December 31, 2012

Because I keep hearing about this - part 2

So we are moving along after yesterday's post about basic AV protection. Let's go to the next step which would be the current best anti-malware protection.

That would (of course) be Malwarebytes. They do have a free version that you can use to scan your system. However, this is one piece of software I consider well worth the money ($24.95) for the Pro version.


Well, first of all because it's a one time fee. Unlike AV vendors that want this money every year, these guys only ask for money once then you are set. There is some minor upkeep: Please be aware they do periodically require you to download and install a "new" version. You don't have to pay, but if you don't install the newest version, you aren't covered for future threats.

Also, the pro version has the ability, if you do happen to pick up any malware, to be run, even if the malware tries to block this.  That's a great thing indeed.  It means you might be able to get your system restored more easily.  For this alone, it's worth the price.  You can try it for free for 14 days.  All in all it's a good deal. (let me mention once again, that just like basic AV software, malwarebytes will not catch everything - it will get most stuff, but it's not perfect either)

In the comments yesterday VW mentioned ZoneAlarm and Net Nanny

I used to use ZoneAlarm back when the Windows firewall was not very well done (WinNT) to non-existent (Win98 ). The problem with ZoneAlarm is that it is a PITA to "train" it.  Once it's trained it's not bad, although I had periodic trouble with it when using my VPN for work.  I'm not sure how much it slows things down these days.  I haven't kept up with it because it's not really necessary on newer systems.

Then there are programs like Net Nanny that keep your kids from surfing to sites they shouldn't.  Depending on your kids and your needs, these programs might work for you or they might not. 

Some of it depends on how computer savvy your kids are.  Any program running on your computer can be circumvented by an industrious, smart, kid.  That's one reason why parents need to keep a weather eye on kids when they are online.   Check histories, log files, look over their shoulder periodically, that kind of thing.

Another way to do it is to set up Open DNS on your system.  To effectively use it, you need to set it up on your router and lock your router with a good password.  Then set up an account with them and determine the level of protection you want.  You might even use this in conjunction with Net Nanny or some of the other programs of that type and use Open DNS for logging purposes so you can really see where they've been and what links they are clicking. 

Open DNS has managed to stop some malware from getting to their clients by blocking it before it reaches the machine.  So it's worth a look even if you only use the basic DNS feature alone.  And if you are a Comcast customer (where there have been frequent DNS outages) Open DNS will keep you online and connected. 

I think that covers this little bit.  Tomorrow we'll be onto the browser and what you can do there.

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December 30, 2012

Because I keep hearing about this

And it's a wave of people getting hit with virus infected computers again.  Not sure why, but it seems to go in spurts.  (at least the reportage of such things does).  If you run a windows machine, what is the best way to try and keep your computer from becoming minced-meat? 

I'm sure there are people out there who will give you all kinds of advice and say what I tell you is a load of crap.  The virus/trojan landscape is always changing and every geek has their opinion (which they insist is the only correct opinion ever).  People develop attachments to various ways to try and stay safe, whether or not those ways actually work. They seem to "know" this is the best way.  Okay fine.  I'll tell you what I think.  You may take it or leave it.  Up to you.

I spread this out over a few posts.  Mainly because I don't want one post to get too long.

Let's start with Antivirus software (AV).

First you must understand that no AV product will keep you safe.  Many people seem to think that just because they have AV on their system, they are set.  Unfortunately that is completely untrue.  AV will protect you from KNOWN viruses.  The key here is the word "known".  It will not protect you from the unknown.  It will not protect you from new viruses that haven't had signatures uploaded.  (there are 10's of thousands of new viruses released every day).  The value in AV is in stopping the older stuff from getting your system because the old stuff is still floating around the net, even stuff from the 1990's is still out there.  

So what is the best AV?  There isn't one. At any given point in time, one AV product will outperform the others.  But all of them will be behind on virus signature updates. 

What you want is something that won't degrade the performance of your machine and won't be annoying you with popups while you try to browse the web. 

The best in this category is Microsoft Security Essentials.  Yes, Microsoft have actually done this right.  It updates with system updates, it doesn't get in the way.  It does the job it's supposed to do without interfering. 

Other AV products like AVG and Avast are okay.  You can get free versions, but they tend to slow everything down and become annoying when they try to make you upgrade to the paid version.  They don't give you any better protection than MSE.

Unless you work in IT and/or must use it for work purposes, stay well away from McAfee and Symantec.  Both of these are resource hogs.  Unless you have a fast machine with plenty of RAM, they will slow you to a crawl and can be worse than having a virus on your system.  They often will not let you easily install new software.  And upon updating they will even change settings you have created (for example, if you set up to allow a vpn through, an update might just turn that off causing much angst while you try to figure out what happened).   Worse yet, to get these AV products off your system you have to download a removal tool and use that.  Very very annoying! 

So there you go.  My opinion on AV.  Understand what it will and won't do for you and you will be a bit safer. 

Next up: Malwarebytes

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December 26, 2012

If you had told me...

My son finished the last classes for his Bachelor's degree in mid-December.  Found out yesterday (after he got his final set of straight A's) he graduated summa cum laude.  (at least according to his GPA). 

Had you told me this would happen back when he was in elementary thru high school, I would have asked what drugs you were taking and could I have some too...

We are very proud of him!

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December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone is having a lovely day.  We are slightly white here.


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December 22, 2012

Okay so the world didn't end

I suppose tomorrow I will do my Christmas cards.  I was kinda hoping to get out of it this year.  Oh well.

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December 20, 2012


Now why in the world would this particular song have popped into my head? 

No idea at all.

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December 19, 2012

Idle thoughts

Just had to turn on the lights in my office room. It's 3:50pm and it's dark in here.  Three more days and the days start to get longer. 

Watching my twitter feed while @NEFirebuff tweets out a high speed pursuit by the Massachusetts State Police. I guess I am living vicariously through someone else who lives vicariously.   It is interesting though.


TSA wants to know if airport body scanners are nuking you

I think someone there might have finally realized that TSA workers stand around that stuff all day... passengers just pass through once and are on the way.  What could possibly go wrong?   I guess they didn't think it through too well before deploying, even though they say they are worried about passengers.  heh.

While I've been typing the above, this tweet was posted on the big chase:

Lynn MA: Update-Suspect just carjacked a silver minivan-owner thrown to the ground. EMS being requested.

This would be why I always lock my doors when driving. 


Okayfine... it looks like twitter will be letting people download an archive of all their tweets since they joined. 

All I can say is... why would anyone want to do that? People are clamoring for this?  Really? Wow.


And let's finish up here, yes, the great chase finished while I was typing the rest of the post.  The carjacker caused a 5 car accident, dumped the jacked car in a driveway, and fled on foot.  They were bringing in the dogs, but the cops found him hiding in a backyard.  He is in custody.


How's that for a good dose of excitement. 

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Feeling like an old fogey

Saw this headline from Wired today:

Speed Bumps Can Help Diagnose Appendicitis, Study Shows

Okay, I guess it's not "the thing" to listen to old country doctor types.  Not in the slick new world of medicine today with all the pretty machines and computery stuff. 

Don't get me wrong... I love all the slick machines and computery stuff. But it doesn't always get you the answers you need now does it.

I do remember a doctor showing me (many moons ago) that one test for appendicitis was to take the leg (right leg since that's the side the appendix is on), hold it up off the bed, and give the heel of the foot a goodly thump. The reaction to this along with the blood tests and temp will go a good long way to diagnose appendicitis. 

Oh yeah, and you don't even need a car.

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December 16, 2012

Your holiday travel interlude

We just got back from a visit with the kids in Chicago.  Fun was had by all.  And so it's time for the airport notes.

This was a fairly quiet trip all things considered.  We need some real wackos to make these a bit more interesting I think... Oh well, here goes anyway. 

Why do airports insist on piping in such hideous music? Tinny, screechy, high pitched voices.  Grates on the nerves.

Problem with mid day travel. When do you eat lunch?  No "good" time to eat means I'm starving on arrival wherever I'm going.

Why bother with long pants if you're going to wear them with the knees totally ripped out?  

How long has it been since non-ticketed passengers could go beyond the security checkpoint?  Years. So why do they announce this restriction every 5 minutes?

Once again. ESPN at the airports please!!!!  I do not want news. No matter who is doing it.

There is nothing more fun than an airplane taking off. So far they haven't been able to ruin that.

Southwest allows free wifi flight tracking. Excellent!

Except the flight tracker is telling me I'm heading TO Providence.  This causes a moment of surreal double checking… however, the plane on the graphic is headed to Chicago so all is well.

I have never seen anyone sleep like that on a plane. Head completely off to the side on his shoulder. Leaning out into the aisle. Wow.

Couldn't figure out why our flight would be getting in half an hour late when we left on time. Um. Yeah. Time change!  D'oh. We'll be getting in half an hour early.

Midway TSA outpost. Schlepped to the supposedly less crowded station. Unfortunately it's the one where all the wheelchair riders are processed. Elderly people who can't understand why they have to take off their shoes just to ride on a plane. 

This is why I leave early for airports.

The Atlanta/NY game on at the Chicago airport?  Really?  What about the Bears game? They are playing just down the street. Oh yeah, brought to us by CNN - Atlanta. 

Nice! Southwest gate agent gives public congrats to one of our military traveling on the flight. Round of applause from the passengers. 

Hmmmm…. all boarded, just sitting here. 

Note to self… stop ordering cranberry juice to drink.  Then maybe there won't be any flight turbulence to try and dump it in your lap.

This flight tracker thing is mesmerizing.  Interestingly they say there is "heavy snow" in Providence but it's 36 degrees. 

And about 20 minutes prior to landing, the "heavy snow" changes to "light rain". 

That's about it for this trip. I guess the best thing is we won't be traveling on Christmas when everything is closed.  Yes, that is a good thing.

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December 04, 2012

Giggle of the Evening

My email from the WSJ (which still comes to me even though I haven't had a subscription for a few years now) had this most excellent subject line:

WSJ NEWS ALERT: Big Lots Chief Executive Probed by SEC

(I'd link it but it's behind their pay wall and I can't read it anyway)

Yes, sometimes it's best to get emails for their amusement factor alone.  I sometimes wonder... Who do they pay to create these headlines? and then... Does anyone proof read? 

Yes, these are the things that keep me looking around online.  You never know...

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 10:56 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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