Tag Archives: expert

Nader, The Once And Former Raider – Needs to Stay “Former”

imageRalph Nader, was identified as a “former presidential candidate” by CNET several days ago – hardly his claim to fame – old guys like me, remember him more for his 1965 expose – Unsafe at Any Speed – which took a powerful swing at the North American auto industry.

His evisceration of the Chevrolet Corvair (my first car incidentally), established Nader as a rogue consumer advocate. It is fair to say however, that all consumer advocates were viewed as suspicious by the establishment at that time.

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So, was Nader correct in his condemnation of the Corvair as a “death trap.” Not exactly. At least, not according to a 1972 study (completed well after the fact, you’ll notice), conducted by Texas A&M University on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Their conclusion – “the 1960–1963 Corvair possessed no greater potential for loss of control than its contemporaries in extreme situations.” In other words, Nader’s “study” was bullshit.

Taking advantage of the truism that “bullshit baffles brains” – not a detriment it seems, to a media created legend – in the following years, Nader stayed in the public eye pontificating on issues as diverse as –

Ralph Nader on Abortion, Ralph Nader on Budget & Economy, Ralph Nader on Civil Rights, Ralph Nader on Corporations, Ralph Nader on Crime, Ralph Nader on Drugs, Ralph Nader on Education, Ralph Nader on Energy & Oil, Ralph Nader on Environment, Ralph Nader on Families & Children, Ralph Nader on Foreign Policy, Ralph Nader on Free Trade, Ralph Nader on Government Reform, Ralph Nader on Gun Control, Ralph Nader on Homeland Security, Ralph Nader on Technology, Ralph Nader on War & Peace.

Believe it or not, this is an incomplete list. The full list is available at On The Issues.

It’s clear to me, that this man is a studious expert on EVERYTHING. So his observation, that “Video game firms are ‘electronic child molesters’”, recently spewed out during an interview at Politico, must have value. It must be an astute and educated observation – one that’s denied to the average person.

We just don’t have the background I suppose, to be able to digest a complex set of issues like video games –  gun violence – and, the existence (or not), of a link between them – readily identified by Nader.

We just don’t understand as Nader puts it – that video games producers “odious fare is becoming more coarse, more violent, and more interactive to seduce these youngsters into an addiction of direct video game involvement in the mayhem.”

It’s extraordinary that none of this has anything to do of course, with the ready availability of sophisticated weapons, a culture of gun insanity, a heritage of violence as a method of settling grievances, in the United States – a set of circumstances shared virtually nowhere else in the developed world.

Nader would have us set all that aside (along with our common sense), and have us instead, be guided through the forest of his misconceptions, distorted studies, and outright lies (most particularly on this issue) – by an expert at everything – Ralph Nader.

Just thinking about this moron makes my head hurt. Why, for the love of all we hold sacred, does the media give this idiot a forum in which to push forward his nonsense – his facts – his simple solutions to complex issues. Poorly identified issues at that. But, then it’s the media – isn’t it?

The media and the “facts” – an oxymoron if there ever was one!

As regular reader and occasional guest author Mark Schneider remarked here yesterday – “Ralph Nader – desperate for attention and relevance. I’ll continue to ignore him as I have for 40 years.”

12 Comments

Filed under Games, Myths, Online Gaming, Point of View

Runscanner – Aggressively Queries Your System And Applications For Unauthorized Changes

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The developers of Runscanner describe this freeware utility as having been designed to “detect changes and misconfigurations in your system caused by spyware, viruses, or human error.”

Sounds a bit like HijackThis, the free utility from Trend Micro, which has a well deserved reputation for being aggressive in tracking down unauthorized changes that have been made to your system/applications.

Runscanner though, takes this process miles beyond HijackThis, and does so by  using an intuitive approach that casual users*, and experienced users alike, should find easy to work with.

*The only difficulty I see, that casual users might have a problem with is – the enormous volume of information this application is capable of producing. This could make it difficult for a casual user to interpret results.

Runscanner is a simple executable, and no installation is required. Just click on the file, and then choose your mode – beginner or expert.

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The following screen capture shows the results of a full scan I ran on a Win 7 (32 bit), machine. The only entry I was unfamiliar with was Staropen.sys. Runscanner was right on the job though, with the right click context menu providing access to “lookup” services, as the screen shot below illustrates.

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I took a look at Staropen.sys using a Google link to the Prevx file investigation site, and found the following: The filename Staropen.sys is used by objects that are classified as safe. It has not yet been seen to be associated with malicious software.

I then uploaded the file to VirusTotal (another context menu option),and VirusTotal reported the following – as shown in the screen shot below.

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I suspected that this system driver was a component of CDBurner XP, and opening the location (another context menu option), then reading the driver with NotePad, indicated this was correct.

The next part of the test involved generating an online malware analysis report, which generates a massive report on all items which are considered safe, unsafe, whitelisted and additionally, verification of each file’s digital signature.

The screen capture below shows only a tiny (and I do mean tiny), portion of this report. The report is the most comprehensive of any I’ve ever seen, produced by this type of utility.

When you click on the screen capture below, to expand to the original size, you’ll notice that I’ve queried  Nitro PDF Spool Service. Rather than go directly to the site, instead, I’ve used COOL Previews to gather the relevant information. If you’re not yet familiar with COOL Previews – you can read a review of this outstanding time saver here – Surf Smarter – Take A Sneak Peek At Links With CoolPreviews Firefox Add-on.

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Fast facts:

100+ start/hijack locations

Online malware analysis

Import and export of .run files

Powerful process killer

Save to text log file

Powerful file filtering

Host file editor

History backup / restore

Explorer jump

Analysis of file certificates

Beginner, Expert mode

Bit9 FileAdvisor MD5 lookup

Systemlookup.com lookup

Upload file to VirusTotal

Analyze loaded modules

Google lookup

Runscanner database lookup

Regedit jump

If you are a casual user, one caveat from the developer you should be aware of: Runscanner requires advanced Windows knowledge. If you delete an item, without knowing what it is, it can lead to major Windows problems. If you are not sure what to delete, post your Run file to a helper forum.

A list of helper forums is available directly from within the application, or here.

System requirements: Windows 2003, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7 (according to the developers, the application is x 64 compatible).

Download at: Download.com

Public process list is an additional service provided by the developers. In this list you will be able to browse all processes and files found by Runscanner. Extra information for top processes is added to the database and optional security info is provided by research.

Runscanner has additional capabilities not reviewed here, so I recommend that you take a close look at this freebie. I think you’ll find that it’s worth the effort.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Comments Off on Runscanner – Aggressively Queries Your System And Applications For Unauthorized Changes

Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Malware Removal, Manual Malware Removal, Software, System Process Scanners, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Free Runscanner – HijackThis On Steroids!

imageIf you’re a malware hunter, and you’re in the market for a free system utility which will scan your system for running programs, autostart locations, drivers, services and hijack points, then Runscanner should make your shortlist.

The developers of Runscanner describe this freeware utility as having been designed to “detect changes and misconfigurations in your system caused by spyware, viruses, or human error.”

Sounds a bit like HijackThis, the free utility from Trend Micro, which has a well deserved reputation for being aggressive in tracking down unauthorized changes that have been made to your system/applications.

Runscanner though, takes this process miles beyond HijackThis, and does so by  using an intuitive approach that casual users*, and experienced users alike, should find easy to work with.

*The only difficulty I see, that casual users might have a problem with is – the enormous volume of information this application is capable of producing. This could make it difficult for a casual user to interpret results.

Runscanner is a simple executable, and no installation is required. Just click on the file, and then choose your mode – beginner or expert.

image

The following screen capture shows the results of a full scan I ran on a Win 7 (32 bit), machine. The only entry I was unfamiliar with was Staropen.sys. Runscanner was right on the job though, with the right click context menu providing access to “lookup” services, as the screen shot below illustrates.

image

I took a look at Staropen.sys using a Google link to the Prevx file investigation site, and found the following: The filename Staropen.sys is used by objects that are classified as safe. It has not yet been seen to be associated with malicious software.

I then uploaded the file to VirusTotal (another context menu option),and VirusTotal reported the following – as shown in the screen shot below.

image

I suspected that this system driver was a component of CDBurner XP, and opening the location (another context menu option), then reading the driver with NotePad, indicated this was correct.

The next part of the test involved generating an online malware analysis report, which generates a massive report on all items which are considered safe, unsafe, whitelisted and additionally, verification of each file’s digital signature.

The screen capture below shows only a tiny (and I do mean tiny), portion of this report. The report is the most comprehensive of any I’ve ever seen, produced by this type of utility.

image

Fast facts:

100+ start/hijack locations

Online malware analysis

Import and export of .run files

Powerful process killer

Save to text log file

Powerful file filtering

Host file editor

History backup / restore

Explorer jump

Analysis of file certificates

Beginner, Expert mode

Bit9 FileAdvisor MD5 lookup

Systemlookup.com lookup

Upload file to VirusTotal

Analyze loaded modules

Google lookup

Runscanner database lookup

Regedit jump

If you are a casual user, one caveat from the developer you should be aware of: Runscanner requires advanced knowledge about Windows. If you delete an item, without knowing what it is, it can lead to major Windows problems. If you are not sure what to delete, post your Run file to a helper forum.

A list of helper forums is available directly from within the application, or here.

System requirements: Windows 2003, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7 (according to the developers, the application is x 64 compatible).

Download at: Download.com

Public process list is an additional service provided by the developers. In this list you will be able to browse all processes and files found by Runscanner. Extra information for top processes is added to the database and optional security info is provided by research.

Runscanner has additional capabilities not reviewed here, so I recommend that you take a close look at this freebie. I think you’ll find that it’s worth the effort.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Diagnostic Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Malware Removal, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP