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Dr. Web CureIt! Is a Winner

If you haven’t tried this program, you simply must. Run Dr.Web CureIt!® (no need to install it) to quickly scan your computer and cure it of any malicious objects. It’s completely free for home use, and believe me, it works. All you have to do is go to http://www.freedrweb.com/cureit/?lng=en and follow the instructions. It’s very simple. Want to know who Dr. Web is? See below.

Doctor Web is a Russian IT-security solutions vendor. Dr.Web anti-virus software has been developed since 1992. The Russian IT security services market leader, Doctor Web was the first vendor to offer an anti-virus as a service in Russia. The company also offers proven anti-virus and anti-spam solutions for businesses, government entities, and personal use. We have a solid record of detecting malicious programs, and we adhere to all international security standards. Doctor Web has received numerous certificates and awards; our satisfied customers spanning the globe are clear evidence of the complete trust customers have in our products.

Enjoy!

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Safe Computing Tips (and Other Changes)

I want to let everyone know of some new features you’ll be seeing here at Ask the Geek. First off, you’ll notice that there are more pages being posted. These are permanent pages that will always show up on the site, unlike the posts that usually wind up in the archives. I’ll be updating these frequently. The latest page is “Safe Computing Tips” and I suggest you check it out.

You’ll also notice a sign-up pop-up on some pages when you go to them. Please sign up so I can keep you up to date on new content and special offers from select vendors. I promise I won’t spam you with a bunch of useless junk; I will pass on any special offers that I become aware of from reputable hardware and software sellers.

For now, check out the “Safe Computing Tips” and sign up for my list. And be on the lookout for a new page that reviews top freeware, Open Source, and commercial software offerings.

As always, I’m glad to be of service and I look forward to keeping you as a loyal reader. If you ever need anything at all, feel free to hit the “Ask a Question” or “Leave Feedback” links over at the right.

Cheers!
The Geek

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EASEUS Partition Manager Server 2.1.1

I recently had the opportunity to test drive Chengdu Yiwo Tech Developments’ EASEUS Partition Manager Server 2.1.1 (EPMS). Using EPMS, you can easily create, format, and delete partitions on your hard disk. The most attractive feature is that it can resize/move your partitions by using your hard disk’s free space without destroying data. The program’s main functions allow you to easily:

  • Resize/ Move partitions
  • Create partitions
  • Delete partitions
  • Delete all partitions
  • Label partitions
  • Format partitions
  • Check partitions
  • Hide partitions
  • Create a Bootable CD

EPMS has an impressive list of key features:

  • It works perfectly with hardware RAID
  • It can handle up to 32 hard disks, which makes it a good choice for server systems
  • Resize/Move system partition by simply clicking the system partition and sliding it through the unallocated space
  • The data on the system partition is completely untouched
  • Hide drives so they will not be visible (or accessible) from Windows even booted in Safe Mode
  • Create a bootable CD/DVD to manage partitions easier and faster.

Being a systems engineer, I have a lot of contact with servers. One of the biggest problems I run into is servers that were misconfigured with undersized system partitions that susequently got filled up with too many programs; this is where a partition manager is an essential tool.

I installed EPMS on my work laptop–the program works fine on XP–and put it through its paces. Within a couple of minutes, I had resized my C:\ partition to one-half of what it was. The program required me to reboot and when I arrived back at the desktop, my C:\ drive was fine and I had 57GB of unallocated space. Next, I hooked up a spare 120GB hard drive to my USB interface, plugged it in and ran EPMS. I deleted the existing partition and recreated a new one then formatted it. When you delete a partition, you’re given the option to simply delete it or to delete it and destroy data. Choosing to delete and destroy data wipes all of the sectors on the drive. Every operation I tried went smoothly. The only glitch I experienced was when I tried to make a bootable CD on my laptop; I got an error message “Recorder scan fail!” The message said I had no recorder or one that is unsupported. The feature worked fine on another system with a generic CD writer, though, so this isn’t a big issue.

The acid test was to try the program on a server running in production. I chose a Windows 2000 Server that is running as an application server. Installing EPMS was straightforward and no reboot was required. I launched the application and resized the D:\ partition, creating an unallocated section of about 14 GB. EPMS requested a reboot. When the server came back up, the EPMS batch file ran, carrying out the operation I requested; the server then rebooted again and came back up normally.

The program is easy to use and out-performs every other partition tool I’ve tried, both open source and commercial, earning EASEUS Partition Manager Server a “Superior Product” rating. It’s well worth your money at $149.00. This is a tool that should be in every engineer’s toolkit and one that I’m glad I have at my disposal.

Have a question? It can be about anything from cooking to science, whatever you’re interested in: Click here to Ask the Geek! Kenny “The Geek” Harthun has been playing with geeky stuff since 1965. He’s a former research scientist, currently works as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer at Connective Computing, Inc. and loves to learn about anything and everything.

Filed in: Reviews, Software, Windows
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The Zonbu Laptop – Hassle-free, Affordable, Secure

Having recently had the pleasure of interviewing Zonbu’s CEO, Mr. Gregoire Gentil, and also having had the pleasure of testing the laptop, I have to say I’m impressed by both the business model and the product. But my being impressed is just one opinion; what are others saying about Zonbu? Rather than my writing my own review, I present  a random sampling of quotes from email and other reviews along with my comments.

Mr. Zonbu says: "The company has consistently delivered new releases, fixing bugs, enhancing the system and updating the key software packages. None of the updates have broken anything on my system and Zonbu has listened to the public feedback and made changes and adjustments to continue to improve and refine the overall experience for the end-user. I was skeptical about their ability to keep up the pace and handle things smoothly, but so far they have exceeded my high expectations…If you don’t want the hassle, let Zonbu take care of it for you."

Yep, it’s completely hassle-free and mostly automatic for even the most novice user.

John Biggs of crunchgear.com says: "The Zonbu notebook costs $279 with a 2-year $14.95/month subscription to Zonbu’s update and storage service. This, clearly, is Zonbu’s real MO. They offer unlimited support and upgrades along with 50GB of Amazon S3-based storage. If you opt out of all of the support, you pay $479 for a fairly basic laptop.

"Here’s the rub, kids. With the service pack you’re paying $637.80 for a Linux laptop."

The key words here are "unlimited support and upgrades along with 50GB of Amazon S3-based storage." Most people don’t have a clue how to back up and secure their PCs, much less do upgrades. Geek Squad will give you "Basic Security" for $229. With Zonbu, you plug it in, it works, it’s secure and you never have to worry about it. As long as you’re under the subscription plan, if the unit breaks, they ship you a brand-new one. That says "affordable" to me.

Arsgeek.com says: "On turning it on, you’ll see the typical Zonbu startup screen where various icons light up to show you what phase of the boot process it’s in. After about a minute or so I was on the desktop. Zonbu, no matter what else they may have going for them certainly have great wallpapers. The desktop is crisp and clean, with a few icons in the upper left and a few items in the taskbar on the bottom.

"I was immediately greeted with a network connection wizard which walked me through getting online using my home wireless connection. It was painless and in a minute I was happily online. I logged in with my email and password and I was ready to play!"

I had the same experience on first boot. Even a novice could get on line quickly, in my opinion.

Security? I can compromise your PC in just a few minutes at some of the sites I know of. I have been unable to compromise either the Zonbu desktop unit or the laptop.

The Zonbu laptop isn’t necessarily for Geeks to use, but it will certainly lower the amount of free tech support you have to give to your friends, neighbors, mom and girlfriend who all own Windows PCs.

Cheers!
The Geek

Filed in: Computers, Hardware, Reviews
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Interview with Zonbu CEO Gregoire Gentil

Zonbu is poised to become the de facto standard for hassle-free, environmentally-friendy,  secure computing. I’ve been using the Zonbu desktop unit since August and I’ve fallen in love with it. I recommend it to everyone I know who’s looking for a home PC or one for their children.

With Zonbu’s announcement of their new notebook, manufactured by Everex (which I will be testing shortly), I asked Zonbu’s CEO, Mr. Gregoire Genil, a few questions.

ATG: Mr. Gentil, The Zonbu concept is like every good idea in computing rolled into one. Who first originated the idea?
Gentil:  I don’t think that anyone is the owner of the idea. It’s more a
trend that customers don’t want anymore to bear the hassle of managing
their PCs, especially as US households have more and more PCs. Fixing
your PC could be fun because you may like to do it, but doing [it] for your
wife, girl-friend, kids or the second PC in the kitchen or in the living
room becomes a real pain. And I’m not sure that customers want to buy
fat PCs with an OS that is, in itself, more expensive than our full-featured
zero-maintenance product. We want to be to the PC what Japanese cars have become to the automotive industry: reliable, simple and affordable
products.

ATG:  Did the problems inherent in Microsoft operating systems influence
the Zonbu concept in any way?
Gentil:  Definitely. Microsoft has done an amazing job in the 80s-90s but
much like the gas guzzlers of the 70s, the traditional PCs pursuit of
performance at all cost is having a negative impact on the environment and
is becoming a huge burn for customers. Our product holds on 700MB with
all the applications your need when Vista is already 30GB and you don’t
have everything you need.

ATG: Zonbu supports a wide range of hardware but only two MP3 players.
Are there plans to add more supported players?
Gentil: Actually, we support a lot of MP3 players, including all iPod, NJB
players and all players that store the music like a USB key chain.
Beyond this support, we intend to add more and more support for USB
accessories. We are constantly adding new drivers to increase the
support of our 1500 printers and 800 cameras. We have also just added
support for webcam.

ATG: Will Zonbu ever be available in retail stores or are you going with
a web-based sales model?
Gentil: For the moment, we are web-based sales only. We would like indeed to extend to retail next year.

ATG: What is the one best reason to buy you could give to a potential
Zonbu customer?
Gentil: One simple word: hassle-free. Aren’t you fed up to manage your
computer, finding the right plugin to watch such or such video, taking
care of your backup, fighting a malware? Fire yourself as IT
administrator of your home.

ATG: And go get a Zonbu and start enjoying computing again! Thank you very much, Gregoire, both for your excellent answers and the prompt response.
Gentil: No problem!

Cheers!
The Geek

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