Apr 22, 2015

Apr - 08 2015 | By

Black Viper optimizing tips for Windows 7, 8 etc.

Antivirus Comparisons & Prices Here.

 A little about Solid State Drive– Upgrades for your Apple products!

 Ever heard of Abbey Road Studios hmm? Well how about a tour right now?


Additional notes

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart.
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.

– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >

The intro music was by Pentatonix.

Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio.


Dennis, a KVMR tech, was measuring the inclination of the CD players in the studio and Glenn wondered if the angle had to do with the problems they were having with the players. Shortly afterwards, an engineer did a firmware upgrade which caused a problem at the end of this show.

In the past, equipment wasn’t happy being used at an orientation other than what it was designed for, Paul said. There used to be an arrow on hard drives to indicate which way up they should be installed. As things improved, they could be installed in various orientations, but once formatted, they had to to be used in that orientation thereafter.

Paul asked Glenn what he thought about the makeover of the Zen Tech website, now that it’s running on WordPress. Glenn only had a chance to see it from a visitor’s point of view but he thinks it “looks really good”. Paul invited visitors to leave comments at the website.. The comments are moderated; please keep it civil.

Paul talked about the Black Viper website, which suggests tweaks to Windows to improve performance. The person running the website takes a systematic approach to test the suggested tweaks to evaluate their impact on performance. The tips on the site cover various versions of Windows, and there might be something for the Mac users. See the above link.

Paul talked about anti-virus programs. He said that some are worse than not having one at all because they can set off false alarms. You may then become complacent and ignore a real alarm when it happens. Some anti-virus programs demand much from your computer’s resources and slow it down. There’s a link at the top of this page to a site that evaluated some anti-virus programs. Apparently, Webroot got rated highly this time around.

The guys have found that the free versions of Avast and AVG are adequate. They are not less secure than the pay versions but they tend to nag you to upgrade. The pay versions usually have a lot of extra utilities that are unnecessary. No anti-virus is 100% effective. The common entry points for a virus is thru the Flash player & Java.

The Firefox and Chrome browsers are becoming more popular. Paul expressed some reservation about Chrome because it tries to get you to login to Google & it stores a lot of info about you. Glenn told us about someone at KVMR who logged onto their own account using Chrome, but then others were able to access that account when they sat down at that computer.

Paul mentioned the link he posted above for a tour of Abby Road Studios. It has photo spheres (3-D photographs). If you have a large monitor screen, you’ll have a very immersive experience, he said.

Apple was the first company to stop putting floppy drives into their computers. What Paul said earlier about the orientation of hard drives was also true of floppy drives. It was possible for a floppy drive to get misaligned and disks formatted in it would work OK in that drive but no other.

There were 2 types of <3 1/2″> floppy disks <and drives> — 720K & 1.4meg. The magnetic medium was different for each and they recorded in different ways. You were able to save money by buying the 720K disks and converting them to the 1.4meg type. There was a tool that would punch a hole in the plastic case of a 720K diskette to make the high density drive think it was a 1.4meg diskette. If you started with a used 720K disk and converted it to 1.4meg, the read/write head would eventually pick up the stray magnetism from the previously recorded tracks and you could lose data. In the end it was a false economy.

Paul talked a bit about solid state drives (SSD). They use flash memory, like in a USB stick, instead of mechanical components — there are no moving parts.
– They are “consistently unreliable” according to Paul. They will eventually fail because you can write to a memory cell only about 100,000 times.
– Up to 10% of the memory cells are set aside to be used by built-in circuitry to ‘repair’ defects. It’s a process that’s completely automatic and is handled by internal software.
– When the SSD fails it will be catastrophic. There’s no warning as with mechanical drives, which may make clicking sounds before failure.
– There’s no way to recover the data off of a failed SSD, to Paul’s knowledge, unless the problem is something superficial like a broken contact.
– An SSD is sturdy. Paul has had some survive going thru a laundry.
– A blowtorch or a sledgehammer would be required to reliably destroy the data, he said.

Apple has been putting SSD drives into the Mac Book Air. The first generation imitated the serial ATA electronics of the mechanical drives to make it easier to manufacture the motherboard. In 2013 Apple switched over to different format called PCIE (PCI Express). If you’re upgrading your Mac, you have to be careful which type you get. The link above should give you more information.

Glenn still hasn’t upgraded his iPad to version 8 of the operating system. He’s still at version 7.1.2. Apparently, there suspicion or rumor about ver 8 being slower. Paul said it’s almost impossible to go back to the earlier ver 7 if you upgrade to ver 8 and don’t like it — at least not thru Apple.

Bob called. He plugged an Apple into a new Comcast unit. It keeps trying to connect to the old Comast box and he can’t get it switched over.
– Click on the wireless logo in the upper right and open preferences for the network.
– Click the Advanced button and find the tab that says Wireless Network, where it lists the networks. Don’t use ‘delete’ to delete an old network, use the minus button instead.
– Paul suggested he delete all the ones that are listed.
– Then click OK and go to the wireless logo in the upper right again. You’ll be shown all the networks the computer can see. There you can choose your Comcast network and log in with your password.

Pam called. She has a PC with Windows 8.1. She’s tried using the internet with dialup and had no success. She was told that the animated tiles (icons) for her apps were causing the slow down — that she should stop the animation.
– Paul said the animated tiles have nothing to do with the internet connection.
– What can help is to use the mobile version of a website. Often you can reach an alternate version of a website by putting an ‘m.’ in the URL. For example, instead of going to yahoo.com, go to m.yahoo.com. The mobile-friendly sites don’t push so much data at you.
– Use the Firefox browser and get a plugin called Flash Block. That will stop Flash content from running automatically — a bandwidth hog.
– She thought Black Viper (mentioned before) might help but Paul said it won’t address the slow internet problem, it’s more about streamlining what runs in Windows itself.
– Try Classic Shell. It makes 8.1 look more like Windows XP — gives back a Start button & menus and an easy way to log off.
– <You can also try turning off javascript, images and style sheets (CSS), if your browser permits. Only turn them on as needed.>

David called. He said he’s never had a virus scanner find a virus. The problems he’s had were with malware. He was running AVG that had both a virus scanner and anti-malware and was told to only run the anti-malware because it was conflicting with the anti-virus. He said he’s now using a free program called “Anti-Malware” and it seems to work well. <This might be it.>
– Paul said any self-respecting anti-virus should catch malware.
– He also said some malware is on the borderline of being a virus because it pesters you so much you have trouble getting anything done.
– It’s not in the interest of malware creators to bring down your computer. They want it to continue running so they can sell you something.
<In my mind, malware is the broad category that includes viruses. Some people use ‘malware’ to refer to adware — pernicious advertising. I think that’s how David used the word>

Paul tried to play something from a CD deck in the studio but couldn’t get it to work. He speculated it had something to do with the firmware update.

Last update 12:07 AM 4/23/2015

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