Tag Archives: Windows

12 Animated National Flag Clock Screensavers

[Windows Only] Not everyone would consider themselves nationalistic or patriotic. However, most of us do enjoy seeing our national flags flying high and rippling in the breeze of a bright day. NewFreeScreensavers is offering 12 great free animated flag screensavers with an analog clock in the center. The flags are full screen animations that should work well on any Windows display. The settings for the screensavers are simple and allow you to change the display resolution.

usa-flag aus-flag bri-flag brz-flag can-flag fra-flag ger-flag isr-flag ita-flag jap-flag kor-flag nth-flag

All of the free screensavers at NewFreeScreensavers are completely ad-free and contain no malware. There are dozens of cool free animated screensavers there that you must see to believe.

Screensavers Download Page

Check out the rest of the free screensavers we’ve talked about here at Techie Buzz.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

If you have your own tips on places to find great free screensavers, be sure to comment below or email me.


Axon Logic Haptic Tablet Unveiled; Runs Mac OS X, Windows and Linux

Axon Logic has unveiled the new Haptic, a 10.1 inch tablet which can run any Darwin based OS — which includes the Mac OS X and some open source OSes like OpenDarwin and PureDarwin. It can also run Windows and Linux and has some decent hardware specs.

Axon Logic Haptic Specifications

1.6 GHz Atom N270
10.1 inch LED backlit LCD display, 1024 x 600 pixels
Resistive touchscreen with stylus
2 GB RAM
320 GB HDD
1.3 MP webcam
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
3G CDMA SIM slot
Built in Speakers
3 USB slots, Mic, Ethernet, VGA ports, Card reader
3000 mAh removable battery
Bluetooth

Axon Logic Haptic Tablet
The specifications are very similar to the current breed of netbooks; except that the Haptic has a touchscreen display and no keyboard.

Also, the Axon Haptic is priced quite high, at about $800 which makes me doubt whether it will find many takers. I, myself, would rather buy the iPad, the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Notion Ink Adam, all of which are priced much lower.

Head over to the official webpage of Axon Logic for more details.  Also check out Crunchgear’s post for more details.

Desktop Weather from The Weather Channel

twc-icon [Windows] Here in the States, if you want to check weather on the TV, you’ll probably be watching The Weather Channel(TWC). On the web, TWC, or weather.com, has more competition, but it’s still one of the biggest weather services. So, you’d expect them to have a few apps for PCs and mobile devices. They do have a few, and I recently tried the Weather Desktop app for PCs. Below you’ll find some screenshots and commentary on it.

twc-installerFirst, I hit the big red Downloadbutton and I ended up with a 300kb installer stub. As you may know, a stub is a download manager that starts a larger download and installs it on your computer. After installing, I ended up with about 3.5mb in the program folder.

Here’s the first screen I saw during the install.

twc-downloading

Next, I had to say Acceptto a license agreement. I read it briefly and I did find one section I didn’t like quote:

TWCi may require the update or automatic distribution of the Software on your computer when a new version of the Software application becomes available. This update or new download may occur automatically or through other means.

I don’t even like it when Windows updates without my knowledge. Did I really want desktop weather this badly? Yes, for now, I’ll give it a try.

After accepting the license, I hit three attempts to install software that I may not want. Pay close attention here if you don’t want these apps. The first is the Dealioshopping bar. Be sure to uncheck Set Yahoo as my default search, and also hit the Declinebutton at the bottom  if you don’t want Dealio.

weather-desktop-dealio

Next you’ll see an offer to install Advance Registry Optimizer. It’s shareware and you have to spend $30 to get it to work fully. If you don’t want it (and you really don’t), then hit the Declinebutton.

weather-desktop-aro

After the last Decline, the Weather Desktop will finally install and you’ll see the application window.

weather-desktop-gui

Yes, it’s ad supported. Do you see the advertisement in the bottom right? At least it wasn’t flashing at me and jumping up and down.

The main window has lots of stuff you can check out. First and most important to me was the current weather and the weather alerts. As you can see, there was a weather alert when I first ran this. We had some pretty heavy thunderstorms that night.

I liked the built in radar image. You can see the storm had passed over me and nothing else was close to me yet.

