Tag Archives: web

Collusion – Internet Trackers Are All In It Together

imageLook – every business organization has the right to generate income and make a profit – and, in the real world, most organizations generate that income and make that profit aboveboard, and in clear view. But, that’s not necessarily the process on the Internet. In far too many cases, companies generate revenue by staying far below a user’s horizon – in an underhanded and sneaky fashion.

The tool of choice – a tool, which by its very nature is sneaky and underhanded, is the appropriately named Tracking Cookie. A tool, which not only tracks a user’s footprints across the Web but, the data generated is then used to analyze the user’s online behavior.

It’s this behavior analysis (analyzing links I click on, the content I view, searches I make ….) where I draw the line. I find it disturbing that I have little or no say, in the manner in which I’m tracked as I surf the Internet. And, equally as important – how that information is used.

It’s fair to say, that many users do not object to being tracked. I wonder though, that if these same unconcerned users were aware of just how insidious and overwhelming tracking has become – if, they’d continue to be unconcerned.

Should an unconcerned user run the recently released Collusion Firefox add-0n – an add-on which graphs in real-time the “following behavior” of tracking cookies, they might feel less confident that their “I don’t care” perspective is the correct one.

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, in describing Collusion at the recent Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference pointed out, that Collusion “allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.”

Kovacs went on to say that “Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data.”

I’ve been tinkering with Collusion for the past several days, and I must admit to a new level of unease with this “behind the scenes” look at the nature of tracking now been practiced.

Here’s a screen shot of a spider-web of interaction between companies and trackers, from a short hop around the Internet which I made this morning.

image

I think you’ll agree, that the connection between and amongst trackers and tracking companies, might be more insidious than you had previously considered.

The graphic below (captured from the Collusion site),  briefly explains the  connections illustrated.

image

The Collusion add-on is available for download at Mozilla.

Back to the previous graphic for a moment – you’ll notice that you can export the graph. Should you do so, you’ll end up with data which will look something like the following. What you see is a very small portion of the exported data from today’s test.

javascript”],”news.com”:[2855341,”image/png”]},”visited”:false},”adtechus.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1070986,”application/x-javascript”],”cnet.com”:[2853754,”application/x-javascript”],”thestar.com”:[5351704,”application/x-javascript”]},”visited”:false},”adnxs.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1071838,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”],”baselinemag.com”:[2084558,null],”cnet.com”:[2853938,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”,”image/gif”],”thestar.com”:[5352178,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”,”application/x-shockwave-flash”]},”visited”:false},”techrepublic.com”:{“referrers”:{“twitter.com”:[1077104,”text/html;charset=utf-8″]},”visited”:true},”stumbleupon.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1073845,”text/html;charset=utf-8″],”pcmag.com”:[1466423,”text/html;charset=utf-8″],”webopedia.com

And yes, there are a truckload of free tools which, to some extent, can impact and reduce the effectiveness of tracking – but, the downside in running with these tools is often a less than enjoyable Internet experience.

18 Comments

Filed under downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Opinion, Privacy

Catch Your Online Grammar, Spelling, and Style Mistakes, With After The Deadline

imageChurning out two blog posts every day is hard on the eyes – not to mention the back, the wrists – well you get the point. As a consequence – I sometimes find myself looking (with crossed eyes) at words running into words, gross misspellings (easy to correct), or improper word usage (sometimes, not so easy to correct). Your versus you’re, and its versus it’s, for example, can be particularly difficult to pick up when used incorrectly.

Here’s a good example of this – recently pointed out by a reader.

Comment:

“You’re friends won’t – other than to deny that they watch it – or, perhaps to decry it’s prevalence” You’re means You are – so “you are friends won’t” doesn’t make sense, use “Your friends” instead.

“It’s” always means “It is” – so “decry it is presence” doesn’t make sense; use “decry its presence” instead.

Not a big deal, you might be thinking. Maybe not – but as often as not, common errors, particularly punctuation errors, can change the meaning of what you meant to say. I’m sure you’ve seen this example – Let’s eat, Mother. versus – Let’s eat Mother.

I write all my blog articles in open source LibreOffice (with grammar checker turned on), and then copy the articles to Windows Live Writer prior to posting into WordPress.

image

Despite an active grammar checker, proofreading, as time consuming as it can often be, is unavoidable. Still, I’ve learned that proofreading is no guarantee that the odd mistake will not slip through.

There is a partial solution (no technology is perfect), that can help you (and me), avoid the most common grammar mistakes, spelling errors (including contextual spelling errors), and style mistakes, in online interactions – including blog postings, emails (mistakes here can be deadly), Facebook, Twitter, etc.

After the Deadline – developed by the people behind WordPress – is an open source (free), language checker for the Web which is available as:

An add-on for Firefox.

An extension for Google Chrome.

A plugin for Windows Live Writer.

A plugin for self-hosted WordPress blogs.

An extension for OpenOffice.org Writer (still in Beta).

Following installation of After the Deadline on my system as a Firefox add-on, I found it to be reasonably accurate – but not perfect (more on this later). Nevertheless, I’ll keep it on my system – at least in the short term (for the second time).

Installation, in my case, was the usual automatic Firefox add-on install, followed by an easy Options set up as the following screen capture indicates.

image

The following screen shots (click to expand) show spelling errors (an unrecognized word), and style recommendations – in a previous post.

image

image

The type of recommendation shown in the screen shot directly above (change “terminate” to “end”, or “stop”), is the primary reason I deleted this add-on previously.

Consistently, higher level words were marked down as “complex expressions”. It may be popular to assume that “dumbing down” is in vogue, but not from where I’m sitting.

Fast facts:

Checks Spelling – Spell checker looks at context and uses artificial intelligence to make recommendations.

Detects Misused Words – Most spell checkers assume any word in their dictionary is correct regardless of context. This means all misused word errors go unnoticed.

Checks Style – Style checker has thousands of rules and uses context to choose the best suggestions.

Checks Grammar – The grammar checker in After the Deadline protects you from common writing errors. After the Deadline uses statistics to automatically find exceptions to its grammar rules, making it one of the smartest grammar checkers around.

Explains Errors – The misused word detector, grammar checker, and style checker explain the mistakes and suggestions to you. Click an error and choose the “Explain …” option.

Download at: After the Deadline

After the Deadline checks English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish text.

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 Browser add-ons, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Email, FaceBook, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Software, Twitter, Windows Tips and Tools, WordPress, Writing

Surf Smarter – Take A Sneak Peek At Links With CoolPreviews Firefox Add-on

imageI carry a total of eighteen Firefox add-ons; some – including NoScript, Adblock Plus, WOT, and BitDefender QuickScan – beef up security. Others, such as DownloadHelper, WebMail Notifier, and Google Shortcuts, help me keep the productivity curve trending upward.

The security add-ons are an absolute necessity – interacting with the Internet without them would be akin to traipsing through a minefield – just waiting for the BOOM! The productivity add-ons are less critical – I could (if I had to), get along without them – except for one –  CoolPreviews.

I love CoolPreviews – a Picture-in-a-Picture free Browser add-on, that lets me preview links and rich media content, without clicking the link, or leaving my current page.

With CoolPreviews, I just place my mouse cursor over a link, or over the CoolPreviews icon, and a customizable preview window of the website that the link points to instantly appears with the content; page view, image view, or even video.

I can fully interact with the preview window; play the video, click on links, fill out forms, and more. In fact, I can interact with the preview just as if I had the full page open. If I need to, opening the full page is easy; a simple click on the CoolPreviews full page icon, and I’m there.

I find that by using CoolPreviews, I save time and reduce the drudgery involved in trying to determine which sites are worth investigating. CoolPreviews lets me take a quick look at each link to see if it’s worthwhile investigating further.

I use this tool every day to confirm that the links in my “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News” column, are live. The screen capture below illustrates how this works. Click on the graphic to expand to original (1157 x 490).

image

It takes me less than two minutes to check 20/25 links this way, as opposed to – open a link, close a link; open a link, close a link; open a link, close a link; ……. Well, you see the point.

A final example:

Every day, I visit each of the sites in my Blogroll (gotta see what my friends are up to!), and rather than click through to the site, I use CoolPreviews. If the content is a “need to read”, like my good buddy Paul Lubic’s most recent article is – clicking on the “open to Tab” button in CoolPreviews, does just that.

image

It’s no wonder Mozilla lists this neat little tool as a recommended Firefox add-on, and also includes it in its most popular list of browser add-ons. CoolPreviews definitely increases productivity; what a time saver!

Fast facts:

Preview links without clicking

Preview images and videos

CoolPreviews 3-D Wall or slideshow mode for Google Image Search

Works on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, YouTube, Flickr ……….

Works on just about any website, blog, forum

Stack temporarily bookmarks (this is a very cool feature)

Instantly email links

Zoom in/out functionality

Sub search any phrase by right-clicking

Customize preview activation method and themes

Enable/disable previewing on customizable choice of sites

Unfortunately, CoolPreviews is available only for Firefox. Previous support for IE, Safari, etc., has been discontinued.

Requirements: Firefox 3.6 – 4.0. Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Download at: CoolPreviews or Mozilla.

Update: February 4, 2011. My good buddy Rick Robinette, whom I often refer to as the “Great Freeware Hunter”, has just posted on a similar add-on designed for Chrome. If you’re a Chrome user, then be sure sure to checkout Rick’s article over at What’s On My PC.

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.

16 Comments

Filed under Software, Firefox, Windows Tips and Tools, Freeware, Firefox Add-ons, Productivity Software, Browser add-ons, downloads, Mac, Linux

After The Deadline Catches Grammar, Spelling, and Style Mistakes

imageHave you ever written a Blog comment, for example, and after you’ve clicked “Submit Comment”, had the distinct impression that what you just wrote could have been improved?

Maybe you threw in a few grammar errors, and since punctuation is not your thing, there were a couple of misplaced punctuation marks, as well. I know, I’ve made more than the odd mistake.

Not a big deal, right? Maybe not – but as often as not, common errors, particularly punctuation errors, can change the meaning of what you meant to say.

I’m sure you’ve seen this example – Let’s eat, Mother. versus – Let’s eat Mother.

There is at least a partial solution that can help you avoid the most common grammar mistakes, spelling errors (including contextual spelling errors), and style mistakes, in online interactions – including emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

After the Deadline, is an open source (free), language checker for the web which is available as:

an add-on for the Firefox web browser.

an extension for the Google Chrome web browser.

a bookmarklet for other browsers.

a plugin for self-hosted WordPress blogs.

an extension for OpenOffice.org Writer, a popular open-source word processor.

a plugin for bbPress forums.

Following installation of After the Deadline on my system as a Firefox add-on, I found it to be reasonably accurate – but not perfect. Nevertheless, I’ll keep it on my system – at least in the short term.

Installation in my case was the usual automatic Firefox add-on install, followed by an easy Options set up as the following screen captures indicate. You’ll notice in the second screen, that you have a wide range of proofreading options.

image

image

Fast facts:

Checks Spelling – Spell checker looks at context and uses artificial intelligence to make recommendations.

Detects Misused Words – Most spell checkers assume any word in their dictionary is correct regardless of context. This means all misused word errors go unnoticed.

Checks Style – Style checker has thousands of rules and uses context to choose the best suggestions.

Checks Grammar – The grammar checker in After the Deadline protects you from common writing errors. After the Deadline uses statistics to automatically find exceptions to its grammar rules, making it one of the smartest grammar checkers around.

Explains Errors – The misused word detector, grammar checker, and style checker explain the mistakes and suggestions to you. Click an error and choose the “Explain …” option.

Download at: After the Deadline

After the Deadline checks English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish text.

After the Deadline has been developed by Automattic, the people behind WordPress, PollDaddy, and Akismet – to name just a few.

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.

9 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

News From Symantec Hosted Services

image

We know, only too well, that cyber criminals take advantage of every opportunity that new and emerging technologies provide to expand their trade – data theft.

So, with the huge adoption rate in smart mobile devices, and our increased reliance on these devices (which are literally powerful computers), there is a more pronounced sense of urgency to protect the data stored on these sophisticated mobile devices from the threat of cybercrime.

Symantec Hosted Services, recognizing this need, recently announced enhancements to its MessageLabs Web Security Service roaming support options, that will allow organizations to further support the security needs of their mobile workforce.

According to Symantec – “The new enhancements will monitor and secure the online activity of a highly distributed workforce.  Drawing on findings from the recent MessageLabs Intelligence report highlighting the inappropriate web usage of mobile workers, SmartConnect and RemoteConnect for MessageLabs Hosted Web Security protect against malware, and enforces Web acceptable use policies for teleworkers, or employees, at remote offices.”

____________________________________________________

If you’ve noticed a significant drop in Spam in your inboxes lately, like I have, there’s good reason – according to Symantec Hosted Services.

On Sunday, October 3, Symantec Hosted Services noticed that global spam levels dropped to their lowest in a while. Symantec Hosted Services believes this drop was due to a decrease in output by the Rustock and Cutwail botnets.

For additional insight on how Symantec Hosted Services tracked last weekend’s spam drop via sophisticated botnet intelligence, what contribution to global spam each of the major botnets makes, and what factors influence botnet output, check out the MessageLabs  Intelligence blog report here.

About Message Labs Intelligence:

Symantec’s Message Labs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

About Symantec:

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available here.

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.

2 Comments

Filed under bots, cell phone, Connected Devices, Email, Enterprise Applications, Malware Reports, MessageLabs, Software, spam, Symantec, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Free PC Fixer – Fixes Common PC Problems

imageOften, new and casual computer users get left behind when it comes to PC utility software. Developers of this type of application are prone to designing tools that require more than just a passing knowledge of how computer operating systems really work.

New users are very often unfamiliar with both the technology itself, and the technical terms involved in using this type of application. For many users, a simple set of tools that does not require the user to be geek inclined, is more appropriate than a suite of tools that does everything but clean the kitchen sink.

While it’s generally true that more advanced users want/need much more control than a one click system utility provides, a one click system utility can often be the ideal solution for a new user.

PC Fixer 1

PC Fixer is a relatively simple, but nonetheless, powerful set of tools for new and casual computer users that includes the following comparatively basic modules:

Install – assists in the setup/installation of applications, internet, email, printers, wireless network and more.

Fix – diagnostic applet with comprehensive solutions to common problems.

Optimize – a configuration utility with surprising functionality.

Secure – as well as the ability to remove malware, this module allows the user to configure Windows security settings.

Data Recovery – provides the user with the tools required to recover data in specific applications including MS Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook and so on.

Tune up – this feature is essentially a Registry cleaner.

PC Fixer 2

A sample of repair issues addressed by PC Fixer:

CD or DVD driver is missing.

CD burner does not work.

Printing service is disabled.

Cannot open Task Manager.

Additional functionality included in this neat little application:

Windows XP & Vista – Diagnose and fix common desktop issues, repair corrupt files, and resolve configuration conflicts in Vista and Windows XP.

Microsoft Office – Provide automatic fixes for problems related to Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, Access, and Outlook for your email.

Security – Improve security and privacy by recognizing and fixing configuration flaws in system/device/software settings and removing virus and malware.

CD/DVD, Printer, or USB – Fix issues related to CD/DVD, Printers, USB, etc. where conflicting device software and configuration make them inaccessible.

Performance Tuning – Improve overall performance by fine tuning various system and network settings, improve startup time by turning off unnecessary programs in your startup and services.

This application is not a panacea for computer problems of course, but for less experienced Windows users, it should prove to a valuable addition to their computer toolbox.

Interestingly, CNET’s (Download.com), editors rated this application as a 4.5 Star, out of 5. This is a significant rating, since the number of applications that have earned a 4 Star rating on CNET, is quite limited.

System requirements: Windows XP/Vista, Windows 7

A note on Windows 7: While the developers site does not make mention of Win 7  compatibility, PC Fixer ran perfectly on my Win 7 test system.

Download at: Download.com

Video Tutorial of how to use PC Fixer

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Computer Maintenance, computer repair, Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Problems, New Computer User Software Tools, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Serif DrawPlus SE – Outstanding Free Vector Graphics Application

image SerifSoftware puts an interesting and unusual twist to the common “try this application for free for 30 days”, something with which we are all pretty familiar.

Serif releases free, older versions, of their current software for download – to entice at least some users to upgrade to current versions of their popular software. In my view, this “creative marketing” is something more software developers should consider.

I have used, and tested, Serif’s free editions for 10+ years now, and I have found that even their older software is more than up to the tasks I set.

Sure, the applications may be older than the current versions, but in terms of functionality and features, generally you are not missing much. In these older free versions there are not as many tools as one might find with more recent versions of Serif’s products, but those that are there, tend to be the ones that are most used by typical users.

Despite the slightly “older” appearance of DrawPlus SE , this is not an old program that’s been revived just for give-away. DrawPlus SE is still an amazing free drawing and graphic application, with which you can turn out vector graphics, high-impact graphics, and even web animations with tools usually only available in high end applications.

Serif SE

On top of that, DrawPlus SE is also a graphics design program that allows you to create logos, high quality print graphics, artwork, drawings, animations, labels and more.

Serif SE 2

The straightforward and intuitive interface is simple, but surprisingly powerful, so even first time users will get professional quality results.

If you like special effects, DrawPlus SE is loaded with them, so it’s easy to create high impact text for headlines, logos, banners, Web pages, or wherever your imagination takes you. You can add bitmap, conical, ellipse, plasma, radial and linear fills to your creations to produce spectacular results.

DrawPlus SE supports industry standard bitmap and vector formats including: JPEG, BMP, EMF, WMF and PNG for the Web.

Fast facts:

Drawing & Sketching – Say goodbye to complicated tools and ‘shaky hand’ drawings. DrawPlus makes drawing simple with easy to use Quick Shapes, Natural Curve Editing and Curve Smoothing.

Export Optimizer – Easily export your drawings and images optimized for email, websites, printing, or to your specific requirements in any supported image format.

Studio Resources – Choose from hundreds of pre-set lines, fills, transparencies, fonts and Wizard elements from the Studio tabs to save yourself time and still achieve amazing results.

Color Selection – Apply color fills to backgrounds, shapes and your own drawings from the simple on-screen studio palette.

Animation Mode – Bring your designs to life with the fun animation tools, which include easy-to-use, yet advanced features like onion skinning, backgrounds, overlays and frame management.

Blends – Use the blend tool to automatically ‘morph’ two images into one another. You choose the number of steps and let DrawPlus do the rest – easy!

If you’re looking for a free drawing and graphic application to test your creative skills, then DrawPlus SE will fill the bill admirably.

System Requirements: Windows XP (32 bit), Vista

Download at: Download.com

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

6 Comments

Filed under Arts and Crafts, downloads, Drawing Software, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Photo Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Get Cooliris – You Don’t know What You’re Missing

If you don’t have Cooliris installed on your computer, you could be missing out on the best of what the web has to offer.

Web 2.0 has given us new and exciting ways to utilize the and interact with the Internet. I have to admit, when I stop to consider the benefits of Web 2.0, and the applications that got us here, one of the first applications that comes to mind is Cooliris.

Sure, we have Twitter and FaceBook, but in my view, these are just two of the social utilities that have been overhyped to the max, and which continue to be, along with many other social networking applications, natural gateways for cybercriminals.

Cooliris, on the other hand, is a wonderfully fluid and superbly crafted free add-on for Safari, FireFox, and Internet Explorer, which allows me to interact with the Internet in ways I never considered possible on a web browser.

Cooliris 5

Cooliris 9

What the developers have to say:

“It’s simply the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from the Web or your desktop. Effortlessly scroll an infinite “3D Wall” of your content without having to click page to page, whether you’re on Facebook, Google Images, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Kodak Gallery, or any supported site. Or channel surf the latest news, TV episodes, movies, and music videos – all from within Cooliris”.

Expand your own Internet horizons, download and install Cooliris, and while you’re at it, if you’re a FireFox user, download Cooliris Previews (almost 9,000,000 downloads to date). You’ll be glad you did.

Fast facts:

Search

It’s the fastest way to search Google Image Search, YouTube, Flickr, Hulu, online retailers, and other sites. Zip through search results on the 3D Wall with our search function. Switch engines effortlessly without having to re-enter the search term.

Cooliris 6

Works with hundreds of sites

Cooliris is built around the industry standard Media RSS format, and works on hundreds of sites across the Web.

Slideshows

Double clicking an image or pressing the toggle button brings you to full screen slideshow mode. There, you can play, pause, fast forward, and rewind at will.

Channels: News & Entertainment

Hulu, ESPN, BBC, SonyBMG, MSN, and more …Catch the latest news, sports, and entertainment. Even enjoy full-length movies and TV episodes.

Preferences

Customize the look and feel of Cooliris – modify the number of rows, background image, wall angle, slideshow speed and more!

Local File Support

Quickly find and view photos stored on your computer. Enjoy images from your Hard Drive, Desktop, iPhoto, and more.

Sharing

Share stuff with friends by dragging and dropping content from the 3D Wall. You can share as many items as you’d like, and even add a personal message.

3D Window Shopping

Window shop some of the world’s largest retailers by comparing products visually on the Cooliris 3D Wall. Highlight an item to learn the price or click the shopping cart icon to jump to the corresponding product page of the retailer.

Cooliris 4

Jump to Page

A picture tells a thousands words, but sometimes you just want to see the detailed story behind it all. Cooliris makes that easy. A click of a button lets you toggle between Cooliris and the corresponding web page of any item.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, OSX: Mac OS X: 10.5-10.6.x (operates in 32-bit browser mode), Linux: Ubuntu 8.04+, Fedora 10.0+, OpenSuse 11+

Download at: Cooliris

If you enjoyed this article, 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 Get Cooliris – You Don’t know What You’re Missing

Filed under Browser add-ons, Cell Phone Apps, Digital Media, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Photo Tools, Safari add-ons, social networking, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Fix Your Computer with Free PC Fixer a 4.5 Star Utility

Often, new and casual computer users get left behind when it comes to PC utility software. Developers of this type of application are prone to designing tools that require more than just a passing knowledge of how computer operating systems really work.

New users are very often unfamiliar with both the technology itself, and the technical terms involved in using this type of application. For many users, a simple set of tools that does not require the user to be geek inclined, is more appropriate than a suite of tools that does everything but clean the kitchen sink.

While it’s generally true that more advanced users want/need much more control than a one click system utility provides, this type of utility can be the ideal solution for a new user.

PC Fixer 1

PC Fixer is a relatively simple, but nonetheless, powerful set of tools for new and casual computer users that includes the following comparatively basic modules:

Install – assists in the setup/installation of applications, internet, email, printers, wireless network and more.

Fix – diagnostic applet with comprehensive solutions to common problems.

Optimize – a configuration utility with surprising functionality.

Secure – as well as the ability to remove malware, this module allows the user to configure Windows security settings.

Data Recovery – provides the user with the tools required to recover data in specific applications including MS Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook and so on.

Tune up – this feature is essentially a Registry cleaner.

PC Fixer 2

A sample of issues addressed by PC Fixer:

CD or DVD driver is missing.

CD burner does not work.

Printing service is disabled.

Cannot open Task Manager.

Performance tuning tips.

Security and Privacy protection.

This application is not a panacea for computer problems of course, but for less experienced Windows users, it should prove to a valuable addition to their computer toolbox.

There is additional functionality included in this neat little application, but I’ll leave that for you to discover. Good surprises are cool, right?

Interestingly, CNET’s (Download.com), editors rated this application as a 4.5 Star, out of 5. This is a significant rating, since the number of applications that have earned a 4 Star rating on CNET, is quite limited.

System requirements: Windows XP/Vista, Windows 7

A note on Windows 7: While the developers site does not make mention of Win 7  compatibility, PC Fixer worked perfectly on my Win 7 test system.

Download at: Download.com

Video Tutorial of how to use PC Fixer

For a more robust set of system utilities checkout “Glary Utilities – Perfect Collection of Free System Tools” on this site.

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

13 Comments

Filed under Computer Maintenance, computer repair, downloads, Freeware, New Computer User Software Tools, Older Adult Computer Users, Registry Cleaners, Slow Computer, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

7 Excellent Online Security Blogs Worth Subscribing To

Guest writer Mary Ward, takes you on a tour of 7 security Blogs that can help you stay safe on the Internet.

    image The issue of privacy, more specifically as it relates to online security, is a hot topic these days. As people use the Internet for more and more of their everyday functions, they want to understand what online security means and how it relates to them.

    While people fear for the safety of their own information, they can look to some very knowledgeable resources in the blogosphere for help.  You can learn most everything within the world of online security by visiting these top blogs.

    7 Online Security Blogs You Should Know:

    1. 1 Raindrop – Written by a software architect, there is a unique and extremely relevant point of view presented on the topic of online security. This blog is written by an individual who understands the topic firsthand and therefore can bring insight on current trends as he is considered to be an expert in the field. Not only does he keep up with informative blog posts but talks about his speaking engagements and the reaction they get from the general public.
    2. Freedom to Tinker –   The nice part about this blog is that it offers many different featured authors as part of the following and for whom the actual blog posts come from. Not only does this mean unique points of view, but it also allows for individuals to contribute and keep followers informed on various areas of online security. This is well worth following to keep up with current trends and to see what the latest news is with online security because that is at the core of every contributing author on here.
    3. Exhaustive Research – A very intriguing blog that not only dives into the concept of online security but also how it relates to human behavior and the world in general. If the blog posts weren’t to capture your attention, the comments by those who regularly follow this blog can often keep you on the edge of your seat.
    4. Another Set of Teeth – You can tell that this comes from an IT professional who has a distinct point of view and that’s what keeps people coming back. He represents his views thoughtfully but without apology as he tackles the issues of hacking and online security for the general public. It’s a refreshing point of view as it’s not only informative but very honest too.
    5. Security Buddha – Though online security is at the center of this blog, there are so many other security issues that this blogger delves into. You can learn about everything from hacking to keeping your information safe—even learn about airport security. He takes his security issues very seriously and therefore brings a much respected point of view.
    6. Avi Rubin’s Blog – Sure it’s just one blogger writing about his unique point of view, but it’s rather intriguing. He spells out up front his desire to dive into the specific areas of security evaluators and network security, amidst many other topics that are pertinent. This is one individual who not only knows about the world of online security, but also about how to write in an interesting and relevant manner.
    7. Meta Security – There are a variety of different topics and authors that make this an excellent blog to follow. Though online security is just one of the many topics, including money laundering and fraud, you can learn a little bit about a whole lot of topics within the security world.

    More and more we find that the issue of online security is one that needs addressing.  Follow along with these top security bloggers and get the information you need to surf and work the web confidently and securely.

    This is a guest post by Mary Ward who writes about various safety, security, and legal career topics, including how to obtain a court reporting degree. Checkout what Mary has to say on top court reporting degree programs.

    If you enjoyed this article, 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.

    2 Comments

    Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Recommended Web Sites, Safe Surfing, Windows Tips and Tools