Friday, November 15, 2013

Computers on Friday

Computer Virus Discussion, Computer Bits and Pieces

I used to teach Advanced DOS classes at a local community college. For you young folks, that's "Disk Operating System" not "Denial of Service." One of the main topics I always had to cover was viruses (there is no plural for the Latin word virus).

Computer viruses are just as bad now. The computing power of all the machines on the planet is astounding, so it doesn't surprise me that there are internet viruses infecting machines and installing zombies. Zombies are small programs that allow the virus master to use his bevy of machines to do simple tasks, like send messages to a particular web site to crash it (that's a Denial of Service attack).

The really bad part is that many of the viruses can be installed as a drive-by. What that means is that you can visit a web site that will install the virus without any input from the user at all.

A better explanation is in this article, where they talk about a drive-by that infected One of the scary things about the drive-by is that only 24 of 47 major anti-virus programs detected the malware, although many now have updates to do so.

These drive-by viruses are especially prevalent on gaming sites and porn sites, since the traffic to these sites is so high. I suppose the web sites with funny cat pictures are dangerous too.

Macs have virus problems, too, but not nearly as many. Now that I'm back in the PC world I need to be vigilant about computer viruses.

It's a personal thing, but I'm not fond of McAfee or Norton. Norton is one of the better rated ones now, but it bothers me when a program is so entrenched in your computer system that you have to go through hoops to remove it. I uninstalled the version that came with my machine and still had to edit the registry to clean it all out.

I downloaded and ran the free version of Malwarebytes to identify and remove any malware on my new machine. I was fortunate; my machine was clean.

I like and use Lavasoft's Ad-Aware which got a pretty good review from CNet for the latest version. Right now I use the free version, but I might upgrade. If you download it - be careful. I've noticed a lot of sites that have links to download the program and they download something that looks similar but is a form of malware, or at least bloatware. I also got a copy of their registry cleaner, which cleaned a lot of pre-loaded crap from my registry. It's a lot better than trying to do it by hand.

Stupid registry.

Now I just need to stay away from dangerous sites. I'm using the Lavasoft add-in for IE to protect me for now. I'll move to a different browser sometime soon.

Yes, it is possible to build apps with no programming skills. I've used Conduit, mentioned in this article, but there are a lot I've not heard of or used. It's easy, but it is still work. Most designers will tell you that the coding isn't the part that makes an app great - it's the design. Most people make no money on their home-built apps.

Speaking of making money, I still don't understand the on-line currency bitcoin, but one company is launching a bitcoin trading exchange. It doesn't matter. I still don't get it.

It's the sales time of year again, so here are some current Black Friday computer deals. These won't last long, but I'm sure more will pop up.

The PS4 is out now. These developers tell why it is such a good gaming platform. Some folks think the realism is getting too much in the gaming world, and I might actually agree with that.

I admit I'm a gamer, but I wasn't much into Zelda back in the 90s. I do still have a couple Game Boys and probably have a Zelda game around the house somewhere. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be out soon on the on the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS (it is a Nintendo game, after all). The ars Technica folks liked the nostalgia, but were really disappointed in the boss battles. The Wired review was better.

Some smart folks finally gave me a list of reasons that I like Candy Crush so much. Yeah, sure it taps my inner child, but what I really wanted was to get off level 147 (which I did on Monday, after weeks of being stuck!). I'm not addicted, though… Wait a second! There are over 500 levels! I still have a few lives left this morning...
Darn you, Candy Crush!

Not strictly computers, but CNN has a list of their top 10 inventions - and most of them rely on computers! I really like the Oculus Rift.

What they didn't list was the Nimbus personal dashboard, which is controlled from your smart phone -four programmable gauges to track your connected life. It looks cool, but most of my gauges would hover around zero. Email traffic? Social media activity? FitBit stats?

It isn't computers, but Russell Crowe as Noah. I didn't even know they were making a movie about Noah. This should be pretty good.

Yeah, I didn't want to lose these links. All things Doctor Who from Wired. I really like the Prologue...


  1. Bitcoin itself actually got up to just over $400 a week ago. To think it was originally a fraction of a cent.

    Somebody out there is absurdly rich now.

  2. Vince, Just wanted to let you know, I am NOT the new anonymous commentor! mary