Virus Protection Not Found (even though it’s installed)

This is a bugger of a problem that isn’t harmful, but just darn annoying. This recently happened to me while I was shifting around some software on my laptop. Fortunately, the solution is quick and easy.

Once logged into your machine, go to Start->Run and type “services.msc” (without the quotes). Once services launches, scroll down until you find ‘Security Center’ in the name column. Right click and choose ‘Restart’. The service will take a couple of seconds to stop and then it will restart. Once the service starts again, the little annoying bubble in your taskbar along with the red shield should be gone.

If it comes back when you reboot, you can easily disable it by going to the same place, right click and choose ‘Properties’. Go to the ‘General’ tab and choose ‘Manual’ for Startup type.

Until next time …

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Slow Computer Syndrome

Common complaints from computer users is that the machine “is soooo slow”. Depending who you talk to, you will get a variety of answers on what to do to improve your experience. There are a number of variables at play here, so the important thing is narrowing down where exactly the problem is before doing anything with hardware. Things you should ask yourself should include:

  • Is the problem persistent among multiple users on the same computer?
  • Is the problem only at start up?
  • Is it only when I’m working online?
  • When was the last time I defragmented my hard drive?
  • Is it possible I have a virus?

It is always a good idea to have more than one user account on your computer. With both Windows and Macs, permissions can get messed up, viruses can attack, and preferences can get messed up. Having a second user on your computer is a great way to test if the problem is tied directly to a particular account, a specific application, or the entire machine.

Computers can really chug at start up. Some processes begin and end and others start and continue to run until you shut down your computer. The user interface needs to load, anti-virus software, printer interfaces, wireless services, etc. Not to mention anything else that you’ve added including software that might check for updates including iTunes, Google Notifier, etc.

A great user-friendly (Windows) app is called CCleaner. There is a section there were you can disable different start up options. For instance, on my laptop, I’ve disabled several processes that I don’t want running at start up including: SugarSync, Google Update, QTTask to name a few.

Aside from having more than one user, you should always have more than one browser. Things sometimes can get weird with Safari or Internet Explorer … it’s really not a bad idea to have Firefox, Chrome, or even Opera installed as well. Not to mention, not every internet browser supports the latest web standards. You will have a different experience using Google+ (for instance) if you are using Firefox than if you are using IE7 for example.

A fragmented hard drive can slow performance down, though with increasing disks sizes, that is becoming fairly negligible (and moot if you are using an SSD). A fragmented hard drive is analogous to a newspaper. You get partway through the article and then there’s a message that says, “Oh, the rest of what you are looking for is over here.” When you defragment, you recover lost space and increase efficiency because all of the data (in most cases) becomes one contiguous chunk.

You should never rely on just one anti-virus program. I learned this a number of years ago when working for a client. The machine had over 600 found viruses and it took several different applications to remove all of them. That being said, you should only have one always running … the rest can just hang out and you can use them when you want to do a really good scan. If you have more than one running at a time, they can actually point fingers at each other saying the other is a virus … not to mention using twice the anti-viral resources.

When all else fails, utilize task manager (Windows) and Activity Monitor (Mac) and see who the culprits are. Until next time (system bottlenecks) …

Posted in optimization, software | Tagged , | 1 Comment

6 Great Google+ features that Facebook missed…

I recently had the fortune of getting a free pass to the Google+ club. Originally, I found that changing some things was a little weird … but that’s because I’m coming from the Facebook camp. It seems like they put a lot of thought into layout and usability. Win! Here are some things that I recently discovered that Facebook should have been all over.

  1. "View Profile As": Yes, you can view your own profile as ANYONE else. Any of your friends, your friend’s friends, even to the public. Brilliant.
  2. pic

  3. Group Management: Now, I know that FB has the ability to separate people into groups, but G+ really makes it simple to add people and move them around your different "circles". Even creating new circles is as easy as pie.
  4. pic

  5. Integration: Because you probably already have a Google account, this really works well when it comes to integration and continuity. It’s easy to see who the people are in your address book that are already using G+ as well as making it exceptionally easy to invite people without the need for a third party to get involved.
  6. Following: There is a specific group for people that you don’t know, but find interesting. Interesting.
  7. Feeds by Group: You are of course familiar with your wall with your News Feed. G+ takes this a step further by showing you a Stream (ie, News Feed) which can also be broken down by Circles. So if you are having a family gathering this weekend, check your Family Circle (feed) and see what the latest is before you arrive. Friends you haven’t seen in awhile? BAM!
  8. Easy Share Button: Not to be confused with an Easy Bake Oven, up on the right hand side of the screen you have the ability to share a post and immediately choose which Circle(s) get to see your writings.

It will be interesting to see where we go from here. If anyone needs an invite, leave a message here. Spammers need not apply. Until next time …

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Splashtop OS: What it doesn’t work on

Splashtop OS promises to give the users an ‘instant-on’ experience, much like we have with smart phones. I was excited to finally check this out. It has been on my RTM (to do list) for a few months now, though marked as ‘check this out eventually’.

I decided to give it a whirl on my laptop (HP DV1000) this evening. Now, my laptop has just recently started to show its age (within the past 6+ months). I have a hard time replacing it because:

  1. Unlike any Macbook 3+ years old, my HP from 2005 still holds a charge for like 45 minutes.
  2. I don’t travel frequently anymore.
  3. My tower is still rock solid.

But I digress. While the installer did say that it might not work on my computer, I thought I’d try anyway. Be forewarned, if you are using a machine that is of a similar vintage, instead of getting a welcome screen after the newly created boot menu, you might get this:

Obviously, the solution was to restart into Windows and hunt down the uninstaller. So much for ‘instant-on’.

Until next time …

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Problem: Antares Auto-Tune 4 w/ iLok

Update: While the customer service was helpful and all was restored, remember that if you need to get in touch with Antares, email is your only option.

In other news, if Pro Tools is hanging on launch during the plugin loading stage, make sure that you don’t have IE8 installed. Downgrade to IE7 to resolve the problem. This is kind of an important nugget that wasn’t stated anywhere.

Original Post:

I generally don’t get very steamed about much, but this one REEEALLY burns me up. Background information:
Antares, makes plugins for audio production.
Auto-Tune, plugin made by said company for audio production.
iLok, awful authentication system in the form of a hardware ‘dongle’.

And we’re back in … I purchased Antares Auto-Tune 4 circa 2004. I went through their hoops to register online and everything was great until I reformatted my DAW (digital audio workstation) and went to reinstall my plugins. Antares says to me “Oh, if you want to continue using our software, you need to purchase an iLok for $50.” Argument erupted and they allowed me to reauthorize under the old method “just one more time”. Should the same thing happen again, I’d need to get an iLok. Noted.

So six years later, I purchase an iLok … generation 2 and still for $50. I try to load the necessary data from Antares. I key my registration information in and it tells me that the registration code does not match. I try over and over again … no luck. I guess this is why they conveniently leave their phone number off the web site.

So the company (Antares) is kind enough to have a section on their web site if your information doesn’t work. They will “look up the information” for you and “try” to recover it. Of course, they don’t tell you that it’ll take a day or two until after you’ve given them all of your information … including extra residences which you “may” have used to register the product in the past.

I wish I hadn’t invested so much of my money in this … otherwise, I’d say Antares — YOU’RE FIRED!!! Never again though — let this be a lesson to you.

Until next time …

Posted in audio, install error, Plugins/Addons, Review | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mozy (offsite backup): 2 Years Later

Well, when my subscription with Mozy was up for renewal, I decided to look elsewhere. There were two main driving forces which made this decision easier. The first and most important was their change in policy for unlimited data. Even if I didn’t upload anything new (just continued ‘updating’), my plan would still increase. Secondly, in reevaluating all of my data (including audio and visual production files), I realized that I needed a better solution for offsite backup.

I have to admit, that it isn’t the most elegant solution, but it seems to be working out for the time being. It goes like this (explanation to follow):

  1. Laptop (home directory)->Tower
  2. Laptop (select files)->SugarSync
  3. Laptop (select files)->SkyDrive
  4. Tower (home directory+laptop backup)->External Drive 1
  5. Tower (home directory+laptop backup)->External Drive 2

Between Sugarsync and SkyDrive, I have offsite backups for my most important files which are used on a regular basis. In addition to that, number 4 above is kept local … this is a backup of EVERYthing. Number 5 above I keep at a friend’s house which I update once a month. I should also mention and remind everyone that you shouldn’t trust third party companies to keep your data secured. I’m still using True Crypt for all of my secure needs. Also remember that any of these companies can go belly-up at any point in time. Don’t place all of your eggs in one basket.

My backup solution isn’t the best, but it’s working for me. Until next time…


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Ubuntu Constant Reboot Error

mup.sus error post, a dual boot system is great to have on many levels.  Recently, my Linux box running Ubuntu 10.04 ran into problems booting, sending it into a constant reboot loop.  After doing some research, I learned that the problem pertained to the update that was applied to the bootloader GRUB.  A bootloader is basically the section of code that loads a particular operating system. Now came the fun part where I had to figure out how to fix the problem.  Fortunately, I came across the answer.  Use the following information after booting in via a Live Disc. ** SDA1 should be switched with the location of the hard drive where your Linux distribution is installed.  This can be found by going to opening Disk Utility. sudo mkdir /media/win sudo mount /dev/sda1 /media/win sudo mount -o loop /media/win/ubuntu/disks/root.disk /mnt sudo cp /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg.copy sudo chmod +w /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg gksu gedit /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg Remove all lines in the file from the start of the file up to, but not including, the following menuentry ### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/10_lupin ### Reboot into your Linux box and all should be repaired.  Until next time … -D

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Google Alias Email Addresses

Google has just once again made it easier to try and avoid spam … or create filters … or something else depending on your creativity.  Google mail has built in support for alias email addresses.  The beauty of it is that it is already setup and ready to go — you don’t have to do a thing.  If your email address is, then the basic formula goes like this:

Maybe you’re signing up for a PayPal account and it asks you for your email address or you want to sign up for Coupon Bug.  You might use something like these: or

You could then automatically tag messages coming in from these addresse, or forward them, or move them to a different folder.  Interesting concept — I am a fan!

Until next time …

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Dropbox Review

I’ve been using Drop Box for quite a few months now.  It’s simple cloud based storage (ie — storage that exists ‘out there’ … not on your computer) with some nice perks.

For starters, it is completely cross platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and also has a web interface.  It allows you to upload and download any file type without restriction.  It also has the ability to share folders and files with other people.  Lastly, there is a standalone application that, once installed, will keep files placed in your ‘dropbox’ in sync.  I know what you’re thinking — they have you covered everywhere with both iPhone and Android apps (free).

For Drop Box, there are various levels of accounts ranging from free 2 gigs of space all the way up to 100 gigs for $20 a month.

While it seems that Drop Box is in it for the long haul, the one thing that keeps it from being a backup solution is the steep cost-per-gig.  I think that, for most people, the free 2 gig will be sufficient.  I think that once you get over the 2 gig plan, it might be worth it to look at some other cloud based storage options.


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Windows Won’t Boot: mup.sys

The other night I walked away from my Windows machine for a brief period of time.  I came back to find that the status indicator on the tower was solid (the computer was busy doing something).  When I went to go back to what I was doing with the computer, the machine kept coming to a crawl.  I rebooted the machine into safe mode, but it just hung on the Windows splash screen.  I tried again this time asking it to load the command line so I could read where exactly it was getting hung up.  The culprit — mup.sys

Windows problem?  Hardware problem?  That’s what a quick Google search seemed to indicate.  The articles I read indicated that it could be a corrupt harddrive (solved with OS reinstall), or faulty hardware.

Fortunately, I had the brilliant idea to install Wubi a few months back so that I can boot into Ubuntu.  I figured if it were a hardware error, I shouldn’t be able to boot into this partition either.

Solution — upon booting up Ubuntu, I was greeted with a message saying something to the effect of ‘Ubuntu found errors on the Windows partition and will repair’.  A few minutes later, I was in Ubuntu and even a few more minutes after that, I was rebooting into Windows.  Here’s to another reason to get on the Linux train.


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