Monthly Archives: June 2009

FireFox 3.5 Released Today

image The new and improved FireFox, the one we’ve all been waiting for, finally came out of the gate today.

There’s ton of new feature which promise to make this the best FireFox ever.

New features for end users:

Location aware browsing
If you choose, you may allow Firefox 3.5 to share information about your current location with web sites.  Firefox 3.5 can use information about the network you’re connected to to share your location. Of course, it asks for your permission before doing so, to ensure your privacy.
Open audio and video support
Firefox 3.5 supports embedded video and audio using the open Ogg format, as well as WAV for audio. No plugins, no confusing error messages about needing to install something or other that turns out not to be available on your platform anyway.
Local data storage
Web applications can now use Web Storage’s local storage capabilities to store data on your computer.  This is great for anything from site preferences to more complex data.
Private Browsing
Need to use someone else’s computer? Switch on Private Browsing mode and nothing will be recorded about your session, including cookies, history, and any other potentially private information.
Better privacy controls
The Privacy preference pane has been completely redesigned to offer users more control over their private information. Users can choose to retain or discard anything including history information, cookies, downloads, and form field information.  In addition, users can specify whether or not to include history and/or bookmarks in the location bar’s automated suggestions, so you can keep private web addresses from popping up unexpectedly while typing in the location bar.
Faster JavaScript performance
JavaScript, the “J” in “AJAX,” is sped up dramatically in Firefox 3.5 with the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine.  Web applications are much faster than in Firefox 3.
Faster page rendering
Web content draws faster in Firefox 3.5, thanks to technologies such as “speculative parsing.” Your users don’t need to know what it means, other than “it makes things draw faster.”

Download at: FileHippo

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Filed under Browsers, Firefox, Freeware, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Backup, Backup, Backup With Free DriveImage XML

We talk a lot on this Blog about how important it is to have a current backup of all of your critical data, system/device drivers (something many of us forget), and user operating system settings, in case of system or hardware failure.

Given the state of the Internet today with its epidemic of malware, chances are pretty good that at some point you’ll need this backup.

With DriveImage XML, a free, easy to use, and reliable program, from Runtime Software, you can go one step further and image both hard drive partitions and logical drives. According to the developer the latest release, version V2.02, is now faster than ever.

The real benefit of course in imaging your full drives and partitions is, you now have the ability to restore your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, and the registry.

Recently, one of my colleagues copied a dying hard drive to a new drive in less than an hour, directly from Windows XP using this versatile free application. Pretty impressive for a free application, I thought.

DriveImage XML uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS) to create images, allowing you to create safe “hot images” even from drives currently in use. Images are then stored in XML files, which allows you to process those files with third party tools.

If, or when, it becomes necessary, you can now restore the image to the same or a replacement drive. You also have the option of copying the drive image directly to a new drive, just as my colleague did.

An added feature of DriveImage XML is the included image explorer that permits access to previously created backup images and the extraction of individual files.

Since this program is currently distributed as freeware, there is no technical support offered. Instead, refer to the program’s help file and documentation. If you need additional help, you can refer to the program’s frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Quick facts:

Backup logical drives and partitions to image files

Browse these images, view and extract files

Restore these images to the same, or a different drive

Copy directly from drive to drive

Schedule automatic backups with Task Scheduler

Restore images to drives without rebooting

Free for home use only

Runs from a WinPE boot CD-ROM

Backup, image and restore on FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS drives

System Requirements: Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista

Watch the DriveImage XML video tutorial at YouTube

Latest version: DriveImage XML V2.02

Download at:

If you would rather give Windows native backup utility a try, checkout TechPaul’s “How to Install Backup on XP Home” for a quick and easy tutorial.


Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2009

Lifehacker: Best of the Best: Hive Five Winners, March through June 2009 – Pulling from current trends, popular reader suggestions, and our own brainstorming sessions, we search out the next “Which is best?”