The menu on the left had several different things you could do to learn about the weather.

weather-desktop-menu-1

Most of these menu items worked well, but sometimes nothing seemed to happen when I chose them. I noticed that the Weather Desktop is marked as Betaat the top of the page. Below are some of the features that did work.

weather-desktop-alergy weather-desktop-national weather-desktop-video weather-desktop-trivia

When you close the main application, it will minimize to the system tray and a little icon will tell you the current temperature. The icon is normally blue, but it turns orange and flashes when there’s a weather alert.

weather-desktop-systray

There’s plenty more to the app, but that’s all I’ll show you for now.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

It’s free, but it is ad supported. There are tons of great features, but some of them don’t work right now. I like this little program, but it still needs work. The major things I didn’t like were the third party software offers while installing, and the very loose licensing language. The Weather Desktop app has more drawbacks than I like in a free application. However, you may like it better than I do.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2/5 (Below Average)

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Activation Technologies Already Cracked

Windows-7 You have probably heard by now that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 includes the anti-piracy update (KB971033) that was released earlier this year. However, it appears that Windows 7 is still as crackable as before.

The original WAT update killed more than 70 cracks available for Microsoft’s newest desktop operating system and promised to kill any new cracks that cropped up through signature updates. Although Microsoft succeeded in nixing several loaders that misused OEM SLP keys, many others managed to find a work around.

The Windows 7 SP1 beta has just been released, and crackers have already updated their loaders to bypass the new security measures. In the perennial cat and mouse game between Microsoft and the crackers, crackers have once again outsmarted Microsoft. However, the first service pack for Windows 7 is scheduled for the first half of next year. The Redmond based PC giant still has plenty of time to update the WAT tool’s signature and bounce back.

5 New Animated Rivers Mountains and Woods Screensavers

monitor-colors-ico [Windows] Get ready to be chilled out when you let these 5 new screensavers kick in. The NewFreeScreensaver website has recently released 5 new screensavers that offer a relaxing view of animated rivers flowing through different settings. Here are some screenshots:

blue-rule
nsfForestRiverHD

fr-screensaver-1
blue-rule
nfsMountainRiver01HD

fr-screensaver-2
blue-rule
nfsMountainRiver02HD

fr-screensaver-3
blue-rule
nfsMountainRiver03HD

fr-screensaver-4
blue-rule
nfsMountainRiver04HD

fr-screensaver-5
blue-rule

All of these screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Download Page

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The only thing I found missing in this set of screensavers was a way to turn off the sound. Each of the above five has a running water background sound that starts out soft but gradually became too loud for me. Therefore, I recommend that you mute the PC before allowing them to start. Otherwise, these are all very lovely and mesmerizing.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Jolicloud as a Second Netbook OS – It Plays Well With Windows

jolicloud-ico [Linux] Back in March, we broke the news that Jolicloud had released their Pre-Final build. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Jolicloud is a customized version of Linux Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE). It’s designed to be an easy and trouble-free operating system for almost all netbooks. It’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally had time to install Jolicloud and try it out on my HP Mini netbook. I’ll give you some details and screenshots from my brief time exploring Jolicloud.

If your netbook has Windows installed on it, you have the option to use Jolicloud Express to install Jolicloud alongside Windows, leaving all of your Windows files and programs untouched. The alternative is to download the ISO image file and create a bootable flash card or USB stick. I have made several bootable live Linux sticks in the past, and it’s not hard to do, but I found that Jolicloud Express is far easier to use. You’ll find both options on the Jolicloud download page.

jolicloud-download

I used the express method. I downloaded a 15mb installer file and launched it. It’s as easy as installing any other program in Windows. You’ll be prompted to tell the installer how much room to allow it on your C: drive. The default is 50Gb, and that’s what I chose.

Once it begins, it will set up a Jolicloud folder on your C: drive and begin downloading the rest of Jolicloud. This step took about 25 minutes on my broadband service. Your download time may vary.

jolicloud-installing

After it is done with this download, you’ll be asked a few more questions, such as the login and password you want to log in with. Finally you’ll be asked to reboot the netbook and it will restart when you select the new entry in your Windows boot selection screen. From this time on, whenever you reboot your netbook, you will always have a choice to boot into Windows or Jolicloud. Here’s what I saw the first time I booted Jolicloud. This is the Launcheror home page.

Screenshot

The program categories are on the left in a sidebar, and as you click on each category, you’ll see the available applications appear in the center of the desktop. As you can see, they offer you easy navigation of the file system on the right sidebar. Even your Windows files are easily accessible at the bottom of that sidebar.

At the top of the home page, you’ll see the home icon on the left. When you launch applications, you’ll see icons for them appear beside the home icon. Whenever you want to switch back to the launcher menus, click the home icon.

At the top right, you’ll see the status bar with icons for updates, Jolicloud services, network connections, system settings, and time/date/weather. Connecting to my home wireless network was as simple as clicking once on the network icon and selecting from a list of available networks.

Clicking on the little blue heart icon in the status bar opens up a tabbed page with your Jolicloud friends (Social Stream) and the Applications Directory, with over 700 ready to install apps.

jolicloud-apps

You’ll find almost everything you need for a rich user experience on your netbook, such as music, video, email, Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

If you decide that you don’t like Jolicloud, and you used the express install method, you can uninstall Jolicloud as easily as any other Windows app.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you need a simple, fast, secure and visually pleasing OS on your netbook, this one will be hard to beat. The express install option is a big winner, making it one of the easiest Linux OS’s to install. For those with more Linux experience, you might want to stick with Ubuntu Netbook Edition. It’s much more flexible but definitely more difficult for newbies. I believe that Jolicloud will continue to bring good news to netbook users who may not want to be chained to Microsoft Windows.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Verdict: 4/5 (Excellent)

Windows Shell Shortcut Vulnerability Is Being Actively Exploited

Earlier this week the exploit code for a highly critical Windows vulnerability affecting all versions of Windows from XP to 7 was made public. The bad news is that malware developers are already actively exploiting this bug. Symantec has identified that the W32.Stuxnet worm, which spreads using this vulnerability, has already affected thousands of systems.

The Shell Shortcut Parsing vulnerability is a particularly worrisome bug because there aren’t a lot of things a user can do to protect himself. Even if autorun and autoplay is disabled, users can still get infected. All that the user is required to do is to open the compromised device, network share or WebDav. The only preventive measure is to disable icon rendering. However, doing so will basically cripple the Windows environment. To make matters worse, Steve Gibson from GRC research is claiming that a security researcher has already figured out a way to exploit this vulnerability through favicons.

Microsoft is obviously working hard to patch this severe vulnerability. However, an official patch may take weeks to come. Until then, ensure that your system has up-to-date malware protection, and avoid using Internet Explorer (other browsers can also be exploited, but possibly to a lesser degree).

Online Home Tech Support with Comodo Cloud Scanner

[Windows all] Have you ever heard of a software company named Comodo? I first spotted them a few years ago, when they offered a free Firewall program. Even then, I knew it was a company worth watching. Each year, Comodo seems to be offering bigger and better security apps, and many of them are free for home users.

Here’s a peek at their free protection page:

comodo-free-products

As you can see, there isn’t much in the PC security field that they don’t cover. I’m sure that I could run a safe PC using only their free offerings.

The freebie I tried most recently is called Comodo Cloud Scanner. The description for this piece of software fooled me. Quote: Scan your PC to identify malware, junk files, registry errors and hidden processes. I assumed that it was simply a scanner that advised you about security risks and offered advice. I’ll show you what I ran into and why I was so surprised.

First I downloaded and installed the 10mb exe file. Here’s what the first screen looked like:

comodo-cloud-scan-01

I clicked the Scan Now button and waited while it cranked away. Here are the results I saw when it finished.

comodo-cloud-scan-02

Holy Cow! Over 3000 errors?

I was surprised and a bit aggravated. The last time I saw results like this was when I was testing out some suspected scamware at MyCleanPC. Any time I see extreme results like this, I always suspect that someone is trying very hard to sell me a solution I don’t need.

At the bottom of the scan results, was this little button.

comodo-help-me

I thought about this for a few minutes. I was still angry about the results. I looked through the details of the results and they really weren’t security problems as I’d define them. Most of it was browser cache files, junk registry entries and cookies. That really pissed me off, and I decided that I had to see what kind of help they’d offer.

I clicked on the Help Me button and waited for a live connection to one of the Comodo people. A pretty basic looking chat window finally popped up and I was connected to Chris in New Jersey. Below is the dialog (I’m the subscriber):

 

image

Well, that explained it all to me. The scan is simply a ploy to get you into their online help service. I’m kind of wondering what results I’d get if I had used the Comodo System Cleaner before I had scanned. That test will have to wait on another day.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The scan that Comodo Cloud Scanner performs on your system is very likely quite good. However, I hate the way they label the findings as Errors and Problems. The so called errors and problems they found are the stuff that happens on your PC as a simple result of using it every day.

I will give them credit for this much; the LivePCSupport service that Comodo provided to me was professional and very timely. If you need a good remote help service, I don’t think you will find many others that are priced this low. Since Comodo offers all of those free security applications, I’m sure they know how to use them to help people. I can’t praise the online service because I haven’t really used it, however, I wouldn’t be afraid to recommend it to a newbie who could really benefit from it. Fifty bucks isn’t too much for most people. Especially if it saves them hours of frustration.

Techie Buzz Rating: Scanner: 2/5 (Poor) / Online Service: 3/5 (Good)

Windows “Shortcut” Bug Code Made Public

According to a security researcher – all versions of Windows Operating system contains a serious bug, which may result in critical vulnerability of your system. The bug is present in the latest Windows7 service packs as well as on older versions of Windows, PC World reports.

Microsoft issued a security advisory on Friday which discusses how hackers can use a shortcut file ending with a .ink extension to automatically run their scripts (read malware) by letting the user view the contents of a folder containing the shortcut.

The researcher, who is better known as “Ivanlef0u”, published proof of the concept code to several locations on the internet. His work was later confirmed by a Belgian researcher Didier stevens, who said that Ivanlef0u’s code can be used to create an effective malware attack on any Windows operating system.

Stevens announced in a blog post that he had tested Ivanlef0u’s code using his self made tool and that the utility successfully blocks attacks from USB or DVD drives. You can use Ariad if you want to mitigate attacks with these shortcut links until Microsoft releases a patch, said stevens.

While Steve’s tool can be effective in blocking executable files from removable drives, it is not meant for rookie users who do not understand the working of the application. This is because Steve’s tool is a mini filter drive and works inside the Windows kernel, causing disturbance in the kernel can have grave consequences.

To defend users from such malicious USB attacks, the US Computer readiness team added an article which reads:

By convincing a user to display a specially-crafted shortcut file, an attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user. Depending on the operating system and AutoRun/AutoPlay configuration, this can happen automatically by connecting a USB device. This vulnerability can also be triggered by viewing a web page with Internet Explorer or opening a document with Microsoft Office.

Disabling the autorun and auto play feature is a solution but not all computer users are security experts. Millions of people don’t know about such security holes and it would be better if Microsoft could come up with a patch or something. Wait!, they already stopped the security updates for older versions of Windows?

Now who is going to answer such concerns?

How to Update Windows XP to Service Pack 3

Just as my fellow author, Amit, had warned you, Microsoft has ended support for PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). According to figures I’ve seen at InformationWeek, as many as 45% of Windows XP machines will need to update to SP3 in order to stay secure.

If you are running a PC that has not been updated yet, there’s no need to panic. Computers running SP2 will continue to work as usual. The end of support for SP2 simply means that those computers will not receive the most current security fixes from Microsoft’s update website or the automated updates.

Since it’s very important to keep your Windows up to date, how can you find out if your machine needs to update to SP3?

The quickest and easiest way to find out is a keyboard shortcut: [Windows key] [Pause/Break]

keyboard-win-break

Another way to view your current Windows version is to right click on a My Computermenu entry or desktop icon and choose the Propertiesitem in the list.

computer-properties

As a result of either of these actions, you should see your computer’s properties as shown below.

system-props-shown

If it says Service Pack 2, then you should use one of the links below to update your PC to SP3. I’ve included four ways to update and a brief description of each method.

A. Windows Update Website
Yes, it’s as easy as visiting Microsoft, however, you will need to use Internet Explorer because Microsoft hates to see you use any other type of web browser.

B. Service Pack 3 Network Install
Despite what the title implies, you can download this single executable file and it will install SP3 easily on any XP machine that needs it. The file is a bit over 300mb in size.

C. Service Pack 3 Add-on for Multi-Lingual Users
If you use languages other than English, you may need this file in addition to the download Babove. It’s only about 9mb in size.

D. Service Pack 3 ISO / CD Image
You can download this ISO file (CD image) and burn it to a CD. This makes it possible for you to have a backup copy and to use it on any XP machine that needs it. The file is over 500mb in size.

E. You can also order a CD from Microsoft by using one of the location links below:
Asia / Europe and Africa / North America / South America

Now, I’m feeling better after writing this important public service announcement. I hope you feel better too, after you’ve updated your old Windows XP machines.