30 August 2009

Security Software

I got this fancy table from http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/protect_your_pc_from_guys_like_this?page=0,4

Personally at the moment I'm using Microsoft Security Essentials (you can download it from softpedia I think), as it has a very low footprint and its really easy to add programs to the Ignore list. After this I might try out the new AVG Beta 9.0 they have out, otherwise, I think it'll be back to Avast, for its low footprint and ease of use compared to programs like Norton, McAfee, BitDefender, Kaspersky.

I recommend avoiding those four, and also avoid PC Tools as they seem to really slow everything down and cause some issues with other programs on my machine. I have yet to try out ESET, as that one seems to be low in memory but still feature rich. I haven't tried Avira or F-Secure because they don't seem to be that good from the table.

In addition to MSE I also have Spybot Search & Destroy with TeaTimer running, and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware, as that captures some bad malwares on occasions in real time. I'd also recommend installing Spyware Blaster for the same passive protection that Spybot gives. I also liked Spyware Terminator at first, they recommend installing ClamWin Antivirus as extraware on install, but didn't eventually like ST very much as it was very naggy.

I used to use ZoneAlarm on all my machines but after the Windows Update KB951748 internet access firewall problem with ZoneAlarm, I didn't really trust it again; plus, it nags far far too much, and makes sharing files on a network near impossible.

I also don't recommend ThreatFire v3 as it really didn't like Vista much, I can only assume the same with Win 7 - Avast was the only real program that had no issues with Vista and Win 7 whatsoever.

Update: Avast has recently caused a bluescreen on a Windows XP machine of mine, caused by one of the security privileges drivers. So am not so sure about Avast from now on.

I also did like AVG very much, however, I don't like its interface and it is very difficult to edit particular components of it. Ad-Aware, on the other hand, does have some advanced editing, with a focus on spyware rather than viruses. It does pop up every now and then so I know it's working - AVG, however, has rarely said anything and so I'm not sure if it's really working.

Windows 7 Quick Review

Good points:
  • It takes 18 minutes to install from inserting the DVD to reaching the desktop ready for use. Compare that to Windows XP, taking a full 40 minutes, plus the post-installation setup too.
  • It's fast, it boots up just as fast as my partition of Windows XP does. Vista takes forever compared to either of them.
  • It's sleek, sexy and intuitive. Move the taskbar icons around. Have small icons. Preview the desktop without clicking anything. And everything that Vista had, just better.
  • The Recovery Console is automatically installed with the computer. Before you boot into Windows, press F8 to get to the advanced startup options, then choose Repair Your Computer to get to all the handy recovery tools.
  • Disk Defragmenter is much more useful and friendly.
  • Three words: Slideshow Desktop Backgrounds.
  • All of the old screensavers from XP and Vista still work in 7, if you have copies of them. The only exception is the 3D Windows XP logo.
  • Libraries are useful little things. But if you don't want Windows Media Player to index your videos and pictures, you have to remove them from the library altogether. Else, just make a new library with slightly different spelling to easily get to your videos etc.
  • Updating software is still much easier than going to the Windows Update site in XP, and the "Configuring upates..." message that Vista has has not even come up yet in 7.
  • Jumplists are also incredibly useful, but I still don't use them as often as I could be doing.
Bad points:
  • The Games are disabled by default, you have to go to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows features on or off to change it.
  • There are still lots of compatibility issues. A lot of my drivers for audio, printer and chipset had to be put into Vista Compatibility Mode in order to install them, and I had to prevent some of the installers from rolling back installations too.
  • Windows Live Messenger does not sit in the system tray, it sits in the taskbar. This is fucking annoying. If you want to make it live back in the sytem tray, go to its folder and change it to Vista Compatibility Mode.
  • I had trouble with SpeedFan on my machine, it seemed to cause a BSOD, data corruption leading to bad clusters, and SpeedFan caughing up errors when opening again.
  • If you still have User Account Control enabled as its default, you cannot install Mozilla Firefox.
  • Running MagicDisc caused it to BSOD once.
  • Sometimes clicking buttons too quickly when you right-click things on the Start Menu causes Explorer to crash.
  • Homegroup is useless.
  • Control Panel is still as lamely designed as ever, you have either Category view, which doesn't show you everything, or Full Icons, which shows you everything, but without any organisation. This is where Apple Mac OS X's System Preferences window supercedes Windows'.
  • Power Calculator still does not work for me (some people have reported it does work).
  • Windows Media Player's special tasbkar is gone, its been replaced with the "hover" control buttons.
  • On the Recording devices tab of Sounds, disabled/unused devices are hidden, and they are not easy to enable unless you know how to get them back - simply right-click in any empty space, and tick the box.
  • You still cannot force the Indexing Service to scan while you're working, it will only scan when your computer is idle.
  • The default option for "closing the lid" of the laptop is to Sleep. Just, why?!
  • Windows Movie Maker no longer exists, you have to download it from Windows Live Essentials - and make sure you leave nothing else running when installing, as even slight blips seem to cause the whole installation to rollback. You can still install Vista's replacement Movie Maker 2.6 if Live Essential's version is a bit too restrictive for you.

26 August 2009

Life in the Human Empire

This is a poem I wrote on 26 May 2006 at 7:22:00 PM. I wrote it in 16 minutes, with 11 saves.

Life in the Human Empire

What makes us human?
What makes us unique to all other animals?

Our human-dominant world as the superior species
We can venture the highest mountain and the deepest ocean
We can become everything the wanted, needed and disliked
We are the cultivators of the land and the growers of crops
We help others in need and imprison those who degenerate our world of laws
We are all reduced to entertainment and humour, that of our creation
We have studied our planet and the Universe
We have compiled all our findings with beauty like that of natural waterfalls

We are dependent on each other as a team
Our automation to keep us alive, so that our species can survive extinction
By calculating complicated mathematics and scientific judgements
So that we can go where we have never been before

But although we may be the most intelligent and powerful mammals of the world
The only ones we are aware of containing knowledge and having ability to make choices
To hate and love others is what makes us human, to make us singular

But we are also the world’s greatest failure
We kill ourselves and make our youth reproduce, sustaining that balance of the population
But it will always increase past our limit of efficient transfer of energy
We are all tied down to our humiliation and embarrassment
All our faces must reach exposure and fame
But the world we have made is still not perfect.

We force ourselves to down unhealthy drinks and toxins
We build our bodies into slavery of our own kind, with golden chains of blood

We pay money to the services we love, but some of us rebels learn to hate,
And we let the frail and weak die because of this.

We, our individuality, can gain no moral or major control

Although the simple, small acorn may grow to an enormous tree
It is not the acorn that produces it.
The value is found in the processes the acorn takes:
Growth, nutrition, respiration, all those signs of life.
It is all these factors that weigh the strength,
But there is one undesired fact, that we are all derived from the Sun,
Our ultimate source of power.

Although we can perform the greatest achievements even to impress our own kind,
We still persist to ruin ourselves, thus forgetting that the most beautiful profit and advantage
Is to spend such currency on the people who need it most.

You could suggest the end of all those who fail to meet our expectation
Will be doomed in hell for their destructive paths
But we stand from them and gaze into the darkest unknown
With only our light to guide us.

12 August 2009


I would like to question the necessity and nature of cooking and preparing food, as well as the energy efficiency of consumption. Before I begin, here’s some background information:

The reason we need food is for one primary purpose – the acquisition of biological energy in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. The purpose of the digestive system is to break down large foods into small molecules – a process which takes a great deal of energy to complete, resulting in a lot of wasted energy in the form of heat from respiration (unless you are living in a cold environment, of course, then it is beneficial). The gut provides the suitable conditions for this breaking-down process, and the lining of the intestines is perfectly adapted by increasing the surface area to absorb the food quickly. However, there are limiting factors to the amount of energy that can be absorbed into the bloodstream – resulting in wasted food which is expelled from the system.

But of course, before we actually can digest the food, we need to obtain it. In the past, our ancestors would use their cunning and skill to track and hunt wild animals, capture them, kill them, and then prepare them for consumption. The men who were most powerful, athletic, and intelligent, would be the most successful survivors. In the modern world of today, we humans are still using our intelligence to get to food – but instead of hunting animals, we are providing services for the people of the world – which allows us to acquire money, in order to purchase animals that have already been captured and then, in some cases, vigorously prepared. This is the same with fruits and vegetables too – although they are not hunted, they must be cultivated, grown and then harvested.

One simple problem I come across immediately, the amount of energy required to obtain the food.