Windows 7: Good enough to pay for? – Christopher Dawson: Can I justify whatever cost Windows 7 represents? Is it that good? Ubuntu, after all, is free. And we are still in a recession.

Lifehacker: Weave Now Syncs Firefox Preferences, Auto-Logins – Weave, Mozilla’s add-on to synchronize bookmarks, passwords, and now preferences and automatic logins across Firefox browsers, updated to a 0.4 beta, just in time for the release of 3.5—which could happen tomorrow, by the way.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Ten Useful, Free Web Services Will Improve Connectivity and Make Your ‘Net Life Better – A few weeks ago we highlighted ten free and noteworthy networking utilities. Here we follow up with ten free Web-based sites/services (with a connectivity focus) that we think may come in handy.

Trojan Swipes FTP Credentials for Major Companies – Security researchers are tracking a Trojan that has swiped as many as 88,000 FTP credentials for organizations such as Symantec, McAfee, Amazon, Cisco and the Bank of America. According to researchers at Prevx, the compromises are part of an operation that has been in business for more than two years.

China’s porn obsession not just a coverup for political repression – The thing that stinks – to Western noses – about this whole Green Dam story is the idea that China wants to go to all this trouble, to the point of having a serious showdown with the U.S. over it, over porn. I mean, porn … if people want it, they’ll get it. And who cares if they want it, really?

How to take better vacation photos – Image stabilization, automated scene modes, and face, smile, or blink detection can only take you so far. To get the best photos, you need to know when and how to use all those fancy features of your digital…

Ulanoff: Twitter: A River of Content or Garbage? – The deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett sparked a Twitter frenzy, which led to some fishy tales, including the fake deaths of other celebs.

Is Windows Installing Updates Without Permission? – Reports are coming in that Windows XP and Vista are, in some cases, installing updates at system shut down on systems where they are configured to ask for permission first.

Six Perfect Tech Products Everyone Should Use – We all love the shock of the new. But the truth is, the very best products in this industry are new versions of old products. 1.0 releases often take bold stabs at solving existing problems. But only after a few really smart tweaks do they become ultra compelling and, in some cases, indispensable.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Download Free System Protect – Stop Accidental File Deletions

image In many cases it’s possible to recover deleted files using file recovery software, but not always. Besides, isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure?

Last year a friend’s teenage sons deleted all of the family photos to make room on the Hard Drive so that they could download a peer to peer movie. Luckily, I had persuaded him earlier that all important data on his computer needed to be backed up regularly. I should point out, that it took some real arm twisting on my part to convince him that data backup is essential.

Another Solution

Nothing of course, beats a regularly scheduled incremental back up plan, but there is a freeware solution to prevent the accidental deletion of data from your computer in the first place.


System Protect is a free, easy-to-use application that helps keep your operating system stable, and protects important programs, documents and files from deletion caused by viruses, other users on your computer such as your children, or even your own mistakes.

Quick Facts:

File & Folder Protection – Prevents deletion of important files, programs and documents

Protection of Selected Files – Lets you choose files and folders to be protected. This ensures that a virus, other people working with your computer or even you, won’t delete an important document, your favorite photos, music, movies or other files

Increased Operating System Stability – Protects essential system files to keep your operating system stable

Deletion Attempt Notification – Notifies you of any attempt to delete any of the protected files

Protection for All Users – Ensures protection for all computer users; administrator or restricted user

Works without Distracting You – Silently protects your computer without interrupting your work

Deny Mode – Automatically block deletion of any protected file

Since mistakes are inevitable on a computer, this neat little program could be just the thing you need to reduce the chances of having to deal with that unrecoverable error.

Download at:


Filed under Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, System File Protection, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 29, 2009

Five Best Free System Restore Tools – Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite free system restoration tools for saving working computer states and bringing them back to life. You responded and we rounded up the top five free system restoration tools favored by Lifehacker readers for your consideration.

