Membership to Mac-related online apps and sites adds to the unending thrill of being an Apple user, even if it means, like in my case, not actually being as active or passionate in devoting the same amount of internet time as I used to as when I first signed up for these.
Somehow, Mac-related sites have always been kind of sleek, kind of more fun, requiring a bit more brain power than, say, Windows apps that seem designed with just end-user ‘fun’ in mind, a lot of smooth graphics and little else. This is not meant to be another of those “vs.” posts — never was a fan of that. It’s just how I see and experience it, having come from Windows since the DOS days.
Besides, I never can get into a “vs.” discussion in real life, especially if the discussants are hard core X vs. Y, “Apples vs. Oranges” kind of people.
Anyhow, great online apps and sites provide good diversions from routine and intensive brain+physical work. One such site is MacHeist. Not only are its games (called “Missions”) gems, the bundled apps they have given out so far are great.
While getting squeezed between two major activities in the past few days, I managed to respond to a November Macheist email notification because it was one the best bundles it has ever offered following the one in April ’09.
MacHeist3 (the November edition, aka nanoBundle) includes the following apps:
- ShoveBox from WonderWarp, worth $24.95
- WriteRoom from hogbaysoftware, $24.95
- Twitterific from Iconfactory, $14.95
- TinyGrab from Keyone Productions, £10
- Hordes of Orcs from Freeverse , $24.95 (Win/Mac)
- Mariner Write from MarinerSoftware $49.95 (Win/Mac) – Mariner has loads of writing apps, by the way.
- and the highly-rated VirusBarrier X5 from Intego, $69.95
Except for Hordes of Orcs, I had been able to successfully download all apps as of this writing but have not installed all of them yet. I had used the early WriteRoom version previously and would be looking forward to what the latest has to offer. Meanwhile, still attempting to recover some personal time due to the two major events mentioned (and some other work in between that were not as loaded but were equally demanding of attention), I chose to install VirusBarrier X5 as a supplement to ClamXav.
By the way, I mention the thrill of being an Apple user but I can honesty say the Mac I work on is not all a smooth and easy ride. This Mac in particular is a 1st-generation MacBook Pro (ca. 2006) and its age is showing. It has, on the average, stayed on for 48 hours without shutting down. Its optical drive has been bricked by a nasty firmware update by Apple back in 2008, something, some say, Apple has hidden from the public: not a very noble move by Apple there. (NOTE: I dug up archived sites on this superdrive issue when I was looking for solutions which can be read here and here).
It’s a Mac Anti-Virus program
As the name suggests, VirusBarrier X5 is a virus scanner and anti-virus app for the Mac like ClamXav. It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to scan the whole 80gb hard drive as it combed through 592,641-plus of combined apps and files.
The intital scan detected X97M/Yosenio.gen hidden within an Excel macro (.xla) file named “GhostWorld.xla” which, I discovered, was in the Mac. How I got this file is beyond me. Perhaps it was picked up by my USB drive after plugging it into the Windows computer at the neighborhood internet cafe a few weeks ago. (Strangely, all other GhostWorld associated files are dated “12/11/04, 5:29 pm” as revealed in Finder. It predates the Mac in which it now resides, and the installed Office applications, by two years.)
Since I had not run ClamXav after the period in which I suspect I got the Yosenio.gen file from the net cafe, there is no way for me to determine whether ClamXav could have detected or overlooked the file. I noticed that the Mac did exhibit certain unusual behaviors since that period, such as going through a soft crash or freezing up when I plugged in the USB wifi stick, etc. I did plug the USB thumb drive into my mother’s Windows laptop by mistake and, just as I had suspected, its default anti-virus scanner, McAfee, popped an alert faster than I could eject it.
Ok, the point is Macs may be immune to Windows viruses but it serves as a temporary asylum in which these hibernate until such time that a device, like a USB thumb drive, is stuck into its ports, and just as quickly as a Windows malware jumps into alien environment such as OS X, that it transfers to an empty space in the removable device waiting to be transported into another computer that it can infect or to successfully cause trouble.
On the other hand, macro viruses are cross-platform viruses and can thrive in both Windows and Mac environments. Macros are helpful application commands designed to enhance certain features of, say MS Word or Excel files. However, since macros are not executable files and are document-related (e.g. they exist within an application’s files and do not need a command to invoke its execution), they are deemed more dangerous than trojans, worms and viruses.
I am always wary about getting Windows viruses because I’d like to avoid being responsible for infecting another computer, specifically a Windows-based computer. The Windows malware may not wreak havoc on the Mac and I can just proceed to work as usual, without any worry of my files being corrupted and such, because Windows malware are programmed to sniff out specific Windows files to play hookey with. But because the Mac serves as convenient transport zone for these suspicious files — as long as they stay undisturbed in a ‘safe’ place (other than the Trash) — that it still makes me very wary of them. Having said that, if one is running Windows on a Mac, it is just as wise to install a Windows-based anti-virus program for one’s protection.
I’ve decided to keep VirusBarrier X5 inspite of my limited hard drive space. It puts an icon on the menu bar for instance access to its other features, and another icon in the dock. It is an unintrusive app that provides real-time scanning without hogging my limited resources. ClamXav, meanwhile, can slow down my work during background scans, by the way.
I’m quite happy with VirusBarrier X5, and grateful that an excellent site like MacHeist, which has provided my license, has included this app in its bundle and have donated part of the ‘loot’ to charity in the process. I can’t wait to give the other applications a try and for the next bundle to come along.
Well done, Macheist and Intego.