Wanted: A Superior Anti-Virus

For the past few years the computers hereabouts have used Avast Pro anti-virus. Our subscription to that software is about to end and I’d like to consider alternatives.

The Good

There are some things that I like about Avast. In particular, I like the fact that it has a “Gaming” mode that eliminates all the prompts. I leave it that way all the time. It’s an anti-virus. I just want it quietly go about it’s business. I don’t want to be bothered by it.

Lenovo X-1-Carbon-AvastPro

The Bad

There are some things I don’t like About Avast Pro. Like so many companies, they’ve expanded beyond the traditional role of anti-virus to offer a plethora of additional services.

  • I don’t want their VPN service.
  • I don’t want their advice on how to “tune up” my PC.
  • I don’t want them to ensure that all of my applications are updated.
  • I don’t want it to try to connect me to known good Wi-Fi providers.
  • I most definitely don’t want them to be a login & password manager.

Some months ago there was a major version update to Avast Pro. In that update the app became a LOT heavier. On my old desktop it rendered my video production toolset unworkable.

The system had been a finely tuned balance, running vMix, a Hangout and VoiceMeeter. vMix and a Hangout are both heavyweight applications. The updated Avast Pro 7 pushed it over the edge, at least as far as that older machine was concerned.

And for what? I neither wanted, nor needed any of the super, new features offered in the new release. It was mostly about  selling new services.

Over the course of the past year we’ve also migrated to Windows 10, which has the built-in Windows Defender. Windows Defender runs as long as no third-party anti-virus is installed. It provides a baseline of protection, although most advise that something better is required.

I wonder what anti-virus they use inside Microsoft?

The Options

All the usual suspects remain in this space. I checked out reviews at PC Magazine, CNET and Tom’s. After all that reading I’m left uninspired. The easy thing to do would be to just renew our subscription to Avast Pro.

Maybe there’s a better approach. I’m open to options. What’s your opinion?

The nVidia Shield K1 Tablet

Let me be clear, I was a big fan of Google’s Nexus series. It started with the Galaxy Nexus, which impressed me so that I later bought a Nexus 4. In 2012 Google also released the first generation of the Nexus 7, which I also purchased.

The Nexus experience continued, so favorable that I didn’t even hesitate when they released a second generation Nexus 7 in 2013. I ordered one immediately.

The Nexus 7 saw heavy use around the house. I loved the Nexus 4 for a device on-the-go. It was the perfect size IMHO. Around the house, where fitting into my pocket was less of an issue, the Nexus 7’s larger screen made it my go-to device.

I’ve actually had three Nexus 7s over the years, replacing one with a shattered display, and later buying a spare when Google stopped offering them. I still have the Asus dock with micro-USB and HDMI ports that lets the tablet run on external power, even as you use it to feed a monitor or HDTV.

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TIP – Re: VoiceMeeter and Cordless Headset Batteries

It may be that in my old age I’m becoming forgetful. Or perhaps I’m just too enthused about what I’m doing, and little things get forgotten? I write this in the hope that it helps me to remember.

For years I’ve used a Sennheiser DW Pro2 DECT headset in my home office. It connects to a Polycom VVX-600 and my desktop computer. This trio serves me very well, but occasionally I reach for the headset and find that its battery is dead.

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Grandstream Revisited: Time For Some Tough Love

A few months ago I made some observation of how Grandstream had come to be in-use around my home & office. I especially appreciate their surveillance gear. The GVC cameras and NVR are in 2/47 service and have served us well the past couple of years.

That said, two problems have cropped up recently that bear examination.

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Hacking the Logitech C920 & C930e Webcams

Until recently I did not know that this was possible, but people are hacking the venerable Logitech C920 and C930e webcams. The hardware hacks allow them to be used with a diverse range of high-quality, low-cost, CS lenses.

What started as a series of hacks by Saulius Lukse in Vilnius, Lithuania has turned into a small enterprise. At his Kurokesu site he now sells various things related to his adventures in optics. That includes machined metal cases to refit the internals of the C920/C930e. Korukesu C920 webcam kit

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Replacing My Desktop Computer

Wanted: New Desktop PC. Must be the strong, silent type. Windows only. Laptops need not apply.

Warning: The following may well be a rationalization.

The arrival of the Logitech Brio webcam reminded me that my computers are now aged. Neither my desktop, nor laptop, are capable of reliably producing 1080p or 4K video streams.

In the case of the laptop, a second generation Lenovo X1 Carbon circa 2013, I’m not particularly bothered by this reality. I don’t expect a laptop, especially an ultrabook, to do such things.

Given that I optioned it well originally (8 GB memory, 256 GB SSD) the Lenovo is still a lovely device for the various tasks where I truly need portability. I can get another year from it without issue.

The desktop is another matter entirely. Its time has past. It has started to let me down in some significant ways. I’ve tinkered with its internals over these past five years. Its lone, traditional hard drive was augmented by an SSD boot volume early in its tenure, a third physical drive a little later on.

Its AMD FX6100 CPU, with 6 cores, first appeared in 2011. Clocked at 3.6 GHz it draws 95 watts. Upgrading the CPU would require a new motherboard, which in turn dictates a new power supply. While memory and storage can easily be upgraded, swapping out the host CPU is rarely worth the trouble on a system this old.

Never fear, we’re big believers in technology recycling. Our older computers often get demoted to lesser service hereabouts. For example, my previous desktop is our current music server. Alternatively, they may get wiped and gifted to someone who might have use of them despite their age.

Now, looking ahead…

Not long ago I revisited the state of small-form-factor desktops. I remain certain that I want a desktop. I just don’t want a hulking big box. After all, those big sheet metal boxes are mostly empty.

After much consideration (some would say waffling) I ordered an Airtop-PC direct from Compulab. Those of you paying attention will note that this is just over a year since I first mentioned the little wunderputer.

Weighing it against the competition I found it to be the best option for my purposes. What follows is an explanation of that thought process.

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