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3 posts from 2011

All change

It's been quiet around here recently, hasn't it?

So as the title suggests, there have also been a few changes around here. Most notably, the name/URL/domain/thing. Due to an unfortunate translation issue with my last domain (I had no idea how many French pervs there were in the world, trust me), I was kind of put off using that URL until I thought of a suitable replacement. So here it is - amelierosalyn.com. I'd been using that name for a while now anyway (as well as the old one, because I was lazy and couldn't be bothered changing everything round) but the change is now permanent. You can keep using the old one until the domain expires (March or April, I think) but after that plz2be using new one, thanking you most kindly. The feed URL has also changed - if you were subscribed to the old one via its Feedburner URL then you'll need to resubscribe. Otherwise, if you're using the /feed URL you should be redirected automatically (apologies if all my old entries are showing up as unread - they haven't changed!). I am aware of some issues with the title/search blending into each other a bit in some browsers, working on that... ;)

The other major change is in me. My focus had changed somewhat in the past year or so, but nothing to how it's changed in the past few months: I'm currently expecting my first child, and am going through what has thus far not been an easy pregnancy. So yes, blogging and website stuff haven't exactly been my priority of late, and probably won't be for a while now; if I do pick up the pace then it's likely the tone of the site will change. I'm not apologising for that - I've changed as a person and am not the person I was 10 years ago when I started this site (in its earliest version, many domains ago) nor am I even the same person I was a year ago when I began this version of the site. I only have to look at how much Jem went through with her daughter to see how priorities and entire lives change once there's a little one in your life. But to be honest, I can't wait for the change. I know you can never completely plan for these things, nor ever be really, completely, ready for the total changes that come your way, but I'm at a point in life where I feel that these changes are not unwelcome.

With that you might be wondering about a few things... So here's a quick little FAQ thing:

  1. What's happening to PHPAskIt/Askably/whatever you've called it now?

    Good question. I haven't decided yet. I have moved development over from Google Code to Github and have changed everything to use the GPL license, so if anyone would like to contribute to, or take over the project, they can do so. Note that as I haven't fully decided what is going on yet, I may or may not change my decision here.

  2. Why Amelie Rosalyn? Is that your surname?

    No, it's my middle name. And why that... well why not?

  3. Will you turn into a 'mommy blogger'?

    I generally feel that children have no place on the internet and would not feel comfortable discussing my child's life on my blog. After all, children haven't asked to have their lives shared and I for one would feel very uncomfortable knowing my mother discussed my early life online. However, who knows what the future will bring? I have changed a lot in a short space of time already, so who's to say I won't change further in a few months?

So there you have it; and here's to whatever's next in life. :)

Edit: Thanks for the reports about the broken comments... Fixed now!

XP Anti-Virus 2011 is a very clever virus

Have you ever had one of those fake antivirus things pop up on your computer? You know the type, "50,000 infections found! Click here to remove! *click* Pay $$$ to remove or you have viruses!!1". They're very convincing; usually they look like legitimate programs and/or parts of Windows. They prey on novice PC users who jump at the word 'virus' and think they have done something wrong.

I recently had the misfortune to meet one called XP Anti-Virus 2011 (not my computer that was infected, I was just tasked with fixing this particular one). This virus - and yes, I am calling it a virus even though it technically isn't one - is the nastiest rogue software I have seen yet, though I'm sure it's not the only one to run as it does. It's not new, despite the name - it's been around for years under various different names, mainly comprising of your version of Windows and the current year. So under Windows XP, you'd get XP Anti-Virus 2011 and under Vista you'd get Vista Anti-Virus 2011...etc.

Why is this particular one clever? Well, as I said, it's probably not just this one, but what this program does is to change how .exe files are run on your computer. On Windows, .exe files are normally programs; nearly all executable files will have that extension. Mr Nasty Virus here reroutes all .exe files to run through itself - and it'll block any it doesn't like. Those it doesn't like include almost all legitimate antivirus/antispyware scanners and certain web browsers as well - it didn't seem to stop Chrome but it put a stop to Internet Explorer in any case and kept reopening itself informing me that the computer had too many viruses and I must click here to register and remove threats. That of course makes removing this piece of rubbish a right pain since, well, it doesn't let you. :P Of course, it did everything else these fake programs do - nice threatening messages, cloned the Windows Security Center but plonked itself there instead, typical antivirus program look... All very lovely.

I removed it by following a mixture of guides online - this guide is one of many that explains the basic steps (note the insertion of the license key in those steps - once you do this the program will act as if it removes the viruses and/or itself. Ha - I restarted and it came back up an hour later saying my registration needed confirming and I still had threats). Once you've got rid of it, make sure to update your real antivirus/antispyware protection and run a full scan to make sure it really has gone. A lot of those guides keep trying to push a download of SpywareDoctor (normally labelled as the "remover" for the viruses)... I've never found that program anything more than bloat, personally - I removed the items manually then ran MalwareBytes' Anti-Malware on a full scan to make sure all traces had gone.

How do you protect yourself from getting fake antivirus software on your computer? Here are a few tips:

  1. Know what your real antivirus software is (and firewall, if you have one), what it looks like and how to run it. If a window pops up saying you have viruses but it doesn't look like your normal AV software, it is more than likely fake.
  2. Use a browser other than Internet Explorer, or if you like IE, keep it up to date. XP Anti-Virus and its variants creep in through unpatched vulnerabilities in browsers - mostly IE.
  3. Keep Windows up to date. I know, Windows Update is a right pain and sometimes its updates take ages to download/install and sometimes break things. However, some of the updates do fix holes in the operating system so that fake AV stuff can't get in as easily.
  4. Don't click on dodgy links. Got some weird email from your friend with a link in it? Might be worth checking they really sent it and didn't get their email account hacked with virus-infested site links now being distributed through it (it happened to me last year - my email account got hacked and my contacts all received some virusy links :( )
  5. If a message does pop up about viruses on your computer, read what it says carefully. In most cases, fake AV software is in broken English with poor grammar and spelling (e.g. "threat is been discovered on your computer"). If your computer's primary language isn't English and this rubbish shows up in English, that's also a giveaway right there.
  6. If you do happen to get one of these fake programs on your computer, don't click on any notice it gives you. Click the X button at all times, don't click any buttons it gives you on screen - in getting rid of the millions of popups it was giving me, I inadvertently clicked on what I thought was a cancel button - it tried to send me to some dodgy website. Ick.

My top 5 Android apps

I have had an Android phone for almost 2 years now and I must say, I prefer Android over iOS (the iPhone OS). I have an iPod Touch for all that stuff, and while it's nice and shiny and has a far better range of apps available for it, Android is still my favourite mobile device OS.

And so, here is a list of some of my favourite apps:

  1. Twidroyd

    My phone (HTC Wildfire) has a smaller screen than a lot of Android devices, and as such a lot of the mainstream Android apps either don't work or simply aren't available for it. The official Twitter app for Android is one of these - it works, but the smaller screen means half the options are cut off and it makes it very difficult to use. For this reason, I chose Twidroyd - I used to use it before Android got an official Twitter app and I really liked it. Twidroyd has all the functionality of the official app and more - you can integrate Identica, use multiple accounts, use bit.ly API keys, upload to a variety of picture and video hosts, 'mute' especially noisy tweeters and more. Some of those features (namely multiple accounts) requires the paid-for version, but the free (ad-supported) version has more than enough features for the obsessive tweeter :)

    Edit: Twidroyd is no longer available after being replaced by Ubersocial. I wouldn't really recommend Ubersocial as it's rather too full of ads for my liking. The official Twitter client is much better :)

  2. Android System Info

    This is more of a geeky one - if you want to find out a load of info about your phone, like what sort of features the processor has or what versions of OpenGL it supports, this app will tell you. I mainly use it to keep track of how much space I'm using - the bar charts on the front page will tell you all that and more. It also comes with a task manager, app manager (like Android's built in one, but this gives you more at-a-glance info - like how much space is being used by caches - than the Android one) and access to the system logs.

  3. Google Maps (Navigation)

    Ok, I know this comes on most (if not all) Android phones, but they don't always have the most recent version - the one that has the free turn-by-turn navigation app bundled in it. Before this, I paid a monthly fee for a really rather nice GPS app - definitely rivalled the dedicated units in shops. Google's Navigation app isn't quite as nice as that, but it does the job very well for a free application and I'm much happier using that than buying a full GPS unit or paying a monthly fee.

  4. Dropbox

    The Dropbox app for Android isn't as good as the one for iOS, and is definitely nowhere near as good as the PC/Mac clients, but I find it very useful to share photos from my phone. My last phone had an accessible SD card slot, where I could take the card out and read all the pics on it - this one doesn't, so if I want to grab the photos I need to pretty much take the phone apart. Not very convenient. This way, I can upload my pics straight to dropbox and they sync to my computer automatically. Lovely!

  5. Wifi Hotspot

    Not sure if this one is downloadable, or if there is a similar downloadable app - this one came with the 2.2 (Froyo) update to my phone, courtesy of HTC. It allows me to broadcast my phone's 3G connection over wifi so that I can use my laptop even if there's no connection handy. Great idea for when I'm out and about and don't have to pay extortionate rates for hotel wifi :D It can be locked down with WPA and WPA2 security as well as only allowing a certain number of devices to connect.

Other things I haven't included here but use every day are: Facebook, Internet, Weather and Gmail, but those are all built-in apps (apart from Facebook, which is nothing special in terms of the app) so I'm sure most people already know about them :P

Anyone got any other favourite Android apps? Always open to try new things - and if they don't work on my Wildfire, I have a rooted G1 that things will definitely work on :D