Secret Tweaks

10-Minute Tips

Radeon XT Platinum Hack

Something for nothing is a common theme among hacks. Sometimes flipping a bit or two can activate hidden power in your hardware, giving you a better product for free. In this case, the folks at I-hacked.com have documented how to upgrade the firmware in the ATI Radeon X800 Pro to turn it into a zippier Radeon XT Platinum.

Lose the Bells and Whistles

Windows provides lots of tiny options and animations that let you customize how the OS looks. They may look great, but each eats a bit of system resources. I normally don't care for fancy background pictures and special effects, as they distract me from the real work--or play--I use my PC for, so I turn them off as follows:

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Properties.
  2. Select the Desktop tab and choose (None) at the top of the Background list.
  3. Click the Appearance tab and then the Advanced button. Choose Desktop in the item drop-down list and use the color 1 drop-down menu to pick a color for the screen background.
  4. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.
  5. Right-click My Computer and then select Properties.
  6. Select the Performance tab, and under Performance click the Settings button.
  7. In the Performance Options dialog box, I choose Custom and deslect all of the sliding, fading, and animation options. I still get an attractive user interface but without the time-wasting special effects.
  8. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.

Nevo-Based Remote Control for the Rebel

If you have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel and a Nevo-enabled PDA (most current IPaqs), you'll want to get the Rebel remote shutter control add-in for your PDA from CameraHacker. The site contains several other tricks that are worth checking out.

Better Player Management for Windows

If you're disappointed in the synching software that came with your MP3 player, you're not alone. Red Chair Software, offers alternative player-management programs for lots of MP3 players, such as the $35 Notmad Explorer (for most Creative players), Anapod Explorer (for Apple's IPod and IPod Mini), Riorad Explorer (compatible with an increasing number of Rio's players), and Dudebox Explorer (for Dell's players).

Jim Aspinwall is an admitted hardware hacker and the author of O'Reilly's PC Hacks and McGraw-Hill's Installing, Troubleshooting, and Repairing Wireless Networks.

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