Amazon Unbox is quite possibly the most aggravating, gimmicky, dubiously legal piece of unavoidable software I have ever crossed.
A background is necessary: Unbox is the pop-out player necessary to view any Amazon-purchased video media offline. In other words, if you buy the latest season of Glee or the newest Wes Anderson flick through Amazon–and you wish to actually possess a physical copy–your desire is only realizable upon also uploading Unbox (a proprietary reader that decodes the security-protected download file obtained through Amazon). So far so good.
The only problem: Unbox is a) not supported on Macs, b) cannot convert your file into a format amenable to burning a DVD, and c) will not convert files into any other format for viewing on a non-Unbox system. Here are a couple of results: First off, the fact that I paid the same dollar figure for my media through Amazon as I would at a conventional brick-and-mortar media store is immaterial: I clearly did not purchase the same amount of rights. Whereas I could have easily taken my shiny new copy of Life Aquatic, shed it of its shrink wrap, and copy or upload to my heart’s content, I cannot do the same with the Amazon file.
In fact, it’d be a stretch to presume I could even share my film on another already-Unbox-equipped computer–I’d have to go through the process of adequately setting up Amazon to recognize my account info on that third-party device. Basically, I’m stuck with either–a) hauling my main computer with me, or b) sacrificing my identity security by reproducing my account info on another computer–for *ever* watching my film with a friend. And that’s not all.
Since I–like most of my fellow PC consumers–are reawakening to the usefulness of Macintosh platforms–every new Mac-friendly purchase we make is at the expense of the ownership rights we’ve vested in Amazon video media. In other words, I take a hit (for no fault of my own) in using and enjoying my legally obtained videos by making sensible consumer choices. Given the above, I can only denounce strongly Amazon’s Unbox. And I warn my fellow netizens of their likelihood of concluding the same should they too be suckered into its use.
Invircible is a unique virus detection application from an Israeli security company called Netz Computing.
Unlike other antivirus software, Invircible is built to protect against all viruses, including viruses for which have not yet been detected. While the generic algorithms upon which it is based does necessitate a slightly more advanced user than that of the average virus scanner, it also affords a much higher level of security. The system uses a sophisticated generic scanner to accomplish a level of security that no other virus scanner matches. Their white paper on the subject provides much more detail. Invircible has found a strong niche market among home, corporate, and governmental organizations for which the need for absolute security is paramount.
I’m skeptical at first about any program that claims to protect your privacy.
It seems like half of all pop-ups use scare tactics to try to get you to lay down money on their bogus spyware-fighting program. I’m happy to say I’ve found an application that is easy to use and really helps to keep your information private. Tracks Eraser Pro is a handy-dandy application to help you to cover your tracks on your PC. It goes beyond cleaning out your history folders and deleting cookies to perform functions that are hard to do on your own. For example, you may not know that many programs on your PC store private usage data in “index.dat” files. These files can be hard to locate and sometimes can not be simply deleted without crippling your computer or applications. Tracks Eraser Pro will seek these files out and wipe out usage data inside without destroying the functional integrity of your programs. That rare feature, by itself, is worth the low purchase price. Note: Acesoft’s Tracks Eraser Pro only covers your tracks at the level of your PC. Your internet provider may still be keeping records of your internet usage. Other applications might be useful to use in combination with Tracks Eraser Pro to “shred” the empty space on your PC thereby making deleted history files and cookies permanently unrecoverable.
Free Anti-Virus Protection, by Microsoft!? I used to be a big proponent of AVG’s free antivirus software. While AVG is still available, and still works well, they make you jump through some hoops to get it. Registration can be annoying and it’s just enough of a pain for me not to want to do it.
Recently Microsoft introduced it’s own security suite into the mix, it’s free to Windows users. It would almost be a joke if they charged for it, as most viruses install through bugs in Microsoft’s own Windows operating system. You can download Microsoft Security Essentials through Microsoft’s Website. The install is quick and updates and scans can be scheduled to happen automatically. The software is relatively light on resource usage, which is a big plus. Most importantly, the system is relatively robust. It’s possible to install on an already infected machine and use as a clean-up tool. It also does real-time protection. Antivirus is a necessary companion to any Windows install, Microsoft’s offering is solid, and most importantly free. Look out for it.
Evernote is an outstanding note-taking application that allows you to take your notes with you where ever you go.
Notes are stored remotely on Evernote’s servers so you have access to them from any computer or smart phone. Evernote can store text notes, screen shots, or any other sort of image. It allows you to organize your notes into “notebooks”, give them tags for easier searching, and choose if you want them local only to your computer, or uploaded to the server. The basic application is a free product with very minimal advertising (a small 100×100 pixel add in the lower left corner), but has paid versions available for users with a high amount of data to store — more then 50MB a month. But this means you get 1000’s of notes a month at no cost. And nothing’s better then free, right?