Thursday, February 18, 2010

SOFTWARE: More Buzz on Buzz

Okay, Google is getting it. Up one side and down the other side. And the company seems to be getting that the world, minus its own indentured employees, does not want Buzz. So, they've taken one more step in making it possible to make Buzz go away.

Now, when you click the Turn Buzz Off link at the very bottom of your GMail page, it gives you the ability to DISABLE Buzz, which is different than turning it off. GMail has been, bluntly, a little bit slow to respond of late. And as it turns out, although I'd turned Buzz off, that was just the Buzz display! So, I turned Buzz back on (the only choice now showing at the bottom) and then immediately turned it back off. THIS time, I got the brand new option to disable the sucker. Which I did. Ignored the various warnings and okayed the deletion forever of my Buzz info.

I feel less exposed than ever. And this for a guy who rants about all kinds of things here in this blog, which, by the way, wasn't hampered in any way by the decision to turn Buzz off permanently.

At least that's so, if your reading this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SOFTWARE: Where IS That Bloat Coming From?

I'm paranoid. Proud to admit it. And one of the things bothering me lately was why my nightly backups of my C: Drive were so big. As it turns out, the guilty culprit was ZoneAlarm. It had created a debugging log that was eight GIGS in size. Not megabytes, GIGABYTES!

The fact of the matter is that I try to keep C: clean and tight. Nothing gets installed by choice on C:\. That doesn't mean that it doesn't grow like a weed, even running Crap Cleaner once a week. Every set of Microsoft Updates requires creating rollback points (which you MIGHT have had to use this past Tuesday when the Clumsy Empire managed to foul up many XP installations). There are temp files aplenty that don't seem all that temporary and print files and registry changes and ... well, it's all a Sisyphean task when you really think about it. But try I must.

Once I identified the culprit, while testing out Space Sniffer (freeware, here), I had to head back to the 'net to find out what the tvdebug.log file was. And I found information here, courtesy of WhitPhil of Whitby ON (good Canadian city). You can check it out, but here is the gist of the solution:
  1. While holding down the Control and Shift keys together, right click on the ZA icon in your system tray.
  2. Choose Set Debug Level.
  3. Select OFF in the Debug Categories section and press OK.
  4. Now right click on the Zone Alarm icon and choose to shut it down.
  5. Now, use your File Explorer to go to C:\Windows\Internet Logs and locate the TVdebug.log on your computer.
  6. For a second, be amazed at how big the file is. Now, amazement over, delete it!
  7. Run Notepad.exe (you can use the Start|Run menu selection to type in notepad and hit enter)
  8. Write a few lines describing what this is and save the file to C:\Windows\Internet Logs as TVdebug.log
  9. Make a copy of the file by right clicking on it and selecting copy.
  10. Paste that copy into the folder by right clicking and choosing paste. (Paranoid, remember?)
  11. Select both files using whatever method you prefer.
  12. Right click and choose Properties.
  13. Click ON the box that says Read-Only and press OK.
  14. Now, go back to your start menu and restart ZoneAlarm. (actually, it's actually best you start the computer at this point, but it MIGHT work just restarting ZoneAlarm).
  15. And finally, because you are supposed to be as paranoid as I am, follow steps 1 and 2 to see if the debug level is, indeed, set to off. Click Cancel to get out of that window, happy in the knowledge you have saved your C:\ drive from bloat beyond belief.
These instructions vary a little from the original in the order you do them. I think it's a slight improvement. But I certainly did NOT know about the trick to show the debug menu in ZoneAlarm, so I'm very appreciative of Phil from Whitby. I also urge you to RESET things back to the way they were, if you DO start experiencing problems with ZoneAlarm. Remember, it IS there for a reason. That means taking the read-only bit off your ersatz TVdebug.log and deleting it. Then reversing the logging feature of ZoneAlarm. And then letting you and ZoneAlarm's support people use the resulting log to figure out what's gone wrong.

Then, when things have been righted, you know what to do. The only difference is that after deleting the ZoneAlarm-created TVdebug.log monster, you can just copy over the ersatz copy you made, renaming it in the process. No more notepad.

See there IS a method to my madness!

[PS] Oh, and the savings in my backups for having gotten rid of the file? Just 110 megs. Apparently the TVdebug.log file compresses down a lot. A LOT of lot! Not much in the scheme of things, but one that lets me put my C:\ backup on two DVDs, not two and a bit (read as THREE) DVDs.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

SOFTWARE: Google ... Buzz OFF!

I need my attention diverted like I need massive dental surgery. It MIGHT be a good idea, but I kind of doubt it. So, it was with some annoyance this week that I got a notice when opening that I was now the proud possessor of a new-fangled Buzz account.

[moments of crude language and rude noises follow]

I spent some minutes trying to extricate myself from this gift. Turned anything and everything private I could find and then went on about my business. Although I did take another minute or two to explore my vocabulary list of words my mother would wash my mouth with soap for uttering.

Today, I read in several places of the solution to my 'problem.' Appearing now at the bottom of your gmail page, you should see a link to TURN OFF BUZZ, conveniently located just above the link to the privacy policy that somehow allowed Google to trample ALL over my privacy this week. Click on that and your immediate concerns with Buzz are gone.

Obviously, Buzz has gone over like a lead balloon. It's been scorned and scorched by just about the whole internet community. The first words out of Google HQ is that there will be a separate spin-off of Buzz, it's Facebook/Twitter conglomerated anti-venom. But most people want the spin-off to be complete, allowing interested folk to link BACK to gmail, but not to use gmail as the linchpin of the new service. This is so very Microsoft of Google, don't you think? Just announcing the product and shoving it down my throat doesn't make me a very happy Googler.

Eventually, the 'do no evil' mantra will lead to Buzz, buzzing off. After all, shouldn't Google be spending more time fending off Chinese government hackers rather than OPENING UP my privacy to any random hacker, regardless of national affiliation?

Bah, humbug.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

LIFE: An Obituary

Brendan Burke died in a car accident last night. The world isn't quite as good as it was 24 hours ago. My sympathies and sorrows to the Burke family. Let's hope the mental midgets out there don't try to associate his tragically early death with ...

Just promise if you hear anybody say such crap that you'll punch them in the face. Hard.

Boy this is a lousy way to start a day.