Kaspersky Antivirus is free – as in free beer…

Kaspersky AV 6.0 can be had for around $50.00 (USD) with a rebate up to $65.00 (USD) – so that means “free”. Point your browser too the link/image on the right to pick it up and then go here to get the rebate form – it’s a pdf. The offer is good through the 11th of August so not much time. Kaspersky makes a good product – we recommend it to all of our customers because of their quick response times to zero days and other such problems. Subscription fees are about half of Symantec and McAfee products too.

Ext2 access for Windows

Ext2 For Windows!Many people have dual boot Linux/Windows systems. While it’s fairly easy to access files on the Windows partition from Linux*, it’s not usually that easy to access your Linux partition from Windows. Instead of emailing that entire website that you just finished coding with BlueFish to yourself so you can access the files from a Windows program, (I don’t know why you would need to do this, but hey. You never know.), all you have to do is install the Ext2 Installable File System for Windows. This program gives you R/W access to an Ext2 partition from any version of Windows from NT4 through 2003. It supports paging (Windows swap), and has a pretty nifty interface from the Windows control panel, as well as the Windows native disk manager. The programmer, Stephan Schreiber did a nice job integrating with Windows. I’ve tried it on one of my virtual boxes and it works like a charm. As freeware, the price is right too.

*The ease in which one can access Windows partitions and even “hidden” SMB network shares is trivial. I’ve had full “root” access to a Windows Active Directory domain controller without providing any credentials over LAN from a box running Gnome on Slackware 10. How’s that for security? Microsoft has since made it a bit harder to do this type of thing – not too much harder though.

Two more vendors offer Linux

Two OEM’s become the latest to offer consumers with an alternative to Microsoft Windows with the announcement of Acer laptop models that are now available with Linux preinstalled. While Acer has offered the Linux operating system for nearly two years now, two Singaporean retailers are offering these laptops for sale with different versions of Linux that they installed themselves as OEM products. Memory World is selling the Acer Aspire 5107Z notebook(see image) with an Intel 1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo, 1Gb DDRII RAM, an 80GB hard disk and a 15.4 in display with ubuntu Linux for around $660.00 (USD). D-Nexus is offering the Aspire 5107Z with half the RAM as the Memory World product with Linpus Basic Linux, a Taiwanese distribution.

One of the reps at Memory World told me that the sales of the units are fairly slow but not unexpected. He said that they are getting a lot of calls about ubuntu that indicate a considerable interest. “We feel that everybody has the right to know what’s new and what ubuntu can offer other than Microsoft Windows”, said the rep, “All I can say is ubuntu is worth trying and will not disappoint you.”

At the time of this post, we are awaiting comment from both one of the retailers and Acer.

What’s on your flash drive?

Flash on a cableSince it’s inception around 2000, the USB flash drive has become the ubiquitous portable mass storage device of choice for geeks and users, (at least “power” users), alike. They can be used to transport volumes of data away from your soon to be former employer (not recommended), store and run programs, run virus scans, you get the picture. They can even store a portable operating system for computer forensics, firewalls, or just for fun.
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Losing users with Office 2007

Microsoft Office 2007 arrived in our action pack a few months back. Always eager to have the latest and greatest, all of our workstations were expeditiously upgraded from Office 2003. Everyone in our office was fairly proficient at day to day tasks in the various Office products like Excel and Word. Suddenly, we were forced to use the program help to search for even the most routine of tasks – like how to run a macro. It so happens that the “ribbon”, as the newly redesigned tabbed toolbars are called, in which the macro capabilities are on isn’t visible by default. After jumping through a few hoops, we know how to run macros again. On the bright side, I can add shortcuts to the “Quick Access Toolbar” so I can find things that aren’t where they used to be. These customizations can then be easily imported to installations on other machines, so I only have to spend a half hour as opposed to several hours, to make sure people aren’t in the help browser all day.

While the latest version of Office does have some nice features, the slick looks don’t make up for the time spent re-learning software that many of us have know how to use for nearly a decade. I’m not sure what Microsoft was thinking when they decided to radically change the UI in such an established product. I can get around just fine in the latest version of Open Office, in fact it’s usability improves regularly. I want to be productive now, not once I’ve figured out a new interface. My final gripe is about backward compatibility to anything older than the current version. By default, documents, et al., are saved in a new format – it’s the old file extension with an x appended to it. I can only open these with Office 2007. The default format can be changed, after jumping through a few more hoops, or I can just “save as…” and pick my file format.

At this point, we do not recommend Office 2007 to our customers. It is, in fact, discouraged because of the learning curve and compatibility issues. When experienced users become lost in your flagship product, you will end up loosing them to legacy applications or alternative products.