Category Archives: News/Releases

News about new stuff, new program releases and my new tools, tweaks or fixes…

AVIRA Antivirus 2020 got new interface

I’ve been lurking around MalwareTips forums when I noticed someone posted about AVIRA getting new interface in their paid Internet Security package. Turns out, AVIRA Free also got a facelift. So I gave it a spin…

Main reason I did so was because AVIRA literally had the worst interface of all antiviruses in existence for literally decades. It was cumbersome, clumsy, fat, outdated and just plain terrible. It was so bad I avoided AVIRA like plague despite constantly scoring highly in tests. New interface looked promising, but I still had doubts knowing AVIRA and their almost legendarily terrible interface designs. Well, here are the findings in regards of new interface facelift.

What’s new?

Biggest change is ditching of weird “modular” launcher AVIRA insisted on for so long. The main interface now looks more like latest versions of AVG or avast!, even in color scheme. Which is not necessarily bad. It actually looks pretty ok and is quite logically organized. On the left there are categories and when you select them you have options on the right side.

What isn’t so new…

What isn’t so new are some of the old interface elements that got carried over from old interface dating as far as 15 years back in time. Yeah, I’m not kidding here and AVIRA seriously needs to step up the game now they finally done the main interface right. Luke Filewalker scanner is still around, old settings panel is still around and detection popup all look exactly the same as they have back when Windows XP was released and “Luna” theme design was a thing. Yeah, it has Windows XP vibe all over the place and it just feels wrong almost 20 years later.

Screenshots

AVIRA_Main.png
Main interface panel
AVIRA_Security.png
Security panel
AVIRA_Scan.png
Protection options panel
AVIRA_Settings.png
The “new” old settings panel
AVIRA_LukeFilewalker.png
Good very old Luke Filewalker…
AVIRA_Detection.png
“New” detection popup with Luna style close and Details buttons…

Additional info

Manual removal of some components in Programs and Features is required to get rid of things that are annoying and you don’t need, but get installed automatically. Like AVIRA Software Updater, AVIRA VPN and AVIRA Cleanup tools. They are all paid features that won’t have any purpose except eating resources and space as some dig into Explorer context menus and run constantly and eat absurd amounts of memory. Software Updater component for example was eating 450MB of RAM. I have 32GB of RAM, but it’s still absurd and serves absolutely no purpose as it’s paid only feature.

Verdict

New AVIRA interface is certainly a step in the right direction. It’s still not perfect, but it’s at least bearable now. And they need to seriously work on modernizing and integrating old panels and settings into new interface and make it a complete, consistent looking package. If they do this, AVIRA will become a serious competition with good detection and good looks. It’s already half way there and I can finally recommend it as an option.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it. Or just comment on screenshots. Do you like the new design or not?

Some explanation of avast! data selling drama

I want to explain some things in regards to this thing. People seem to be freaking out like it’s end of the world and I have a feeling 3/4 of them don’t even understand what’s going on, they are just jumping on the rage bandwagon. For TLRD, scroll down and skip the next two paragraphs.

I do have to admit this is pretty bad fuckup on avast!’s end and it was just a question of when it’s going to happen. I’ve been long time avast! supporter since it’s quite early days when it was still a relatively small company. It felt like family run company, team was super invested into actually listening to users and while it had some issues like unusual fancy interface and detection that wasn’t the best of the best, everything felt genuine and their top priority was product quality and user satisfaction. Fast forward to now and all their company seems to care is profits, profits, profits and again profits. I guess that’s what always happens when you get investors from outside, all they care is money and they always do it in most desperate ways. Selling user data is one of them…

As evident from investigation by PCMag and Motherboard. avast! of course responded with their official response and blog post, but I don’t think this will fix much. Damage has been done and to my surprise, they don’t seem to understand or care how quickly you ruin your reputation that took decades to build up. Coz if they cared, it wouldn’t even cross their mind to do it like this. Or have a whole freaking subsidiary that deals with data selling.

TLDR

So, yes, they were selling user data and although they say it was anonymized, it was a dick move. But there is no need to be totally freaking out and uninstalling avast! like it’s end of the world. After all, avast! does have a very good detection and that’s what we use antiviruses for.

  • If you were/are only using avast! Antivirus without any browser extensions, you are NOT affected.
  • If you were/ are using avast! browser extensions, but you have disabled Data Sharing in extension settings, you are NOT affected.

So, chances are, some users who weren’t using their browser extensions or had data sharing disabled, it’s like nothing happened. It’s a black mark in their rap sheet, but I’d still consider their antivirus. One coz they can’t afford another such fuckup and second, because it’s good and if you opt out from data sharing like I’ve always done, it’s still a good option. I never understood or liked sharing of data beyond protection one in antiviruses. Be it avast!, Kaspersky, Bitdefender or any other.

But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to stay in this “relationship” or use something else…

EDIT 2020-1-30:

I got some extra info from a Reddit user that data collecting was also involved with antivirus alone through Web Shield component (at least per their EULA which I haven’t analyzed to such depth). Which means users not even using browser extensions could be affected unless data sharing was also disabled in antivirus itself. Which is what I’ve always done right away after installing avast!, but I can imagine millions of casual users not doing that.

EDIT: 2020-2-14

I just got a reply from avast! employee on their forums that Web Shield in desktop versions of avast! was not involved in data collection. Data collection only affected mobile version of avast! Web Shield assuming you had data sharing enabled. If you didn’t, then you weren’t affected either.

CryEngine real-time ray tracing tech demo capable of running on any graphic card!

CryTek recently shocked gaming community with a jaw dropping tech demo showcasing real-time ray tracing running on mid range AMD Vega 56 graphic card, but they say it can run on any graphic card from AMD or NVIDIA without any need for dedicated ray tracing hardware. Yes, CryTek is saying that for their ray tracing, you don’t need GeForce RTX graphic card.

If you think I’m exaggerating when I say it’s jaw dropping, have a look for yourself…

I really wish we had an executable tech demo that we could run ourselves on graphic cards we already have, but if CryTek is not fooling us in any way and this was indeed running in real-time using AMD Vega 56 graphic card and all the reflections, lighting and shadowing is in fact ray traced method, then NVIDIA is in for a shock. And so is almost entire gaming industry. Just imagine what a huge breakthrough this is for the graphics, we are talking Pixel Shader level of shock that happened back in 2001 with DirectX 8 that brought programmable shader effects including beautiful simulated reflections that were basically impossible with earlier DirectX versions. Realistic reflections that can be used on any graphic card without having to drop almost 1000€ for a graphic card and you still get playable framerate. It’s insane. We could finally see use of reflections as a game mechanic. Just imagine multiplayer games where using reflections to have an advantage. For example looking at windows or reflective objects to see if someone is hiding in the room, or using reflections to create more scary environment. Or even just to boost immersion. I always loved games that render player’s own shadow, because it gives a feeling that your player character physically exists in the game and it’s not just floating hands and gun, but a real person that casts a shadow of its own. Now imagine also seeing real reflections of yourself in everything that is reflective.

I don’t know what kind of witchcraft CryTek is doing, but it seems to be working and I really hope developers will jump on it. CryEngine has always been visually amazing, but always stumbling in the shadow of Unreal Engine. I hope this will help them out. Crysis 4 maybe? I sure hope and with ray tracing please. 🙂

Dissenter, a comment section for the entire internet

Recent trend is to shut down comment sections on webpages to avoid people actually discussing what they really think about the news article or the content so the authors can further push certain agendas or narratives without any resistance from people who aren’t just sheep, but they actually think about things or discuss it with others. Because articles and news without comment sections are pretty much propaganda material.

As a response to that, Gab, the free speech social network recently launched service called Dissenter. Essentially, Dissenter is a commenting system, almost like Disqus, but doesn’t require integration into webpage itself. You can download extension for it for all major browsers (links will be down below) and read what others are saying about certain content under an URL. If you want to comment, you have to create Gab account, but reading is fully open as is. Good thing about it is that you can browse the webpages as before and when opening Dissenter, you get a popup on top, so you can read webpage and the comments at the same time without leaving one or the other.

In a nutshell, we already had something similar, it was called “WOT” or “Web Of Trust”, until it was discovered they were selling user data to 3rd parties without user consent. It’s when I and many others ditched it. Which is a shame because the design and usability of the service was pretty good and super useful.

If webpages have comment sections, but they are censored or disabled, you can still comment on it and anyone using Dissenter, can see them under same URL. Even if webpages don’t have comment sections at all by default, you can still comment and others can still read that.

Dissent always comments under the specific URL you’re currently located, so if you want to comment on their webpage in general, you need to visit their root webpage or home page. This can be seen in Dissenter popup, so make sure you are on correct address depending on what you want to comment on, specific article or subpage or home page itself.

Idiots are already making wild claims how Dissenter is a neonazi propaganda tool, that needs to be banned and shutdown from everywhere (the same they’ve been doing with Gab platform itself), but I see a lot of value in it. Just like WOT, this can be used for anything, be it just a comment on a CNN news article without comment section, Youtube video that has comments disabled or a rating of an online store that you had negative (or positive) experience with, but there is very hard to warn others if there are no comments on the webpage itself. With Dissent, you can do that too. And no one can stop you from commenting, because it’s outside of webpage’s control. An ultimate free speech tool, as you can talk about anything, anywhere. Sure trolls and spammers will eventually start abusing it, but reading different opinions and having doubt about things is what makes you a more rational person. You don’t just read things and blindly believe them to be the truth, you read comments and research things before forming an opinion. And that’s the point of Dissent. Grab it and check out what people really think about things online.

Download Dissent browser extension (and source code):

https://dissenter.com/download

Gab

https://gab.com

Firefox for Android finally supports password managers like Bitwarden or LastPass!

For a long time I was basically forced to use Opera for Android because Firefox didn’t support accessibility services, meaning you couldn’t use password managers like LastPass or Bitwarden with it. And that was a huge deal because when you’re using long and complex passwords, you have to rely on these. But today, I tried it again to see if it supports this yet and guess what, Firefox for Android now supports that!

You can finally use Bitwarden or LastPass with Firefox on Android! Fiery Fox, I’m coming back 🙂 I liked Opera, but Firefox being open source and now only browser with own rendering engine, I always liked it more. It was just that lack of support for password managers that was a total showstopper for me. Not anymore 🙂

Killing Floor 2 Tweaker 2.4 released!

KF2

Quite significant update this time around. Made a huge overhaul of new Rendering Distance tweak, offering several easy to use presets and added an unofficial fix for a crash due to faulty auto set Unreal Engine parameters.

2.4 (2018-11-26)

  • Renamed “Extreme Draw Distance” to “Rendering Distance” and moved it from “Graphics Settings” to main KF2 Tweaker selection menu.
  • “Rendering Distance” tweak section now offers 5 rendering distance presets ranging from Ultra Low for people who need every drop of performance to Ultra for people who run top of the line computers and want maximum visual quality with zero objects popping into view, anywhere.
  • Added “Compatibility Patches” feature which currently fixes game sometimes crashing to Windows desktop with BugSplat dialog when trying to join server/map due to faulty auto set Unreal Engine Garbage Collection parameters on some systems (mine included).

Visit Killing Floor 2 Tweaker micro page for download:

Killing Floor 2 Tweaker

Simple Shutdown Timer released!

SimpleShutdownTimer.png

It’s nothing fancy really, just a simple quick frontend for integrated Windows shutdown parameters. I made it for myself when I watch TV or Twitch on my laptop in bed as I go to sleep and I don’t want stream playing till morning draining entire battery, I usually set it to 1 or 2 hours and then it entirely shuts down the laptop, allowing me to watch TV like this for few days on a single battery charge instead of draining it all in one night. And I thought it might come in handy for you guys as well so I just released it to public.

It’s literally a simple sleep timer for what I’m using it which is why it only goes up to 4 hours and doesn’t have very granular control, because there is no need for it. If you need more granular control or more advanced controls, I suggest you look for something else. This one was made as simple as possible on purpose.

DOWNLOAD