FTC Disclosure

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't whether I got it free or NOT!

Amazon

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stuff Running on Your Computer You May Not Know About.

This information is based on the IT Security blog post "10 services to turn off in MS Windows XP," by Chad Perrin. I got the information through ZD.Net and TechRepublic. You should consider joining both to keep up with a lot of the technical issues. Keep in mind that you may not want to turn any of this stuff off but if you are reasonably technical you may wish to close some of these holes.

Microsoft Windows is a network-capable operating system, it has come with quite a few services turned on by default, so it's a good idea for security-conscious users of Microsoft’s flagship product to shut down any of these services they aren't using. If you're running Microsoft Windows XP on your desktop system, consider turning off the following services. You will be surprised by what is running without your knowledge.

IIS Microsoft’s Internet Information Services provide the capabilities of a Web server for your computer. I turned this one off.

NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing
NetMeeting is primarily a VoIP and videoconferencing client for Microsoft Windows, but this service in particular is necessary to remote desktop access. I turned this one off.

Remote Desktop Help Session Manager
This service is used by the Remote Assistance feature that allows others remote access to the system to help you troubleshoot problems. You may want to leave this alone but I turned it off. You can always turn it on if you need to have someone help out on your computer.

Remote Registry
The capabilities provided by the Remote Registry service are frightening to consider from a security perspective. They allow remote users (in theory, and only under controlled circumstances) to edit the Windows Registry. You may want to leave this alone if you download and use software that does need to change the registry. I left it alone.

Routing and Remote Access
This service bundles a number of capabilities, which most system administrators would probably agree should be provided separately. It is rare that any of them should be necessary for a typical desktop system such as Microsoft Windows XP, however, so they can all conveniently be turned off as a single service. Routing and Remote Access provides the ability to use the system as a router and NAT device, as a dialup access gateway, and as a VPN server. I turned this one off.

Simple File Sharing
When a computer isn't part of a Microsoft Windows domain, it's assumed by the default settings that all filesystem shares are meant to be universally accessible. In the real world, however, we should want to provide shares only to specific, authorized users. Simple File Sharing, which provides blanket access to shares without exceptions, is not what we want to use for sharing filesystem resources. It is active by default on both Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home editions. Unfortunately, this can't be disabled for Windows XP Home. For Windows XP Professional, you can disable it by opening My Computer | Tools | Folder Options, clicking the View tab, and deselecting the Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended) check box in the Advanced settings: pane. I turned this one off.

SSDP Discovery Service
This service is used to discover UPnP devices on your network and is required for the Universal Plug and Play Device Host service (see below) to operate. I left this alone as I add devices all the time.

Telnet
The Telnet service is an old mechanism for providing remote access to a computer, most commonly known from its use in the bad ol’ days of security for remote command shell access on UNIX servers. These days, using Telnet to remotely manage a UNIX system may be grounds for firing, and an encrypted protocol such as SSH should be used instead. I turned this one off.

Universal Plug and Play Device Host
Once you have your Plug and Play devices installed on your system, it is often the case that you will not need this service again. I left this alone as I add devices all the time.

Windows Messenger Service
Listed in the Services window under the name Messenger, the Windows Messenger Service provides “net send” and “Alerter” functionality. It is unrelated to the Windows Messenger instant messaging client and is not necessary for using the Windows Messenger IM network. I turned this one off.

Again directly form TechRepublic:
On your system, these services may not all be turned on, or even installed. Whether a given service is installed and running may depend on whether you installed the system yourself, whether you are using XP Home or XP Professional, and from which vendor you got your computer (if Windows XP was preinstalled).

With the exception of Simple File Sharing, all of the above listed services can be disabled from the same place. Simply click on the Start button, then navigate to Settings | Control Panel, open Administrative Tools, and from there open the Services window. To disable any service in the list, double-click on its entry in that window and change the Startup Type setting. In general, you should change services you are turning off for security purposes to a Disabled state. When in doubt about whether a given service is necessary for other services, check the Dependencies tab in the service’s settings dialog.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of everything running on your computer that you may want to turn off. It is merely a list of items you most likely do not need and that constitute a security vulnerability if left running. Most users will never need any of the services in this list once the computer is up and running. Other services may be disabled without ill effect as well, though you should research each item in the complete services list before you disable it to ensure that you really don't need it. Some of them, such as the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service, are critical to the normal operation of your system.
Every running—but unused—service on your machine is an unnecessary security vulnerability. If a service is not important at all for authorized users and basic system functionality, turn it off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

AVG 8.0.100 Free Incompatible with Google Desktop

Heads up, your AVG 7.5 version is going to bug you to upgrade due to it's nearing demise. I upgraded to the 8.0.100 after wading through the sales pitch for their paid version. I did the reboot and all the crap they ask you to do. I then tried to get on the web via Explorer 7.0 and could not get on the net. I uninstalled AVG 8 and got on the net no problem. I discovered a site noting an issue with AVG 8 and Google Desktop after doing an issue search. I thought what the hey and uninstalled Google Desktop, reinstalled AVG 8, rebooted and hooray, I am back on the net. So this may be just a random incident but if you use AVG and you do update and there are issues and you really like AVG and don't want to dump it gor Avira, and you have Google Desktop, maybe this will save you some aggravation. The following link will take you to the free AVG 8.0.100 download page if you want it. Personally I am going to do some more looking at Avira too. I don't like incompatibilities nor do I like being dictated as to what I can run due to those incompatibilities.

http://www.grisoft.com/ww.93825.tpl-mcr1

A Good Use for old IDE Drives



This relates to my post about backing up your data. If you have some old ide drives laying around and are comfortable with a simplistic installation, read on. This description is right off of the Amazon site and their box has a full one year warranty from Netgear. My experience with Netgear and their service and warranties has been very positive. If you want to live a little closer to the edge, the same unit is available at http://www.computergeeks.com/ refurbished with a 90 day warranty and half the price. For the money, I think I would go new. Of course if you are like me and have multiple old computers on your network, you can just throw some extra drives in them and achieve a similar success. If after reading this you are totally turned on to buy one, the geek link is above. To buy from Amazon, click on my Amazon Store Widget and put NETGEAR SC101 in the search box.

The NETGEAR SC101 Storage Central is an expandable storage system that allows shared access by all computers on your network. With space for two IDE hard drives, you can set the device up to mirror each other so you have a backup of all your files in case either one fails.

Excellent Value and Easy SetupUnlike other network-attached storage (NAS) devices, the SC101 does not come with any drives but requires you to purchase your own. This allows for considerable cost savings. Opening up the SC101 only requires turning a latch that can be done with a quarter; no tools are needed. Attach the power connectors and IDE cables, set the jumpers, and slide the drive into place, and that's it.

After the hard drives are installed, plug the device in, attach it to the network, and install the included software. The software guides you through setup step by step. When everything is ready to go, it looks like a new hard drive has been installed on your PC and you use it just as you would any other hard drive. Backup software is included for users who don't already have their own preferred software. Please note that the SC101 is only compatible with Windows machines and won't work with Macs or Linux.

Outstanding Performance with Various Storage OptionsThe SC101 connects to your network via a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet connection for fast data transfers. When you connect two drives to the device, you have the option of having them "mirrored" or "spanned." Mirrored storage lets you keep two copies of every file, one on each drive, so that everything is backed up in case of drive failure. When two drives are set to span, they appear as one volume so they are easy to work with and the device will automatically find your data across both drives.
The front panel has three LEDs to let you know the status of the power, hard disk and network at a glance. The NETGEAR SC101 Storage Central is backed by a 1-year warranty.

Central automatically stores and duplicates your important digital content such as music, games, photos, and more. Storage Central ensures that no one can access your files but you and delivers the utmost privacy of your valuable data content. With Storage Central, you can expand outgrown storage volumes, and add more capacity whenever you need it?instantly and easily. Storage Central makes real-time copies of your valuable data, ensuring maximum protection against data loss. Additionally, storage can be expanded indefinitely, keeping pace with all your future storage needs. SmartSync Pro advanced backup software is included. With Storage Central you can add the capacity you need to store, share and back up your valuable digital content?-music, games, photos, videos, and office documents - instantly, easily, and securely, all with the simplicity of your C:drive. Storage Central is easy to setup and install. Just slide in one or two 3.5" IDE disk drives of any capacity; connect Storage Central to any wired or wireless router or switch from any vendor, then configure with Smart Wizard install assistant. Now you're ready to access files from any PC on your network, as a simple letter drive. IDE or PATA drives are sold separately.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dirt Kills--Clean your computer!


Here is an immediate money saving tech tip. Clean your computers. I have a clean environment, no dust, no fumes and no contaminants. However, when ever I open one of my boxes I am amazed how much dust and ensuing dust bunnies are in the computer. Heat kills! The more dust on your board, the more likely you are going to fry a component. I even run a Heppa filter and I get the darn dust bunnies.

First vacumn all you can get out. If you have a metal tip on your vacumn, please make sure you don’t fry your computer with a static discharge. After you have sucked out as much dust as you can, blow the computer. You will be astounded at how much dust hides under things that you can’t vacumn.

I know this is simple, everyone knows it but like running your virus scan, NOBODY DOES IT! Keep the box clean and you extend it’s life, big time.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ezonics Golf Scope / Range Finder (EZ-628)


If you aren’t a golfer, STOP HERE, READ NO FURTHER, you will be bored to tears. If you are a golfer, check this out. It works, it is easy and it is small and really, really inexpensive. I bought one for my technophobe wife/avid golfer. She likes it and found it fairly easy to use. You put the bottom line at the base of the pin and the top moveable line at the top of the pin and get a very reasonable measure of distance. Obviously different courses use different heights on their pins so it is not going to be fool proof but for $30.00 how can you lose. A fancy satellite range finder is hundreds of dollars. Ezonic has is on sale with free shipping for $29.99. http://www.shopezonics.com/product_p/ez-628.htm

Take note, it isn’t really happy if it gets wet so keep it out from under your water/beer/ice tea.

Ezonics description: A new invention of golf scope measures distance by using precise optics and digital technology. This digital golf scope measures distance from 50 to 920 yards with +/- 2 yards deviation if used correctly. It is a safe range measurement device that does not contain a high-energy transmitter which might harm or endanger objects in the distance measured.

The Ezonics Digital Golf Scope/ Range Finder is perfect for training to become a pro in golfing or using it to improve your game to the perfection at every fairway, bunker or teebox. It helps reduce strokes and guesswork of club selection.
This compact 5x magnification power golf scope/digital range finder will improve your game by measuring the range to the pin using two easy-to-use buttons.You can carry it in style with the included high-quality black leatherette belt clip case and hand strap.

It comes with two CR-203 Lithium batteries and a user's manual so you can get ready for the course in no time! It is backed by a one full-year warranty.

Features

Magnification 5X
Objective Lens Dia. 20mm
Eyepiece Lens Dia. 12mm
Focal Length of Objective 75mm
Exit Pupil 4mm
Field of View 7.5 degree
Eye Relief 16mm
Minimum Focusing Distance 7M (23Ft.)
Lens Coating MgF2
Indicator LCD display
Body Materials ABS plastics
Exterior Finishing Mat Silver
Power Two 3-volt Li batteries included
Shut off device Automatic
Dimensions 94 x 50 x 38 (mm) ; 3.7 x 1.97 x 1.5 (inch)
Black Ieatherette case Included
Soft carrying case Included
Net Weight 0.08kgs (2.82oz.)
 Money Saving Tech Tips