Microsoft Security Essentials

02 Oct 2009
October 2, 2009

As geeks, we’re often asked for help with choosing and installing antivirus software for friends & family members.  We all have our favorite “packages” and we all trade thoughts on the latest/greatest free AV offerings.

For instance, until this week I’d settled on the free version of Avira AntiVir coupled with Microsoft’s Windows Defender. Those two together seemed to do a reasonable efficient job without bogging down the system too much. The Avira “hey I updated would you liked to buy me?” daily banner can get annoying, but seemed a small price to pay for effective coverage.

However, I had been beta-testing a product for the last couple months and it was released this week: Microsoft Security Essentials.  Kinda like Defender, but with antivirus coverage too. Free, low-impact and hey — no banners. What’s not to love?

It didn’t hurt that ars technica doesn’t hate it.

Microsoft Security Essentials

I’m switching the rest of my home machines over to it and plan to start working on extended family machines next week.

I should point out I don’t really expect the software to do all the work (or do it all perfectly). I also spend some time training (aka lecturing) a bit on safe browsing habits. That helps bridge the gap between antivirus/antimalware software not covering 100%.

Online OneNote?

17 Sep 2009
September 17, 2009

While reading Ed Bott’s article about Microsoft’s partial preview of online office apps, this particular bit caught my eye:

Officially, Microsoft is positioning the new web-based offering as “online extensions to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.”

Intriguing! It seems the OneNote bits won’t actually be available until the launch, so too soon to get too excited, but it could be nifty.

Granted, just yesterday I admitted that I haven’t really gelled with web-based notebooks (or GTD) systems… but still, maybe I just haven’t used the right one yet.

Back to OneNote

16 Sep 2009
September 16, 2009

OneNote image

It took me a couple months of indecision (first pondered in July) but this week I took the plunge.

A year ago I whimsically decided to abandon my reasonably fine and working OneNote based GTD (Getting Things Done) system and move to Evernote. I’m not entirely sure (anymore) what my motivation was, but I can theorize that it was based on the fact that I could Evernote on my Windows Mobile phone, Windows PCs and from a web site. That and I’m a total squirrel and waste too much time chasing new shiny things…

So now, one year later, I’ve moved back to OneNote. I am using my old system which was heavily influenced by the 7Breaths “GTD with OneNote” series of articles. I have a few bits to iron out, but after just two days I already feel back in control.

Why the switch? A few reasons really.

  1. I never used the Windows Mobile Evernote client. While I thought it was a wonderful idea, it turns out the support for checkboxes is useless.
  2. I never really got into the web interface (and I think there were checkbox issues there too?)
  3. My GTD “system” with Evernote just never gelled. I lost track of too many items (this is totally my own fault). I was a chagrined at how many forgotten items I turned up while migrating back!

As you can tell by points 1 & 2 I really like checkboxes!

I’ve stored my OneNote data files in my Dropbox account so I have access to them from all my machines (although only two actually have OneNote installed). So far this is proving to be a painless and simple way to keep everything in sync. I like it.

GtdagendaI should mention that I spent a month or so with the Gtdagenda site last winter when I first realized that my Evernote system wasn’t quite working.

Gtdagenda is a web based application aimed squarely at the GTD aficionados. Probably my favorite web based GTD app that I’ve played with over the past few years. However, it turns out I’m not quite ready for “web only” though – not for this sort of stuff. If I have to load the browser and site first? Well, I probably forgot what I was about to write or do…

The switch back to OneNote ought to hold me for a while. Or until my next urge to (once again) switch back to Linux… then I’ll be sad!

Gantter: THE online MS Project Clone

05 Sep 2009
September 5, 2009

Gantter is a web app that just blows me away. It is the closest thing I’ve seen to running Microsoft Project in a browser.

Gantter Image

Simply incredible! I can’t speak to all the fancy stuff the MS Project can do, but I can tell you that it does all the sorts of things I do on project plans. Importing/Exporting to MS Project files is a really cool touch as well.

Check it out (free) at There’s also an about page up with more information and some online help.

Next time I need to put together a plan I’ll reach for this instead of reloading my crufty old copy of MS Project ‘02.

A bit more info, from the site:

Gantter is a free (gratis) web-based project management tool. You can think of it as a web-based Microsoft Project. It helps you to:

  • plan and estimate your project (duration, work, cost) by splitting the project into a number of tasks
  • review you plan using Gantt chart
  • manage project resources (work or material) and assign them to tasks
  • manage project calendars (set working times, add holidays etc)
  • manage resource calendars (working times, vacations etc)
  • control your project’s progress by setting % complete values to each task
  • review critical tasks

Just like in MS Project you start by adding tasks, setting dependencies between them (Finish-to-Start, Start-to-Start, Finish-to-Finish, Start-to-Start), indenting them to create summary tasks. Then you add resources, modify their calendars if necessary, assign resources to tasks.