Free or nearly Free security Software in the next 2 days is running a campaign of 72 hours with 100 deals.

If you need security software, like Antivirus, Firewall and Anti-Malware this is the time to get it.

Kaspersky Lab Internet Security 2012 (3 PCs) for free, after a $60 MiR

If you prefer McAfee, then there is McAfee Total Protection 2012 3 Pcs for $0.00 (FREEE) after a $50.00 MiR

Even with Anti-Virus you still need a good Anti-Malware and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is short of the best and at $9.99 (need Promo Code EMCJJHJ44) it is a great offer.

Now that you are protected you could also pickup both Corel Software; Corel Paintshop Pro X4 and Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 which both end up free after MiR. The Corel Paintshop is actually a nice software to edit digital pictures.

And if you need to edit PDF or export to and from PDF then also pickup ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 which is free after $25 MiR.

And if you don’t have a laptop to put the software on, the 2 laptops listed there sub $600 are pretty decent, though I would tend towards the Asus. I own a couple of Asus and they sleek and run well.

It doesn’t seem that it is necessary to wake up early or camp all night this year to get good Black Friday deals.


How to Chose a Video Card

I wrote this a while ago for SpiceWorks, and I found it cleaning a bit my document folder, so I decided to post it here as well.

This is not a complete How-To since Video cards change quite often, but it will give an idea and a place to start.

Not anymore the fastest card is the best, and it has gotten quite complicated.

Choosing a Video Card can seem a bit daunting…ok, a lot. It can be downright scary, but it does not need
to be.
To choose the correct video card there are a few pre-requisites.
List your CPU/motherboard, PSU and case if you have them already. If not, get a wish list. This is
important because it might dictate/limit what cards you can use.
  CPU: Your CPU is limited by the motherboard.  Here are a few CPU points
o  CPU speed. For single cards is not crucial. A core i3 510 has been demonstrated to be
enough for example. For Dual (or more) configurations the higher the clock the better.
o  CPU cores: games are optimized up to 3 cores. Dual core is a minimum. 3 core (or 4) is
desirable. 6 or more cores does not provide advantage, but rather disadvantage since
their clock speeds are lower than the quad counterparts.
o  AMD/Intel: this does not matter at all for the video cards
  Motherboard:  This is the most important decision
o  PCI Express 2.0 x16: most video cards will be PCIe 2.0 x16, so this is not a huge issue,
however some older boards are PCIe x16 (version 1). There are a few new ones that are
2.1m, but it is backward compatible
o  Dual, Triple and Quad video card configurations (Space): you need to have in
consideration the space in the motherboard. A lot of video cards are dual slot, and thus
they will cover the slot under them. There is also the consideration of connectors; video
cards can cover connectors like SATA, USB and system headers (LED, Speaker, power
o  Dual, Triple and Quad video cards configuration (PCIe slots). A lot of video cards have at
least 2 PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, but they might not work in x16 mode with multiple video
cards. Commonly when there is a dual configuration (SLI or crossfire) the x16 paths are
shared, leaving an effective x8. With triple or quad configurations this is a bigger
problem, often reducing 2 Slots to x4.
o  2xPCIe 2.0 X16 SLI or crossfire, performs just a little better than 2x PCIe 2.0 X8 SLI or
crossfire, however it is possible that future cards will need more than x8 bandwith. X4 is
not recommended for gaming (unless PhysX dedicated)
  Case: an often overlooked item
o  The case needs to be able to accommodate the video cards and the rest of the
components. Super important key!!
o  If using SLI or crossfire make sure the last PCIe X16 slot has extra space, so the case
needs to be at least 1 expansion slot bigger than the motherboard. The reason for this is
dual slot video cards.
o  Mid-tower is a minimum, but they are still very cramped inside. Extended ATX and Full
ATX are preferable for solutions bigger than single cards. Using anything smaller is
possible, but the headaches are not worth it.
o  Deep measurements: the case needs to be deep, meaning, long from the front to the
back. A lot of video cards are very long, add that they require extra power and you could end up with a video card that is against a hard drive. I have this problem. To remove the
hard drive bay, I have to remove the video card. It is not a pleasant experience.
o  Air: ventilation is essential in SLI or crossfire configuration. Make sure there is enough
space to space the cards, and exhaust fans. Water cooling is very complicated with video
cards and sometimes impossible. Plan accordingly.
  PSU. The part that powers all your components.
o  For single card configurations your PSU needs to have at least 1 PCIe power molex (6
o  For SLI or crossfire the PSU requires at least 2 PCIe power connectors. Have in mind that
some cards require 2 connectors per card.
o  Total Watts: 700 Watts is a rule of thumb for minimum output power, higher is
recommended.  An 80+ PSU will save electricity be being more efficient
o  SLI/Crossfire PSU: Yes, this can be important. The reason is that the PCIe power
connectors are in separate V12 rails, not sharing power with other devices. A good PSU
will go a step further and even have separate V12 rails for each PCIe connector. The
more power the card consumes, the more this is important.
Now that we have the re-requisites (wow, that was a lot) we can go into the next part
Video Cards Features
We are going to completely forget about integrated video cards. After all, you would not be readying
this if you are trying to choose an IGP.
Dedicated cards basically come in 2 brands.
  Radeon, from AMD (ex ATI)
  Nvidia, these are the GeForce Line.
Radeon line up and features
  Eyefinity: starting with the 5000 line, Radeon has had a feature called Eyefinity, where you can
game on multiple monitors. Sounds amazing, right? 
o  The requirement for Eyefinity is at least 1 monitor connected thru the DisplayPort (there
are adapters to DVI and HDMI).
o  Not all games work with Eyefinity, but the list keeps growing
o  There are different setup styles, like 2×1, 3×1, 3×1, 2×2 (vertical setups are possible but
are not preferred for gaming)
o  Not all games perform well in different setup, for example FPS in 3×2 setup (6 monitor)
have the problem that the crosshair will be half in each center monitor.
o  Driving games are awesome in 3×1.  Having 2 monitors (left and Right) to give you side
view increases the inmersion.
  3D….AMD is working on the segment, but no real definition of when and what, so for 3D you can
forget it from AMD. There are solutions out there, but it is not completely defined
(   Video card programming. AMD is working on bringing CPU tasks into the GPU, but still is behind
  Price: Radeon cards are usually cheaper to purchase and to run
  Power requirement: Radeon cards are usually more power efficient, with lower idle power
consumption and lower peak power (5000 and up)
  Stream: this is similar concept to CUDA in Nvidia cards. It supports OpenCL. However ATI stream
might not have continued development (will look more into this information)
GeForce line up and features
  CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture): starting with GeForce 8800 GT and up, Nvidia
cards support CUDA. This basically makes the computing engine in the GPU accessible thru
software. In theory this can be used to utilize the GPU as a computing supplement, or computing
device altogether. Currently software that uses CUDA are video editing tools mainly.
  PhysX:  it is a realtime physics engine. In theory when PhysX is enabled the physics calculations
are off loaded to the GPU where they can be processed faster. However there are some
arguments about how efficient the applications are.
  3D Surround (GTX 400 and up). Same as Eyefinity in AMD. It provides multi monitor gaming.
  3D Vision (8800 GT and up) Provides Active Shutter 3D technology. To  enable this technology it
is necessary the 3D vision kit (glasses) and 3D vision ready display (120 Hz monitor or projector).
  Nvidia cards enjoy the reputation to be faster (sometimes marginable thought) than AMD
  Nvidia has had several re-brandings, making it somewhat difficult to decide on better offerings.
When comparing Nvidia cards, care should be used not to confuse same cards with different
name, or same model with different technology (chips with less stream processors). For
example 8800GT, then 9800GT and then GTS 250 (the GTS 250 actually has some technical
changes compared to the 9800GT)
  SLI seems to scale better. This means that it is possible to get a higher increase of performance
going from 1 card to 2 cards in SLI compared to crossfire
Now that we have a list of features and requirements is a lot easier to choose a video card. The choice is
still not easy, but knowing what to look will help eliminate candidates.
The system that I like to use to decide on a video card (or any PC component for that matter) is
1.  Set a maximum price. I say maximum because there is really no range. So for example, $175 is
my limit, so I will try to get the best video card for $175. Sometimes it makes sense to go over a
little, or come down if there is no good defined product for that price. $175 is a good point for
example, because the GTX 460 1 GB or the Radeon HD 6850 are around 185!, Otherwise it
makes more sense to go down to the Radeon HD 5770 1 GB for 130$
2.  Set the features that you want. These are wish features. Depending on your maximum price
point the features might not be available. We are putting the features after the budget because
we tend to want all features  3.  Limitations and requirements. Here we analyze what are our limitations and requirements. Do
we have an older APG board? (time to change the whole PC). Can we use Dual cards? Do we
have enough power in the PSU, do we have enough connectors and space. Will be able to pay
the electric bill and turn on the PC, etc.
4.  Once we have all these organized, we probably still have several choices. At this point I like to
reference a chart that Toms Hardware publishes every month with the Best Graphics Cards for
the Money. If I am upgrading I look at the hierarchy chart, find my card and then compare to
what is tentative. Then I go and look at the recommendations in my price point.
I hope this how to helps you get the best for your buck when you are choosing a video card for your
gaming PC.
Disclaimer: I put this together in one day with what I know and a little research. It might need
corrections and updates, which I will try to do my best to correct mistakes that are pointed, and to
update it as well
PCI Express wiki
ATI Stream Technology official site
AMD FireStream (ATI Stream)
Iz3D: 3D drivers
TH: ATI Stream: Finally, CUDA has competition
**25 years of Graphics history: a farewell to ATI in Pictures **** (referring to Stream “taking the
GeForce Apps (to find CUDA and PhysX software:
3D Surround
3D Vision
CUDA information Toms Hardware Best Graphics Card for the Money January 2011,2834-


Notes and Updates

Up to date drivers are very important for getting the best performance out of games.

3D monitors have come down on price, but are still pretty expensive. 3D TVs might or might not work (not all 3D is made equal), so research the TV before hand if it is a deciding factor.

Bring Misplaced Off-Screen Windows Back to Your Desktop (Keyboard Trick)

I wanted to share this tip. We had a machine that was configured for dual monitor and it did not know anymore that a monitor wasn’t connected. Of course the monitor connected was on the secondary port, so all windows that we opened were on the “non-existent screen”. This tip finally allowed up to change the monitor setup (we right clicked the desktop first, and opened properties)

Source How-To Geek

If you’ve ever hooked up your laptop to a secondary monitor and then disconnected without remembering to move the windows back to the primary desktop, you’ve probably uncounted this problem:

The application is running. You can see it in the taskbar, but you can’t see it on the screen, because it still thinks it’s running on the secondary monitor. You try and use right-click, Move, but that doesn’t do anything, and the window doesn’t move anywhere. You end up rebooting and cursing Microsoft.

There’s a simple trick to get around this. First make sure you’ve alt-tabbed to the window, or clicked on it once to bring it into focus. Then right-click on the taskbar and choose Move

At this point, you should notice that your cursor changes to the “Move” cursor, but you still can’t move anything.

Just hit any one of the arrow keys (Left, Right, Down, Up), move your mouse, and the window should magically “pop” back onto the screen.

Note: For keyboard savvy people, you can just alt-tab to the window, use Alt+Space, then M, then Arrow key, and then move your mouse.

This should work on any version of Windows. It’s really amazing how many people are not aware of this little trick.

Update: Note that you can also right-click on the taskbar and choose to Cascade your open windows, which will often help bring the windows back onto the screen.

Microsoft Invents New Way To Measure Online Safety (And Finds That Consumers Stink At It)

As a IT professional I usually cannot stress enough the importance of cyber/digital security. It is great to see initiatives like this one, but also the results show how much unsecured computers there are out there. Quite interesting considering there are lots of free security products.

Ok, I leave you here with the article.

Source ThreadPost

Computer users are taking steps to mitigate online security threats, but still only score a paltry 34 out of 100 – a solid "F" – according to a new study by Microsoft.

The study, sponsored by Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group (TwC), introduces a new metric, the Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI) to measure online safety, but finds that consumers are having trouble getting past the basics when it comes to staying safe on the Internet.

The MCSI assigns a point value to a series of steps (more than 20 in all) that consumers can take to protect themselves online. Each point in turn is assigned to a tier of activity: Foundational (30 points), Technical (40 points) and Behavioral (30 points).

Actions like keeping strong passwords and choosing reputable Web sites fall under the Behavioral tier. Using a firewall, maintaining anti-virus software and running regular updates falls under the Foundational tier. The more steps you take, the higher your MCSI score, with 100 being the highest score possible.

Microsoft polled consumers in U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Brazil in what the company called a ‘benchmark survey.’ The average MCSI from that poll, 34, suggests users have the basics covered but have left lots of room to improve, Microsoft said.

Among the five countries, 55 percent of users use automatic computer updates and roughly 90 percent of those surveyed use anti-virus protection. Conversely, only 26 percent of users said they had confidence in their PC security software while only eleven percent agreed “good digital citizens” are winning the war against hackers.

The metric was developed in conjunction with the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Trustworthy Computing Group next year and was released as October, National Cyber Security Awareness Month, winds down.

Got Pwned? Knows

Source Threadpost. Great article, and a good place to check your username and email address

With more and more victims of identity theft minted every day, figuring out if you’re one of the unlucky masses with a leaked email password is yeoman’s work. Now one security researcher is trying to make it easy with, a Web site that collects leaked and stolen data, then tells Internet users whether their information is in it.

PwnedList is the brainchild of Alen Puzic, a security researcher who works for HP’s TippingPoint DVLabs on the Advanced Security Intelligence team. The biggest challenge, he says, is staying on top of the tsunami of leaked records – which are pouring in at a rate of 40,000 to 50,000 a week. Puzic chatted(*) with Threatpost editor Paul Roberts via Skype this week.

Paul Roberts: tell me about

Alen Puzic: Sure. It all started out as a small security project I was doing on the side. I had some free time at home and I thought it would be fun to spider the web and see how many account leaks I could find. So I wrote a simple crawler that would go through sites like pastebin and various underground forums, as well as Twitter, and harvest as much account data as possible. It was shocking to see how much data is just laying out there. I got thousands of hits in the first couple of hours alone.That got me thinking. If this data was so easily accessible to me, then I should do something to help people who’s (sp) accounts have been compromised before somebody with a less benevolent intent finds the data. So starting in early June of this year I started to design a web site, The rest is sort of history.

Paul Roberts: What exactly were you searching for? Stolen data takes all kinds of forms.

Alen Puzic: In particular I was searching for the Gawker data dump from late last year as well as any other leaks that might be out there. I was focusing on Facebook logins for a while because I thought those would be popular. I also started to follow a bunch of "hacktivist" groups on Twitter and reading their feeds lead (sp) me in the right direction. I’ve also had a few benevolent hackers contribute data to the site anonymously. I still get anonymous submissions every now and then. The amount of data out there is ridiculous, and its not just limited to account credentials. There’s personal details such as phone numbers, addresses, and even worse, credit card numbers, but i don’t store those. What I had realized (was) that a lot of people were influenced by groups such (as Anonymous spin-off) Lulzsec and followed suit, and they treat data breaches as trophies, just dumping them onto the Internet for all the world to see. I figured somebody needs to help out, and provide a safe portal for the ordinary man to check if their accounts have been compromised. I never realized the amount of data harvested would grow so fast. I also didn’t expect to get such a good response from the users. I get tons of email from people thanking me for the web site and others who want to help us out and improve the site.

Paul Roberts: So how much data do you have? How many records? And what kind of data do you store?

Alen Puzic: So currently we have just a little over five million records collected. ( The number on the web site has not been updated yet.) The only data we stored in our databases are hashes of emails and usernames from account dumps. That’s done in case our Web server gets compromised and somebody gets access to the database, they can’t get anything but five million SHA512 hashes. In a private database we have a lot more data, as well as copies of all data leaks we’ve collected.

Paul Roberts: Ok. And all that data’s correlated? Are there plans to host or offer access to the other (non email) data?

Alen Puzic: Yes, we have correlations between all (the) data collected. In the future we plan to host hashes of credit cards and phone numbers…but that is something we’re still working on. Especially credit cards, as that is an extremely sensitive issue. We also have plans to alert companies of any sensitive data (documents, spreadsheets, etc) leaked from their network. We already had to do that twice this year.

Paul Roberts: So, as it turns out, my personal email address is in your database. If I gave it to you, could you tell me what other data you have?

Alen Puzic: I will be able to tell you the date we acquired the data and (very soon) the details of the data leak..such as the group that leaked it and the company the breach happened at.

Paul Roberts: How would you recommend people who read this interview use

Alen Puzic: I would recommend to folks to check their emails on pwnedlist on a monthly basis. Then when we add automated alerts they can setup notifications for all of their accounts and we’ll send them an email if we ever come accross an account of theirs.

Paul Roberts: Is this volunteer or for profit (or somewhere in between)?

Alen Puzic: Right now its most definitely volunteer and it will always remain so for the average user. However, when we decide to offer notifications for corporations we might charge for it.

Paul Roberts: How far back does the data go?

Alen Puzic: Our data only goes back as far as mid 2010. We have thought about getting older data but at some point it becomes irrelevant. Freshness of data is important.

Paul Roberts: How fast is the database growing? Are you still crawling or just counting on submissions?

Alen Puzic: We still both crawl and accept submissions. We crawl sites like pastebin,,,, We follow the "right" people on Twitter and harvest links they post, and we get a feed from partners sites like I’d say 80% of our data comes from crawled data, the other 20% from submissions. We are growing at an average rate of 40-60 thousand accounts a week, sometimes less, sometimes a lot more. For example, we just recently got a submission of almost 300,000 accounts.

Paul Roberts: Where do most of these records come from? Are they from big hacks like Heartland Payments or smaller hacks or inadvertent leaks – misconfigured systems, open file shares/ftp servers, etc.

Alen Puzic: My perception is that most of our data comes from smaller hacks of inadvertent leaks. I’d say about 60% of all the data I’ve collected comes from those two. The other leaks are more targeted, like the Sony hacks.
(*) This interview was transcribed from a Skype chat. We added punctuation and filled in some missing words, but otherwise tried to leave it as is.