Monthly Archives: February 2011

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 28, 2011

LastPass XSS vulnerability found, website and browser add-ons affected – The cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability not only allows nefarious types to see which sites you’ve recently logged in to, but it also provides access your email address and password reminder.

New backdoor Mac OS X Trojan surfaces – There are many good reasons to choose a Mac machine, and among those is surely the fact that malware for OS X still pops up rarely. As Apple slowly but surely increases its market share, we are sure to witness more and more malicious code written specifically for targeting Mac users.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

European Court to Rule on Legality of Used Software Trading – The German Federal Court of Justice referred the question to the ECJ following a legal battle between Oracle and usedSoft, a company that buys and sells used software. Oracle launched the case after usedSoft offered “pre-used” Oracle software licenses online in October 2005. Oracle says that its license agreements with its customers contain provisions to the effect that the software can’t be used by a third party.

Google Doesn’t Hate You, It’s Just Business – The Web seems to be in some sort of an uproar over Google’s recent changes to search results. The so-called “war on content farms” is really just business as usual, though. It is not the first time that Google has tweaked its algorithm, and it won’t be the last.

No support for U.S. Plan for domain name veto – The Obama administration’s controversial proposal to allow national governments to veto proposed top-level domains, such as .gay, is rejected at ICANN.

10 Must-Have Windows Phone 7 Apps for Business – Windows Phone 7 is the new kid on the block among smartphone Oss–odd, considering that tech veteran Microsoft made it. A quick look at WP7’s top apps shows that Microsoft has initially marketed the OS toward consumers. Still, if you want to use your Windows Phone 7 handset for work, you won’t be left high and dry. Here are some of the best apps available to keep you wheeling and dealing.

Google probing lost Gmail messages, contacts – Gmail users complained today of suddenly and mysteriously having lost old e-mail, folders, and contacts, and Google said it was looking into the issue but that the problem did not appear to be widespread.

Company News:


Motorola Xoom Gets Solid Early Reviews Despite Price – Putting aside the somewhat steep $599 price tag (with a two-year Verizon Wireless contract), Motorola’s Xoom has garnered solid reviews from noted industry analysts at its Feb. 24 launch.

HTC Desire Beats iPhone as UK’s Top Smartphone – Apple’s iPhone is no longer one of the top five most popular mobile phones in the U.K., according to uSwitch. According to the comparison site’s Mobile Tracker, which ranks the nation’s favorite handsets based on live searches and sales, the HTC Desire in the UK’s favorite smartphone, closely followed by the HTC Desire HD and the HTC Wildfire.

Control physical and virtual machines on a network – Shavlik Technologies announced solutions that provide an approach to controlling all physical and virtual machines on a network. The company introduced NetChk Protect 7.8 and NetChk vProtect, which are optimized for virtualized environments.

Off Topic (Sort of):


Are Wireless Phones Wiping Our Brains? – A new a brain-scan study published February 22, 2011 in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association shows that a 50-minute cell phone call boosts activity in brain regions where the phone is held.

The social significance is huge. By confirming the “non-thermal” effects of everyday cell phone use, the study once again calls into question current North American exposure regulations based solely on preventing wireless devices from burning their users. This is like saying cigarette smoking is harmless as long as you don’t burn yourself. (submitted by Dar)

Americans and Canadians Get Different Drug Information Online – Americans and Canadians are getting vastly different search results when they look up prescription drug information online, says a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Residents of the United States searching on Google for both brand and generic drug names get directed to the government-run National Library of Medicine. However, Canadians performing the same searches end up getting Wikipedia for generic drug searches, and drug company sites for brand searches, according to the study, published online February 22 by the Annals of Pharmacotherapy. (submitted by Michael F.)

They make you feel good, Apple products – until you try to do something they don’t want you to do – They make you feel good, Apple products. The little touches: the rounded corners, the strokeable screens, the satisfying clunk as you fold the Macbook shut – it’s serene. Untroubled. Like being on Valium. Until, that is, you try to do something Apple doesn’t want you to do. At which point you realise your shiny chum isn’t on your side. It doesn’t even understand sides. Only Apple: always Apple. (submitted by Michael F.)

Today’s Quote:


Here’s something to think about: How come you never see a headline like ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?”

Jay Leno

Today’s Free Downloads:


Enchanted Keyfinder – Enchanted Keyfinder is a Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder fork. It is a utility that retrieves the product key used to install Windows from your registry or from an unbootable Windows installation.

Easy Watermark Studio Lite – The Easy Watermark Studio can add digital watermark (text, image, logo…) to your pictures, protect your photo safety, and avoid them from unauthorized use.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 27, 2011

The Back-Up Plan: We Examine 5 Cloud-Based Services – From Google’s Gmail and GoogleDocs to Microsoft’s Windows Live and Adobe’s, more and more personal computing is taking place in “the cloud.” PC users are increasingly growing accustomed to mobile computing from their smartphones and tablets – and cloud computing is an essential element in this growing mobile adaptation.

How to quickly access your network connections in Windows 7 and Vista – One small Windows XP feature I used to lean on frequently was “Connect To” — it provided easy access to a computer’s network connections right from the Start Menu. I also like being able to right-click on a connection icon in the system tray to access the same screen. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, however, neither of those options are available — so what’s the best way to open your network connections screen in a hurry?

Five tips for conserving PC power – Cutting back on the power your PC uses is a pretty simple task. All it takes is a little consciousness and the resolve to change a few basic procedures. Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce your power consumption and increase energy efficiency.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Untangle: Open Source Network Security Software – Take a look at how Untangle provides another layer of protection for your entire network, including PCs and mobile devices. We show you how.

10 Nagging Microsoft Windows Issues That Must Be Resolved Soon – Microsoft’s Windows 7 is being updated with Service Pack 1. But there is no way for a service pack to address all the issues that Microsoft needs to fix when it comes to fully restoring the credibility of its flagship operating system. Simply put, there are still many Windows-related problems that Microsoft must start to fix. Read on to find out what they are.

Before You Install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 – Microsoft is now offering Windows 7 users “Service Pack 1,” a bundle of security updates and minor feature improvements. If you’re thinking about installing this update, read on for a few caveats and tips that may change your mind. (submitted by Dar)

Report: Botnet Victim Population Grew More Than 600 Percent In 2010 – Of the top 10 largest botnets in 2010, six did not exist in 2009, Damballa says. Only one (Monkif) was present, ranked among the 10 largest botnets of 2009. The top 10 largest botnets in 2010 accounted for approximately 47 percent of all botnet compromised victims — down from 2009, when the top 10 botnets accounted for 81 percent of all victims.

Template resources for web design – Templates let you develop web sites that share a similar structure and graphic identity, quickly and without having to worry about accidentally deleting or changing elements. Ryan Boudreaux provides template resources and tips for using them.

Company News:


Apple Revamps MacBook Pros with New Chips, HD Cams, Thunderbolt – It’s rare that an entire line of MacBook Pros is updated all at once, but sometimes new technology warrants this occasion. Apple, as expected, announced updates to the MacBook Pro 13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch. They all get Intel second-gen Core processors and all the technology associated with them, including dual- and quad-core versions.

Teeny Version of Firefox Squeezes onto Android Phones – Available as a free download for Nokia’s Maemo-based N900, and in the Android Market for 2.0 and above, the new beta release of Firefox takes a long time to start up, and occasionally stalls for a second or two, but it does offer a usable alternative to the default browser. It has its own pros and cons, of course.

Novell Broadens Linux for SAP Applications – New version of SUSE Enterprise Linux Server for SAP Applications, based on the firm’s SLES 11, now applies to all SAP workloads, expanding the corporate partnership.

Off Topic (Sort of):


Humour An Update is Available for Your Computer (submitted by Dar)

Say What? Top Five IT Quotes of the Week – A statue for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg? Steve Jobs damned with faint praise, LinkedIn access cut off in China and more

LROC Image Browser: Mosaic of the lunar nearside – The images that comprise this mosaic were collected over a two-week period in mid-December 2010. Resolution 145 metres/pixel. Zoom in & explore with a mouse click. (submitted by Michael F.)

Why aren’t more CEOs fired? – Despite an environment of record layoffs of workers, you don’t hear very often about a CEO being fired. Why is that?

Today’s Quote:


I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.”

–    Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)

Today’s Free Downloads:


Avast 6 released – Avast takes the worry out of blocking suspicious programs from harming your system with a new AutoSandboxing feature in its latest major-point upgrade.

GOM Media Player – As various media players jockey for position to become your default setting for music and video streams, GOM Media Player’s support for a wide range of file formats has helped it stand out as a firm favorite.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Ninite – Use It To Automatically Install Selected Freeware On Family And Friends Computers

Time flies, for sure – it’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I last looked at Ninite, a bulk downloaders services/application that downloads and installs multiple user selected applications, in one pass.

Just a small sampling of what’s available:


The chances that a computer user will have to rebuild a system at some point is fairly high. There are multiple reasons why this might be necessary – an unrecoverable malware infection; system file corruption; system upgrade; and more.

As a “super geek”, the only reason you’ll rebuild is system upgrade time, hopefully. But, your friends and family … well, that’s a different story.

It’s probable that you (as the “on call” tech expert), have a specific list of freeware applications that you install on all machines on which you get the “help me” call. And, if you do, you can save yourself a “service” call by utilizing Ninite to your advantage.

Here’s an example:

I choose to download the following applications – Klitecodecs, Recuva, Skype, and Winamp. Ninite then created a specific URL –, in this case, from which the download was launched.

Should I then wish to share these applications (which will install automatically, without user intervention), with ……. – it’s as easy as sharing the URL.

How cool is that!


Fast facts:

No Clicking Next – Ninite fully automates installers offscreen.

No Toolbars – Ninite automatically says “No” to toolbars and other junk.

Always Up-to-date – A Ninite installer always gets an app’s latest version no matter when you made it.

It Updates Too – Just run your Ninite installer again and it will update the apps to their latest versions.

No Signup – Ninite just works. No account, signup, or client needed.

32 and 64-bit – Ninite installs the best version of an app for your PC.

International – Ninite installs apps in your PC’s language.

This is a terrific way to help less experienced users install the freeware applications that you know, through experience, are “must have”. Best of all, once the installer is activated Ninite does the rest – automatically and in the background.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (x64 support).

Go to: Ninite site

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 26, 2011

My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10 – I go through Linux distributions like an elephant does peanuts, but a few of the best stick around. Right now, my favorite Linux desktop is Mint.

Cheat Sheet: 10 Tips and Tricks for Dropbox – With the low, low starting price of absolutely free, and an interface with one of the lowest learning curves in the business, its hard find an argument for why anyone wouldn’t want to give Dropbox a spin. To help get you started, we’ve put together ten tips on how to make one of our favorite cloud-storage solutions even more functional than it already is.

Hacker Writes Easy-to-use Mac Trojan – It’s called the BlackHole RAT (the RAT part is for “remote access Trojan”) and it’s pretty easy to find online in hacking forums, according to Chet Wisniewski a researcher with antivirus vendor Sophos. There’s even a YouTube video demonstration of the program that shows you what it can do.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft Issues Fix for Bug in Malware Protection Engine – Microsoft has issued an update to its core malware protection engine that fixes a bug that could allow an attacker to gain Local System privileges on a vulnerable machine if a specific set of odd conditions exist.

Three simple ways to keep Word text together – Word wraps text and breaks text between pages automatically. However, when you want to keep text together, use special characters.

Facebook is not overpopulated: it’s a scam – The same message that they fell for has now be posted on their Wall in order to lure in other users, and they themselves are taken to a page where they are urged to share their mobile phone number and complete a few surveys.

Daily security checklist – Hacking is a 24/7 business, but not everyone can afford 24/7 security managers. This checklist covers tasks you can perform every day to help safeguard your network. (PDF)

77 Features for Windows 7 that Every IT Professional Should Know About – Windows 7 builds on Windows Vista’s positives and eliminates many of the negatives. It adds new functionality, is less resource-hungry, and starts and shuts down noticeably faster. Whether you’re upgrading from Vista or moving up from Windows XP, these 77 tips and tricks, along with other new and enhanced features, deliver improved performance and productivity, better troubleshooting, stronger security, and a whole lot more. FREE Registration is required

Company News:


Thunderbolt:: The Fastest Connection To Your PC Experience – From the company with the fastest processors comes the fastest way to get information in and out of your PC and peripheral devices. At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt™ technology gives you great responsiveness with high-speed data and display transfers in each direction—at the same time. With a single cable, connecting a PC to multiple devices is simple, making it easy to get and see what you want, when you want it. Thunderbolt technology gives you incredible flexibility; high performance expansion is just a cable away for new and novel uses, now and in the future.

Microsoft pushes new tool to OEMs for preloading more Microsoft software on new PCs – Microsoft has introduced a new tool for its “system builder” OEM partners to help them more quickly and preload more Microsoft software on new PCs.

Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed – Google has changed its algorithm to favor “high-quality sites” and cut rankings for sites that “are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites” and “are just not very useful.”

Professional, Yet Homemade, Ads and Business Cards with – For small businesses looking to make a good impression without breaking the bank, lets you access and tailor high-quality stock photography, copy, and design without leaving your browser.

Off Topic (Sort of):


Does Facebook cause friends to fight? – Sigh. It’s happened again and again. Facebook has caused my friends to fight.

Inside IBM’s Watson: The Hardware Muscle Behind the Machine – Watson–the “Jeopardy”-winning supercomputer–showcased the refined capabilities of IBM’s technologically advanced, workload-optimized systems. While Watson’s QA (question-answering) technology was an IBM research breakthrough and will emerge into the market over time, Watson’s other IBM systems are commercially available and in use at companies worldwide today. We take you on a tour of the muscle that powers the machine.

Update: House to Hear Why Google Collected Kids’ Social Sec. Numbers – The co-chairmen of the House Privacy Caucus said Thursday that they have agreed to a hearing to explore why Google solicited partial Social Security numbers for its Doodle 4 Google contest.

Hack-a-mole: Disgruntled Programmer Accused of Sabotaging Arcade Game Classic – Marvin Walter Wimberly, Jr., a sixty one year-old programmer and game board designer has been charged by authorities in Florida with committing computer crimes with the intent to defraud after his employer, game maker Bob’s Space Racers (BSR) uncovered an elaborate scheme in which popular arcade games were programmed to self destruct.

Today’s Quote:


Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

–    Mahatma Gandhi

Today’s Free Downloads:


TeamViewer – TeamViewer is an excellent screen-sharing and file-transfer app that can be used to facilitate business collaborations, remotely access a second computer, or help distraught relatives diagnose and cure computer problems. Along with being free for noncorporate use, it gives users precisely the tools they need to share screens securely, send files with a minimum of hassle, control access rights, and even flip which user has control.

VLC Media Player 1.1.7 – VLC Media Player is a long-time open-source favorite, and the latest version is also the first to be out of beta development. It’s not the only option for free video playback, but it’s one of the best, and the feature updates in version 1 make it well worth the upgrade.

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Bill Mullins, latest, news, security, tech, Tech Thoughts, downloads

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 26, 2011

Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

A Computer Recovery Walkthrough With Free Trinity Rescue Kit

Popular guest writer Mark Schneider, walks you through a computer recovery operation using the Trinity Rescue Kit, which, as he puts it, “saved my bacon”.

image Today, I was doing a little maintenance on my daughters Gateway laptop, uninstalling one anti-spyware program, and upgrading another to real-time protection. It seemed to go fine – I ran the Uninstall from Programs and Features in Vista, and enabled the full time protection in Malwarebytes, with the registration codes and rebooted.

When the computer shut down, I noticed it installing several updates. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when the machine restarted, the brown stuff hit the fan. I didn’t have any mouse! Even the Track pad was totally unresponsive. So, I plugged in a old USB trackball mouse, success!

I then clicked on the admin account I keep on the machine and went to type my password – nope, the keyboard didn’t work either. So I rebooted after plugging in my USB keyboard. Windows went through its usual routine and told me the keyboard had installed and was ready to use, except, it wasn’t. It wouldn’t work at all.

Basically, I was hosed! I couldn’t run the device manager from the limited account, or do a system restore. I had to get into the admin account, or I was stuck.

So I did what any red-blooded geek would do, I Googled “resetting a password in Vista”. I came up with usual Microsoft solution, you know the one where you use the password reset CD you made when you set up the computer, yep that one, the one no one ever makes!

Fortunately for me, I also found a reference to TRK or the Trinity Rescue Kit. TRK is a Linux based bootable CD, that can be used for resetting passwords, recovering files and a few other things relating to Windows calamities.

Publisher’s description: Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues.

Once the CD booted normally, I typed in “winkey u admin” – this started TRK searching, and mounting all the files in the system. I choose “Enter” in the next dialog, and then typed an “*” confirmed this with a “y”, and this created a new administrator account with no password.

I was able to log into the Administrator account and then began the next phase of fixing the corrupted drivers. This took a little longer than I anticipated. I tried deleting the Track pad and keyboard in Device Manager , both had the little caution signs next to them indicating a damaged or corrupted driver; rebooted but this didn’t work.

I finally resolved the problem by using a restore point. Fortunately, you can get there with just a few clicks of the mouse. So I got lucky; the USB mouse worked, and the TRK worked after some trial and error.

Get the Trinity Rescue Kit here. I recommend it for your toolkit, it definitely saved my bacon.


Fast facts:

TRK is a complete command line based distribution, apart from a few tools like qtparted, links, partition image and midnight commander.

Full read/write and rpm support (since build 333)

Easily reset windows passwords (backup and restore option)

Four different virus scan products integrated in a single uniform command line with online update capability

Full ntfs write support thanks to ntfs-3g (all other drivers included as well)

Clone NTFS file systems over the network

Wide range of hardware support (kernel and recent kudzu hwdata)

Easy script to find all local file systems

Self update capability to include and update all virus scanners

Full proxy server support

Run a samba fileserver (windows like file sharing)

Run an ssh server

Recovery and un-deletion of files with utilities and procedures

Recovery of lost partitions

Evacuation of dying disks

UTF-8 international character support

Powerful multicast disk cloning utility for any file system

Two rootkit detection utilities

Elaborate documentation

It is possible to boot TRK in three different ways:

As a bootable CD which you can burn yourself from a downloadable iso file.

From a USB stick/disk (optionally also a fixed disk), installable from Windows, or from the bootable TRK CD.

From network over PXE, which requires some modifications on your local network (version 3.2). Has the ability to act as a network boot server itself, without any modifications to your local network.

Trinity Rescue Kit is now in Version 3.4, and is better than ever before.

Getting started with TRK.

Download at: Developer’s site.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world. Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

This article was originally posted here on March 11, 2010.

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Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, computer repair, Computer Tools, downloads, Free Password Recovery Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Manual Malware Removal, Portable Applications, Software, System Recovery Tools, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 25, 2011

DIY: Free tools for removing malicious software – Fighting the malware battle really hurts when you’re spending a good deal of your IT budget (if you even have an IT budget) on software to protect machines from attacks. Here’s how to do it for free.

How to Control Multiple Computers with a Single Keyboard and Mouse – If you have two or more computers at one desk, you don’t want two or more sets of keyboards and mice cluttering up your workspace, too. You can buy a hardware gadget that lets you share a single keyboard and mouse with several computers (which involves a mess of tangled wires), or you could use a free software solution called Synergy.

Microsoft Word Alternatives: Wordsmiths, Rejoice! – Microsoft Word is ubiquitous–but it isn’t the only choice. Whether your main concern is price, complexity, specialized functionality, system footprint, or some combination of the above, one of these word processors may give you what Word doesn’t.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 Security Best Practices for USB Drives – USB drives are increasingly being used by insiders to pilfer information from their employers, they are lost every day—putting the valuable information they contain at risk of data breach, and they are fast becoming the hacking community’s favorite vector for spreading new malware. In order to balance productivity with safety, Channel Insider has put together 10 important best practices that every organization should consider instituting.

