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  1. #1
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    LANGALIST PLUS

    The best of LangaList Plus — 2010


    By Fred Langa

    Every issue, the LangaList Plus technical Q&A tackles difficult — and sometimes esoteric — problems sent in by paid Windows Secrets subscribers.

    For this last LangaList Plus of the year, we've assembled a half-dozen of the most popular Langa stories, covering topics as diverse as notebook batteries and self-healing PCs.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/12/23/04 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by andyfboyd; 2011-01-18 at 15:04.

  2. #2
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    After reading the latest Windows Secrets I downloaded Oracle's free VirtualBox and attempted to set up a virtual PC. I am stopped because I do not have the Windows OS on CD's. Windows 7 64 bit Home was preinstalled on my PC. I have created a Windows Repair disk and System Recovery disks and wonder if any of those will work. If not, am I out of luck on installing a virtual PC with a Windows OS? I have looked through the Virtual PC documentation and the web site but see nothing that helps.

    Thank You.
    Dale Anderson
    sunbirdaz@yahoo.com

  3. #3
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    I really enjoy Windows Secrets, read it all, and most times use a lot of the very informative information published in it.

    However, I do have a bit of a concern when it comes to the article for this thread.

    I was reading down thru "The Best of LangaList Plus 2010" and was got interested in the portion "Get free firewall testing with online services" where readers are refered readers to Steve Gibson's "Shields Up" and "Leak Test" pages.

    I have used the "Shields Up" site in the past, but never the "Leak Test", so I decided to read Mr. Gibson's Leak Test page and see what it was all about. I wanted to test the Windows 7 firewall to see what would happen.

    The further I read the more confused I became as a lot of the references were to firewalls that in some cases, were no longer in existence.

    In fact, a quote on another site that I went to in trying to find one of the mentioned firewalls said of BlackIce Defender, " IBM HAS TAKEN OVER WWW.ISS.NET. THIS PROGRAM IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR SALE, NOR IS IT COMPATIBLE WITH MOST WINDOWS UPDATES FOR XP AND VISTA SINCE THE COMPANY NEVER BOTHERED TO MAKE SUCH UPDATES. IBM/ISS ONLY MAKES BUSINESS PROGRAMS NOW. ISS NO LONGER MAKES PRODUCTS FOR CONSUMERS." This quote was dated 2008.

    Also, when I got to the end of the "Leak Test" site page, I noticed that the last time it was edited and updated was in February 2008, and that the "Personal Firewall Scoreboard" page was last edited and updated in 2005, so the information contained on the page was not relevant to Windows 7, and possibly even earlier versions of Windows (I really don't keep up with dates of OS releases) and especially to the versions of firewalls mentioned.

    My concern is that articles of this nature with irrelevant or outdated references will put not only Mr. Langa, but Windows Secrets in a bad light when it comes to keeping it's readers informed and up to date concerning computer security and other knowledge.

    I, for one, will not return to a site if I know that information is outdated, not kept up to date, or is irrelevant to my needs and I have seen other sites lose business and supporters when such is allowed to keep happening.

    In fact after reading thru Mr. Gibson's site I did not return to Mr. Langa's article for further reading as I figured that if the first part of his article was not of any use to me, then the rest of the article was probably not of any use either even though he had recommended using two different firewall testing sites.

    I am not an expert by any means and that is why I and others rely so heavily on such knowledgeable folks such as Fred Langa, Steve Gibson and the crew at Windows Secrets. But if incorrect, out of date, or faulty information is allowed to be used as references, then I start to question the overall use of any information published by such sites. In most cases I will give such sites a couple of chances by using them a few times in the future to see if there have been any changes or updates, but if nothing changes and stays the same, I will not visit them any more.

    Please don't misinterpret my message here. I'm not threatening to give up Windows Secrets which is my most trusted site.

    I am only trying to voice a concern that in today's fast moving and often second by second changes in the technological world, up to date and accurate information needs to be kept as thoroughly up to date as possible so that users can trust and rely on it with reasonable assurance that it is as accurate and relevant as possible.

    On the other hand, without users out here that do ask questions and voice concerns, where would publishers of such information be. I guess we need each other.

    Thank ya'll for your time. I know everyone is busy getting ready for Christmas and all.

    Have a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good nite.

    Bill
    "2 wrongs do not make a right, but 3 lefts do."

  4. #4
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    @William Peak,

    The Leak Test has a value on its own, even if today's firewalls are usually two way firewalls, which was not really the case back in 2005. So the test is still relevant, even if the firewall test data is no so up to date. On the other hand, Shields Up is still very much used by people who want to test their firewalls, even today. If you visit a specialty forum you will see that. I guess Fred's column really reflected that reality and surely many Windows Secrets readers will be able to determine what is of value on grc.com and what is not.

    Regards
    Rui
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  5. #5
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    I have and use CCleaner to clean my registry.....BUT I am very wary/cautious to avoid problems....

    So, my question: can you answer it please (and I'll bet many other will want the answer too):

    Just setup CCleaner to check and remove anything it finds and its very safe?
    or
    Check only those things that seem safe, review the results, and if concerned, Do NOT delete/remove those things?

    Or take the chance and can always "restore" ????

    What is your/others success rate with just let CCLeaner do it all and don't worry?

    Doug.S

  6. #6
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    Angry

    There were too many vague references to other offline topics in this article for my blood. Once quotable example was Fred’s offhand comment, “Alas, Vista and Windows 7 use a different Registry structure and aren't amenable to this sort of compacting." I’ve been using Win7 with pleasure since it first came out but I had previously skipped Vista entirely. So from the one liner reference in the article above I guess I missed a major line of discussion about differences registry prcessing introduced since XP. I’m asking. If so, this seems like a good topic in itself.... and not one I can recall seeing in previous WS emails.

    FWIW, I run registry defrags as part of my weekly maintenance routine on all my systems, Win7 included, (via the tools suite System Mechanic) and usually manually too after a big "patch Tuesday" like this week. I'm owndering whether I've I been wasting my time with Win7? In candor, that doesn't coincide with my experience.

    BTW, did anybody else besides yours truly get busted (big time) by the bad MS Outlook patch this past week? IMHO, MS patch KB2412171 was worth a special edition of WS all by itself itself!

    Changing gears a bit, but not really, here’s another example . Fred gave a blanket endorsement to MS Windows Security Essentials. I agree WSE is good and “lean and mean” too. Based largely upon previous WS discussion, I’ve already put it on a couple new laptops. That said however, I’m worried about not having a “good enough” firewall on these systems.

    Of course we already knew (unless we’ve been in a cave) about the “fluff” in many of these suite products (in MacAfee, Norton for sure!) which attempt to create an illusion of value while consuming a big percentage of system resources. However, most all do have much more robust firewall offerings than MS Windows Firewall. In the case of AVG, which I use and do not find egregious, the firewall automatically creates rules on the fly for outbound trusted apps messaging (if this is how it was set up) and I find this to be a real time saver. Of course WF doesn't monitor outbound traffic at all, and here my thinking is that failing to do so makes WF a non starter in these days where cloud computing is fast becoming ubiquitous. Again, I’m really only staging an opinion and looking to WS for sound advice as always.

    Anyway, best regards and please give some thought to the possibility of follow up.

  7. #7
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    I ran GRC FW test From Here first with my Outpost FW Pro active, then shut down, I got the same results for both tests.
    -
    I then tried the Leak Test From Here No penetration with FW active. Was penetrated when shut down.
    -
    My router is a Netgear with NAT function.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!

  8. #8
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    Sadly, Microsoft's Page Defrag seems not to be intended for 64-bit systems. Or maybe not on Win7 at all? It will not run on Win7-64bit. It started ok on Win7-32bit, but got accessed denied and failed to defrag anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodger Beard View Post
    Changing gears a bit, but not really, here’s another example . Fred gave a blanket endorsement to MS Windows Security Essentials. I agree WSE is good and “lean and mean” too. Based largely upon previous WS discussion, I’ve already put it on a couple new laptops. That said however, I’m worried about not having a “good enough” firewall on these systems.

    Of course we already knew (unless we’ve been in a cave) about the “fluff” in many of these suite products (in MacAfee, Norton for sure!) which attempt to create an illusion of value while consuming a big percentage of system resources. However, most all do have much more robust firewall offerings than MS Windows Firewall. In the case of AVG, which I use and do not find egregious, the firewall automatically creates rules on the fly for outbound trusted apps messaging (if this is how it was set up) and I find this to be a real time saver. Of course WF doesn't monitor outbound traffic at all, and here my thinking is that failing to do so makes WF a non starter in these days where cloud computing is fast becoming ubiquitous. Again, I’m really only staging an opinion and looking to WS for sound advice as always.
    That depends on the Windows version you use. Windows 7 firewall is a two-way firewall and it does monitor outbound traffic. I think Vista's firewall did that too. XP's firewall doesn't do it. I guess a bit of searching on the proper lounge section will find a few threads on alternative firewalls.
    Rui
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Jones View Post
    Sadly, Microsoft's Page Defrag seems not to be intended for 64-bit systems. Or maybe not on Win7 at all? It will not run on Win7-64bit. It started ok on Win7-32bit, but got accessed denied and failed to defrag anything.
    There is a disclaimer in the article which says that this tool is not for Vista or Windows 7. The Registry structure is different, including the introduction of "hives". Use of the older tool could actually harm computers with the newer Operating Systems. The 64-bit Registry also differs from the 32-bit Registry, but this is not as relevant as the structural changes.
    -- Bob Primak --

  11. #11
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    Hi Fred,

    A reason to leave the battery in the notebook is for having electricity on-the-go. Like sitting on your sofa and wanting to take that site to show somebody elsewhere in the room. Disabling or disconnecting the mains is rather out of the question without the battery.

    cu
    Sjors

  12. #12
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    My OS is Win7 Home Premium 64 bit. I have downloaded the MS PageDefrag program to defrag my registry keys, but I am unable to run it. I keep running into roadblocks not being recognized as an administrator and not having permissions. I have right clicked the program and gone into properties and then the security tab. I have all "allowed" checks under my name but they are grayed out. I keep getting the "Make sure that you are an administrator. Error loading PageDefrag driver." message. I had the same problem in Windows Explorer when I tried to open the "Application Data" folder under my user name and got a message that it was not accessible and that access was denied.. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can get around these problems? This whole business of dealing with permissions is extraordinarily frustrating!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Grant View Post
    My OS is Win7 Home Premium 64 bit. I have downloaded the MS PageDefrag program to defrag my registry keys, but I am unable to run it. I keep running into roadblocks not being recognized as an administrator and not having permissions. I have right clicked the program and gone into properties and then the security tab. I have all "allowed" checks under my name but they are grayed out. I keep getting the "Make sure that you are an administrator. Error loading PageDefrag driver." message. I had the same problem in Windows Explorer when I tried to open the "Application Data" folder under my user name and got a message that it was not accessible and that access was denied.. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can get around these problems? This whole business of dealing with permissions is extraordinarily frustrating!
    The PageDefrag download page states that it runs on 32 bit systems only. No reference to 64 bit OSes, so I don't think you should run it with a 64 bit OS. Previous posters have pointed this out too.
    Rui
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  14. #14
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    Arrow

    Quote Originally Posted by ruirib View Post
    That depends on the Windows version you use.
    rirrib, thank you very much for your feedback. I frankly didn't know that the Win7 firewall monitored outbound traffic internet traffic. I stopped closely following the topic of firewalls some time ago and my ignorance was magnified by the fact that I skipped Vista altogether and started running Win7 when it was in beta. Perhaps this is unfair but when I use Vista now and then I harken back to Windows Millenium (ME) days and want to first laugh and then cry.

    Anyway, I'm thinking it's high time for me to start using the Windows Security Essentials and the Win7 firewall exclusively for my security needs and get off my latest internet security suite, AVG 2011. I've used the paid version of AVG for 5 years and I used to just love it because it was lean yet robust. But lately it has become increasingly like Norton and Macafee... bloated, buggy, and/or in conflict with other 3rd party tools <UGH!> This in turn creates otherwise avoidable, always time wasting, and sometimes quite difficult problems to solve. Two recent examples: 1] Since the latest AVG upgrade I can no longer run registry defrags with System Mechanic (but strangely, I still can with Mace Powertools) and 2] AVG walked on a Win7 boot up parm (sorry, I'm getting old, I've forgot which one) and so I couldn't boot without applying a workaround that fortunately I was able Google.

    BTW, I still stand on what I said about blanket endorsements. Mace Powertools is another good point of reference. Fred sings the praises of this product. I too like it and have been a paying customer since March, 2007, based upon Windows Secrets (Woody Leonard's) recommendations. But I recently had a Macecraft policy problem that will result in my terminating our relationship after my current 30 day trial expires. The problem here unfolded like this: I bought use of Mace back when they were small(er), almost a startup in the US anyway. The license I bought said I would have free upgrades for "life". Well, it turned out that my life was 3 and one half years. You see, Macecraft enacted a $5.95 upgrade fee policy starting in December (2010) with the latest upgrade. But that's not my real issue. I would have paid this fee if I had known, but they never informed me in advance. Instead, earlier this week I got an upgrade email announcement (as usual, sans any mention of money) and I promptly clicked on the link to download the upgrade. After installation I tried to apply my product key (several times) and it would not work. The error message said my key was "corrupted". So I opened a help desk ticket via the help menu link within the product. Actually this took me four emails because, as it it turned out, the the attachment feature in their website software did not work. First I tried unsuccessfuly to attach my license key file and a screen snapshot of the error message, then I tried one attachment per email. Finally I just pasted in the license key itself into my fourth email. Well, two days later I got an automated one liner "policy" email announcing the new policy. To make it a really, really, really negative customer experience, I went to their website with the intend to pay the $5.95 (I still had a hook in my mouth I guess) only to read in their user forum of MANY "customer" complaints (my quotes here because IMHO we were being treated more like pond fish to harvest, than customers to value) about issues where they'd already paid the $5.95 upgrade fee (their credit cards had been charged) and they had not received new license keys after several weeks of waiting.

    Should Free Langa make a blanket statement, at least implicitely making a blanket recommendation of Macecraft Powertools? I think not. Fred could of course still recommend the product from a technical standpoint, but with certain dsiclaimers, maybe even caveats. I think he would be wiser to avoid generalist statements when he is writing for this audience. After all, we're paying for his focus, his industry knowledge and contentions, and most important, his sound, specific and reliable advise.

    In my case anyway, I'm looking for Fred and Woody (who has my highest respect) to save me time and grief. Agreed?

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