Adobe last Monday warned of a zero-day bug in its Flash player and promised to roll out a patch on September 27. But on Friday it pushed in the critical security update by a week, meaning that it will now be rolled out on September 20, which is today, instead of next Monday. The bug is not exclusive to the Flash player, though. According to the company, it also affects “Adobe Reader 9.3.4 for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX, and Adobe Acrobat 9.3.4 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh.”
Despite today's security update, Reader and Acrobat will continue to remain susceptible for at least a couple of weeks, for Adobe plans to issue a separate patch for them during the week of October 4. Chrome users have been immune to the critical bug for a few days now. Last week, Google updated Chrome to version 6.0.472.62 that features patched version of Flash.
According to the security advisory Adobe issued last week:“This vulnerability (CVE-2010-2884) could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. There are reports that this vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild against Adobe Flash Player on Windows. Adobe is not aware of any attacks exploiting this vulnerability against Adobe Reader or Acrobat to date.”
Some of my favorite kinds of freeware apps to find (and install) are the ones that build new functionality into the Windows operating system. I'm running Windows 7 right now, but even this latest version of Microsoft's OS has substantial room for third-party improvements.
It's not difficult to find free or open-source apps to boost the common interactions one has with one's operating system. The tough part is in the classification: I'm really not sure how to best lump this week's applications together, save for the fact that they're all awesome ways to enhance Windows with new and useful features. And I'm not talking about super-complex, command-line scripts or what-have-you. No, these apps are all super-easy to use-if you even see them at all, given that most will modify some form of your Windows OS without needing any further interaction past the installation screen.
Anyway, if you can think of a better way to classify this week's Freeware Files other than, "Apps that Make Windows Rock," I'm all ears. Otherwise, click the jump and get ready to take your operating system to new places!
Alright, I'll admit it. I finally got hit with a virus.
Well, sort-of. I first thought that the strange "YOUR COMPUTER IS NOT PROTECTED" icon in my taskbar was some indication that my antivirus software of-choice had finally flipped out for good. Double-clicking on the icon brought up an obviously fake replica of Windows Security Essentials that, more annoyingly, wouldn't close no matter how many times I clicked on it. Over and over, my machine would be assaulted with "*.exe is not secure!" messages. My Internet sessions grinded to a halt no matter which browser I tried using. I started to fear for the safety of my World of Warcraft account.
As it turns out, I only got nailed with an annoying piece of malware. But after running through a number of analysis and removal techniques (which ultimately failed, as I had managed to disable the malware's process from starting up as-is using good ol' msconfig), I had amassed quite a list of rootkit removal programs, hardcore malware eliminators, and antivirus applications that were more surgeons in training than general practitioners.
I now share them with you.
Look, it's easy enough to install a common antivirus scanner on your system and call it a day. But you, like me, might forget to do so throughout the course of your PC building life. Or, worse, your system might become compromised in such a way as to render your analytical tools entirely useless. In that case, it's time to roll up your shirtsleeves and get crackin' with the digital equivalent of bleach for your mucked-up PC. Join me after the jump, and I'll share with you some of my favorite advanced freeware and open-source applications for virus and malware elimination!
Wh...what's this? A piece of open-source software from Microsoft that adds speed and portability to the standard Windows 7 installation process? It almost sounds too good to be true, but it's not! There really is such a utility, and it really has been delivered by the Windows 7 manufacturer itself, and it really is open-source!
I might sound a little too excited about this entire concept, but that's just because this tool--the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool--is actually a great replacement for what is otherwise a semi-complex (and hard to remember) series of console commands. If you think I'm exaggerating just for the sake of fashioning up a fun article to read, you're wrong. I couldn't tell you off-hand how to create a bootable USB drive with a preloaded Windows 7 disc. I usually just turn to this series of steps as a general walkthrough.
While the Microsoft tool isn't perfect, in that it won't automatically rip the contents of your Windows 7 CD and fashion a bootable USB key out of that, it's still an awesome way to automate this entire process using a friendly GUI. But don't think that you can just use this tool to make bootable USB keys of any ol' ISO file sitting around on your hard drive. In fact, you can't even rip the Windows 7 DVD and use the subsequent ISO file as the basis of your bootable USB key. Not without some tweaking, that is...
Who crashed? Who. I'm asking you, who crashed? Yes, Who, that guy over there on first base...
Only the best downloads get their own warm-up comics. And WhoCrashed is one of the best downloads you'll want to have on your system if you want to figure out the source behind your occasional Blue Screens of Fatal Windows Unhappiness. Install this app on your PC and you'll be treated to a little more information than the gobbilty-gook permeating your average BSOD.
WhoCrashed isn't a panacea--it's not going to give you a little button that says "Fix Me," which will automatically heal your system's upset-whatever like a glass of digital Maalox. Consider this app the Sherlock Holmes of freeware (the book, not the Iron Man version). It'll give you clues and suggest a potential culprit for your woes, but it just can't make everything better without a little deduction and sleuthing on your part.
So why, then, would you download WhoCrashed? Click the jump to find out!
I don't often connect to the Apple's iPhone App Store. It's not that I don't like perusing through new and interesting applications or games to try out. Rather, it's because Apple has made the processes of purchasing new applications so impossible to handle that it's simply not worth my time to scan through the listings to find new things to try out.
In fact, you could make a solid argument that there are no "real" listings of applications and games in the App Store. As to why that's the case, one need look no further than Apple's stranglehold on its own platform--were there a clarion call for a more open experience in application management, it would be require Steve Jobs to sit on the receiving end of one of those giant horns from the Ricola commercials.
We've been down this road before, however. I only readdress the issue because of all the unrestrained hype surrounding Intel's development of its own App Store for netbooks. Given the success of the Apple model--three parts promotion, one part consumer restraint--I can see no reason why Intel wouldn't follow suit.
Exactly a week after the much anticipated launch of Windows 7, Canonical rolled out Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala). Although it may not have been as keenly awaited as Windows 7, Karmic Koala's launch was special for a particular demographic that romances Linux, and especially its subset that dotes on Ubuntu. But early adopters of the latest Ubuntu release are having a torrid time.
Excited users have been rewarded with a plethora of problems in exchange of their bravura and enthusiasm. Karmic Koala's poor handling of graphics drivers - blank and flickering screens are quite common - and its failure to install the latest 2.6.31 Linux kernel figure prominently on the list of flaws. Also, the latest version of Ubuntu is not too good at spotting hard drives, according to initial reports.
As some of you may or may not know, Digsby has recently come under fire for hijacking your CPU cycles while you’re away from your machine in the interest of making a quick buck. In reality, Digsby is as free as the air you’re breathing, and you can reclaim the handy IM program in a matter of minutes.
So here are the facts: Digsby’s installer comes with a pile of bloatware (Weatherbug, Yahoo Toolbar, etc.) that’s all very avoidable. Instead of hiding checkboxes somewhere in the installer, you’re simply met with “Accept” and “Decline” buttons. After a few windows filled with offers, the installer shows you exactly what you’re putting on your PC. If you decline everything, only Digsby will be installed.
It also comes with a research module that will use your computer’s recourses while you’re away. According to Digsby’s blog, “The module turns on after your computer has been completely idle for 5 minutes (no mouse or keyboard movement). It then turns off the instant you move your mouse or the press a key on the keyboard. We did this so it would have absolutely no effect on your computer’s performance and only uses processing power while your computer is not being used.”
This is where they’ve come under fire – but fear not. This, just like the bloatware, is extremely avoidable. By simply navigating to your menu and going to Help > Support Digsby, there’s a button near the bottom that allows you to disable this (pictured above).
So if you’re interested in keeping your favorite all-in-one IM program and not hopping on the hate bandagon, just do this. The Internet is angry enough as is.
Brrzap! Not all hardware failures start that way, but there's a good chance they'll end up sounding like that as a result of you chucking an unruly piece of hardware through the nearest exit of your dwelling. Before you hulk up next time, know that there are ways to get a little bit more information about the status of your components. Applications that assess the health of your system's various parts serve a twofold purpose. You can deduce that equipment on your system might be going kaput or is otherwise screwed up in some fashion. Armed with that knowledge, you can then attempt to make an effective repair. If there is no way to repair your parts, you'll at least get an advanced notice that disaster is about to strike and that a trip to the electronics store might be in your soon-to-immediate future.
In this week's freeware roundup, I'm going to give you a list of applications that will help you assess your system's CPU, hard drives, optical drives, network connections, and memory. Don't delay in installing these applications--every second wasted puts you but one step closer to a catastrophic meltdown--or, at the very least, an unexpected failure in a critical piece of your PC. And nobody wants to be left hanging on the one day you really, really, really need to access the Internet, for example.
Click the jump, put on your medic's coat, and let's run some diagnostics!