Fake YouTube pushes out Trojan disguised as plugin – It could happen to anyone. A click on a link posted by a compromised Facebook account or in an e-mail sent from an e-mail account of a friend who got phished, and you’re on a spoofed page imitating a video sharing site. Once on it, a Java applet keeps popping up and asking you to run it so that you can view the video you followed the link to see. And if you aren’t aware that most video sharing sites use Adobe Flash to play them, you will likely fall for the request of installing an unsigned application or codec.

Many Microsoft Vulnerabilities Not Exploitable With Proper System Configuration – New study by eEye finds that just disabling some unneeded features can mitigate most attacks against flaws.

Zeus Trojan Mobile Variant Intercepts SMS Passcodes from Bank Sites – The famous Zeus banking Trojan has a new variant, Mitmo, targeting infected users’ cellphones to intercept SMS messages from banking insitutitions to gain login credentials.

Google Integrates Easily Filtered Recipes into Search – Google’s rolling out a Recipes search filter into its web results, allowing last-minute dinner finders to sort by ingredients, cooking time, and calories, and using recipe sites’ own internal language to bring out the recipe you’re hoping to find.

Quick fix for Windows 7 SP1 installation errors – If you run Windows 7 and Linux on the same PC, you might run into an odd error when you try to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Here’s the cause and the fix.

Company News:


Google Apps plug-in injects the cloud into Office, slow venom into Microsoft – Google’s release of Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is more than a plug-in that syncs legacy Office apps with modern cloud-based apps; it’s also another chess move for Google in its ongoing competition with Microsoft.

Microsoft brings us face-to-face with LifeCam HD-3000 – The LifeCam HD-3000 is equipped with a 720p HD sensor, TrueColor Technology for a brighter and more colorful picture in “virtually any lighting condition” and it delivers a 16:9 widescreen aspect radio. Other useful features include the a universal attachment base and a noise-cancelling microphone. The LifeCam HD-3000 will be available for $39.95 starting next month.

Kaspersky Adds Android, BlackBerry OS Support to Mobile Security Suite – Kaspersky Lab announces new privacy, anti-malware and anti-theft features for Android and BlackBerry users in its latest Mobile Security 9 suite.

Apple releases developer preview of Mac OS X Lion – Apple released a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion, which takes some of the best ideas from iPad and brings them back to the Mac. The Lion preview is available to Mac Developer Program members through the Mac App Store today, and the final version of Lion will ship to customers this summer.

Off Topic (Sort of):


Infographic – Internet Speed and Cost Around the World (submitted by Dar)

Wiretapping the Internet: Inside Government Web Monitoring Efforts – In the past year, U.S. government officials have spoken repeatedly about the need to give law enforcement broader powers to conduct surveillance online. This was hardly the first time the feds have called for lawmakers to help them keep up with changing technology. Last year, the Obama administration began to push for legislation to require communication services such as Skype, Facebook and others to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order.

Google’s Plans for Solar System-Wide Wi-Fi – Forget cloud computing: The next evolution of the Web will span the length of the solar system. That’s going to need a whole new Internet infrastructure–one that Google is already beginning to implement.

Does Asperger’s make you a better software coder? – Aspiritech, a Chicago-area start-up, is embracing Asperger’s Syndrome to take advantage of the perceived technical advantages many say the condition provides.

Today’s Quote:


Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the ‘ah-ha’.”

–    Ernst Haas

Today’s Free Downloads:


Emerge Desktop – The Windows Explorer shell is responsible for some of the most basic aspects of the way Windows looks. The Start menu, system tray, and other aspects of the taskbar are all part of the shell. Emerge Desktop replaces the Windows Explorer with a different, more customizable shell. On the whole we didn’t find it to be a huge improvement over the Windows default, but if you like to tweak your desktop’s appearance, it might be worth checking out.

3D Desktop – The 3D Desktop themepack contains a whopping 63 wallpapers that range from colorful abstract images to glorious natural landscapes. If you don’t find something in this themepack that pleases you, then you probably don’t enjoy digital art in any form.

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Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 25, 2011

Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Run Splashtop, A Free Web Centric OS To Reduce Your Exposure To Malware

imageCurrent statistics indicate that over 95 percent of viruses, spyware, and other types of malware, are designed and targeted to attack Microsoft Windows. And, the route by which the majority of malware spreads, and intrusion attempts take place is the Internet Browser.

It seems reasonable to make the point then, that if you’re not running Windows while surfing the Net, but instead, you’re running an alternative operating system, you shouldn’t have to unnecessarily worry about malware, viruses, and spyware.

Regular readers might recall that I do most of my surfing using Linux; specifically Ubuntu. And yes, I’m aware of of all the counter arguments that surround this choice – “security through obscurity”, “Linux is built from the ground up with security in mind”, and on and on.

None of the various contentious points of view really make much difference to me. The reality is straightforward – all statistics indicate that surfing with a non-Windows system can reduce the malware risks Windows users have to contend with.

If you are leaning towards running an alternative to Windows, while interacting with the Net, then Splashtop OS, a Linux driven Web centric, (Chrome focused), specialty operating system (which coexists with Windows),  and is close to “instant on”, – about 10 seconds to boot and reach the Net in my tests, is worth taking for a spin.

Splashtop, (in beta currently), was initially designed to run on specific HP systems only, but it can now run on virtually any Windows system. Following installation, (from within Windows), on subsequent boots you will have the opportunity to boot into Splashtop, or Windows, through a boot menu.

Booting back into Windows once you’re in Splashtop, is “one click” simple.

You won’t get lost during the install which is very straightforward.


On completion of the install process, you will have an opportunity to gather additional information.


and perform a number of setup tasks.


The desktop is rather plain, but given that Splashtop has been designed as a Web centric OS, it’s still very functional.


Fast facts:

FAST:  Starts in seconds — way before Windows

EASY:  Featuring Instant Search, powered by Bing

SAFE:  A Linux-based platform running Chromium

READY:  Includes Adobe Flash Player pre-installed

PERSONAL:  Choose from thousands of Web Apps, extensions, and themes at the Chrome Web Store, and install the ones you want

SIMPLE:  Your existing Windows bookmarks and Wi-Fi Settings profile can be imported from Windows into Splashtop OS

CONVENIENT:  Visual Bookmarks show thumbnails of recently visited web pages (or can be hidden if desired)

CUSTOMIZABLE:  From the Status Bar, check the status of network connections, volume, power supply; or open the Configuration Panel and then set your preferences

FLEXIBLE:  If desired, you can exit Splashtop OS and boot to the Windows OS at any time

Running Splashtop will allow you to surf, and interact with the Internet as you normally would – including interacting with instant messaging, email, music, photos, documents, gaming, etc. And, it really is virtually “instant on”.

Additional details available at the developer’s site:

Using features of the Web Browser

Using the Splashtop OS Configuration Utility in Windows

Using the Boot Menu (unsupported computers only)

Announcements and Frequently Asked Questions

More information at the Splashtop OS web page

Download at: Splashtop


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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 24, 2011

Avast wants you playing in its sandbox – Avast takes the worry out of blocking suspicious programs from harming your system with a new AutoSandboxing feature in its latest major-point upgrade, exclusive to today.

50 Free Apps for Your Android Smartphone – We love apps and we love them even more when they’re free. Sift through this crop of 50 Android apps to find something useful, fun and — oh yeah – free.

Create a shortcut icon to quickly enable and disable the Windows 7 firewall – Jack Wallen shows you how to add desktop icons so that you can quickly enable and disable the Windows 7 firewall.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Lifehacker: Secure Erase Methods Probably Won’t Work on Your Solid-State Drive – Researchers at UC San Diego found that the normal methods we use to securely wipe magnetic drives aren’t as useful on solid-state drives. After testing twelve SSDs, they found that only four were securely erased with whole-drive erasure methods. Trying to securely wipe a single file was even less successful, and more often than not a good portion of the file was recoverable.

Memory Scraping Malware Goes After Encrypted Private Information – What’s “pervasive memory scraping” and why is it considered by SANS Institute security researchers to be among the most dangerous attack techniques likely to be used in coming the coming year?

Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda – Does a code of ethics still exist in Intelligence firms? Does it disappear behind closed doors, dirty deeds done in the dark and used against the American people who are supposed to be free to express themselves?

Facebook Privacy: 10 Must-Know Security Settings – Facebook’s seemingly endless tweaks to privacy and security settings leave many people wondering: How secure is my Facebook account? We’ve rounded up the 10 most important settings for you to check.

PayPal phishing campaign hits inboxes – PayPal users should be on the lookout for phishing e-mails with “Please confirm your identity” in the subject line supposedly coming from the service.

Company News:

iolo technologies Awarded Patent for its ActiveCare® Technology – The newly patented ActiveCare technology works transparently when a computer is idle and intelligently tunes the machine for peak performance without slowing it down, consuming vital foreground resources, or interrupting users with indiscriminately scheduled tasks or messages.

A significant leap forward in proactive technology, ActiveCare uses a sophisticated method to sense when the computer is on but not being used and performs a battery of background system analyses that can then trigger specific associated optimization, maintenance or repair actions in real time to target and preemptively correct even slight degradations in performance or stability. If the computer user initiates any other tasks during that time, ActiveCare silently terminates any active processes and full control is returned to the user

Apple’s iPad 2: The waiting game ahead of a potential sales boom – With Apple’s iPad 2 event reportedly set for March, analysts are scurrying to predict how many tablets the company can sell.

Laptop battery life: The new battleground for PC makers – If you’ve dreamed of laptop batteries pushing 30 hours of power it’s been a good two days for you. Both HP and Lenovo have stepped up their games on battery life.

FTC Investigating Apple, Google In-App Purchases – The Federal Trade Commission is looking “closely” at the issue of in-app purchases, particularly those that are not transparent about how they charge consumers for their activity.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Secret CIA spy gadgets go public (photos) – Thought James Bond had cool tech toys? Get a load of some of the gizmos being shown off by the CIA for the first time.

First robot marathon planned – So far, five robots have been entered in the event, which is expected to last for four days next week. Organizer Vstone Co. said Wednesday the race will demonstrate the machines’ durability and maneuverability. (submitted by Michael F.)

Nintendo 3DS Hands-On: Does It Live Up to the Hype? – Spend some quality time with Nintendo’s glasses-free 3D bid to reenergize the portable gaming market and see for yourself if it lives up to the hype.

Does Gates funding of media taint objectivity? – According to the Seattle Times report, BMGF donates millions every year to media groups like ABC, The Guardian, The New York Times, PBS, and even The Seattle Times. BMGF also spends millions of dollars training journalists in how to properly advocate for foundation interests, and craft media messages in such a way as to further the foundation’s agendas. So rather than presenting news, many BMGF-funded journalists now present carefully-crafted BMFG talking points to viewers and readers. (submitted by Dar)

Today’s Quote:

The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.”

–   David Brinkley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast Free Antivirus 6.0 – Make no mistake, Avast 6 adds features both big and small. Some that had previously only been available to paid upgrade users are now free for all versions, and newer features have been seamlessly added to the interface experience. If you’re familiar with Avast 5, upgrading to Avast 6 won’t be that big of a leap.

Glary Utilities – This powerful application offers extensive utilities to improve your system’s performance and protect your privacy. Glary Utilities’ well-organized interface allows users to easily choose from several tools. It cleans unwanted junk files and removes invalid and broken shortcuts, freeing up valuable disk space.

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A Lesson In Malware Removal Using Kaspersky Rescue Disk

This past Sunday, I posted an article on the benefits of regular scanning with a “live CD” – Stay Malware Free (Hopefully!) – Scan With A “Live CD” Regularly. Which, reminded me of an excellent article (previously posted here), by my good buddy and fellow blogger, Mark Schneider, on working with Kaspersky Rescue Disk to eradicate malware.

There are some great pointers here, and I encourage you to re-read this terrific article. It’s well worth a re-read.


image You find your computer getting slower and slower to boot, and when it finally does boot it’s so slow everything runs at a crawl. So you try running the antivirus you have and just get a message that says the definitions are out of date and you can’t connect to the update server.

Or you may find an annoying pop-up coming up every time you boot telling you PC Antivirus has found 70,278 infections and for $49.99 they will remove them for you. Well my friend, you are hosed! Your machine is so badly infected that you have to try desperate measures.

At this point you can try pulling your hard drive out of the machine and putting it in another mounting it as a slave, and using your other machine to try to clean it.

Another way to get this thing up and running is to try some kind of bootable rescue disk to clean it. Bootable rescue disks are bootable CD’s/DVD’s that contain small operating systems, with some preinstalled tools contained for repairing your computer.

When you turn on your computer hit F10 or F12, select your CD/DVD drive and your computer boots into an operating system contained on that CD. There are a lot of great rescue disks out there, the problem is most are very complicated, and some take forever to boot.

I found one great exception to this though. Kaspersky Labs, creator of the very capable Kaspersky Antivirus line of products has built a great free bootable rescue CD that is simple to use.


Unlike many other bootable rescue disks it has one purpose, to clean your system. To create a Kaspersky Rescue Disk, download the ISO image from this link , then burn the image to a CD.

Depending on what operating system you are using you may need to download a CD burning program if you don’t already have one. If you are running Windows 7 it has a built in, burning program that’s simple to use and works great. If you are running XP or Vista, I like Image Burn, or CD BurnerXP – both do a great job of burning .ISO images, and are free.

Once you have your rescue CD built, start your infected machine pushing F12/F10 to get it to the boot selection screen. Boot to the CD Rom drive as I stated earlier and relax, although faster than most rescue disks it’s hardly fast.

Follow the prompts and when it boots into the Kaspersky Rescue system you first need to update the virus definitions. Once updated do a scan, and go read the newspaper or get some coffee, it takes a while.

Once it completes the scan go ahead and let it remove or quarantine all the files it has found. I’ve never had it delete anything that caused the machine it was fixing not to boot. But of course before you do anything like this, BACK UP YOUR DATA!!!!! But you already did that so proceed.

Do the scan, remove the junk and log off Kaspersky. Just turning off your computer with the power button won’t hurt anything when you are running a rescue CD.

The reason rescue CD’s are so effective is, you’re not trying to disinfect a computer with an infected OS. When you boot to the hard drive of an infected machine, you’re playing on the bad guy’s home turf. They control the machine and in many cases they’ve hidden the infected files so your antivirus can’t see them.

There are other rescue disks out there and many are very complicated and take a very long time. The Kaspersky Rescue Disk is the fastest and easiest I’ve found to clean an infected machine enough to allow me to boot back into Windows and complete the process by adding my favorite automated antimalware tools to keep the system clean going forward.

Note: Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 can be run from a USB device.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Guest Writers, Kaspersky, Linux, Malware Removal, Portable Applications, Scareware Removal Tips, Software, USB, Virus Repair Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 23, 2011

20 Tech Habits to Improve Your Life – Technology is supposed to make life easier, but it doesn’t seem that way when you’re struggling to wrangle 289 new e-mail messages, dealing with a hard-drive crash, or suddenly realizing that you left an important file on the office computer. Thankfully, plenty of tools can help. We’ll tell you which ones are worth trying, and we’ll also suggest some practices that you can incorporate into your workday to use tech tools more effectively and efficiently.

Must-Have Tools and Tricks – Learn how to get a disposable e-mail address, stop Windows 7 from automatically resizing windows, and recover data from a dead laptop.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

“Free Southwest Airlines tickets” Facebook scam – But what makes this scam different and quite likely more effective than your typical Facebook scam is that the installed rogue application doesn’t propagate by posting the luring messages on the Walls of the victims. Instead, it posts it as a comment on a friend’s link, photo or status update – making it look more genuine and, thus, the claim more believable.

A Toolbar You’ll Use – We’re not generally fans of browser toolbars, but Microsoft’s latest iteration of the Bing Bar offers quick access to frequently sought information, without taking you off the Web page you’re on. With a fast enough internet connection, you may be perfectly well served by a few well chosen browser bookmark buttons. Find out if Bing Bar 7.0 is right for you in our full review.

419 Scammers Taking Advantage of Egypt Revolution – Scammers regularly target current events as catalysts for their online attacks… what’s the latest tactic? Using the Egyptian revolution as a hook in scam emails, 419 or advance-fee fraud scammers – who typically promise large amounts of money, but demand upfront fees first – have recently employed a tactic that takes advantage of the resignation of Egypt’s long-standing president, Hosni Mubarak. identified a German-language 419 scam from “the former Egyptian president’s lawyer”, claiming to need help in retrieving $2.5m of the president’s funds from a frozen Belgian bank account

Your Smartphone: The Next Big Security Headache – One of Android strengths is its openness. Just about anyone can write an app and distribute it without having to go through a sometimes lengthy review process. But as is the case on the PC, this sort of openness makes it possible for malware writers to infiltrate the smartphone. Security companies seem to think Android is the next big malware target, thanks to this openness, and the fact that it runs on so many devices.

Best Online Tools For Entrepreneurs, Monetizing Your SMB Blog, and More – Best online tools for entrepreneurs, blog monetization, solo entrepreneurship, and utilizing video to marketing your company.

Company News:


Motorola Xoom Is the Perfect iPad Competitor – As the slew of different tablets hits store shelves, there will likely only be one device that will be a top competitor to the iPad in the minds of consumers: the Motorola Xoom. The device, which will be available Feb. 24, is expected to deliver an outstanding combination of hardware and software that could dull the shine of the iPad for some buyers.

Amazon S3 Offers Complete Website Hosting – The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) now allows complete Web hosting, but is it better and cheaper than standard hosting providers?

BlackBerry Bold Touch Leaked Into the Wild – (News for BlackBerrys) has published leaked photos of what has been dubbed the BlackBerry Bold Touch. The leaked device seems to borrow its shape from the original BlackBerry Bold 9000 smartphone rather than the current BlackBerry Bold 9700. Unlike the BlackBerry Torch 9800, which uses a slide-out keyboard, the BlackBerry Bold Touch is a candybar smartphone.

Amazon adds streaming TV, movies to Prime: Could just be the beginning – Amazon added unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows to its Prime subscription plan. While the move is billed as Amazon vs. Netflix the move really just highlights what’s possible with the Prime model.

Off Topic (Sort of):


Maximum PC Challenge: We BBQ a Fireproof Hard Drive – IoSafe claims that its SoloPro external drive can withstand temperatures of up to 1550 degrees Fahrenheit for up to half an hour, and last for three days in ten feet of water, all without harming the data on its 1TB internal drive. We’ll just see about that… took our not-at-all-suspicious selves over to a nearby marina, lit some coals, threw some dogs on the grill, and got ready to test IoSafe’s claims about the SoloPro 1TB USB 3.0 external storage device. Here’s what happened. (submitted by Dar)

Dumbest Tech Marketing Stunts Ever – Two Dell employees last week put the maxim “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” to the test after a hostage-themed marketing stunt focused on the Dell Streak tablet went about as badly as you’d expect.

What “Do Not Track” Is and Why It’s Important – What’s so bad about ad tracking on the web, a.k.a. behavioral targeting? Nothing, if you don’t mind being a living stereotype. No, seriously—that’s what much of the fuss over “Do Not Track” browser options and opt-out options is about. Ad companies watch what you do online, and they make bold assumptions about you. How you feel about that is up to you.

Presidential wheels (photos) – In honor of Presidents’ Day, we’ve rounded up a collection of interesting Presidential State Cars of years past.

Today’s Quote:


In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Bertrand Russell (From his essay “The Triumph of Stupidity”)

Today’s Free Downloads:


STOIK Imagic – STOIK Imagic is a large, feature-packed photo album, organizer, manager, and editor. It’s also a retouching tool, a calendar maker, a media cataloger, a video editor, and a drawing tool. In short, it’s a full-featured graphics suite with an emphasis on digital photographs. At 80MB, it’s a big download, but since it’s compressed, it’s a fast one, too, and setup is virtually automatic, including scanning your system for images. Anything else? You bet: it’s free.

Big Free Clock – Big Free Clock is great for churches or places needing to display the current time in full screen mode.The digits and message colors can be changed.Totally free meaning you can use it anywhere without paying. Use 12 hour or 24 hour time displays.The digit sizes are auto adjusted to maximally fit the screen.The background images can change to a new picture on a regular basis.

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Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 23, 2011

Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News