Sunday, July 16, 2006

ZoneAlarm - 6.5.722

I dearly love ZoneAlarm, been using it for 10 years. The recent release of version 6.5 however has been driving all of us crazy. There has been a multitude of catastrophic problems. Read about them here:
The big question, is it fixed yet? The answer is... not exactly. Since June 5th, the 6.5 release history looks like this:

6.5.700 (problems)
6.5.714 (big problems)
6.5.722 (more problems)
6.5.725 (apparently for non-US users only)

Bottom line, some folks are still not happy with the updated releases. Apparently for good reason, read about it here: ZoneAlarm Forums; Speed Guide BSOD; Speed Guide 6.5.725.

Cory-apn took the plunge and installed version 6.5.722 on his home computer (Margarita). So what happened? Well, good news and bad. First the good. The McAfee and Eudora conflicts appear to be fixed. Now the bad... if you happen to be running your computer on a Gigabyte motherboard with the Easy Tune 5 maintenance and overclocking utility installed, the first thing ZoneAlarm is going to do after it's installed and you reboot is send up a warning bubble that (Microsoft) WMI services is trying to load "Markfun NT" drivers. The ZoneAlarm warning bubble froze my computer. I couldn't ctrl-alt-delete to Task Manager so had to reboot via the hardware reset button. After the reboot, the warning bubble appeared again and I had the opportunity to allow or not allow the Markfun NT drivers to load. I made the mistake of not allowing because initially I had no idea what these drivers were for (nor did ZoneAlarm). Upon subsequent reboots however, I kept getting a "markfun_load_nt_driver" windows popup error message. To make a long story short, after googling the error I discovered the drivers were associated with Easy Tune 5 and ended up having to unistall and reinstall Easy Tune to fix everything.

Excluding that incident, ZoneAlarm 6.5.722 appears to be working. So far, I'm not having the shut down problems or disk errors others have reported. I have noticed the new install appears to be loading a larger chunk of itself into memory (about 3% of my 2GB's of dual channel Corsair XMS RAM). And that's at idle. Seems like a lot.

Anyway, if your still having problems with ZoneAlarm 6.5, be sure to leave a comment.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

ZoneAlarm - Eudora conflict

The on going saga of the recent disastrous release of ZoneAlarm 6.5 continues to unfold. As a ZoneAlarm user, cory-apn first reported the conflict with McAfee AntiVirus here: ZoneAlarm 6.5 McAfee conflict. Cory-apn is also a Eudora user. Turns out that ZoneAlarm 6.5 was corrupting Eudora .toc files as well. You can read about that here: Eudora Forums and speed But wait, there's more. ZoneAlarm has a conflict with itself! Turns out that ZoneAlarm Pro and ZoneAlarm Antivirus don't get along. Read about that here: PCWorld - On Your Side. Even more problems (?), read this: PC Magazine.

According to some reports, Zone Labs has supposedly fixed the problem(s). Read ZDNet and PRO Networks. But alas, others disagree. Read Zone Labs User Forums: McAfee and Eudora.

Statements from representatives of Zone Labs have advised the fixes will be pushed to existing customers who have automatic updates enabled. Cory-apn is a (paid subscription) existing customer and as of this date, has not seen any such fix.

Update (July 16th) Also see: ZoneAlarm - 6.5.722

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Vista - What now?

Windows Vista - Here at CORY-APN SAYS, we have been discussing the upcoming release of Windows Vista for the last few months. Previous posts can be found here:

1. Vista - Getting started
2. Vista - Lian Li modified case
3. Vista - CPU

The concept has been, if we are trying to design and build a new home built computer prior to Vista being released, what hardware should we be incorporating into our new system to take advantage of all of the new features Vista has to offer.

Well shucks, now we are starting to run into some major problems. Thus far, there are three areas of concern:

1. AMD's new AM2 socket
2. DirectX 10.0
3. Motherboards

Issue 1 - In a previous post we had decided to go with one of AMD's dual core X2 CPUs; A recommendation we still stand by. Question is, which socket type should we invest in, 939 or AM2? For economic reasons, back in April we had decided on Socket 939. Since then AMD has released their AM2 socket CPUs, they are priced no differently than the current crop of 939s. This is a little surprising, or maybe not. The new AM2 sockets do not actually add any performance gains or differentiate themselves from the 939s in any way except to add DDR2 memory support. So why the new socket platform in the first place? Well, adding DDR2 support is nice and I guess inevitable, but DDR2 is in itself not that big of a deal. Apparently the main reason for switching sockets is to provide for certain unspecified future upgrade plans on the part of AMD. At this point the whole business of socket types is in a state of flux. Maybe AM2 is here to stay (for awhile), maybe not. If we are going to invest in an AMD CPU, I suppose it should be AM2. But, where is all of this going and is AMD going to release an all new CPU once Vista is actually on the marketplace?

