Tag: free stuff

Get SpywareBlaster 4.4 and block Windows malware

If you are looking for a great anti-spyware software look no further than JavaCools Spywareblaster 4.6. This release improves compatibility with Gecko-powered browsers like Firefox and SeaMonkey (does anyone really use this Netscape Navigator upgrade?). Along with IE for Windows Vista and Windows Seven (7) updates and a number of other bug fixes and improvements.

For those who came in late, SpywareBlaster is among the best tools that block spyware before it affects your browsing. It works for Windows, IE (Internet Explorer) and Firefox. But (still) excludes Opera and Google Chrome. Which is annoying. Are these browsers any safer?

I find the IE tools handy even though I don’t block Flash content as you never know what looks good until after you encounter (qualifier: euphemism for terminating a (bad) person with extreme prejudice [sub-qualifier: CIA term for killing someone] ) it!

The dedicated IE tools are useful. Users can block all Flash content, create encrypted backups of the Hosts file, manage browser page settings, block cookies, and create customized ActiveX blocks. Firefox and Netscape-specific protection only offers cookie blocking, but you can create a customized blacklist that will function across multiple browsers. You can also create a system snapshot for PC recovery in case of a devastating attack.

The interface is designed well, uncluttered and easy to navigate. For $10 a year users can get automatic definition file updates and tech support, otherwise those must be done manually. Equally surprising is there’s till no support for Opera Web Browser or Google Chrome including spyware blocking capabilities. And while I appreciate the good job Spyware Blaster does for my other browsers, Chrome, Chromium and Opera are no longer the only kids on the block!

On first-run Spyware Blaster’ walks you through basic steps including reminding you up front (and often) that you need to update the program. Along with links to enable or disable protection. Program options including browser protect level stats are displayed in the left sidebar. There’s also a comprehensive help file, a “Getting Started” section and a glossary of terms.

The categories are broken into “Protection”, “System Snapshot”, “Tools” and “Updates”. “Protection” is the heart and soul of SpywareBlaster. From here you can selectively choose to block Active-X based spyware and dialers and or spyware tracking cookies. All websites and files to be blocked have a small check box next to them, so you can easily customize your blocked list to allow anything you want. You can verify that it is turned on and protecting Internet Explorer or Mozilla/Firefox.

With “System Snapshot” you can take an image of your computer to restore any system or browser settings should you become infected with spyware. Due to the the many types of spyware out there, and how often new ones appear, this is a great idea for any spyware program.

The “Tools” section allows you to view and change various browser settings, create encrypted backup copies of your hosts file, kill flash animations and specify Active-X controls you want to block. It even allows you to modify a few Internet Explorer options such as: changing the title bar and disabling the Internet Explore home page settings. All of these are very handy if you really want to customize your browser settings.

Finally, the “Updates” section allows you to manually update or configure automatic updates. It also provides a link to make a donation, if so inclined. This was the only place I recall seeing a donation request and thought it was a classy way to do it.

SpywareBlaster only needs to be run to apply your preferences. It does not need to run in order to work, keeping your system free of one less startup program. Opening SpywareBlaster weekly and updating it is all that is needed. Our tests with SpywareBlaster showed it to be very effective at blocking many known web “bugs”. It blocked access to some websites, would not allow Active-X spyware to be installed by others and in some cases simply allowed me to look at websites safely that otherwise would have left a lot of spyware on my machine. That said, a handful bypassed the program. The MySearch toolbar installed without a problem along with a few porn and crack cookies considered spyware by Ad-Aware and Spybot.

Considering SpywareBlaster protects you from over 2,800 known spyware items, it is an excellent tool to install to prevent a lot of web based spyware from ever being installed. It is free, easy to use and quite effective. It is not a tool to use solely to protect yourself from spyware, but a great way to start. As long as you keep in mind that it will not protect you from everything, and keep your favorite spyware cleaning tool handy, SpywareBlaster is a must have program.

Get Mozilla Firefox 7 NOW

If you are a Mozilla Firefox 6.0.2 user you may have seen an Upgrade to Version 7 prompt. Unless you are among the few (many?) who have disabled update notification because it breaks your plugins. My advice: Get Firefox 7 as soon as you can. Like NOW!

There’s lots of new stuff that makes the upgrade worthwhile. Better system resource (aka RAM) management for one. But this user found that now add-ons can be removed or added without needing to restart the browser. An ability to install extensions without a restart was the Google Chrome browser’s sole redeeming feature. But Mozilla Firefox has cought up now. And Firefox, unlike default Chrome, doesn’t ‘phone home’ with all kinds of data about your browsing habits.

Read the Firefox 7 Release Notes for the complete details including bugs fixed.

And if you are worried about sharing information online, consider installing the free Ghostery extension that blocks both web bugs and third-party cookies. It displays domain-specific services blocked in a overlay box. And is available for Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome browsers.

Another great extension to add to your Firefox is the multi-thread Down Them All download accelerator. It’s flexible enough to be used just for file downloads. But can also download images or the contents of all links on a web page. Plus controlling the download speed, the number of segments and the simultaneous download count too.

Delicious not to close but time to consider alternates

Yahoo has clarified their Delicious bookmarking service is not going the way of the dodo yet. It will remain online. While they look for a buyer. I couldn’t wait. I’ve made the switch to Diigo. Here’s a comparison with change-over instructions.

But Diigo aren’t the sole alternate. There are a number of paid and free alternates available. For more read GigaOM’s 5 Delicious Alternates which is where I decided there was no time like the present.

Another reason to choose Diigo was its easy book-market and specialized Google Chrome and Firefox tool bars. Adding links is sooo much easier than with Delicious.

After you signup and import your bookmarks, be prepared to wait. Seems so many worrywarts have changed providers that their data parsing operation is overloaded!