to survive; as well as rely on your population to turn in donations and the like. Every single building block takes time, money and resources to build. I think the best part of Shadowbane was the camaraderie that came from creating guilds, cities and nations where everyone had to pull their weight, at least a little bit, or your town simply would not work. What was even more impressive, save the guards in the cities and mines, and the NPC trainers, bankers and salesmen; ever single person belonging to a city was a living, breathing person. Without the players, the city and nation would not last a day.

So that, in a nutshell, is what Shadowbane is all about to the SB newbies or those that have never heard of Shadowbane before. It is a highly PvP centric game which features full on political structuring and is, or I should say was, the greatest MMO of all time - the only things really missing were instances and quests, but we made up our own on the way anyway.

Now that you know what Shadowbane was, let's take a look at the future of the game and the purpose of this article. While it may seem to most that Shadowbane itself is dead, there is some glimmer of hope for the engine.

How can a dead game be saved?

There are several options which I will discuss here. The first two options are the most promising, and the last one is probably the worst case scenario for Shadowbane's future, save an entire extinction.

Ubi has, in the past, taken extremely popular games - or, I should say, games with a cult-like following - and turned them over to the open source world. The prime example here would be Myst Online, incidentally another project I am highly anticipating to see released. This would be the best possible outcome for Shadowbane. It would allow people to create their own game servers and expand upon the game itself. If the client were also offered to the open source, we would probably see a face lift and countless feature improvements in the game. It has the potential to not only re-invent Shadowbane, but give the game a new lease on life. The naysayers in the world believe this may cripple the Shadowbane world since any yutz could create a server and the players would be spread all over different servers versus playing all in one place. I have to disagree with said pessimists. This is true, but only to an extent. The fact of the matter is that not any old yutz could create a server. It is not only an administrative nightmare to stave away the bad guys, but it is also expensive to make sure people can play without getting lag bombed every three seconds. An open source Shadowbane would be ideal. At first, we would see sporadic servers bouncing up and down every day, but only the true, dedicated people in the world of Shadowbane would deal with the expense and administration headaches and we would probably dwindle down to a handful or two of good servers. This is really no different than the original logic of Shadowbane which gave the player an option as to what world and game style they wanted to play. Instead of simply spread between worlds, we are spread between servers.

The next best bet comes from a place called (henceforth SBE). This project proposes to create their own server side adapted to the existing client by reverse engineering sniffed packets. On May 8, 2009 SBE announced that the had decrypted the communication between the true Shadowbane servers and the client, giving the project a near two month window in order to discover the secrets lurking behind the scenes of Shadowbane, and create a workable database structure and serving mechanism between the client and a new server. Many projects of this nature exist, perhaps the most notable being MaNGOS, which allow the world to have access to games like World of Warcraft, without paying the hefty monthly fees. Again, naysayers believe this will result in a fractured community, but game communities such as NaxpServer (now NaxpGaming) which have their own base of thousands of players are proving the pessimists wrong. The problem I foresee on this side is that the SBE community has been around since 2006. They have had plenty of time to work on an emulated server architecture in that time. They have claimed that they did not want to harm the true Shadowbane community by creating an emulator, however I believe this was simply a statement that said: "We can't pull this off." No offense to you guys over at SBE; truly I do hope that you can and will prove me wrong, but I think that project may be destined for the "too little, too late" pile. In my opinion, SBE should have had a decrypted network hash before even spending money on the domain name, not waiting until the last few days to gather the vital information that is needed to create a copy of the database. I truly wish Shadowbane Emulator the best of luck, and with the demise of true Shadowbane, perhaps the coders in the game's community will step up to bat and start working frantically on an emulation server. I would have placed this as the first best savior to Shadowbane, were it that some sort of architecture had been privately developed at this stage, but considering network decryption has only been recently worked, my faith must remain fickle.

