Archive for May 31, 2009

Funny Google Chrome videos on YouTube!

These are some of the funniest Google Chrome videos from Chrome Sports Channel on YouTube. While these videos may not be official but are real fun to watch!

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Autoruns – Hunt those nasty startup programs that slow down your bootup!

Your new PC or newly Installed Windows OS behaves well and fast. Over a period of time, the behavior changes. Every application launch takes more and more time. You get dissatisfied with your PC bootup time. Why? If you look at your Task Manager process list, you see a lot of processes running and taking a lot of your RAM. It is a fact that, installing newer applications add additional entries in your Windows startup so every time, windows boots, it has to process those additional tasks and launch extra third party processes. Most of them are background processes and you will not even notice. Some of them are essential but mostly a nuisance.

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It is highly recommend that every now and then you need to keep an eye on your startup tasks list. A simple tool msconfig (Microsoft System Configuration Utility) is very popular. But it is not that comprehensive. A new tool is out there from Sysinternals, called Autoruns.

 WinternalsLogo

Autoruns has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations on Windows. It shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. It runs on all versions of Windows and will surprise you with the list of tasks that run during bootup. You will say “Hmm. That’s why my PC is slow!”. Carefully see what are those nasty apps that you don’t want to run during bootup and disable them. Please be careful on what you disable as it might be a critical Windows service. Make sure you hide all Microsoft auto-start list.

Download and run Autoruns and it shows you the currently configured auto-start applications in the locations that most directly execute applications.  Perform a new scan that reflects changes to options by refreshing the display.

 bb963902.Autoruns(en-us,MSDN.10)

  • Logon This entry results in scans of standard autostart locations such as the Startup folder for the current user and all users, the Run Registry keys, and standard application launch locations.

  • Explorer Select this entry to see Explorer shell extensions, browser helper objects, explorer toolbars, active setup executions, and shell execute hooks.

  • Internet Explorer This entry shows Browser Helper Objects (BHO’s), Internet Explorer toolbars and extensions.

  • Services All Windows services configured to start automatically when the system boots.

  • Drivers This displays all kernel-mode drivers registered on the system except those that are disabled.

  • Scheduled Tasks Task scheduler tasks configured to start at boot or logon.

  • AppInit DLLs This has Autoruns shows DLLs registered as application initialization DLLs.

  • Boot Execute Native images (as opposed to Windows images) that run early during the boot process.

  • Image Hijacks Image file execution options and command prompt autostarts.

  • Known DLLs This reports the location of DLLs that Windows loads into applications that reference them.

  • Winlogon Notifications Shows DLLs that register for Winlogon notification of logon events.

  • Winsock Providers Shows registered Winsock protocols, including Winsock service providers. Malware often installs itself as a Winsock service provider because there are few tools that can remove them. Autoruns can uninstall them, but cannot disable them.

  • LSA Providers Shows registers Local Security Authority (LSA) authentication, notification and security packages.

  • Printer Monitor Drivers Displays DLLs that load into the print spooling service. Malware has used this support to autostart itself.

  • Sidebar Displays Windows Vista sidebar gadgets

Further reading:

Mark’s BlogMark Russinovich’s technical blog covering topics such as Windows troubleshooting, technologies and security.

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How to manually remove Spywares?

We reviewed some of the best free Anti-Spyware software programs that are there for your rescue and how to protect yourself from fake/rouge Anti-Spyware programs earlier. In this article we will cover some of the best freeware tools that will help you manually clean the infected spyware. If you are not fully protected or you try to install anti-spyware software post a spyware infection, sometimes there are chances that the spyware would have already done the damage and done the sufficient ground work so that the Anti-Spyware may fail to remove them. Usually, what these spywares do is that they keep multiple secret copies of them and once you scan your PC with the downloaded Anti-Spyware program, chances are there that they will resurrect from the secret copies again and again! So, you must be aware of manual cleaning of spywares too. Here is a beginners guide to do that. Please be aware that all these steps can cause serious issues, if not done properly.

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Image Source: http://www.elithecomputerguy.com/services.html

We mainly need to have access to Registry Editor and Windows Task Manager to start with. There are chances that these spywares would have disabled them too. They can be easily enabled.

  • Cannot Access Regedit, How to Fix It? Read here.
  • Task Manager Has Been Disabled, How to Fix It? Read here.

Unfortunately, you will need to carefully examine the running process list. This is a tedious but essential step. You may see a lot of processes that may be unfamiliar but that’s fine. You can Google such process name and get more information whether it is harmful or not. We must admit that Windows Task Manager is not that good in listing all the running processes. So, we recommend using Process Explorer from Microsoft (again).

Step 1: Download “Process Explorer” from Microsoft.

Step 2: Unzip the archive and run ProcExp.exe and you will see something like below; color coded process list.

ProcessExplorer

Step 3: Windows processes will be colored Pink, Applications will be in Grey blue etc.

Step 4: Add a column “Command Line” by right clicking on the bar with column names. This will bring in a new column that provides the full path of the processes running. Now, it is easier to examine the running processes. Usually, suspicious processes will be running with a weird looking file names and thing like that. Study them and see if they are problem creators. Uniblue’s process library has some good list of documented processes that could help you. Sometimes, legitimate processes will be tagged as Spyware, so please verify properly.

Step 5: Once you identify such suspicious processes, you would want to delete them. Head over to HijackThis and download it. It is a very neat tool that can assist you in deleting or removing spywares but it is not for average users. It will list the processes running and let you delete them easily by deleting all corresponding entries in registry, executables etc. But, one should be very careful while doing so as it could affect critical windows services. Thankfully there are many forums where you could post the HijackThis report and helpful volunteers will analyse the report for you and suggest what to do. Here is some of them.

Whatthetech, Geeks on the Go. Also check post of HijackThis – How to analyze logs here.

Step 6: Rootkits are hard to find spywares. They may not be visible in HijackThis log too. There is a tool called IceSword which is capable of removing many rootkit threats. However, be aware that any wrong move with this may cause you lot of pain.

References and further reading:

Protect yourself from Rogue Anti-Spyware Software

All of us get troubled by Spyware and Malware products now and then. They easily get into our systems without our knowledge and do a lot of tracking of our activities and pop-up annoying messages and what not. Worst of all, there are many freeware Anti-Spyware/Virus programs out there who themselves stealthily infect spyware or malware programs to our computers while they claim they remove spyware tools :-)

These fake Anti-Spyware software programs are known as Rogue Anti-Spyware programs and should not be trusted at any cost.

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image source: http://www.computerrepairtownsville.com/category/spyware

But, How do you know which one is legitimate? There are so many of them, here is a partial list of such rogue anti-spyware programs listed in wikipedia. Personally we have had lot of issues with Antivirus 2008 a fake anti-spyware program, which took us a while to remove completely.

There are many ways you could verify if the Anti-Spyware program you want to buy or use for free.

Please verify the Anti-Spyware program if it is listed as bad in Spyware Warrior list. They have extensive knowledge base of such programs.

If you are looking for information on the most recent rogue anti-spyware applications, SpywareWarrior recommends visiting these sites:

Luckily, there are many legitimate Anti-Spyware/Virus programs that we can use without worrying so much; They all support automatic spyware/virus definition updates which is essential. They are listed below.

AVG Free edition

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An award winning Anti-Virus/Spyware software used by millions of people and one of the best available free software. There is a Pro version that supports more features.

Avast 4.8 Free edition

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Complete Anti-Virus/Spyware software for free. A highly recommended software.

Ad-aware by Lavasoft

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Ad-aware has been around for quite sometime now and free edition is capable of removing spywares effectively. But, a Pro version is needed for complete solution like virus detection etc.

Spybot – Search and Destroy

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Spybot – S&D can detect spywares and remove them. It can even immunize your system with a real time protection. However, no virus detection is possible.

Google Pack with Norton

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Norton Security Scan is part of Google Software pack, is a free tool that will scan your computer and identify if there are existing viruses, worms, spyware, unwanted adware or Trojans residing on your computer. Norton Security Scan checks to see how your computer is currently protected.

Microsoft Windows Defender

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A capable spyware protection from the creators of Windows! They know the best.

Let us know, If you know better ones and we will review them.

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Unison – The Unmatched Unified Alternative

In our previous post we had reviewed a free software based PBX – 3CX. If you are looking for an unified solution to replace your old email server, IM server and PBX, then Unison is the answer!

what-is-unison

Unison is software that you an install on one Linux server, Unison Server. That server replaces several systems – PBX, e-mail, instant messaging, directory – with a single Unison system. Unison comes with a native desktop client for Windows or Linux, Unison Desktop.

Unison comes with 2 parts: Unison Server and the Unison Desktop.

Unison Server

unison-server

Unison Server is the world’s first truly unified communications server. It includes fully-integrated e-mail, instant messaging and presence, an IP-PBX, a calendar server and an LDAP directory with contacts. Administrators manage everything via Unison Control Panel. Click to view the components and protocols we use.

What is in Unison Server?

  • PBX / telephone: Call center-class IP-PBX built in, with patented scaling technology
    Directory / contacts: LDAP with global, departmental and personal address books
  • E-mail / e-mail security: High-performance e-mail server with antivirus and antispam built in
  • Instant messaging : Integrated XMPP-based instant message and presence server
  • Calendar server: Advanced CalDAV-based calendaring with group scheduling

Unison Desktop

What is in Unison Desktop?

Unison includes Unison Desktop, a native desktop client. Running on either Windows or Linux, it replaces legacy clients such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. Unison Desktop is easy to use and feels familiar to people who know other clients

What is in Unison Desktop?

  • E-mail
  • Calendars and group scheduling
  • Contacts and distribution lists
  • Instant messaging  Separate client
  • User presence  Separate client
  • Telephony
  • Tasks

Pricing

Well, if you have budget constrains then Unison has a zero-cost sponsored version as an alternative. If you want to get rid of the sponsor ads then you can go for a commercial license.Both versions are fully-functional, with no limits on users or how long you can use the product.

Do you want to try?

The easiest way is to try the demo version or the free download and deploy it yourself.

If you are using an email system then Unison offers a server-side migration tool to move e-mail and contacts from Microsoft Exchange to Unison.

If you are using an existing phone system then you can buy a gateway or digital card from companies such as Cisco or Digium. This allows you to connect your existing analog or digital telephone lines to Unison. If you already have a SIP provider, you can simply configure Unison to work with that system using Unison Control Panel.

Looking for more information, then checkout the benefits

 

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