Sunday, June 15, 2008

Golden Finds this Week

I’m struggling to find a nice solution for a mini computing area in our living room.

Recall, we have two laptops and a desktop system.  The desktop system is tucked away in our study with two great 21” LCD monitors.  It remains my prime choice for blogging and household pc’ing as it the location is quiet.  I can get going in there and be gone to the world for hours on end.

Which is the problem as the girls much prefer me to be sitting with them in the living room while they are watching TV or playing video games (as is occurring right now).

That leaves me with the laptop (the big Gateway one) as my fall-back.  However for long blogging sessions, sitting on the couch with it set on my lap or on a TV-tray doesn’t really cut it.  Mousing is awkward and attempting to blog with anything less than dual-monitors is frustrating.

So I’ve been looking for a nice Shaker-style 2/3 desk.  Size-wise it would fit just perfect in the living room without taking up much space.  A drop-leaf style would be preferred as it would give enough room for the laptop and 2nd LCD monitor to share. I would then have room for the wireless keyboard as well.  Alas, we just don’t have room for the fuller-size desks that I have been seeing.

NirSoft New and Improved Toys

ProcessActivityView - (freeware) – Nice little new release from Nir Sofer. Run the utility then select which process you wish to monitor. It will then display all the files and folders the process accesses, along with keeping a running total for the types of access performed on those items by the process.  I can see where this would be a great tool for monitoring and researching malware processes.  Just think of it as a much more approachable little-sister version of Process Monitor.

RegFromApp - (freeware) – Another nifty new release from Nir Sofer. This gem will monitor the registry for changes made by a selected application and create a RegEdit file that contains all the registry changes it makes.

WirelessNetView v1.02 - (freeware) – This wireless activity detector got a minor update to indicate which of those networks found which doesn’t require a network key has the highest signal.  Helpful when you just have too many choices to pick from!

Uninstalling Tricks

JavaRa - (freeware) – Tiny little app that checks for updates of Java installations and removes older vulnerable ones. Yes you can manually remove them using another uninstaller application or the ubiquitous Add/Remove Programs list, but this is pretty dandy.  You can use it to both check for updates and remove older versions. Spotted via the back room tech blog.  For a bit more info check out the Cleaning Up Old Java Installation Files in Windows post over at blog.

Adobe, like Sun, likes to keep older versions of its products still installed when you upgrade to a new version.  That might be fine for some, but could present security risks.  You can manually delete the older Flash files you want, but back room tech Julie gives some good advice: Howto: Uninstall Adobe Flash Player from the command line « the back room tech.  Download the Flash Player Uninstaller, close up browsers, run the uninstaller either as-is, or via the command-line with the /silent argument.  Then go and get the latest version for each of your browsers at the Adobe Flash Player Download Center.

Want to rid a system of McAfee products?  Use MCPR.exe (McAfee Consumer Products Removal tool).  “Running the McAfee Consumer Product Removal tool (MCPR.exe) removes all 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 versions of McAfee consumer products.”  The linked info page suggests you should first try to uninstall the McAfee products via the Add/Remove Programs list, then run this tool to do a cleanup. A demonstration video is also linked to from that page.  Spotted via the back room tech blog.

While we are on it, want to get rid of all your Symantec/Norton applications? Nuke-em with the Norton Removal Tool. Click one of the product links to get to the download link or just click here.

Odds N Ends

Tiny Apps points us to DbxConv which will convert Outlook Express DBX email files to MBOX and EML format. Nice find!  Could be helpful if you are attempting to migrate a user from Outlook Express to another email client.

RUBotted - (freeware) – is a product I mentioned at least once before in dealing with rootkits.  If you are really freaked out about getting infected with a rootkit, it might be worth checking out as a preventative line of defense.  If you suspect you are already hammered with one, you might check out these selections of Anti-Rootkit Tools. Spotted via RU Botted - Watches your System for bot-related Activities | blog.

SpywareBlaster - (free for personal use) – got an update to version 4.1.  I almost always download and install this application on home-user pc’s that I get the chance to work-on.  Supports IE and Mozilla Firefox to prevent installation of third-party additions via site-block lists. It also can block spyware/tracking cookies from malicious websites as well.  One important point is to remind folks to periodically check for updates then re-immunize their system after the updates are in place.


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