The third case, and worst case in my opinion (in fact I might prefer to see the game die completely over this option), is that AeriaGames is supposedly in discussion with UbiSoft to acquire the Shadowbane IP. This would essentially turn Shadowbane into yet another "free" game, where only those that pay for quality gear and the like survive. I am sorry, but I really hope it does not come to this. For me it would essentially be exactly the same as if Shadowbane died altogether. It simply would not be any fun anymore.

While Ubi did make a good effort at saving Shadowbane from the chronicles of strife by placing in game advertisements for Dell, the gamble, obviously, did not pay off. In a perfect world, Ubi would simply hand the game over to the community and say "Here you go guys! You've played, you've made the game what it is today, and you shall continue to do so by your own hand.". I don't foresee this happening. I remain doubtful, but optimistic on the emulated server front. Finally, unless Aeria Games simply uses Shadowbane as a vehicle to fuel it's other titles, Shadowbane is a lost cause in their hands.

My final words on this article will be to Ashen Temper and Wolf Pack Studios, and subsequently Stray Bullet Games - thanks for the years of fun ladies and gents! Your first born, or at least best child, may be dead, but it will not be forgotten any time soon!


Filed under: Game, Game Geeks No Comments

How can I backup my DVD for free? Can I put them on my iPod or PSP?

Is there a free way I can backup my DVDs to a disc, iPod or PSP?

Being a father of a rather rambunctious 5 3/4 year old, I know that those DVDs you spend a fortune on can get scratched and hatched and made completely unusable in a few seconds. I also understand that, while I may not choose to watched an animated postage stamp on a portable media player, it is much easier to carry around a PSP or an iPod with a collection of their favorite movies than it is to carry around a bag full of DVDs and a portable DVD player. While the monopolistic powers that be (namely Apple and Microsoft) are slowly coming around to their senses by promoting Digital Copy, a copy of the film that needs to be activated and can be placed on your media device, what of all of your old DVDs? Here it is - for all of you who asked, this is how you can backup your DVD media, put it on your iPod or PSP or just burn it to a backup disc that the kiddies can use and you can do it all at the low low price of: FREE!

If you do an Internet search for products that will backup your DVDs or transfer your DVDs to a portable device, you will come up with umpteen billion hits, trying to sell you software for anywhere from $1.99 to over a hundred clams! The funny thing is, when you get the software installed on your computer you discover that it won't copy all of your DVDs, in fact, if your DVD is CSS protected, you just bought yourself a wonderful piece of absolutely useless software. This is where a handy little program called DVD43 comes in. This program runs as a service in Windows and will decrypt you DVD. Be warned: If you do an Interent search for DVD43 you will come up with a plethora of websites that offer their own products behind links that say they are giving you DVD43 and they can include all forms of nastiness such as spyware/malware/viruses/etc. The following link is one that is absolutely safe:

This link comes from this ( website, which also has a link to the DVD43 Forums.

OK. Now you have a service that will decode the CSS protection; what can you use to backup your DVD media? While a number fo commercial programs are compatible with DVD43, the best Open Source and freely available software that I have found anywhere is called Handbrake ( Handbrake is available for Windows, OSX, Linux and other Unixes. They also explain on the website what you will need to decode protected discs on OSes other than Windows. You can Download Handbrake here:

Now, in order to backup those protected discs, you will first need to install DVD43. You will know it is working as a little smiley face that animates when you insert a DVD is installed and located in your system tray. You may safely forget about that piece of software now, it is doing it's job. Now install Handbrake. When you run the program you will see a lot of handy presets on the side bar that will help you backup your disc, put your DVD on your PSP or other portable device, and a roster of features you will probably never even touch. Select your device from the list, specify the source and then a destination file and you are set. Copy the media on to your machine, and there you have it. Ripped DVD on yor iPod, PSP or media player.


NAXPServer Realmlist Switcher

This little app will automatically change your World of Warcraft from the official Blizzard servers to the private ones provided at and back to the originals provided from Blizzard. Cheap, generic and works!

Version - Now supports both US and European Blizzard servers.

If you wish to support this program, consider donating at instead, it was written for them, after all.





How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Part 4)

Step 4: Editing the Boot Configuration Database (BCDEdit)

These are the final few steps that you will need to perform in order to allow you to boot from both Windows XP and Windows Vista on the same machine, without having to switch back and fourth between drives in the BIOS. Hopefully, you still have your Computer Management screen up and an Administrative Command Prompt. If not, just refer back to STEP 3 to open those again, if you don't recall how it is done.

Administrative Command Prompt with NotepadIn the administrative console (command prompt), unless you had to open it again, type c: or whatever the drive letter is that corresponds to your Windows Vista installation. You will probably be in c:\Windows\System32 so we will want  to change the directory to the root of the drive. To do this, simply type 'cd c:\', replacing c with your drive lettter for Windows Vista, and removing the quotes, then hit enter. Now we will need to edit the boot.ini file which we copied to your Vista drive. Type 'notepad.exe boot.ini'.

Original Boot.iniHere is where things get a little bit confusing. We need to tell boot.ini on which drive Windows Vista lives, even though we use this file to boot Windows XP. This is because the bootloader is located on the Windows Vista drive and is not accessed from the Windows XP drive. You will have to look at the partition table again on the management console. You now need to find the Drive number that Windows Vista is installed on. In our example this drive was drive 1 and Windows XP was on drive 0. Because the bootloader is on the Windows Vista drive, we need to tell boot.ini to find the loader on the first partition of the same drive that Vista is on. If your Windows Vista installation is on drive 0 then you shouldn't have to make changes, but if it is on a different drive number then we will need to change the value of rdisk in the boot.ini file. In our example, the Vista installation is on drive 1 so we will have to change the boot.ini values of the rdisk to 1 in both the default and operating system sections. If you don't change both values, then you will get a second bootloader option for Windows XP, one working and one not, so make sure to change both rdisk values if you have to. As I mentioned, though, if your Vista is located on disk 0 then you will not have to make these changes. You should end up with a boot.ini file that looks like the following. Make sure you save your changes, if you had to make any, and exit notepad.

Edited Boot.iniAs you can see in the image above, we have changed the value of rdisk from 0 to 1.

Now we come to the final steps of the installation. Here you have to perform a series of commands in an administrative console which will install Windows XP into the Boot Configuration Database. BCDEdit is a handy little tool which will allow you to enter the values needed to create a multiboot environment. You can use this command to install a Linux boot partition or any other boot partition, however that is beyond the scope of this article, so we will stick with Windows XP.

BCDEdit CommandsBack at the Administrative Console, and at the root of your Windows Vista hard drive (c:\ presumably), we need to know two things. What would you like the bootloader to display as the operating systems name? and What hard drive letter does Windows XP reside on? The following commands (duplicated in the image to the left) need to be issued in order to install the OS into the BCD.

bcdedit /create {ntldr} /d "Windows XP"

This command installs only the name of the operating system that you wish to add to the BCD. You can replace Windows XP for whatever it is you want the OS to show up as in the bootloader. Make sure to note that you need braces around ntloader and you need quotes around the OS description. Next command.

bcdedit /set {ntldr} device partition=g:

This command tells the booloader where to find Windows XP. You will have to replace g: with the hard drive letter corresponding to the hard drive that holds your Windows XP installation. Don't forget to add the colon after the drive letter, and do note the space between device and partition. Next and final commands.

bcdedit /set {ntldr} path \ntldr
bcdedit /displayorder {ntldr} /addlast

The first command tells the Windows Vista bootloader where to find the ntldr file. The second command tells the Windows Vista bootloader to list Windows XP as an entry and to place the Windows XP entry at the end of the available operating systems list at boot time - this step is not optional, Windows XP will not show up in the list if you do not issue this command.

You can now close all of your windows, and reboot your machine. You should be greeted with a menu that lets you choose your operating system and will be able to boot into either Windows Vista or Windows XP. Enjoy!



How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Part 3)

Step 3: Transferring System Files

You should now be able to boot into Windows XP and work in that, but you don't have any access to Windows Vista, save maybe being able to see the hard drive in Windows XP. Now we have to undo all of the stuff we did in the BIOS which will allow you to be able to boot back into Windows Vista, however, you won't be able to boot into Windows XP yet. Refer back to Part 2 to refresh you memory about the changes we made in BIOS. Basically, the most important change we have to make, is in the Hard Disk Drive area on the Boot tab. You will need to reorder you hard drives so that the Vista boot drive is again at the top. Check your device boot priority and make sure either the CD/DVD drive or the Vista drive is in the top of the boot order. (Note: It is handy to leave the CD/DVD drive at the top and the Windows Vista drive second in case you want to boot from a bootable CD such as a Live Linux distribution, Norton Ghost, or an OS Installation CD). Verify you have your boot information correct and then save and exit from the BIOS setup. You should now test to see that you will boot into Windows Vista. If you don't boot to Vista, double check your settings and try again.

Now that we are back in Windows Vista, you will need to open up your management console and take a look at where everything is located in respect to how Windows sees it. To do this simply click start then right click on Computer in the right pane of the start menu and click Manage. Because this can affect system wide settings, you will need to confirm the action to UAC by clicking Continue.

Windows Vista Managment ConsoleYou should now have a window on your screen that is similar to the image on the left. Here you need to remember a few things. First you need to remember the drive letter that Windows XP is installed on. If you didn't label the drive specifically, the Windows Vista drive should be the one that says Boot beside the healthy status. It may say a few other things, such as page file, etc, as well, but boot should be in there somewhere. Now you should have the letter of the Windows XP hard drive, in the example here, this will be 'G:'. You will also want to note which physical identifier the hard drive has. Below the list of drives you will see the partition bars labeled Disk 0, Disk 1 and so on, for all of your physical drives. Our Windows XP installation resides on Disk 0, so we will also want to remember that.  Yours may be on Disk 1 or another drive, so just make sure you know which number corresponds to your installation.

Administrative Command PromptMinimize the Management console and open up an Administrative Command Prompt. To do this, click Start, All Programs, Accessories and right click on Command Prompt then click Run As Administrator. Again, you will need to authorize the action via Continue on UAC. This will open up a black command prompt window like the one pictured on the left.

Administrative Command Prompt With CommandsNow that we have an administrative command console open we will have to execute a number of commands to grant us access and change the visibility of some files we will need on the Windows XP hard drive. First off, to make sure you are on the right drive, type the letter of the drive which holds Windows XP then a colon and hit enter. So for our example this would be: 'G:' (without the quotes). Now we have to set some attributes of the needed system files on the Windows XP hard drive. We need access to three specific files; ntldr, and boot.ini. There are few system files on that hard drive at the moment so we can just globally modify the files. In the Command prompt type 'attrib -s -h *.*' and then hit enter. Now, should you do a 'dir' you will be able to see these files. We now need to copy those three files over to the hard drive that holds Windows Vista, this should be c:, but sometimes it can be different, although highly unlikely. So, we now have to copy those three files. Type the following commands, replacing <drive> with the corresponding drive letter for your Windows Vista installation, don't forget the colons after the drive letter.

'copy ntldr <drive>:'
'copy <drive>:'
'copy boot.ini <drive>:'

We have now made copies of the files we will need in Windows Vista in order to make the Windows XP installation bootable, although we are not wuite done yet. Before we continue, let's change the attributes of those files back to hidden system files. This time we type 'attrib +s +h *.*' to reset the system and hidden attributes. We are now done this part of the process, only one more step remains.



How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Part 2)

Step 2: Changing your BIOS

This step is rather quirky, as we can't give you exact information on what to do here due to the number of different BIOS and motherboard manufactures. We can, however, show you what we did on our test rig which has an AMI Bios. This is definitely one of the more widely used BIOSes, and almost any machine in the modern world should have options to allow you to do the same thing. This does not, however, guarantee it will be in your particular bios. If you find that you can not set the exact hard drive you wish to boot from in your BIOS, then you will be forced to open up the case and disconnect your Vista hard drive, and make the secondary hard drive bootable. We won't be discussing how to do that here, however, as I mentioned before, almost all modern BIOS have a means to choose which hard drive should be considered the primary drive, so you should be OK. Remember the changes you make to your BIOS as you will have to reverse these settings later on! If you have to write the changes down to remember, do so!

AMI BIOS ScreenTo get into your BIOS you will generally have to hit either Delete, F2 or F12. If none of these work for you, you will have to check with your motherboard manufacture, or pay attention to what the power on screen tells you. It will generally say something like "Hit (key) to enter Setup" or "Hit (key) to enter BIOS Setup", replacing (key) with the key you need to strike to get into the setup screen. On our test rig, the key to hit at power on is the Delete key. When you've entered into the BIOS you should have a screen that looks similar to the image on the left. This should tell you what hard drives you have installed, what CD/DVD devices, floppies, etc. If you have a RAID device, a series of several hard drives that are utilized as a single device, they may not show up here and you may have to configure your RAID device BIOS instead. For example, our test rig has two RAID devices, each made up of two physical hard drives, set up, one SATA and one PATA, however we have to go into the Fastrak BIOS to configure those. Those four hard drives do not show up in this BIOS, only the solo Western Digital shows up here. You will see your RAID devices listed later on, though, usually named something like TX Array 1 or some such.

AMI BIOS Boot TabNow that you are in your BIOS, you should be able to access a boot tab, or similar area, in your BIOS. On our rig, the boot tab has all of the options which we will have to change in order to make the computer think that the solo Western Digital drive is the primary hard drive, rather than the RAID array we normally boot off of. Essentially what we will be doing here is changing how your computer sees your hard drives, and which one should be considered the hard drive that we want activated as the bootable hard drive. This will not affect your ability to boot into Windows Vista, or, at least, not permanently. We need to do this step in order to make sure that the Vista bootloader and Master Boot Record (MBR) are not affected.

AMI BIOS Drive SelectionFor us, using the BIOS we have on our test rig, we need to go to Hard Disk Drives and hit enter. We are presented with our current hard drive order; that is, the order that the computer sees these devices. At the moment, the computer sees our first RAID Array (the SATA RAID) as the primary boot device and the Western Digital solo drive as the secondary drive. Our PATA RAID doesn't even show up on this screen as we never need to utilize it as a boot device, so we removed it from this screen altogether. What we need to do is basically tell the computer we want to see the Western Digital hard drive first, and any other drive or RAID device second, third, etc.

AMI BIOS Set Secondary DriveTo do this, you simply have to hit enter on the First Disk drives name. Select the drive you wish the system to see as ordered as your first hard drive available on the system and then hit enter. This drive should be the drive you want to install Windows XP on, not the hard drive you currently have Windows Vista installed on. As a precautionary measure, we have also set the second drive to disabled, which basically means at boot time, the computer will not even recognize this hard drive as a bootable hard drive. The operating system will still have access to the hard drive, and it will still be available, however, you will not be able to write an MBR on any of the devices not shown on this screen. This is a good thing to implement, as you don't want to accidentally write to your Vista MBR.

AMI BIOS Device PriorityNext we need to select our boot device priority. If we try to boot off of the hard drive we are going to install Windows XP on, chances are our system will not boot, as we are assuming you are using a blank hard drive. We now need to tell the BIOS that we don't want to boot from that hard drive, but from the CD/DVD drive. Hit ESC to go back to the Boot Tab from the Hard Disk Drive section of our BIOS and then go to Boot Device Priority and hit enter. Here you may see that your blank hard drive is the first in the priority. You must change this to boot from the CD/DVD drive instead. To do this, hit Enter on the device beside 1st Boot Device and then use the arrow keys to select the CD/DVD drive you want to boot from, hitting enter to make that selection. As we can see below, the hard drive automatically goes down the list to becoming the second in queue to be booted, and the CD/DVD drive becomes the first to boot. If a bootable record isn't found on the CD/DVD media in the drive, or if no media is present, the computer will automatically boot the hard drive next.

AMI BIOS Boot Priority Switched

AMI BIOS Save and ExitThe final step we have to do in our BIOS is to save the configuaration and exit. Most BIOS use the F10 key to savem, but not all of them, so you might have to go to a Save and Exit Tab or hit the appropriate key. Make sure you save your changes, as we don't want to be able to boot to Windows Vista. Test this theory by leaving your CD/DVD drive empty and try to boot from the blank hard drive. You should not be able to boot, since the hard drive is empty. If this is the case, all is well and good.

Now that you have tested your configuration, put your Windows XP (this works for 2003 and Media Center as well) media in the CD/DVD drive and boot from the disc, install Windows XP, boot into it, get your service packs, drivers, etc all sorted out then meet me back here for part 3 when you are finished.



How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Dual Boot)

This is one of the questions I have been most asked recently: How can I install Windows XP on a computer that has Windows Vista installed, while keeping my Vista installation. While this isn't necessarily a simple fix, it is something that is easily achieved with a bit of ingenuity and know how. This first tutorial will help those that have access to more than one physical hard drive. We will put together something later on that will help those with a single hard drive. What you will need for this tutorial is a basic knowledge of your BIOS and how to get into the BIOS at boot time on your computer. You will also need to know how to set certain parameters in your BIOS. If you are unfamiliar with  any of this, we recommend that you visit your motherboard manufacture and get a soft manual or pull out your motherboard manual to refer to while working with this tutorial. As there is a vast variety of BIOS and motherboard manufactures, we can not offer you any help in this area. Additionally, you will need to know how to set up Windows XP on your own.

Backup System and the obligatory Disclaimer

Before we continue, you are going to want to make absolutely sure your software is completely backed up. You don't want to accidentally overwrite your valuable data or operating system. Make sure you have completed a full backup using Windows Vista's backup tool, or one of your other favorite tools. We take no responsibility for what you do to you computer. If you choose to continue reading this article and follow the steps we will guide you through, that is your business, but we can not be held liable for anything you do to your system that renders it unbootable or for any loss of data that you may incur while performing these steps. We try to keep things as simple and accurate as possible, however, I will repeat, we can not be held responsible for damage to your system should you follow this tutorial.

Step 1: Verifying Your System

You have now completed your backup and are ready to get that system up and running with a dual boot operating system. Windows Vista introduces a new bootloader which is not compatible with older Windows operating systems. The new method of booting offers a nice security layer to your system, however, it also is a bit harder to work with than the older bootloader. If you install an old version of Windows over top of Windows Vista, you will find that you are no longer able to boot Windows Vista, as you cannot boot Windows Vista from the boot.ini file or by using ntloader. This makes running a dual boot system a bit more difficult. There are third party loaders which will facilitate this, but why pay for something you can do on your own?

In this step, you should verify that you actually do have more than one physical hard drive available. In these days of terabyte hard drives, you may find that you only have one physical hard drive split into two partitions. To verify this you can either go into your systems BIOS and check for the existence of two physical hard drives. Alternately  you could crack the case open and visually confirm that you have two hard drives. Once you have determined that you have two hard drives you should download all of the drivers that you will need in order to install Windows XP on your system. Some of the newer motherboards are not natively supported in Windows XP, of special concern are SATA and SATA II controllers and RAID devices. If you boot the Windows XP installion CD/DVD, and do not see any hard drives listed, you will need to get these drivers and inject them into the operating system before you can install Windows XP. Generally this is a trivial matter and you can put the drivers on a flash drive or on a floppy (GADS! What's a floppy?!?!).

Alright. You have verified that you have two hard drives, have the drivers you need unzipped, in hand and ready to go and you know how to get into your system BIOS; time to get the show on the road!



Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics (Atari)

Dungeons & Dragons: Tactics

Genre: Turn-based RPG/Tactical Simulation
Publisher: Atari Interactive, Inc.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Multiplayer: Yes (4 Player)
Extra Features: Tutorial, In Game Music Player, Art Gallery

Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics

Game Overview

Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - Title ScreenSet in a fantasy world with 3 different maps, 7 races and 13 classes to choose from; this turn based RPG is a wonderful adaptation of the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 ruleset. The storyline is rich and lush, and features a multitude of adventures that you must take your companions on. I was impressed with the way things were set up, right from the start. Being a fan of Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2, also adaptations of the famous Wizards of the Coast D&D rulesets, I was hoping that Atari would not disappoint me with the way the game handled and played. From the moment I turned it on, to the moment I finished the game, I was wholly impressed.If you are not familiar with the D&D rulesets, you may find this game intimidating at first, however, you do have the option of allowing the game to chose your statistics and abilities for your, so if you are not at all familiar with D&D or character creation in an RPG, you may want to play using this feature the first time through.


Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - MovementGameplay is well thought out and planned. Unlike some tactics games where you only play the main character, D&D:Tactics allows you to play all of the characters on the quest. Not only that, but if you are a die hard RPG fan, you will be able to create every character in your party of six. When it comes to turn handling, an intelligently laid out menu appears in the center of the screen, allowing you to chose from a number of actions and abilities unique to your class. Simply pick your action from the list and move your cursor to where you want to walk, what you want the action to affect, what you want to attack, and so on. Movement around the world maps is equally as efficient, and you can journey to and from places you have discovered freely.


Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - Actions OneThe graphics in this game are both smoothly rendered and lush with detail. The visuals are wonderful and you can tell from the moment you start the game that the artists were not going to allow this game to be released with a lack of attention to detail. From the vertex textures to the artwork of the characters themselves, this game shines without sacrificing any quality or performance. Detail is the main thing that I enjoyed about this game, especially in the visuals. From slight rises in the terrain to skulls littered about the environment to symbols on cavern walls, this game features some superb graphical work.


Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - Expanded View

The first thing you will hear when you turn this game on, is a lush and brilliant soundtrack that never gets old. The game even features a musical selection player which will allow you to enjoy the in game music without having to play. The soundtrack seems to have been designed along the same lines as that of Morrowind. Lyrical and expressive, yet not forced. While it does repeat, as did Morrowind, the way it repeats, and the way the music was composed, more as a subtle overtone, rather than something that grates on you; you will find that it adds a wonderful atmosphere to the game.

Sound Effects

Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - Character ScreenAgain, the developers were going for realism and detail. The sound in this game is top notch, and it is not a composition of low quality samples, but of high fidelity samples that compliment the games fluidity. Unlike many games I have played that had me running to the options screen to turn off the effects altogether within the first few hours, the developers wanted to keep you switched on. As such, the game sounds are short, quick and reflect exactly what you would expect them to reflect; for example Spell A has sound effect A and Spell B has sound effect B so you have an audible cue as to what is going on. Nicely designed sound effects are not always a given, but the developers here hit the nail on the head.


Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - Actions TwoIf you are a fan of D&D or even of RPGs in general, you will probably find yourself playing this game over and over with different sets of characters. The range in which you can equip your characters or utilize different characters in different scenarios is endless. I have played the game to completion more than a few times, and every time I played the experience was different.


Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics - Title ScreenWith the compelling, deep storyline, the fantastic graphics and soundtrack and the ease of handling this game, I would recommend this one to anyone who is a long time fan of RPG games in any form factor. For the D&D nuts out there, this is a perfect opportunity to take your experience with you on the road. This game is one of those which should be included in anyone's RPG arsenal, and I am sure you will find this game to be one that you will not want to put down until you have finished it at least once, and will return to it after playing something more mediocre prior to finding another game to occupy your time. It isn't an easy game, but it sure is a fantastic one. Atari and the collective developers created a brilliant combination when applying the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset to a portable system. Fantastic job gals and guys!


Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics