Sunday, June 08, 2008

Firefox Feed Readers, home system support, and getting used to a new BBQ pit.

I’ve spent most of the weekend doing pc support on my free time.

First, Firefox…

Saturday was consumed with rebuilding my Firefox 3.0 (Minefield) profile on our Vista system.  Something happened and I was finding it difficult, nay, impossible to get add-on’s to install.

So since I had recently made an updated Firefox Extension List I just had to export my bookmarks as a JSON file backup and export my Newsfox RSS feeds as an OMPL file.

I uninstalled Firefox, deleted all my user profiles, and started from scratch.

One thing on Vista I did different this time was to install it using the “Run as administrator” feature to kick-off the installer.  I don’t know why but it seemed to help quite a lot.

Took me a good two to three hours to get it re-tweaked and all the add-ons loaded up.  But it is running much, much better again.

I used to be a big fan for the Firefox RSS reader add-on Sage.  It worked great, was fast, and pretty easy to use. Unfortunately it wasn’t compatible in the lease with Firefox 3.0.  So I ended up dropping it and migrating to NewsFox.  I soon became a NewsFox evangelist of sorts.

Over last week the NewsFox developers released version 1.0.1.  It is mighty fine.

Then I saw that other fans of Sage took up the project and have just released Sage-Too.  This version is Firefox 3.0 compatible.  I loaded it up and tried it for a while, but it appears that I’ve been using NewsFox for too long as I just couldn’t get used to the feed-management format.  However, if you are a Sage fan and looking to migrating to Firefox 3.0, then you do need to look at Sage-Too.

Wrestling with Lavie’s Laptop…

I then spent most of the rest of the weekend tracing down some problems with Lavie’s Compaq laptop running XP Home (SP3).  For some reason it had gotten really, really slow after logon to the desktops.

Multiple scans for malware/junk came up empty.  Yes, AVG-8 is running on it, but I tweaked it out and it didn’t seem to be the problem.  I dumped temp files, raided the auto-runs like pirates all over a Spanish galleon.  In the end the problem appears to be related to ThreatFire.  I’m just not fully sure why and how yet.

I could get to the desktops just fine and even start clicking around. However, after about a minute, the applications would stop responding, I couldn’t start applications, and I couldn’t close windows.

Process Explorer didn’t show anything eating up too much CPU % or memory consumption. Yet something was bogging it down.

I finally noticed that I couldn’t get the ThreatFire system-tray icon to respond, although all the others did. Then came the big tip, I finally caught it coming up after a reboot, acting normal, then dropping into an “initializing” mode after-which the system seemed to hang up.  No amount of time seemed to free it up.  Curious.

I tried uninstalling it but it would hang-up on the uninstall process and not complete.

When I had rebooted and removed all the auto-run elements (AutoRuns) and re-rebooted, the laptop behaved wonderfully. When I reinstalled it, same problem. After multiple attempts I was finally able to get it installed, then a clean and full uninstall.

So for now I have left it off Lavie’s laptop.  I still have ThreatFire installed on our XP desktop system and our Vista system with no issues at all.  That leaves me wondering if I have some kind of driver conflict going on between it and something individual to Lavie’s laptop.  Pretty sure that is the case.

So I’ve got more troubleshooting to complete on it, but I’ve run out of time this weekend.

A New Pit

Lavie had a “significant” birthday this past week.  Her only request for a party was a big cook-out up at her parent’s house.  So last Saturday we went out and picked out a new grill.  I used to do a lot of grilling, but after the last one died a slow, rusty death, I never got around to replacing it.

We picked out a nice Weber One-Touch Silver 22.5” model.  It was the biggest one I could find that I could get into our Saturn Ion without having to pull out the seats.  Just fit with the legs taken off.

Been a long time and this was a new grill so I ended up using too much charcoal.  The first round of burgers cooked in about three minutes.  The second batch fared better as I then shoved most of the coals to one side and cooked the brats, burgers and hot-dogs using more indirect heat.

It will take me a bit more time and practice to find the sweet-spot in the amount of coals to cooking to be done.  But it was a good start and I really think I am going to like this one.  I even bought a cover for it to keep it from rusting out.

The party was a success.  Lots of food and good company.

Later Pop asked me to take a look at his Dell pc as his scanner wasn’t working.  Turns out the scanning light had died.  The scanner was still trying to send commands to the pc, but it couldn’t spool up the light and motor.  So he is going to be shopping for a new one in the coming months.

However, I ended up spending another good two hours getting his system fully patched and updated.  The major work was done in tandem with the Secunia Software Inspector.  Windows updates were fine, but there were a lot of program updates to run.

He was using AVG Free version 7.5, but tried to do the update to version 8 on his own and ended up (somehow) buying the full AVG Internet Security suite instead.  So I had to uninstall his existing firewall (which hadn’t been uninstalled leaving him with two at the same time).  I also re-ran the setup installer for AVG to remove the LinkScanner/SurfShield components.  That really speeded things up.  I did find it “neat” that he later got a physical AVG disk in the mail post-order.  Nice touch.

When I left his system was much more snappy and fully patched and updated.



Anonymous said...

For RSS within Firefox I use the Brief add-on and it works with Firefox 3 as well.

My Secunia Software Inspector seems to have stopped working. When I bring up the interface window it is all blank. Not sure when this started. I've closed and restarted the application with no success. When I boot up tomorrow morning I'll take look again then, but I had just started up the system within the last hour or so.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the web-based Secunia Software Inspector?

It used Java, so if you are using a Javascript blocker it might tank it. Also, if your Java gets corrupted that could be an issue. I've noticed that sometimes when I browse to other tabs when it is running in Firefox, it stops it from working. Then I have to restart.

Try seeing how it works in (gasp!) Internet Explorer as a comparison. That should tell you if it is restricted to Firefox or is an issue across your system.

Anonymous said...

No, I am not using the web based scanner. I downloaded and am running the application version Secunia PSI (RC1). Haven't tried the web based on yet to see if it works.

Anonymous said...

The web scanner worked fine. Also found out I had an older build (along with the current) of JAVA installed. So I removed the older version (why doesn't JAVA do this automatically, I recall on another machine I had like 3 different builds installed).