Detect and Install Missing Codecs with CodecInstaller

Codec related issues are something most of us are familiar with. Most of us have had experiences in the past where a media file refused to play due to a missing codec. An even trickier problem than missing codecs is the problem of codec conflicts which often occurs due to conflicting codecs being installed at the same time.

CodecInstaller analyses a video file and automatically suggests missing codec. Perhaps more crucially CodecInstaller is also capable of recording which codecs are utilised to play a video file on your system. This can quickly help you diagnose any codec conflict errors.

CodecInstaller utility has three components:

  • Installed Codecs Viewer which displays all installed audio, video codecs and filters installed on your system.
  • File Analyser which analyses a video file to detect the codecs required to play it. Currently it supports it supports avi, mpeg, wmv, wma, ogg, flac, mpc, mp3, mp4, wav and wx files. Quicktime and Matroska (mkv/mka) containers aren’t supported, which is slightly disappointing. If this is something you require take a look at VideoInspector.
  • Common Codecs Installer contains a list of commonly used codecs which you should install on your system. It provides basic information on each of the codecs along with installation status and download links.

Diagnose Codec Problems with CodecInstaller

CodecInstaller automatically attempts to install the Crawler Toolbar during installation. Be careful not to install the toolbar along with CodecInstaller. Other than this CodecInstaller worked as advertised and we found little to complain about. CodecInstaller is not something you will use regularly. However, it is a tool which may come in handy on occasions and is something everyone should have in their collection.

[ Download CodecInstaller ]

Recover Stolen Laptops with Prey

There are quite a few laptop recovery software available in the market. Unfortunately, most of them are expensive and often require installation of additional hardware. Recently, we came across a possibly viable alternative called Prey.

The concept behind Prey is really simple. Basically, Prey works by monitoring a specified URL (such as http://stolen.techie-buzz.com/prey.txt). If it exists, Prey assumes that your laptop has been stolen and starts its sleuth activities. It collects a wide range of data on the user including

  • Status of the computer
  • List of Running Programs
  • Active Connections
  • Network and Wi-Fi information
  • Screenshot of the Desktop
  • Picture of the Thief (if the laptop has a camera)

Recovery Stolen Laptops with Prey

The data is collected at regular intervals and sent to you via email. In order for this to work you also need to set up a SMTP server. Don’t worry if you don’t have one; you can simply use Gmail.

There is a big downside to software based laptop recovery solutions like Prey – they become useless if the thief simply formats the system. However, many thieves tend to dig around the stolen system in search of private data like credit card numbers before formatting – giving Prey enough time to do its work. Prey can’t compete with hardware based laptop recovery solutions, but is worth a try because it consumes minimal system resources and if you are lucky it may just save the day.

[ Download Prey for Windows, Linux and Mac ]

Highly Critical Javascript Vulnerability Found in Firefox 3.5

Last week a critical bug was discovered in Mozilla Firefox’s JavaScript engine. Unfortunately, the details of exploiting this bug was released yesterday and is currently doing the rounds on the internet. This bug affects Firefox’s new JavaScript rendering engine(TraceMonkey) and has been termed as highly critical by the Secunia.com. Hackers can gain control of any user’s system by installing rogue software when they visit an exploited website.

Mozilla has confirmed that they are working on a fix. In the meantime there are a couple quick fixes you can implement.

  • This vulnerability only affects the new Just In Time compiler that is a part of Tracemonkey JavaScript engine. Hence, you would be safe if you disable the new engine.

    • Type “about:config” in the address bar and press Enter. Ignore the warning.
    • In the filter box type “jit”. You should notice an entry titled “javascript.options.jit.content”.
    • Change its value from True to False. You can change the value by double clicking on the line or using Toggle option from the right click context menu.
      This will force Firefox to use the older rendering engine which is slower, but immune to this exploit. Once a patch is released simply change the value back to true.
  • Another solution is to simply block JavaScript on all untrusted websites using No-Script extension.

Firefox : Config Screen

The critical nature of this vulnerability coupled with the full disclosure of the exploit is extremely worrying. Until a fix is released by Mozilla we would highly recommend that all Firefox users apply these quick fixes and stay on the safer side.