Grand Stream Dreams pending post-topic count: 9.
When I was getting ready to leave work for the weekend, one of my fans who knows my little hobby here came by and said how excited he was for the holiday weekend. He knew I would probably be churning out copy with all these days off.
And the D-man was correct.
BTW, in my neck of the woods, the mall has been pretty empty, Target and WalMart are at their standard parking-lot loads, and you can't find a parking spot at our BestBuy. Looks like it will be another tech-filled Christmas again.
At the Bus Stop
Here are a collection of utilities and holiday wall-paper links for your enjoyment as you are counting the days left for shopping and wrapping of presents.
Eraser Portable - (freeware) - I love having heidi Eraser on my systems. It makes doing free-space wipes and secure data deletes a joy. However, I really feel strongly about seeing a list of a bazillion wipe actions pop-up in my context-menu when I want to delete my trash-can. This build makes Eraser available for all those secure wiping tasks, but without integrating into the system.
AutoRuns for Windows - (freeware) - Just got a major update to version 9.0. This version brings in some advanced mojo: "This major update to Autoruns shows an entry’s raw launch string in its image details area, lists Explorer and IE COM classes names and icons, is aware of several more autostart locations, including additional shell extensions, Windows Vista scheduled tasks and Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets, and has better support for alternate online search engines."
Defraggler - (freeware) - Another new but nice defragging application also got an update to v1.01.044. Changes include "Removed system driver, now much faster and more stable, Added support for multiple drive maps, Added 64-bit OS support, Added support for removable USB drives, Loads of minor UI changes and funky tweaks."
SmartSniff - (freeware) - Nirsoft touches up his micro network packet-sniffing tool. New to version 1.35: "New Display Mode - 'URL List': Allows you to view the list of URLs for the select TCP/IP items (only for HTTP protocol), Increased the buffer of raw sockets to avoid packet loss, and the configuration is now saved to a file, instead of the Registry."
Wireshark - (freeware) - This full-blown packet-sniffing tool goes to version 0.99.7 and gets some recent security issues patched up. Additionally, the download page offers both a U3 portable version as well as a more traditional USB "PortableApps" version, so you can now take Wireshark with you on your USB stick. How nice is that?
SystemExplorer - (freeware) - This is an interesting utility. It seems to merge many of the features in the Sysinternals flagship Process Explorer with Task Manager, network monitoring, auto-runs, and change/event logging. The performance graphs are very interesting to look at. It supports instant web-searches on items from the context-menus. And it is portable. If you download the UPX compressed version, you don't have to unpack it. However, be sure to put it into it's own folder as it will create some additional files on run. I'm not ready to stop using Process Explorer, but this will looks to be a good relief-pitcher for the mound. Freeware Junkie has an excellent and detailed review of the program: Replace your Task Manager: System Explorer 188.8.131.520
ThreatFire AntiVirus - Behavioral Virus and Spyware Protection - (freeware) - I generally don't use or run Host Intrusion Protection software (HIPS) to keep my systems safe from malware. Comodo Firewall Pro 3.0 has it's Defense+ feature built it. It works so well it seems to keep some Windows Updates from even installing! More anti-malware applications seem to be adding this feature to their programs as well. ThreatFire is a like these, but acts as an intermediary level protection. It works along side your firewall, anti-malware, and ant-virus applications monitoring for malicious system activity that might not be caught by signature-based DAT files in anti-virus/anti-malware products. Recommended by PC Magazine in October 2007. Think of it as a daily security vitamin pill. Take daily, to supplement a good-health regimen, but not replace it.
Safer-Networking - SpyBot Search and Destroy's mini-tools
The other day while poking around for my Spying on Spybot Search & Destroy Beta's + a new SB toy... post I uncovered even more less-well-known utilities by the SpyBot team. All are freeware.
Many people already know about these:
RunAlyzer - The "...autostart & configuration manager that allows you to view and edit all the spots where Windows looks for programs or services to start."
FileAlyzer - This tool "...allows a basic analysis of files (showing file properties and file contents in hex dump form) and is able to interpret common file contents like resources structures (like text, graphics, HTML, media and PE)."
RegAlyzer - "...is a tool to browse and change the registry. It was created because of a few features we missed in the original regedit tool, from support for exotic value types over background and regular expression search to better bookmarks, displaying .reg files in the accustomed style and a history view."
All well and dandy.
But how about this lineup? Note, tools are linked from the following page unless directly hyperlinked.
ADS Locator - "This small tool can be used to find files that have alternate ADS streams attached. ADS is a technology used to store additional data related to files, and has a lot of legit uses by the system already. So this tool will only find those ADS entries that are of the user type "alternate", which is sometimes used by spyware, malware and viruses."
Suspicious File Locator - "This small tool helps us finding files that do use typical CoolWebSearch characteristics. When you're infected with a new variant of CWS and mail one of our detectives, he may ask you to run it to scan for suspicious files that could be CWS (just enter the search path and press the button as can be seen on the screenshot), and mail them back to him. The results will be stored in an archive file on the desktop."
Suspicious File Packer - "This small tool was designed for helping novice users to send us files requested for further analysis. Instead of asking those users to manually gather all files and create an archive of them, the user can paste a list received from us by mail into this tool, and it will create an archive with these files and a small log on the desktop."
Mozilla Preference Knife - "MPK is a small collection of utilities I needed for tweaking Mozilla settings."
BrowserCI - "BrowserCI (stands for Browser Cache Info) is a demonstration of which data in which browsers Spybot-S&D is able to read, clean and/or purge. The latest version is 1.5 from September 4th, 2007."
CompatAlyzer - "This is a first preview of CompatAlyzer, a small tool dedicated to analyse Windows PE executable files for their compatibility to different Windows versions, and to show information if certain functions used by those files may need special attention."
Spybot Christmas Presents, Part 1: Bootable CD - Previously mentioned, this tool is a wizard that lets you build your own mini Win PE 2.0 boot disk with key SpyBot apps.
When last tested it worked fine, but then couldn't see the add-in packages needed. Oops.
A new version was released as promised and it now does pick up the packages, only it totally reset my XP Home system during the building phase. No errors or nothing. Just a sudden system restart.
So test it on a virtual machine or a lab-pc for now.
Looks promising but still appears to be very "Alpha".
Deck the Wall: Holiday Wallpaper
I'm all into the Christmas decorating, but can't bring myself to splash a holiday themed wallpaper on my desktop for some reason. I think they look too "busy" for all the icons I am trying to keep track of.
My current wallpaper is this fine one Depth Perception spread across my dual monitors.
Highly recommended you take a look at his fine work.
However, if you are searching for Christmas themed wallpapers, here is a list of sources to pick through.
Christmas desktop wallpapers - WallpaperStock
Wallpapers Noel - Wallpapers-Zone. Be ye careful, this French site does have some NSFW categories elsewhere on the site...so careful where you click or you might end up with some coal in your stocking...or worse!
PixelDécor Holiday Wallpaper Patterns - Don't like the wallpaper thing? Try one of these oft-unused "pattern" features of wallpapering. Nice holiday feelings with a more simple and geometric appearance. For the moderately minimalists.
InterfaceLIFT's Holiday wallpaper category - Just 28 walls, but all are quite stunning and come in a wide-range of sizes.
经典桌面资源站MYDESKCITY - This Chinese (?) website offers a lot of really nice holiday wallpapers in a wide-range of subjects. Be sure to visit via a web-translator page if you want to make it a bit more navitagable. However, it doesn't seem to be categorized highly, so you will need to be prepared for bit of searching and clicking. Main page rotates images offered frequently.