It is important to use your Wi-Fi equipment effectively, so you can enjoy fast and reliable data transfer over your network. The first thing to check is to make sure that other Wi-Fi networks in the neighborhood do not interfere with your home one. How to do that? We can use any Wi-Fi scanner, but I recommend to have a look at free inSSIDer from METAGEEK. Install and run it than select your wireless adaptor and press button “Start scanning”. You should see something like that on the screenshot over time:
Let’s have a look what Microsoft has prepared to protect their consumer operating system — Windows 7. Here is link to Windows 7 consumer security software providers arranged by Microsoft. Let’s take a look what is considered adequate. First (order is random) goes Norton from Symantec with download links to Norton™ 360 Version 4.0 and Norton™ AntiVirus 2010. This is a good stuff, because you can run the full featured software for three months for free! Next two guys are strange: Korean company AhnLab (who’s chairman has MBA for Entrepreneurial Management and M.D. in Physiology — must be relevant to viruses) and Indian K7 Computing. K7 goes with hieroglyph symbols on their logo, not Hindi anyway. Surprisingly K7 identify the same price for Microsoft customers as for regular customers. Next one is ZoneAlarm with nice almost 70% discount. I thought they went broke — last time I used their suite, I had to reinstall the system. Norman is from Norway, nothing spectacular. This one is good: McAfee VirusScan Plus with 5$ discount — Special offer for Microsoft customers!, yet there is a 90 days trial available for download (of course, if Norton does that, McAfee should do that even better). Trend Micro (“PC-cillin”) Internet Security with 30% discount. BullGuard Internet Security 9.0 for Windows 7 and Rising Antivirus International Pty Ltd — God knows who they are. Then Czech ESET, of course, with their ESET Smart Security 4 and ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4. No discounts here, good stuff does not come for free. Next is (also Czech company) AVG with 20% on AVG Internet Security 9.0. Webroot® Antivirus with Spy Sweeper goes next. Being an American company, I guess they feel strong, so no discounts here. There is a good offer from CA with Internet Security Suite Plus 2010 and Anti-Virus Plus 2010 and also 90-days trials. Then KIS 2011 & KAV 2011 from Kaspersky — the only Russian company in the list — with no particular offer. Then VIPRE Antivirus from Sunbelt software (anyone knows?) with discounts. Next are German G Data , BitDefender from Romania (guys really don’t like to talk about their origin as I can see from the website),BullGuard with prices in British pounds, telling on the front page that they are better than Norton and McAfee. There goes Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus® 2011 from PCTools (no interesting offers), Spanish PANDA with 2011 lineup, Indian Quick Heal, and Finnish F-Secure.
The last two guys require special attention. Czech Avast! whose free anti-virus is almost as good as the professional version — I like it very much. And the last one is the antivirus you would expect to work seamlessly with Windows 7: Microsoft Security Essentials. Look at the reports from AV-Comparatives.org where MSE is clearly performing with flying colors, and it is free.
I always liked Apple’s iPods, but iPod Touch has been my favorite. This upgrade is truly surprising, because Apple iPod Touch this time has never been closer to iPhone 4. For me that’s what really needed, because I use “cheap” mobile phones anyway (I’ve never been careful with mobile phones, but it is difficult not to be careful when it costs more then 1000$ (without contract)), and for me iPod Touch is not only an outstanding player, but also like a small PC (which iPhone is). Now it is coming with HD video recording and built-in microphone. I mean here, you can enjoy iPhone technical and design excellence without buying it, because new iPod Touch is almost new iPhone 4 but without the phone part.
Look at the highlighted area on the screenshot, see the phone buttons? Now two built-in cameras make it great for phone or Skype-like communication via WiFi.
What else? 7.2 millimeters thin steel curved case, Retina display with 960-by-640 backlit LCD display (326 pixels per inch), Apple A4 chip (replacement of old Cortex-A8 architecture), built-in three-axis gyroscope, two built-in cameras (rear camera shoots HD 720p video).
Really nice. In a way iPod Touch is a miniature of iPad.
The price is the following: 8GB $230 / 32GB $300 / 64GB $400.
As I wrote many times, Windows 7 (and Windows Vista before) is incredibly popular software, which is the fact. But I think Microsoft deliberately makes it available for crackers in a very hidden way. By doing this, Microsoft can kill two birds with one shot: people who buy software and the ones who don’t — both run the latest superior operating system — Windows 7. My point — one population will never merge with another one completely, so if you really restrict the illegal use, you will loose the other half. You’re only interested when everybody is using your software, because then there will be no real alternative. Linux? It is a free headache in short. Apple? That is a good example of those who want to exclude the dark side. Pirated Leopard is a very rare animal. Result? Look at their market share. Microsoft makes it in a very wise way: they say they fight piracy and they do, but in reality they leave back door open. So, you could ask: Well, how about that activation stuff and genuine software program? That really works, however the workaround is very simple.
The idea has become possible due to specific OEM activation mechanism (SLP): If the OS can match three things together (OEM information in SLIC table from BIOS + digital certificate (file) + product number), then the activation happens automatically and instantly. The first part is the most tricky one, because it is hardware driven, i.e. depends on PC manufacturer, all the rest can be simply copied, given the System Locked Preinstallation keys are common for one OEM (ASUS could use one product key for many-many computers, for instance). So what hackers did, they introduced a program loader that puts appropriate OEM info into memory before Windows boots.
Here is a very good explanation of the method, ironically called The Official Windows 7 Repository. Let me quote: “Activators, also known as loaders, add a script on the boot partition (Linux Grub boot loader (GRLDR)) which will put OEM information (SLIC 2.1) into memory before Windows starts. This way Windows thinks that the SLIC 2.1 come from the BIOS (which is false). Activators also install a certificate and an OEM SLP key to activate Windows”.
Windows Loader by Daz is the most popular activator which is kept steadily updated (last version is 1.9.2)
There are many troubles tagged with license term you can expect while using Adobe Products, such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks or others. That applies to Adobe CS3, CS4, and CS5.5 lines with some exceptions. Whether you are using the software legally or illegally here is some tricks and advises to overcome the problem. Of course, sometimes reinstalling can fix them all, but not always. Some people dare to reinstall the OS, but that’s an extreme case. Below please see the most common three license-related issues in Adobe products — AMT subsystem failure, Error “Licensing for this product has expired”, and error #16 — and selected solutions.
Easy guide to tweak Windows Firewall (also applicable for Windows 7)
As Microsoft says: “The default behavior of the Windows [Vista] Firewall is to: Block all incoming traffic unless it is solicited or it matches a configured rule. Allow all outgoing traffic unless it matches a configured rule.”
Comparison of Vista Loader 184.108.40.206 and 2.1.3 / Post from 2007
I have the latest Vista Loader 2.1.3 (AKA Windows Vista Activator 2008) in my lab. It is supposed to be invulnerable to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and KB940510. Besides, it makes no boot string flash. I suspect it is exactly the same core element as the VistaLoader v220.127.116.11 by Dasumo. Let’s hack the hack and see what is inside this program, and what makes it invisible. Continue reading “Inside Vista Loader”
/First published in 2007/
With that level of magnitude of popularity which is given for most Microsoft products, it is inevitable for Windows Vista to be cracked. There are two main reasons for that: first — there will be always people who do not want or cannot afford to pay the price, second — there are always people who are doing reverse engineering for fun. These two things are connected. You can call it piracy, but in a way it is no more than a “technical dance.” And as any dance it does not have any particular purpose or goal to achieve. I mean one crack is never enough. You can blame users for using these workarounds, but in my opinion, ultimately it is only a fuel to keep the enormous flame of Windows popularity. Continue reading “Overview of Windows Vista Workarounds”
/ First published in 2008 — Please see 2011 update here /
Decrypt Adobe ADEPT-encrypted PDF files, AKA Digital Editions
I recently bought an Adobe Digital Edition of a decent book titled “Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS4” from Peachpit (if you decide to buy something there, do not forget to register—you will get a good instant discount as a member).
The book is fine, but I hate this DRM stuff as I need to access my books sometimes on a casual machine and that is impossible unless you install Adobe™ Digital Editions and activate it via Adobe’s DRM Activator site (for some reason it is called “Eden”, there is no sign of Eden there at all!). So I decided to find a way to overcome and remove DRM protection from Adobe pdf file, not for sharing this book, but for my convenience.
After an extended search, I found a way, and everybody can repeat the same sequence. So far, this protection (ADEPT encryption) was considered to be officially unbreakable, but it seems not anymore. Continue reading “Break Free Your Digital Editions”
/ First published in 2008 /
Concept of Malware
You can get completely mad trying to understand which antivirus product to choose if you read countless reviews and tests. Results often contradict one another even coming from independent sources. Let’s try to understand why it is happening and what measures of common sense we could apply to protect ourselves from viruses and from lousy security products.
Concept of Malware in 2009
The public misconception of viruses makes people think that if nothing suspicious happens, they are fine (the opposite of that can be very exhausting, to the extreme when after any noticeable slowdown people blame a virus and reinstall the system from scratch!). A modern virus is far different from a virus 10-15 years ago. It used to be done for fun—deleting files, making computer unusable, irritating user with offensive messaged, and so on. Infection in most cases was obvious and virus creators were like warriors of the underground world, looking for fame and glory. Not anymore. Malware writing is a big business now. That big business wants to be in the shadow, because it is mostly criminal. Infected computers connected to the internet are organized in botnets. Number of bots (remotely controlled workstations) connected can be up to few hundred thousands (!), commanded by only one masterbot. That power can be used to generate spam, DOS attacks (“denial of service” when massive number of requests can completely disrupt a web-server (website) operation), brute-force cracking, illegal/secret information exchange and storage, fake ad hits generation and so on. Botnets are available for rent in the underground. Continue reading “Virus Silent Threats”