Welcome again to my humble establishment, where patrons come to snack on their dedicated chef’s latest and greatest discoveries of delectable utility software and Web sites. Today, a solution to the eternal conundrum: How do you find out the name of something that you don’t know the name of?
Yeah, you know the doohickey I mean – the whatchamacallit on the thingamabob – what the heck is its name?
This is a job for the new Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online. This dictionary contains pictures, categorized by subject area, and names and defines the items depicted. So if you know what an object looks like or is a part of, you can find its name.
The M-W Visual Dictionary Online is logically structured by “themes” so you can drill down to specific items. “Bread crumbs” at the top of the page show where you are (see example below).
Now I know what a muntin is!
The M-W Visual Dictionary Online it is not comprehensive, so you might not find every term you’re looking for. But it’s a fine way to find the names and definitions of everyday objects and many more.
My thanks to regular reader Barnaby Capel-Dunn for bringing this Web site to my attention.
Comodo 3: Firewall Frustration
Despite the exciting new discovery of the Visual Dictionary, it’s been a dark weekend at the Tool Bar & Grill. It started with my thrill at the arrival of the long-awaited Comodo Firewall Pro version 3 (yeah, I know, I need a life). The previous version scored very high in protection tests (particularly in blocking outgoing traffic), and is my firewall of choice. The version 3 beta had received some favorable notices, and the feature list was tantalizing. Because Comodo itself had not yet published the news, I even wrote a breathless announcement of the new release in my occasional PC World blog.
The new Comodo Firewall Pro version 3, a major rewrite, supports Windows Vista. Among its new features, it boasts HIPS (host-based intrusion prevention system), which is designed to identify malware by its behavior before it can install itself or do harm. HIPS protection usually requires a separate program.
Comodo also boasts of its new “Clean PC” functionality for new computers: It registers all the programs on the new PC as safe, and requires you to allow all future software installations. It also claims a white list of nearly 1 million safe applications, which should help prevent installation of malware and reduce the number of questions the firewall pops up at you.
I downloaded version 3 right away, and set right to the installation. Alas, my joy was short-lived.
The download page is a bit confusing. You first have to choose between versions for 32-bit or 64-bit Windows XP and
A clear and informative setup wizard took me through a variety of configuration decisions step by step. Exception: The descriptions of the Defense+ protection capabilities were a bit too vague (and nowhere did it clarify that “Defense+”: is the HIPS functionality). Copying the white list database took more than several minutes.
After installation and restarting my Windows XP computer, I was surprised to discover that the Comodo firewall did not start up automatically with Windows; you have to find a check box in the settings menu and mark it. This is unexpected behavior for essential security software.
I launched the firewall from its desktop shortcut. The interface is much improved, and appears to present information clearly and explain its purpose intelligibly. I was quite impressed with the new look and feel, until...
I saw no error message when launching the Comodo Firewall, but its main window reported that the network firewall was not functioning properly. I would not have been aware of this if I had not examined the window. The diagnostics routine said it found problems, but could not fix them all. It offered to save a log file, but that only contained cryptic lists of settings and of programs, unintelligible to ordinary users (and certainly to me) and without any suggestion of what the problem was or how to fix it.
I uninstalled Comodo Firewall 3, downloaded it again, and re-installed... and found the same problem again. So out it goes, replaced for an indefinite term with ZoneAlarm Firewall and Antispyware. I will report my problems to Comodo, and hope that this once-great firewall will be great again. Meanwhile, ZoneAlarm is working great so far (though I am skeptical, because performance and compatibility problems with a previous version drove me to Comodo some time ago).
Thank you for sharing my computing agony and ecstasy this week. I hope you’ll come back for more great utility reviews every week, and bring all your friends! Please feel free to share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.