Jul 25, 2014

Clean-up the “Open With” Menu of your Mac

The “Open With” menu of your Mac, that you get when you right-click (or control-click) a file in the Finder window, may become extremely cluttered with time containing duplicate entries or even stale ones pointing to applications that are no longer installed on your Apple computer. Here’s an example:

Mac Contextual Menu Cluttered

If the “Open With” menu of your Mac is also messy and filled with applications that you no longer use, you can easily clean it up by rebuilding the Launch Services database with a simple Terminal command.

Open the Terminal app of your Mac and switch to the LaunchServices.framework folder using the “cd” command and then run the “lsregister” command to rebuild the database.

$ cd /System/Library/Frameworks
$ cd CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support
$ ./lsregister -kill -r -all local, system, user; killall Dock;

That’s it. All the erroneous entries are removed and here’s how the cleaned up “Open With” menu of the Mac now looks like. I no longer have to scroll through that confusing array of applications I no longer use.

Mac Clean Menu

And if Terminal commands aren’t your forte, you can always download a GUI based application like Onyx to rebuild the Launch Services database and thus clean up the menu with the click of a button.

This story, Clean-up the “Open With” Menu of your Mac, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 25/07/2014 under Apple Mac, Software

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A Chrome App Helps You Stop Procrastinating

Most anti-procrastination apps on the web help you stay focussed and increase productivity by blocking time wasting websites. The thinking goes that if these online distractions are gone, you are more likely to focus on actual work.

age progressing

Alex MacCaw has created Motivation, a Chrome app that takes a slightly different approach. It replaces the new tab page of your Google Chrome with a real-time counter that displays your incrementing age.

Every time you launch Chrome, or open a new tab in the browser, the extension works as a sobering reminder that the clock is ticking away. That may motivate you to exit the Bermuda productivity triangle and focus on the more important things.

The source code for the Motivation Chrome app is available on Github. See other useful Google Chrome extensions.

This story, A Chrome App Helps You Stop Procrastinating, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 25/07/2014 under Google Chrome, Productivity, Internet

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A Twitter Search Trick You Didn’t Know About

Tweetdeck, the popular app for Twitter, offers a very useful search feature that helps you discover the more popular (viral) tweets for any search term very easily. While setting up a search column inside Tweetdeck (see screenshot), you can define an “engagement level” so that tweets that have been retweeted or favorited at least ‘n’ times only show up in the search results.

twitter search tricks

The engagement filter surfaces the best tweets and removes the noise from Twitter search results but the most surprising part is that Twitter has not made this filter available outside Tweetdeck. You don’t even have it inside the official Twitter app.

Well, here’s the trick. You can actually filter tweets by engagement level on the Twitter website or inside any Twitter app using an undocumented search operator that Twitter doesn’t want us to know about.

Go to the Twitter search box, type any search term and append the operator min_retweets:[number] or min_faves:[number] to filter your search results. For instance, here’s a sample search that will only shows tweets pointing to the labnol.org domain that have been favorited or retweeted at least 5 times.

labnol.org min_retweets:5 OR min_faves:5

If you are brand manager trying to find out the most viral tweets generated for an event or a content, the min_retweets and min_faves search operators may save you several hours. You can also archive tweets to a Google Spreadsheet automatically.

You can further enhance your search queries with search operators like filter:news to show tweets emanating from news sources or use filter:images to only show tweets that contain images.

This story, A Twitter Search Trick You Didn’t Know About, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 25/07/2014 under Twitter, Internet

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Jul 24, 2014

3 Free Norton Ghost Alternatives to Create a Full Windows Image Backup

If you’re constantly testing software, trying out new Windows settings or tweaks or even purposely infecting your own machine with malware, it’s essential to have a complete copy of your Windows partition to hand so you can quickly restore it to its exact state to before you started messing around. Even if you don’t use your computer very often or for those things, a full backup could save you time and money, reinstalling Windows and all your applications again would be a long, laborious and possibly expensive process.

Norton Ghost used to be the go to piece of drive imaging software if you wanted to create full backups of your entire Windows system. Backup Images have an advantage over backing up files and folders because they make a complete copy of everything in the Windows partition. Although it was good, Norton Ghost wasn’t free and has long since been discontinued. Thankfully things are different now and even Windows can create basic full image backups of your system, although it can be slightly inflexible.

Here we’ll show you 3 free applications that can make full backups of your entire Windows install and how to create an image of your system with each one.

Macrium Reflect Free

The free version of Macrium Reflect has become one of the most reliable and respected pieces of imaging software around. There are paid versions which offer more functions such as incremental backups, email notifications, scripting and password encryption, but the free version creates full backup images with ease, works fast and could be all you need.

Creating a Macrium Reflect Backup

When you download Macrium Reflect Free from the official source, CNET, it downloads an executable where you choose which distro you want and it downloads the latest version to the specified folder. Make sure to click Options and select a 32-bit or 64-bit version to match the architecture for the computer you are going to install it on.

1. Download Macrium Reflect Free Edition , install and launch.

2. From the Backup Tasks on the left, select “Create an image of the partition(s) required to backup and restore Windows.” This will auto select all the partitions that Windows needs to run, including the hidden system reserved partition created on some Windows systems.

macrium reflect backup system

3. If for instance the boot files for this install are on another Windows partition which is part of a multiboot system, you can choose to disable it from being backed up here. Browse to the folder or network location, or select the CD/DVD/BDR drive to save the backup files to and click Next.

macrium reflect select source destination

4. A summary screen will show where you can also change a things like compression level via the Advanced Options button, but the default settings are usually good enough. Click Finish.

5. The final window gives the option to run the backup now and also to save the backup task as an XML file so you can run this task in future with a simple double click. Just click OK to do both.

macrium reflect backup

When the imaging completes, you should have a file with random letters and numbers with the extension .mrimg at your chosen target location.

Create a Macrium Reflect Rescue Media

The Macrium program will nag you every time you run it until you choose to create a rescue media, this is with good reason because you cannot recover your system image without the rescue disc.

1. If you previously disabled the rescue media reminder, go to “Other Tasks” > “Create Rescue Media“.

macrium rescue media wizard

2. You have the option of creating either a Windows based rescue disc or a Linux based one. The Windows media is more flexible but requires an extra 100MB+ of files to download. We’ll choose the Windows PE rescue media.

3. At the next window, select a 32-bit or 64-bit rescue disc and click Next. The option will appear that you can download or browse for the extra PE files if you don’t already have them.

download macrium Windows pe files

4. Finally you will be at the media selection screen, leave the check boxes at the defaults and choose whether to write the rescue disc out to CD/DVD or USB, and click Finish to let the media be written.

write macrium rescue disc

When Windows needs restoring, you will have to start your PC using the rescue CD or USB. When inside the Macrium program, it should recognize your backup and you simply need to click “Restore Image” and follow the prompts. If your backup isn’t found, click “Browse for image file” to locate it manually. The Macrium boot media can also perform backups.

Acronis True Image WD Edition and Seagate DiscWizard

Acronis True Image is perhaps the gold standard in imaging software for home and small business use. It’s very well known and rock solid but Acronis themselves don’t have a free version of the software. There are however, special cutdown licensed versions created for hard drive manufacturers Western Digital and Seagate. As long as you have a drive by one of those companies installed on your system (internal or external), you can use the special version of True Image.

Create an Image Using Acronis Special Versions

The feature set is highly reduced from the full Acronis True Image but you can still backup and restore images, clone discs and mount images as virtual drives.

1. Download Acronis True Image WD Edition or Seagate DiscWizard .

2. Install and launch whichever version you have downloaded depending on your hardware. Make sure you’re in the “Backup and recovery” tab and click “Disk and partition backup

3. All the options you require to backup are held in this window:

acronis create image backup

a) Select the Windows partition to backup, if you also have the system reserved partition it will pay to back that up too.

b) Choose a destination for the backup, this can be local drives, external devices like USB or CD/DVD, or network (including NAS). Presets are available in the drop down for the drives you already have attached.

The “Make this media bootable” option is valuable and you can backup your system to USB or optical drive and have it boot automatically to the version of Acronis you’re using. This means it’s the backup location and rescue media all in one so you don’t need to create a separate rescue disc.

c) Give the backup task a name if you want, the options button contains a number of settings like pre/post commands, validation, splitting, comments, screenshot and compression level, none of which need changing to create a basic backup.

4. Finally press the “Backup now” button to begin the process.

acronis backup progress

Backup images are created with the file extension of “.tib”.

Create an Acronis Rescue Media

If you enabled the “Make this media bootable” option in section b above, you don’t need to create a separate rescue media.

1. Run the program and in the “Backup and recovery” tab, click “Create bootable media“, then click Next.

2. Put a tick in the second “Seagate DiscWizard” box, the option to include a system report isn’t required and adds another 140MB to the rescue media. Click Next > Next.

select seagate discwizard components

3. The media type selection screen gives you the option of writing the rescue disc to optical drive, USB flash drive/hard drive or creating an ISO image you can burn or write out later. Make sure your media is already inserted, click Next and then Proceed in the next window to write the rescue media.

seagate discwizard select media screen

When you need to, boot with the rescue media, select Recovery from the list on the left, click “Browse for backup” to find the image, then click “Disk Recovery” and go through the wizard to complete the process of restoration.

AOMEI Backupper

When we looked at Backupper for our imaging software speed and compression tests, we were mightily impressed. It wasn’t just the speed at which Backupper worked, but also the sheer amount of features the program has, such as differential and incremental backups, file/folder backup, cloning and encryption. On top of that, Backupper Standard is completely free for personal and commercial use.

Create a System Image With AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI has two versions of Backupper, one which works on Windows XP – 8.1, the other only works on Windows 7 – 8.1, but is 40 MB smaller in size.

1. Download AOMEI Backupper , install and run the program.

2. Click “Create a new backup” or the Backup tab on the left. Click “System Backup“.

aomei backupper system backup

3. Give the task a proper name. System Backup chooses only the partitions required that enable Windows to boot for backup. If you have a system reserved partition, that will be included also. Click on “Step 2” and choose a local folder or a network share etc as the save location, extra options like encryption or file splitting can be configured from the Backup Options button. Click “Start Backup“.

aomei target options

A tick box is available if you wish to verify the completed backup’s integrity. Once complete it will appear in backup tasks where you can add to it later on with a differential/incremental image or explore, edit or setup a schedule.

aomei backing up image

Create a Bootable Media in Backupper

The Windows 7/8 version of Backupper cannot create a Linux rescue media (it’s a separate download), so here we will create the Windows PE version.

1. Launch Backupper and go to Utilities > “Create Bootable Media“.

2. Select the Windows PE option and click Next.

3. Backupper has three options for creating boot media; burn to CD/DVD, write to a USB flash drive or export the rescue disc as an ISO image so you can burn the ISO later on. Click the writing option you prefer and follow the prompts to complete the process.

aomei backupper create pe rescue disc

The AOMEI rescue disc is actually the same program as you get on the desktop and it should also recognize your previous backup tasks. Simply Click Restore on the task, click Yes when asked if you want to restore a system image, highlight the backup file and click Start Restore. Because it’s the full program you can do everything the program offers from the boot media.

Note: For disaster recovery it’s always essential that you store the backup files on another drive completely and not in a separate partition on the same drive. If you backup partition C onto partition D for example, and they are both on the same physical hard drive, if the drive fails you will lose both partitions at the same time, and that includes the only backup you might have of partition C. This could be a costly and painful mistake.

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Jul 21, 2014

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Jul 20, 2014

Manually Update AVPTool Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool Signature Databases

Kaspersky is well known for their antivirus and internet security software which effectively protects the computer from cyber threats such as malware in real time. It is not unusual for Kaspersky to be rated as one of the best if not the best by independent antivirus testing groups such as AV-TEST, Dennis Technology Labs and Virus Bulletin’s VB100. As good as it is, unfortunately Kaspersky does not offer a free version of their antivirus software unlike AVG, Avast and Avira for personal and non-commercial use.

They do however offer a free on-demand scanner called Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, also known as AVPTool that can scan system memory, hidden startup objects, disk boot sectors, email, and hard drives for malware. Since it is an on-demand scanner, it does not automatically protect your computer in real time but you can use it to run a full scan whenever you want without fearing that it will conflict with a different antivirus software that is installed in Windows.

kaspersky virus removal tool

The only annoyance that we find in Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool is it does not come with an auto updater to download the latest virus definitions which means you are advised to download the new installer at 137MB in size whenever you want to run a scan with the latest signature database. An updated installer with the latest virus definitions is created every 2 hours.

In this article we’ll show you how to manually perform an incremental update for the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool virus definitions to prevent redownloading the huge installer, saving both time and bandwidth.

First of all, you need to download Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool from the official website. It would be best to download the latest version 11 instead of the previous version 10. Select the language and click the Download button.

Copying Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool To Another Location

When you run the downloaded Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool setup file, it will extract the program to a new directory that is randomly named with 7 digits in the Temp folder. Closing the program will automatically uninstall and completely remove any trace of Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool from your computer. To keep an extracted copy of Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool in your computer or an external USB flash drive, you will need to copy the folder from the Temp directory before it is being erased.

1. Run the Kaspersky Virus Removal setup file (setup_11.0.3.7.x01_2014_07_19_07_57.exe) and wait until the program runs.

2. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to run Windows Task Manager and go to Processes tab. Look for two identical file name process with 7 digits, right click on the first one and select “Open File Location“. You are looking for the directory with 7 digits and not the one as RarSFX0 in Temp folder. You need to copy the folder of the 7 digits to another location such as your Desktop. You can now close the running Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool program after finished copying.

open file location

Disable Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool Self-Defense

Now that you have the extracted “portable” Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool on your Desktop, you will need to disable the program’s self-defense before you can update any of the files such as the virus definitions in the protected folder.

1. Go to Desktop and open the 7 digit folder that you’ve copied. Look for a 7 digit executable file with a Kaspersky icon and run it. That should launch the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool program.

2. Accept the license agreement and click the Start button on the program.

3. Click on the Settings icon located at the top right of the program, go to Security Level and uncheck “Enable Self-Defense

disable avptool self-defense

4. Close Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool. Note that you only need to do this once. When the self-defense is disabled, it will remain disabled until you manually turn it back on.

Update Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool Antivirus Database

The Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool antivirus database is stored in the “bases” folder and Kaspersky’s latest official database can be found at their public FTP which is http://ift.tt/1oYSteb. You can simply download the changed files from FTP to the bases folder to keep the antivirus database up to date but there are over 1,700 files to keep track off and if the files don’t tally, you will easily get the error message “Databases are corrupted“.

databases are corrupted

An easy way to sync the latest antivirus database from Kaspersky FTP to the local bases folder is by using WinSCP, a free SFTP and FTP client for Windows which has the capability to synchronize between remote and local directories.

1. Download WinSCP from the official website, a portable version is available as well.

2. Run WinSCP, at the login window, enter the following information below and click Login.

File protocol: FTP

Encryption: No Encryption

Host name: downloads1.kaspersky-labs.com

Port number: 21

Anonymous login checkbox: Checked (This will automatically fill up the user name and password box)

winscp login kaspersky FTP

You can optionally click on the Save button to save the login information so that you can easily login in future without filling up the information.

3. Once you’re logged in to Kaspersky FTP using WinSCP, press Ctrl+S to launch the Synchronize function.

4. Click the Browse button and select the bases folder located in the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool directory.

5. For remote directory, enter /bases/av/kdb/i386

6. Select “Local” for Direction/Target directory.

7. Select “Synchronize files” for Mode.

8. Select “File size” for Comparison criteria.

winscp synchronize

9. Click the OK button and WinSCP will start to compare the local and remote directory.

WinSCP compare local and remote directory

10. Once finished comparing, WinSCP will automatically start downloading the necessary updated files. The first download may take a longer time to complete and much faster with only a few minutes the next time.

winscp download updated files

WinSCP remembers the information that you entered in the Synchronize window, making it so much easier to update the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool antivirus signature database with only a few mouse clicks.

The screenshot below is a simple test to prove that the method of updating the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool antivirus signature shared above is working.

kaspersky virus removal tool scan report

The first automated scan result which is highlighted in yellow shows that the malware file (or.exe) is detected as OK by the antivirus signature but the second line shows detected as UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic by KSN service. KSN is actually Kaspersky’s cloud scanner called Kaspersky Security Network. After the first scan, we updated the antivirus signature using the method above, ran a scan again and this time Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool instantly detected the same malware (or.exe) as Trojan.Win32.Yakes.fize.

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