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!
Remember that old maxim that says we use only about 10 percent of our brain’s capacity? It’s been proven as hokum by modern neuroscience, but we think we can safely apply the same basic analogy to Google: The vast, vast, vast majority of computer users—even those practiced in hardcore nerdery—are almost certainly using a pitiful fraction of all the applications and features intrinsic to Google’s ever-expanding matrix of software code.
Sure, a Maximum PC reader may be well-versed in Google’s advanced search operators (Google allintext: “advanced search operators” if you missed that chapter), but we’re willing to wager that even the most curious among you haven’t taken the time to play with more than a few Google applications, let alone explore all their advanced features. Indeed, Google HQ is a fan-friggin’-amazing hotbed of R&D, but its developers are relatively quiet about the tools they’ve released. And that’s a shame, because Google’s constant innovation should get more press.
To address your inevitable Google knowledge deficit, we commissioned Gina Trapani to share her favorite tips. Gina launched Lifehacker.com, writes about Google for a bazillion media outlets, co-hosts the “This Week In Google” netcast, and pretty much makes it her job to know as much as possible about Google’s sundry apps and features.
Meet the world’s fastest CPU. OK, so we just gave away the big reveal to our report before you even flipped one page, and without so much as the common courtesy of a spoiler alert. For that, we do not apologize, because it’s not like you couldn’t have guessed how this one would end up. After all, Intel’s new 3.33GHz Core i7-980X builds on all the goodness of the ass-kicking quad-core 3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition, but is smaller, cooler, and has an additional two cores under its heat spreader. With Hyper-Threading enabled, that’s a cool 12 threads at the ready. How could anyone screw that one up?
In fact, Intel’s Core i7-980X seems to be one of the most flawless launches we’ve seen from the company in some time. By flawless, we mean there are no contortionist acts, such as explaining to consumers that a new socket (LGA1156) will have the same CPU branding as an incompatible existing socket. Nor is there the head-scratcher of a very novel, yet very limp, integrated graphics chip in a CPU (Clarkdale), which, by the way, won’t work in boards that lack graphics output ports.
With Core i7-980X, you update your BIOS, drop the chip in, and—voilà—you spend hours rocking a six-core high. Put simply, Core i7-980X is 24-ounces of prime-rib red meat for performance enthusiasts who really haven’t had much to gnaw on since the original 3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme Edition came out two years ago.
So we’re done, right? You don’t need to read on? Sorry, there’s still more to learn. If you want to know if your motherboard works with the new chip, what applications can really exploit the six cores, and how this bad boy performs, you’ll have to keep reading.
Listening to the Maximum PC podcast #131 this past week (I'm behind) brought back some fond memories. Not only was there a little glint in my eye because I was actually mentioned on said podcast, but I was also tearing up a bit at the realization that the very art of podcasting could serve as an excellent Freeware Files roundup.
Thus, here we are! Podcasting is a huge topic in itself, so I'm trying to bridge a bunch of different worlds in this week's list of awesome applications. Just interested in listening to podcasts? Don't worry--I've got you covered. Looking to make a Maximum PC (or Freeware Files) fan podcast of your own? You'll find a fun trick or two within the bits and bytes of this week's post. Tired of all the same-ol', same-ol' podcasting programs that you read about on all the other tech sites (like iTunes, cough cough?) Well, I'll do my best to surprise you with a new app or two!
Even if, like me, you think that 99-percent of all podcasts are lame and not really worth your time, you can also use some of the enclosed apps and utilities to exert some editing influence over existing audio files. As well, you'll even find an awesome player for video and music files that even comes with a built-in Bittorrent download capability.
As always, slap on your favorite pair of headphones and click the jump--it's podcasting time!
Let it not be said that I don't pay attention to the demands of the readers. No sooner did I wrap up another comparative analysis of three slammin' freeware applications for altering your desktop in new and unique ways then, well, you all talked. And talked. And talked.
That's not a bad thing, however. A number of you voiced support for your favorite applications and utilities that you use to radically transform the look of your traditional Windows desktop in some pretty awesome ways. It would be a shame to let these suggestions languish in the comments thread of an old article, however. So, this week, Freeware Files is all about you. I'll be featuring your suggestions for applications and showing people why they should consider your alternatives for giving their desktops a refreshed look.
Got it? Click the jump and let's check out what your peers are using to make their Windows desktops look amazing!
There are quite a number of tools out there for stretching the core functionality of your desktop in new directions. Some of these third-party replacements keep your standard setup and add a unique extension--like a 360-degree wallpaper that you can scroll through with mouse gestures. Fun stuff, huh? Other tools are a bit more comprehensive in their objectives, allowing for a total retrofit of very core of your desktop's operation. In these cases, gone are the typical organizational structures, options, and extensions you can pack into a Windows desktop--it's all brand-new and editable in ways you might have never previously thought were possible.
The best way to really get a feel for what's out there is to see it in action. So we're going to take a look at three unique desktop enhancement tools--one 3D, one shell replacement, and one widget-based service--and see just how they stack up versus the usability of the trusty Windows setup we've all come to know and love (or hate.)
AMD exploits a price point with the Radeon HD 5830, but the implementation is so weird, we’re scratching our heads.
If you’ve got $250 to burn for a graphics card, you’ll find a dearth of cards at that price point. Hit any of the major web retailers for PC gear looking for $250 cards, and you’ll find a couple of models of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 275 and… that’s it. The much faster Radeon HD 5850s are around $300, and you’ll find older GTX 260s and not much more.
AMD decided to fill the gap with the Radeon HD 5830. But the HD 5830 is a really odd duck. It’s slower than a Radeon HD 5850, but the reference implementation is huge – the same size as the Radeon HD 5870. The 5830 also consumes more power at full throttle than the HD 5850 – hence the larger cooler on the reference design.
Read on to find out all about the 5830's features, and how it did in our grueling benchmarks!
Security rivals thermal paste as the most important thing you have to keep in mind when building or using a system. Every bit of software on your PC should be updated; every external access point into your digital life, closed. There's no reason why you should be handing over the keys to the castle to random Internet strangers. Powerful virus protection, a strong firewall, and a bit of common sense -- among other tricks -- will go far to preserve your fortress of a system.
Now that's all well and good for the desktop in your living room, but what about third-party machines? We've all had to jump on a system over which we've had no control--no observance or administrative rights to ensure that every bit of the operating system checked out to ideal security standards. You can always head over the falls in a barrel and type your passwords and login credentials blindly, with no foresight or worries that you're inputting valuable information on a potentially infected machine. That, or you can do what I'd do: Make sure that your every keystroke and action is somehow safeguarded through the use of portable applications that you can carry on a storage device of your choice (cough USB key cough).
And that's exactly what I'll be exploring in this week's Freeware Files: Five awesome portable apps that you can carry with you to increase your security presence on a PC that isn't yours. These aren't panaceas--you'll still want to be as critical and as cautious as you would previously. However, they're a step in the right direction toward (hopefully) a data-leak-free lifestyle.
At Maximum PC, computer hardware is our bread and butter. We review it, preview it, and just generally love to talk about it. Unfortunately, hardware becomes less important with each passing day, as more and more software moves onto the internet. We're not looking forward to the day that our PC's become Chrome OS-style thin client, but we have to admit, some web apps are pretty awesome.
So to help you prepare for a future in the cloud, we've put together a list of 30 of our favorite web apps and services. We've tried to keep them on the lesser-known side, but a few of the classic have snuck their way in. Check out our list, and then hit the comments and share your favorites.
Windows Explorer hasn't always been the most feature-packed of elements inside Microsoft's operating systems. Yet, oddly, it's probably the one part of your Windows version that you use most frequently. But that's not to say that everything is Microsoft's fault. We're often so quick to blame the software giant for what's more a lack of future-proofing than outright failure. In this case, Windows Explorer can't predict what's going to be the next big thing--it can't know that you'll want your photographs easily updated to Maximum Photos someday; it has no idea that you might somehow need to paste a direct link to a file instead of its name or containing folder.
Windows Explorer is, in a word, dumb.
But that's not what we're here to talk about. We're not going to sit around a table and lament about all the features Windows Explorer could have were you one, Bill Gates, and had access to an engineer, or two, or twenty thousand. We're going to go over all the unique little elements that you can build into Windows Explorer right this darn second. I can think of five off the top of my head that are useful additions to your standard interactions with your operating system. They're free, they're awesome, and they're yours for the taking after the jump!