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Category: Work

PC Tips – Being Free

Here is a collection of free software utilities you can use to keep your Windows PC running in peak performance.

I compiled this list after doing a lot of research testing among various applications and computers. In my opinion, the ‘biggies’ such as Norton and McAfee are bloated resource hogs that don’t perform as well as they should. You can expect to fork over at least $30 a year for them, as they force you to renew your subscription after 12 months.

Why use these tools when there are free alternatives that run faster, do a better job, and take up fewer resources?

Antivirus

I recommend the free version of AVG Antivirus, which is fast, thorough, and free. I liked it so much I paid for a copy of the enhanced version for my main PC just to support the company. That doesn’t mean the free version lacks anything important, because it is indeed full-featured.

Spyware

The old faithful, Spybot Search and Destroy does an excellent job of finding spyware, and keeping spyware from finding you. It is important to run the updater weekly to make sure you are protected from all the latest threats.

Windows Optimization

To replace the tools that Norton System Works offers, I suggest you download and install Easy Cleaner, which does everything Nortons does but without the resource hogging. From cleaning up your registry to clearing out old temporary files, Easy Cleaner is fast, small, and powerful.

Firewall

Only recently did I learn about Kerio Personal Firewall, but since I have installed it on three machines and used it for a couple of weeks, I have been thoroughly impressed. One suggestion: when installing it, choose the ‘basic’ interface and not ‘advanced’. That is, unless you are a savvy computer geek.

Other System Protection

Another cool tool to keep things from getting broken in Windows is WinPatrol. This tool puts a little black dog named Scotty in your system tray. Scotty will bark at you when something weird is going on, such as an application trying to change your hosts file. Scotty monitors your system files and protects them from spyware, trojans, and the like.

Work, Music, News

Thanks to Pete emailing me recently, I learned that the Second String Bluegrass Band songs that I had linked to on music.willchatham.com were not actually there. I am currently uploading them all to my server, and they should be there within the hour.

On another musical note (get it? GET IT??? 😐 ), I am keeping my eye on iTunes for the day Speed appears. Not that it’s that big a deal really, but I’m excited about it. The re-release comes out April 5th. Don’t forget!

On a work related tip, I finally have something to show from my day job. It’s not much, but it gives you a glimpse into what sorts of crazy things I’m doing for the DoD.

At work this week I have been setting up a new installation of Red Hat Fedora Core 3 on a Dell 1750 for the Intranet site we are re-developing. This has proven to be a lot of fun. I have been more impressed with each new version of Fedora, and this one is working out well. Of particular interest is SELinux, which installs as an option with Fedora.

I have also been doing a lot of side work through home-based Asheville Technologies, setting up a site for a local realtor, getting ready to start one for a guitar player, and doing other odds and ends for other clients. I’ll show some stuff soon.

And soon there will be some important/exciting news I will be reporting on here, so keep your eyeballs peeled and your earballs waxed.

Oracle

I’m in Oracle Application Server 10g administration training all this week. The AF brought in an Oracle person to teach us how to use the software since that’s what we will be developing the new site on. We have two more weeks coming up soon. So far, I have learned a good bit of cool stuff.

A large part of the training has related to using the Apache web server, which unfortunately in Oracle AS 10g is version 1.3 instead of 2.0. I am realizing that much of what this expensive piece of software does is simply make it easier to edit Apache configuration files. They just present you with a nice GUI interface in which you can change config settings, add virtual hosts, and restart the httpd service.

I’m sure there will be a lot more to it than that though. I learned a lot about mod_rewrite today, which I have used in the past in a limited capacity. It helps me a lot to learn in a classroom setting though, and I now understand it much better than ever before. Being able to ask questions and get things explained in various ways if need be helps a lot.

This is a link to the learning track we are on. Note the URL in the address bar once you are there. Wonder why they don’t use mod_rewrite to clean that up?

Hopefully, once the training sessions are complete, Oracle will offer the 10g Web Administrator certification. Right now it’s still only offered in 9i.

Link Goodness

Allrighty, how about a little linkitudinal updatage going on here?

First, for those of you in the Asheville area, I have for you perhaps the best online weather info available. Current NCDC Weather Conditions provides you with current data from atop the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. There are also links to regional radar maps (loopable) and lots of other cool weather geek info. I have an inside track on this sort of thing these days, which makes me even geekier. I know you are jealous.

Montage-A-Google is a neat way of creating photo montages by searching with Google Images.

If the news that Microsoft is finally releasing an update to its bug-ridden, non-compliant, piece of doo security threat called Internet Explorer (for XP users only, mind you) isn’t enough to make you crumple over with a hernia from laughing, check out their “A parent’s primer to computer slang” article.

Key points for learning leetspeek

  • Numbers are often used as letters

40w 08|?10U$, [email protected]

And about the Internet Explorer thing, it’s not really a new version of the browser, it’s a service pack. Looks like they are feeling a wee bit threatened by someone.

In case you didn’t know, you can opt out of a lot of credit card junk mail. It’s your legal right, so do it.

Lastly, for those of you who need to surf the Internet in style, I give you Pimpzilla the bling-bling Firefox theme.

Server Woes

So I just got my web server back in order after about 12 hours of problems. I ran some upgrades early this morning that borked the entire server.

It turns out something got misconfigured in lilo, the Linux boot loader, and it wouldn’t boot up after the upgrades. Once that was resolved, I had some problems with my root directory being full. After that, I learned that there was a PHP file that didn’t get upgraded, which took down all WordPress installations (me, chris, chris, lauren, etc). I finally got that resolved. Lastly, webmail started showing up in Arabic, and that was due to the same PHP problem.

I’m glad I got everything straightened out with no loss of data. Downtime stinks and is stressful when you have a bunch of clients hosted who rely on email and generate money off their sites every day, but it happens to the best of them.

Thanks for the patience of everyone.

New Kids on the Block

Let’s give a big welcome to Chris and Chris, two guys I work with, who recently started blogging at the urging of yours truly. It took a while for them to come around, but they finally saw the geek light, got their domain names, and established camp on the World Wide Web (on yours truly’s server).

Elsewhere, I heard the other day that the re-release of Speed, the first record by Crain, the band I was in back in 89-92, is ready to go. I set up a site for the occasion at CrainSpeed.com, where there will soon be some of the remastered tracks available for download. I am supposed to be getting some advanced copies of the discs soon. They put three unreleased songs on there too, and it allegedly sounds excellent!

And how about them Looeyville Cards?