Tails – New release

ok,ok, 2 weeks behind the times but, with all the new anti-privacy laws attempting to be sneaked in using the ruse of anti-piracy, you will need this. If not now, then very soon. Quite why it should be suspicious behavior to want to hide your credit card from everyone else when using it online I am not sure, but hey…. maybe you were actually purchasing that book with a bomb? Online too! Even more dangerous huh?

Tails 0.10.1 Numerous bug fixes and security enhancements.

AMD/ATI Drivers version 12.1 released, Linux x86, x86_64

Released on Jan 25th, the long awaited 12.1 drivers from AMD. Now fully AMD branded with no trace of ATI. After some strenuous testing, results now in.

Good news for Gnome 3 users. The new drivers work! No more glitches or display corruption. No display manager crashes.

It is not all good though. Video playback is still not as smooth as it should be. Many 3D games still have some issues, but all in all, a big improvement.

If your using any distribution with Gome 3, and you have an ATI/AMD video card, the new drivers are a must have. Go get ’em.


Move Windows 7 from RAID 0 to Single Disk. How to

Having googled this a plenty and not having found an answer except for a lot of bad info like ‘it can’t be done’ (go figure?), I decided to create this step by step guide. Let me know if it works for other RAID modes, it should as the principle is basically the same.

While it will probably work for most of you, for those it does not and ignored the following warnings regarding backups, tough!

Make sure the data on your windows partition is small enough to fit on the single drive you will be restoring to. This guide assumes you are going to use one of the RAID set drives to restore to. If your going from RAID 0, then you will be restoring to a drive half the size of your RAID array. You only need the DATA size to fit. There is an option in Paragon  to re-size the partition to fit, as long as the data fits!

Check your BIOS Setup and make sure your SATA controller supports either SATA or IDE mode. If the only option you have is RAID or AHCI you will need to follow one of the many online guides to enabling AHCI in windows before you start. If you have AHCI then you probably want to use it, so even if you do have SATA mode you could enable AHCI in your windows first anyway (most likely you would want to use it), but is not required, as long as you have SATA mode AHCI can always be enabled later.

(Thanks NordicDreamer  for pointing this out,, note some BIOS only have RAID, AHCI and IDE, so you would use IDE mode instead of SATA at step 10. If you have both IDE and SATA modes then try SATA, if you BSOD at step 11 then try IDE mode)

Here goes — 

Step 1 ) Download and install the excellent (and free!) Paragon Backup.

Step 2 ) Do a FULL backup using Windows backup. You can store it on a 3rd hard disk, or USB drive or even another computer on your network. I used a networked computer. This is our emergency only, last resort, in case all else fails backup and will not be used if all goes well. Make the recovery disk when prompted. As a further precaution boot into the recovery disk and ensure you can access the backup. Do not skip this step! 

Step 3 ) Now do a FULL backup using Paragon Backup. Same location if you like (this is the one we will restore later). Make sure you backup the MBR, System Reserved (~100MB) and windows partitions. Minimum 3 ‘partitions’. If that’s all you have then fine, just make sure you backup ALL your partitions. The MBR is not, strictly speaking, a partition but you will see it listed.

Step 4 ) Create the Paragon backup/restore CD or USB (I used a USB thumb)

Step 5 ) Boot the Paragon backup/restore disk you created in step 4, and make sure you can access the backup you created in step 3, If you used the network like me, then you will need to set it up using the ‘Configure network’ option. If you cannot access the backup then you will need to move the backup. Just make sure you can access the backup using the Paragon backup/restore disk before you continue.

Step 6 ) Reboot and enter your RAID BIOS, destroy your array, do not create a new array.

Step 7 ) boot the Paragon backup/restore, now restore your backup of windows 7 to disk 0. Make sure to restore the MBR and the ~100MB ‘System Reserved’ partitions as well as the windows partition.

Step 8 ) Once completed you should now be able to boot into windows.

Step 9 ) Open ‘Device Manager’ and look for your RAID driver. Uninstall it. You should be prompted to reboot.

Step 10 ) Enter your Mainboard BIOS setup, Change the sata controller mode from RAID to SATA (you could try AHCI but if it wont boot you will need to follow one of the many guides on enabling AHCI).

[EDIT]  Many newer boards no longer have both IDE and SATA mode. They are both the same for the purposes of this guide so use whichever you have.  If you have both, try SATA and if you BSOD  try IDE  [/EDIT]  27/1/2014

Step 11 ) If all went well your done, windows will install the correct drivers for your sata controller and want to reboot again most likely, but basically that’s it.

How does it work?

The main trick is to get windows to boot on a single drive while it is still using the raid drivers. We trick windows by destroying the array, then restoring to a single drive, while the controller is still in RAID mode. If you try changing to SATA mode without first uninstalling the RAID drivers you will just BSOD during boot, even in safe mode. Once you have got it working you can then move the drive to another controller (after installing the controllers drivers of course) at leisure, should that be your goal.

If you just can’t get it to work, you have 2 fully working backups to play with, so just enable your RAID mode and create the array again, then restore using the Microsoft recovery disk  and backup you created earlier.

Email me using the Contact form and I will try to assist you. I am assuming, seeing as your using RAID, you know where to find things like device manager, windows backup etc.But if you are having problems then drop me a message and I will try to help as best I can, updating this post if required to help make things clearer for everyone.

Please do not bother me if you didn’t create both backups, didn’t make the recovery disks or didn’t check you could access both backups before destroying your array. If your data is not that important to you, just do a fresh install. It is probably what I will tell you anyway.



Free Anti Virus 2012 – Which is Best?

Each approaching new year brings a round of new offerings from the anti virus vendors. Each vendors solution claims to be the best, with the most features etc.etc. So it’s time for a reality check.

I am only going to consider free anti virus offerings for just a couple of very good reasons.

  1. They are almost exclusively ‘free for personal use’  versions of a paid for product.
  2. They offer the same detection rates and with usually better performance than the paid for version.
  3. The paid for versions only add un-needed extra ‘features’.

In this round up I will be focusing on 3 criteria –

  • Overall system performance impact. How fast it is.
  • Detection rate. How good it is at detecting viruses / malware.
  • Features. Does it have all the features you need, or too many even?

So, in order of preference, let’s start…..

Panda Cloud AV Free 

Panda claims to be a first mover with it’s cloud based solution, even though ClamAV (cloud version is now Immunet) have been doing this for a few years before Panda released Cloud AV, and there are others jumping on the cloud bandwagon. There is a very good reason; it works!

The client install is very small and fast. No large virus definition files. No fat client sucking up your computers resources. Very high detection rates. In fact the best detection rate of any of the other products mentioned here. Many independent reviews can easily be found using google and they all agree. With that and the virtually non-existent impact on overall system performance, Panda Cloud AV is simply the leanest meanest AV out there right now.

As for features, it scores very highly. No un-needed rubbish thrown in, it has only the minimum required set of features to ensure maximum protection. Install is a snip. The client is so tiny it downloads and installs in just a few seconds. There is a toolbar option during install that adds protection for known malware sites, but other than that, a few clicks and your done.

The interface is tiny too! Perfect for those who really don’t want to have to interact with a complicated interface and lots of options. Install it and forget it. Perfect.

Panda Cloud AV earns a well deserved place as ‘Pick of the Crop’.


Avast! Free

Until Panda hit the streets with Cloud AV, Avast! Free was my pick of the crop. Despite the rather large download and general bloat, due to all the extra scanning features, Avast! Free had the best performance and solid detection rate of any of the other solutions on offer. Interface is fairly straight forward, with only the occasional pop-up to inform you of definition updates.

It has way too may un-needed features and scan engines but! it is still the best of the rest regards system performance impact. That, and the rock solid detection rate, make this still a top mover in the free AV arena.

Avast! Free earns the title of ‘Best of the rest’


Now a quick mention of some of the other top contenders for your reference.

Avira AntiVir Personal – Solid detection rates to match that of Avast! Suffers slightly with performance and over complicated interface.

AVG Free – Good solid detection rates, but performance issues. I am watching this one closely as the AVG team claim to be placing a high focus on performance for the next version.

ClamAV – Excellent performance, the original Cloud AV, but detection rates are not so good. I am looking forward to a fully open source AV that really works, and ClamAV almost does. This is another one to watch in the future.

Cloud AV  Vs  Traditional AV

Traditionally antivirus programs use a list of  definitions to detect a virus. These lists are now very large and have to be updated regularly. All the work of comparing files against this list has to be done on your computer. The client software is large and the definition files are large. When either needs updating there is usually a considerable download involved. Due to this the client software will not usually check for updates all that often.

Cloud AV removes the requirement for updating, or even maintaining, a list on your computer. The load of comparing files against the list is taken off your computer and given to the cloud. This means the AV program can be much smaller and will use far less memory and processing power.

Cloud AV also means that as new viruses are detected by the cloud you, as a member of the cloud, are instantly protected. No waiting for updates,  there are none. There is no need for your client software to check regularly for new program versions. The client software is so tiny, as soon as you connect to the cloud your client should silently and quickly update itself; if required. Being connected to the cloud will also mean that you will get any client software update the moment it is released to the cloud, along with instant protection from new threats.

Credit: David Carey – Network security specialist and consultant.


Sleep, not just a power saver

After 2 hours ‘dis-joint’ from an ensuing situation, to a completely different frame of reference, then returning ‘seamlessly’; the Nerdy Mind (currently on holidays in Silicon Valley) thought….

” it’s like your mind can hold multiple ‘objects’ of situation, pathological and emotional state (to name but a few of the various existing objects that must be consulted for properties); so allowing to being able to restore almost perfectly the same mood, perception, state of mind, physiological and psychological modifications as required, when you return to that situation.

As long as they are quite ‘dis-connected’ with little object interaction then those daily objects would be very specific to the task in hand.

Would that explain why sleep is so important? So you can take time to process the daily collection of objects and cross reference the data to provide improvements or additions to your daily working object set? ”

Credit : Nerdy Mind, thought of the day (MaDdoG)