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Author Topic: Useful Software, Security and Plugins  (Read 13170 times)

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Online VekseidTopic starter

Useful Software, Security and Plugins
« on: January 06, 2011, 08:06:18 PM »
Note: I have been maintaining a list for Windows here. - as a wiki, it will get much more continuous attention than this thread. Feel free to link to the wiki from places. : )

So I was trying to find a piece of software just now and got overrun by spamdexed links. Never fun.

I'm going to be adding to this list and may break it up into multiple parts. Alternately I may move it to the wiki so others can edit it and keep it updated, but I want to make sure people aren't overwhelmed with choices regarding a specific need. And also filter out things as they suffer from bit rot (oh Spybot, how far have you fallen from grace?).

But there are a lot of awesome, free tools out there that most people don't know about.

No matter what you run, I would suggest going through your programs every once in awhile (Add / Remove Programs in XP, Programs and Features in Vista/7, Debian has Aptitude, etc) and making sure that what you have installed is what you want to be there. For example, you probably want to keep Adobe Flash updated (see below), but Adobe Shockwave is probably unnecessary (and even more important to keep updated).

Google what you don't understand, and maybe talk to a friend who knows computers to help you clean your machines up. Avoid the Geek Squad like the plague.

Do not accept being redirected to ads. If this is happening, something is wrong - find help.

Adding Software or Plugins to this list: I want to keep this list short and sweet. If you see a piece of software that you think should go here, make a post and harass me with it : ) I'm keeping this topic locked so I can organize things.

Security for All Systems (Windows, Mac)
Critical Issues

Make sure your Flash player is updated to the latest version regularly (see here for current version), do so. You can check your current flash version here.

Adobe Flash has three separate versions. Internet Explorer and Chrome each have their own, unique versions, separate from the shared installation that Firefox, Opera and Safari share. If you use IE and/or Chrome, along with other browsers, you will need to update all versions.

Flash operates independently of the browser. This means it is capable, under Windows and Mac, to place a overlays over various prompts where you are asked to do something, making something very official looking while it is secretly asking if it may trash your computer, please. You are not immune to this issue just because you use a Macintosh.

Clear out your old Java versions. These may also be significant means by which a malicious program can infect your machine. You may grab the latest Java version here. Yes, every update is a separate, annoying install. Newer versions are finally overwriting older versions, however.

The same caveats that apply with Flash apply to Java. That is, it works outside of the browser, and having a Macintosh is no defense.

Flashblock: Blocks Flash for Opera and Firefox. For Chrome, type about:flags into the address bar and enable 'Click to Play'. Restart, Wrench Menu > Options > Under the hood > Content setting > Plug-ins and select 'Click to play' from the right hand side. You can use the Exception button to whitelist specific domains. Safari has Click to Flash for Mac only.

Security Programs and Utilities for Windows Only
How is Adobe's PDF Reader like a swiss cheese factory? If you don't need Adobe's bells and whistles, kill it with fire and download Sumatra PDF or Foxit's free reader instead.

Antivirus and Antispyware Programs

Two free antivirus/antimalware solutions dominate the competition at this point:

Microsoft Security Essentials is, in a twist of irony, now the better of available antimalware/antivirus products, replacing Windows Defender and Windows Live Onecare. It is free (in general) and quite effective. As of version 2 it works on all versions of Windows XP, as well as Vista and 7.

Antivir by Avira is the best of the free ones for personal use, using the retroactive tests by AV Comparitives as a guideline. Updates can frequently be painfully slow, but it's a solid product. It does nag you to purchase stuff, however.

If you are in the market to actually purchase something, I recommend going to Antivirus Comparatives to compare them. Particularly, look at their retrospective and performance tests. You'll see MSE and Antivir do rather well, so focus on the ones that provide better results than them (obviously, if you're going to be paying for it). F-Secure and Eset are probably the two with the most solid reputation that you may not have heard of.

Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware - Currently the 'main' anti-malware program. You might need to rename the executable and run it from the command line from safe mode, meaning you need to download and run both the install program and database update from elsewhere onto eg a flash drive.

SUPERAntiSpyware - Another antispyware program that comes with good recommendations.

Hijackthis is useful to have other members analyze your system, if there is a need. It sometimes picks up on newer software that others miss.

Security and Privacy Utilities

Crap Cleaner err, CCleaner. I had forgotten about this one. Don't pay for registry cleaner programs.

Password Safe - Handy utility for managing hundreds of passwords for Windows.

KeePass Password Safe - Another Windows Password Keeping Utility

Advanced Security Programs

Just a place where I'm putting links for people with more technical experience. These should only be used by people very familiar with computers.

ComboFix - LSPFix - Killbox

The MVPS Hosts file - blocks ads and infested domains like mad. Since many sites use some of the sites this blocks for ad revenue, you may not want to use this, or at least be mindful of supporting communities, sites and software that you make heavy use of.

Chat and Instant Messaging Programs (Windows, Mac)
Log Converter - Converts chat logs between various clients. AIM/ICQ/MSN/Yahoo/Miranda/Digsby/Pidgin/Miranda/Trillian

Chat Programs
mIRC - The 'standard' IRC Client. Many Elliquiy members are deeply familiar with it.

Miranda IM - Windows Only Open Source Multi-IM Client.
+ Extremely lightweight. I have a dozen or so plugins running, with several hundred contacts and a hundred megabytes of chat history, takes up ~16 megs of RAM and no CPU time.
+ A lot of features are available as plugins.
+ A decade of consistent releases. Mature code base.
+ Plugin support has been very stable for the past several years. For the most part, you upgrade and forget.
* There is a donation nag whenever you do an upgrade. I don't feel this is worth complaining about - Miranda is the most lightweight Windows Multi-IM client there is.
- Plugins are required or unavailable for some otherwise basic features. Don't expect voice/video support for proprietary protocols.

Adium - MacOS Only Open Source Multi-IM Client.
+ I haven't used this, but figured since I'm touting Miranda which is Windows Only >_>

Pidgin - Multi-platform Open Source Multi-IM Client
+ Love for everyone
+ Most feature complete of all free multi-IM clients.
+ Lightweight, but bit heavier than Miranda and Trillian (takes up 32 megs for most people, it seems, regardless of load).

I can no longer recommend Digsby. It's taking up 20% of my CPU and half a gig of RAM for a chat load that Miranda barely asks 20 megs for. It's slow, unresponsive, is missing features that Miranda and Pidgin have had for years, and have just about had enough of it. To say nothing of its various underhanded attempts at making money, which I would happily put up with if it did not suck.

Multimedia Utilities - Video/Sound Editing, Recording, and Playback (Windows)
Multimedia Utilities

Audacity - High quality open source sound editing utility. I've taught octogenarians how to use it.

Virtualdub - Open source video editing and mixing utility.

Camstudio  - Open source screen recorder.

Combined Community Codec Pack - A simple codec pack intended to make it easy to decode and play a majority of videos.

Performance Utilities (Windows)
Performance Utilities

Doctor TCP - Advanced users only. Can be used to improve network performance in some cases, in other times to troubleshoot issues caused by weird software which messes with these settings for whatever reason.

Defraggler - Made by the same people as CCleaner. More powerful disk defragmentation utility than the version included in Windows. Don't use this if you have an SSD (Solid State Disk) drive.

Office Productivity - Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentation (Windows, Mac)
Office Productivity

AbiWord - A popular word processor.

Notepad++ - A powerful Windows based text editor.

LibreOffice - A full open source office suite. Successor to OpenOffice when the dev team bailed after Oracle's takeover. Calc is a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel, Writer is a word processor like Microsoft Word, Impress is a presentation builder like Powerpoint, Draw is a graphics program, and Base is a database manager like Access.

Web Browsers (Windows, Mac)
Browsers and Browser Collections

Opera - a lightweight, relatively fast browser that tends to lead the speed game. Because it's not very well known, it tends to avoid some of the security issues that Firefox and IE have.

Mozilla Firefox Collection - For web developers who need to test on multiple firefox versions.

Internet Explorer Collection - As above, for web developers who need to test multiple IE versions.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 08:52:01 AM by Vekseid »

Online VekseidTopic starter

Re: Useful Software, Security and Plugins
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2016, 08:52:24 AM »
Just as a note, I've been keeping a Windows list updated at: