Computer Power User — October 2010

Computer Power User – is one of the most interesting magazines about computer hardware and software. Full editions are usually available to registered subscribers for a fee. Some time ago, in 2009 CPU started publishing screenshots of the issues, so called Digital Editions, here’s the link. This time they published for some reason a link to the free pdf copy of the last CPU for October 2010. Here’s direct download link. 35Mb. Grab it quick before they remove it.

CPU October 2010

Find inside articles about Nvidia’s 3D Vision Surround, a roundup of broadband testing tools, an advice for folks looking to tweak their SSDs’ performance and extend their longevity.
The guys also review Intel Core i7-970, Western Digital TV Live Plus, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, and other good stuff!

Find best shared web hosting thru DNS Changes statistics

It is not easy to find a good and affordable web-hosting. One big difficulty is advertising clutter we are surrounded with. You search with Internet as a tool and that tool is based on web-hosting, meaning it is everywhere. It is like discussing Chinese people in China — seems like the right place, but probably too much. If you simply type in Google or Bing “web hosting” you may get a link like this: Top 10 Web Hosting — Best Web Hosts 2010. Would you trust this information?

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How to ensure fastest Wi-Fi connection for home network

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:


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Windows 7 security software providers — Dark horses included

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 where MSE is clearly performing with flying colors, and it is free.

New Apple iPod — closer to true iPhone than ever

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. New iPod Touch - image courtesy of Apple
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.

Windows 7 — The best, expensive, and free

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)

Windows Loader by Daz

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Troubles with Adobe CS products licenses

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.

Adobe Joker

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Tweak Windows Firewall

Easy guide to tweak Windows Firewall (also applicable for Windows 7)

Windows FirewallAs 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.”

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Inside Vista Loader

Comparison of Vista Loader 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 v3.0.0.1 by Dasumo. Let’s hack the hack and see what is inside this program, and what makes it invisible. Continue reading “Inside Vista Loader”

Overview of Windows Vista Workarounds

/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”