Enterprise Library 3.0 Released

Most excellent. I have looked at Enterprise Library in the past, but never quite found a suitable project for it. 3.0 has just been released and the highlights (as covered by Tom Hollander) are

I particularly like the Validation block and the Software Factory. I should think up a project where it makes sense to use this.

Goodbye Sygate, Hello Comodo

 It was finally time for my beloved Sygate Personal Firewall to go.

As the pipes I have access to got fatter, Sygate’s CPU utilisation was getting unacceptable, up to 15% sometimes.

It was also getting long in the tooth (Symantec stopped development after taking over. Damn you Symantec!). Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but being a closed source application, the possibility of unpatched vulnerabilities is a concern.

And so, off on my quest. My criteria were simple.

  1. Cheap, free is even better
  2. Simple, as in “stop trying to do everything”
  3. Perhaps most importantly, effective

Unfortunately effectiveness can only be judged by reviews and tests as I have neither the means nor the desire to see for myself.

The popular candidate would be Kerio, but I do not like that it does web filtering, or that it nags you to register when the full version trial is over.

Happily, I decided to give Comodo Personal Firewall another go.

I have tried it before, maybe a year ago. Back then it had the obnoxious “Comodo LaunchPad”, and was bloody “chatty” with the warnings. Glad to see the LaunchPad is gone, and the sensitivity maybe tuned down somewhat.

Very nice, Comodo. Thanks.

CCCP14 Released

Huzzah!

This is the 2007-02-22 “Anonymous does not forgive” build. CCCP is still the best codec pack as far as I am concerned. Coupled with the ffdshow speed ups for Vorbis and H264, this is really the only thing you need for video playback on Windows PCs*.

Also: Vista compatibility, and Zoomplayer 5.0.

* apart from Quicktime and Real content

CS 3.0 Skinning

I was planning to go on a major skinning exercise for That Stupid Club, but seeing this, and actually reading about it, I am salivating at The Power that will be available.

Eagerly waiting for the first beta…

Update: link to Ben Tiedt’s series of posts introducing Chameleon for own future reference.

Halite 0.28

New version of Halite released with a snazzy new icon. Changes from 0.27 to 0.28:

  1. IP filtering support eMule style ipfilter.dat files.
  2. DHT support, thought it is turned off by default.
  3. Can select alternate save directory for torrents.

Long time readers of my blog (yes, all two of you!) will know that since BitTorrent Inc announced the acquisition of µTorrent, I have been keeping an eye on the development of Halite, and the library it was based on, libtorrent.

The major stumbling block to more widespread adoption is, I believe, the lack of support for protocol encryption (PE) in libtorrent. Well the bad news is there is still no support. There is good news though. Eóin, author of Halite, is considering implementation of PE and contibuting it to libtorrent. Most excellent. Pity that I am no C++ hacker or I would have given it a shot myself.

I cannot recommend replacing µTorrent with Halite right now, but once PE is implemented, add features and polish from a few more iterations and I should be all over it.

Best Codec Pack

I see the K-Lite codec pack bandied about anywhere anytime anybody asks for recommendations for a codec pack, or as a solution to playback problems. Sometimes the monstrous “ACE Mega CoDecS Pack” makes an appearance.

When it comes to codec packs less is definitely more, as exemplified by my pack of choice, the Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP). Originally developed for playing fansubbed anime, it is tweaked and tested for maximum quality and reliability and is able to handle just about anything I care to throw at it. That one of the players included in the pack is the excellent Media Player Classic is just a bonus.

Make sure to read the installation instructions.

The only major formats lacking are RealMedia and Quicktime, and that is easily fixed by installing Real Alternative and Quicktime Alternative (both are designed by KL Software, creator of the K-Lite pack, so they are doing something right). Also, CoreAVC (not free) is an option for slower PCs for decoding H264 content.

Satsuki’s Decoder Pack seem pretty nice, and XP Codec Pack is another viable alternative. They decode more audio formats than the CCCP, so they may be more suitable for some people. Me, I have QMP for all my audio needs, but that’s a topic for another day.

Note: K-Lite has a “CCCP” profile, but it does not work well, and with none of the tweaks, so what is the point? Get the best, accept no substitutes.

Note 2: Graphic shamelessly ripped from the official CCCP wiki.

Update (12-Jan-07)
The latest betas of CCCP contain newer builds of ffdshow with some impressive gains in speed, by up to 20% it seems. Of course CoreAVC is still that little bit faster, but I can now play most hi-definition (1280 x 768) H264 content without slow downs on my 1.5 GHz Pentium M laptop. Excellent!

Thunderbird 2.0 Beta 1

Was planning to upgrade to the first beta of Thunderbird 2.0 for the tags (I feel so Web 2.0). Enigmail has not yet been marked as compatible, and I need that for my subversive, perverse ways. Oh well, I can wait.

For the ones who absolutely cannot wait to use the latest and greatest, there is a data loss bug, so be sure to back up your profile.

Visual Studio 2005 SP1

Good: Much more responsive IDE is the biggest plus. Also, according to Scott Guthrie, it contains over 2200 bug fixes.

Bad: I could not uninstall the old Web Application Project package, so I tried fiddling in the registry which led to me reinstalling Windows. Okay so its actually my fault, but I choose to blame Microsoft anyways.

I do wish I did a little more reading before installing it.

Very Disappointing, Symantec

Looks like Sygate Personal Firewall will be no more. Knew this was going to happen, after Symantec took over Sygate a few months ago. I was a pretty loyal user of Symantec back in the late 90s but now I avoid their products like avian flu. While Norton Antivirus is just bloated, the Internet Security suite is bloated and under-performing. Killing Sygate PF is not going to increase sales of your Internet Security suite, Symantec.

Sygate PF was probably the best of the free software firewalls available. I’ll probably be taking a look at Jetico.