Archive for November 2007

TechSmith offers Camtasia Studio 3 as Free Download

TechSmith, creators of Camtasia Studio, a popular screencast creator application for Windows, now offers version 3 with full license for free, according to a blog post at www.downloadsquad.com . The company hopes users will try the software, then upgrade to version 5, which was recently released.

The program usually sells for $299 USD, but through an arrangement with downloadsquad users can download Camtasia Studio 3.1.2.0 and request a valid license from TechSmith at no charge. The download is a trial version. The free license key will unlock the trial for a full version.

After users receive the free license they will be eligible to purchase an upgrade to Camtasia Studio 5 at 50% off the regular price.

Camtasia Studio 3 is for Windows only and will not run on Windows Vista. Camtasia Studio 5 is Vista ready.

To download Camtasia Studio 3 and request a free license key, go to www.downloadsquad.com .

 

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Forums Hold Secret Weapon in Web War

There is a struggle for supremacy on the Web. The stakeholders? Web forums vs. invading social networks. One company offers the ultimate solution for forums powered by vBulletin – the superpower in the forum world.

Mayagüez, Puerto Rico (PRWEB) November 30, 2007 — Forums have evolved from the days of offline BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) to the topic-focused Web communities of the current era. Social networks share similar origins – but they focus more on user relationships. As they cross each other's boundaries, two things are becoming clear:

(1) social networks are stealing eyeballs (web users), and
(2) forums have no choice but to "differentiate or die"

What are their comparative strengths?

Forums are unmatched at generating huge amounts of topic based information (i.e. useful content). Social networks clearly dominate user interaction.

Is convergence possible?

Right now it seems to be an all or nothing affair, with no clear mutually beneficial relationship in sight. For the tens of thousands of forum admins operating as small businesses, the emergence of giants like mySpace and FaceBook is intimidating.

Imagine being a small Mom & Pop hardware store parked between Walmart and Home Depot.

What is the key to survival for forums?

The key differences between forums and social networks needs to be clearly recognized and embraced. Again, forums are "user generated content" machines. They will fair out best by strengthening their competitive dominance in this category.

Social networks produce a lot of "data" – but it's not exactly the type of content Googlers are searching for. FaceBook (for example) generates data like "Funwall", "SuperWall", "Zombie/Vampire hug", "Virtual Drink", or "TopFriends" postings. Granted these can be "fun" – but they are not helping to add useful content to the searchable Web.

Convergence is coming, although slowly in terms of Internet time frames. Forums have started to integrate social networking features, and social networks are attempting to get users to develop more searchable content.

The announcement of vBulletin version 3.7 by software developer Jelsoft is a clear indication of their strategic move towards improving user interaction for forums, while maintaining the advantage of user generated content.

Promoting user interaction boosts user activity and member retention.

But getting web users to visit a site in the first place remains as one of the biggest tasks. Fortunately vBulletin powered forums have the upper hand when it comes to search engine traffic. The secret weapon is a 3rd party plugin called vBSEO, or "vBulletin Search Engine Optimization", offered by Crawlability Inc.

Effective SEO allows a site with great content to get listed in search engines like Google, harvesting traffic in the form of new visitors, members, and clickthroughs to revenue generators like the AdSense network.

After the Nov. 16th release of vBSEO 3.1.0 GOLD, Vice President, Ilia Muriente, discussed how products like vBSEO and others like it are helping forums amidst the exponential growth of social networks:

"Right now 'forums vs. social networks' is really just 'content vs. interaction'. FaceBook is a magnet for Web eyeballs. But Web users are still going to Google when looking for specific info.

"As long as vBulletin forums are superior in content, they will continue to be an active destination on the Web. With vBSEO's SEO technology we can help forum content get indexed and ranked better by the search engines. And this, of course, leads directly to more Web traffic – a critical success factor.

We are excited about the vBulletin 3.7 release. It "shows their commitment to including social networking elements in order to boost interaction.

"Of all forum software, vBulletin is the clear leader. One of their key strengths is their commitment to encouraging 3rd party plugin development, which has resulted in professional solutions like vBSEO adding value to their offering via extended feature sets.

"They had the vision to see this early on, well before Google conceived of ideas like 'OpenSocial'. Most importantly, they made it happen by creating a powerful plugin system as well as their dedicated 3rd party developer network at vbulletin.org.

"The result today is thousands of 3rd party, value added, product extensions filling every need imaginable. This, of course, includes vBSEO and several other professional efforts that have become instrumental in helping forum admins succeed. As a direct result, vBulletin has solidified their leading position in the forum world, which was no doubt a key factor in Internet Brands acquisition of the company back in July 2007.

"From our perspective, vBulletin is going to be a factor on the Web for a long time to come."

So who ultimately wins the "Web War"? The question is really who will manage the "convergence" best. For the short-term, secret weapons like vBSEO give content monsters (like vBulletin powered forums) the upper hand within the search engine battlefields.

More information about Crawlability Inc. and vBSEO can be found on their website at www.vbseo.com – the official support community for the vBulletin SEO software. vBulletin admins interested in search engine optimizing their vBulletin forums can obtain vBSEO there.

Crawlability Inc. is an Internet software company based in Puerto Rico providing patent-pending search engine optimization solutions with a focus on Web forums. Launched in 2005, Crawlability's first software release, named vBSEO, is the market leader in helping thousands of vBulletin powered Web forums gain more visitors from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, & MSN. See www.crawlability.com

More information about vBulletin or their developer network can be found at www.vbulletin.com and www.vbulletin.org, respectively.

vBulletin is the leading Web forum software and flagship product of Jelsoft Enterprizes Limited, a UK based new media company that focuses on high performance community software. Jelsoft is a subsidiary of Internet Brands, a California based online media company owning a wide array of major media, community, and eCommerce destinations such as CarsDirect.com.

Rackspace

Rackspace offers resellers a partner program to resell their hosting solutions. It includes three tiers, Select Partner, Premier Partner and Business Partner. Their hosting packages are expensive and are better suited for larger companies with a lot of web traffic.

http://www.rackspace.com/partners/ 

Sales   800-961-2888

Support   800-961-4454

Billing   800-961-4454

Partner Programs   800-961-2888

Rackspace Managed Hosting
9725 Datapoint Drive, Suite 100
San Antonio, TX 78229

 

Episode 8 – The Computer Repair Business By Dan Hand

This week we talk with Dan Hand, a computer professional who wrote a new book about starting a computer repair business and discuss how the lessons he learned can benefit our businesses if we only apply them.

Techpodcast Promo Tag :10
Intro 3:51

News and Comment segment 2:39
Hitachi has announced a breakthrough in read-head technology for hard drives. Skype released version 3.6 of its popular internet software November 15, allowing users to send and receive High Quality video calls. Users can download the latest version of Skype at www.theforcefield.net. Microsoft confirmed a bug in their random number generator used in Windows XP.

Commercial Break 1:01
Sponsored by PC Doctor Service Center 6. 1-866-BUY PCDR. Mention The Force Field podcast for $49 discount. Offer good until January 31, 2008.

Intro to Interview 1:20
Whether you are currently in the computer business or just thinking about starting one, you want to make the most of every resource available to increase the chances of its profit and success. One resource which could be prove to be a great asset to computer repair businesses is a new book called Computer Repair Business: Lessons Learned by Daniel Hand. How to start and run your own business. A comprehensive strategy by an experienced pro. It is currently available on his website at www.computerrepairbusiness.net and on our web site at www.theforcefield.net.

This week we are going to talk to Dan, find out how he became successful in the computer business and how the lessons he learned can benefit our businesses – if we only apply them.

Dan Hand Interview 20:05

Wrap up and Close :47

©2007 Savoia Computer. All rights reserved.

The Force Field Episode 8 Released

(TheForceField.net ) November 29, 2007 — The latest episode of The Force Field with Rick Savoia™ was released this morning at 1 AM EDT. The episode, called The Computer Repair Business By Dan Hand, discusses a book by entrepreneur and author Daniel Hand called Computer Repair Business Lessons Learned, The book was written specifically for computer techs who are in the computer repair business or about to start one.

The show can be downloaded and heard in The Force Field podcast blog . You can even download and play it directly on your iPhone .

The Force Field is listed on iTunes and syndicated on over 20 podcast networks and directories including Yahoo, Google Base and iBizRadio . It is also listed by Small Business Trends Radio as one of the 100 Small Business Audio Podcasts .The Force Field is a proud member of The Tech Podcast Network .

 TechPodcasts.com player!

techpodcasts.com

  

podcast 100
 

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Computer Repair Business Lessons Learned

Computer Repair Business Lessons Learned

by Daniel Hand 

Special! Enter the coupon code: forcefield and get 10% off! 

Computer Repair Business book

 

This book is a compilation of lessons on opening and running a Computer Repair business. There is no fool-proof plan for any business but if you have the drive and determination in anything you do, then you can be successful. The Computer Repair business is no different than any other service business and if you are provided with the right direction in your business decisions then your business will prosper.

 Being successful is NOT an accident!

Order

Buy Now

 

or call 1-800-710-9006 

 


Windows XP SP3 is faster than SP2 and Vista, tester claims

Windows XP Service Pack 3, due for release in 2008, increases speed by 10%, according to testers of the new update. ComputerWorld reported the findings this morning, citing a report from the testing company that puts performance of Service Pack 3 ahead of SP2 and further validates the claim that Windows XP is Vista's biggest competitor.

The tests were performed by Devil Mountain Software, the same company that recently tested Windows Vista SP1 and determined no appreciable speed boost over the initial release of Vista, despite Microsoft's assertion of  increased performance.

However, when testing Windows XP SP3, the company found an increase in speed up to 10% over SP2 and ensuring claims that Windows Vista SP1 was up to 2X slower than its older cousin.

 Computerworld quoted Craig Barth, Devil Mountain Software's Chief Technology Officer in the company blog as saying he was pleasantly surprised at the results. "Since SP3 was supposed to be mostly a bug-fix/patch consolidation release, the unexpected speed boost comes as a nice bonus," Barth said. "In fact, XP SP3 is shaping up to be a 'must-have' update for the majority of users who are still running Redmond's not-so-latest and greatest desktop OS."

The company based its benchmarks on a laptop running Microsoft Office 2007.

Source: Computerworld.

 

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Website Owners Can Get Free Quality Computing and Business Illustrations

Computing and IT related stock illustrations catalogue offers free images for placement on websites in exchange with a simple backlink.

Zürich, Switzerland (PRWEB) November 24, 2007 — Illustration and graphic design provider Ecliptic is offering free images for use on websites. There are many editorials on the web containing nothing else then text because computer and business related themes are often difficult to illustrate.

But as a specialist in computing, IT and business illustrations, Ecliptic, for more then 10 years now, is providing its services with the proper images to solve this kind of problems. The Royalty Free Stock Illustrations Catalogue with over 2000 selected high quality and unique images builds the heart of Ecliptic's services.

The illustrator Thomas Thü Hürlimann, founder and owner of Ecliptic, has created every one of those illustrations, using his wide range of different illustration styles, from hand drawing, painting, photo collage, to 2d and 3d vector images and even animation. But Ecliptic has not only stock images, its services do also provide custom illustration and graphic design like logotype, flyers and print graphics in general.

Even the existing images from the Stock Catalogue can be adapted to the needs of each individual client. For years already, free items from Ecliptic's homepage include icon sets for Mac OSX and the classic game "Catch the Mac" for download, as also the free short animation "Close Encounter". Now Ecliptic goes a big step further by even offering its images free for placement on Internet homepages and websites.

The only condition in exchange for those free images is that a link has to be placed next to them. There are two ways how to get a free image: Download it directly from a large list of prepared images, or request any of the over 2000 illustrations from the Stock Catalogue by using the request form (to be found from the free images list).

The free images can be found on the following webpage:
http://www.ecliptic.ch/Stock/free.html

Ecliptic's Royalty Free Stock Illustrations Archive can be found here:
http://www.ecliptic.ch/Stock/

More about Ecliptic and the illustrator Thomas Thü Hürlimann:
http://www.ecliptic.ch

 

 

Anatomy of a rootkill: Hunting down and destroying undetectable malware

Anatomy of a rootkill: Hunting down and destroying undetectable malware

by Chris Bequeath

 

(The following is a true story, documented during an actual detection and removal of an unknown rootkit)

A computer arrived in my shop with the usual symptoms of malware – running slow, website redirections. It was running Windows Live OneCare for antivirus, and Webroot Spysweeper. The customer had already tried tools like Spybot S&D to fix the problem. When that didn’t fix their problem they took it to one of the big box stores, where they said the only way to fix it was to wipe the drive and reload the data. This was unacceptable to the customer, and that’s how I ended up with the PC. 

A quick inspection in Safe Mode revealed one of the newer smitfraud variants, along with other malware of various sorts. A quick run through of the registry and filesystem took care of those. Opening HiJackThis to clean up any leftovers showed a suspicious entry under WinLogon named frvemmei. Killing it and rerunning HJT showed the entry re-spawning instantly.

So I opened up the trusty windows registry editor and searched out all entries for frvemmei. Unfortunately, the malware had locked the entry so it couldn’t be deleted. I tried changing permissions, and even tried regedt32 just in case.

 Registry Editor


 

A quick boot to UBCD4Win to delete the files and registry entries showed the registry entry, but no sign of the file ‘ccbaccb.dll’ in system32 where it was visible, but unable to delete while Windows was running. Rebooting windows showed both the file and the registry entries were back. So figuring this machine had a rootkit I ran RootkitRevealer, Sophos antirootkit and a few other tools, all which showed clean. I removed the Webroot and OneCare software, then installed AVG virus and spyware software. Surfing to the system32 folder and doing a shell scan on ccbaccb.dll with AVG showed obfustat.vyg, but it was unable to clean.

 

Object Details

 

Researching the registry entry, the dll file and the AVG result turned up no information. So this looked like an unknown rootkit.  Now the fun begins! 

First off I had to find what was loading the files. Firing up Process Explorer from Sysinternals
( http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/ProcessExplorer.mspx ) and searching for the file ccbaccb.dll came up with the following:

 

Process Explorer Search

 

So now we can see the rootkit has hooked into the kernel at bootup in the explorer.exe file, meaning it has complete control over the OS and how software operates – including antivirus software. Any machine that is compromised in this fashion, either from a system file, a driver dll or any other file loaded before the operating system boots cannot be trusted with scans that run on the machine. This includes online scans which load applets, file definitions and other things needed for the test onto the host PC.

It’s a sure bet that the explorer file is what is reloading the frvemmei and ccbaccb.dll. So this will be a fairly easy one to fix not only the infection but the corrupted Windows files.

But now that we know how to kill the rootkit, it’s a good idea to find out what first infected it in the first place. Booting into normal mode and running regmon and filemon (available at Sysinternals site) shows something unusual. Every few seconds a file is loaded called lighthouse.wma. At the same time a registry entry is created. Searching the registry shows only the one instance of the file. Searching the PC shows the file is located in the LimeWire Shared directory. The registry entry it creates is for our old friend frvemmei in the RUN key. So it appears the lighthouse.wma file was the progenitor. Once run, it created keys in the registry and created the ccbaccb.dll file. Upon reboot the dll file (really an exe disguised) modified explorer.exe which would ensure that it was always recreated if it was deleted. 

Now for the cleaning. Boot to your favorite boot disk with a remote registry editor. Find all instances of ccbaccb.dll, frvemmei, and lighthouse.wma on the drive and in the registry and delete them. Also delete explorer.exe from the drive. Insert the correct Windows disk (or use system recovery) and perform a system repair. This will replace explorer.exe with a clean copy, along with any other modified windows files. Retest the PC, check with HJT to make sure there are no rogue entries and your done! 

Summary:

This process if performed straight through, would take a couple of hours with the longest time for the repair install of Windows. While researching this issue to make sure that no software would detect it, I ran Trend Micro’s Housecall, PandaScan, F-Secure, BitDefender,  SpySweeper, AVG and AVGAS, McAfee, Spybot S&D, AdAware, SuperAntiSpyware and some standalone tools such as CWS Shredder. All tested the PC as being clean after the initial malware removal of smitfraud, vundo and other minor malware infections. The PC was put through at least 30 reboots to make sure the processes didn’t return.

 

Copyright 2007 Chris Bequeath. All rights reserved

 

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New gOS Reviewed

New gOS Reviewed

by Eric Vititoe

Customers now have another choice in the cheap PC market.  Wal-mart is now selling a $199 personal computer running gOS, a derivative of the Ubuntu Linux 7.10 distribution.  While I haven’t yet touched the hardware, I have downloaded, installed, and tested the operating system.

The stock hardware for the $199 machine utilizes a VIA C7-D 1.5GHz processor, 512Mb RAM, an 80Gb hard drive, and a CD burner.  While not a power horse, this machine will suffice for the average user.

The new gOS is simple to use, even for someone new to Linux, as I am.  It comes with many programs pre-installed, such as OpenOffice, GIMP, FireFox, and a host of games.  From my experience, the average user should have no problem surfing the internet, checking email, or typing the occasional document.

Installation is simple.  Boot and run from the cd.  Once in the graphical interface, you can run gOS straight from the cd, or choose to install to your hard drive.  Simply click the install icon, answer a few questions, and it does the rest by itself.  It even has a partitioning template for those who don’t know how to partition the hard drive.  Reboot after install and gOS is completely installed.

The entire installation took less than 20 minutes on my test machine.  My test PC is a Dell Optiplex GX270 with a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512Mb RAM, a 40Gb hard drive, and an ATI Radeon 9800SE video card with 256Mb VRAM.

Once installed, gOS boots fairly quickly.  From pushing the button to the log on screen only took my test system 65 seconds, including POST.  Another 15 seconds and it was ready to use.  If you have a broadband connection, it will almost immediately let you know there are updates available.  There were 36 updates available at the time of my installation.  It advises you to install all updates for security reasons, and will do so automatically if you press the select all button.

A second system was also used in the testing.  A Compaq Presario 5000 series.  This older machine has an 800MHz CPU, 256Mb RAM, 40Gb hard drive, and a stock 8Mb Vanta LT AGP video card.  This second system was, not surprisingly, much slower.  Installation took nearly an hour.  After installation and updating, the Compaq took 1min 21sec to get to the log on screen, then another 25sec before it was ready to use.

The interface is clean.  By default, the wallpaper is a green leaf print and all windows and cursors have a green outline to them.  All open windows have the traditional close, minimize, and maximize buttons, but in a different order and on the left of the window instead of the right.  That took a little bit of time for me to get used to.

Using gOS is fairly simple and straightforward.  You are presented with a quick launch shelf at the bottom of the screen with your favorite applications.  It is pre-populated with Xine Movie Player, Rhythmbox Music Player, Skype, and links to a variety of online applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google, YouTube, Meebo, and more.

If you want to use an application not on the shelf, left click any where on the desktop to bring up an application menu.  From the menu, you can also choose administrative functions, such as changing the desktop resolution, update manager or printing.

Speaking of printing, gOS makes it easy to install a printer. The process is simple, but not all printers are supported.  It did not have drivers for my Epson Stylus R200 or Brother MFC9700.  I could not get my Epson working at all, but did get my Brother printer working by installing it as an MFC9600.

The makers of gOS have not yet made the operating system multi-user friendly.  You can only set up the system as a single user.  They state that is a feature that they need to work on.

Although the system found both my Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H2 and Samsung Digimax A503 cameras, it had a little bit of a problem transferring the pictures from camera to hard drive.  Dragging and dropping individual photos were effortless, but I received multiple “Enlightenment” errors when copying more than one file.  That is definitely something that will have to be fixed in future versions.

Overall, I found gOS very easy to install and use.  I believe it to be a good operating system for a new Linux convert or anyone who simply needs an internet appliance.  A little more tweaking by the developers would make it a great one.  I give gOS 3 out of 5 penguins.

 

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