Issue 2 - One of the big promises associated with Vista is DirectX 10.0. Purportedly, this new version of DirectX will deliver all new super enhanced graphics capabilities that will radically change our gaming experience. Well, that's great. Problem is, none of the current crop of super expensive, SLI/ Crossfire, monster video cards support DirectX 10.0. It's not clear if future firmware upgrades for these wallet robbing cards will ever provide that support either. We may have the potential here to stick a couple of $600.00 GeForce 7950GX2 cards into our SLI configured system and find out later they won't support (or fully take advantage of) DirectX 10.0. Bummer.

Issue 3 - Manufacturers have started releasing the new AM2 Socket motherboards. For now, the selection is limited. There seems to be confusion on the part of motherboard designers as to what components they should be including on these boards. Since they can't seem to make up their minds, they've put everything on there except maybe, what we actually need. Frankly, what is currently available is a mess. And overly expensive too. If your building a new high performance system, do you want integrated legacy sound? No, anyone paying $200.00 for a high performance motherboard is going to want to install their own top of the line sound card, probably a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi card. In the age of SATA, do we still need PATA connectors? For that matter, do we need SATA 1.5 connectors on the same board with SATA 3.0 connectors? We absolutely do not need integrated video on any high end motherboard and do we really need dual LAN? Also, someone needs to tell me, excluding telephone line modems (and who uses telephone modems anymore), what purpose do those PCI Express x1 slots serve? I would even go so far as to ask, does anyone ever actually use all four of the memory slots present on virtually all motherboards? Here is the problem. To make room for all of this junk and of course, the PCI Express x16 slots for SLI, the MB manufactures have started dropping PCI slots. Many of the new AM2 boards now come with only two slots. With the oversized graphics cards these days, you may only have access to one slot. Wait a minute. I need those slots! Where am I going to put my sound card, fan controller card, internal Turbo USB card and dual 8CM fan cooling card? You know what, I wouldn't need an internal USB card if the MB designers would include internal USB connectors, BUT THEY DON'T.

Conclusion - Now is not a good time to be designing and building a new home built computer that is Vista ready. There currently exists some serious ambiguity with regard to CPUs, graphics cards, motherboards, legacy hardware standards and future hardware standards. I have no doubt that Vista will accommodate the majority of hardware components currently being sold in the marketplace in some fashion or another. The question is, will that accommodation be at the expense of lost functionality or capability?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Music Video - Your Wildest Dreams

Middle aged geeks love music videos. To play this one, click on the "play" button, lower left corner of the media control panel.

Your Wildest Dreams
By The Moody Blues

Saturday, June 17, 2006

ZoneAlarm 6.5 McAfee conflict

My favorite firewall just made a big mistake. Do you have ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall and McAfee AntiVirus installed on the same system? If so, there is a problem. When you attempt to install the latest ZoneAlarm upgrade Version 6.5 you will get a dialog box that advises: ZoneAlarm has detected McAfee AntiVirus software on your computer. You must uninstall McAfee before ZoneAlarm can be installed. Imagine my surprise when I read this message. Upon reading the ZoneAlarm user forums, turns out a lot of people were surprised and very unhappy too.

Has Zone Labs lost their minds? I happen to have a substantial financial investment in both of these products. I don't think ZoneAlarm needs to be invoking strong arm tactics in some lame attempt at making decisions about whatever software I happen to choose be on my computer. I'm furious, and so are many others.

Click here to have a look at the forums: Zone Labs user forum

Click here to send an email: Jordy Berson at Zone Labs

Update (July 12th) Also see: ZoneAlarm - Eudora conflict
Update (July 16th) Also see: Zone Alarm - 6.5.722

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Johnny Castaway

If you remember a time when 4 MB's of RAM installed on your state of the art Personal Computer seemed enormous (at $50.00 a MB), then you may also remember the greatest screensaver of all time... Johnny Castaway.

This is back in the days of EGA graphics, 286 motherboards and 5 1/4" floppy drives.

This sceensaver is so beloved that it's still around today. Johnny Castaway is marooned on a desert island. The story that unfolds on your computer screen chronicles the adventures, mishaps, occasionally strange visitors and attempts at escape of the forlorn and lovable Johnny.

Visit the Johnny Castaway Home Page here:

Download a (640 X 480) modernized XP version: