Secret Stuff

Secret Stuff

By Richard Heller

Secret stuff

As you surf the web, there are places that people don’t want you to know about. No, I’m not talking about porn sites, but rather the “hack” sites–the sites that give you information on how to copy that game disc or uncover hidden features of your hardware or software.

If you were lucky enough to get one of the new digital TV recorders, such as TiVo, for Christmas, be sure to visit their official site ( for operating hints and news. What they won’t tell you is that if you go to the unofficial site ( you will find information on how to upgrade your TiVo. The TiVo is actually a PowerPC computer that uses the Linux operating system. Rather than recording your TV shows on videotape, it contains a hard drive for storage. A TiVo that records 20 hours will cost $300. By adding a second 30 GB hard drive, it is possible to add 40 hours to your record time at a cost of $150 or less. TiVo does offer a 60-hour unit, but the price is $600. Of course, by upgrading yourself, you will void your warranty.

Another interesting site ( offers help with your game programs. This “hack” site covers everything from supplying game hints to methods that bypass copy protection schemes to making backups of your game console programs. There are some computers that are unable to run some of the new game programs because of the copy protection that is utilized to prevent you from making a copy of the program disc. This problem has to do with a conflict with certain CD or DVD ROM drives that will not allow the program to play. This site offers suggestions and methods to enable you to play the game. Don’t forget, most stores will not allow you to return a computer program once the box has been opened.

There is another site ( that is dedicated to the CD-ROM, CD writer and the DVD ROM community. This site offers information ranging from news of new hardware and software to offering updates to programs. One of the useful features is a firmware upgrade for your CD writer or DVD drive. The manufacturer of these products releases hardware upgrades to correct compatibility problems or to add additional features. By downloading a program, you can update the internal program, keeping the drive up to date.

Another useful feature of this site is software that allows you to run DVD discs that are region-coded for other countries. DVDs are distributed in different parts of the world with a protection system that prevents them from working in a different region. This is done to regulate when and where a movie is available. The movie that you just purchased on DVD may not have been released to the theaters in Europe, and so the DVD will not play on a DVD player in Germany. By downloading a program, this restriction can be removed.

There are other “interesting” sites that we will cover in the future. In the meantime, happy hacking.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or email

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