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Hilbert's Profile

Member since September 7, 2009

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  1. Review - Attribute Changer

    8.50 (Sep 13, 2016)

    This review of Attribute Changer 8.50b updates my review of version 7.10b (Sep 29, 2012).

    Romain Petges' Attribute Changer has matured into an excellent product; it is likely now the best of kind. Changing file attributes isn't something most users do often but when things go wrong or one wants to harmonize groups of files by date and time or other attribute then Attribute Changer can be a seeming godsend—in such circumstances it's *the* utility of choice.

    This is one of those utilities whose functions Microsoft should have built into Windows. Microsoft's fine-tuning of many of its Windows file management utilties can best be described as abysmal, their options and switches are just dismally limiting—and Explorer's limitations I could write a book about! Attribute Changer adds all the necessary functionality that has been missing from file attributes management, I can't think of any 'essential' function I'd add if I had the choice.

    As stated previously, my main need of Attribute Changer is to change or repair file attributes after files have been rescued from damaged disks, however in certain scenarios the date and time attributes of these rescued files are either lost or are wildly wrong, in such circumstances, Attribute Changer does a splendid job of letting the user change them.

    Attribute Changer's key usability/ergonomic feature is that it is an Explorer shell/context menu extension. The recent addition of AC's icon to the context menu is also very helpful, especially so if one has many menu items as I do. Moreover, I've noticed version 8.xx is noticeably faster than version 7.xx which is very helpful when one's dealing with hundreds of thousands of files.

    I would still like to see a user-settable option to give a warning when the date and time attributes are set, preferably a red popup or similar (once I accidentally modified the date and time of tens of thousands of files and couldn't reverse the situation). Similarly, an undo option would be very handy (similar to that found in say Advanced Renamer)—whilst helpful, it seems to me the logging feature is just not enough. Also, I'd like to see the EXIF features made clearer, to a newbie the differentiation between photo EXIF dates and file dates is insufficiently clear*.

    Nevertheless, in summary, I highly recommend Attribute Changer; it's certainly worth five stars.


    * The fact that there's no proper tracking between a file's metadata and its O/S date/time etc is a Windows-wide problem (a Windows design limitation), thus photos and documents often end up with incorrect file dates. For example, the original EXIF data in a camera photo, date/time etc, can get lost when that file is edited in say various photo editors. An intelligently designed O/S would—only if the user desired it—be able to track the EXIF data across various applications and thus remember the original date/time together with a history of all the intermediate edits. MS promised something along these lines with Vista's database filing system, WinFS, but never delivered it. In the interim, we need good utilities that deliver metadata to file attributes and vice versa functionality, albeit if they do so indirectly.

  2. Review - NirLauncher

    1.19.31 (May 3, 2015)

    NirLauncher is continually great software, each utility does what it says it does without any frills.

    I have to agree with DrTeeth though, as I've learned from experience there's little point in contacting the developer (Nir Sofer). On the few occasions I've contacted him about a bug or a wish-list suggestion he's never even acknowledged the correspondence.

  3. Review - openElement

    1.49 (May 3, 2015)


    This version still doesn't work offline! Downloading and running are two separate operations, when running the program the user may not have an internet connection (as is often the case with me, usually very deliberately so for obvious reasons). Moreover, in my case (same with my colleagues) the installation of downloaded programs is never done with the net connected for safety reasons (and they can be days–sometimes weeks–apart). The reasons for this ought to be obvious to Blind Freddy.

    If the developer can't include a default template and a few other samples in a 45MB file then one has to wonder what his actual motives are. Also, why aren't the templates offered as a proper separate download (in say the way IrfanView does by bulk-loading its plugins in one file–this would solve the online problem)?

    Frankly, I'm damn tired of demand-driven software that insists users do things in exactly the way the developer demands. A part of my job is testing and vetting software for users and commence and I see hundreds of them over a week or so, and I can assure you that developers who insist on such arrogant behavior never get past square one–no matter how good the software is.

    Developer, if you read this take note!

  4. Review - Eraser (Apr 13, 2015)

    carlvui is correct, this program causes too many issues to ignore. I've tried most releases of Eraser over recent years and it has made very little improvement.

    A reasonable way of testing these so-called erasure programs is to run various recovery/un-erasure software after you've used them. Often, the results are very telling—and worrying, what's found in the recovered shrapnel is often a little too revealing . (Ideally, you should always test such products this way-or better still, do so with the correct tools on another O/S such a Linux where NTFS isn't protected by the Windows O/S.)

    The first thing to realize is that NTFS volumes cannot be fully cleaned, the data may be erased but traces of your activity often aren't. Moreover, the 'cleaning' ability varies widely from product to product, and Eraser is one of the worst.

    I've had Eraser miss cleaning actual file names and un-erasers have detected traces of files that have not been cleaned. NOTE: by this I'm not saying that where Eraser has actually erased data that the data is recoverable. What I'm saying is that it can miss data, it can leave file names on the disk and it can actually miss files.

    [Note: from my experience, the only reasonably safe way of properly cleaning NTFS volumes is to copy (and hold) the data onto FAT32 or other media–but not NTFS–(to eliminate streams) then properly erase the drive with say DBAN – Darik's Boot And Nuke, then repartition and format the drive with a 'hard' full format such as

    format [drv:] /x /p:1

    This writes zeros to each and every sector but it's slow, then copy the wanted data back onto the original drive. Needless to say, this is why people use such programs as Eraser. Again, be warned, they're not perfect, and there are significantly better programs than Eraser such as Jetico's BCWipe.]

  5. Review - Hexbrowser (x86)

    0.72 Beta (Mar 7, 2015)

    A very interesting program to say the least but I like to see it developed further.

    In recent years, I've had many hard disks crashes and the rescued files from them aren't necessarily pristine—some files are OK, others recovered are completely broken even though they're exactly the same file length as the original, and still others have the wrong filename or they haven't any extent whatsoever.

    Most viewers, Quick View Plus etc., use ActiveX etc. to view files, and more often than not, if these programs encounter a file of the wrong type, or ones that are broken then it's it's not a trivial matter, in fact it's a damn nuisance, as lock-ups are so common..

    On the other hand, Hexbrowser flies through damaged files with great ease and speed, as it doesn't load 'active' content but only reads the file's header. This is great for just identifying files but it doesn't help if a file is broken further on down from the header.

    Hexbrowser would be extremely useful if it also had a maintenance mode that checked the whole file for integrity—for instance, Hexbrowser now detects say a DOC file and reports it as such, but it will not report the fact that the file may be cross-linked with another file or parts of it contain garbage.

    If Hexbrowser had the ability detect whether a file's integrity had been compromised or not then it would be invaluable.

  6. Comment - Five cures for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 ills

    0.72 Beta (Feb 4, 2010 - 2:24 PM)

    See my explanation in the general post list, it was supposed to be a reply to you (sorry).

  7. Comment - Five cures for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 ills

    0.72 Beta (Feb 4, 2010 - 2:09 PM)

    Right, most would agree with what you say. The issue is that we've let this IE/Windows shambles/security mess drag on for far too long and that those who report on technology issues have let us down by kowtowing to Microsoft for year after year, effectively they've not given us the true facts. There's always been some excuse such as this or that patch will fix it or the next version of IE will do so. However, that's never eventuated and the we've seen the same old security issues just keep marching on and on.

    Fact is, even if there was an excuse 15 years ago for bad code (but it's not a view I subscribe to), then it ought to have been fixed back then. Microsoft has always gotten away with as little as it possibly could and the fact that it was let off the hook so regularly and so often that has cost us users very dearly both in security and financial terms.

    Shame we can't all collectively sue Microsoft and get it to pay for the collective damages (as is the case with products in other industries).

  8. Comment - Five cures for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 ills

    0.72 Beta (Feb 4, 2010 - 1:47 PM)

    Defined as the best of class. Check the Wiki definition, second item, 'noun':

    Apologies for the slang.

  9. Comment - Five cures for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 ills

    0.72 Beta (Feb 4, 2010 - 1:39 PM)


    Most posts are written in a hurry--certainly mine are, and on occasions it would be nice to go back and make what's written more cogent, perhaps so here. However, I stand by the thrust of what I've written.

    You make reference to point 4, which is that 'MS should force non-genuine Windows to IE7 or 8', this adds to rather than detracts from my point. Initially, I'd included two quotes from the article but I deleted the second along with other comments because the post was too long. That second quote was from point 4.

    The fundamental point at issue in point 4 is essentially the same, which is that the article implies or suggest an ongoing authoritarian control by a manufacturer over a product already released to the marketplace.

    Any such action would raise serious issues:

    1. In Western liberal democracies, when a purchaser buys a product--except where its use is controlled and monitored according to law as with weapons, munitions, nuclear materials etc.--the purchaser has control over that product [by the very virtue of the sale], he is free to do with the product whatever he wants (so long as it's legal). If he wants to put the Windows disks into a shredder (and I've done that before today), or whether he wants to install it on a computer is NO concern of the seller--here Microsoft. In law, it's none of Microsoft's business, nor should it be.

    2. That Microsoft has an ongoing interest in a product once it is sold is just that--an ongoing interest--no more no less. Microsoft has no rights to tell the user what he can or can't do with the product, nor can Microsoft exercise any other rights of control over it, for example it cannot force changes to the product such as altering or patching the code etc. That commentators, as here, are suggesting that Microsoft be endowed with such powers smacks of totalitarianism and such notions should not be considered in a democracy for one second.

    3. That somehow Microsoft still exercises control over the product's use after its sold because of its copyright is nonsense. Copyright only confers on Microsoft a right to have its work protected against unauthorized reproduction. This is a separate issue and has nothing to do with the use of the product per se.

    4. If Joe Wilcox is suggesting that the law be changed to make an exception for software then this too would be unacceptable. Not only would it fundamentally undermine the free enterprise system so axiomatic to the American way of life, but also it would mean that software deployment and use would have to be tracked by the manufacturer. No only would the logistics be monumental but the privacy and security implications would be both horrendous and unacceptable.

    5. 'Automatic Updates' is only acceptable because the user agrees to them. Forcing them on the user as a condition of sale would also be unacceptable for (a) it presupposes every user has access to the Internet which is not the case, and (b) if at anytime things were to go wrong then Microsoft could easily be sued under common law and thus would not want to expose itself in this way.

    6. Moreover, privacy issues would raise themselves here too, thus exactly what 'Automatic Updates' did would have to be in the public domain (its source code published) and there'd have to be other changes too or governments and those sensitive to security issues etc. simply wouldn't use the product.

    7. Theoretically, if Microsoft could enforce an alteration to Windows after its sale then complex issues arise about the exact nature of the product beforehand and afterward. After patching, its modus operandi will have changed and some users will perceive the product as no longer doing what it did when they purchased it. Moreover, any such scheme would also have to include legit users who are not using 'Automatic' Updates' and I can assure you there are many of these, me included. There's little doubt the lawsuits would come thick and fast.

    Press Commentators and Microsoft

    This present Internet Explorer 6 crisis exemplifies a longstanding problem for the long-suffering software user. For years, commentators have been in awe of Microsoft. They remind be of cult worshipers kowtowing to some almighty deity. Irrespective of any criticism they make about Microsoft, ultimately, over many years they have skirted around or ignored the key issues which are that Microsoft was negligent in security matters, and that Windows and IE6 had manufacturing faults and security issues which raise fundamental questions about 'fitness for purpose' of these products. Faults of this magnitude in products within any other product class other than software would have had them withdrawn from the market just on marketability issues alone let alone the lack of 'safety factor'.

    Software reviewers in their reviews continually omit the aspect of merchantability. So bad and irresponsible has this reporting about Microsoft been over the years, that both governments and their agencies are now belatedly and loudly saying what the technical press should have said a decade or more ago.

    Clearly, this longstanding love affair the press has had with Microsoft has cost us users many billions of dollars. By their underreporting of the problem not only has our security been compromised but a complete security industry has been built up around Windows and Internet Explorer which we users have had to pay for not to mention the millions of hours of user's time that have also gone into combating the problem.

    For example, both Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer are built into Windows and CANNOT BE REMOVED without crippling it. Microsoft blatantly and deliberately did this to avoid competition and gain market share for IE. That an 'Operating System', which in those days meant a 'Disk Operating System', was extended to an Internet Operating System and that it wasn't optional for users to fully decouple the Internet function was hardly criticized by the press at all, any criticism was just a by-line. In fact, at the time many of the press warmly welcomed the integration of IE into the O/S even though it was obvious to Blind Freddy that there were all sorts of difficulties and ramifications with this approach. And that Microsoft had an almost total monopoly further highlighted the press's unprofessional reporting of the problem.

    That there was no vehement or relentless outcry from the press and that it was not vociferous enough in pursuing something that was obviously wrong with Windows is the reason we are in horrible predicament now. Reason went out the window as cult Microsoft had unusual influence over otherwise rational individuals. That the press--who ought to have known better--did not go for Microsoft's jugular also meant that neither did the public. Thus, there were few critics left to show up the problem, and ultimately, as the pressure from citizens was at best moderate; governments vacillated and effectively did nothing to protect the consumer.

    Today, in this present crisis, we are still left with an Internet Explorer 6 that cannot be uninstalled or fully decoupled from Windows. Had the press exercised responsibility early on, campaigned for a better deal for users, and Microsoft forced to properly decouple Internet Explorer from Windows, then now it would be a simple matter of just uninstalling IE6 (and installing something more secure if you want Internet access).

    Right! STILL THERE'S NO CALL from the press for Microsoft to bring out a patch that would allow users to completely uninstall IE6. Instead, we're told a lot of mealy-mouthed words that cloud the main issue. Responses such as the enforced patching of pirated copies of Windows are just woolly thinking. For starters:

    (a) It presupposes those who are using pirated copies of Windows would use 'Automatic Updates' when up until now they've been banned from doing so. For example, if the policy were changed, how would they be contacted if 'Automatic Updates' remains turned off?

    (b) Even if 'Automatic Updates' were available, many users would not avail themselves of it for fear of being exposed as possessing a pirated copy of Windows.

    (c) Hypothetically, even if there were to be a forced upgrade of IE6 then how would it be accomplished? For example, would the forced upgrade allow users to use say Firefox or would it be IE7 or IE8 only? What happens if later security breaches were to be found in both these products too?

    Finally, may I suggest this problem is not going away anytime soon, as XP will be supported until 2014 and the product will still be around for quite some years after that. I can assure you of this as I've customers who are already asking about how long they can use XP after this deadline and they will do so. I know this well, as I've now customers who continue to use Windows 98 and nothing seems capable of budging them, even the threat of viruses only invokes responses such as 'we'll get an improved anti-virus product'.

    Once, technical reporting was an objective and trusted profession whereby reporters--who were usually technically qualified engineers--would actually do detailed testing of a product then publish and defend the results without fear or favor. Today, most reporting on technology products such as Window, Internet Explorer etc. has reached rock bottom. Reviews are rarely little more than the reporter's subjective view, they can't even kerb their delight with the product let alone describe its technical aspects accurately and with objectivity. Moreover, as for objective testing--well that's a thing of the past, except where the feature holds interest for the reporter, the speed comparisons between say an old and new version of Windows is but a good example but there'll be no extensive vulnerability testing as that is just a yawn.

    Why the press has been so negligent for so long on the issue of Windows and Internet Explorer security remains a mystery to many of us. Clearly, it has to do with those issues that I've already identified but is also about the 'sacred cow' nature of these products in that people's love of them makes them blind to the issues. Over the years, the press's irrational infatuation with Windows and Internet Explorer technology has continually thwarted attempts to cut to the core of the problem, expose it and have the very real dangers posed by Microsoft's shoddy workmanship and manufacture fixed once and for all.

    How we get back rigorous and honest reporting of technology products remains a problem without an obvious immediate solution. It is clear though that overcoming the very real problem of technology addiction and the 'wow' factor in those who report on technology and the fact that it colors their reports is now a serious issue for all of us. (Moreover, it's interesting that recently sociologists have started to investigate the matter of technology addiction--although in a more general sense and not specifically targeted at technology reporters--although one can see that soon looming on the horizon).

    This is a now serious issue for us users as our lives have come to depend more and more on this technology and we are simply not getting the real warts-and-all facts about much of the junk that's being peddled out there in the name of software or the latest hi-tech gadget.

  10. Comment - Five cures for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 ills

    0.72 Beta (Feb 3, 2010 - 5:46 PM)

    I've reread this article again and perhaps I was half asleep the first time, but I can't believe my eyes, but I think I read this.

    "I contend that Microsoft should disable non-genuine Windows copies without warning."

    Are you wearing brown or black jackboots? The damn hide of you. Clearly, you don't work with half-broken legit copies of Windows where crashes have screwed certificates etc. etc. It happens all the time with legit copies of Windows. When stuffed, they can look like an illegal copy. I've seen automatic updates/MGA say legit software was illegal many times. Right, actually on legit software. Got it?? (Clearly you're only an operator, not a techie or you'd know this can be a common problem.)

    If Microsoft started that tactic, it'd be inviting law suits by the dozen. And deservedly so.

    If IE6/Windows was Rolls Royce software with no security faults, then this Gestapo-type tactic would still be unacceptable enough, but when we're really talking about third-rate junk software that has hundreds and hundreds--if not many thousands of security patches--then its unforgivable.

    Do you realize what this slovenly-manufactured junk has cost the world over the last 15 or so years--because it was build so badly that it can NEVER be made secure? So bad in fact that governments are now calling for it not to be used, soon the call is likely to be an outright ban. Well, it's billions upon billions of dollars outlaid by users across the world in maintaining this junk, and all you worry about is whether the software is pirated or not.

    Well, sell your M$ shares so you can be more objective.

    Why the hell are you such an apologist for Microsoft? After all, it's their insecure, broken, crappy software which is at fault and the cause of all this trouble--NOT THE USER! Moreover, Microsoft has had a decade and a half to fix Internet Explorer and Windows and they're still fooling around the edges of the problem with little hope of it being ever resolved.

    Patches are piecemeal and never-ending, the security patching never stops. Shame we don't have the source code for IE6, as you'd find it was an unholy unsystematic mess. In any other profession, manufacturing etc. this product would have been withdrawn long ago or been the subject of widespread damages under lemon laws.

    However, because it's software, and its writers have convinced the gullible that the merchantability of software is 'somehow' different to everything else on the planet--and because its faults are hidden and locked up by compiled code--somehow this crap escapes the scrutiny of the regulators.

    Yet, year in and year out, your editorial staff find some way of blaming the poor user instead of the source of the problem. It really is unbelievable. Moreover, its not only BetaNews, rather much of the popular tech press is guilty of it. Somehow, you've got it into your head that selling faulty goods is actually acceptable--talk about the laws of business being reversed.

    With the apologist, woe-with-Microsoft attitude in editorials in recent times being so prevalent, all I can say is that the number of free complimentary copies of Windows etc. out in publication-land must be enormous.

    It simply is beggars belief that you can write an article like that and not call for the company to undergo capital punishment.

    Clearly, you have a very different value system to most of your readers.