Norton Antivirus 2006

Instead of just renewing my subscription to Symantec’s Antivirus each year I actually go out and purchase the latest version instead.

I usually get the 3-pack which runs about $65 from Amazon and is scads cheaper than purchasing the subscription renewals from Symantec at $30 each. Their site is pretty hard to navigate but I’m pretty sure that they have no pricing at all for renewing subscriptions to the 3 pack anyway.

But availing myself of the latest antivirus engine seems to be a sound investment.

Of course, with each new version, there are always new challenges and features. Some features are more desirable than others.

For instance, the install and configuration of Antivirus 2006 is the smoothest so far.

But included with the install is something called “Norton Protection Center”. The idea is nice – a one stop shop to verify that your AV definitions are up to date, your firewall is working properly and several other OS and Miscellaneous items are set properly.
The problem comes from the fact that Symantec’s version of “set properly” and mine don’t quite mesh up. i.e. I don’t like my Windows updates to automatically install on my machine. I have them automatically download and then I manually initiate the install at a time of my choosing.
This simply isn’t acceptable to the Norton Protection Center and it keeps insisting my machine is at risk until I agree to let things be handled automatically.
Simple enough, agree to disagree and all that, you can simply uncheck the option to have Norton stop inspecting the Windows Updates parameter. The problem is… it doesn’t work. Also, you can’t get the warnings to stop. That little icon is sitting there with its little yield sign in my system tray begging me to pay attention to it. I loath useless warnings. I don’t want anything flashing at me or trying to get my attention unless it’s a real issue.
So, recognizing that there is a bug in the product, I initiated a chat with Symantec. The tech I got was typically unable to grasp why I would not want to simply do what the product demanded. Although at one point he started to describe how to disable the Norton Protection Center (I’d suggested that it really wasn’t why I had purchased the product anyway and I’m just as happy without it) but I think somebody at his end must have slapped his wrist as he backtracked and said that he recommended I leave the defective feature running.

To make a long story short. When you get fed-up with the well-intentioned but poorly implemented warnings. Simply head over to your services (My Computer > Manage > Services) and disable the “Norton Protection Center” service (fortunately they didn’t disguise it) and then stop the service if it’s already running. Voila, annoying icon gone.

A little ‘nit I have with their threat warning screens is that they do not let you see any details about the local threat as you could with previous versions. When Radmin (see below) was found on my machine the only information I could find about the supposed threat was generic information about the product, not where it was physically located on my system (filepath). When I restored the file it didn’t know where it belonged so the restore failed.

Another warning, apparently with the February 15th virus definitions Symantec got REALLY aggressive against my favorite remote computer software RADMIN and damaged the product on two of my machines. I reinstalled and all was well. But be warned if you use this product or any other remote computer product not manufactured by Symantec.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 16, 2006 at 12:07 am

Copying Custom Views in Outlook from one PC to another

Since I initially allowed the PST file on my new tablet to be created from scratch rather than simply copying over the exising PST file from my main machine, I did not have any of the custom views available to me. Rather than recreate them I found this helpful article that walked me through the process.

This worked just fine for me with the caveat that I really needed to shut down Outlook after having imported the new views. Each time I tried to access them, Outlook would slow to a crawl and a Windows explorer window would open showing the folder where my ImportedViews.pst file was sitting. For good measure I deleted that PST as well while I had Outlook shut down. After opening all was well.

As with most things in Outlook, life would be much simpler if I were in an Exchange server environment, but at least there seem to be workarounds for us non-office folks.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 6, 2006 at 7:17 pm

SynchPst

Something that I had a LOT of trouble finding, was a way to keep my Outlook PST files synched between my new laptop, which I use away from home, and my desktop machine which I use most of the time.

If you don’t use Exchange, Microsoft does not seem to have any answers for you, which seems ridiculous as there are many people now in the same situation.

Then I stumbled across SynchPST, a program that does exactly what I need and at a reasonable cost. The “basic” version synchs all the bits that you would care about in your PST file – email, calendar items, tasks and contacts with no fussing about.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 5, 2006 at 11:35 pm

Thriving on Vague Objectives : A Dilbert Collection (Dilbert)

Thriving on Vague Objectives : A Dilbert Collection (Dilbert) Thriving on Vague Objectives : A Dilbert Collection (Dilbert)

Another winner from Scott Adams, there is nothing I don’t find funny about Dilbert cartoons. That Scott is still able to remain so in touch with the comedy that is the modern workplace is amazing to me!

Posted under Comic Books

This post was written by Marc
on February 4, 2006 at 4:28 pm

SyncBack backup solution

SyncBack is 2BrightSpark’s freeware backup solution. I have been using their freeware product for a couple of years now and have been exceptionally pleased with both its flexibility and its reliability.

I just recently upgraded to their paid-for product (SyncBackSE) and I couldn’t be happier. The reason for the upgrade was prompted by my desire to back up open files as well as to make my backups run a little bit faster.

But for simple backup needs, the freeware product is an excellent choice.

I had tried Window’s built-in backup solution, as well as complicated solutions using batch files and WinZip’s command line interface. The Windows solution is simply terrible – if you don’t think so, try restoring a file some time. It simply didn’t do what I wanted when I wanted.
The Winzip option worked quite well, but changes to it always required a little bit of programming and, to be honest, I don’t need most of my files zipped anyway. Xcopy worked for some stuff, but exclusion lists became a real hassle.

Enter SyncBack – You can do everything through the GUI interface, including selecting folders and subfolders, you can exclude/include files based on criteria or explicitly choosing them, you can choose to zip all files as individual zip files (very handy for a lot of large files – you don’t end up with a super-large zip) or just zip entire folders into their own zip files.
You can keep directories in synch or you can use it to back up your files – and yes there is a difference between the two functions.
And it interfaces elegantly with Window’s task scheduler to allow you to run any profile or group of profiles on any schedule you desire.

I have both my main computer and my wife’s computer back up all out data files to my server computer at 3 am every morning. Once a week, the server computer copies all those files to a separate partition for safekeeping after having made a backup of the copy it just replaced!
It sounds like overkill, but anything I value is stored on 3 separate physical hard drives and I can usually retrieve anything up to just under 3 weeks old if I damage it on my main machine.

This may sound like overkill, but I’ve got enough unused capacity on my server machine to handle it and I *really* value my digital pictures and other items that cannot be easily reproduced. So why would I take the chance since there is no expense for me and I have only my data integrity to gain.

And for the anal retentive out there, yes, I make periodic backups of REALLY critical stuff to CD ROM and store them off site.

Anyway, if you are looking for a free or inexpensive backup solution, SyncBack is an excellent choice.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 4, 2006 at 1:07 am

Skype

I’ve decided to give Skype a go. But I’m not so sure I want to wear a full headset when I use the “phone” so I thought it would be a good idea to use my cell phone earbud instead with it.

It wasn’t exactly obvious where to find this but I should really have known to just try Radio Shack in the first place. Thanks to Joel Ross for finding and posting a link to this little gadget that allows you to plug a standard cell phone headset into the 3/32″ jack at one end and has two 1/8″ plugs at the other to plug into your PC’s Microphone and Speaker jacks.

Note: Radio Shack sometimes changes things around a bit. If you end up at an index page just do a search for part 42-2428.

By the way, if you are using an older Thinkpad you may find you have some issues with this or any other headset/mic combination. Apparently earlier Thinkpads require some sort of gadget inline with the mic in order to work, do a find on Google for 600E microphone. Here is one of the results that helped me.

When I was in Radio Shack to purchase the headset Y-cable one of the employees warned me that somebody else had already tried and it didn’t work. He suggested getting one of their headphones instead. I didn’t argue with him at the time but this didn’t make any sense at all. The next time I’m in I’ll let him know that his other customer simply didn’t do enough homework (and probably came back later to return the headset he’d purchased as well…).

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 1, 2006 at 11:42 pm