Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Software: TrueCrypt (Free Disk Encryption Software)

Windows XP (Professional edition) and Vista (Enterprise and Ultimate edition) comes with a built-in file encryption technology called EFS (Encrypted File System). This technology automatically encrypts or decrypts a file when its saved or opened.

Windows Vista (Enterprise and Ultimate editions) also supports a new feature called BitLocker which can encrypt a whole disk. Although its worth noting that BitLocker can only encrypt the system volume, and cant encrypt auxiliary volumes or removable drives.
Note: These features require your hard drive to be formated with the NTFS file system.
If you're using a version of Windows that doesn't support EFS or BitLocker encryption technologies or if you want to encrypt auxiliary volumes or removable drives. TrueCrypt is a free open-source real-time automatic encryption Windows and Linux. TrueCrypt allows you to create encrypted volumes either from an entire physical drive or partition, or by turning a regular on-disk file into an encrypted virtual disk.

Main features:
  • Creates an encrypted virtual disk within a file and allows you to mounts it as a real disk.
  • Can encrypt an entire hard disk partition or a device (such as USB flash drive).
  • Support Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Blowfish (448-bit key), CAST5, Serpent, Triple DES, and Twofish.
  • Keyfiles supoort, which allows you to specify a file (such as a: text file, mp3, bmp, etc.) that is combined with your password to decrypt your information.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Software: AVS DVD Player (Free)

Are you looking for a free DVD player software for your computer. Well I have tried most of them, and the only one that has worked for me so far is AVS DVD Player. It has been able to play my commercial DVDs without any problem.

Most new computer that are equipped with a DVD player installed, generally come with a limited version of CyberLink PowerDVD or InterVideo WinDVD. You can also use Windows Media Player, but it requires you to install a 3rd party MPEG2 codec to view the disks.

AVS DVD Player supports the following formats: regular DVD (PAL, NTSC, VCD, SVCD), MPEG4 (including DivX, XviD, etc.), MPEG1, MPEG2, AVI, Real Media video, Quick Time files, WMV files (including WMV-HD), H.263, H.264, mobile video formats (3GP, 3GP2, MP4).

The software is not perfect, it has its flaws (and bugs), but overall it works. My biggest complaint it that it takes a long time to start a DVD.

Software: Keeping Adobe Flash Player Updated

Keeping your OS, applications, browsers, and browser plug-ins up-to-date is very important to prevent your computer from getting infected. Recently I had to make sure that Adobe Flash Player was updated, and I found it a little cumbersome.

So I wanted to post a few tips, tricks, and links on how to do this, follow the links below:
  • Check the version of your Flash Player (at the time of this article it is v9.0.124.0, but this number will change depending on when you read this article)
  • Check or change your Adobe Flash Player settings.
  • Manually download the latest version of the Flash Player

Monday, May 28, 2007

Video: Drobo The Storage Robot

Do you need a storage solution that can grow with your storage needs and offers fault-tolerance (help prevents data lost)? I was impressed with the functionality of the Drobo (Data Robotics). Here is a demo of the product in action.

Also for my readers in the U.S., happy Memorial Day...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Article: Shootout at the Antivirus Corral

PC Magazine reports: ", an independent testing group at the Otto-von-Guericke-University (Magdeburg, Germany), tested 29 anti-malware products with a very large set of files (606,901 to be specific). The goal was to test detection capabilities only, not cleaning. Products were set with their most aggressive detection options, such as using all heuristics and testing inside archives."

Want to know which is the best and worst virus scanner, the results are very interesting....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Firefox: Keyword Bookmarks

Want to get to your favorite web sites faster in Firefox? You can use bookmark keywords to quickly get to your favorite web sites by typing specific words or abbreviations in the address bar that you select. For example, you could create on for '' by typing "g" or "gg" in the address bar and pressing enter.

To setup keyword bookmarks:
  • Open Firefox, and navigate to a web page that you want to bookmark.
  • Create a bookmark by pressing CTRL+D, or select the Bookmarks menu and select 'Bookmark This Page...'
  • From the Bookmarks menu, right-click the bookmark you just added and select Properties.
  • In the bookmark properties dialog box, type a word or letter in the Keyword field. Then press the OK button when done.
Now all you have to do is type your keyword in the address field, and you will be taken to that page.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Preview: Microsoft Malware Protection Center

Microsoft has made available a preview version of its new 'Malware Protection Center' web portal to provide consumers with information about viruses, spyware and other malicious software. The site is schedule to go live in July.

The main features of the site are:
  • Top Desktop Threats
  • Most Active Email Threats
  • Top MSRT Detections
  • Top Adware/Spyware Removed
  • Windows Defender Definitions
  • Forefront Security Client
  • Malware Encyclopedia

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Software: Sandboxie

Have you wanted a way to surf the Internet safely? There is a program called Sandboxie that creates an virtual storage area in your computer's memory that applications can write too. This area is known as a 'sandbox' because once you close the program all the changes that were made go away, so no information is written to your local hard drive.

So in theory, if you can go to a web site and a rogue program makes it passed all your computer's defenses, it shouldn't be able to infect your computer. Also if your applications get compromised all you have to do is kill the sandbox, and all the changes are lost.
Note: Be aware when you download files with a program running within Sandboxie all the files will automatically be deleted when you close the application.
The program is free, but the creator ask you to register the program if you use it and to pay a license fee ($25 for lifetime registration).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Internet Explorer: Stupid Link Tricks...

In any browser, everyone knows that when you click on a link it opens a new page in the current tab. Also, a great deal of people know that if you right-click a link you can open the selected page in a new tab or window.

Although, did you know that you can :
  • Open a link in a new tab by pressing the Ctrl key + clicking the link.
  • Open a link in a new window press the Shift key + clicking the link.
Note: This trick also works in Firefox.

Other related article:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Windows Vista: ISO Recorder v3

Do you have Widnows Vista and .ISO files (file image of a CD or DVD) that want to burn to a disk and don't have any software that can do that for you? ISO Recorder could be the answer to your problems, and best of all its free.

Below is a list of the new features in this program:
  • Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit versions).
  • Supports DVD recording, including bootable images.
  • DVD image creation.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Article: Security Super Guide

PC Magazine wrote a good article about some of the latest security applications that are available to protect your PC. The article gives recommendations on anti-malware products (such as: virus, spyware, rootkits, etc.), parental control software, and security suites.

Read the article for all the information.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Security: Microsoft Patch Tuesday (May)

The second Tuesday of the month is just about to passed again, which means that Microsoft just published a new round of security fixes for Windows and it's applications. This date is meant to be a predictable date so that individuals or companies only have to patch their desktop computers and servers once a month. This month there are new seven patches that are marked as critical, 3 of them patch MS Office, another 3 are for the OS or server based application, and 1 is for Internet Explorer.

For the average user, if you have 'Automatic Updates' enabled your computer will download these updates for you in the background. Then when you shutdown your system these patches will be applied to your system. If you leave your computer on overnight they will automatically be installed and your system rebooted if necessary.

Warning: Before you leave your computer at night make sure you save all your work or you run the risk of losing it if your system has to be rebooted.

Enabling Automatic Updates
If you don't have 'Automatic Updates' enabled I would suggest that you turn it on as soon as possible. If you don't want to enable this feature, you can always update your computer by visiting the Windows Update site and downloading and installing the patches manually.

To enable Automatic Updates:
  • From the Start menu, select the Control Panel folder.
  • Double-click the System applet in the control panel folder.
  • Click the 'Automatic Updates' tab.
  • Check the 'Automatic (recommended)' option. (optional: if you don't like this feature, you can set it to: 'download but not install the update', 'just notify you', or 'disable this feature altogether' [not recommended])
  • Press the OK button when done.

Note: For the latest Microsoft Security Bulletins, check out this site.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Software: XML Notepad 2007 (Programming)

If you're a programmer or web developer that deals with XML files, then you might want to check out XML Notepad 2007. This program provides a simple user interface for browsing and editing XML documents.

  • Tree View synchronized with Node Text View for quick editing of node names and values.
  • Incremental search (Ctrl+I) in both tree and text views, so as you type it navigates to matching nodes.
  • Cut/copy/paste with full namespace support.
  • Drag/drop support for easy manipulation of the tree, even across different instances of XML Notepad and from the file system.
  • Infinite undo/redo for all edit operations.
  • In place popup multi-line editing of large text node values.
  • Configurable fonts and colors via the options dialog.
  • Full find/replace dialog with support for regex and XPath.
  • Good performance on large XML documents, loading a 3mb document in about one second.
  • Instant XML schema validation while you edit with errors and warnings shown in the task list window.
  • Intellisense based on expected elements and attributes and enumerated simple type values.
  • Support for custom editors for date, dateTime and time datatypes and other types like color.
  • Handy nudge tool bar buttons for quick movement of nodes up and down the tree.
  • Inplace HTML viewer for processing xml-stylesheet processing instructions.
  • Built-in XML Diff tool.
  • Support for XInclude
  • Dynamic help from XSD annotations.
  • Goto definition to navigate includes and XSD schema information.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Windows Vista: Re-enable the Administrator

The Administrator account doesn't show up in the User Accounts control panel, this is because its disabled by default. For the average user I would not recommend re-enabling this account because it can expose your system to different types of attacks.

For those people who need access to this account, follow the instructions below to re-enable it.
  • Click Start, type "cmd" in the search field.
  • Right-click the cmd.exe item at top of the Start menu, and select 'Run as administrator'.
  • In the MS-DOS command prompt type "net user administrator /active:yes".

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Article: 5 Free Online Video Editing Sites Reviewed at ExtremeTech

ExtremeTech reports: "Some people would be surprised that you can edit photos online without locally installed software, but surely video editing is too resource-intensive to be done over the web, right? Wrong! We review five online services that let you do things like scene transitions, cuts, splices, loops, audio overlays—and they're all free."

I thought this was an interesting article about a new type of service that is available on the Internet. Manipulating video using just your browser without locally installing software on your computer seems pretty impressive. The computing resources (i.e.: CPU, RAM, storage, and now add network bandwidth) required for editing video are really intensive.

Although the best news of all is that these services are FREE. Read the article for more information.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Windows Vista: Windows Mobile Device Center

If you have Windows Vista installed on your computer, and own a Windows Mobile device here is a quick premier to get you started. First thing that you have to learn about Windows Vista syncing with a Windows Mobile device is that ActiveSync doesn't exist any more. The second thing that you have to learn is that the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) is your new best friend.

You use the WMDC to sync your computer to your Windows Mobile device. Make sure to download the latest version of the software from the Download Center (x86 and x64). After you download and install the software you will need to set up a partnership with your device.

Note: If you're an existing ActiveSync user, and are having problems getting Windows Mobile Device Center to sync with your mobile device. Delete your existing setting in ActiveSync on your device and setup a new partnership.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Firefox: Improve Firefoxing Networking

By making a few modifications to your Firefox browser you can reduce page load times by using a technique known as Pipelining. Pipelining is a feature of your browser that allows it to make multiple download requests for objects on a web page from a site.

Note: This technique requires modifying low-level application preferences, you need to be careful when modifying this area. By changing the wrong value you can prevent your browser from functioning properly. For more information about this subject see the following article.

  • Open Firefox
  • In the in the address type "about:config"
  • Find the following preferences, change their value:
    • Change: network.http.pipelining to True (default = False)
    • Change: network.http.pipelining.maxrequests to 10 (default = 4)
Other related Firefox articles: