Tag Archives: Review

Review: Counter-Strike Global Offensive

imageCounter-Strike Global Offensive, or GO for short, is the next title in the series of counter-strike games. I have played all of the recent games, so I figured I would give this one a try as well.

The first thing I noticed when starting up Global Offensive was that the graphics have improved. The maps have become a bit more detailed and the character models are much improved. The previous versions of counter-strike required a lot of skill and strategy and CS:GO is the same way. Due to this, CS:GO has evolved as the next big game being played in leagues and in LAN tournaments.

For those who have no idea what counter-strike involves, it is a pretty simple concept. CS:GO pits terrorists versus counter-terrorists in 2 different scenarios.

The first scenario is a game mode in which the terrorists are trying to plant a bomb at particular locations around the map. It is the counter-terrorists job to try to stop this from happening. If the bomb gets planted, the counter-terrorists have a limited amount of time to try to defuse the bomb before it blows up.

The second scenario is a hostage rescue mission. In this mode, the terrorists start by a group of hostages. The counter-terrorists then try to reach and rescue the hostages.

Maps

One thing that has stayed pretty consistent through the different versions of the game is the maps. CS:GO holds true to the counter-strike series by having many of the same maps, just with a few updates. A few of the maps have minor changes that have helped to balance sides a bit.

One great thing about CS:GO is the communities ability to create maps. Unlike other games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, counter-strike comes with a map editor which allows members of the community to create their own maps. These custom maps are a huge hit with the casual CS:GO gamers. A constant creation of new maps can really keep the game interesting.

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Weapons

In general, the weapons are pretty similar to the previous versions of counter-strike. However, there were a few small changes. A few pistols have been changed. Also, a few SMGs and shotguns have been changed as well. Most players use the rifles and these have pretty much stayed unchanged.

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Competitive Match Making and Ranking System

One huge change in the new CS:GO is the competitive match making system. In previous versions of counter-strike, you would simply have to find a server on your own through browsing. Usually when doing this, you would have to find and play in a community run public server – these rarely used competition rules. If you really only played casually, this wasn’t a huge deal. However, if you liked the idea of a playing a match, then it was pretty tough to find a game.

With CS:GO, you are able to play in competitive mode with the click of a button. If you want to play with friends – easy, just invite them to a lobby before you search for a game.

This new system gives you a rank after a few games. This rank is then used to help match you up with players that are around your skill level. If you play with friends, the system will try to average your ranks when looking for a game. I personally have seen many of my steam friends get into the competitive mode. These were people who never left a casual game in the past. I see this as a big accomplishment by CS:GO to be able to bring new players into this mode of the game.

Overall, I think CS:GO is a great step for the counter-strike series and I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed past versions of counter-strike.

Guest author Bio:

Guest author post  by Dominic Acito of domstechblog.com. Dominic brings a background as a high level super user and gamer, to the Blogging world.

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Filed under Games, Guest Writers, Online Gaming, Software

Zemana AntiLogger – Free One Year License Today At Glarysoft Giveaway

https://billmullins.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/image27.pngBack in the day, when I had an interest in sponsoring giveaways, I sponsored a giveaway on behalf of  Zemana AntiLogger. Without a doubt, this was the most professional giveaway I have ever had the pleasure in sponsoring. Zemana set up a special page on their site, specifically designed for the sponsored giveaway which led to 2000+ downloads through that page.

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.

Today only, a one year license is available at no cost through Glarysoft  (the Glary Utilities folks). Rather than reinvent the wheel, it seems appropriate to rerun the following review which was initially posted January 9, 2010.

Take a read, see what you think – and, if you’re convinced that Zemana AntiLogger would be a worthwhile addition to your overall security structure then, take a run over to Glarysoft and download this super security application.

Note: During my initial testing of this application, I ran a series of Anti-Keylogger tests, including tests for web cam penetration. All test methods were defeated by Zemana AntiLogger.

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Zemana AntiLogger – An Ounce of Prevention

image Benjamin Franklin could have been talking about the Internet, and malware, when he reportedly said – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Curing a malware infection caused by today’s sophisticated malware is much more difficult than it has ever been, and I’m convinced, that removing the malware we’re going to have to contend with in 2010, will be incrementally harder still.

Even today, malware tends to write itself into multiple parts of the operating system, and in many cases it can hide its files, registry entries, running process and services, making the infection virtually impossible to find, and remove, without causing operating system damage.

In the coming year, an average computer user who has to deal with even more complex malware infections, will be left with little choice other than having the infected machine worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage.

We’ve previously discussed Keylogger malware here, and how to employ an ounce of prevention by using highly regarded SnoopFree Privacy Shield, a free application, which unfortunately, is compatible with Windows XP only.

Because Keyloggers, a particularly sinister type of malware, that monitors every keystroke a user types on a computer’s keyboard, are often executed as part of a rootkit, or a remote administration (RAT) Trojan horse, they can be extremely difficult to detect, and remove.

While it’s true, that many good quality malware and spyware detection tools should capture Keyloggers, and a properly configured Firewall should prevent all authorized connections, the reality is – this is NOT always the case. Keyloggers in fact, can disable Firewalls and anti-malware tools.

Since my personal home machines now run on Windows 7, I can no longer protect against Keyloggers using SnoopFree Privacy Shield, so I had to find an alternative. Unfortunately, I could not find a freeware substitute application. However, I did find a competitively priced application, Zemana AntiLogger, following a reader’s recommendation, which I’ve been testing for a week or so.

I was immediately impressed by this application, particularly the system defense function. The application intercepted proposed changes to system files NOT picked up by other security applications on my system.

Since I use a Webcam extensively for communicating, I was more than happy to see the active Webcam protection offered by Zemana AntiLogger, which was immediately apparent.

Zamana Antilogger 2

Test Screens:

This is an example of a Zemana warning, triggered by my launching an anonymous proxy application which by design, injects code into my primary Browser. By checking an appropriate check box I established a rule, permitting this action in future.

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This is an example of a Zemana warning, triggered by my updating both Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes definition databases which, in each case, will make changes to system files. Simply checking a check box establishes a rule, which will permit this action in future.

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This is an example of a Zemana warning, triggered by a screen capture utility I was in the process of using. If this had been an illegal activity. I would of course, have received the same warning. Again, simply checking a check box establishes a rule, which will permit this action, by this utility, in future.

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Fast facts:

Secure your Internet banking and financial transactions

Protect information in emails and Instant Messages

Protect keystrokes from spyware

Protect all screen images

Webcam Logger protection

System Defense

No need to download latest virus signatures

No need to know or detect the malware’s signature

No need to wait for updates from a virus lab

No need to scan files

Proactively looks for suspicious activity

Catches not just the usual suspects, but also sophisticated “zero day” malware

Prevents theft of data via secure connections (HTTPS / SSL)

Does not slow down your PC

Easy to download, install and use

Future-proof

System requirements: Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher (32bit and 64bit). Vista (32bit and 64bit). Windows 7 (32bit and 64bit). Windows 8 (32bit and 64bit).

If keylogger protection, and maintaining your privacy is a concern, you might consider adding this application to your security toolbox.

Download at: Glarysoft

Please note the following terms and conditions:

No free technical support. No free upgrades to future versions. Strictly non-commercial usage.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Giveaways

System Explorer and System Security Guard – A Review

https://i1.wp.com/careeroptionscoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/iStock_000013997777XSmall-focus-magnifying-glass.jpgDepending on which version of Windows Task Manager you use, you may find that it provides you with usable information – or not. Windows Task Manager is most commonly used to display information on all processes running on your computer, as well as advising you of the CPU and memory usage stats for a given process. Additional selective information on running applications, performance, local area connection and information on users, is also available.

But, back to running processes for a moment. What if you need additional information on a running process – or, processes? How, for example, would you determine which processes are safe if you rely on Windows Task Manager?

Running Windows Task Manager in Windows 8 (a major improvement over previous versions), as I’ve done for the following example, is not particularly useful since the only option is a raw online search. Which, in a real sense, is a hit and miss affair. Give it a try with your version of Windows Task Manager – you might be surprised to see just how cumbersome it is.

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Instead, taking advantage of one of the built-in features in the freeware application, System Explorer, is a much more appropriate solution. In the following example, the selected process can easily be checked at VirusTotal, and at VirusScan, directly from within System Explorer.

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It’s unlikely however, that you’ll have to take this extra step – since System Explorer has been designed to automatically rate, and provide details on processes that are listed in the developer’s extensive database.

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Further information can be obtained by clicking on the “See More Details” link which will open the database reference at the developer’s site, as shown below.

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System Explorer is not a one-trick pony since it has the capacity to provide detailed information on Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Add-ons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. For this review I’ve focused on the security aspect and next up is System Explorer’s “Security Scan” which is easily launched from the GUI.

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As you can see in the following screen capture – running processes are checked online against the developer’s extensive database.

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The following screen capture shows a small portion of the 808 processes compared against the developer’s database.

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Additional information on any specific process can easily be obtained by clicking on the “Details” link, as illustrated below.

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One aspect of this application which I found intriguing is the “History” function. Running this function allows the user to view and develop information on currently running processes as well as those process running earlier but which are no longer running.

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System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7.

Download at: System Explorer Net

Note: also available in a portable version that is just right for geeks on the go.

System Security Guard

System Security Guard, in a broad sense, is very much like the “Security Scan” built into System Explorer. System Security Guard however, as a stand alone small security utility, is designed to run at system startup and automatically scan running processes. As well, all new processes, as they are launched, are scanned.

The results of the initial run with System Security Guard shown below.

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For this review I set the application to run at startup, and the following graphic represents the results following a week or so of automatic running. You’ll note that the application has identified 4 “Threat Files” – which, in reality, is the same file which has been flagged 4 times (each time the application was launched).

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The application (CurrPorts), was flagged for good reason since it behaves in a way similar to that of a remote access Trojan. That is – it connects to the Internet in a peculiar way.

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For illustrative purposes only, I ran the file against the developer’s database. However, since I use this application frequently throughout the day, I’m aware that this is a safe program.

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System requirements: Windows XP, Vista and Win 7.

Download at: the developer’s site.

A big “Thank You” to regular reader Charlie L. for referring me to these applications.

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Malware Protection, System Utilities, Windows Task Manager Replacement

NEW – Nitro PDF Reader Version 2 Launched Today

imageFollowing a year long beta testing period, Nitro PDF Reader Version 2, has hit the bricks with it’s official launching today. As an indication of just how popular this application is – during the beta test period, it was downloaded an astonishing 8 million times.

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

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

Sample screens – Click on any screen shot to expand to original size.

Standard screen

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Fill in form

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Collaboration

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Fast facts:

Nitro PDF Reader 2.0 includes the following features and enhancements:

Web Browser Integration preview PDF files from within Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Internet Explorer

Nitro PDF Creator 2 all-new PDF creation engine enables users to create PDF files up to 4 times faster, with 50% reduction in file size

Optimized Rendering Engine draw and display PDF files on-screen faster with crisp rendering of text and graphics

QuickSign import a scanned image of your handwritten signature to sign and return documents electronically in just seconds

Optional Content Group (OCG) Layers show and hide content layers within PDF files with support for printing layer views and scripting OCG interaction in form controls

XFA Form Support fill-in and save static XML Form Architecture (XFA) forms

Hundreds more significant enhancements updated Ribbon UI, workflow refinements, improved performance, and more

If you really want to be impressed with just how much capability is built into this application, then visit the developer’s feature page.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 bit  and 64 bit, Vista and Win 7).

Available languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Download at: Nitro PDF Reader

If you’re tired of working with that malware magnet, Adobe Reader – I think you’ll find that PDF Reader 2.0 is the substitute you’ve been searching for. On top of that – how do you beat FREE!

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Browser Plug-ins, downloads, Free PDF Software, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

PC Tools Internet Security 2011, Ten License Giveaway! – Reminder

imageAs part of Tech Thoughts “Stay Safe on the Internet focus”, PC Tools has generously provided us with 10 free licenses for their award winning flagship product, PC Tools Internet Security 2011, (retail value $59.95 ).

To enter the contest to win a free license, simply read the review here, and add a comment at the end of the article. On December 17, 2010, (just in time for Christmas), all comments will be added to the online List Randomizer, and the first 10 names that come up, will win a free license (installable on up to 3 PCs), for this award winning application.

As with previous giveaways, you don’t need to write a paragraph – “enter me”, or something similar, is enough. There’s no need for me to acknowledge your entry, but rest assured, if you comment – you’re in.

Good luck!

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.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Antimalware Suites, Contests, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Giveaways, Integrated Solutions, Malware Protection, PC Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

PC Tools Internet Security 2011 – Ten License Giveaway!

imageAs part of Tech Thoughts “Stay Safe on the Internet focus”, PC Tools has generously provided us with 10 free licenses for their award winning flagship product, PC Tools Internet Security 2011, (retail value $59.95 ).

To enter the contest to win a free license, simply add a comment at the end of this article. On December 17, 2010, (just in time for Christmas), all comments will be added to the online List Randomizer, and the first 10 names that come up, will win a free license (installable on up to 3 PCs), for this award winning application.

As with previous giveaways, you don’t need to write a paragraph – “enter me”, or something similar, is enough. There’s no need for me to acknowledge your entry, but rest assured, if you comment – you’re in.

Good luck!

Read the following review, and I’m sure you’ll agree; this is definitely a contest worth entering!

PC Tools Internet Security 2011 review

Since I had test driven the 2010 version of PC Tools Internet Security, and had given it top marks, I readily accepted an invitation from PC Tools to test drive the 2011 version. And, I’m happy to say, (after testing this application for 30+ days), that this new version is even more impressive than the previous suite.

PC Tools Internet Security 2011 performed superbly in the “real Internet world”. The world that’s full of cyber criminals, scam and fraud artists, and worse. The world that reeks of tainted search engine results, malware infected legitimate websites, drive-by downloads and bogus security software.

By combining the highly regarded technologies of Spyware Doctor, a very efficient Firewall, an Antivirus engine, and ThreatFire’s heuristic detection engine (Behavior Guard), plus a Browser Defender, and more – PC Tools has built a suite of applications that provides powerful Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus, Firewall, and Spam protection. Taken together, the components provide excellent protection from hackers, cybercriminals, unauthorized software, and network attacks.

PC Tools has a knack for building powerful applications, but still manages to combine each component in a highly functional and easy to understand user interface – not as easy to accomplish as you might imagine.

It’s hard to overstate the fact that typical computer users require a simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface in order to get the most out of a security suite, and PC Tools Internet Security excels in this department.

The application is straightforward to setup, customize, and run – as the following screen captures illustrate. (Click on any graphic to enlarge).

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Fast facts:

Built on award-winning Spyware Doctor antispyware technology.

ThreatFire Behavioral Intelligence features technology to block new threats faster than traditional signature methods.

Advanced rootkit detection technology identifies and removes hidden threats from your PC.

Memory Scanner helps eradicate threats lurking on your PC.

Download Guard stops new threats by checking your downloads against a cloud-based network.

Multi-layered browsing protection against web-based attacks including phishing attempts, scare tactics and silent automatic malicious downloads.

IntelliGuard™ technology stops potential threats before they infect your PC.

Automated Firewall defends against cybercriminals seeking to gain access to your PC. It analyses network traffic and automatically makes intelligent decisions for you to reduce annoying alerts.

Advanced spam filtering utilizes intuitive behavioral technology to detect spam and effectively block phishing, unsolicited and malware emails.

Smart Updates provide automatic updates to combat the newest malware by silently installing product updates and upgrades that keep you protected without interrupting your online activity.

24/7 Global Malware Research Center constantly tackles the latest threats and implements new technology to quickly combat cybercrime, keeping your online network safe.

Network Awareness: Set “trust levels” for each network you connect to and let the firewall automatically adjust rules to match.

Designed to reduce impact on your PC system and your network – perfect for memory-intensive tasks such as playing games, watching movies and streaming content online.

Improved AntiSpam features. Improved accuracy and performance give you better and faster filtering of unwanted email.

PC Tools Internet Security 2011 , which is available in 28 languages, offers all of the protection that a top notch anti-malware suite should, in an easy installation package leading to a “dead simple” interface, and then does what it sets out to do – protect the user efficiently, against the epidemic of malware and additional dangers circulating on the Internet waiting to trap the under protected, and the unaware.

System requirements: Microsoft Windows 7 (32bit, 64bit), Windows Vista SP1+ (32bit, 64bit), Windows XP SP2+ (32bit)

You may buy PC Tools Internet Security 2011, ($59.95 direct, for three licenses), or you may download a free, limited, trial version , at PC Tools. Please note that the trial version offers time unlimited real-time protection (free threat blocking), but does not remove threats detected during on-demand scans.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Antimalware Suites, Contests, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Giveaways, PC Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, Software Trial Versions, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

No Bull! BullGuard Internet Security 9.0 Shines

image There are so many antimalware products in the market place, that I find it virtually impossible to keep track of them all. So when I was asked recently, to take a look at BullGuard Internet Security, my first though was – WHO?

After taking a closer look, I’m glad I did. With 10 million users BullGuard Internet Security is no newcomer to the antimalware market. And, it shows. BullGuard offers a well though out, and highly functional suite of antimalware tools – including a built-in Firewall.

BullGuard has taken a page out of my own book when they say “We don’t confuse our customers with functionality and information they don’t need, or questions they can’t answer …… you don’t really care how it works, you just want to know that it does work, and then leave the technical stuff to us”. Hmm, an antimalware company that finally gets it!

Installation:

Surprisingly, given the large number of built-in features, the installation process was relatively fast and efficient.

Setup:

Bullguard Internet Security’s wizard driven setup is easy to follow, making setup a breeze.

User Interface:

Each of the suite’s components is arranged in an inline button configuration, as the following screen captures illustrate. Pushing a button gives access to a familiar tab based interface – easy, straight forward, and efficient.

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Fast facts:

Antivirus: Give computer viruses like Trojans and worms no chance.

Antispyware: Protect yourself from identity theft and online fraud. Protect your computer from unwanted intruders like hackers.

Antiphishing: Get web pages and e-mails authenticated, so you can surf, shop, and bank safely online.

Spamfilter: Keep your inbox clean from junk mail and phishing attempts.

Firewall – Protect your PC from unwanted intruders like hackers.

Backup: Includes 5 GB online backup for your valued files, photos and music.

Support: Free 24/7 support when you need it.

User-friendliness: User interface and installation so easy, anyone can use it.

Game Mode: Fast but safe game fun with minimal resource consumption.

Instant Message Protection: Interact and exchange files over IM programs like MSN, Yahoo and Skype.

Available Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP (SP2)

Download a 60 day trial at: BullGuard

Download size: 106 MB

Purchase price: $59.95 USD (3-PC license).

If ease of use is a primary consideration, take advantage of the generous 60 day trial period, and give yourself some time to determine if BullGuard Internet Security is right for you.

Update: Mike, has just advised that a 6 month trial for Version 8.5 – a single user; is available here.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Backup Tools, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Software, Software Trial Versions, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP