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Friday, July 31, 2009

Email Hacking Software

Email Hacking Software

Email Hacking Software

Password Hacking Software, Email Hacking Software, Yahoo Password Hacking Software, Hotmail Password Hacking Software…

Don’t get fooled by these words. Learn the Real of of hacking email passwords. Identify which Hacking Softwares work and which doesn’t. Most of us are very curious about a software that can hack email passwords. In fact most of the searches about hacking contain the keyword email hacking software or password hacking software. But is it really possible to hack an email using a software? Does there exist a software to hack email passwords? In this post I’ll explain every possible information that you need to know about an email hacking software.

Email Hacking Software – Explained

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE PROCEEDING

Many sites on the internet claim to sell softwares/programs to hack email passwords. I know most of you are aware of this. These sites also boast that their software can hack email passwords with in minutes. Some sites also claim that they can hack any one’s password for money (say $100). Never believe these sites. They are all scam! I can dare challenge anyone who claims to hack an email, using a software program. In fact when I was a newbie in the field of Hacking, I have spent many sleepless nights in search of an Email hacking software. Finally I ended up only with frustration and nothing more than that. I don’t want my readers to commit the same mistake which I did. So, never believe those scam sites and empty your pockets by spending on useless softwares.

SO, HOW CAN I HACK AN EMAIL PASSWORD ?

The story doesn’t end up here. It is still possible to hack an email password and several opportunities to do that are still open for you. In this post I’ll discuss the easiest way to hack an email password. For this you need not be an expert hacker or have any knowledge of hacking. Yes believe me, it’s possible. All you have to do is just use Keyloggers. Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions about keyloggers.

What is a keylogger ?

A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger, key logger, or system monitor, is a small program that monitors each and every keystroke a user types on a specific computer’s keyboard. Keylogger is the easiest way to hack an email account.

A keylogger program can be installed just in a few seconds and once installed you are only a step away from getting the victim’s password. Even though keylogger software is not meant for hacking passwords, you can use them to hack email passwords.

Where is the keylogger program available ?

A keylogger program is widely available on the internet. Some of the best ones are listed below

SniperSpy

Win-Spy

Both of these keyloggers can be used either on a Local or Remote computer.

I don’t have physical access to the victim’s computer, can I still hack the password ?

Yes, you can still hack the email using a keylogger software. All you have to do is, just use a keylogger software that has Remote Installation feature. Both SniperSpy and Win-Spy support Remote Installation.

You can attach the keylogger with any file such as image, MS excel file or other programs and send it to the victim via email. When the victim runs the program containing, it will automatically get installed without his knowledge and start recording every activity on his computer. These activities are sent to you by the keylogger software via email or FTP.

Which Keylogger is the best ?

Both the keyloggers mentioned above are the best for email hacking. However SniperSpy has got a slightly better advantage over Win-Spy software. These are some of the advantages of SniperSpy over Win-Spy.

1. Sniper Spy is more reliable than Win-Spy since the logs sent will be received and hosted by SniperSpy servers. You need not rely on your email account to receive the logs.

2. SniperSpy offers better support than WinSpy.

3. SniperSpy has got recognition from media such as CNN, BBC, CBS, Digit etc. Hence it is more reputed and trustworthy.

How to Find the IP Address of a Remote Computer

Find IP AddressMost of you may be curious to know how to find the IP address of your friend’s computer or to find the IP address of the person with whom you are chatting in Yahoo messenger or Gtalk. In this post I’ll show you how to find the IP address of a remote computer in simple steps.

I have created a PHP script to make it easier for you to find the IP address of the remote computer of your choice. Here is a step-by-step process to find out the IP address.

1. Download the IP Finder script (IP_Finder.ZIP) that I have created.

2. Open a new account in X10Hosting (or any free host that supports PHP).

3. Extract the IP_Finder.ZIP file and upload the two files ip.php and ip_log.txt into the root folder of your hosting account using the File Manager.

4. You can rename the ip.php to any name of your choice.

5. Set the permission to 777 on ip_log.txt.

Now you are all set to find the IP address of your friend or any remote computer of your choice. All you have to do is send the link of ip.php to your friend or the person with whom you’re chatting. Once the person click’s on the link, his/her IP address is recorded in the file ip_log.txt.

For your better understanding let’s take up the following example.

Suppose you open a new account in X10hosting.com with the subdomain as abc, then your IP Finder link would be

http://abc.x10hosting.com/ip.php

You have to send the above link to you friend via email or while chatting and ask him to visit that link. Once your friend clicks on the link, his IP address will be recorded along with the Date and Time in the ip_log.txt file. After recording the IP address, the script will redirect the person to google.com so as to avoid any suspicion.

To find the recorded IP address check the logs using the following link.

http://abc.x10hosting.com/ip_log.php

The sample log will be in the following format

79.92.144.237 Thursday 07th of May 2009 05:31:27 PM
59.45.144.237 Thursday 07th of May 2009 05:31:28 PM
123.92.144.237 Thursday 07th of May 2009 05:31:31 PM

NOTE: You have to replace abc with your subdomain name.

I hope this helps. Express your opinion and suggestions through comments

How to Change the ICON of an EXE file

Some times it becomes necessary to change the ICON of an executable(.exe) file so that the exe file get’s a new appearence.Many of the Tools such as TuneUP Winstyler does this job by adjusting the Windows to display a custom icon to the user.But in reality when the file is carried to a different computer, then it shows it’s original ICON itself.This means that inorder to permanantly change the ICON, it is necessary to modify the executable file and embed the ICON inside the file itself.Now when this is done the exe file’s ICON is changed permanantly so that even if you take file to a different computer it show’s a new icon.

For this purpose I have found a nice tool which modifies the exe file and will embed the ICON of your choice into the file itself. ie:The tool changes the exe ICON permanantly.

I’ll give you a step-by-step instruction on how to use this tool to change the icon.

1. Goto www.shelllabs.com and download the trial version of Icon Changer and install it (Works on both XP and Vista).

2. Right-click on the exe file whose ICON is to be changed.

3. Now you will see the option Change Icon…Click on that option.

4. Now the Icon Changer program will open up.

5. Icon changer will search for all the ICONS on your system so that you can select any one of those.

6. Now select the ICON of your choice and click on SET.

7. Now a popup window will appear and ask you to select from either of these two options.

  • Change embeded icon.
  • Adjust Windows to display custom icon.

Select the first option (Change embeded icon).

8. You are done.The ICON get’s changed.

4 portable app suites to power up your USB flash drive

Portable applications suites are a great way to get your hands on a ton of useful software with minimal fuss. Got a new flash drive, or maybe an old one you don't know what to do with?
Throw one of these suites on it and you've got an instant software Swiss Army Knife.

PortableApps.com - John T. Haller's project is the most well-known suite on the 'net. It includes Firefox, OpenOffice (or AbiWord in the light version), Pidgin, Thunderbird, Sunbird, Sumatra PDF, KeePass, and more. Haller is very good for keeping the core up-to-date - you'll usually see new versions of the Mozilla apps the same day they're released.

LiberKey - The Ultimate version will take up half a gig on your drive, and it's packed with useful programs, including technician favorites like CPU-Z, RegShot, Revo Uninstaller, Unlocker. There are also loads of multimedia, networking, and internet apps. The 180Mb basic version is a lot like PortableApps with the addition of Piriform's tools (CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva). They've got a handy comparison chart posted as well. One omission worth noting: OpenOffice.

Lupo PenSuite - In addition to a giant list of portable applications, Lupo also includes links to popular web-based apps like Flickr, G.ho.st, PixIr, RTM, Virustotal, and Zoho. Though, if you're using a portable browser you likely have all your favorite web apps bookmarked there anyway. If you don't need the full 300Mb, there's also a lite (90Mb) version which is like the PortableApps core with several technician's tools bolted on.
As noted by LOC in the comments: "The Lupo PenSuite does have a page with links to many other portable
or slim install browsers such as Chrome and Opera etc. (Also, CrazyBrowser and other lesser known browsers)" - Thanks!

WinPenPack - WinPenPack offers five different versions. There's the mammoth 2Gb Ultimate version (not every portable Windows application ever, but close enough), 370Mb essentials, and packs tailored for students, gamers, and web developers.
I was a little surprised to see that only one of these (Lupo Full) includes a browser other than Firefox (it includes Opera as well). For Chrome on the go, you can download Carsten Knoblauch's portable version or SRWare Iron portable.

Four apps that will/might keep your wife from killing you

...when her computer crashes.

Since I'm sure a lot of our loyal readers are "the friend that knows about computers," I thought I'd share some programs that I should've used long before my wife's hard drive took a dirt nap.
Prepping a close one's computer for a catastrophic event is kind of like stockpiling supplies for a fallout shelter. When the proverbial bomb drops, you'll be safe - as long as you've got the right provisions.

1. GMail. I took the liberty of setting up what I think is a phenomenally crafty stealth email backup.

Step one: enable IMAP and copy all the old messages to GMail.

Step two: set up GMail to automatically check our ISP's crappy POP server.

Step Three: set Outlook Express to access GMail via POP and leave the original copy on the server.

Step four: twiddle thumbs. All emails are now stored in the cloud where a hard drive is a lot less likely to take a steaming hot bath in coffee.

I've chosen to use POP instead of IMAP because of the odd problem we've had with our GMail for Domains access.

Phone calls from home that start "Why is it telling me the server can't be contacted?" aren't good for my health.

2. Cobian Backup. I've used Cobian for a while now. Well, that's not totally accurate. It was installed, and I had a job created to back files up to my trusty old XBox's FTP server, but it kept failing and I never bothered to correct the problem. Since I took ten minutes to fix the issue, it's been working great. I've currently got it saving archives to an external SATA drive as well as the XBox.

Cobian is set to grab the bulk of the important stuff: My Documents, Music, Application Data, Local Settings, Desktop, and the like. It's set to run nightly, and shadow copy support means it'll back up even if certain apps (like Firefox, OE, and Photoshop) are left running.

3. GBridge. Ok, this might not work for everyone, but I work for a smallish family business and I'm "the computer guy." That means I get to build my own workstation and hand-pick the parts in it. The RAID mirror makes an ideal location for offsite storage of encrypted data, and GBridge is a handy way to get it there.

Its Hamachi-like VPN and autosync make maintaining a spare set of fonts, Photoshop brushes, and other things I usually forget so easy it almost hurts (actually forgetting these causes a great deal more hurt). As a bonus, GBridge also gives me zero-config VNC access to troubleshoot other problems I've caused on my wife's laptop from the safety of my office.

4. XXClone. XXClone is a very easy-to-use app for cloning a system drive while still in Windows. It's been faster than Macrium Reflect for me, and Macrium's free version doesn't support incremental backups. After the initial copy, synching the new changes is obviously a lot quicker than re-cloning the entire drive.

One downside is that you can't get rid of the confirmation dialog in the free version - which puts the kibosh on scheduling with command line switches. Cloning a drive on a schedule is definitely the best way to cover your butt, and it may be worth paying for in your case.


For me it's the initial clone with all the vital apps that matters. If I remember to do a few incrementals here and there, GREAT. If not, well, it's the data that's most important and I think I've got that covered.


I won't guarantee that running these four programs will allow you to escape totally unscathed, but if they prevent one angry phone call to your workplace then I've done my job.

A Virus Program to Disable USB Ports

Virus to disable USB portsIn this post I will show how to create a simple virus that disables/blocks the USB ports on the computer (PC). As usual I use my favorite C programming language to create this virus. Anyone with a basic knowledge of C language should be able to understand the working of this virus program.

Once this virus is executed it will immediately disable all the USB ports on the computer. As a result the you’ll will not be able to use your pen drive or any other USB peripheral on the computer. The source code for this virus is available for download. You can test this virus on your own computer without any worries since I have also given a program to re-enable all the USB ports.

1. Download the USB_Block.rar file on to your computer.

2. It contains the following 4 files.

  • block_usb.c (source code)
  • unblock_usb.c (source code)

3. You need to compile them before you can run it. A step-by-step procedure to compile C programs is given in my post - How to Compile C Programs.

3. Upon compilation of block_usb.c you get block_usb.exe which is a simple virus that will block (disable) all the USB ports on the computer upon execution (double click).

4. To test this virus, just run the block_usb.exe file and insert a USB pen drive (thumb drive). Now you can see that your pen drive will never get detected. To re-enable the USB ports just run the unblock_usb.exe (you need to compile unblock_usb.c) file. Now insert the pen drive and it should get detected.

5. You can also change the icon of this file to make it look like a legitimate program. For more details on this refer my post – How to Change the ICON of an EXE file (This step is also optional).

13 Great Free Backup Programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Making sure you've got a reliable backup solution is a must for any user - and more so for an administrator. Why? Well, mostly because your users probably aren't very good at remembering to back up their own files. And so it falls to you to provide the right software for the job!


Backup software is a difficult category to tackle nowadays as the distinction between backup and synchronization apps has become a little blurred. Prices being what they are, my personal choice is to use external or removable hard drives for my backup chores - my current favorites are Bonkey and Cobian.


To make sure you've got plenty of options to choose from, I've split this list into three different categories so that you can choose from the options that are best suited to your environment.

Integrated Burning


Comodo Backup [win]
They do make than a great firewall. Comodo Backup is an excellent free solution. It has extremely flexible scheduling and notification options, supports FTP destinations, can burn multisession DVDs, and has a synchronization mode for quick realtime backups.


DFIncBackup [win]
As is the case with most backup applications, there's a free and paid version. The free one still handles CD/DVD backups, and it also does incremental .zip jobs as well - only backing up files that have changed or weren't present in your previous job.


SE Backup [win]
Sports a very simple interface, does CD and DVD burning and compression, and is available as a portable application. Scheduling isn't built in, but it supports command line launching with parameters which works very well with Windows' own Task Scheduler.

File Copy

Abakt
[win]
Though it's no longer developed, Abakt is still a great choice. It's got a great file filtering system, supports 7zip and zip compression, file splitting, password protection, and does differential and incremental backups.


Areca [win]
Free, open source, and wicked powerful. Areca is loaded with features: compression, encryption, simulation, merging, transaction commit/rollback, filtering, and more. It's command line interface provides excellent automation options and Areca also supports scripting of post-job actions.

Bonkey
[win] [mac]
The "Backup Monkey." If I was giving points for best mascot, this one would be a clear winner.
Bonkey runs on both Windows and Mac, and has a lot of great features. It supports email, FTP, and Amazon S3, compression, encryption, scheduling, and synchronization. It'll even back up MS SQL server databases.

Cobian Backup [win]
Apart from being a great application, Cobian's developer has an excellent tutorial online to help you get started. Though it is no longer open source, you may still download the last version that was (v8). There's also a portable version.
One of my favorite features of Cobian is its ability to handle pre- and post- job events. I use it to issue net stop and net start commands to ensure safe backups of our horrible, horrible point-of-sale system. Cobian also has the ability to control and monitor all its instances on your network from your own workstation.


JaBack [win] [mac]
Allows backup to FTP and email (as well as any drive on your computer or network), and sports a flexible scheduler. It also has a file monitor function that will perform backup operations whenever changes are detected.


Mathusalem [mac]
Offers FTP/SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDav, and SMB support for backups on OSX. Mathusalem can compress to zip and dmg, will resume failed uploads, and supports scheduling and command line launching. It's also open source.



Server-Based


Bacula [win] [mac] [linux]
Bacula is an enterprise grade network backup solution that runs on just about every platform imagineable. It's a much more complex system than the other options I've mentioned, but is extremely powerful and well-suited to a medium or large scale network.


BackupPC [win] [linux]
A Linux-based, client-free enterprise solution for backing up Windows and Linux machines. BackupPC uses SMB, tar, and rsync to extract backup data from client computers. It 's got a powerful web-based interface for administrators and users, and will even email reminders to users that have been remiss in performing backups.
It's a very flexible solution, and is open source.


NasBackup [win] [linux]
Uses a simple Windows GUI and rsync to perform backups from client machines to a central server. It'll do incremental backups, scheduling, compression, encryption, and the server offers useful per-client controls like limiting the number of versions to store and expiration dates. It also provides daily summaries via email.

 

 

Restore [win] [mac] [linux]
The self-proclaimed "reason backup was invented." It's definitely a great product, and full of terrific features. Its web interface is very easy to understand and use - and makes it easy for the mobile admin to monitor and control Restore from anywhere.
Restore supports FTP, WebDav, SSH/SFTP, and multiple revisions. It also provides powerful admin tools, making it easy to create and control users, groups, jobs, and scheduling.
Did I miss your favorite app? Share it with us...Admins everywhere will thank you!

24 Great Open Source Apps for Admins & Technicians

I'm always on the lookout for apps that can ease my workload or free up some room in my budget, and open source applications are an excellent way for me to accomplish both.


If you're in the same boat as me, hopefully you're already utilizing some open source options. If not, I've put together this list of two dozen great applications that I can depend on to keep things running smoothly on my office LAN and customer systems as well.


Some of these you'll recognize, but I hope that there are some that are new to you as well.

  1. PING - I may be beating a dead horse here with my love of PING, but it's just a great piece of open source. Drive imaging with network and spanning support, password blanking, it's just an excellent app.
  2. NTRegEdit - The Windows Registry editor hasn't seen many changes over the years. NTRegEdit offers some great additional features like recursive export, color coding, improved searching, and quick edit window below the values list.
  3. Safarp - A portable alternative to appwiz.cpl (add/remove programs), it provides a few extra useful features - like silent uninstalls and repairs of Windows Installer-based apps. It also opens in a flash, unlike the clunky appwiz.
  4. WPKG - Maintaining software installs on computers in a small business environment can be a little frustrating sometimes. WPKG gives you push/pull installs and it can run as a service, so silent installs run transparently with no user ineteraction.
  5. ClamWin - Open source antivirus that does damn near everything the "big boys" do: automatic updates, scheduled scans, email scanning. There's no realtime shield, but coupling it with the next app in the list lets ClamWin do that, too.
  6. Winpooch - Originally designed to detect activity from trojans and other spyware, Winpooch monitors program activity on your system and gives you greater control over them (like preventing an .exe from connecting to the net or writing to a system folder).
  7. Vispa
  8. Xpy - These two offer fast ways to tweak XP or Vista by turning off unwanted services and features.
  9. WCD - Its stands for Wherever Change Directory, and it's a real timesaver for anyone that works with the Windows command prompt. All it needs is part of a directory name to change to it (wcd username to get to a user's home folder).
  10. Angry IP Scanner - If I'm asked to inventory a location, I usually start with Angry IP. It quickly builds a list of all live hosts on a network and makes it easy to locate the addresses for devices like Wireless APs, print servers, and the like.
  11. Startup Manager - MSconfig's startup control pane doesn't have a lot of functionality. Startup Manager is an excellent replacement, and it's available in a portable version as well.
  12. JKDefrag - Anything that automates system maintenance is worth a look, in my opinion. JKDefrag's screensaver installer puts your users' idle desktops to work for you, defragmenting whenever the .SCR kicks in.
  13. WinDirStat - Need to locate spacehogs on a user's hard drive? Fire up WinDirStat and let it go to work and it'll build a detailed (if not visually distracting) report of where drive space is being allocated.
  14. DeltaCopy - A fast incremental backup tool based on rsync. It supports scheduled backups and email notifications, and syncs client machines to virtual directories on a central server. I back up our point of sale history with this app - because a full copy of 1.2gb doesn't make sense when only a few hundred kilobytes have changed in the last business day.
    Both the client and server apps are included in the 6.3mb download.
  15. EchoVNC
  16. InstantVNC - Run these two together and you've got a free (albeit visibly slower) version of TeamViewer. Make sure you (or your client) enters a password when launching InstantVNC, or anyone viewing the list of clients with Echo could, theoretically, take control of the machine.
  17. Putty - A fantastic portable SSH and telnet client. What else can you say about Putty?
  18. InfraRecorder - I don't necessarily want burning software installed on all my client desktops, but I need it from time to time to do a quick backup. Since InfraRecorder is portable, I can run it from my flash drive or a network share.
  19. 7-Zip - I know 7-Zip doesn't have the prettiest GUI, but I rarely use it from anywhere but the context menu. It works like a champ and handles all the archive types I deal with on a daily basis.
  20. FreeOTFE - If you have any sensitive data on your network, you may want to have a look at Free On The Fly Encryption. It sports an easy-to-use interface that allows the creation of virtual encrypted drives. There's also a PDA version available to protect mobile data.
  21. QLiner Hotkeys - I love my hotkeys, and I miss them when I'm working on someone else's system. QLiner is portable, so I can just fire it up on an unfamiliar rig and access them without missing a beat. Add in the Zip tool to archive files with a single keypress.
  22. HealthMonitor - Keep tabs on your servers (or workstations) and get email or SMS alerts when trouble's afoot. It'll monitor everything from ram and drive space to services and event logs.
  23. Memtest - The tool I rely on to troubleshoot RAM issues. I've never run a Memtest and had it miss a faulty module. If the test does't launch or if the screen goes red, I know it's found the problem.
  24. DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke is a nice tool to keep handy if you donate old hardware. It's available as a floppy, USB, or CD image, and will locate and securely wipe the contents of just about any hard drive. It's even certified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Got another open source gem that helps you do the work of a dozen admins (or at least saves you some headaches)? Sound off!

14 Extremely Useful Firefox Addons

My affinity for Firefox comes as much from the fantastic community of addon developers as it does from the program itself. Now, I'm sure you will have heard of some of these before: good Firefox addons tend to spread like wildfire. I hope I've managed to include some that you might have missed.

I've ranked just over a dozen addons that I find to be particularly useful - even to more casual Firefox users.

1. Cybersearch - Customizable Google searches in my Awesome Bar? Yes, please! It also supports keywords so you can enter things like "ds firefox addons" and limit your search to a specific web site .Enter a comma separated list of URLs to search a group of sites.

2. LastPass - I used to use KeePass, but I just like LastPass better. It did a great job of importing (and then removing) my Firefox stored passwords, and its secure password creation tool makes using different passwords on new sites a snap. The web interface is a great way to manage my logins and groups.

3. FEBE - As with anything else on your computer, it's never a bad idea to back up your Firefox install. FEBE will back up everything - extensions, themes, bookmarks - or just what you choose, and you can set up an automated schedule. It's also got integrated Box.net support, which is actually a fairly nice way to roll-you-rown manual Firefox syncing.

4. AdBlock Plus. I don't really use AdBlock because I hate advertisements, but because I don't like waiting for web pages to load. Flash ads and multiple banners really gum up the works, so I depend on AdBlock to keep things running smoothly. It's also a decent way to cut back on your bandwidth usage.

5. DownThemAll - When a friend first showed me DTA a few years ago, I couldn't believe I was still just using FF2's built-in manager. DTA rocks, and would definitely make my Top 5. It's simply one of the best download managers out there.

6. OpenItOnline - I don't do enough work with Office-type documents anymore to warrant installing a suite on my laptop. OpenItOnline lets me send DOC, XLS, and all the other supported file types to ZohoViewer for perusal instead of downloading them. It supports all Zoho and Google Docs apps to open files.

7. Deng Google Bookmarks - I'm not sold on Weave yet, so for now I let Google store my bookmarks. I switched to the Deng addon after using GMarks for the longest time - because I got tired of the giant "bookmark" button on my toolbar. Deng displays only a small star icon, and its management interface is superior.

8. Screengrab! - To quickly capture an entire web page, Screengrab is a great tool. It can save or copy an entire page, the visible portion, or a rectangular selection. If I don't actually need to print a page, Screengrab is an easy, environmentally friendly way for me to keep a copy of it.

9. HP Smart Web Printing - When I do need to print, HP's addon gives me the option to combine multiple web pages on one sheet of paper, eliminate elements I don't need to print, and it even allows saving to PDF. Always nice to see the big boys release something great for free.

10. Web Of Trust - WOT is a great way to keep yourself out of malware trouble. I think I'm a pretty responsible surfer, but I don't know the reputation of every site on the Internet. WOT gives you a heads up about the trustworthiness of a link (based on community input) before you visit it.

11. Shareaholic - Anyone that enjoys sharing links would do well to install this one: it supports a ton of services, including Digg, Delicious, Twitter, Pownce, Reddit, Facebook, MySpace, and Google. It's also a quick way to see how many Diggs or Delicious bookmarks a page has received. Bzzster support gives quick access to sharing items via email.

12. Pingfire - Another must for the social surfer. Ping.fm's multiple-site update service is rad, and Pingfire kicks it up a notch. No need to even visit Ping, just add the Pingfire icon to your toolbar and update your microblog and status sites with ultimate ease.

13. Tab Kit - It's got a whole slew of options for tab management: grouping, coloring, sorting, protection, mouse rocker and scroll wheel support, and many, many others. Visit the devloper's page for a full list of features.

14. Yet Another Smooth Scrolling - Firefox's default scrolling isn't quite as refined as I like it, so I use YASS to tweak things until they're just right. It supports up to three presets, which is nice for laptops. Keep one set for your touchpad and one for your mouse.


Sid I miss your favorite? Share it in the comments so our other readers don't miss out!

4 Free Proxies To Block Ads in Google Chrome (or any browser)

So you've tested Google Chrome and decided that you like it. You say you'd switch, but there's no adblocker? Fortunately for you, there are several free, tiny filtering proxy applications available that can do the job.
The best part is, they'll help block ads in any browser - including Chrome.
Before I get into a list, it's important to know that several of these apps haven't been updated in ages. However, content filtering is a pretty straightforward operation, so even the old ones work just fine - and you can always tweak the blocking rules yourself.

CyberGuard WebWasher Classic
is another great option. It's small, fast, and very customizable. It's got additional capabilities to block popups, scripts, referrers, cookies, and prefixes. New filters are incredibly easy to set up, and there's no noticeable lag in load times. Of the apps I tested, WebWasher was my favorite.

Proxomitron has a god awful GUI, but it works well enough that its appearance can be overlooked (you can create your own bitmaps if you really hate it). It offers extremely flexible bloxing rules, and the default set is extrmely effective. Blocked ads are replaced with [red text in brackets], and pages load times weren't adversely affected.

iReject Trash is a tiny download (200k) and works extremely well. Its log view also gives you an interesting insight into the pages you're visiting. CNET.com, for example, had 33 items blocked. Out-of-the-box the blocking was very good, and the rules are fully customizable. You can block by host, pattern, or image dimensions. Page load times were a bit slower on certain sites.

Lifehacker suggests Privoxy
as an option. Privoxy is more low-fi: all your configuration tweaks are done by editing text files. It is, however, very easy on processor usage and it also does a very good job with no tweaking. I didn't notice any difference in page load times with Privoxy.


There are tons of other options for blocking ads (just check the Google Directory), so don't give up on Chrome just because there's no AdBlock. Grab one of these apps, and give it another try - then tell us how it went!

15+ programs you don't have to miss when you switch to Linux

Two years ago, the small business where I work would never have considered selling Linux systems. When it comes to computers, the vast majority of our customers are only familiar with Windows. Trying to sell them an Ubuntu system would have been similar to what Sisyphus experiences with his boulder.
Times have changed, however, and now it's a bit easier - especially since I can demo a system and show that they'll be able to do many of the same things even with a different OS powering the computer.

Common Windows applications that are available for Linux
My average customer wants to do a few key things with their system and not much else - download music, chat, send email, store digital photos, and play some casual games. Many of their preferred Windows programs are also available for Linux.
Limewire - Just because you're switching operating systems doesn't mean you have to give up downloading music. Limewire is built on Java and is available for Linux.
Picasa - Most of us have digital cameras by now, and many of us have hundreds (if not thousands) of digital photos. You may have grown to love Picasa on Windows, but you won't have to give it up if you switch.
Skype - Keeping in touch with family members is important. Doing it for free? That's a bonus, and Skype will let you do that, even on your new OS. 

Google Gadgets, Google Desktop - A number of my users have wound up with these on their windows system thanks to the Google Toolbar (which you can also add to Firefox). If you enjoy using them, you can install them on Linux, too.
Flash - No one wants to miss out on their favorite casual games (like our Time Wasters). Adobe's Flash runs on Linux, too, and it's powering the vast majority of those addictive little distractions.

Apps you might not know, but you'll love after the switch
Not everything you run right now is available for Linux. There are, however, tons of great desktop and web applications that can fill in nicely. Better yet, nearly all of them are totally free!

Disc Burning: Brasero (Pictured), K3B
Linux users want to be able to burn stuff, too, and they have good programs to do it that are just as easy to use (if not a little easier). There is actually a Nero version for Linux, but Brasero and K3B are excellent, free replacements.

Chat: Pidgin, Meebo, MSN Web Messenger
No, you can't get Live Messenger on Linux. You can, however, use Pidgin, which will also let you chat with your friends on AOL, Yahoo!,

MySpace, Facebook, and more - all in the same program. Meebo and MSN Web Messenger run in your web browser, so you'll be able to run them as well.

iTunes: Amarok(pictured), Songbird
Apple isn't quite ready to get on board the Linux train just yet, but Amarok and Songbird both provide very strong alternatives to iTunes. You won't be able to buy from the iTunes store itself, but there are plenty of other places to purchase new tracks online.

Internet Explorer: Firefox, Opera(pictured)
Likely the biggest switch you'll be making is your web browser, but it doesn't have to be hard. You can customize Firefox's appearance so it looks almost exactly like Internet Explorer if you start to experience withdrawals - Linux.com has a good writeup on how to do it. If you really, really must have the original, you can install Internet Explorer in Wine - though since you're changing operating systems you may as well try out a more feature-rich browser like Firefox or Opera.

Watching Movies: VLC
I've never been too excited by the programs makers ship on their systems for watching movies. VLC is an excellent player for both downloaded and DVD movies, and you won't have to hunt around for codecs like you may have with Windows Media Player.

Torrent Downloads: Transmission, Vuze (pictured), Limewire
More and more of my customers are getting the hang of torrent downloading. If you want a basic, torrent-only program, Transmission is a solid choice. If you're already using Limewire, its new version can handle torrent downloads as well so you don't actually need a separate program. Video junkies should check out Vuze, which provides additional media functions you'll love.

Office: Openoffice.Org, Zoho Office, Google Docs
As is the case with Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office doesn't ship for Linux either. However, both Zoho and Google provide excellent alternatives that run in your web browser and OpenOffice.Org is available for those who prefer running programs on their desktop. All three are excellent replacements.

Games: AisleRiot Solitaire (pictured), Mahjongg, Sudoku
Gnome Games contains tons of excellent games - you definitely won't miss your old Microsoft stand-bys once you've made the jump. Aisle Riot runs circles around MS Solitaire. Some other games you'll get by default that you don't on Windows: Mahjongg, Sudoku, Blackjack, Tetravex, and GnomeTris (a Tetris clone).

40+ great open source apps & games to trick out your new Windows install

 

This weekend I finished setting up a fresh triple-boot install on my MSI laptop. With my operating systems ready to go, the time had come to start reinstalling applications. While it wasn't a conscious decision, I noticed that the majority of my apps were Open Source - so I decided to keep the ball rolling.

Even if you haven't just gone through a reformat, these are great applications and well worth installing. If you have, then hopefully this list will provide you with a solid base of programs to get you started with your fresh, new Windows install!

Web Browsers: Chromium, Firefox
They excel at different things, so I install both browsers by default. Chromium is great for all-purpose surfing, while I use Firefox and my favorite extensions to tackle my daily web-based work.

Office: OpenOffice.Org, Sumatra, PDFCreator
For lightweight PDF reading and creation from any Windows app, Sumatra and PDFCreator are solid options. OpenOffice.Org, well, it's the name to beat in open source suites.

Media: Songbird, VLC, Handbrake, DVD Flick
I've been using VLC for ages, and it does everything I need as my video player of choice. Audio duties I leave up to Songbird, which has matured into a fantastic application over the past two years. I use Handbrake to, uh, rip my non-encrypted, personal DVDs. DVD Flick lets me burn said rips back onto a disc.

File Transfer: Free Download Manager, Cabos, eMule
FDM is a very underrated torrent app, and it has plenty of other download-boosting abilities as well. I chose it over Vuze because I need FDM's extras (partial zips, Flash downloading, Rapidshare integration) more than Vuze's additional media-handling chops. Cabos trims Limewire down to the bare minimum for the occasional one-off Gnutella download. As for eMule, I use it to find things that I can't find elsewhere.

Imaging: ZScreen, Inkscape, Gimphoto/GimPad, Flickr Uploadr
If you're comfortable with Photoshop but looking for a free alternative, go with Gimphoto instead of Gimp – the interface is very Adobe-esque. For vector image jobs, Inkscape can't be beat. ZScreen handles my screen captures and Flickr Uploadr, well, it does what it says.

Burning and Backup: Infrarecorder, WinCDEmu, Bonkey, and DirSyncPro
These three apps make short work of mounting disc image files, burning just about anything, syncing folders, and keeping a current copy of your files in a safe location.

Messaging and Social Networking: Pidgin and Spaz
Don't sic Mr. Stallman on me – I know Spaz is built on Adobe Air, but the client itself is open. As for multi-protocol messaging apps, Pidgin is a tough bird to beat.

Maintenance and Utilities: 7zip, Belvedere, Ultra Defrag, Disk Cleaner, TrueCrypt
Lifehacker's Belvedere is a great way to organize your files and folders with minimal effort. Ultra Defrag and Disk Cleaner (and a handful of helpful plugins) keep your hard drive clutter free and performing its best. 7zip waits in your context menu to extract files from (or cram files into) archives of all kinds. For encrypting files, folders, or entire volumes, Truecrypt is fast and reliable.

Desktop Enhancements: RocketDock, Launchy, Virtual Dimension
You don't really need both RocketDock and Launchy. If you prefer eye candy, go with Rocket Dock. If you're a keyboard magician, go with Launchy. I run Virtual Dimension because my forays into Linux have me hooked on the benefits of virtual desktops.

Games: AssaultCube, Enigma, FreeCiv, LexJongg, LinCity, Neverball, Nexuiz, PokerTH, TORCS, Tremulous, WinSudoku, Wormux, Zombies.
Using your computer shouldn't be all work, all the time. Kick back and relax or give you brain a casual workout with these great games. LexJongg puts a slightly technogeek spin on traditional mahjong. FPS fans should check out AssaultCube, Nexuiz, and Tremulous. FreeCiv and LinCity offer OSS takes on two classic PC simulations. TORCS is a solid 3d racing sim which will hopefully soon include online action. Wormux and Zombies are fun turn-based strategy games. WinSudoku and PokerTH - I'll assume you know what those are all about.

There you go - plenty of great OSS to load on your own freshly reinstalled system (or a friend's)! If I missed one of your favorite apps or games, share it in the comments!

40+ awesome free Windows apps you can download in 2 seconds

Depending on your internet connection you might be able to download a lot more (or a lot less) than 1Mb in two seconds - but calling this a post about apps under a meg just isn't quite as much fun!
No, you don't really need to pay too much attention to an application's hard drive footprint any more. After all, when you can buy a 1.5Tb drive for less than $150US, what difference does a few megs here or there make?
On the other hand, it's amazing to see what some developers are able to accomplish with a very small amount of code.
There are a ton of great, free applications that have been created in less than 1Mb - I didn't fully realize just how many until I started putting this list together. This is by no means a complete list, so if your favorite got overlooked make sure to share it in the comments!

Desktop/Shell Enhancements
Launchy (408Kb) - Hotkeys FTW! Launchy does more than hotkeys, of course, but even if you add a bucketload of plugins it's still under 1Mb.
Open++ (114Kb) - Helps you tweak your context menu six ways from Sunday. Pair it with another app like NirCmd for a nice one-two punch.
ViGlance (198Kb) - Want Windows 7's iconized taskbar in XP or Vista? ViGlance pulls it off in just under 200Kb. It also swaps the start button for the orb (on XP, of course) and does program grouping and pop-up window lists.
VirtuaWin (385Kb) - Most Linux distributions enable multiple virtual desktops by default. Windows doesn't support them out of the box - so you'll need an app like VirtuaWin. It's a good way to keep your workspace organized.
XNeat (797Kb) - No need to bother with separate apps to shuffle your taskbar icons, roll up windows, or add transparency. XNeat does it all in a single, tiny package. Also allows you to hide windows, minimize to tray, create keyboard shortcuts, and a whole lot more.

Encryption
DiskCryptor (740Kb) - One thing TrueCrypt can do that OmZiff can't is encrypt volumes. DiskCryptor can do it, too, and it's well under the 1Mb mark
LockNote (320Kb) - If the only thing you really want to encrypt are some private thoughts and notes, Steganos' GPL LockNote is a good choice.

OmZiff (408Kb) - Protecting sensitive data with encryption is never a bad idea. While OmZiff doesn't have the massive featureset of TrueCrypt, it's one-tenth the size and provides all the essential functions and includes a file shredder and password generator.

File Tools
7-Zip (919Kb) - Sure, 7-zip's main application window is ugly, but who uses it? All the archiving and extracting power you need is just a right-click away.
Everything (334Kb) - A great desktop search tool, Everything indexes your drive contents quicky and supports find-as-you-type. There's a portable version available as well, and it's even smaller.
FastCopy (194Kb) - Both FastCopy and TeraCopy are great, free apps that make copying and moving large amounts of data easier. For me, FastCopy wins because it's free for commercial use, Open Source, and about one quarter the size of TeraCopy.

Fling (230Kb) - Those cheap hard drives make an excellent place to back up and archive your files. Fling not only handles drive-to-drive sync, but it also plays well with FTP servers and USB flash drives. It's one of my favorite discoveries this year.
QDir (439Kb) - If you can get used to the multi-pane crazines, QDir is an awesome tool for manually managing your files and folders.
Space Sniffer (863Kb) - CCleaner does a great job of removing crap from your system, but sometimes you need to dig a little deeper. Space Sniffer helps you locate unwanted space hogs graphically.
Suction (180Kb) - One great way to keep mess to a minimum on your system is to consolidate similar directories - that's exactly what Suction does. It's portable, too!
WinCD Emu (783Kb) - Daemon Tools and Virtual CloneDrive are more well-known programs for mounting ISO images as virtual optical drives in Windows, but WinCD Emu provides almost the same functionality in a smaller package. It handles ISO, IMG, CUE, BIN, and RAW files.

Internet and Networking

Ammyy Admin (548Kb) - While it lacks TeamViewer's speed and bonus features, Ammyy still provides firewall-friendly remote control. There are no ports to open, and if trust is an issue you can run your own Ammyy router (85Kb) instead of using theirs.
GMail Notifier Plus (985Kb) - With kicked-up support for Windows 7's jumplists, this is a useful, sexy helper app for anyone with a GMail account.
Hamachi (989Kb) - Even though it's about 50% bigger than it used to be, Hamachi is still pretty dang small - and very useful. Its zero-config VPN makes remote access to your systems a breeze.

HydraIRC (949Kb) - The installer pushes HydraIRC over 1MB, but the portable version squeaks in under the wire. Features a tabbed interface, skin support, DCC chat and transfers, channel monitoring, and loads more.
iFTP (838Kb) - I love the second line from the developer's site: " I originally wrote i.Ftp to be the first freeware graphical client for BeOS, but someone beat me to it by a few days and well nobody notices who comes 2nd." That might be true, but he still put together a very capable FTP client with SFTP support.
NewsSifter (262Kb) - An intelligent RSS feed reader that analyzes new items based on content and sorts them into categories that you create.
Putty (444Kb) - Classic SSH/terminal client. 'Nuf said.
uTorrent (270Kb) - I've been using uTorrent as long as I've been downloading torrent files. It's got all the features I need in a client (and more) and it's well under the 1Mb mark even if you add the WebUI zip file. Sure, there are other options, but uTorrent takes it easy on my system resources and just gets the job done.

Wakoopa (309Kb) - A fun (and informative) social app, Wakoopa tracks your application usage and lets you see what programs other users are running. It's a great way to discover apps you may not have tried before.

Multimedia
Evil Player (537Kb) - A lightweight, minimal audio player, Evil Player support all the major formats and streams Icecast and Shoutcast (which can be recorded as well).
Fotografix (370Kb) - This little gem has generated quite a bit of buzz since I first wrote it up. It's an excellent lightweight Photoshop alternative, with features like layers, masks, filters, scripts, and editable type. If the developer's site is down, grab the file from Rapidspread.

Greenshot (160Kb) - An open source screen capture tool, Greenshot supports full screen, window, and selection captures, saving to multiple image formats, and annotations. Both a portable version and installer (404Kb) are available.
iDump (197Kb) - Need a free, portable app to backup the contents of an iPod? iDump is a good tool for the job, and it downloads in a flash - even on dial-up.
NCH Express Burn (390Kb) - ImgBurn is my default Windows burning application, but Express Burn sports a lot of the same features and packs them into a much smaller package.
VideoCacheView (65Kb) - It's hard to pick a single NirSoft app to list, because so many of Nir's utilities are under 1Mb and they're all handy. This one scours your browsers' cache files for FLVs and SWFs and allows you to save them for offline viewing.

Office and Productivity
ArsClip (986Kb) - A better clipboard manager with tons of configuration options and features. It's packaged as a zip and totally portable.

CintaNotes (365Kb) - drop it on your Flash drive, and CintaNotes provides an excellent way to collect snippets, links, and any other text data. It supports tagging and search-as-you-type.
Converber (253Kb) - Its unit-conversion super powers are tought to beat. You might not use Converber often, but it's small enough to keep around just in case.
KA TypeIn (920Kb) - A fantastic little app that lets you easily create and reuse text snippets. You can get advanced with it as well since it supports variables. Also does autocompletion.
List² (32kb) - You certainly don't need Excel to create very basic spreadsheet-style lists. This app is more than capable, and it takes up about as much space on your drive as the first page of Excel's help file.
TinyPDF (586Kb) - Just north of half a meg, and able to create good quality PDFs from any application via file > print. No longer freeware, but you can grab the last free installer from Freeware Files.
TinySpell (590kb) - Not all our favorite apps include a spellchecker. TinySpell fills the gaps and boasts a 110,00 word dictionary.
WinWorkBar (593Kb) - A productivity-boosting calendar and todo list / GTD application rolled into a sidebar (that can be set to autohide).

Utilities and Maintenance

CCleaner (979Kb) - One of the best file and registry cleanup tools around, and the portable version still still weighs in under 1Mb.
FileHippo Update Checker (154Kb) - FileHippo is a great place to download popular free applications. It's not cluttered with deceptive ads and the site is well-organized. The Updater is a smart way to keep your installers up-to-date.
HijackThis (793Kb) - A must-have for malware cleanup. I don't recommend HJT to casual users, but if you're a DIY-er with a good idea what should and shouldn't be in your registry, it belongs in your toolkit.
Magical Jellybean Keyfinder (367Kb) - Before you reformat your system it's a good idea to back up the product keys for your installed programs. Jellybean is a free, Open Source app that quickly digs up your keys and saves them to a TXT or CSV file.
NirCmd (86Kb) - I tried, but deep down I knew I couldn't get through this list without a second NirSoft app. NirCmd packs a ton of command-line Kung Fu in a single download.

Process Lasso (544Kb) - Gives you better control over the processes running on your system. If you're typically using loads of applications at once, Process Lasso can help keep your system running smoothly. Tweak things manually, or let ProBalance do the work for you.
UltraDefrag (374Kb) - A good defrag tool helps keep your hard drive running like clockwork. Under half a meg and open source, UltraDefrag even comes in 64-bit flavors and there's a micro build (as if 374Kb wasn't small enough already).
Unlocker (252Kb) - I hate trying to delete a file only to have Windows notify me that I can't because the file is in use. Unlocker provides a simple remedy to that problem.

14 Facebook Ills (and How to Cure Most of Them)

From tracking the Jonas Brothers to organizing the Iranian democracy movement, Facebook is the most powerful network -- at the moment -- for linking people up around town or around the world. Love it or hate it, you really can't avoid it.

Which is what makes the site's various bugs, glitches, and buried features so painful. They are intimidating and off-putting to newbies, and continuing irritants even to obsessive fans. We polled both types, using our network on -- what else? -- Facebook, to find out what irks our "Friends" the most. We also trolled the Web for top complaints.

Then we sat down with Facebook to see if they had a fix -- or at least an explanation -- for each gripe.

At least the social network is aware of its foibles. "A lot of things are not as intuitive as we'd hope," our contact at Facebook, Kathleen, told us. "But there's actually a lot of functionality there that a lot of people just don't find."

In most cases, they were able to show us some workaround, or they said that a fix was in the works. Only in a few cases were the ills incurable. Read on for our list of common Facebook pains -- as told to us by users -- and the best pain relievers.

1. Too much information
The pain: "FB got rid of the tool for changing how much news and what kind of news you get from various friends. Now it's a fire hose." -- Anonymous Patient
The diagnosis: A while ago ago, Facebook changed its setup to a stream format in which all your friends' news comes pouring in. You no longer have the option to choose more or less news from any friend.
The relief: Partial cure. While some people will always miss the old style, here's what you can do with the current format.
Create a friend's list for people you want to hear from (i.e. leaving out the vapid chatterboxes). That list -- and all others -- will appear in the "stream filters" sidebar on the left of your home page. Then drag that friends list to the top of the sidebar, and by default you will see only updates from those people when you log in. To see what others are up to, just click on other friends lists or simply on "News Feed." The video below shows how to do it.

2. Getting tagged in bad photos
The pain: "I even know this one girl who was tagged in a photo that was taken when she weighed like 300 pounds and her boyfriend saw it. yikes!"-- Patient Tuan
The diagnosis: With over 15 billion photos, and 900 million added every month, Facebook is as much a picture-sharing site as a networking tool. One cool -- but also perilous -- feature is the ability to tag someone in a photo so anyone can search for pictures of them. However, not all your friends are great photographers, and you don't always look your best.
The relief: Partial cure. Unfortunately, there's no "don't tag me" setting. You can remove tags, but that in itself is a pain. You can also tweak the privacy settings so that only you or only certain people, such members of a specific friends list, can view the photos. See below for a demonstration.

3. Having to 'Reply All'
The Pain: "Actually, I find it stupid and annoying that I can't just reply back to you... my only option is to hit 'reply all.'"-- Patient Lorena
The Diagnosis: "A lot of people use Facebook messages almost like e-mail," said Facebook spokesperson Kathleen, "and it doesn't' quite yet have the functionality of email." For example, you can't easily reply back to a single person on a group message. The default is to reply to everyone.
The Relief: Partial cure. There has long been a little "Reply" button under each person's name in a group conversation. Previously, clicking it simply opened a blank message, but now it auto-populates the subject line. (Well-usually. Sometimes, it still provides a blank subject line.) But the reply still doesn't copy the thread of the conversation. So the person gets a response with no context.

4. No message forwarding
The pain: "You can't forward an e-mail chain in fb to new people who are not on the original routing list." --Patient Mary
The diagnosis: As we've said, Facebook messages aren't quite e-mail. While you can reply to someone, you can't send a message to other people who didn't get the original.
The relief: No cure yet. This ability simply doesn't exist, so far. But when we asked about it, the Facebook rep said, "We are working on the inbox and accepting suggestions for new abilities and functions." You can send any suggestion by going to the help center and entering the topic you'd like to comment on. Click here for complaints or suggestions about the inbox.

5. Too many offers and invites
The pain: "I have friends who are highly irritated by quizzes but they have to turn off the people or the quiz one-at-a-time -- tedious since they proliferate faster than rabbits." -- Patient Karen
"There is no way to say "I hate being poked or asked to join games" -- Patient Paul
The Diagnosis: Facebook is all about connecting and sharing, but some methods of that can be highly irritating. For example, there is the infamous poke -- the online equivalent of nonsensically yelling "Hey!"
Facebook also hosts many third-party applications, including games such as 'Mafia Wars,' which friends relentlessly invite you to join. The latest scourge, for many users, is the endless procession of personality-test quizzes, such as 'What Song Should Play When You Walk Into A Room.' After you complete one, the answers are pushed to all your friends, under the assumption that they care.
The relief: Off-label treatment. Facebook allows you to turn off most applications as you encounter them. But that can become a losing game of whack-a-mole. For better relief, view Facebook in the Firefox (Mac, Windows), Web browser. Install a scrip-running add-on called Greasemonkey, and then get the Facebook Purity Script to automatically zap all third-party applications. (You can also install scripts for other browsers, but the process is far less intuitive. See the FB Purity page for instructions.) Sadly, this fix won't block Facebook's own apps, including the pointless poke.

6. Mind-boggling interface
The pain: "The redesign just sucks... It's so busy, you can't really keep track of people's status etc. any more, it's just too much." – Anonymous Patient
"The new interface makes it difficult to find things, such as events and notes... This glitch is the most batty-inducing. " -- Patient Julianne
The diagnosis: Facebook is a hodgepodge of features and applications that seem to proliferate faster than any one can keep track of, let along organize logically. Old-timers had at least gotten used to the original setup, and the current design continues to throw them.
The relief: Partial cure. The company is starting to streamline the interface. In the coming weeks, the number of privacy settings will be cut in half, for example. One step you can take now is to create shortcuts to the apps you use most often -- such as Events or Notes -- by adding them to the application toolbar at the bottom left of any page. See the video below for a demonstration.

7) Like rude guests, some apps won't leave
The pain: "Somehow, I have installed a bunch of ridiculous apps that I'd like to get rid of, but I can't figure out how to delete them." -- Patient Sean (yours truly)
The diagnosis: While we were following Facebook's advice to create shortcuts to apps, we decided to click on the "Edit Applications" option and do a little housecleaning. Many apps have an "X" mark to the right that you can click to delete the program. But just as many didn't.
The relief: Possibly incurable. Facebook told us that the "X" marks should appear for every program, but they simply don't. If anyone knows how to get rid of all this crap, please tell us!

8. Endless requests
The pain: "All these invites just keep piling up." -- Patient Phil
The diagnosis: It seems that people -- or robots -- are constantly asking something of you on Facebook. They want to be your friend, or recommend a friend. Or Facebook's algorithms recommend friends. Then there are all the specialized Facebook Groups, and of course the crushing load of games, quizzes, and other applications.
The relief: Curable. If you were very conscientious, you could carefully consider each request. But you can also nuke the whole lot, or chunks of it. Go to "Requests" on the upper right of your home page, click "See All," and then click "Ignore All." You can eliminate all the current invites or just certain types, such as the pending application requests.

9. Not getting the message
The pain: "When I messaged the group, on friday morning, that i looked forward to seeing everyone that night, the message arrived 36 hours later, saturday afternoon." -- Patient Andy
"I have the same issues with delayed e-mails that I'll get days after they're sent via Facebook." -- Patient Deanna
The diagnosis: By its own admission, Facebook has been having a hard time delivering messages -- especially to large groups. "This has happened to some users in the past both as the result of a bug as well as when a user needs to clear their cache," Facebook told us.
The relief: Possibly cured. Facebook thinks it's fixed the bug. They also suggested regularly clearing the Web browser's cache to eliminate old copies of files from Facebook that might conflict with the current versions on the site. We haven't encountered delayed messages lately. If you have, please drop us a line.

10. A Calendar isn't on the Agenda
The pain: "How can a social networking site -- which features event invites and tracks birthdays -- not have a built-in calendar." -- Patient Sean
The diagnosis: Though Facebook performs many calendar functions, such as sending invites for events, there is nothing resembling a standard calendar where you can view everything at a glance. And Facebook reps didn't mention any plans to add one.
The relief: Off-label treatment. Facebook's suggestion was to install a third-party calendar app. The best we have found is 30 Boxes. It easily picks up all your Facebook events and can import entries from both Microsoft Outlook and Apple iCalendar, as well as push changes to Outlook or iCalendar. Automatic synching between 30 Boxes and other programs isn't possible yet, but it's purportedly in the works.

11) Usability hits the road for mobile apps
The pain: "On facebook for the iphone: if there's a way to find event pages for things that i've rsvp'd or been invited to, never can find them...it's on the iphone that i want to check the address when i'm en route, etc." -- Patient Andy
"On my BlackBerry app, I rarely get updates, for some reason." -- Patient Tom
The diagnosis: With so many bugs on the Web site, it's no wonder that Facebook hasn't gotten around to fixing all its mobile apps. Event info is missing, for example.
The Relief: No cure yet. Facebook didn't offer us much hope here, other than to say that "We are constantly looking to improve these applications and will pass that suggestion along." Feel free to chime in here.

12. It's hard to relive good times
The pain: "I set up a bimonthly meeting, and when I went to copy it for the next meeting, it wasn't an option. I'd have to create it from scratch. Stupid. You should be able to copy it to set a new date and modify details." -- Patient Mary
The diagnosis: Say you throw a birthday party. And a month later, you decide to invite all the people over again for a picnic. You'll have to create a brand new invite again, even if the only thing that changes is the date. That's especially frustrating for Facebook groups, which are likely to have recurring events such as meetings.
The relief: No cure yet. "Groups obviously haven't been worked on for a while," Kathleen from Facebook told us, confessing that she encounters this problem with invites to her soccer team's games. Again, they offered to pass the suggestion along. Click here to chime in.

13. Too many clicks to accept Friends
The pain: "When I get a friend request, I'd like to accept it and also send a message to the person such as 'Hi!' or 'Great to be back in touch.' But I can't do that in one step." -- Patient Sean
The diagnosis: When reviewing your friend requests, you have two options -- accept or send a message. But you can't do both at the same time. And if you chose to accept first, the notice disappears, so you have to then visit the friend's page and select "Send a Message."
The cure: None. Facebook doesn't consider this to be a problem, saying "After accepting a friend request, most people want to go to their new friend's profile anyways to see what content they are sharing." Sometimes we do, but not always. So we'd like to have the option of accepting and greeting in one step.

14. Stream filters don't actually filter
The pain: "My stream filters sidebar on the home page is constantly cluttered with offers for new apps I don't want, like 'Pieces of Flair' and 'Vampire Wars.' If it's a filter, isn't it supposed to weed out the junk, not promote it?" -- Patient Sean
The diagnosis: Like the Application Toolbar at the bottom of every page [Link to 6. Mind-Boggling Interface], the stream filters provides a handy shortcut for commonly used apps, as well as for friends lists. We like that. What we don't like, though, is the pile of crap applications that appears when you click the "More" button at the bottom. These aren't even applications that you've installed. They are just random ones asking for your attention. And they really crowd Facebook's iPhone application.
The relief: Possibly incurable. Facebook didn't answer our questions about this, so we don't know if they have any plans to change it.

How to remove spyware from your PC

Stop spyware from slowing down your system with these tips.


These days it may seem as though the short list of unavoidable perils ought to be expanded to include death, taxes and spyware. But if you ever do get infected with some nasty piece of malware, all you need to get rid of it are the right free tools, some time and a little know-how.

A couple of warnings first: removing spyware is as much art as it is science. The rogues who create spyware make removing their malicious programs as difficult as they can. In addition, some types of spyware download and install additional components, often hiding pieces of code from Windows to make removal even harder. The instructions below will wipe out most forms of spyware, but your machine's infestation may resist these measures. If so, you may have to consult a professional PC repair person. Or you can start afresh by reformatting your hard drive and then reloading Windows, your apps and your data files.
Note too that, if you perform certain removal steps improperly, your PC could become inoperable. Our instructions call out these danger spots, but if you don't feel confident about performing them, ask for help from a knowledgeable friend or from the experts on a spyware-removal web forum such as TomCoyote, Geeks to Go or SpywareInfo.


Make sure it's an infection
How do you know whether your PC has an active spyware infestation? Slower-than-normal performance is the most common symptom people report, but such behaviour can also be due to any number of factors unrelated to spyware, such as running too many applications with too little system memory, having a full or very fragmented hard drive, or running buggy software that fails to free up the memory it uses after you close the application. Your first task is to determine whether you have a spyware-related problem or just a slow machine.
Download the latest versions of these tools:

  • Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool. This program is updated monthly, so always download the latest version before you use it.
  • Microsoft's Windows Defender. Windows Vista has Defender built-in, but if you suspect that you have spyware on your PC, update the program so it can find the newest bad stuff.
  • Avira Antivir PersonalEdition Classic, a free antivirus program--if you don't already have up-to-date antivirus software.

Since some spyware applications prevent you from downloading these tools, or from visiting the websites that host them, download the programs to another PC that you know is free of spyware. Then copy the installers to a portable USB drive, and plug that drive into the machine you suspect is infected.
Start by running the Malicious Software Removal Tool. This program is designed to search for and destroy only a small fraction of malware, but the ones it finds are the most serious strains of spyware and virus you can get. (For more PC tips, check out 35 things every PC user should know.)
If that program doesn't find anything, run the installer for Windows Defender (if it isn't already installed on your PC) and make sure that the program downloads its updates. Then click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the word 'Scan' at the top of the Defender window and choose Full Scan. If Defender finds malware, follow the on-screen instructions to delete the harmful files. This may require one or more reboots, because some spyware won't let you uninstall it while Windows is running.
If Defender fails to find anything, or if it finds spyware that it can't delete, it's time for a full antivirus scan. If you're using an antivirus program that is already loaded on your system, make sure that it's updated. If you're using AntiVir, run the installer, and then reboot. When AntiVir is running, you'll see an icon in your system tray showing an open umbrella inside a red square. Right-click the icon and choose Start AntiVir. Click the Start Update link in AntiVir's program window and, when the update is complete, click the Scanner tab, choose the Local Drives option in the lower pane, and press the <F3> key to begin scanning your hard drive. If it finds anything, AntiVir will pop up a dialog box. Select either Quarantine or Delete to remove the suspect files that it identifies.

Manual analysis
One of these three programs should detect and remove any spyware on your PC. In the unlikely event that you have picked up a brand-new specimen that isn't yet included in the anti-spyware databases, you'll have to do some cyber-investigating to find and eject the interloper.
First, examine every process running on your machine to determine whether any of them is a piece of spyware. Window's Task Manager isn't up to this job because many spyware apps specifically hide themselves from it. Fortunately, they are less skilful at hiding from the many Task Manager alternatives. Two of my favourites are Process Explorer (which is free) and Security Task Manager (which comes in free and paid versions). Currently, only Process Explorer, which is now owned by Microsoft, is compatible with Windows Vista. A Vista-compatible version of Security Task Manager is coming, according to its producer, A M Neuber Software. Either of these programs will show you everything that's running on your PC, and will help you determine whether a particular application should be there.
Warning: stopping system processes and applications in this manner is risky. In some cases, if you kill the wrong program, Windows will shut down and reboot as a safety measure. While you probably won't render your system unworkable, you should back up all important documents and set a System Restore point (click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore, and follow the on-screen instructions).
Start one of the alternative Task Managers mentioned above, and closely examine the list of running applications on your PC. You're looking for something that's either out of place or behaving oddly. If you're using Process Explorer, unzip the archive you downloaded and double-click the ProcExp.exe program. Click OK after you read the initial dialog, and you'll be presented with a colour-coded list of everything that's running: programs highlighted in pink are Windows services; those in grey-blue are applications. Right-click the bar with the column names (it's just above the list of programs), and choose Select Columns. Check the Command Line box and click OK. A new column will appear, showing you the full path to each running app.
If you're using Security Task Manager, double-click the installer and step through the dialog boxes to complete the installation. The first time you run the program, it will take a moment to scan your PC. Unlike Process Explorer, Security Task Manager doesn't list Windows's own system processes (other than Explorer.exe) on this initial page. If you want to see those, click the Windows Processes button on the toolbar. The higher the utility's rating for a program, the more suspect it is. As you click the entries, the program tells you why it rated the selected application as it did. However, many legitimate programs engage in activities that Security Task Manager views suspiciously, so don't just assume that anything with a rating above 50 is dangerous. Instead, use the rating as an indicator of what to look at first.
Here's where it gets tedious: if you don't know what a particular program is, what it does or where it's supposed to live on your hard drive, you'll have to do some research. Check out the list of processes that are known to be either benign or malevolent at Uniblue Systems's WinTasks Process Library. Alternatively, you can enter the filename in a search engine and look through the results for a description of the process. Some legitimate processes get a bad rap as spyware, so it's important to corroborate any negative reports you discover.

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