Archive for the System Monitoring Category

*UPDATED – Call Management, ‘Google Style’ – Free, Useful, RevolutionaryD

Posted in Download Management, Frequently Updated, phone, System Monitoring on April 25, 2008 by Ethan Dickenson

11.15.08. Google is not granting access to new beta testers through the Grand Central Website.  It has been several months since they did.  However, you can go to this link

http://www.grandcentral.com/home/reserve

and request to be included in the beta test.  Give it a try!!  I have been using the GC interface and I’m very pleased with all the call management functions.  When Grand Central opens it’s site for ‘production’  use to the masses,  it will revolutionize the way people use their phones.  More soon…   You can read my original post on this subject below.


Grand Central is a company that was purchased by Google about a year ago. It is the greatest new addition to phone management on the market and it’s free! Everyone should check this out. It is currently in Beta but I signed up a long long time ago and, while supplies last, I’ll send you an invitation if you leave a comment asking for one on this article…

When you sign up for Grand Central you get a new phone number. It is the last phone number you will ever need. It assigns you the number and then, through an intuitive GUI, it enables you to forward all your phones so they ring on that single number. You might think, why would I want to do that? It’s a little hard to explain all the advantages but there are many. I’ll do my best to outline the basics but to really understand things you should go to Grand Central’s website and check it out there. For one thing, now all your calls are logged on your computer, so you have a historical database of your incoming calls in a manageable format. It replaces your answering machine so you also have a historical database of all your incoming messages… It allows you to leave ‘group defined’ greetings for the incoming calls that you miss. This means that if you have someone you’ve been dying to get a hold of and you want to tell them something if they get to your answering machine, you can leave a customized message that will play as your announcement just for that phone number. This is a really impressive feature for both business and home use. You can have calls coming from certain numbers sent forward to certain phones. This way, if you always want your Mother to ring your home line instead of your business line you can assign all her phones to ring on your home line! As well, now you only have to remember one number and everyone can contact you via that one number and you set up the rules so when the call comes in it is sent to whatever number you would like it to be sent to. There is even a way to put a web call widget on your blog so anyone can call you and you don’t have to worry about them abusing the number because you have total and complete control when your calls come in! There are a hundred other great things that Grand Central can do to make managing your incoming calls more efficient so check out their website and if you want to give it a try, let me know and I’ll send you an invitation to the beta so you can get your own Grand Central Phone Number!

http://www.grandcentral.com/

Protect Yourself – A Black Network of Corporate Vigilantes Are Connecting to Your PC, and Stealing Data, To Incriminate You

Posted in Network Monitoring, Privacy, Red Alert, Security, System Monitoring, Utilities on December 14, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

There is a gap between today’s technology and legislation to protect your privacy. Technology has moved so quickly that the Internet is a largely ungoverned place, and most of us would prefer it to stay that way. However, this new frontier may expose computer users to an invasion of our privacy that could end up costing us a bundle or possibly even land us in jail. It is likely that today your computer will be queried by over a dozen computers who are downloading copyright data (and who knows what else) from yourLiberty computer without your knowledge or permission. But these are not hackers or criminals, at least they are not organizations that you would normally consider hackers. I was shocked when I saw who the corporations that owned the list of blocked IPs. It is a who’s who of the computer industry and it bothers me that they are taking establishing what I would call a “covert connection” to my PC and downloading data from me. I’m willing to bet that nearly every PC has a few files on them that technically belong to someone else and contractually speaking, are illegal for you to have. You might not be using these files or you might not even be aware these files exist on your PC but you are responsible for having them and if they get redistributed you could be on the hook for more dollars than you care to think about. I’m not comfortable interpreting this “movement” or “trend” as being related only to copyrighted music either. It could reach into video clips (Youtube, Google…) , software evaluations and shareware programs, pictures, articles… anything that has the potential to be copyrighted. When the going gets tough, cash is tight, and companies will look to whatever source of income they can find. But the real issue isn’t whatever scenario I can come up with or whether you think you could possibly be liable for something, the real problem is the invasion of privacy and the question if search and seizure laws apply. I consider the data on my PC as my personal property. I’ve taken measures to lock it down and secure it. It disturbs me that corporations can establish a “hidden connection” to my PC and steal my data. But the straw that “breaks the camels back” in this situation is that they can use that data to incriminate you in a court of law! It is unthinkable that our society considers this process legal and it has to change. An equivalent example in the physical world would be if a private organization (not even the police) could break into your home and look for information to prove that you are guilty of something against the law and use that information in a court of law to incriminate you. In the real world this isn’t just trespassing and a violation of your privacy but it is a criminal activity and in most cases it would be classified as a felony. Our privacy laws exist to protect you from a person or an organization, old glorywhich may have self serving motives, from becoming too powerful. As discussed, in cyberspace organizations are breaking into your private area (your computer) and gathering whatever data they can (without your permission or knowledge), with the intention of using that data to incriminate you in a court of law. Unfortunately it is perfectly legal for them to gather this data now because our laws have not caught up to the unique environments the Internet has created.

So we need to protect ourselves and luckily there are organizations working to keep track of these issues and building programs to enable users to stop the offending sites from connecting to your PC. I tried several programs and the best solution I found is Peer Guardian2. These programs work from a large list of IP addresses and the need to update and process those lists can be resource intensive. Most of the other programs I tried took an enormous amount of resources to run but Peer Guardian2 ran well and didn’t max my system out even when it was updating the lists (which is the most intensive cycle). There are some issues in compatibility with some of the popular firewalls (specifically Outpost and Macafee’s Black Ice). However, it runs well with the Sygate firewall which is my Best of Breed pick. If you have questions about compatibility you should check out their FAQ. Peer Guardian2 also has a lite version that takes even fewer resources to run. Regardless of the resources I’m recommending that everyone download, install, and run Peer Guardian2. If you need to use a different firewall, make the change. If you need to spend 70 bucks and add some RAM it’s worth it (you probably need it anyway). It would probably be pushing it to run Peer Guardian on a PC with only 512k of RAM on it and I’m guessing it would choke on a CPU with 256k. However, If you’ve got more than 512k you will be fine.

One minor issue: I am currently having trouble getting the primary P2P list to update but I hope to resolve the issue and I don’t want to my readers to wait. Protect yourself! We all owe the developers working on Peer Guardian2 a thanks for developing the software. They do accept donations so if you really value the work they are doing please support them.

You can download Peer Guardian2 from the link below. It is in BETA but it is working well.

http://phoenixlabs.org/pg2/

If you are interested in reading about copyright infringement or if you have received a letter from a recording company you can check out this FAQ.

http://wiki.phoenixlabs.org/wiki/Infringement_FAQ

Get Down With a Couple of Tools

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Firefox, Firefox Extension, System Monitoring on September 15, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Down Them All (DTA) and Download Status Bar (DSB): I run both of these download extensions. I started with Download Status Bar when Ff first came out so I’m comfy with it and like grabbing my download history from it. DSB also gives you a GUI picture on your status bar of your download progress and when it’s done you can double click the download and it will execute. An argumSonicent could be made to drop Download Status bar and just use DTA, I like both but the meat of what you need is in DTA… It lets you look at a complete web page and see every object embedded in it. Then, if you want, you can download them all but it also provides a way to filter that information so you only see certain types of files, for example .gif but, of course, there is a filter editor so you can strip out whatever file type you need to. You can also set up a directory so that it always stores a certain file type in that directory or just have a favorite directory to download stuff into. You can pick when you tell the download to start. It handles auto renaming and basically everything you need in a download manager. In fact, for several years I ran Free Download Manager but I dropped it because Down Them All (DTA) has everything I need in a download manager. Anyone who downloads stuff (which is nearly everyone) would benefit from having these extensions.

Down Them All 

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/201

Download Statusbar 

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/26

When it Comes to Firewalls – Tried is True – Sygate Returns

Posted in Disk and File Mgt, Download Management, Network Monitoring, Security, System Monitoring, Utilities on September 12, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

I checked out Comodo, ran it for over a month, and in that month I had to de-install it 3 times and I went through at least one Comodo required reboot every week and when I was having trouble sometimes I would do three in a day, but today I was in a rush and had to get some things done so when I got the dreaded message about my session being reset I’d had enough and I quickly de-installed it and reinstalled Sygate.

Maybe Comodo is technically a better firewall at keeping out everything you could possibly run into on the net but maybe the effort that goes into attaining that rigid level of security is too much. You have to draw the line somewhere and Comodo requires too much management. Those tasks eat into productivity and spending all day working on your firewall defeats the purpose of being secure. I really wanted Help MeComodo to work and I tried very hard to stick to my selection but I wouldn’t want my readers going through the hassles that I’ve had to. I’ve never had a problem from Sygate letting something bad through and I’ve never had to de-install it because I’d answered “no” to one of it’s approval prompts. I’m going to keep looking at firewalls because Sygate has ceased development on the product but for now I’m going back because it works 99.99% of the time and that is good enough for me and just about everyone else too. The thing that is really annoying is that Comodo’s GUI tells makes it look like I’ve corrected the issue and things should run but the only way to get my Internet connection up and running again was to de-install it and that just isn’t acceptable.

I’ve had a long history with Sygate, for those of you who are new to my issues with Firewalls please continue to read below. Or if you just want the to download the most practical Firewall I’ve been able to find you can just download it from this link.

Continue reading

Super Control Panel – On a Need to Know Basis

Posted in System Monitoring, Utilities on September 5, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

I debated about putting this post in. I went through a phase a few years ago where I liked digging into the administration of XP/NT. I ran into this then and, at the time, I thought it was great but now I neverxp syspad pull it up. NT Syspad is like an extended control panel. If you are interested in digging through XP/NT’s administration and utilities then you’ll probably want NT Syspad. At the very least, it is quick access to every function in the control panel and not a bad product to keep on hand.

XP Syspad

Know Your Config

Posted in System Monitoring, Utilities on August 29, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Configinspector is probably the best product you can get for keeping your configuration at your fingertips. It’s a lot like taskman but with detailed configuration information and performance information right on hand. It’s something that is good to keep around and everyone should have it on their system. There is no risk of keeping it around and it only runs when you ask it to.

http://flashdeli.com/config-inspector.php

Pirate Talk – Avast Ye Matie – The Best Anti-Virus Package in The World

Posted in Download Management, Network Monitoring, Security, System Monitoring, Utilities on August 27, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

I am truly amazed and appreciative of the quality that Avast provides to it’s home users free of charge. The Avast suite is a “first class” anti-virus package. I know no better and I’ve seen most. Being an anti-virus vendor, you must establish and continually provide a vigilant relationship with your customer and Avast constantly updates their virus database and they do it as transparently and efficiently as possible for both fee and free customers. I can’t thank Avast enough for the value they provide to us free users consistently. Every home and business user should run Avast. I have no doubt, they are the best, so install their software and put your Virus troubles behind you.

More information from Avast
http://www.avast.com/eng/programs.html

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