Tag Archives: applications

A Reader Wants To Know – What’s On My PC?

With due apologies to my good friend Rick Robinette – whose blog is aptly called – What’s On My PC.

imageI get a wide variety of questions here, from the very simple to the complex – all of which are equally as interesting. The following question was recently posed by a reader.

“Could you give your readers a list of the programs you run on your computer. I often wondered what the computer experts really use on their personal computers, so we newbies can make better decisions on which to keep or which to delete.”

Seems as if that’s an easy question to answer – just take a screen shot of my Desktop (as the reader suggested) and send it on. But, the question is deeper than that – a little more complex I think.

You’ll note, in the following screen capture, that many of the applications I run on my personal machine, are “old.” For example – WinPatrol, was the second application I installed on my first Internet connected machine (after the free version of ZoneAlarm Firewall). I continue to rely on WinPatrol today, as much as I ever have. CCleaner, Glary Utilities, ImgBurn, are other applications that fit into the “old” category.

Sure, in the interim, a ton of freeware applications have been released that duplicate and perhaps, in some cases, even exceed the capabilities of the applications I have come to depend on. But, I’m not into the “latest and greatest” – which, often enough –  are frequently lacking in the “greatest” department.

No, I’ll stick with the applications I’ve come to know that perform as advertised; that do the job I need done, with as little fuss as possible. Remember of course, that it is the latest edition of these “old” applications which run on this system.

The following screen shot illustrates the applications currently installed on my home system. Those that are annotated with an arrow icon, have been reviewed here previously.

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A selected few previously reviewed applications.

Zemana Antilogger – I’ve long considered Zemana AntiLogger a must have security application for my Internet connected machines. In fact, I would never connect my web cam without first ensuring that Zemana AntiLogger was up and running. To drive home that point (and others), I’ve reviewed this application several times.

AVG – I’ve been running with AVG AntiVirus Free 2013 on a primary home system (a Windows 8 machine), since September 5, of last year. The verdict? I’m impressed – very impressed.

CCleaner – What can you say about CCleaner (the granddaddy of all system cleaners – it’s been around since 2004), that hasn’t already been said of this freeware system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool.

EULAlyzer – This free application quickly scans a EULA, and points out words, statements, and phrases, that you need to consider carefully. Results are rated by “Interest Level” and organized by category, so it’s easy to zero-in on the issue that concern you the most.

Glary Utilities – Glary Utilities Free, is a reasonably complete set of system tools with which even a relative newcomer to the computing game can tweak, repair, optimize and improve system performance. Since discovering Glary Utilities years ago, it has remained my go-to application for system maintenance and cleanup.

History Viewer – Here’s a little freeware application – History Viewer – which doesn’t approach the robustness of  SForensics Beta – but nevertheless, will let you take a peek at various Window’s histories.

ImgBurn – I’ll jump ahead here – directly to my conclusion. ImgBurn is a superior CD/DVD burning application. No hesitation – this application ROCKS.

IrfanView – IrfanView which is one of my favorite photo applications (not just mine; there have been over 34 Million downloads), is not just an image viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. Best of all, you’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. If you’re curious, this application is named after its developer Irfan Skiljan.

MakeMKV – MakeMKV is the best one-click free solution to convert owned video that I’ve found, to date. This is a very impressive application – straightforward, and easy to run –  even for a relatively new computer user.

MalWareBytes – I run Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware every day, as a secondary malware scanner, since I have absolutely no faith that a single security application offers adequate protection. The free version of this speed demon (it’s faster at scanning than any anti-malware program I’ve tested in the last 2 years), is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers.

MozBackup – In addition to backing up a Firefox profile, MozBackup will create profile backups for the following applications – Mozilla Thunderbird, Sunbird, Flock, SeaMonkey, Mozilla Suite, Spicebird, Songbird and Netscape.

MWSnap – MWSnap is a highly rated small, yet powerful, Windows program for snapping (capturing) images from selected parts of the screen. I use it daily to create high-quality screen captures for presentations, documents, and most particularly – application screen captures for my Blog.

NirSoft Wireless Network Watcher – This free utility scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.

There are additional applications, including specialty applications, which I run occasionally from either a USB flash drive, or a CD/DVD – but, these applications are generally outside the scope of an average user’s needs.

For example – an application which you will not see here is CurrPorts – a portable application which allows a user to view a list of ports that are currently in use, and the application that is using it.

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16 Comments

Filed under Computer Tools, Point of View

Valentine’s Day – Malware Love Is Coming Your Way

From the – here we go again files. Love in your inbox – malware on your computer.

imageLike clockwork, spammers and cybercrooks ramp up the volume of Valentine’s spam emails aimed at unsuspecting users – every yearstarting just about now.

You know the ones –  “Falling in love with you”, “Sending you my love”, “Memories of you”, “I Love You Soo Much” …………. (saccharin sells I guess  Smile  ). Since cyber crooks are opportunity driven, you can expect much more of this type of cybercriminal activity again this year.

Maybe you’re a very cool person who’s significant other is always sending you neat little packages in your email. MP3 files, screensavers, cartoons, YouTube videos, and the like. You get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without thinking. If you are this type of person, here’s a word of advice – start thinking.

The hook, as it always is in this type of socially engineered email scam, is based on exploiting emotions. The fact is, we’re all pretty curious creatures and let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, many of us find it difficult, if not irresistible, to not peek at love notes received via *email.

The reality.

The truth is, these emails often contain links that deliver advertisements – or worse, redirect the victim to an unsafe site where malware can be installed on the soon to be victim’s computer.

Would you be fooled?

A couple of years back, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. Clicking on the link led him to a site which had a graphic of hearts and puppies – and of course,  the teaser.

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Luckily, common sense prevailed and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on the teaser, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan. A Trojan designed to connect to a remote command and control center.

Unfortunately, being smart is often NOT enough to protect yourself. At a minimum – make sure you have an effective security solution installed; capable of detecting both known and new malware strains.

You know what to do, right?

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar.

If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them – they could take you to a web site designed to download malware onto your computer.

* Cyber crooks have moved on from using just emails as a malware delivery vehicle. So, be on the lookout for fraudulent Valentine’s Day greetings in:

Instant Messenger applications.

Twitter

Facebook

Chat forums, etc..

6 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, Malware Alert

The Tool Designed To Fool – We Don’t Want No Stinkin’ Toolbar! (Revisited)

In today’s Tech Thoughts Daily Net News column, you’ll find a link to Ed Bott’sHow Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates. So, what’s new here? Not as much as you might think – unfortunately.

I first posted on the issue of unwanted Toolbars – or, PUPS (potentially unwanted programs) – in March 2010. Based on the indignation shown by the majority of commenters – it just might be worth another read.

—————————————————————————————————

MEMO TO: SNEAKY FREEWARE DEVELOPERS

imageYou give me your software for free as a marketing tool, with the hope of course, that I’ll upgrade to the commercial version of your application.

That’s cool, that’s smart, (it cost you nothing by the way) – nevertheless, I’m appreciative.

But you don’t stop with just the free use of your application, you piggyback a toolbar, or some other non-essential item, as part of the install package. Listen, I understand, you want to install a toolbar because you get paid by the toolbar developer. Even that’s OK – but you do it in such a sneaky way that it really pisses me off, and that’s not OK.

Worse, if I don’t like your application and uninstall it, you open your Internet site, following the uninstall, using my Internet Browser – even if I don’t give you permission by allowing the connection. In my view, that’s a form of hacking. You need to take a refresher course in ethics.

I’ve been around the Internet for a few decades, so it’s not often I get caught in your schemes to install unwanted software on my machines, but less experienced users are often caught in your carefully laid traps.

Here’s a sample of the outrage a typical user, who got trapped by unethical behavior, feels – a comment on my site left by an outraged reader, several days ago, following her installation of Miro.

I thought I’d give this a try, since I watch Hulu quite a bit, and I’m sooo angry I did. Miro installed Bing Search toolbar, which I didn’t want or agree to install (using firefox) and it wiped out all my default search engines for Firefox.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to get Firefox back to normal. Beware!!!!!!!! I don’t trust companies that install things without your consent or knowledge.

In this particular instance it’s true that the EULA covers this situation, but here’s the question. Why does an average user need to read a Eula in order to find an alternative installation solution?

An accusation of unethical behavior doesn’t begin to cover this case – sleazy; vulgar; dishonest; sordid; are much more appropriate.

You, the unethical developer, are not alone in attempting to profit by toolbar inclusion in freeware applications. More and more, high profile developers who offer a stripped down version of their commercial applications as freeware, are involving themselves in this highly questionable practice.

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So here’s a question for the “ethical” freeware providers. How many toolbars do you think an average user needs? Ten? Twenty? Thirty………….. Just so you know, a Google search for “toolbar”, returns 167 Million results!

I can already hear your answer “ but the user can uncheck the appropriate box when installing the application”. Right! Unless you’re detached from the real world (and, you may well be), you’re more than aware that a typical user does not uncheck this box. Then, over time, the user is at a loss to explain why their machine has slowed to a crawl.

Could it be because your toolbar, along with twenty others, all installed in a furtive way, become active at startup – ya think!!

So, just stop with the crapware already. If you’re pissing me off, just consider what you’re doing to an average user.

17 Comments

Filed under Adware, Browser add-ons, Point of View

Free Studio 5 – 47 Bundled Multimedia Applications

imageIt’s a kind of truism in business, that you should try to cover all the bases in the business you’re in. You can see this played out in the software industry in which, multiple applications are often bundled, or stacked, into suites. The objective being, of course, to prevent the competition from gaining a foothold with the customer.

Not unusual then, to see three, four, or as many as six applications, all bundled under one umbrella. But, I must admit, I had never seen forty seven applications bundled into a single package. Until that is, I came across Free Studio 5.

Free Studio 5, is an all-in-one package bundling forty seven free multimedia applications,  laid out in 8 sections, for easy access to any application: YouTube programs; MP3 and Audio; CD, DVD and BD; DVD and Video; Photo and Images; Mobiles; Apple Devices; and 3D applications.

I’ll point out – I have not tested any of the applications in this free offering. Still, you may find one, or more, of the applications to your liking.

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A quick point about the Windows 8 Metro interface. I’ve become a fan of Windows 8, including the Metro interface – but, the installation of Free Studio 5, with it’s forty seven applications spread across a huge piece of screen real estate (as shown below), is just a bit bizarre.

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The free application for Windows 8 users – Start Menu (shown below) – on the other hand, provides access in the more familiar drop-down arrangement with which Windows users are more familiar.

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Free Studio’s individual components can be checked out, by clicking on the appropriate link below.

Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

Free YouTube to iPod and PSP Converter

Free YouTube to iPhone Converter

Free YouTube to DVD Converter

Free YouTube Uploader

Free Uploader for Facebook

Free Video to Android Converter

Free Video to Apple TV Converter

Free Video to BlackBerry Converter

Free Video to HTC Phones Converter

Free Video to iPad Converter

Free Video to iPod Converter

Free Video to iPhone Converter

Free Video to LG Phones Converter

Free Video to Motorola Phones Converter

Free Video to Nintendo Converter

Free Video to Nokia Phones Converter

Free Video to Samsung Phones Converter

Free Video to Sony Phones Converter

Free Video to Sony Playstation Converter

Free Video to Sony PSP Converter

Free Video to Xbox Converter

Free Video to Tablet PC Converter

Free DVD Video Converter

Free Video to DVD Converter

Free Video to Flash Converter

Free 3GP Video converter

Free Video to MP3 Converter

Free Video to JPG Converter

Free Audio Converter

Free Audio to Flash Converter

Free WebM Video Converter

Free MP4 Video Converter

Free AVI Video Converter

Free DVD Video Burner

Free Disc Burner

Free Audio CD Burner

Free Audio CD to MP3 Converter

Free Screen Video Recorder

Free Image Convert and Resize

Free Video Dub

Free Audio Dub

Free Video Flip and Rotate

Free 3D Photo Maker

Free 3D Video Maker

System Requirements: Windows XP SP3, Vista, Win 7 and .Net Framework 2 SP2.

Download at: DVDVideoSoft

3 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Multimedia Tools, Software

Secunia PSI 3.0 (Beta) – Automatic, Comprehensive Patching Of Insecure Applications

imageOne of the most frequently repeated pieces of advice on this site is – “Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched, and up to date”. Taking this simply step, reduces the likelihood that malware will become an issue a user will have to deal with – significantly.

Sounds like good, practical advice – and it is. But as those of us involved in computer security know; this is advice that is not always followed. Some hold the view (including me), that it is rarely followed.

One particular application that I have reviewed and recommended a number of times – that assists users in keeping a system fully patched is – Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) – which constantly monitors a system for insecure software installations, notifies the user when an insecure application is installed, and then provides the user with detailed instructions for updating the application, when available.

There’s less reason now, than ever, to disregard this critical advice. Today, Secunia launched version 3 (Beta) of its free Personal Software Inspector (PSI), with a host of new features. The new version makes patching software more comprehensive, automatic, and easier than ever. How simple is that? PSI 3 takes the burden out of updating and patching.

Fast facts:

Extended automatic patching using the Secunia Package System (SPS), removing the dependency on vendors providing silent installers.

It automatically detects insecure programs – from all software vendors, not just those from Microsoft – that need updating.

The Secunia PSI then downloads the required security updates and installs them without any effort from the user, making it much easier to maintain a secure PC.

New and dramatically simplified user interface

Non-intrusive authenticated vulnerability and patch scanning

Auto-update of programs

Covers programs and plug-ins from thousands of vendors

Unprecedented accuracy

Reports security status for each.

Wondering just how PSI does its job? Secunia explains:

The Secunia PSI works by examining files on a computer (primarily .exe, .dll, and .ocx files). These files contain non-specific meta information provided by the software vendor. This data is the same for all users and originates from the installed programs on your computer — never from their configuration.

After examining all the files on the local hard drive(s), the collected data is sent to Secunia’s servers, which match the data against the Secunia File Signatures engine. This information can then be used to provide a detailed report of the missing security related updates for the user’s system. The Secunia PSI automatically performs scans every seven days to ensure that the latest secure versions of the software is installed.

The Secunia PSI 3.0 (beta) can be downloaded from Secunia’s website now at Secunia.com/PSI.

Previous reviews of this must have application here include:

Not Running Secunia PSI? Why Not?

Secunia Personal Software Inspector – Insurance Against Vulnerabilities

How secure do you think you are? Run a quick scan of your computer with Secunia Online Software Inspector.

About Secunia:

Founded in 2002, Secunia is the leading provider of IT security solutions that help businesses and private individuals globally manage and control vulnerability threats, risks across their networks, and end-points. This is enabled by Secunia’s award-winning Vulnerability Intelligence, Vulnerability Assessment, and Patch Management solutions that ensure optimal and cost-effective protection of critical information assets.

Secunia plays an important role in the IT security ecosystem, and is the preferred supplier for enterprises and government agencies worldwide, counting Fortune 500 and Global 2000 businesses among its customer base. Secunia has operations in North America, the UK, and the Middle East, and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

7 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Application Vulnerabilities, downloads, Freeware, Malware Protection, Secunia

Pssst – Let’s Talk About, Uh…. Porn

imageI’ll talk to you about porn. Your friends probably won’t – other than to deny that they watch it – or, perhaps to decry its prevalence on the Internet. If you want to see your friends scramble for cover –  if you want to see some terrific open field running  – ask them specifically, if they watch porn on the Internet.

Yes, I know, they don’t. But, someone’s watching. Run a Google search for “porn” and you might be surprised to see that there are considerably more than One Billion search results.

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Click graphic to expand.

Despite its popularity and huge profitability – the pornography industry has revenues larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined – that’s right, the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix …. – it’s still seen, by many (at least publicly), as a back room activity.

Although porn has almost reached a level of respectability (I’ll focus on the almost), or perhaps because of it there are those who would rather see porn back in the gutter, and dark alleys, where they think it belongs.

But not Kyle Richards. Richards is a 21 year old Michigan jail inmate who believes he’s being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can’t access pornography. Alleging that denying his request for erotic material subjects him to a “poor standard of living” and “sexual and sensory deprivation”, he’s suing.

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Macomb County Jail; Getty

Rather than referring to Kyle as an idiot, which he undoubtedly is – I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt (at least I’ll pretend I am). Could it be that he’s a porn expert – that he knows pornography has always been a force to be reckoned with. From prehistoric rock paintings depicting sex, through to the Greeks, Romans, the Renaissance period ( in which it flourished), and on to the mass production of pornography in the early 20th century. Yeah, sure!

Purveyors of pornography have always been quick to adapt to new technologies – especially mass production opportunities. No surprise then, to see the distributers of sexually explicit material almost immediately adopted the Internet as the preferred method of  mass distribution –  a technology which allows uncontrolled (by moralists, governments, and others), and anonymous access to explicit sexual content. Not a bad business model!

As an Internet security blogger, I have a certain level of concern with respect to pornographic Websites. Just to be clear – I’m not a member of the Morality Police, and I hold no religious, or political views, on the availability of pornography on the Internet; except of course, pornography which is clearly illegal, or morally reprehensible.

Instead, my main concern is focused on the primary/secondary use, that many of these sites are designed for – as a vehicle for the distribution of potentially harmful malware applications that can be surreptitiously dropped onto unwitting visitors computers.

With that in mind, over the years I’ve written a number of articles dealing with this issue  including – Dangerous Porn Sites – Tips on How to Avoid Them, Porn Surfing – Put a Software Condom on Your Computer!, Kate Middleton Nude – As If!, and Nude Pics Of Your Wife/Girlfriend Attached – Click Here.

I’ve no idea why precisely, but lately (the last 2/3 months), these articles have been getting an unusually high number of hits – generally from search engine referrals. Whatever the reason, it’s a good thing. Hopefully, it’s an indication that surfers are beginning to recognize at least one of the many potentially unsafe activities on the Internet. Hopefully!

A selection of  those search engine referrals  – most are multiples of 30/40 or more (sex, porn, nude, dangerous, safe ….), to this site on a typical day. Some of them are just a little strange – I think. But then, who am I to judge what’s strange?  

porn eskimo, safe porn sites, dangerous porn, dangerous porn sites, most dangerous porn sites, dangers of porn surfing, safe sites for porn, safe porn sites, are pornography websites safe, how can i protect my computer from porn, safest porn sites, porn sites safe, how many porn sites are dangerous, safe porn sites to visit, sex in malware, porn sites without malware, what is a safe porn site, visiting porn sites, pornsites, you porno, how common is illegal pornography, safe porn site recommendation, how to avoid seeing porn, what porn website are safe, porn eskimo (have to admit this one made me LMAO), cam 4 porno gratissurfing (no idea what this one means), 18 teens sex, upskirts webcams, sex with horse by girls, girls sex with horse, the free earlybird wake up local free sex web on one on one cam, nude photo revealing kate middleton, kate middletonnud, kate middletonnude, wife nude pics, share your wife nude pics, i saw your wife nude

I’ll admit that this post rambles a bit – but, I just had to reference the Kyle Richards (I need my porn) story, somehow. More and more often, I find myself shaking my head at just how eerily crazy this world really is.  Smile

This article was originally posted July 5, 2011.

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8 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Point of View, Tech Net News

BlackBerry Says “Thank You”– Offers Free PlayBook Apps At BlackBerry App World

imageI captured a runaway 32 GB BlackBerry PlayBook a couple of days ago. As it dashed past, I reached out and grabbed the little speed demon by its price tag – $248 (down from $599) . Last PlayBook in the store – so, I had to throw a few elbows during my robust maneuvering. You’ll notice – no mention of Mace, or pepper spray.   Smile

Now, before the trolls sharpen their pencils, and jump on the  “what, are you nuts!” bandwagon – it’s pretty simple – I buy hardware based on my knowledge. Sound arrogant? Maybe – but, I live in a “grain of salt” tech world.

After 30+ years at this game – skepticism has long been my conditioned response to “the latest”; “the greatest”; “game changing”; “overwhelms the competition”; “reinvents the technology” ………. hype.

Almost without exception, from where I sit in my arrogant chair, skepticism has been much more appropriate, than not. As, has been my response to – “the latest”; “the greatest”; “game changing”; descriptions bandied about and painted on upcoming entries into the tablet market – wariness, and an unwillingness to capitulate to the hype.

On the other hand – query a typical person on what a Tablet is, and almost without exception, you’ll find that person referring to an iPad. This, despite the fact that as of January 2011, 60+ manufacturers were already producing, or had under development, more than 100 Tablet variations.

Sort of takes me back to the old days, when it was commonly assumed that IBM was the sole manufacturer of the PC. In reality, other than for a short period of time, that was never the case.

I’ve not set out to write an in-depth review of the Playbook – 2/3 days usage is hardly sufficient time – but, I’m loving what I’m seeing. Nor, is this post intended to “savage” the iPad. Love to though – just to P.O. a few fanboys.   Smile

Instead, this a simple, lazy, mid-Christmas season post, to inform those who made the choice to focus on the PlayBook, that BlackBerry is offering a number of freebie applications, including –

Shazam Encore

Vlingo

DriveSafe.ly Pro

DriveSafe.ly Enterprise

Bubble Bash 2

The Sims 3

Bejeweled

Nobex Radio Premium

N.O.V.A.

SimCity Deluxe

iSpeech Translator Pro

Texas Hold’Em Poker 2

as a “ Thank you”, for choosing and supporting BlackBerry.

This offer expires on December 31st, 2011 – so, now would be a good time to download these applications.

 Go to – 

 

You’ll notice on the site, there are considerably more freebies available than I’ve posted here.

Note: A couple of things struck me immediately, while running through some “let’s see what this baby can do” processes with the PlayBook –

Multi-tasking (true Multi-tasking, BTW), was only marginally less efficient than running the same set of applications on my quad core Desktop. Impressive.

The PlayBook is capable of recording 1080p HD video with both the front and rear cameras. Very impressive results.

Drop back here in a couple of weeks for a full PlayBook review. In the meantime – readers from India might consider going on the hunt. I hear from associates in India, that a 16 GB PlayBook can be had for the equivalent of $199 USD, or less.

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8 Comments

Filed under BlackBerry, downloads, Freeware, PlayBook