Our ancient ancestors spent a lot of energy actually catching these animals – being strong and intelligent saved the time and effort required to do so. Otherwise, humans would have to pay someone for capturing these animals for them, which involved sacrifice of something they own. In the modern world, we cannot just go outside into forests and hunt animals like our ancestors. Most of the land is protected or owned by territorial law, and most of the animals on land are protected by preservation of nature laws. Nonetheless, we are managing the animals in a “stable” (pardon the pun) environment, where the only way of obtaining them without dispute is to pay for them. Therefore we must prepare every one of ourselves, every morning, for work, keeping the world turning, for another day. Then somehow we get paid, to which we then carefully select our food at markets and supermarkets (and sometimes upon impulse instead of what is actually needed). We then carry the food back to our homes, and in most cases, we then spend a good deal of time preparing and cooking the food, serving it up, and then cleaning after ourselves, ready for another day.

It is most clear at this point that the amount of energy required to absorb the food into the bloodstream so that it is readily available, is a very lengthy process and requires a great deal of energy to complete.

Now I would like to highlight an important issue. If the reason we have food is simply to acquire energy, do we really need to spend so much time cooking food? In retrospect, we more than often cook for ourselves and choose our foods because they taste good. Taste is one of our primary senses, and the arousal of the senses leads to a more stimulating experience, which only leads to pleasure and satisfaction. Aside from the fact that we need taste to determine if food is bad or rotten, we clearly are spending a lot of time and effort in just making the best taste possible. Does all of this effort not seem somewhat futile, knowing that we only need food for energy?

Therefore, food has no longer become the simple process of obtaining energy; it is now an art, and a point of pleasure. Just like music would originally be intended to tell ballads and stories and therefore to enlighten listeners, music is now used to arouse the audible senses. And one step further – television, arouses two senses, visual and audio. It is also therefore possible to see why intimacy and sexual activities are a most “pleasurable” experience – simply because, every single sense, including the more subtle senses such as balance, acceleration, temperature, knowing the position of your limbs, and pain, are being aroused. The more senses being stimulated, the more pleasurable an experience one is having. And food is so clearly becoming one similar to this – e.g. some people close their eyes when eating to heighten their sense of taste; desserts have become a general standard in most meals to accompany a main course, just for the exquisite flavour. But do we really need it?

Another great problem that the world currently has is obesity. People have literally let themselves go, and because food provides good taste and sensation to the brain telling one that the food is good, it instantly becomes a way of making oneself happy. And thus obese people can be entitled, “food addicts”. In my opinion, obesity is the manifestation of greed and selfishness, and is so very clearly, disgusting to see. While there are many countries that have easy and simple access to food without even leaving their home, many countries also struggle to even find food, let alone grow or catch it. Is it really fair that all the extra food consumed by humans be essentially wasted and stored as fat, when it could be saving the enriching the lives of other on this planet? Or would this cause even more problems – because the demand for food would climb even greater as the population is allowed to increase? Will the overpopulated worlds depicted in “Soylent Green” and “Logan’s Run” become our future, where the government has to control the population in terms of food resources and number of people that are allowed to live?

I hereby suggest some solutions to each of these problems, even though they may not be justifiable.

Increasing energy efficiency of obtaining food

· People cook less food, to save them from wasting energy by actually cooking food – instead, eat pre-prepared food that requires the least amount of effort to prepare for eating; or food in cans and bags

· Condensed food, such as the somewhat sceptical idea of pills (“Cube Zero” depicts this)

· Bypassing the digestive system and delivering energy straight into the blood (on a tangent, it could also be conceived that the myth of vampires who suck people’s blood, actually have poor digestive systems, and thus they obtain their energy directly from the blood of others, saving energy)

Reducing amount of wasted food

· Introduce a national or even global rationing system, to stop people from becoming obese, and to feed the poor, homeless and sick

· Changing people’s attitude towards food so that they only buy what they need

· Donating food to locations/countries that have a poor source of food

· Recycle food as fuel by using it as biomass

Promoting a sustainable source of food

· Growing food such as Quorn (minus the chicken egg white used to bind it), surimi or tofu inside factories, which does not waste heat from respiration in animals, which does not produce carbon dioxide and waste that animals do, and therefore reduces global warming as a result

· Growing muscle tissue in factories which is designed to mimic that of chickens, pigs etc.

· Homes grow their own food in their gardens

· Reducing the amount of animals grown and killed in favour of vegetarianism and veganism

I accept that many of these ideas are heavily controversial, however, with the way the world is currently running, I feel that only drastic measures such as these (but not necessarily these precisely) will enable the world to reach its goal of ending world hunger, preventing obesity, and ultimately, saving the planet, and our species. Only a big change will solve an even bigger problem, and things will only get worse, before they get better.


· http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meat_analogue

· http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn

· http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_food