Tag Archives: applications

Taking Screen Captures on the Linux Desktop with Shutter

I am a cameraOnce upon a time, just about the only people who took screen captures were technical communicators and technology writers. Nowadays, it seems that everyone needs to grab a window or screen on their desktop. Which is why, I guess, the number of screen capture tools available for various operating systems has blossomed over the years.

If you use Linux, then you suffer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to screen capture software. One of the most useful and flexible screen capture applications for the Linux desktop is Shutter.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use Shutter.

Installing Shutter

Chances are you don’t have Shutter installed on your computer. You can download source code and packages for various distributions.

If you use Ubuntu, then you can install Shutter from a Personal Package Archive. To do that, open a terminal window and run the following commands:

 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:shutter/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install shutter 

Once Shutter is installed, you can launch it from a menu. For example, in Ubuntu select Applications > Accessories > Shutter.

Shutter main window

Getting Going

Using Shutter, you can grab the following:

  • Your entire desktop
  • A single window
  • An area that you select
  • A menu
  • A tool tip
  • A web page

Buttons for each of these options are on the application’s toolbar. When you minimize Shutter, its icon sits on a panel. You can choose an option by right clicking the Shutter icon.

Shutter right-click menu

The first two screen capture options — entire desktop and single window — pretty much explain themselves.

A captured window

To grab a portion of the screen, click the Selection button on the toolbar. Then, click and drag your mouse to select what you want to capture. When you’re done, press Enter on your keyboard.

Capturing a tooltip (the text that often appears when you hold your mouse over a button in an application) or a menu is probably only useful if you’re preparing documentation. You just have to remember to keep displaying the tooltip or menu for a few seconds before it’s captured.

Taking a screen capture of a web page works a little differently. When you click the Web button on the toolbar, a dialog box pops up. If you have a URL on your clipboard, Shutter assumes that’s the web page that you want to capture. You can also type a URL in the dialog box. Then, click the Capture button.

Capturing a website

This option doesn’t work with some websites. The capture process will sometimes time out, often without any rhyme or reason.

Editing Your Screen Captures

I usually like my screen capture software to do one thing and one thing only: take screen captures (obviously). If I want to manipulate screen captures, I can do that in an actual graphics program like The GIMP. But I make an exception for Shutter. Why? Its image editing tools, while limited, can be useful.

When you need to edit a screen capture, click the Edit button on the toolbar. You don’t get tools to resize, crop, rotate, or otherwise manipulate an image. You can add text, lines, callouts, and shapes to a screen capture. You can also highlight portions of a capture, or censor portions of an image to hide personal information.

Censoring private information

Final Thoughts

Shutter is a very flexible screen capture tool. I find it to be almost indispensable in my day-to-day work. It’s easy to use and has the features that I need (and a few that I find myself needing occasionally).

If you find yourself taking a large number of screen captures on the Linux desktop, then you should definitely give Shutter a look. It’s a worthy addition to your stable of applications.

Photo credit: Adorama

Banish In-Browser Advertisments On Your Android Phone With AdFree

Browser advertisements – the bane of every Internet user’s existence. Sure, there are plenty of sites that aren’t overzealous with advertisements, but for every site that tucks a small ad into the corner, there are ten that present you with giant flashing sidebars and bombard you with full-page ads that demand your attention.

All of the major desktop browsers have plug-ins that handily eliminate the majority of ads, but what do you do when you’re on your phone? Sure, there are third-party browsers that allow plug-ins, but what if you’re stuck on (or prefer) the stock browser?

Lucky for you, AdFree Android does exactly this.

IMPORTANT NOTE: AdFree Android requires that you have root access. If you do not have root, it won’t work at all. Applications like AdFree Android are just one of the many benefits of rooting your phone. For more, check out Why You Should Root Your Android Phone.

Unlike most browser extensions that block ads at the browser level, AdFree Android works by blocking them at the operating system level by modifying your phone’s hosts file.

Setting up AdFree Android is a cinch. After downloading it from the Android Market, go ahead and open it up. Like all root applications, it will ask for superuser permissions which you should grant. There are a few options from the main menu, but the one you want now is right at the top – Download & Install Hosts.

Clicking the button will do exactly what it says, and give you a prompt saying if it was successful. That’s it! If you know what they do you can play around with the other options, but for normal use the defaults work fine.

With Ads
Without Ads

Ads in a desktop environment are annoying, but in a mobile setting they can seriously impede your browsing experience. Ads that demand your attention by clicking to remove them can be difficult to dismiss with a touch screen. If you’re on a metered data plan, they consume precious bandwidth. With AdFree Android, however, ads become a thing of the past.

AdFree Android can be downloaded from the Android Market here, or by scanning the QR Code below. If you find AdFree Android useful, consider donating to the developers.

Want to Create a Web Application? Use CakePHP for Rapid, Secure Development

So you’ve got a sweet idea for a web application—great, let’s get to work! You’ll need a basic GUI, some sort of user registration, a templating system, logic processing, error handlers, form verification, AJAX processing, and… woah, this is adding up in a hurry. At what point do you get to start making the app itself?

What you need is a framework that will accelerate your app development by offering an easy way to employ common components to a site and the flexibility to quickly add custom logic.  This is where CakePHP enters the stage.

CakePHP is a PHP framework that simplifies the way you do programming. What do I mean by “framework”? This concept is best explained by making a comparison with traditional application scripts: a typical PHP script starts at the top and proceeds to the bottom while utilizing included classes to create objects and processes the intended logic. An error in your syntax ruins everything, and you need to manually code database connections and other activities not native to the language.

However, in a framework, you simply extend existing (and rigorously tested) libraries. For instance, CakePHP has the ability to “scaffold” a database table, where you simply provide a line code describing the table, and poof—the framework will display a basic interface for inserting, updating, and deleting records. No, really, it’s that easy… and that just skims the surface of CakePHP features.

So, the question really boils down to this: Why should you waste your time learning to use CakePHP? I’ll give you three solid reasons.

Faster development

You may or may not have any appreciation for online dating sites, but I think we can all agree that it would be a complex project if we had to build one from scratch. Ever heard of Mingle2? Yeah, me neither, but it’s a dating site that boasts 100,000+ users and was made with CakePHP in 66 hours. 66 hours. Let’s put this in perspective—this man started and finished production of a large scale social network in less time than it took me to beat Final Fantasy 7 the first time through. Impressive? You decide.

CakePHP shaves a lot of time off your typical coding assignments by letting you create a few lines of code that utilize the backbone libraries built into the framework. Do you need your application to send email? No problem. Do you want to verify a form to make sure the user is entering a credit card number? CakePHP has you covered. Need to interact easily with a mySQL database (or others)? Easy shmeasy.

On a lesser note, the package is a piece of cake to install. (See what I did there?)

Structure, security, and scalability

These are all pretty broad topics, but I’ll keep the description concise—CakePHP’s Model-View-Controller system (MVC for short) changes the way you program by establishing conventions that will simplify the creation of your app. In essence, the Model dictates how your app will interact with the database and the Controller will process this information in a way you dictate, finally delivering it to the View for display to the user. Consequent to this structure, the application has better access to data objects, files are shorter and better organized, and since we rely on CakePHP convention and library files, the app tends to be properly positioned for scalability.

For a much more detailed look at the way CakePHP processes an app, glance below on the left.  Next to that is how most app processing paradigms look. Sad, right? I know, I’m embarrassed, too.

Let’s not forget that security in app development is often sorely neglected. Fortunately, CakePHP protects forgetful programmers by offering protection from database injections and AJAX vulnerabilities. Did I mention the built-in regular expressions? If you’re like me, those will save your butt more than once.

It’s PHP

This may seem like a minor point, but think about it—PHP is supported on nearly every hosted server on Earth (20 million domains utilized PHP in 2007). PHP is also a freely distributed packaged that integrates perfectly with free server software such as Apache. Can you think of a better environment for developing an application with a limited budget? Don’t say McDonald’s Playland. Don’t you dare say it.

CakePHP also allows you to inexpensively and easily switch your current PHP practice to a rapid deployment framework. Not many things are more depressing (or expensive) than telling your team of PHP developers that they need to abandon their expertise to shift focus to a different language. With CakePHP, it probably won’t be necessary.

Conclusion

CakePHP will improve your app development experience in a lot of ways, but guess what—it isn’t the only PHP framework in town. Other frameworks such as Zend and Symphony have had great success and, like CakePHP, are robust options with large support communities. You may consider adopting Symphony if you prefer XML for designing databases, and you may hold a preference for Zend (which is more like a collection of libraries than a true framework) if you require tight integration with other platforms such as Facebook or Google APIs. Of course, there are even more than just these options from which you can choose.

Hopefully this brief summary of CakePHP was enough to convince you of the benefits of developing within a framework. Sure, ground-up development has its uses, but when developing a large, scalable app why reinvent the wheel? Hasten the process with a framework while improving organization and security. To whet your appetite with more details concerning CakePHP, visit their forums and have a look at their online book to better weigh your options.

Click here to see some sites developed in CakePHP. AskMen.com, Mozilla Firefox Add-ons, and Yale Daily News are among them!

Join the growing community of CakePHP developers and see what all the fuss is about. Sorry, I mean, “see about what all the fuss is”. That doesn’t seem right, but you get the picture. Happy programming!

Image credit: Nathan Eal Photography, Paul Downey

How to Enable Windows 7′s “Aero Snap” Feature in Earlier Versions of Windows

One of my favorite features in Windows 7 is Aero Snap, which automatically resizes and snaps applications to the sides of your screen when you drag them near.  If you’ve got several windows open on one screen, this is a great way to manage your space (and I’ve learned it’s even more useful when working on large screens).

My favorite way to use Aero Snap is with the keyboard – simply press the Windows Key + the left or right arrow on your keyboard and the current application will snap to the side of your screen.

Check out the video below to see how it works:

When I use earlier versions of Windows like Windows XP and Vista, I often find myself missing this feature.  But good news: it can easily be added with AeroSnap BETA.

AeroSnap BETA

AeroSnap BETA is a free download for Windows XP and Vista, and instantly gives you the same Aero Snap functionality seen in Windows 7.  After downloading and installing AeroSnap BETA, a small icon will be present in your system tray.  Right clicking this icon gives you more options.

In the General tab, you can set AeroSnap BETA to start with your system so snapping is always available.  You can also enable hotkeys, which is the best way to use Aero Snap in my opinion.  Pressing WIN + Left Arrow and WIN + Right Arrow will shift the current window to different sections of the screen, going from Right Snapped to Center to Left Snapped.

In the Snapping tab, you can adjust the different types of window snapping and also the width of the regions that the snap is sensitive to.

Adding Aero Snap to your older version of Windows is a great way to add some new functionality to your aging system without buying an entirely new operating system.

Enjoy this tip?  Make sure to check out our other articles about Windows!

Android App Roundup! SDMove and Google Places

It’s time again for another Android App Roundup! In this edition I’m going to tell you about SDMove, an indispensable application to have installed if you’re running Froyo (Android version 2.2), and Evan will tell you about Google Places, an app you probably already have on your phone but might not have used yet.

We welcome all suggestions for future App Roundups – you can post them below in the comments section, send us an e-mail, or let Evan or me know via Twitter.

Kevin’s Pick: SDMove

One of the most welcome additions in Android 2.2, especially for those of us running phones with a pathetically small amount of internal memory, is the ability to offload applications to the SD Card. This still requires the developer to flip a switch to allow the move, and while some developers were a bit slow to adopt the feature, more and more are starting to realize that this is something people might want to use.

How do you go about moving your hundreds of applications to external storage? By default, the only way is to go through the applications list, click on each individual application, and click the ‘Move to SD Card’ button if it’s not grayed out. Thankfully, one guy noticed this limitation and created a simple, amazingly effective application.

SDMove presents you with a list of all the applications you have installed, color coded based on each application’s SD Card status. Green apps are currently located on external storage, yellow apps aren’t on the SD card but can be moved there, and red apps aren’t allowed to be moved either because the developer has specifically flagged it as unmovable or hasn’t bothered to set a flag at all. There are a few other colors as well, and a full legend can be found in the ‘About’ section of the menu.

It doesn’t pack much flash, but SDMove does what it advertises and can save you a lot of time and frustration. Best of all, it’s completely free (if you don’t mind looking at the usual ads)! If you recently updated to Froyo and want to see what apps you can move, or if you’ve already moved some apps and want to see how much more space you can save, scan the QR code below to be taken directly to SDMove’s Market page.

Evan’s Pick: Google Places (part of the new Google Maps)

This app is an easy recommendation because most of you should have it installed already (as long as you’ve updated to the newest version of the Google Maps app).  If you haven’t updated your Google Maps yet, open the Android Market, press the Settings button, select Downloads, and install it.

If you’ve ever used services like Yelp, Google Places is a direct competitor.  Google has eagerly jumped aboard the location-based service bandwagon, and Places gives you a simple way to quickly find restaurants, bars, hotels, gas stations, and entertainment.

When you open Places, it will automatically grab your GPS location (if you have it enabled), so picking any category or performing a search will show you a list of relevant locations sorted by distance.  A small compass will even show you the direction of the potential destination.  If you don’t see the category you’re looking for, simply perform a search or use the “+ Add” button to create your own category.

Selecting a location will give you details, including reviews, available cuisine, and features like “Quiet atmosphere” or “Wi-fi Hotspot”.  You can click the buttons on the listings page to show it in Google Maps, navigate to the location, or call the business’ number.

I used Google Places this weekend to find a great new sandwich shop for lunch that was only a few miles from me but I didn’t know it existed.  If you do any traveling, I’m sure it will be even more useful.  Google Places is included with Google Maps, and can be found in your Apps drawer.

Android App Roundup! Touiteur (Twitter) and ROM Manager (for rooted phones)

The wait is over, everybody: Kevin and I are back for another exciting installment of our Android App Roundup series.  This week, I’ll be covering Touiteur, a great Twitter client, and Kevin will tell you about ROM Manager, the easiest way to install custom ROMs on your rooted phone.

As always, if you have any tips on apps we should check out, post in the comments at the end of this article, send us an email, or hit either of us on Twitter.

Evan’s Pick – Touiteur

I use Twitter quite a bit, so a Twitter client is one of the most used apps on my smart phone (besides email and a web browser).  When I got my first Android phone last November, I made a point to try every client available to find the one that fit my needs the best.

Touiteur (pronounced like Twitter with a French accent) is, in my opinion, the absolute best Twitter app currently available for Android.  It’s made by the same developer that made Beautiful Widgets (the long-time holder of the #1 most purchased paid app in the Android Market), so you know there’s some talent behind the software.

I’ve been using Touiteur throughout its development, and I’ve been amazed at how fast the developer was able to add every feature I needed in a Twitter client.  This app does everything you could want in Twitter, and makes it look really good.  Touiteur offers a smooth, highly refined user interface and provides innovative features.

Touiteur can be downloaded completely free from the Android market, and you can purchase the Premium version (which I eagerly did) to unlock several extra features such as multiple accounts, multiple widget sizes, and more customization options like a light theme.  The 4×1 Touiteur widget is the main focus of my Home screen.

This app is awesome.  If you use Twitter, give it a try, it’s one of the best apps available in the Android Market.  If you want to see some more images, check out the Touiteur homepage.

Scan to download Touiteur.

Kevin’s Pick – ROM Manager

If there is an application that nearly everyone who roots their phone or flashes custom ROMs has installed, it’s ROM Manager. It simplifies the process of backing up your current ROM and flashing a new one to the point that nearly anyone is capable of doing it.

ROM Manager sports a very simple interface. It isn’t fancy, but gets the job done. The main menu presents you with everything you might need, from flashing the bootloader that ROM Manager uses to backing up the ROM you’re running and flashing a new one.

Download the free version of ROM Manager and you’re able to flash new ROMs from the SD Card, but it’s well worth shelling out $4 for the premium version, which allows you to download new ROMs directly in ROM Manager. Both version have ads by default, but ClockworkMod lets you turn them off in the options menu if you’d like.

Installation of new ROMs couldn’t be easier. After backing up your current ROM (just in case something goes wrong) select the ‘Download ROM’ option from the main menu to be presented with a list of ROMs currently available for your device. Click on a ROM release and you’re taken to another subscreen with all of the versions available for that ROM. Select your version, answer a few installation questions, and the ROM starts downloading. When it finishes you’ll be prompted to restart your phone, after which the ROM you downloaded will be flashed automatically. Once that process finishes, reboot and enjoy your shiny new install!

ROM Manager is an essential application if you’re at all interested in custom ROMs, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’d like to give it a spin, download the free version by scanning the QR code below.

Scan to download ROM Manager.

Android App Roundup: SystemPanel (Task Manager/System Monitor) and Ringdroid (Ringtone Creator)

Welcome to another edition of Android App Roundup! This week I’ll be taking a look at SystemPanel, an awesome task manager/system monitor application, while Evan tells you about Ringdroid, an app that lets you easily create your own custom ringtones.

As before, if you have a suggestion for an app that we should talk about let Evan or me know via Twitter, send us an e-mail, or hit us up in the comments below.

Kevin’s Pick: SystemPanel

Dozens of task managers and monitors can be found on the Android Market, and sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which ones are worth downloading and which ones are trash. SystemPanel manages to combine a task manager and system monitor into an effective package.

SystemPanel presents you with a wealth of information right when you start it up. At the top you can quickly see vital system information such as CPU and memory usage and any current network traffic. Most of the main screen is taken up by the task manager, which shows you a list of applications currently in memory as well as running applications that have been swapped out of memory.

Clicking on a process gives you even more information, such as when it was started, how much CPU time it has consumed, and, in the paid version, a history of its CPU usage since it was started. The latter can be incredibly useful when trying to track down a battery hungry process. There are also options to exclude the process from the list or to terminate it.

In the options menu you can find an even more comprehensive system monitor. You can see graphs of your CPU and network usage over time and battery information, among other things.

The free version of SystemPanel offers quite a bit, but the paid version does add some features worth paying for. One such feature is an app manger that lets you install applications from .apk files on your SD card and make backups of apps you already have installed. The most useful feature of the paid version, though, is the aforementioned long term system monitoring tools. If you’re having battery troubles, or just want to see what your system activity looks like, those tools alone are worth the $2.99 price of the full version.

SystemPanel can be found by searching the Android Market, or by scanning the code below with the Barcode Scanner application.

Scan to download the free version of SystemPanel

Evan’s Pick:  Ringdroid

Kevin and I write this article separately, so I’m always excited to see what he picks.  So before I explain my choice, let me echo his recommendation for SystemPanel.  I loved it when it was a free beta, and I bought the full paid version when it became available.  This is definitely an app worth getting.  Now for my recommendation…

I like making my own ringtones.  This is usually because I’m the guy with things like the Double Rainbow song as my ringtone, and I’m also leery of spammish websites that offer free ringtone downloads.  Ringdroid is a free application that lets you create custom ringtones from any audio file on your phone.

When you open Ringdroid, you’ll see a list of the media files on your phone with a handy search.  Touch a song to begin editing.

Ringdroid’s audio editor is very simple to use and offers a simple interface similar to ones found in Goldwave or Audacity desktop applications.  Use the two sliders to select the beginning and end of your ringtone, allowing for about 30 seconds worth of music.  To be more precise, you can zoom in to set the start and end bars at the right locations.

When you’re satisfied with your selection, press the Save button.  You aren’t just limited to saving a ringtone, you can also create a notification file or alarm.  Ringdroid will allow you to set the new file as your default ringtone or assign it to a specific contact when you’re finished.

Ringdroid is a great way to add a personal touch to your phone, and if you’re buying your ringtones – don’t!  This application does a great job and is very easy to use.  To download Ringdroid,  search for it in the Android Market or scan the barcode below.

Scan to download Ringdroid

Google Re-Invents Android Development with App Inventor

The Android Marketplace may be getting a little bit more crowded soon.  This week, Google Labs revealed to the world App Inventor, a creative programming tool that allows just about anyone to figure out how to design and create Android applications… and there was much rejoicing.

Thanks to the open architecture of the Android OS, App Inventor allows for tweaking of everything and anything that is contained in the operating system, like a giant Android application sandbox.

The interface itself looks like something out of Visual Basic and uses a web browser and the Java Web Start kit to allow one to create and explore the Android environment.  According the the official website, the tool allows for the user to create packaged applications that can store data, create quizzes, provide access to the phone’s GPS and phone messaging features, and access websites to collect data.

Similar to Visual Basic, the program is a block based development tool allowing for things like timers, buttons, and the like to build an official Android application.  The App Inventor website, along with describing how to install the tool on one’s personal computer, has some free tutorials that show step-by-step how to create some basic applications ranging from drawing pictures on a cat (or any picture for that matter), to allowing teachers to create quizzes for students to complete.

While an application is being designed, it can be previewed by first turning on “USB Debugging” and “Stay Awake” (through Settings -> Applications -> Development) on the Android phone and then connecting it to one’s personal computer via USB.  At this point in time, this developmental tool is being presented as is; there is no way to start in App Inventor and export the Java source code for further tweaking.  From start to finish, this tool creates applications.  Furthermore, this software is currently in closed beta but anyone can attempt to sign up via their Gmail account here.

This is BIG news for the mobile community, and even though the tool is just two days old it is already being hyped, downplayed, argued, debated, and praised by every major technology and news publication (I’m surprised Women’s Day Magazine hasn’t covered it yet).  For now, the majority approve of this “every-man’s” developmental medium, but it will take some time to see the true results of this great leap forward.

Android was not built in a day, but very soon its applications will be.  Here’s to progress.

Android App Roundup: ‘NewsRob’ (RSS Reader) and ‘4 teh birds’ (Game)

Dearest Android readers:  Thanks to a fantastic suggestion, Kevin and I are starting a weekly feature about some of our favorite Android apps.  We’ll be covering apps we love, apps that improve our phones, games, and newly-released apps that are worth checking out.

If you have any suggestions, hit either of us on Twitter, send us an email, or post in the comments at the end of the article!

Kevin’s Pick – NewsRob

Since Google hasn’t released an official Reader app yet, Android users can either use the mobile Reader website or download an app that syncs with Reader. I prefer the latter and have been using one called NewsRob since I got my phone, and it suits my needs perfectly.

NewsRob comes in two flavors, free and Pro. The free version is ad-supported and lacks some of the more advanced features of the Pro version, such as widget support. If all you plan on doing is checking your feeds, though, the free version will work just fine.

Synchronization can be configured through the options menu. There are options to sync automatically, only when connected to Wi-Fi, or only on demand. You can also set the time interval between synchronizations. In addition, NewsRob can be set to download only text, text and images, or text, images, and the web page the item points to.

Navigating NewsRob is as easy as it gets. Your feeds are broken down into any folders you might have set up in Reader, and then into individual feeds. Cycling through the items in a feed is handled by the volume buttons or on-screen arrows. Getting to the web page of an item is as simple as clicking its title. The page is rendered directly in NewsRob, so it isn’t even necessary to have a separate browser open!

NewsRob can be downloaded from the Android Market by scanning the QR Code below with the Barcode Scanner application.

Scan to download NewsRob

Evan’s Pick – 4 teh birds

Since Kevin went with something useful, I decided to go with something fun and pointless.  4 teh birds (nope, not a typo) is a super simple game for Android where clusters of cute, chubby birds fall from the sky, and your objective is to match three same-color birds together.

This game sports a fantastic physics engine, so those bulbous little birdies bounce all over the place as you try to match them up.  This game has wonderful artwork and animation, making it a great way to waste a few minutes during the day.

4 teh birds has several game modes, including time attack and survival.  In Hey, not too rough mode the clusters of birds can always be moved, but in Time Attack and Survival modes the birds can only be moved for a limited amount of time.  This quickly brings your game to the panic-inducing end game of Tetris when you’ve got a screen full of birds and no way to match them all up.

Overall, this game is addictive and has some of the best art direction, albeit simple, that I’ve seen in an Android game.  And hey, who doesn’t enjoy throwing obese birds around every once in awhile?

4 teh birds is free and can be found in the Android Market, and can also be downloaded by scanning the code below with the Barcode Scanner application.

Scan to download 4 teh birds
Image credit: lwallenstein

Follow Up: My Experience with Microsoft Security Essentials Anti-Malware Software

ThumbnailA few months ago, Evan wrote a great article about Microsoft’s free anti-malware application, Microsoft Security Essentials. After using Microsoft Security Essentials for several months, I’ve been able to get a good sense of how it stacks up against the competition.

My first experience with Security Essentials was on my own computer. It had some relatively benign spyware which wasn’t being removed by my standard set of scans, so I thought I’d give Microsoft Security Essentials a try.

As Evan mentioned in his article, Microsoft Security Essentials is a quick, painless installation and it automatically updates its virus definitions. This is a handy feature because it prevents me from wasting time by running a scan and then realizing I forgot to update and having to do it all over again.

After updating the virus definitions, I elected to go straight for the full scan option, not really knowing what to expect in terms of time. The full scan took about 3 hours to finish. This was on an older computer, but it still surprised me how long it took. However, the wait was worth it, as it found and easily removed the malware that none of the other products I tried were able to!

Microsoft Security Essentials

Since I found Microsoft Security Essentials to be successful at home, I have been using it more frequently at my IT job. Although it still isn’t part of the standard set of scans we run, Microsoft Security Essentials seems to find malware that other applications miss. Most of the time, it takes care of the malware without causing any additional problems to the system.

We’ve recently seen an issue with a Windows Update for Windows XP combined with a virus causing a Blue Screen of Death error.  Kevin wrote a fantastic guide to resolving the problem, and he found that using Microsoft Security Essentials seems to be the most successful  method for removing this particularly nasty malware.

Conclusion

Although the full scan still seems to take significantly longer than other products on the same hardware, it can be worth the time because Microsoft Security Essentials finds malware that other products miss. I still recommend using a combination of anti-malware products when running manual scans (since each one has unique strengths and weaknesses), but if your usual set of scans does not do the trick, I would give Microsoft Security Essentials a spin!

Have you used Security Essentials? Have your results been similar to mine, or have you had a different experience? I’d love to get feedback in the comments below!