Friday, December 12, 2008

Why McAfee has Completely lost the Plot

(warning... this is rant - I know you're not supposed to blog about things when you're irritated but I've been irritated with McAfee for ages and it's not going away).

My irritation with McAfee's Anti-Malware technologies has slowly been building for the past six months.

For a start, I find myself disabling their firewall more often than I leave it enabled. The thing constantly tries to chew up 90+ percent of my systems resources. What's the point of having security software if, for usability reasons, you have to constantly turn it off?

Whenever I start Lotus Notes 8.0.2, I have to remember to stop the McShield service (from the services part of control panel) before I double-click the icon. If I forget, my PC slows to a crawl and I can make filtered coffee and still get back with plenty of hourglass watching time.

It would be easy to blame Notes for this but it performs so well when McAfee is off. In addition, several of my other bits of software perform much better without McAfee. The new Blackberry Desktop Software v4.6 which shipped with the Bold is completely unusable with McAfee running, as is our Nortel PABX Telephone system. In fact, it seems that anything using Java is dead in the water with McAfee.

To add to my irritation, McAfee doesn't even seem to stop malware. They're still in the mode of "we do anti-virus and firewall - not anti-malware". If I want to check against malware, I have to get something like AdAware or Spybot Search and Destroy. I'm sick of having to buy a different product for every different security menace on my PC. If it's designed to keep the PC secure, then one product should do the job properly.

Then there's the reporting. I used to complain about the reporting from Symantec but all I get from McAfee is that x% of your computers aren't protected. Well Mr McAfee ... why AREN'T they protected? You're the Anti-Virus Software and You're supposed to be updating. Why was I so wrong in thinking that I could set you to automatic-update and then do other work? I've got work to do... I can't sit around babysitting an anti-virus app which can't auto-update properly on its own.

Of course, the think that really, really irritates me is SiteAdvisor. This used to be a good product until McAfee started blocking whole domains. I've spoken to them on about three occasions about blocking the ENTIRE BLOGGER domain. That's right... the whole of blogspot.com. Every single blog on blogger.

First they refused to see the issue, then they tried to say that it was my fault... that my version of the "self-updating" SiteAdvisor was wrong... both on my work computer and on my home PC. Well, as from today, I can safely say that I'm on a brand new PC with a brand new version of site advisor loaded. (though not for long).

It's their problem - and they refuse to deal with it.

How do I reward that kind of customer service....

I think it's time I started looking for a new anti-malware vendor.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Finding the Blackberry Bold Call Logs and Combining the SMS's with Mail

I've had quite a few people ask me about the call log on the Blackberry Bold but as yet, I haven't found it.

I did get this little tip from Craig Wiseman's blog;

Blackberry Call Log - Can anyone help?
http://www.wiseman.la/web/cpwBlog.nsf/dx/blackberry-call-log-please-help

Apparently the calls really are there in with your emails but they're almost impossible to see. To see all your calls do the following;

  1. Go into your main mailbox
  2. Press the Blackberry button to open the popup menu
  3. Scroll all the way down (past the bottom of the screen) to highlight Search and Click on it.
  4. Scroll to the bit at the bottom that says type and click on it
  5. Change it from Email to Phone
  6. Press the Blackberry button to open the popup menu
  7. Click Search
  8. Your blackberry will now be showing you all of the calls.
  9. When you push the Esc/Back button, it will return to normal.
Thanks Craig, not only for helping me to find the calls but also because he highlighted a very useful set of Blackberry features I hadn't been aware of. There's a lot more features in the search that you might want to take advantage of.

Seeing SMSes in Your Mail
I don't know about other people but I really miss getting the SMSes directly in with my other calls. Instead, I have to go to the SMS applications. Well, no more. Now you can mix them up again.

Here's how;
  1. Open your main Blackberry Mail.
  2. Click on the Blackberry button to access the pop up menu
  3. Choose Options from the menu (you'll have to scroll a bit)
  4. Choose General Options
  5. Scroll down to the menu option that says SMS and Email Inboxes and click on it.
  6. Change it from Theme Controlled to Combined.
  7. Click on the Blackberry button to open the menu
  8. Click Save
  9. Press the Back/Esc button twice and you're back to your main screen.

Now your SMSes should start coming through your mail.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How to Lose the Icons on the Front Screen of your Blackberry Bold 9000

So... you've got yourself a nice wallpaper background but those icons on the front screen are spoiling it.

Wanna get rid of them? Here's how.

A Warning
The procedure described below will move your desktop icons around a little, change your existing blackberry wallpaper and move all non-standard applications back to the download folder. If you can't handle this, then don't proceed.

Also note; this procedure gets rid of the icons on the front page of the blackberry but it doesn't remove the shaded bar at the top of the screen.

PART 1: GETTING THE THEME ONTO YOUR BLACKBERRY
  1. First we need to obtain a theme that doesn't contain those icons
    Here's a link to one on Crackberry.com. I'm not sure if you need to be logged in to get it or not.

    http://forums.crackberry.com/attachments/f83/6737d1228167408-any-way-make-home-screen-totally-clear-all-icons-com_plazmic_theme_no_icons.zip

  2. Download and Unzip the files - there should be an .ALX file in the archive.

  3. Next, Connect your Blackberry to your computer via the USB Cable

  4. Start Blackberry Desktop Manager

  5. Click the icon marked Application Loader



  6. Click the button marked Browse...

  7. Browse to where you unzipped the files and select No_Icons.ALX

  8. Click Ok.

  9. Click Next

  10. Click Finish

  11. Wait a minute... it took literally a minute on my blackberry - so don't panic.

  12. Close out of Blackberry Manager (and stop the blackberry services and disconnect your device).

PART 2: SELECTING THE THEME

  1. Go to the Spanner icon (options)

  2. Click on Theme

  3. Choose No Icons

  4. Then Close everything back to the main menu and presto... it should be clean.

  5. Don't forget, you'll have to reset your home screen picture and icons.

Did I mention that you can find lots of pictures (and use a great wallpaper maker at crackberry.com)?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Using Ubunutu for Real

Over the years I've made quite a few tests on Ubuntu to see whether it was ready for general consumption. Until now, it's never lasted more than a few hours on the device I've loaded it on because I've either had no time to test it properly or I've become too frustrated with driver setup problems to continue.

This time, I loaded it on a laptop which just didn't seem able to run Windows XP. The results were astonishing.

The Good
For a start, the laptop which has 512 mb of ram runs quite well now. On XP SP2, it took literally about 5 minutes to boot, under Ubuntu, it take about 15 seconds.

Google and Firefox
Similarly, Firefox was already installed and all of my favourite google apps and bookmarks worked a treat.

VPN and Remote Desktop
I found some instructions for VPN setup and was remote desktopping onto my work PC within a few hours. Between Remote Desktop (to Windows) and the web apps that run in firefox - and of course Open Office which was also already installed, I've got 90% of what I need on the laptop.

The Bad
Wireless Network via PCMCIA Card
Tried it, found very little assistance on the internet and gave up. I'm going to stay "wired". I can live without it.

Lotus Notes
The web is full of pages which tell you how to install Notes on Linux and I tried installing according to several different versions of instructions but they were all a bit unclear and since I'm being a "typical unthinking Windows user with no patience and no Ubuntu experience", I figured it best to forge on without trying to learn anything.

I don't know much about Linux at all, and about all I know is how to extract the Tar to a folder and then run it. The Notes installer started working then suddenly bombed out with a message "The installer is unable to run in graphical mode. Try running the installer with the -console or -silent flag."

I tried the -console flag and things looked promising for a little while. Then it failed with the same message.

I can live without Notes on the laptop. It would have been nice but I can live without it.

This reminds me of an old adage from my information science days;

"If it's harder for people to obtain information than it is to go without it, then people will go without it."

This is true for systems too. I don't know if I'm looking at a Notes problem or a Linux problem - probably a bit of both. In any case, that's why they both "fail" the dumb user test (IMHO) for now. I believe work has been done on Notes 8.5, so I'll give that a go eventually.

Conclusions
Ubuntu is ready for use by low use computer people (or retired people, like my parents) who only want office and internet apps. It's not really ready for people who use their computer for other types of applications, or who rely heavily on Windows integration.

If I could sort out the Notes problems - and I'm sure that in time I could... I just wanted to install as a moron for this test - then I feel that, Ubuntu would be suitable for several people at my office. Perhaps I could use it to revitalise the older laptop fleet?

All in all, Ubuntu has come a long way but it still needs a good look-over by someone who specialises in UI's.