The Iranian ‘Proxy War’ – Iranians are using proxies worldwide to circumvent government censorship.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Download Photology – It performs analysis on the characteristics of each photo in your archive, indexes that information in a database, then permits you to search your photos based on those characteristics: Was the photo taken indoors or outdoors? Are there plants, sky, water, or faces in the pictures? Are the pictures in focus or out of focus? Does it contain a certain color, or was the picture you are looking for taken at a certain time of day?

Hands On With Google Voice -This Is Really Cool – We review Google’s long-awaited Google Voice phone management service that finally became available this week to a lucky few.

Booming Underground Economy Makes Spam A Hot Commodity – $10 might be enough to reach 1 million users, MessageLabs researcher warns.

How-To Avoid Facebook Disasters – Ignoring Facebook’s privacy options can trip up users in a number of ways.

10 things you should know about Windows XP’s System Restore tool – If a crash makes your Windows XP system flaky or unbootable, you can use System Restore to return it to a previous working state. These pointers will show you how to effectively use this safety net.

Could The Cloud Lead To An Even Bigger 9/11? – A very credible “End of the U.S.” doomsday scenario tied to the public cloud…..


Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tip – Be a Better Writer with WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows – Free

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 120,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.


Features of the free version include:

Definitions and synonyms

Proper nouns

Related words


150,000 root words

120,000 synonym sets

Look up words in almost any program

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of several English variations, including nine different variations of English, including British English, Irish English, and American English.

I have used this neat little application for many years, and I find it invaluable. If you’re serious about improving your writing skills, installing this free application will be a positive step in that direction.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some very interesting ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

System requirements: Windows 98/2000/Me/XP/Vista

Download at:

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Filed under dictionary, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Student Help, thesaurus, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids

Portable Apps Suite – Computing on a USB Stick

USB Stick 1

With Portable Apps Suite, (free to use, free to copy, and free to share), you can carry your favorite portable computer programs with you on your USB flash drive, iPod, or portable hard drive, to school, work, or your hotel while you’re taking that much deserved vacation!

Portable Apps Suite allows you to play your media files, browse the net, compose documents, or check your email on the road. The applications can be used on any Windows computer, and on shut down, to insure your privacy, will not leave any traces on the host computer.

PAS is a collection of portable applications which includes, ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox Portable Edition (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), Portable (office suite) compatible with Microsoft Word files,

Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird Portable Edition (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird Portable Edition (email client), all preconfigured to work portably.


You can install any of three variations of Portable Apps Suite based on your preferences or your USB drive’s capacity.

Standard Suite – 260MB – All applications as noted above

Lite Suite – 105MB – AbiWord Portable substituted for Open Office

Base Suite – Basic Menu Program – add only the applications you choose

All versions of the Portable Apps Suite include the integrated Portable Apps Menu and the Portable Apps Backup utility, along with a set of custom icons, auto play configuration, folders, and a quick start shortcut.

System Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/Vista, and Wine under Linux/UNIX/BSD/Mac OS X

Download at:

Additional portable applications offered for free download at


Firefox Accessibility Extension – Make Firefox more accessible

On-Screen Keyboard Portable – Easily access an on-screen keyboard

Virtual Magnifying Glass Portable – A full-featured screen magnifier


Notepad++ Portable – A full-featured text editor with syntax highlighting

Nvu Portable & KompoZer Portable – The easy-to-use Nvu web editor

XAMPP – Apache, mySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, in one package


DOSBox Portable – classic DOS games to go

Mines-Perfect Portable – a classic hunt-for-mines game with advanced features

PokerTH Portable – classic Texas Hold Em style poker at its best

Sudoku Portable – the wildly popular and addictive puzzle game

Graphics & Pictures

GIMP Portable – Photo and Image Editor


FileZilla Portable – the full-featured FTP client

FireFTP Extension (for Firefox) – a lightweight extension

Miranda IM Portable – chat with AOL, MSN and Yahoo users in a customizable interface

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition – the award-winning web browser that’s safe and secure

Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition – the handy email client

Nvu Portable & KompoZer Portable – the easy-to-use webpage editor

Pidgin Portable – chat with AOL, MSN and Yahoo users in an easy-to-use interface

PuTTY Portable – lightweight telnet and SSH client

Sage Extension (for Firefox) – A full-featured RSS extension

WinSCP Portable – SFTP, FTP and SCP client

Music & Video

Audacity Portable – A simple audio editor and recorder

MPlayer Portable – Full-featured movie player with support for most video formats

VirtualDub Portable – video processing and capture utility

VLC Media Player Portable – An easy to use media player that plays most audio and video formats


AbiWord Portable – a lightweight word processor compatible with Microsoft Word files

Lightning Extension (for Thunderbird) – A lightweight extension for your calendar and tasks

Mozilla Sunbird, Portable Edition – Calendar and task management with a familiar interface

Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition (Address Book) – Email client’s built-in address book with import/export functions Portable – word processor, spreadsheet, presentations with Microsoft compatibility

Sumatra PDF Portable – a lightweight PDF viewer



7-Zip Portable – File archiver and compressor

ClamWin Portable – Antivirus on the go

Command Prompt Portable – Simple link to a customizable command prompt

Eraser Portable – securely delete files and data

KeePass Password Safe Portable – Secure, easy-to-use password manager Backup – integrated backup utility bundled with the platform Menu – integrated start menu bundled with the platform

Toucan – backup, sync and encrypt for advanced users

Download at:

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Filed under Free Office Suites, Free Word Processors, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Open Office, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 28, 2009

Top 10 Productivity Basics Explained – There’s a core set of habits and techniques that filter and color a lot of what we write about at Lifehacker, but we rarely step back to explain them for newcomers. Let’s get back to basics with 10 productivity tactics.

Surprising Security Shortcomings – After nearly a decade of threat warnings, evolving threats and billions of dollars in technology investments, you’d think that businesses have at least a baseline of IT security protections. Recent reports reveal some surprising security shortcomings in the business community.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Feds Mulling Incentives for Secure Software – Tax breaks for better software? That’s one idea on the table as officials work to flesh out government role in public-private partnerships.

Now you see iPorn, now you don’t, but maybe you will – It appears the “Hottest Girls” are not. But maybe they are. The “Hottest Girls” app was being touted as the first iTunes/iPhone app approved by Apple to show full nudity, promising there’d be a lot more skin seen on iPhone screens.

Who’s Watching Your Online Reputation? – There has been a lot of discussion about how businesses and individuals need to participate in social networks to get their messages out, but there is little discussion related to managing online reputation.

Critical Adobe Shockwave flaw affects millions – Adobe’s Shockwave Player contains a critical vulnerability that could be exploited by remote hackers to take complete control of Windows computers, according to a warning from the software maker.


Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Audacity – The Best Free Multiplatform Audio Recorder/Editor?

image A year or so ago, I needed to record 20 minutes of streaming audio from the Internet, and since I am not an audio hobbyist, and have limited experience recording using my computer, I simply launched Windows Sound Recorder and sat back to watch it do it’s job. I thought!

No such luck. I was surprised to learn the maximum recording time on Sound Recorder is only 30 seconds, which was far too short for my purpose.

A mad scramble to find a freeware/open source replacement for Windows Sound Recorder led me to Audacity which, as it turns out, is the most popular free, open source audio editor/ recorder available. It works with many operating systems, including Windows, Mac, GNU, and Linux.

Audacity has a surprisingly easy to use interface, and I found it to be feature-rich and flexible. The first thing that struck me on launching the program was, it advised me I had several hundred hours of available space on my drives in which to record. Not 30seconds!


Audacity has the capacity to handle multi-track editing, a good number of audio effects including reverb, delay, compression, echo, phaser, wahwah and reverse. Its audio export functions include MP3, OGG, AIFF, and WAV and more.

One of the more interesting features, for me, is Audacity’s capacity to convert tapes and records into digital recordings. I have a large collection of old 70’s and 80’s albums that I have many times considered converting to digital recordings and burning to CD’s. I now have the application to do just that. Now, if I can only find the time!

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista

The Audacity web site lists the following features:


Audacity can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, or minidisks.

With some sound cards, it can also capture streaming audio.

Record from microphone, line input, or other sources.

Dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings.

Record up to 16 channels at once (requires multi-channel hardware).

Level meters can monitor volume levels before, during, and after recording.

Import and Export:

Import sound files, edit and combine them with other files or new recordings.

Export your recordings in several common file formats.

Import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, and Ogg Vorbis files.

Import MPEG audio (including MP2 and MP3 files) with libmad.

Export MP3s with the optional LAME encoder library.

Create WAV or AIFF files suitable for burning to CD.

Import and export all file formats supported by libsndfile.

Open raw (header less) audio files using the “Import Raw” command.

Note: Audacity does not currently support WMA, AAC, or most other proprietary or restricted file formats.


Easy editing with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.

Use unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.

Very fast editing of large files.

Edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks.

Use the Drawing tool to alter individual sample points.

Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool.


Change the pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.

Remove static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.

Alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects.

Adjust volumes with Compressor, Amplify, and Normalize effects.

Other built-in effects include:





Sound Quality:

Record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.

Record at up to 96 KHz.

Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

Mix tracks with different sample rates or formats, and Audacity will convert them automatically in real-time.


Add new effects with LADSPA plug-ins.

Audacity includes some sample plug-ins by Steve Harris.

Load VST plug-ins for Windows and Mac, with the optional VST Enabler.

Write new effects with the built-in Nyquist programming language.


Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies.

Plot Spectrum command for detailed frequency analysis.

Download at:


Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Free Full Versions, Open Source, Portable Applications, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Virus Alerts – Panda Security’s June 26, 2009 Report on Viruses and Intruders

Courtesy of Panda Security.

This week’s PandaLabs report looks at the Terminator2009 adware, the KillRDLL.A Trojan and the Rimecud.E worm.

Terminator2009 is a fake antivirus (a type of adware). When it runs, it
simulates a scan (although this is started when users click the scanner

It then claims to have detected malware. If users follow the
program’s recommendations, they are redirected to a page where they can
purchase a Premium version of the fake antivirus.

If not, the adware starts displaying warnings to users claiming that the computer is infected and suggesting they purchase the pay version to eliminate these
(non-existent) threats.

The overall objective for the creators of this malicious code is to
profit from the sale of pay versions of the fake antivirus.


KillRDLL.A is a Trojan that creates copies of itself every time users
access a directory. This file has a Windows folder icon with a hidden
extension to make users believe it is a folder. It also creates a copy
of itself when users access a subdirectory.

Fake folders use names including:
Angelina Jolie
Flash Games
My Documents
My Folder

When run, it opens the Web page of a search engine that dislplays false


Finally, the Rimecud.E worm downloads malware from certain Web pages. It
is designed to send spam messages while it downloads more malware. Being
infected by this worm could result in the user suffering an avalanche of
malicious programs.

In order to spread, this worm copies itself to folders of P2P
applications such as Bearshare and eMule. It also spreads through MSN
Messenger. To do so, it sends a copy of the worm to the contacts of the
affected user (if connected).

It also copies itself to the USB devices connected to the computer and
creates an autorun.inf file to be run whenever the infected device is
connected to a computer.

More information about these and other malicious codes is available in
the Panda Security Encyclopedia.

Panda Security has launched a page for users to relate their
experiences with malware (whether they have fallen victim to money or
data theft, etc.). Users who send their comments will receive a free
download of Panda Internet Security 2009 with two months’ services.
Check it out here.


Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Panda Security, PandaLabs, Rogue Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools