December 8, 2007

Another Tech-centric Post

Save your files!
As I flipped upon the pages of November's PC World magazine, there was this little tip about USB flash drives and recovery that I think would be ultimately convenient for all of us. (That means you, Cath!)

Well anyway, let's say that your USB drive has been downed by a virus, your whole life is on the line and you are without a backup copy for salvation (That is sooo not recommended, people.), what would you do? Well, firstly, as I have discovered, viruses tend to work only in the Operating Systems they are designed to attack. So let's say that the attack happened on your flashy new Windows Vista PC and you only have one anti-virus that curiously missed scanning your flash drive after getting the virus out of your own PC. Well, if you insert the virus-infected drive into another Windows PC, chances are that it'll get infected, too. But if you insert the drive in a Mac or Linux computer, you can get the drive's contents without frills and risk.

How exactly?
OK, maybe a Mac's expensive, but a Linux distro (short for distribution) is free, and there are lots like Ubuntu or Damn Small Linux. You have to install them in another computer (your old one will probably do) as is the case for Ubuntu, which requires 4GB of free storage, or ironically, in another USB drive (64MB will do) which is the case for Damn Small Linux.

But then again, you'll still probably need a brand new thumb drive anyway, since a virus-infected flash drive is something you should throw away! (though booting from a USB drive is harder than you think).

If you don't ever want to buy a USB drive again and you'll probably still want to take those files off, burn the image file (.iso) in a blank CD. Depending on your connection, the 50MB file will probably take 10-20 minutes to download on DSL, so you better get a download manager ready for those disconnection incidents.
Once downloaded, double-click the file to let your burner burn it to a CD. After that, restart your computer and you'll be led to an installation screen. Just click Live CD lest you want to obliterate Windows, and wait. Insert infected drive, and copy them off to a floppy disk or something!

Oh and before I forget, here's the download link for Damn Small Linux, I won't be providing Ubuntu's because it's gonna take veeeeery long to download.

That's too much of a hassle!
OK, there are alternatives. If you want to stay in your Windows computer, fine. But you gotta download those free anti-virus and firewall applications, then update them along with Windows itself. But wait! Don't put that drive just yet! There is something you gotta do before that...

For Windows XP users
You should download TweakUI, a Microsoft thingamajig, and open it after installation. Then, navigate to the program's left pane to My Computer, then Autoplay, then Types. There will be a checkbox that says Enable Autoplay for removable drives, uncheck that then click OK or Apply.

For Windows Vista users
Click the Start button and type autoplay on the search field and press Enter on your keyboard (maybe after a few seconds).

Once you see this window, you should go to the "Software and Games" drop down box and select Take no Action. Click Save.

After that, you can now disable all Internet and local connections to prevent the virus form communicating and plug the drive in with all those blocking virus disablers turned on. The files may be infected, so drag-and-drop with caution to yet another removable media, most preferably another USB drive. Scan the files put in the other drive with all the security programs you have and shut down the computer and throw the infected drive away!

How about my corrupted USB drive?
Now here's a cool utility that can get all those files for you, PC Inspector File Recovery. It can see all the stuff you have deleted on your computer, on your SD card, or of course, your flash drive. It's notorious for being prone to crashes, though. But that's the price you gotta pay for something that actually works (as stated in the User Reviews).

There's always a lesson to be learned from these types of incidents: NEVER GO COPYING FILES WITHOUT MAKING A BACK-UP COPY!

(Thanks to PC World Magazine)

Tech Reviews
Yahoo! Messenger for Vista (Preview)
One of the most highly awaited software for Vista owners is the sleek, new Yahoo! Messenger for Vista. It's only exclusive for that platform only, hence the name, and it offers a few features that have become a bit overdue for some time. But the question is, should you download it now?

Being an apparently rushed, unstable version, it will definitely have a lot of quirks. The interface definitely looks both like a downgrade and an upgrade to the current interface used by Yahoo! Messenger 9 Beta, because for one thing, it is sluggish (though my computer is partly to blame) and it is not what you see in the screenshots, but it also looks kinda good, though you won't get used to it initially. Plus, when you start it up (and hopefully only in the first time), you will be seeing... staring at its new splash screen. Hmm.., it's kind of a wonderful way to waste time, at least.

One big pro is the fact that tabbed browsing is present for organized chatter. But features are still missing though, and the Buzz! button is not visible unless you right-click. You won't get Webcam, Audibles, Photos, IMVironments, Conferencing and a lot more!

So, should you make the move now? No. But if you want to really test it, you can because the older version you'll have on your computer won't be erased anyway.

Rating: 3/10 (Bad)

I have told you about this already. It might be a Firefox-based browser, but it's better than Firefox.

Everything is conveniently laid out in its interface, which has a slight learning curve what with all the new buttons and stuff. But once you get immersed in the Flock experience, it's hard to go to another browser.

You can view friend lists, video/photo streams and set a blog account as well as subscribe and read RSS far easier than Firefox. Too bad it doesn't support common social networking sites like Friendster and Multiply, but hey, that doesn't mean you can't try new stuff, right?

Another thing I like is the ability to make blog posts offline as it saves the time for you to go through the web interface, only finding out that you have lost your motivation. Plus, the photo uploader is fast and easy (that is when you log into one, of course) and built-in the browser as well.

The browsing experience is still the same as Firefox (as well as the timing of new security patches released), but hopefully Flock will grow even further as it is a most promising browser that you won't leave in the dust just like that.

Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)

Long Term Review of Apple MacBook (10 months)
This is the type of review where you can see how long a product can last, and how much lasting satisfaction and usability it can give to a person. This time, we determine if a MacBook can last without the urge of upgrading...
Wow, I can't believe how long my family and I have been together with a blessed Macintosh! We may have occupied more than half of its 80GB capacity, but it's still the lean, mean fun machine we all know and love since day one!

OK, maybe there has been a bit of chipping on the latch (because it is magnetic) because of forceful closing, but aesthetically, it's still eye-catching though it is prone to dirt and... ANTS?!

Moving on from the aesthetic aspects, the hardware has only failed me once when the battery went haywire and the only way you can use the laptop is by plugging it in (it's not so mobile that way now, is it?) but it was quickly resolved (warranty :-D).

As for the performance, it has un-noticeably slowed down a bit, and is a great battery saver at the same time as it can still last for 3 (or more) hours in casual use, and that's under Wi-Fi. It rarely hangs (the first and only time as of now happened just last week) and all the utilities are useful. Plus, in the future, I can still use the same MacBook in a new OS release*.

Still, I just wish I could play games in that thing, but I can't because of Intel's Integrated Graphics Card, which in layman's terms is, stupid piece of crap! I always urge my dad to buy a desktop (the iMac) as it is less expensive and more powerful than a MacBook Pro, but all in all, I still love the MacBook. If you're looking for fast, reliable, secure, mobile and upgradeable, look no further than a MacBook. It even helped me ace a few projects to boot!

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