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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Aghh -- they've done it again ... avoid Agnitum Outpost 4 (at least for now) on: October 14, 2007, 09:55:45 AM
I'm fully paid up with Outpost for the next 3 years, but again, don't use it any more...  Which in itself should value what else I am about to say.  Wink

It really is a great firewall, despite the annoying quirks and limitations, but it seems the world is heading more towards HIPS.  After all, why have a firewall when you cannot trust what *you* are running?  Sadly the world of computing threats has adapted and changed whilst often big business has not - Who can expect anything else?

A firewall's significant strength is protecting you from outsiders.  As  threats have changed, firewalls have changed from doing what they are meant to do well, to doing that, plus all other protectative measures as a bolt-on.  From a firewall vendors viewpoint this makes sense, as they've already spent the time, effort and finance in ensuring their product does the job intended, then why not take that same core and add extra protection?

This in itself is no bad thing, but it is often out of the reach, application, remit and design methodology of the original firewall application.  This often leads to a frankenstein software model (I won't list any current products as pretty much all software firewall vendors are guilty of this), due to the misplaced nature of the true threat to the end user.

The unfortunate outcome is over half a dozen drivers (in the case of Outpost at the very least), that you cannot guarantee protection from, except from what comes into and goes out of your network via common methods, and a feeling of general bloatedness and slothfulness in your system coupled with general confusion and distain with all.  The sad thing is, if you haven't ever been compromised, but have seen the downside to apparent computer security then you may only a negative viewpoint to computer security as a whole from what you have experienced from your chosen firewall product.

Negative, yes?  But that's my opinion at least.  The modern firewall has a place and generally will protect you, but will you be happy with the price you have to pay in it doing so, considering it is far from a certainty?

Perhaps at this point I should recommend alternatives?  Yes I should, but this in itself shows just how far we have to go between the current Firewall and HIPS currently available.

If you really are interested in investigating the current HIPS available at the moment, the general concensus is that the following are the strongest available:-

http://www.proactive-hips.com/
http://www.syssafety.com/

If you have a hardware firewall between you and the Internet at present you may find no better means of security.  In the meantime it is sad to say that security if far from a certainty.



2  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: WINRAR free this sunday 30th July 2006 on: August 05, 2006, 04:10:28 PM
The key is definitely the same for everyone, but it seems they want to control its dissemination to at least build a mailing list to potentially sell a reduced cost upgrade to at a later date.  I guess this is the rightful choice of the Winrar team and as such if publishing the key isn't illegal (and I doubt it is as they have effectively made it public domain) it is most likely immoral.  That being said, with the problems gaining access to it during the last offer I think many who tried and tried again are more than entitled to it.

Yeah, I'm a mass of contradictions!  Grin

3  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: WINRAR free this sunday 30th July 2006 on: July 30, 2006, 02:53:20 AM
The site is more than a bit overloaded.  If you keep refreshing after it times out you'll get there eventually.  It must have taken me 20-30 attempts at 02:00 CET.  I dunno why I bothered though, I already have a license.  cheesy
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: filedestructor - a purposeful file corruption tool.. on: July 29, 2006, 02:30:22 PM
I find the whole idea behind this program sick and reprehensible.  We as a community should stand up against it and all downloads should be blocked forthwith.  It could only have been written by the morally bereft in a moment of ethically challenged and unprincipled illicitness.

I love it!  So much for that business strategy report due on Monday...  cheesy
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: WINRAR free this sunday 30th July 2006 on: July 29, 2006, 02:11:23 PM
Wow, this is pretty cool even though it is locked to a single version.  I doubt it will be a problem for most people though as nothing significant has been added to WinRAR for years (LZMA please!).

On the other hand, from a security perspective this potentially undermines Authenticity Verification bigtime as with a bit of effort you can no doubt get multiple licenses masquerading as whoever.  Well, if the site is up in the first place.  tongue
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Quick change artists — WTF? on: July 23, 2006, 10:05:02 AM
I can put on my clothes *really* slowly.  It might not count for much, but at least I'm not wearing ruffles.  Grin

I think there must be a clue at 57 seconds (check the straps on her dress), but I can't figure it out..
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Wow: Microsoft Acquires WinInternals/SysInternals! on: July 21, 2006, 02:05:13 AM
What? I'm in breach of the DCMA? You mean with that reversing of sysinternal's nt eval tool so long ago?

Yes.  Waiting so long for PEBundle 4.0 has made me delirious.  tongue
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Wow: Microsoft Acquires WinInternals/SysInternals! on: July 20, 2006, 02:46:53 PM
Slightly off topic, but if it helps, all MS employees have been forced to 'enjoy' Vista from the early beta stages.  I've heard a lot of pain and curses (damn you Dell for not prodviding a DX10 laptop 6 months earlier it seems!).  Think of it this way, it may suck, but MS has been forced to endure the brunt of its lameness up until now.  cheesy

If that isn't punishment enough, it seems the only fitting punishment involves Bill Gates, a bowl of Jello and the realisation that marketing direction is no direction at all.


Lets hope that ERD Commander 2006 makes a showing without ending up on 2 DVDs...


9  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Wow: Microsoft Acquires WinInternals/SysInternals! on: July 20, 2006, 02:37:27 PM
Wow, I really feel privileged to be remembered.  That being said, the erm, slight duplication issue was out of my control, yet is now somehow magically fixed (spelling errors omitted).

Back on track, I've contacted a number of 'key players' at Microsoft for comment regarding the Winternals buyout.  I've heard nothing back so far meaning they are either drunk on expenses (again) or don't have the faintest idea (along with the rest of us).  I'm going for plan 'B'.  I'll let you know if I hear anything else.
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Wow: Microsoft Acquires WinInternals/SysInternals! on: July 20, 2006, 02:04:54 PM
Oh, I'd also like to point out that JC is right in so many ways.  I'd also like to point out (more importantly) that JC may indeed be in breech of the DCMA so guilty until proven innocent applies.  Let the converging swat teams be a lesson to us alll.  cheesy

It still isn't going to make me pay my Bitsum maintence, dammit.  Well, ok, maybe later  Wink
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Wow: Microsoft Acquires WinInternals/SysInternals! on: July 20, 2006, 01:58:49 PM
Hello all,

As you may have noticed I've not been around much lately, that being said, I always like to keep up with developments on my favourite site.  Though I may not be posting, I am reading.  cheesy

I've spent the past year working all too closely with Microsoft (a lot of the reason I am not here) and in my opinion (as subjective as it may be) they are a changed company, putting putting greens, 'Micrototty' and free food aside.  In recent times my primary focus has been on the Sybari and Whale acquisitions, but from spending significant time both with 'historic' employees and those who are in it for the acquisition ride, I've begun to see things differently.  Recently Microsoft employees have been able to publicly criticise Microsoft history, policy, and influence it.  Frankly some of the recent 'Anti-Microsoft' Microsoft, at Microsoft, presentations have had me on the floor laughing.  In the past those responsible would have been lined up against a wall and shot, but now things are different.  Welcome to Microsoft's Orange Revolution.  It seems Microsoft have finally been able to understand the value and implication of having positive, driven, up and coming individuals with something to prove.  Microsoft have not before time, ultimately understood the cutting edge to compete.  If you've ever worn Oakley sunglasses, worn TNF clothing or relied on 'Five Ten' footware you will understand that the key to competing at all is having those who ideologically believe in what they are trying to achieve pushing the restraints of their employers for the good of everyone.  They are finally looking back, recognising where they have made mistakes, why they were made and ultimately addressing them as they move into the future. That's the thing, Microsoft have finally realised that they can be negative about something which ultimately leads to an end result that makes a positive outcome for everyone, profits included.  And not before time.

Years of security woes and growing competition from the likes of Google have meant Microsoft has been forced to adapt.  Rather than trying to play catch-up with some of the new technological innovations out there, they would rather buy into best of breed companies in any given area and shape the technology for mass market adoption.  Of course, they are not just doing this to get hold of the technology, much more important to them are the people whom they wish to retain at all costs so they are given a very free reign to continue innovating.

Depending where you are in the world, the current Honda advertising applies: Hate something, change something, make something better.  Damned annoying tune, but very fitting for what 'Mickeysoft' are also trying to achieve.

I am certain that if advancing frontiers are not the objective, many of those idealistic employees would leave tomorrow.  I believe security sparked a significant rethink for Microsoft back in 2001-2002 which finally is starting to benefit us all, security related or otherwise.  Let me assure you that the 'new Microsoft' I've encountered are an incredibly resolute, astute, independently thinking entity. Realistically they now have to be to compete in the current marketplace - endless revisions of Office and Windows are no way to guarantee marketshare long-term.  MS have realised that they have to branch out and provide a full range of solutions or risk becoming obsolete.

Forget Vista woes as a view of Microsoft as a company, that reality is long past, despite many best intentions to get Vista back on track the direction the product took early on meant it is a lumbering beast and the project will continue to be until release.  That isn't the case for most current MS projects or those of their subsidiaries.  Frankly I'll be first to point out that Microsoft are still making a lot of mistakes and are still playing catch-up in many areas (MSPod anyone?) but as far as PC systems and application software are concerned, Microsoft appears to have found a new vision.  You can see the shift in thinking in Office 2007.  For many years each Office revision was pretty much identical to the last, but perhaps with a new coat of paint on the toolbar.  The radical rethink in how Office 2007 operates is a direct reflection of what is happening within MS as a company.

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about the Winternals acquisition, frankly if anything I believe it will make the 'elite' offerings from Winternals more accessible to the common user (if you are are current Winternals customer as I am, you can testify to the dongle and downloading nightmare their products have become  Wink ).  Why do I think things will be more accessible?  Well, for starters, any company with a Select agreement in time is likely to receive and be able to evaluate the Winternals products (in some form or another) and purchase at a reduced cost without an annoying piece of plastic to plug into a USB port, plus they can avoid the convoluted reseller channels and confusion that comes with them.  Beyond that any technology of value will ultimately make it into Windows Emergency Recovery Console (ERD Commander, Remote Recover), Windows itself (Defrag Manager, Crash Analyzer Wizard) and existing systems such as SMS and MOM (Insight for AD, Protection Manager).

Ultimately this will be a blow to the reseller layer rather than to the end user.  I would think that Microsoft will allow the 'pet' Sysinternals project will continue to run for as long as the current Winternals people consider it useful, plus Sysinternals probably does make Winternals quite a bit of money as you do have to site license a lot of the software (e.g. BgInfo) if you wish to roll it out effectively in the Enterprise.

Consider this, does Microsoft want to take useful tools for managing Microsoft products away from you, and if so why?  If not, what would they gain from the very same tools becoming mainstream?  I'll give you a little clue...  In my opinion this has a lot to do with how Microsoft wishes to play the game against VMWare, et al in the emerging utility computing markets.  Effective systems management will play a big part in this.  This I'll perhaps go into detail about at some point.  For now the end user cannot lose.

Whist we are here I'd like to point you to the seemingly unnoticed Softricity acquisition, announced on the same day as the Winternals one  http://www.microsoft.com/...06/07-17SoftricityPR.mspx.  I'd be willing to bet that this has more impact on your day to day life within the next 5 years (or 2 years for any forward thinking Enterprise) than the Winternals products ever had and in many respects in time if developed to its ultimate conclusion should do away with the need for a lot of the tools Winternals currently provide.  Let me be first to conjecture that this can only be positive for all of us.

Thank you for your consideration during my stereotypical rant.  Cool

Sentinel


Edit: Big fat update
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: obsessive drawing on: February 24, 2006, 12:02:53 PM
I have to say that I spend many hours a week compulsively drawing what I can only describe as 'geometric shapes' whilst in business meetings, but the intricacy of some of the works on the site truly make me wonder, though others seem to have a simplistic quality that seemingly belie the true nature of the artist and their motives.   Looking at some of the real life measurements it is hard to get a true sense of scale for some of these works.  Amazingly self-obsessed, yet stunningly myopic.  Impressive.
13  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: caffeine free week - who wants to join me? on: February 24, 2006, 11:48:04 AM
I certainly know that the British SAS use blue light for any close quarters illumination, both for the alertness it brings and because the short wave-length light doesn't travel distance perceivably well to the naked eye, ensuring the enemy is 'kept in the dark'.

Frankly I'll stick with caffeine.  I have to say that I would have loved to participate in this challenge but caffeine is definitely my 'crack'.  Even the simple though of going without it for an hour is too much.  Grin
14  Other Software / Programming School / Re: A bit of donationcoder.com history on: February 24, 2006, 11:24:12 AM
I have to say that I feel going 'old school' and providing a 'Programming School' section in the DC forums is a marvellous idea and would potentially open up the site for a whole new audience whilst providing the skills to further enhance the software offerings out in the field for us all to enjoy.  Everybody wins (except mouser's sanity, perhaps).

My big fat thumbs up to that.  Thmbsup
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What's your "Autism Quotient"? on: February 13, 2006, 12:27:07 PM
37 - Yikes!  (back off to my cave...)   embarassed
16  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Tray Management Utilities Mini-Review on: February 05, 2006, 04:36:33 PM
Quote from: Josh
. You can in fact set PS Tray Factory to display an icon only in the tray. In fact, that is the default behavior. If an icon is in the system tray, it will not display in the right click context menu.

It was a long time ago since I tried this, but last I remember,  PS Tray Factory didn't allow you to prevent a program from being listed in its menu whilst being visible in the normal System Tray.  Hopefully that is no longer the case.

Quote from: Josh
4. I agree with the SysTrayX upgrade policy. Requiring a user download a customized registered version of an update is a bit of a hassle and the fact that you can simply enter a reg code into PS Tray is indeed an attractive option for upgrading. I understand why XDesk would have such an upgrade policy, in order to prevent piracy, but it can also detract users if an upgrade became available.

It is both a hassle and a frustrating delay, especially if you are waiting for a particular bug to be fixed.  I'm of the belief that developers should put paying customers first, prospective second and the rest 3rd.  Typically if someone wants to download a crack they probably never had and never will have any intention of paying anyway.  At least if you keep existing customers happy, with a yearly subscription model you can be assured of at least a certain level of income and offering excellent benefits will get prospective customers every time.

Quote from: Josh
6. A migration option, in my honest opinion, wouldnt be a worthwhile addition as there are so many different tray utilities out there. The author would be forced to pick and choose which ones he supported. I think the 5-10 minutes spent reconfiguring PS Tray after a swap from another tool is well worth it since you only have to do it once. However, a nice option would be to have an "Export Settings" option for ps tray so that if you want to migrate to a new windows installation this would make transporting your settings very easy. Although, again, that wouldnt be too necessary if you ask me since the 5-10 minutes, again, isnt very much time to ask for an app like this smiley

True, but an option to move from the main competitor would be a great feature for myself.  Just checking the SysTrayX rules on my server and I currently have 65 in total.  That would take me the best part of at least 4 hours to run and reconfigure those programs I reckon, without fixing any human errors introduded.  With such close competition I feel a feature like this would be enough to consider a switch.  At the moment I think "Yes, this is better, but do I want to spend the time making it work like my existing solution?".  It may be my need for this feature is somewhat exceptional though.
17  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Tray Management Utilities Mini-Review on: February 05, 2006, 02:08:33 PM
Very good point!  Thanks mouser.
18  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Tray Management Utilities Mini-Review on: February 05, 2006, 01:48:22 PM
That's great news.  I've been a registered user of SysTrayX for a while but am strongly considering converting to PS Tray Factory as soon as there is a DonationCoder discount or my SystrayX upgrade expires ($19 for yearly maintenance is just ridiculous).  Frankly the upgrade policy is the one thing that would make or break my purchase of PS Tray Factory.

I'd like to add some of my insights to your review, if I may: -

1. Default Icon.  I too would like to change the default tray icon for both programs.  That being said, PS Tray Factory has a fairly attractive and up to date icon whilst SysTrayX looks like something from the Win 3.1 days.  If you have a fully skinned up version of Windows SysTrayX looks dated and out of place.  It is good to see that PS Tray Factory now allows the changing of other icons in the system tray though.

2. Default position for program icon.  By Default PS Tray Factory places itself at the far-right of any system tray icons which I would consider ideal behaviour.  SysTrayX has a habit of placing itself to the left of any new sys tray icons it encounters until you set 'Special Position' for that icon which can look messy.

3. As I remember SysTrayX has slightly better handling when it comes to settings which icons are displayed in the tray, in its menu, or both.  I could be wrong, but at present you cannot set PS Tray Factory to display an icon only in the tray (I haven't tested it in some time).

4. Registered updates.  I like the fact that PS Tray Factory can be downloaded and made registered with your existing key.  The upgrade to SystrayX is somewhat laborious with the shareware version being released several weeks before the registered version is mailed to registered users (yes, email updates only!).  Surely any software author should consider their paid customers as paramount, especially if you are expecting future revenues from upgrade maintenance.

5. I've found the SysTrayX support lacking with emails going unanswered from the author.  Never used PS Tray Factory support so cannot comment.

6. I have so many programs configured already I'd like to see some form of migration utility included in both tools to allow me to change to the competing product, should I decide to change.

I'll add to this post if I think of anything else.
19  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Tray Management Utilities Mini-Review on: February 05, 2006, 06:15:15 AM
Great review Josh!  You are however incorrect on the PS Tray Factory upgrade policy: -

"7. If I already have a registered copy of PS Tray Factory will I be required to pay for a upgrade?
By purchasing PS Tray Factory you are entitled to receive free upgrades by download from our website for one year from the date of purchase. After that you can receive upgrades with a significant discount."

So unless the author has changed his policy and not updated the site, it has the same sort of rip off upgrade scheme as SysTrayX.  The only difference for PS Tray Factory is the upgrade cost isn't stated anywhere.  Hopefully it will be much cheaper than SysTrayX to upgrade but I doubt it as the two are in such close competition in every area.
20  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Is this offesive? on: February 04, 2006, 08:16:30 PM
Is that a squirrel or a beaver?  Grin
21  DonationCoder.com Software / Skrommel's Software / Re: skrommel got some love today.. on: February 03, 2006, 12:31:10 PM
Good work skrommel, although judging by the thread title I was expecting something a little more seedy.  Wink
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: suggesting: "best encryption" on: January 17, 2006, 07:53:47 AM
TrueCrypt is an absolute must.

http://www.truecrypt.org
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Best Executable Compressor Programs on: January 14, 2006, 02:10:11 PM
If you absolutely must have the best compression out there then WinUnpack appears to be the current leader.

http://dwing.go.nease.net/

Unfortunately the official website seems about as stable as the packer IMHO.
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Best Executable Compressor Programs on: January 14, 2006, 02:05:58 PM
Sentinel, the problem with UPX and later-version VC executables is the "load config" data generated. You can use a tool like HIEW to nuke it, then UPX won't have any problems. Or I guess I could code a small tool to do this.

Yep, I don't disagree and using the 'force' switch also works, not to mention the various ways of compiling your code that also avoids the problem, I just get the feeling that if it [UPX] is not happy about compressing my exe I'm not happy about letting it either.  I guess my main issue with UPX is the lack of progress over the past 4 years and that really IS a long time in the exe packing arena.

Quote from: jdd
Sometimes ......size does matter.  We are working on a program and the executable is about 24MB.  We want to shrink it down as much as possible so it can be downloaded or emailed.

Yes size does matter to a point, but relative to compatibility it is irrelevant.  If you save 10kb over an alternative product but your compressed exe only works on 50% of your customers PCs then you are in far from an ideal position.  Sadly in the world of 'program for pleasure' exe compressors this is an all too common problem.  Outside of ASPack, UPX and PECompact I wouldn't trust any exe compressors as far as I could throw them no matter how good the compression ratio may be.  Even with the 'tried and trusted' compressors there may be certain situations where I would avoid them like the plague.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Nero 7 issue - Nero Scout really annoying delays! on: January 12, 2006, 01:45:02 PM
After much bloat from Nero I switched to Prassi/Traxdata ONES and have never looked back.  The recent upgrade cost from 6.6 to 7.0 of 40 euros was the nail in the coffin.  If you have ever used any of the Seagate/Prassi/Stomp solutions and were happy then ONES in the only way to go!

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