FYI My Favorite Utilities, Gadgets & Services

  • SpinRite v6.1 Release #3
    Guest:
    The 3rd release of SpinRite v6.1 is published and may be obtained by all SpinRite v6.0 owners at the SpinRite v6.1 Pre-Release page. (SpinRite will shortly be officially updated to v6.1 so this page will be renamed.) The primary new feature, and the reason for this release, was the discovery of memory problems in some systems that were affecting SpinRite's operation. So SpinRite now incorporates a built-in test of the system's memory. For the full story, please see this page in the "Pre-Release Announcements & Feedback" forum.
    /Steve.
  • Be sure to checkout “Tips & Tricks”
    Dear Guest Visitor → Once you register and log-in please checkout the “Tips & Tricks” page for some very handy tips!

    /Steve.
  • BootAble – FreeDOS boot testing freeware

    To obtain direct, low-level access to a system's mass storage drives, SpinRite runs under a GRC-customized version of FreeDOS which has been modified to add compatibility with all file systems. In order to run SpinRite it must first be possible to boot FreeDOS.

    GRC's “BootAble” freeware allows anyone to easily create BIOS-bootable media in order to workout and confirm the details of getting a machine to boot FreeDOS through a BIOS. Once the means of doing that has been determined, the media created by SpinRite can be booted and run in the same way.

    The participants here, who have taken the time to share their knowledge and experience, their successes and some frustrations with booting their computers into FreeDOS, have created a valuable knowledgebase which will benefit everyone who follows.

    You may click on the image to the right to obtain your own copy of BootAble. Then use the knowledge and experience documented here to boot your computer(s) into FreeDOS. And please do not hesitate to ask questions – nowhere else can better answers be found.

    (You may permanently close this reminder with the 'X' in the upper right.)

Extended GodMode (for Windows) — by Peter Panisz of WinTools.info

How many times have we dug around looking for a specific settings panel in Windows (7/8/10)? Microsoft has announced that they're going to be “simplifying” the traditional Control Panel, and we know how that goes. It's going to make finding things more difficult. Peter's small (441K) and clean little utility runs under Win7/8/10 and requires NO installation. On my Win7 machine it lists 340 individual settings, tunings, tweakings applets. And a search that allows you to quickly find what you want. It also has “recent”, “Most Used”, “Favorite” and more.

And while you're at Peter's site, do yourself a favor and check out his 4 pages of unique utilities. This is only one of the nifty things he's created. Everything is free “donationware.” So if you like and use his stuff, perhaps send him a tip. (y)
 
Sync.com” — my chosen, TNO (trust no one) encrypted, cloud-based, free & paid, cross-machine file and folder synchronization solution.

The Security Now! podcast of October 1st, 2019 was titled “The Joy of Sync.” During that podcast I detailed the results of my careful search for the best cloud-based file and folder synchronization solution. I settled upon just two: The excellent Canada-based “sync.com” client-side encrypted cloud service, and the somewhat funky but powerful and open source “SyncThing” utility. At the time of this writing, that was more than a year ago, and I have remained a devotee of both. I am using both of these two excellent solutions in my daily life and neither has ever let me down. Rather than writing what I've already documented, allow me to refer you to that podcast, now with an additional year's endorsement. And if you do choose to explore “sync.com”, which I still recommend without hesitation, you can use the referral link below to start off with an additional 1GB added to your account.

The TWiT Network's page for Security Now! #734 has links for podcast's audio and video.
You can also find the show notes and the show's written transcript at those highlighted links.

You may use my referral link to increase your free account storage from 5GB to 6GB (forever):
https://www.sync.com/get-started?_sync_refer=498352a10
 
SyncThing” — a cloud-free, cross platform, open source, peer-to-peer folder synchronization solution.

This thing takes a bit of getting used to. It's way less user-friendly than sync.com (which I would and do recommend to anyone and everyone). But if what you want is something of a “Swiss Army Knife” folder synchronizer, than SyncThing will probably do anything you could want.

I'm currently using SyncThing to synchronize selected folders of two Drobo NAS devices at different locations. And separately, I've set one of those Drobos to maintain synchronization among a network of 20 remote laptops being used to provide clinical home neurofeedback. Each of those laptops has a one-way (Drobo to laptop) folder sync from a common directory on the Drobo, and individual two-way sync's between selected folders on each laptop and it's own Drobo-sync'ed mirror folders. Like I said, SyncThing is a Swiss Army Knife solution that can perform pretty much any sync task that you could imagine.

SyncThing lives here: https://syncthing.net/ and as with the “Sync.com” service (see previous post) I recommend it without reservation so long as you're willing to invest some time in figuring out how it works.

If you want to know more, the Security Now! podcast #734 has all the details! (y)
 
pfSense — THIS is the border gateway, NAT routing, super-capable firewall you want.

pfSense if based upon an optimized FreeBSD UNIX kernel and it can do anything you might ever want. It can run static VPN links. It can perform both dynamic and static NAT and NAPT translation. It can run a reverse proxy, create and maintain physically separate network segments, it's VLAN-aware. You name it. And it's FREE! It's 100% free for you to deploy on your own hardware — pretty much any multi-interface hardware you might have lying around. Or, if you want a turn-key solution, you could grab one of their ready-to-run appliances. Or (better yet) If you're willing to do a bit of installation you could take that path I did, of using a more beefy (less expensive) perfect hardware solution, the range of Protectli Vault devices (see the next post in this thread.) But, however you choose to get pfSense running at your border, I think you'll be very glad that you did. (y)
 
Protectli Vault” — The optimal, beefy, multi-interface, hardware platform for running a pfSense firewall/router.

A year ago I wanted something a bit more beefy than any of the plug-in solutions being offered by NetGate. I found and settled upon the 4-port Protectli Vault and I've been utterly delighted by my choice. It's what I will purchase again for any next installation. I purchased the FW4A before they were offering the FW4B. I'd recommend going with the “FW4B” (unless you really want more NIC ports) since it's only a bit more expensive than the “FW4A” (you definitely want the hardware accelerated AES-NI support, either way for VPN acceleration) and it's a lot faster.
 
Remote Utilities” — My absolute favorite multi-platform remote-control solution.

You can try the system for 30 days without giving them your eMail. Or for the negligible cost of your eMail, you can obtain a permanent free license key which allows you to add up to 10 remote PCs in your Viewer address book and use the program both in a business and personal setting: https://www.remoteutilities.com/support/free.php

(This is a reminder placeholder for me. Details to follow.)
 

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