Tech In Hiding
This blog has moved to
Friday, July 25, 2008
New Domain, Zen Mozaic, Upcoming Posts
First off, this page should be directed at instead of the .blogspot domain. That's way cool. Expect a real website coming up soon, and all the links previously used will either autoforward to their new home or stay where they are.

In Creative news, they launched the new Zen Mozaic (yeah with the Z), which is their update to the V series. As with the X-Fi, it looks better in a hand than in a promo shot. Here's its product page.

Here's what I have planned for upcoming articles:
  1. Zen X-Fi Unboxing, Hands On, and Review (I'm not selling this baby!)
  2. Link dump for a few videos I've mixed for my brother's baseball team (who are state champs, congrats)
  3. If I ever get around to it, my two cents over The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. It's our summer reading, and I might as well post my thoughts on the book. My intellectual friend Josh already has his opinion over at his blog. Take a look.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008
Zen X-Fi Priced and Shipping; Zen Krystal unveiled
The X-Fi is officially shipping! Several sites, including Amazon,, and others have the device in stock. Others, including Creative's official site, is already sold out of several of the models. It's apparently a very hot seller, as the $279 32GB is the #34 selling MP3 player on Amazon, passing the original Zen 32GB. My recommendation is through Newegg, since they have excellent customer service, they currently offer free 3-day shipping, and only NY residents are charged sales tax.
Also in Creative news, the Zen Krystal was leaked by the Creative HK site. It's basically an upgraded Zen Stone Plus with much better styling. It adds a few cool features, such as games, a pedometer, and other jogging goodies. Perhaps the bigger news about the player is its increased size- it's a 4GB player now. It's incredible at how smaller and cheaper memory is becoming every day. It's currently on sale for HK$698.00, or $89 US. Hit the link below for a full rundown of the Krystal.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Essential Starter Pack for Windows

In all versions of Windows, users will be able to notice a significant decrease in the responsiveness and speed of the OS. Despite consistent defrags and maintenance of the PC, the best way to get that PC as fast as possible is to perform a clean install of the OS. After clean install, Windows is ready to go. But to be a true power user, there are lots of programs that need to be installed before Windows is truly ready. All of these are free, with links to where you can find them yourself. If you tend to reinstall your software alot, think about putting these files on a CD or network shared drive. Almost all programs will need a update, but most should update themselves after install. For reference, the main PC I use is a Windows Vista, AMD 4800+ Dual-Core with 2GB of RAM, and these programs show little impact on the system.


Security should be the first set of programs installed. All the computers on my network use Norton Internet Security. While Norton products in the past have been ridiculed for their system resource use, the 2008 version of NIS doesn't seem to have a very big effect on the system. However, Norton is very expensive if you don't get it with a rebate. Paid-for security services, especially all in ones like Norton Internet Security and ZoneAlarm Internet Security (which is fantastic, probably better than Norton, but it's rarely offered with a rebate), are typically easier to use and provide adequate protection. If you're going the freeware route, which is just as adequate, you'll need two (at the least), Anti-virus and a firewall. Anti-spyware is also good, however most free AV programs have anti-spyware included.


Avast! Anti-Virus (Home Edition)- It's the best software that you don't have to pay for. It automatically updates on a schedule, and it has pretty good realtime protection. There's a drawback, however: you'll need to register the software to get a key that will allow you to use the program for a year. Also notable is that Avast! is a bit heavy on system resources, so if you're on a slow machine and you use a lot of resources playing games or designing, you'll probably hit a few snags. As with all programs, be sure you READ the file you are sending to the virus vault, as many times it turns out to be a system file you'll need to replace.

Also: AVG Free 8, PC Tools Antivirus


ZoneAlarm (Vista) (XP/2000)- ZoneAlarm is the tried and true firewall. Other users prefer Comodo, but the interface of ZoneAlarm is easy to use, and it gives you an easy to understand prompt when a new program requests Internet access. While the prompts are naggy at first, they go away if you click 'Remember this Program' in the box that appears.

Also: Comodo (Advanced), PC Tools Firewall Plus


Internet Explorer 7 is good. Compared to IE6, which is a decent browser but a horribly unprotected one, IE7 is amazing. However, tabs are a new concept to the IE team, and it shows when tabs are loaded in the browser. They are a bit slow and awkwardly inserted. A good tab manager is essential in a modern day browser.

IE7Pro- Since IE7 does come on every computer, you'll definitely use it with some protocols. Some programs launch IE7 to fill out information and such. IE7Pro makes IE7 much easier to use. The add-on makes the browser behave more like Firefox.

Mozilla Firefox- Firefox is easily the best browser around, with addons and extensions to make the browser more suitable to your liking.

Foxmarks Bookmarks Synchronizer- Foxmarks syncs your bookmarks across multiple desktops. You do need to register, but it's simple, and makes syncing with their server painless.

Also: Opera 9.5, Flock

Music, Photos, Videos

If you spend any time at all on the computer, you'll end up needing a music player, video player, and photo viewer. Windows includes Windows Media Player for music and videos as well as Windows Photo Gallery for photos, but both of those are adequate but not perfect. Here are some better programs.


MediaMonkey- MediaMonkey does an excellent job at managing your music. It's an excellent player, but excels at device synchronization. Also hidden among its many features is its ability to download and automatically sync podcasts. (Try the HotSpot and Buzz Out Loud for audio, and On The Spot and TekZilla for video podcasts.)

Also: Songbird and Zune


Windows Live Photo Gallery- It's a modest improvement over the default viewer, but it allows easy upload to Windows Live Spaces and Flickr (simple login required) as well as MSN Soapbox for videos.

Photo Editors: IrfanView (Simple), GIMP (Advanced)


VideoLAN Player- VLC will play pretty much anything with no problem. Of course, you'll need a codec pack for all the videos such as the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack. VLC is small and plays videos beautifully.

Also: GOM Player

Odds and Ends

PDF Viewer

Foxit Reader- You'll always need a PDF reader for brochures and user manuals. But Adobe Reader is slow, resource hogging, and very intrusive. Foxit is a very small but powerful reader.


7-Zip- When transferring big files (especially over BitTorrent), people have the urge to compress the files for faster downloading. It's a good idea, but you'll have to uncompress the files using the same method they compressed the file in. 7-Zip does most file types and, unlike WinRAR, is very small and light on the system.

When you go to make your download CD, be sure to include the latest drivers for your printer, video card, and sound card. While the printer's drivers will likely not be updated, be sure to pick up the latest video and sound card drivers off the manufacturer's site once you're set.

Popular driver sites:

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Zen X-Fi Launched!
It's official! The Zen X-Fi has launched in Singapore! As suggested by this blog post earlier this week, the X-Fi has officially landed on the Creative site. CNET Asia had the whole scoop a few hours ago, but I'll sum it up here.
The 8GB, as rumored, will not support wireless. It will have every other feature of its bigger brothers though. Those brothers, in 16GB and 32GB variations, will be 2.5" TFT LCD screened, chrome backed players with an external speaker and SD/SDHC support. It weighs a mere 68 grams. All players will come with the premium EP-830 earbuds. The interface, as suggested, will be the same as the original Zen, but with a nine button keypad to back it up. Those nine buttons will allow the user to input text cellphone style. The wireless will support streaming as well as Yahoo! and MSN Messengers. The battery life is spotted at 36 hours audio, 5 for video (assuming X-Fi Off). Price: 8GB $150, 16GB $250, 32GB $300.
(Right picture: CNET Asia)
I got into the chat page using the serial on the CNET Asia site (heh) and the chat account aint much: Look to the right.

Official Page, Microsite
Hit up Kingone's blog for the first unboxing and pics. He's also got a VERY in-depth review posted. It's in the blog network box.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Site Redesign Version 2
is now

I redesigned the site earlier this month. It looked too much like the OS that I despise. So I went out and compiled a new theme (using PsycHo) based off the Vista swooshes. It's a bit less pretty, but it's a bit more functional and more customized to my liking. Is anyone having issues reading it? My software pick post is nearing completion, so that should be up soon.

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Friday, July 04, 2008
Zen X-Fi to be released next week?
Over at the nothingbutcreative blog, kingone has some interesting information: the new player will be announced next week. In the first post, he says
We do know by now that the ZEN X-fi comes in 3 capacity (8,16,32GB), Wi-fi and non-Wi-fi and there seems to be something more than what it seem to be at the back of the player. We will find out eventually when the player is released next week!
Those sentences may seem poorly assumed for a person who has been reading Engadget and the news posts at epizenter, but kingone is a regular poster on the forums at epizenter. He has very strong connections with the company, as he shared some information on the never-released Zen Share. He followed up with a post today discussing the price drops in Singapore, Creative's home country.
In anticipation of the release of the ZEN X-Fi next week, Creative have slashed the prices of the ZEN.
That's the first line of the second post, which he follows with discussion over the substantial discounts in Singapore. (32GB Zen is now $379 U.P. down $120 U.P.) Both those lines as well as the substantial price drop point to his imminent release.
Kingone's Blog

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