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Messages - xtabber [ switch to compact view ]

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General Software Discussion / End of the line for VMware Workstation?
« on: January 27, 2016, 01:11 PM »
Monday, VMware laid off their entire U.S. development staff for Desktop products, which includes Workstation, Player and Fusion.

The company did say that they were moving development for those products to China, which probably means they will keep the products alive as long as they can charge for them, but I don’t expect much more than that.

Standard 100% off for personal use.
Pro @ 50% off ~US$15

Also Pro Family License (5 computers) US$26.50

Standard does most of what anyone will ever need from the program.

The compelling reason to get Pro is that it gets you the portable version.  That is an essential tool to have on anyone's emergency repair USB drive.

General Software Discussion / Re: Is Windows 10 a trojan?
« on: January 14, 2016, 01:57 PM »
If you read Microsoft KB 3080351 carefully, you will see that the Group Policy Object allows you to turn off automatic updates to the operating system.  It does NOT disable the GWX nagware. To disable the tray icon, you need to apply the registry patch, but note that doing so only hides the icon, it does not remove the nagware itself.

Note also that the language used in the KB specifically says that the GP Object will ensure that the OS is never changed by Windows Update without the user's approval. It does NOT make any such promise with regard to GWX notifications.
As pointed out in the articles I linked to yesterday, Microsoft has been using Windows Update to install a service that periodically checks the registry to see whether the notification is disabled and can re-enable it by modifying the registry.

General Software Discussion / Re: Is Windows 10 a trojan?
« on: January 14, 2016, 08:22 AM »
And it gets worse!

In a post on the TechNet blog yesterday, titled Making it Easier for Small Businesses to Upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft announced that:

  We will begin to roll out the “Get Windows 10” app to additional devices
  that meet the following criteria, in the US later this month and in
  additional markets shortly thereafter:

  - Running and licensed for Windows 7 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro
  - Configured to receive updates directly from the Windows Update service
    (i.e. updates are not managed by WSUS or System Center Configuration
    Manager on those devices)
  - Joined to an Active Directory domain

Living Room / Re: Looking at an android tablet
« on: January 13, 2016, 04:11 PM »
I'd guess the Tab E Nook probably uses Kit Kat (like the Tab 4 Nook) but the Tab S2 Nook is running Lollipop, like the regular Samsung S2. 

See this thread on Android Central for a discussion of the S2 Nook by some owners.

General Software Discussion / Re: Is Windows 10 a trojan?
« on: January 13, 2016, 07:42 AM »
Recent developments in the GWX saga are getting really scary.

It seems that Microsoft is so intent on forcing everyone to “upgrade” to Windows 10 that they have used a KB patch to install undocumented services designed to thwart users running Windows 7 and 8.1 from disabling GWX.  Specifically, programs that revert registry patches to allow GWX are installed and the Windows task scheduler is programmed to run these regularly.  That's what we know so far.

This is classic malware behavior.  What’s next?  Installing a GWX rootkit?

You can read more on what is now known about GWX here.

And for a more humorous (but even scarier) take, see this.

Living Room / Re: Looking at an android tablet
« on: January 12, 2016, 03:40 PM »
There's nothing wrong with Samsung's Touchwiz UI. In fact it provides some enhancements over stock Android, such as the ability to split the screen between two apps on some tablets.  The only drawback is that it bakes some Samsung apps into the  firmware, but you don't need to use them or even see them on screen if you don't want to. Looking at your screenshot, the only give-aways are the format of the download arrow on the WiFi signal indicator in the notification bar and the layout of the Nook, Home and App Drawer buttons at the bottom.  Hardly noticeable and certainly not objectionable.

However KitKat is a two year old version of Android that was optimized to allow it to run on less powerful hardware.  When a new device is listed as running Android 4.4, that's a clear sign that it does not have enough horsepower to run Android 5 (Lollipop), let alone Android 6 (Marshmallow).  Depending on what you want a tablet for, that may or may not matter. 

One of the great advantages of Android over iOS is the ability to customize the interface endlessly with widgets, instead of a grid of icons like iOS.  I like to set up my home screens so that I can see at a glance all kinds of information like the time, local weather map and forecast, my calendar, todo list, etc.., without having to open any apps.

I'd suggest that you play with Android on the Nook you have before thinking about getting another tablet.  In particular, explore what's available on Google Play (the Android app store) and try things out. As you become more familiar with Android and how to use it, you'll get a much better idea of what you might want in the next one.

Living Room / Re: Looking at an android tablet
« on: January 11, 2016, 04:40 PM »
Samsung Tab (Nook) is just a Tab 4 with some Barnes & Noble apps added.  It runs the Samsung Touchwiz UI over Android 4.4 (Kit Kat).  It's a low end tablet with a low res screen (1280 X 800), a slow processor and an older version of Android, which is what you'd expect for $139, which is what it sells for now at B&N.

The Nexus 9 is a high end table with a fast processor and a superb high res display (2048x1536 - same as the iPad Air). But the most important thing is that it currently runs Android 6 (Marshmallow) and as a Nexus device, will be always be updated to the latest Android version, at least for the projected life of the product (2-3 years for most Nexus devices).  Whether it's worth the price is another matter.  One thing to be aware of about all Nexus devices is that they do not have expandable memory (micro-SD) by design, although all the ones I have (7, 10 and 6P) support OTG through the USB port, so you can move data on and off relatively rapidly.

Non-Windows Software / Dan Gilmor on moving to Linux
« on: January 06, 2016, 09:32 AM »
Journalist Dan Gilmor, one of the earliest bloggers and a long-time voice of reason in Silicon Valley, has a new post discussing why and how he moved to Linux. Nothing new or earth shaking, but a sensible and useful article for anyone trying to make the case for switching to FOSS.

InfoWorld has an interesting survey of data recovery & forensic tools. You need to register as an "Insider" to read the full article, which is well worthwhile, but here is the author's summary:

   Which recovery tool is for you?  PhotoRec and companion TestDisk have
   consistently been among the most useful, performant, flexible, and
   inexpensive applications available for data recovery.  They don’t have
   the breadth of options of some of the other apps examined here, but it’s
   almost impossible to go wrong with them as a first step.

   Sleuth Kit/Autopsy is more of a full toolbox than a single wrench or
   hammer, and for that reason might be intimidating to work with,
   especially if all you need to do is recover a particular file.  But for
   those who need the full toolbox, it is a great way to have one for no
   initial cost.  SystemRescueCd also rolls up a great many tools into one
   bundle, but it’s strictly for experts.  Those afraid of the command line
   shouldn’t even think of using it.

   Kroll Ontrack EasyRecovery Enterprise stands out with its RAID recovery
   function, and it’s recommended for those who need that capability.  For
   those who don't, many of its other features can be found in other
   programs, like Remo Recover.

   Remo Recover stood out for making it easy to save out image files from
   media, and for having some fairly exotic camera file types as part of
   its database.  CardRecovery supported a number of those file types as
   well, although its slow scanning and slightly clumsy interface worked
   against it.

   Finally, Recuva packs a lot of great features into one program:  fast
   scanning, a convenient interface, and useful details about what’s
   recoverable and what’s not.  It should be in every Windows user's

The main takeaway is that the best tools for most users are the free ones: PhotoRec, Sleuth Kit/Autopsy, Recuva and System Recovery CD.

General Software Discussion / Re: What Android Apps Do You Use?
« on: January 05, 2016, 07:51 AM »
For serious audio on Android devices, it's hard to beat Neutron Music Player. This turns your device into a true high fidelity music center, accepting input from many sources, local, networked or streaming, and sending to many, including DLNA. It also provides its own 32 bit and 64 bit rendering, so you are not dependent on whatever is built into your firmware.


For something a little more attuned to the average listener,  but still with many options, including video viewing, my choice would be PlayerPro.


Living Room / Re: 2014-2015: Best tablet specs for ebook reading
« on: January 04, 2016, 06:33 PM »
This looks like it might be what Mouser is looking for to read pdf documents full size: a 13.3 Android tablet with full 1080p display and 16GB memory for $199.  Read the review by Charles Babcock dated October 27 2015 for a good evaluation of the tablet's strengths and weaknesses - note that the 16GB version is now going for what he paid for 8GB.

Poikosoft EZ CD Audio Converter is on sale right now for 30% off: $27.95 instead of $39.95.

This is by far my favorite program for high quality CD ripping and audio conversions.

No indication of how long the sale will last, but given that it is described as a New Year's special, I'd guess that it won't be long.

General Software Discussion / Re: Firefox 43.0.2 stable release
« on: December 30, 2015, 05:52 AM »
it went well; all my addons are still working (because of xpinstall.signatures.required=false) in 43.0.3

Anyone knows how long will that trick work? What are we talking about? Weeks or months?

According to Mozilla, beginning with Firefox 44, there will be NO workaround to allow unsigned extensions in the Release versions.  Developer and Nightlies will continue to allow overrides to allow devs to test their work without having to wait for approval each time.

This applies only to Firefox itself.  Other Gecko based browsers (SeaMonkey, Palemoon, etc...) are free to make their own choices, but not all FF extensions work with those browsers.

I am currently using eM Client (again, not for mail), which seems to have no problem staying in sync with Google. 
In another thread, app103 was very pleased with eM Client's calendar.  Softmaker have abandoned development, saying they would roll their enhancements into Thunderbird.  Does Tbird include any sort of calendar?  eM Client itself now seems orphaned.  It might be nice if Softmaker split out the calendar as a separate entity.

Softmaker may have at one time included eM Client with their suite, but eM Client is a separate software company and the product is quite actively developed and supported.  I use the free version which only supports 2 accounts, but since I don't use it for email, that doesn't matter to me.

I use SeaMonkey for email - it's Thunderbird without the bloat, and much faster. SeaMonkey's browser is also faster than Firefox 43.0.1, which loads very slowly, although it is reasonably fast if you keep it in memory.  Lightning works with SeaMonkey, but unfortunately, the Google connector does not seem to work properly with Lightning on SeaMonkey - it doesn't retain login credentials across sessions, which makes it nearly useless.  Also, the SeaMonkey/Thunderbird address book is really only good for email and Lightning does not include an address book.  Thus eM Client.

I used Essential PIM Pro for a number of years, after dumping Outlook.  I never used EPIM for email (I never used Outlook for email either). My calendar and contacts are kept in several Google accounts and I wanted to be able to access them locally on the Windows desktop.

Both the calendar and contacts functions in EPIM are very good, but the sync with Google got to be too flaky a year or so ago, and I finally gave up on it.  EPIM is actively developed, but the developers have an idiosyncratic bent and are not very responsive to problems or suggestions. I am currently using eM Client (again, not for mail), which seems to have no problem staying in sync with Google. 

If Google sync isn't important to you, EPIM is an excellent standalone calendar/contacts manager that works well as a portable app too.  I can't see using it as an information organizer however.

Found Deals and Discounts / Re: RightNote 50% discount to August 31
« on: December 17, 2015, 01:09 PM »
RightNote is once again 50% off for new licenses (Standard or Pro) until december 24, 2015.  Upgrading a V.2 license to V.3 is 50% off anyway, so no deal there.

I don't use Archivarius, but it is most likely more than enough just for finding text in a large number of files.

dtSearch is probably more flexible, with advanced indexing and search options and an index manager that lets you define multiple indexes according to how your data is stored, combine multiple indexes into libraries and search across them.  In addition to boolean searches, it allows for word stemming, phonics and fuzzy searches, and can use a thesaurus to include synonyms in searches.  It also displays pdf files using a reader plug-in and can even highlight found words inside pdfs if you use the Adobe Reader plug-in.

As of Firefox 43, add-ons need to be signed by Mozilla to be installed.

As per Mozilla:
Starting with Firefox 43, there are some restrictions in place for add-on distribution. Extensions and multipackage installers that support Firefox need to be signed by Mozilla in order for them to be installable in release and beta versions of Firefox. Note that this only applies to add-on types 2 and 32; other add-on types like themes and language packs don't require signing. Add-ons that only support other applications like Thunderbird and SeaMonkey are also excluded. Unsigned add-ons can still be installed in Developer Edition, Nightly, and ESR versions of Firefox, after toggling the xpinstall.signatures.required preference in about:config.

Toggling xpinstall.signatures.required to false works in the Firefox 43 general release, but beginning with Firefox 44 will only work in the developer releases listed above.

Note that there is nothing the user can do to get around this. Developers are responsible for getting each add-on signed by Mozilla, failing which the add-on will no longer work with Firefox.

A few of the add-ons I depend on that are affected by this were Ultra Recall, Toodle Do and Linkman Pro.  I expect these to have signed versions available very soon (update: Linkman Pro already has, and Ultra Recall is expecting approval) but I'm afraid many others will effectively disappear forever.

Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Black Friday Deals 2015
« on: November 27, 2015, 11:06 AM »
VMware Workstation Pro is 40% off today - new licenses and upgrades.


Expandrive is 40% off with coupon code  HOLIDAYS15

Non-Windows Software / Re: linux mint newbie
« on: November 12, 2015, 08:12 AM »
My understanding is that with the release of Windows 10 there will be no further "versions" in the old sense. Windows is heading towards a rolling upgrade cycle where the OS just receives regular updates via Microsoft's update service.

It's not the prospect of paying for a subscription that scares the living daylights out of me about Windows 10, it's the idea that the user is at the mercy of Microsoft with no way to opt out of whatever they attempt to force down one's throat through regular mandatory updates to the OS.

This article discusses the specific problem of interruptions to workflow caused by Windows update forcing reboots, but the problem goes much deeper in that the security of mission-critical programs can be compromised by unannounced changes to the operating environment.

It's one thing for my phone or tablet to be kept up-to-date that way -- I'm not going to put anything I can't live without on those devices.  Like it or not, at some point I am going to have to bite the bullet and transition to Linux before Windows 7 dies of old age or just won't run on a newer desktop computer.

Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Vivaldi: Promising yet.
« on: November 07, 2015, 07:58 PM »
Vivaldi looks promising, but not quite there yet.

In terms of performance, it is no different than the current version of Opera (33), which is to be expected, since they are both essentially skins applied to the same Chromium engine.  I had used Opera since 1999, and switched from 12.x to the Chromium version about a year ago, when it finally got some features that are essential to me, like print preview.  Vivaldi brings back some of what I missed from the classic version of Opera, like side panels, but many features in both Vivaldi and the new Opera are almost the same.

Vivaldi does seem to be more customizable and flexible than Opera, but there is absolutely no help or documentation at this time, so finding out what you can do is mostly a matter of playing around and seeing what happens.

The main reason I will continue to use Opera for the time being is that Vivaldi does not appear to have much in the way of privacy controls.  You can clear personal data, but AFAICT, you can't set to clear on exit nor to exempt specific sites.

Found Deals and Discounts / Re: GOTD XYPlorer Pro 15.90 [free]
« on: November 07, 2015, 01:59 PM »
Keep in mind that there's a free version of XY that gets updated periodically:

Of course it doesn't have all the features of Pro, but the ones it has are probably enough for many folks.
This page has a side by side listing of Pro and Free version features, with links to the online documentation for each so you can determine whether it is something you can't live without.  For example, Make Coffee is available only in the Pro edition.

Non-Windows Software / Linux and Internet security
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:49 AM »
According to today's Washington Post, "The Internet’s future rests with a man who calls most security experts ‘completely crazy’"

I'd agree that Linus can be obnoxious at times, but I would certainly not call him crazy, or even wrong-headed about security experts.  But then, I'm not a security expert.

Living Room / Re: The end of the hard disk
« on: November 04, 2015, 12:25 PM »
revisiting this topic...
ok, so 4TB regular hard drives can be had for about $200-300.
1TB SSD is over $400

The highest capacity 2.5" hdd available today is 2TB.  2TB laptop drives go for $100 and up, while 1TB laptop drives go for about $50 and up, $70 and up for high performance (7200 RPM) drives. 

Micron has just introduced a "budget" line of SSDs in the 2.5" form factor that is slower than top of the line SSDs, but still more than 10 times faster than the fastest laptop hard drive, at $149 MSRP for 512GB and $299 MSRP for 960GB.  That's 6 times the price for 10 times the performance.  The gap is closing.

I'd agree that I don't see SSDs replacing desktop HDDs any time soon for long term and off line storage, but I think they will mostly survive as external devices, either as portable drives or as NAS.

Added 11/6/15 - I've started to see 2TB laptop drives priced below $90, at the same time, the price of a Samsung 2TB SSD has dropped from $1,000 to $750.  Also, Micron has announced they will no longer make SSDs with less than $240GB capacity because they expect the market to move to 1TB and higher.

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