Since we have gotten back from the honeymoon, we (or at least myself) have had to do something that I have never really done before: cook, clean, and wash for ourselves. I know this may be greeted by a collective shaking of heads from anyone who reads this blog, but prior to my wedding I had lived out the stereotypical ethnic (in particular, Greek) upbringing living at home.
I never really had to cook, let alone do the washing and ironing for myself, and cleaning everything outside my bedroom all by myself (with Despina of course) is a relatively new experience for me. So at least half our weekend is dedicated to these domestic exercises. The line from that Simpson's episode where they send up Days of Our Lives comes to mind: "like the cleaning of a house, It Never Ends".
But between work, cooking and cleaning, I have found some time to do at least a few geeky things. On Saturday between spurts of washing loads I totally wiped Despina's computer and reinstalled windows. This was necessary because I had no idea what had been installed on that thing before I'd gotten to it, and because i'll want to eventually do banking and stuff on it, I don't really trust a machine that has never had proper firewall, antivirus, and anti-spyware installed on it. I definitely wouldn't do any banking on a computer that doesn't have all three and isn't updated and scanned regularly.
Although the majority of people think having all that requires purchasing software, you can get really good solutions for all three that won't cost you a single cent.
For the firewall: There are many good free products. If you are running Windows XP Service Pack 2, then the built-in Windows Firewall does a pretty decent job at protecting stuff coming inbound from the internet to your computer. But half the problem these days is your computer sending stuff out from programs that you don't know. A good all-round firewall, among others, is the free version of Zone Alarm.
For antivirus, the two leading free products would have to be the free versions of AVG and Avast. I prefer Avast, but you do have to register an email address with them to have a fully functional updating antivirus programs. Both come with resident (i.e always on type of) protection.
For the Spyware side of things, the two best free ones are Spybot Search and Destroy, and Ad-Aware SE Personal.
It must be noted that, with the exception of the spyware tools mentioned above, you can really only have one of each type of protection installed. Generally, if you have more than one antivirus for example, they'll conflict with each other and your computer won't be too happy.
I had forgotten how many restarts a computer needs when installing Windows and basic software. The process took me most of the day.
That left me open to do something that I have been waiting ages to do: play Star Wars: Empire at War, which I have been dying to play since I got back from the honeymoon but as yet haven't had time. I bought the game while I was in LA for USD$49.95, when it was retailing here for AUD$99.95 the week after.
It's a pretty good game. Combing the best of ground-based RTS, and space combat with fleets, it makes for a good all-round game. While the ground based part of it isn't all that impressive, the space-based battles are really amazing.
In the past year I haven't really had the time, or a decent computer, to play any games, so it's really great to get back into it.
But the weekends go so fast that it barely feels like you had one, so back to work i've gone...
3 thoughts on “Domesticating, free security, and Empire at War”
Another free firewall that doesnt chew up resources is Primidius Firewall Lite.
I love programs that don't chew resources and allow me to use them for more important things, like games!
When installing many programs, I usually say 'no, I would not like to restart just yet' - does that do bad things? a/s
Probably not, eg when the program currently being installed requires detecting something from a program that you installed just before, but isn't properly runnung because a restart hasn't been done.