Heads-Up for August’s Patch Tuesday

August 7th, 2008

Here's what Microsoft has planned for us next Patch Tuesday:

  • Seven Microsoft Security Bulletins with maximum severity of Critical.
  • Five with maximum severity of Important.
  • These updates may require a restart.

More info on Tuesday

How do I change the Windows Product key?

August 7th, 2008

Here's a question which I receive regularly:

Question: How do I change my Windows product key?

How you do this depends on the version of Windows you are running. If you are running Windows XP then the easiest way is to download the Windows Product Key Update Tool - this is a legitimate Microsoft tool so you can use it with confidence.

If you are running Windows Vista then you can change the product key directly from within Windows (Click Start, right-click on Computer and select Properties and then click Change product key that appears at the bottom of the box, then follow the prompts).

Remember, changing your product key will mean that you will need to reactivate Windows after changing the product key.

Need a good reason to learn to take care of your own PC? Here’s one!

August 7th, 2008

Need a good reason to learn to take care of your own PC? Here's one:

Marisel Garcia is one of eight or nine women in the Gainesville, Florida who is a victim of a Webcam Spy Hacker voyeurism scandal, orchestrated by Craig Feigin.

Craig Feigin, a computer programmer, worked on Marisel Garcia's computer to fix her laptop. When she got her machine back from Feigin, it had a slew of other problems so she brought it to another area repair man. One of the new problems was that the computer's built-in camera light came on every time she was near the machine.

When Marisel Garcia got her computer back, she learned that Craig Feigin had installed a program called Webcam Spy Hacker that was using her computer's camera to take pictures of her and send them to a Web server. Apparently Feigin had 20,000 photos of Garcia and her friends, in some of which Garcia was not fully clothed.

This is just one example of why you can't trust someone else to take care of your PC. I've come across so many dodgy scams (parts stolen, overcharging for work, claiming to have done XYZ when it's clearly not the case) and weird goings-on (snooping through files, passwords, etc) that I simply wouldn't trust anyone else to fix my PC. Also, don't be fooled into thinking that:

  • a) This kind of stuff doesn't happen that often, it does (maybe it's not as bad as this cam stunt, but lesser things, such as snooping through files, is incredibly common)
  • b) You're safe if you take your PC to a "Big name" (no, you're not)

With a notebook you are usually stuffed but at the very least if you do have to send the system back you should be allowed to keep the hard disk (unless the issue is software related, or hard disk related, in which case you are better off fixing the problem yourself). Alternatively, clone the hard disk and securely wipe it and reload the OS.

Trust no one ...

Debunking Windows performance tweaking myths

August 6th, 2008

Lifehacker has a good article debunking many of the common Windows performance tweaking myths.

Let me sum it up for you:

  • Disabling QoS to Free Up 20% of Bandwidth - Myth busted!
  • Make Vista Use Multiple Cores to Speed Up Boot Time - Myth busted!
  • Clearing Out Windows Prefetch for Faster Startup - Myth busted!
  • Cleaning the Registry Improves Performance - Myth busted!
  • Clear Memory by Processing Idle Tasks - Myth busted!
  • Clean, Defrag and Boost Your RAM With SnakeOil Memory Optimizer - Myth busted!
  • Disabling Shadow Copy/System Restore Improves Performance - Myth busted!
  • Enable SuperFetch in Windows XP - Myth busted!
  • Disabling Services to Speed Up the Computer - Myth busted!

People will try to argue with you until your ears bleed that one or other of these tips will boost performance, but they won't be able to show you a shred of proof.

Another myth that I want to add to this is the "Windows Server 2008 makes a better desktop OS than Vista" myth. I've come at this myth from all sorts of angles and each time come to the conclusion that it is nothing more than unsubstantiated bunk.

If your PC is too slow then there are a number of reasons why:

  • It's just underpowered and needs a hardware upgrade (you're basically asking it to do too much).
  • There's an applications hogging system resources (security apps are often to blame ... see the difference that a lightweight antivirus package such as Sunbelt Software VIPRE makes).
  • There's some hardware/software problem with your PC (badly configured BIOS, poorly set power management ...).

Let me close by saying that 99% of all performance tweak I've come across that promises dramatic performance improvements turn out to be bunk.

VIPRE – In pictures

August 1st, 2008

Here's a tour of the VIPRE installation, setup and interface ... it should give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to take VIPRE for a spin.

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Vipre_03

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE