Return to Vista-land, part 1

*sigh* As much as I’m reveling in the familiarity of the Windows operating system, I have to say that I miss Ubuntu and the blazing fast start up times I experienced. With the Ubuntu OS, it was actually easier to shutdown and restart the PC versus hibernating. Whereas, it was ridiculously painful to do either (shutdown/hibernate) with Vista. Now that I’ve reinstalled Windows Vista, I’m taking great pains to avoid installing craplets that serve no purpose. However, I’m sad to report that I am still experiencing issues that seem little, but are starting to drive the O.C.D. part of me nuts!

For instance, the icons for installed programs ‘disappear’. What do I mean? See for yourself. icons In the picture below, the icon for the Cyberlink Youcam program has been changed to a default Vista icon which typically indicates that something is wrong with a program. In this case, the program starts up fine. It’s just driving me nuts that I can’t have the pretty icon that depicts the Cyberlink Youcam program.

Thankfully, this is truly a non-issue i.e. not a dealbreaker. I was able to resolve the matter by tinkering the Cyberlink Youcam entry’s properties on the Start Menu. It’s simple: (i) You right click on the entry that lacks a custom icon and click “Properties”. (ii) You select “Change Icon” and voila!. Please note that this change may not occur right away for some strange reason and seeing as I’m rather impatient, this led to much gnashing of teeth. Cheers!


Getting spammed at my computer

I receive upwards of 10 and more spam email daily at all of my email addresses. I’m very cautious about what services I sign up for and I constantly nag tell my husband to be very aware of sites that offer free items in return for your email address. Finally, he learned the hard way that my paranoia has some basis in fact: his Yahoo! email account was hijacked and used to send a spam e-mail to all his contacts. Thankfully, his address book on Yahoo has less than 20 entries so it wasn’t a massive spam launch. However, the scary part of this hijack was the fact that it was as if the intruder was beside us as the email was sent while we were both online. I won’t even pretend to understand how this happened, but I talked with him and explained that certain behaviours that he had unconsciously practiced could have led to the hijack. In short, here’s a short list of what he has been doing wrong, IMHO.

  1. He never logs out of his email account. Rather, he just closes the browser window. This is a huge no-no especially when you are on a public computer. Our computing setup is thus: a home desktop running Windows XP SP3 Professional. I’ve installed Firefox as the default browser, but Internet Explorer is readily accessible. On Firefox, I’ve set all cookies to be cleared once I close the browser and we have Norton Internet Security 2009 installed & updated. He does browse on public computers and if his browsing habits at home (i.e. closing the browser window vs. logging out) mimic his public internet browsing habits, his cookies could have been hijacked by a malicious website.
  2. He is a very good guitar player and I have found him downloading guitar tab tools from sites he finds via Google or visiting link-riddled websites. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that virus, trojans, etc could be introduced by free and unvetted programs. If he provided his email address, there’s no telling what these free sites would do with that information.

In any case, trying to track down the hacker will be futile when all I have are the email headers. I’m currently running a full system scan on the PC (HijackThis turns up nothing suspicious) and I will defragment the computer also & rid the computer of obsolete programs. I’m sorely tempted to wipe Windows off and install Ubuntu or some other distro (Linux Mint comes to mind, thanks Judith!) so that the aging hardware can be put to good use. It’s only 4 yrs old and I’d hate to have to upgrade because Windows keeps getting tons of huge updates. End of rant. lol

In other  news, I’m happy to report that my experience with the Bitdefender Antivirus Scanner for Unices (by the way, Unix is singular and Unices is plural) is very positive. My system has been virus-free thus far and I hope to keep it that way. I run chkrootkit and rkhunter fairly regularly. However, there is a small issue that hopefully will be resolved soon. I’ve scanned my entire file system with the Bitdefender Antivirus Scanner for Unices before so I was surprised to have another full system scan get aborted yesterday. I copied the output and pasted it into a text file. I sent it off to the Bitdefender Support and they narrowed the problem down to this item which causes the scan to abort:

bdscan “/opt/picasa/wine/drive_c/Program Files/Picasa2/Uninstall.exe”

Hopefully, an update will be issued that will correct whatever is causing this.

An update on my Bitdefender Issues

For those first-time visitors, I purchased Bitdefender Internet Security 2009 in August 2008. I was moderately happy with it, but after a while, things started going awry. First, Bitdefender caused the data execution prevention on Vista to kick in whenever I started Firefox. This was a well known issue and I was able to resolve the matter by disabling Bitdefender’s toolbar/plugin for Firefox. After that incident, Bidefender would shut itself off for no reason so I uninstalled it. I then attempted to reinstall Bitdefender on my laptop and all my efforts failed. I’ve got the screenshots and log files to prove it. After several days of being without antivirus protection and trying out all approaches detailed on Bitdefender’s support website, I could not resolve the issue on my own. Then, I went a step further. I initiated a chat conversation with a Bitdefender online representative who walked me through some more steps and when his recommendations didn’t improve the matter, he sent me an email containing information on running some Bitdefender diagnostic tools. I dutifully ran those tools, packaged up the information generated and sent the data to the Bitdefender support staff. That was my last ‘communique, if you will, that I had with Bitdefender.

Fast forward to the new year and approximately 6 weeks and 3 days after sending my S.O.S. email to Bitdefender’s email support system, chatting with an online representative and running several diagnostic tests , I finally got a reply to my inquiry which is shown below:

Dear Jane,

We are sorry for the late reply and any inconvenience it may have caused. If the issue you reported still occurs please let me know, so that we can begin troubleshooting the situation. Looking forward to your reply.
Best regards,
Xxxxxxxx Xxxx
BitDefender Technical Support Engineer

Continue reading An update on my Bitdefender Issues