Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tweaking.com Windows Repair – A One Click Simple Free Repair Utility

imageSince reviewing software (both free and commercial), is a good part of what I do as a blogger, I’ve tested and evaluated more than a thousand applications in the last few years.

Sprinkled amongst these applications has been a good selection of  “one click simple” computer maintenance solutions. But, “one click simple” computer repair solutions, have been conspicuous by their absence.

While freeware maintenance applications are readily available for download (and, many of them are very capable), finding a good, solid, freeware application, suitable for less technically inclined computer users, has been more of a challenge – until now.

Tweaking.com has just released (August 24, 2011), a super all-in-one repair tool called – what else – Windows Repair. Don’t be fooled by the plain name though. This small tool has plenty of functionality, including the ability to fix registry errors and file permissions – as well as issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Update, Windows Firewall, and more. Windows Repair can even restore Windows original settings which have been changed by malware – a common occurrence.

Fast facts – Windows Repair can do the following:

Reset Registry Permissions
Reset File Permissions
Register System Files
Repair WMI
Repair Windows Firewall
Repair Internet Explorer
Repair MDAC & MS Jet
Repair Hosts File
Remove Policies Set By Infections
Repair Icons
Repair Winsock & DNS Cache
Remove Temp Files
Repair Proxy Settings
Unhide Non System Files
Repair Windows Updates
and more…

As the following screen captures show – Windows Repair is not only simply to operate but, it “holds the user’s hand” while working through the repair process.

Note: All screen shots can be expanded to the original size by clicking.

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For those users dealing with a malware infected system, the application directs to a number of anti-malware freebies so that the repair process can begin on the right footing.

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As the application points out in the following screen shot, there’s nothing to be gained by completing a repair sequence if there are errors in the file system. While the system file check is optional, it makes good sense to run this tool.

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Likewise, with the file version checking tool.

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Prior to starting the repair process a System Restore option is available.

A quick piece of advice: never allow an application to make system changes, without creating a System Restore Point first.

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The application provides a three level system of repairs – Basic Mode, Advanced Mode, and Custom Mode. I’ve shown the Basic Mode, and Custom Mode interfaces, in the following two screen captures.

Basic Mode:

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Custom Mode:

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Using Tweaking.com – Windows Repair by Majorgeeks.com (Click on graphic to play video).

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System requirements: Windows XP, 2003, 2008, Vista, Win 7.

Download at: MajorGeeks

Windows Repair makes it easy to repair common Windows problems and, its ease of operation should make it ideal for less experienced users.

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Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, New Computer User Software Tools, Software, System Recovery Tools, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 31, 2011

Free Time-Saving Tools: Keyboard Shortcut Apps, Taskbar Pinner – Use Google Toolbar, PhraseExpress, or AutoHotkey to autofill often-used bits of text; Taskbar Items Pinner can pin folders, websites, and other goodies to your Windows 7 taskbar.

HP Producing One Last Batch of TouchPads to Meet Demand – Good news for those who have been trying to get their hands on an HP TouchPad: The company said today that it will produce one last run of TouchPads to meet demand.

Google Apps vs. Office 365 vs. Zoho Docs: Cloud-Based Office Suites Showdown – The battle for supremacy in online productivity suites is raging. We look at the three leading choices–Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, and Zoho Docs–to determine which is the best.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Loudtalks push-to-talk free – Turn your phone or tablet into a walkie talkie with this lightning fast free push-to-talk app, which works between Android, Blackberry, PC and Windows Mobile devices. Talk to your contacts privately or join public channels to engage in a hot debate.

Five Good Reasons to Try Mandriva Linux 2011 – With an attractive KDE desktop and more newbie-friendly features, this free operating system could be just the ticket for your business.

The Pros and Cons of Web-Based Operating Systems – Do notebooks that rely on a Web-based OS — like Google’s Chromebook — make sense for small business? We look at the benefits and the challenges of tying your PC to the cloud.

Rogue Google SSL certificate allowed MITM Gmail attacks – The forged certificate has been revoked only yesterday, which means that whoever was behind these attacks had the ability to trick users into believing that they were securely accessing any of the SSL-based Google services for more than a month.

Google, OpenDNS Team Up to Boost Internet Speeds – Google has teamed up with OpenDNS and several content delivery networks (CDNs) for an effort intended to boost Internet speeds.

Nations With Low Malware Rates Have Better ISPs – Countries with good national security teams (CERTs) and diligent ISPs show consistently lower rates of malware infection than those states that adopt a less paternalistic approach to security, a new analysis by Microsoft researchers has suggested. According to statistics drawn from the company’s widely-used Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), the countries which have shown notably lower infection rates of malware are Austria, Finland, Germany, and Japan.

Malicious infections enter 99% of enterprise networks – There is a significant gap in today’s enterprise IT defenses, as advanced malware and targeted attacks are easily evading traditional defenses, such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, antivirus, and Web/email gateways, according to FireEye.

Company News:

Facebook pays bug hunters $40,000 in three weeks - The recently introduced Facebook bug bounty program has proved to be a great success, says Joe Sullivan, the company’s chief security officer. The program has already paid out more than $40,000 in only three weeks and one person has already received more than $7,000 for six different issues flagged.

Symantec simplifies backup and recovery – Symantec unveiled the Backup Exec 3600 and NetBackup 5220 enterprise backup appliances to help organizations modernize their backup infrastructures and accelerate new initiatives around virtualization.

A Digital Drawing Tool – Wacom on Tuesday announced the Wacom Inkling, a digital sketch pen geared toward artists and visual thinkers.

VMware vCloud Enables New Global Cloud – VMware is expanding its vCloud program, enabling enterprises to buy and move their virtualized assets across multiple service providers. The vCloud is VMware’s program for service providers to run VMware virtualized clouds. The vCloud program was announced last year and is now expanding to enable virtual machine movement and service purchases across multiple vendors.

Off Topic (Sort of):

I don’t want to live in a world without Microsoft and neither do you – As popular as the notion might be in some circles, a world without Microsoft would make our lives worse, not better.

Buy Now, Pay Now, Pay Later — Are Game Companies Ripping Us Off? – Is the growing use of “Season Passes” to games a smart way for gamers to save money on DLC, or an underhanded way for publishers to charge $90 for their games?

Why Employees Should Surf the Web at Work – Want to work better and feel more mentally refreshed at the office? Then keep surfing the Web and browsing articles from your desk.

Password joke named funniest at Edinburgh Fringe – Stand-up comedian Nick Helm was judged to have the best joke of the festival, beating a number of better-known acts. 10 comedy critics spent two weeks hunting for the best jokes of the Edinburgh Fringe, putting their top 30 shortlist to a public vote.

Today’s Quote:

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”

-     David Brin

Today’s Free Downloads:

CyberGhost VPN Free - CyberGhost VPN Free creates a virtual private network (VPN) connection when you’re on the Internet, so that you can be safe when you go online. If you’re willing to put up with a few quirks, you’ll find CyberGhost VPN a great, free program for keeping you safe online.

JonDo – JonDo anonymizes your connections using a proxy service, so that a Web site or other Internet destination won’t be able to see where you’re really coming from. If you’re after maximum privacy for your surfing, JonDo can help with a minimum of fuss.

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Homework Help – 12 Web Sites That Lend A Hand

Need Homework Help? – Turn To These Terrific Web Sites.

imageParents, it seems, are less equipped than ever to jump in and help out with homework assignments. Statistics from the Canadian Council on Learning seem to indicate – two out of three parents feel incapable of helping their children with homework, or after school assignments.

As a parent what do you do; who do you turn to? As a student, since it’s unlikely you can turn to a parent; what do you do?

According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project study, you both turn to the Internet. The study’s research revealed that the Internet has become an increasingly important feature of the learning environment for teenagers, and is used as an essential study aid outside the classroom.

Students and parents report that the Internet is vital to completing school projects, and has effectively replaced the library for a large number of online students. As many as 71% of students surveyed, report using the Internet as their primary source for researching, and completing major projects.

If you’re a student or, the parent of a student, consider bookmarking the following web sites which will provide comprehensive and reliable educational information that can be used to research school projects, and homework assignments.

Discovery Education

Discovery Education offers free student resources that bring learning to life both inside and outside the classroom. We invite you to take a look at our interactive games, videos, contests, virtual labs and activities designed to help you dive deeper into a topic —and have fun too!

Refdesk 

Since 1995, Refdesk.com, has served as a one-click springboard to many of the Web’s top dictionaries, encyclopedias, calculators, atlases, news headlines, and search engines. The site also includes a handy “homework helper” section that provides help in all subjects for students in every grade.

ipl2 (Internet Public Library)

ipl2 is a public service organization and a learning/teaching environment. To date, thousands of students and volunteer library and information science professionals have been involved in answering reference questions for our Ask an ipl2 Librarian service, and in designing, building, creating and maintaining the ipl2’s collections.

HowStuffWorks

Have you ever wanted to know why an earthquake occurs? How CD burners work? What the sun is made of? These questions and a large number of others related to computers/electronics, automobiles, science, entertainment, and people, are all answered at this award-winning Web site. Simply type a query into the search window or peruse the topics by category. Extras include free newsletters, surveys, and printable versions of all answers.

Novelguide.com

The Web’s answer to those black- and yellow-striped Cliff Notes is Novelguide, a reliable and free source for literary analysis of classic and contemporary books. The site offers character profiles, metaphor and theme analysis, and author biographies.

CliffsNotes

Use these free CliffsNotes literature notes to help with your homework and tests. Browse the list to find the study guide you need.

Math.com

This site provides help in mathematics-related subjects, including basic grade-school math, calculus, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics. Practice exercises are automatically graded, and this free site also features a glossary, calculators, homework tips, math games, and lesson plans for teachers.

Shmoop (Official Honoree of Webby Awards – 2010) is a new learning and teaching resource, lovingly made by Silicon Valley professionals and academics from Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and other top universities. It is an online study guide for books, literature, essays, poems, US history, and quotes.

Wolfram Mathworld

With more than 12,600 entries this is one of the most extensive mathematics resources on the Internet.

Free Translation

Perfect for language studies, this handy Web site automatically converts text from one language to another. Just type and paste up to 1,800 words into the search window and then select the desired language.

No Fear Shakespeare

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare’s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Science Made Simple

Science classes aren’t as easy for some to grasp as for others. At Science Made Simple, students of all ages can get detailed answers to many of science’s questions, read current news articles related to science, get ideas for school projects, and take advantage of unit conversion tables.

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Filed under Education, Homework Help Sites, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Online Learning, Parenting Help, Recommended Web Sites, Student Help, Timesaving Tips

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 30, 2011

Best Free Entertainment and Social Media Apps – Use these eight handy downloads to streamline how you handle photos, movies, and music on your PC and to optimize sharing content over social media. They’re all free!

Raspberry Pi: A $25 ultra-low-cost computer that can run Quake 3 - If you’ve yet to hear about Raspberry Pi, it’s quite an ambitious project that seeks to get a fully-functional computer down to the form factor of a credit card and for an inconsequential cost. Slated for a November 2011 release date, the Raspberry Pi will come in two models: a $25 model and a $35 model, with the more expensive model containing the noted optional 10/100 Ethernet controller. To note, the pricier model is a bit larger in form than the $25 model.

How to check if a Web site is safe – Is that link on your Facebook wall truly the funniest thing ever, or is it a nefarious attempt to hook you with a phishing attack? Here’s some tips on how to check out the deluge of links that swamp you daily, for both phone and desktop.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Can you tell a real Facebook e-mail from a phishing attempt? – Notification e-mails from social networking sites like Facebook can be dangerous; if you’re fooled by a phisher, you can click your way into big trouble.

CyanogenMod Shows Off Android on HP TouchPad – The developers behind CyanogenMod this week showed off a very early version of its software running Android 2.3.5 on an HP TouchPad.

Fake Facebook friend request, now with hidden iFrame – The email mimics Facebook’s legitimate friend request message, but there are a few details that might tip off the recipient off to the real nature of the email: the picture of the person who wants to be friends with the user is not included, and the recipient’s email address is omitted from the text in the bottom of the email.

The 20 Best Apps For The HP TouchPad – The HP TouchPad may have been discontinued, but there are still plenty of apps to choose from. HP has hundreds of dedicated TouchPad apps in its store, and the tablet can also run many of the more than 8,000 apps designed for HP’s WebOS phones. We’ve scoured the catalogue to found the best 20 apps available for the HP.

Three tips for working with bullets in PowerPoint – If you think you don’t have the skills to create a bullet-less PowerPoint presentation, take a look at these three easy tips.

Hurricane Irene scams hit Facebook – As predicted, Hurricane Irene-themed scams have begun spreading on Facebook. The one spotted by Trend Micro fraud analyst Karla Agregado lures users in by offering a chilling video to watch: “VIDEO SHOCK – Hurricane Irene New York kills All.”

Company News:

Pricing of RAM to Plunge, Analyst Says – Pricing of RAM to Plunge, Analyst SaysThe price of DDR3 memory used in laptops, desktops and servers will drop over the next two months as memory companies try to clear out excess inventory in a slowing PC market, IHS iSuppli said on Monday.

Samsung Delays Galaxy Tab 10.1 Launch in Australia – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Australia is now the second country, after Germany, where Apple has managed to prevent Samsung from launching its Galaxy Tab 10.1 on schedule. In a statement on Monday, Samsung said it volunteered not to sell the tablet any earlier than September 30, even though it was scheduled to launch on September 12.

SDK for universal 2D and 3D object recognition – SentiSight provides enhanced 2D and 3D object recognition quality using still or video images from most digital cameras, including Webcams. It can detect and recognize whether a particular rigid object, such as a product, logo or building, is in a scene and identify its specific location in that scene.

Nokia Shuts Down Forums After SQL Injection Exposes Developer Info – Nokia shut down its developer community site after it discovered that an earlier security breach wasn’t just a page redirect, but that attackers had obtained user data.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Web vs. the World: 10 Epic Battles – Is the Internet ruining our lives or making them better? When you consider epic struggles like these, it’s hard to say for sure.

Juror sentenced for trying to friend defendant on Facebook - 22-year-old Jonathan Hudson was removed from a trial after trying to friend the defendant, Courtney Downing, on Facebook. After trial recessed for the day on July 18, the young juror sent Downing the friend request and mentioned the case on the social network. The interaction came to light after the defendant told her lawyer about it, who in turn told the presiding judge. Hudson was dismissed from the jury the next morning, on July 19, according to court records.

How to Protect Yourself, Your Tech, and Your Data When a Hurricane Blows Into Town – When a major disaster like Hurricane Irene hits, you need to think about protecting your loved ones, your tech gear, and your data. Here are 14 apps, tips, and sites to help you.

Spinning Out of Control, the “Post PC” Crowd Has Got It All Wrong – Just a heads-up for the partisan bloggers at Wired: If the term “post-PC era” isn’t spin, then neither is “PC Plus era”. Both terms come from the school of “when you make hammers, everything looks like a nail.” That is, to companies that have failed in the PC market (Apple, still with less than 5 percent market share) or simply have never shown up at all (Google, whose Chromebook looks to be off to a less than stellar start), well, sure. It’s the “post-PC era.” Of course it is. Because that makes their own products look better by comparison.

Today’s Quote:

A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.”

-     Author unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

Feedly: A news reader for creative minds – A simple and elegant way to read and share the content of your favorites sites. Anytime. Anywhere!

Spotify – Pick a song; any song. Type its name in a search box, click a button, and it starts playing. Okay, we could do this five years ago. But now, click the album name, and listen to the whole album, top to bottom, in sequence. Instantly. Meet Spotify ($10/month, $5/month, or free, depending on level of service).

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BitDefender Safego – A Free Social Network Cyber Criminal Defense System

imageNo matter my own thoughts on Facebook and Twitter (which are not entirely positive), it’s impossible to ignore the impact social networking has had on how we communicate.

It’s hardly surprising then, that Facebook and Twitter, and sites like them, have proven to be the perfect channel for cyber criminals to “communicate” with potential victims.

In the past hour alone, over 25,000 articles dealing with Facebook malware have been posted to the Net – as the following screen capture indicates. Ponder on that – 25,000 articles dealing with Facebook malware in one hour! That number certainly reaches the threshold of what I consider an epidemic.

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Just for a reference point – the “any time” total, using the same search string, is 44 Million results.

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My usual skeptical observation:

You might think, given those numbers, that a typical social network user would take minimum precautions to ensure that their privacy, and computer system security, are protected against compromise by employing a sound safety strategy. But no, typical social network users’ are #####, ********, !!!!!!!!!! , ………… Unfortunately, given that this is a G rated blog, I’ll have to leave the expletives deleted.

Still, for the sake of fairness, I will note – cyber criminal craftiness should not be underestimated. The video below is just one example of how an unaware user can be misled; leading to a perfect storm of malware issues.

Click on the following graphic to play the video.

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There is no perfect safety solution in an open system like Facebook, or Twitter – but, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood that cyber criminals will successfully disrupt your piece of mind.

A few months ago, Bitdefender released a free application – Safego for Facebook- which has just been updated to offer the same level of protection to Twitter users. If you are a Twitter or Facebook users, I urge you to checkout this free application.

From the Bitdefender site:

Bitdefender Safego for Facebook:

Using in-the-cloud scanning, Bitdefender Safego protects your social network account from all sorts of e-trouble: scams, spam, malware and private data exposure. But, most importantly, Safego keeps your online friends safe and …close.

By installing the BitDefender Safego app, users will receive:

Privacy protection – users are warned when they should modify their Facebook privacy settings so personal information isn’t exposed

Automatic scanning –users simply press the “scan now” button to get a snapshot of their Facebook security status

24/7 protection – Facebook accounts are protected even when users are not logged in to Facebook

Protection for friends – users will have the ability to warn their friends about infected links in their Facebook accounts

Bitdefender Safego for Twitter:

Initially launched for Facebook users, Bitdefender Safego is now ready to protect Twitter accounts as well. Bitdefender Safego uses the Bitdefender antimalware and antiphishing engines to scan URLs in the cloud.

Bitdefender Safego keeps your Twitter account safe by:

Checking unknown users before you follow them
Checking the accounts you are following
Scanning your direct messages for spam, suspicious links or highjacking attempts.

See BitDefender Safego in action on YouTube.

BitDefender Safego dashboard shown below.

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For additional information on BitDefender Safego, please visit the BitDefender Safego app page on Facebook, or the app page on Twitter.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, BitDefender, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Software, Twitter

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2011

Convert Any File to Any File Type With Go2Convert – This free Web service does one thing and does it well: changing your file formats instantly with no hassles. Go2Convert is a handy little site that’s not much to look at but serves an incredibly useful function. Upload any file in practically any format, and it’ll let you convert it into something you can use.

Add hidden international desktop themes to Windows 7 - When you told Windows 7 that you were a resident of the U.S., the operating system hid the other international choices, but I don’t like having my choices arbitrarily limited. There is a relatively simple way to add them to your list of available themes in the Personalization section of the Control Panel and it starts with a search.

5 awesome Mozilla Firefox secrets (photos) – Firefox is packed with useful, built-in features you might have missed. Customize Firefox with these five helpful tips.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

HP Offers Up Six Free TouchPad Apps – HP is offering six of its paid TouchPad apps for free for a limited time. As detailed on the official HP Palm blog, the apps range from games to birdwatching and they are normally priced from $2 to $14.99. At this point, the promo codes only work in the U.S., but HP promised access for those in other countries soon. The U.S. access codes expire on August 31 at 11:59pm, but HP said a second six-pack of apps will be released in early September.

Google search results much cleaner than in 2010 – It used to be that among the first ten pages of search results for popular terms, up to 90 percent of the offered links would take the users to a malicious page serving malware. Now, the same sample contains only up to three malicious links, and the great majority of these links take users to pages offering fake AV.

Tips and tricks to improve your iPhone experience – A few simple tricks can make a big difference in how well your iPhone serves your needs. Calvin Sun shares some basic tips he’s discovered.

Madden NFL 12 - Madden NFL 12 gives you more control than ever over every aspect of the game, and makes subtle tweaks to make the game ever more realistic and enjoyable.

Troubleshoot Windows 7 drivers in more detail with Driverquery – In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, Greg Shultz introduces you to Driverquery and explains how it works when you’re troubleshooting.

Company News:

CSA releases Cloud Controls Matrix 1.2 - The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) launched revision 1.2 of the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM), available for free. The CCM is designed to provide fundamental security principles to guide cloud vendors and to assist prospective cloud customers in assessing the overall security risk of a cloud provider.

RIM on the Edge: Without Innovation, BlackBerry Will Soon Be Irrelevant – Will the new QNX operating system be enough to save RIM’s BlackBerry in the smartphone OS wars? We hope so, but the company needs to act fast–and improve its hardware.

Quad-core Windows 8 tablets could come to developers this fall – A new report suggests that Microsoft is close to having a build of Windows 8 running on quad-core tablet hardware, and it may soon give away units to developers.

PBConnex: Full-disk encryption with pre-boot networking – PBConnex, an extension to SecureDoc, fully integrates network support within the pre-boot environment to make it significantly simpler to authenticate users, enforce access controls and manage end-point devices prior to the operating system loading – eliminating the user, deployment and system management headaches previously associated with endpoint encryption.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Paul Andrew Russell – A Flash of Fiction – I have just published my first ebook A Flash of Fiction with Lulu.com. It contains six of the flash fiction pieces I have published in the past here on my blog. I just wanted to see if I could successfully put together, and correctly format, an ebook for people to download to their e-readers. It wasn’t a painless experience but it ultimately worked. I don’t feel like so much of a dinosaur now.

Readers’ Choice: Tablets and Ebook Readers – The Tablet and e-reader market is still pretty new, but our readers have used them long enough to find out which models stand out when it comes to reliability and quality.

IBM builds 120 Petabyte Cluster Out of 200,000 Hard Drives – If you are anything like me you have a few extra hard drives kicking around the house, and I always dream of building some kind of NAS solution to serve as my own personal cloud. IBM is doing something similar here, but it is using about 200,000 hard drives. What exactly can you do with a 120 Petabyte cluster? ExtremeTech’s Sebastian Anthony has the answers.

Minority Report facial recognition advertising has arrived – Facial recognition by store windows and posters, Minority Report-style, has now started slowly seeping into society. This technology, as it stands, has the ability to tailor digital displays to whoever stops and looks at an advertisement — or, with some clever camera positioning, even for people walking some distance away from the window.

Is Your Coworker a Criminal? - Who commits fraud in your company? He may be one of your hardest-working and most trusted colleagues, someone who is often stressed, rarely takes vacations, and protects his business unit from scrutiny while personally attending to the top vendors. That’s the profile of a typical fraudster produced by KPMG International, revealed in its study of global fraud.

Today’s Quote:

At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.”

-     Aldous Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinSplit Revolution – Many of us have 24-inch monitors, and the challenge is how to use all of that screen space effectively. With WinSplit Revolution, you can make sure every inch of your monitor or monitors is displaying valuable information. It lets you use your number pad or hotkey to position windows and fine-tune window sizes.

Sizer – Sizer hooks into Windows so that you can right-click any window border to get a pop-up with preset window sizes. Click an entry and Sizer resizes the window. Using Sizer, I documented a large application over many weeks, always keeping my screen shots consistent. If you take screen shots for a living, you probably need Sizer.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Get Ready For School With These 35 Free Computer Apps

Heading back to school? Make your life easier and checkout these free PC applications.

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Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

Nitro PDF:

With its ability to not only view and review PDF files, but create PDF files as well, it’s little wonder Nitro PDF Reader has amassed such a large following. I have to say that Nitro PDF Reader is my favorite PDF tool so, I’m more than a little enthusiastic to get on the go with this latest release.

Version 2 continues the strong tradition which Nitro has established with previous version – it’s fast, lightweight, and incorporates customizable security controls, including the option to completely disable JavaScript – no small consideration for security conscious users.

Listen N Write:

Anyone who has to transcribe recorded audio should try Listen N Write, a free tool designed specifically for transcription. Perfect for lectures.

LibreOffice:

LibreOffice is the power-packed free (open source) personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

AbiWord allows you to collaborate with multiple people on one document at the same time. It is tightly integrated with the AbiCollab.net web service, which lets you store documents online, allows easy document sharing with your friends, and performs format conversions on the fly.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day) for years, and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content. Winamp is designed for people who like to customize, tinker and tweak: offering the widest range of extensions, skins, and services to add to your listening experience.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience. Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.

VLC:

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video. You can enjoy DVD/VCD and AVI, MPEG, WMV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB video files in your iPod with few clicks.

Better browsing:

Firefox:

Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

The fastest browser on Earth – but that’s not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Google Chrome:

A browser that combines a minimal design with new technology designed to improve the user experience. Includes download and documentation.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Cocoon for Firefox:

Protect your privacy and security online with this Firefox add-on, which has on-the-fly e-mail dropboxes and lets you watch Netflix from outside the U.S.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition:

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has an excellent reputation (shared by me), as a first class security application, for its ability to identify and remove adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers, and other malware threats.

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall since I installed Win 7 and I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users. Experienced users on the other hand can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live Essentials 2011:

Do more with Windows on your PC with free programs from Microsoft for photos, movies, instant messaging, email, social networking, and more. Get it all in one simple download.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

Skype:

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:

WinPatrol:

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Autoruns:

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

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