Archive for January, 2011

Microsoft Security Essentials 2

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Microsoft quietly released Security Essentials 2 a while back, and as with the first edition, it has been kept rather low key. I’ve been waiting to the upgrade to appear either via Microsoft Update or the update feature built into Security Essentials, but so far nothing. I downloaded the installation file instead, which weighs in at just under 10MB.


Microsoft Security Essentials 2 main window

Since I already had SE1 on my computer, the installer just upgraded my version before asking for a reboot. It also asked if it could enable Windows Firewall, which was a bit pointless as I already have the firewall on. Still, a nice touch for those who may not have known that their firewall was off. Total install time was under 5 minutes. Upon getting back into Windows, not all that much has changed. The program looks nearly identical to the first version, with just the addition of some stripes on the side making an aesthetic change to the program.

Everything else appears to be exactly where they were in SE1, which isn’t a bad thing. Startup time does not appear to have been affected by the update. I’ve yet to run a scan of any sort, but I suspect it won’t be any better or worse than SE1 was.

About the only downside so far is that after updating, Security Essentials 2 has to download a 60 odd MB definition file. This is a bit frustrating if your copy of SE1 was fully up to date, as it is a bit of a wasted download. About the only reason I can think of for this is due to a change in the way the definition files work, rendering the SE1 files unusable. It’s probably my only gripe with the program so far.

Once again, I think Microsoft has done a sterling job with this program. It’s quiet, doesn’t chew up much system resources and generally stays out of your way unless something is wrong. In the few cases where I’ve had malware try to sneak in, SE1 did a great job and I’m sure SE2 will keep that up. The free anti-virus market is a crowded one with each vendor trying to lure in as many customers as possible, but few products I’ve used are as good as Security Essentials. A must have for anyone looking for decent protection, free of charge for legal copies of Windows.


Bad time to be a network admin

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

If there’s one time of the year when I fear being a network admin, it’s at the start of a school year. Being the industrious people we are, we often work deep into holidays whilst the academic staff are out and about. It actually suits us, as we are able to finally do maintenance and other tasks that generally can’t be done in term time. As strange as it sounds, it’s almost bliss to work in a quiet environment.

Coming back at the start of the year is where the fun ends though. The moment the academic staff get back, a hundred requests suddenly pour in, wrecking the schedule you have set up. That is what has happened the last few days at work as my school gears itself up for opening on Wednesday. My colleague and I are fighting to finish work on our main IT lab, which had a makeover last year. Stripping the entire place was one thing, but added to the fact that we have to slot in new computers and it’s become a major time eater.

Added to that, we have been running around getting the new school administration software up and running on each computer in each class, a task made horrendous by the fact that the software can’t be deployed. Of course, during this running around, we find things like broken power strips and other frustrating things that set us back further. It’s even more frustrating when the stupid things worked fine last year, but suddenly seem to have died over the holidays. One of those puzzles of technology we’ll probably never figure out.

Of course, none of this would be complete without the academic staff having a two day training session, to which my colleague and I are expected to set up the laptop and data projector at a moment’s notice. To sweeten it all off, two new photocopiers arrived in the middle of lunch today, totally unexpected. To be more precise, the copiers were expected, but not to arrive when they did. More chaotic running around.

Despite it all seeming like a madhouse though, it’s almost strangely refreshing. When I get my salary at the end of the month, I will feel like I earned every cent of it. Strangely enough, I almost seem to thrive on the chaos and pressure, something I would never admit out loud…

Updating my Samsung TV’s firmware

In my last post, I mentioned some of the quirks I encountered trying to update the firmware on my Samsung Blu-ray player. I also mentioned that I would be attempting to update the firmware on my TV after that. I did the procedure the day after my last post and it went like a breeze.

In summary, the process went a lot like this:

  • Finish downloading firmware. File is a self-extracting RAR archive.
  • Copy file to empty flash drive, run the executable. Files extract automatically.
  • Safely Remove flash drive
  • Start TV up and insert flash drive.
  • Use remote to navigate menu, choose Software Update option. TV searches for flash drive, finds it and offers to update firmware. Press OK and let TV do its update.
  • TV finishes flashing, restarts. Update complete.
    Overall the procedure took under 5 minutes and retained all the settings that were previously there. I was impressed and pleased at the ease of use of doing it via flash drive. Now if only the Blu-ray player had been as easy to update. Samsung will probably get it right in their next generation Blu-ray players.

Samsung BD-C5500 – A bit of a grumble

In the middle of December last year, I purchased a 46” Samsung C5000 LED LCD TV for our home, as well as the BD-C5500 Blu-ray player. The two work really well together, with either remote being able to control most of the TV and blu-ray player equally well.

Both devices have an Ethernet port so that they can be connected to a network, but at this point in time neither are hooked up yet. Browsing the Samsung support pages, I discovered that there was updated firmware files for both devices. I duly downloaded both, which weighed in at 62MB for the blu-ray player and 101MB for the TV. I transferred the *.RUF file for the player onto a flash drive and inserted it into the player’s USB port. The stick was duly picked up, but there was no option to update the player. I tried a couple of time without any luck.

I took the stick back to my computer and shortened the name of the firmware file. I went back to the player and inserted the stick, this time after the player was booted up. It picked up that the stick had an update file on it, but it moaned that something was incorrect in the file. Almost giving up the fight then and there, I searched the net for some more information. I came across some information that indicated that I could burn the update file to a CD and use that instead.

I proceeded to burn the update file with it’s exact original file name to a blank CD-RW I had laying around. Fingers crossed, I went back to the player with disk in hand. I inserted the disk after boot up. Lo and behold, the player immediately informed me that there was a new update available and asked if I would like to update. Hoping that the CD didn’t have bad sectors or any other corruption on it, I clicked on the OK button and waited.

The entire process took probably over 5 minutes. Existing firmware was checked, player prepared and so forth before the actual flashing process took place. Once it was done, the player ejected the disk and switched itself off. I turned it back on according to instructions, and the player started up fine. A quick check in the settings showed that the firmware was indeed updated.

While I’m now happy that the firmware is updated, I’m a bit miffed at how finicky it is to update if the player isn’t connected to the internet. The lack of clear and precise instructions is a bit frustrating, as is the generic instructions given that don’t match what is said on the actual player. That being said, this is my first Blu-ray player, and I’m pretty happy with the device so far.

Flashing the TV is up next, hopefully it’s easier than the player was. I’ll post another post when it’s done.