New Year’s Resolution: Stop Paying for Antivirus Protection

New Year’s Resolution: Stop Paying for Antivirus Protection

    It’s not hard to understand Windows users, myself included, still run paid subscription antivirus (AV) software (i.e. Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro, etc.) that can cost from $40 to upwards of $80 per year for a security suite. Until recently, when it came to computer protection I, like many of you, took on the old adage you get what you pay for. Two years ago I’d still stand by that; although two years of steady progression has proven that phrase doesn’t apply here anymore.


    Microsoft to the rescue?

    So what new open source security suite has freed us from McAfee’s bondage? Actually, this time it isn’t open source. Believe it or not it’s actually Microsoft who’s stepped up on this one; with their free antivirus program, Windows Security Essentials. Security Essentials has been available for a couple of years, but in the beginning it was terribly buggy and unreliable. Yet, since that time, Security Essentials has seemingly hit its stride.

    If it’s been steadily progressing, why is the first time I have posted anything about it? To tell the truth, it has taken me nearly 2 years to warm up to it. My initial opinion of SE back in 2009 was,


    Microsoft’s offering, what they’re claiming is, a legit security suite? Umm…yeah…right…and it’s free?! You must be huffing paint! Microsoft isn’t capable of producing both a free and a legit product, so this has to be complete crap. If they didn’t offer that retarded iPod they called a Zune for free, the thought of a free – and legit – AV solution from Microsoft is just plain nutty!” 

    Let’s face it, quality AVs, and/or any other security suite that’s offered for free by Microsoft was a pretty far-fetched concept. Until they showed me proof, I wasn’t biting. Now, as we head into 2012, Microsoft has proven itself to be a legit AV contender (not to mention a nightmare to McAfee and its bloated cousin Norton). Unlike the bloated paid subscription AVs, Windows Security Essentials is extremely lightweight, easy to install, and even easier to use.


    It takes about a minute from the time you launch the install file until you’re literally scanning your system. It runs silently in the background, giving you the ability to continue working on your PC while Security Essentials is scanning. That is something I would always try and avoid when I ran McAfee, because everything became very sluggish if I tried to work on my PC while McAfee was scanning. I wouldn’t even attempt working on a PC while Norton was lumbering along with its, bovine like agility, scanning for the viruses it, most likely, put on the system to begin with!

    Still not without flaws

    If Security Essentials’s greatest strength, besides being free and very light, is its ability to run quietly in the background without disrupting what’s going on in the foreground, then its weakness would be its lengthy full system scan time. Security Essentials’s full system scans take a bit longer to complete than some of the AVs I’ve seen. Although, when you hardly even know its running and can continue working, it’s not that big of a deal. Plus, I have heard tales that this “weakness” will be remedied in the newly released beta version of Security Essentials. I am hearing a 20% speed increase in scan time.


    The appearance of the beta version and the current version are virtually the same, although the site lists several functionality improvements; such as, automatic malware remediation, new protection engine, and many performance tweaks. Besides it’s the functionality that protects your PC from an infection, not its stunning good looks. I’m not nearly as concerned with Security Essentials’s appearance as I am its functionality. This isn’t exactly a beauty contest; computer infections are nasty and sometimes require getting some dirt on you.

    So, what is your AV setup and are you planning to download and install Security Essentials? Tell us your thoughts about Security Essentials or any other anti-virus software in the comments section.

    (Photo Credit: Stylized computer virus via Shutterstock)

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    11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

    11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

    Whether at work or at school, people these days are under tremendous pressure to perform, perform and perform! Stress and pressure can have adverse affects on the well-being of a person, and need to be controlled.

    Now, this doesn’t mean you make a dash to your nearest therapist. There are a number of wonderful and smart apps that you can use on your phone. These brain training apps have been scientifically designed to target specific areas of the human mind and control harmful emotions such as anxiety, as well as to improve memory and sharpness of the brain.

    Here are 11 iPhone apps that you will not only enjoy but also find useful in keeping your mental health balanced at all times.

    1. Lumosity

    This app consists of games that focus on improving the user’s memory, problem-solving capability, attention span, and thinking. There are three games in each session, and they challenge the brain by changing every time. The user has to complete the games while playing against a clock.

    Free of trial. $15 per month for the full version.


    Luminosity Mind training apps-Lifehack

      2. Fit Brains Trainer

      This brain training app has 10 sets of games that work on different areas of the brain and improve memory as well as concentration. A user is required to finish a particular task from each category on a daily basis and the app tracks the progress by a color coded graph.


      Fit Brains Trainer Mind training apps-Lifehack

        3. CogniFit Brain Fitness

        Developed with the help of neuroscientists, this fun app improves a person’s cognitive abilities, which includes memory and concentration. The progress made by the user over a period of time can be tracked. Users can also play challenge rounds with their friends. The app also modifies the difficulty level to suit the profile of the user and provide recommendations based on the results. Spending 20–30 minutes a few times every week can give measurable improvement in the performance of a user.

        First four games free, then $13 a month.

        cognifit-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

          4. Brain Fitness Pro

          The makers of this app claim that it can improve the IQ of a user, and improve intelligence and memory. The app is fun and is user friendly, and 30 minutes a day can fetch you results in less than three weeks.


          Buy for $3.99.

          5. Happify

          If nothing else makes you happy in life, this app will. Well, this is what the developers claim at least. This app comes loaded with lots of quizzes, polls and gratitude journals, which work on the fundamentals of positive psychology. The app also helps to control stress and emotions to make you feel better.

          Free to use.

          Happify-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

            6. Clockwork Brain

            You will like the little gold robot that comes in every time to explain the next game you are going to play. While the games are not much different to those offered in apps such as Luminosity, the look and feel reminds me of a workshop from old times.



            Clockwork Trsin-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

              7. ReliefLink

              Initially created as an app for suicide prevention, it has found its use as a great app for tracking the mood of the user by taking measure of all things relevant to the user’s mental health. In case the user experiences high emotional stress, the app has a coping mechanism that includes voice-recorded mindfulness, exercises and music for relaxation. There is also a map that informs the user of the nearest therapist and medical facilities for mental health treatment.

              Relief Link - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                8. Eidetic

                Eidetic is a memory enhancement app and uses a ‘spaced repetition’ technique to help users memorize information such as important phone numbers, words, credit card details or passwords. It also notifies you when it’s time to take a test to see what you remember, so that you retain information in your long-term memory.

                Eidetic - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                  9. Braingle

                  Braingle helps to maintain the sharpness of the brain and improve the reasoning ability of a person through riddles and optical illusions. It is different from other brain training apps that employ memory and reaction based tests. You can also compete with your friends and family members in figuring out the fun riddles.


                  Briangle- Mind Training Apps-LIfehack

                    10. Not The Hole Story

                    If you have a penchant for solving hard riddles, then this app is a must-have for you. Filled with exclusive riddles along with a simple-to-use interface, the app gives you riddles that you have to solve through a book. You will be given hints along the way, and when you give up, the answers will be revealed. This app will encourage you to broaden your thinking and put your mind to a challenging test.



                    Not the hole story - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                      11. Personal Zen

                      This fun brain training app follows the journey of two animated characters who travel through a field of grass. Personal Zen is a nice app meant for reducing anxiety and trains the brain to focus on the positive aspects. The developer’s advice is to use the app for 10 minutes a day to see the best results.


                      personal zen- mind training apps - lifehack

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