Mint

Webmasters undeniably rely on web site statistics to give them a clue as to how their respective sites are doing. Statistics become important in evaluating site changes and even adding new content. For the do-it-yourself webmaster, clear and easy to use stat packages become a necessity, so obviously you want to pick the right web stats program for your site. Your choices range from web services like Google Analytics, to programs that analyse your webserver logs, such as AWStats, or you can choose a script that concentrates on what your web site activity is at the moment. Mint concentrates on just the essential statistics you need, in this way it is a good stats program for webmasters who are not interested in long term analysis. Bloggers in particular will find Mint to be a good alternative to AWStats or Google Analytics, since it can be integrated with most major web blogging scripts like WordPress. If however you are in the need of more in depth reports or eCommerce tracking, then Mint is not for you.

Unwrapped Mint

There are two ways to setup Mint. You can simply add a single line of javascript code to the head tag of your html, or in the case of WordPress, to the header.php template file. The advanced method requires that you have PHP installed as an Apache module and is harder to implement if you are not an experienced webmaster. Since Mint requires javascript, it is unable to track any visits if javascript is disabled. This is usually not a problem for most people, since javascript is now a pretty common requirement. At the time of this writing, Mint also requires Apache, PHP, and MySQL in order to run properly. Most Linux and UNIX based web servers will satisfy these requirements, but Windows servers will not work. Even with all these stipulations, I still found Mint to be an interesting and worthwhile investment.

For $30 per domain, Mint can provide real time stats and unlike other stat packages, it totally ignores bots and spammer scripts. This gives you a more accurate picture of actual hits on your site. Compared to other stats packages, I would say Mint is actually more conservative about hits. On the other side, the standard Mint stats are not very spectacular, fortunately, Mint is expandable. Its plugin architecture allows for new search panes to be added to the standard Mint stats view. These plugins are referred to as peppers. I highly recommend XXX Strong Mint, Sparks!, and Fresh View. You can find more peppers on the Peppermint Tea page.

WordPress & Mint

If you run WordPress and use ShortStat, you might be wondering if Mint is worth the price of admission. The advantage of Mint is that you can track static html pages as well as your WordPress blog. Other than that, the other big difference is that ShortStat registers way too many hits from search engines and bots as regular hits. Mint is more accurate or you might say conservative in its hit tracking. In my opinion, if you receive moderate traffic above fifty actual hits from actual visitors you probably could benefit from Mint. Technically, thirty dollars is not a lot of money these days, so Mint is a pretty good value considering how much commercial web site tracking software costs.

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Free Anti-Virus Software

Now that PC viruses have been with us for 20 years, it only makes sense to remind ourselves to make sure we have some sort of Anti-Virus utility program running on our computers and that its virus definitions are uptodate. Anti-Virus programs are somewhat like insurance, you pay for something just in case something else happens. While insurance is never free in the real world, at least you can still get some free anti-virus programs. Here is a list of some of the more popular programs that are out there for free.

AVG Free Anti-Virus

Grisoft has a long history of making available a free version of their AVG Anti-Virus software and is a very popular choice for many Windows users.

Clam AV

The Clam AV Project is an opensource anti-virus toolkit for UNIX systems. However there are a multiple Clam AV binary packages for almost every operating system you can name, including ClamX AV for Mac OS X. Even if you have another anti-virus program, I recommend installing Clam AV as a backup.

Comodo AntiVirus

From Comodo, the same company that issues SSL certificates for websites, comes Comodo AntiVirus. The company states it is free and will never charge any license fees. Compatible only with WindowsXP (SP2) and Windows2000 (SP4).

Computer Associates ez-AntiVirus

While not exactly free, Computer Associates is offering Vista Beta users a free one year trial of their very affordable ez-AntiVirus. This is personally my favorite anti-virus program. It does not slow down your computer like some other well known anti-virus programs and is very easy to use for novice users and experts. It is also one of the cheapest programs you can purchase.

Spybot – Search & Destory

Anti-virus developers have been reluctant to add on spyware and malware detection to their basic anti-virus programs, so if you need to cleanup spyware and malware, you need to use a separate program like Spybot – S&D. Spybot is my favorite spyware scanner and about its only downside is that you have to download updates manually.

I8fanGUI

My latest hobby project has been restoring a Dell Latitude C600 laptop that was given to me. After upgrading the hard drive, processor, and even installing some missing machine screws for it, it has become a decent machine for accessing the Internet around the house. Usually for fan and temp monitoring I use Speedfan which is an excellent utility. In this case though, I found I8fanGUI, which is made specifically for Dell laptops. If you have Dell laptop, you should check to see if your particular machine is on the supported list.

Note that this software is Use at your own risk and is not supported by Dell. According to Christian’s site, the fan control code is part of the Linux kernel now.

Metapad

If you are looking for another alternative to Microsoft’s Notepad, you might want to try Alexander Davidson’s metapad. It’s a very small and easy to use replacement for Notepad.exe, and it even has the option of setting up a primary and secondary font.

For a while I had been using Notepad2, but metapad is faster and smaller, so it makes a better replacement for Notepad than Notepad2. Metapad is also free to use and I have not had any problems with it on Windows2003 or XP.

Download metapad.

CCleaner

It seems that Windows users specifically have problems with running out of disk space. This is usually the result of too many MP3 files or installed games, or perhaps a program’s log file becoming too large. Whatever the reason and whatever the technical proficiency with Windows, almost everyone could use some help with deleting unneeded files from your Windows hard drive. And this is where CCleaner comes in. CCleaner is a small utility that takes care of safely removing a bunch of old files from your system, without you worrying about it. And it is free (and spam-free), so you can recommend it to everyone regardless of their Windows skills.

Download CCleaner for Windows

Shrinking The Windows Registry

On Windows98, Microsoft had a built-in utility for shrinking the registry, but on Win2k, there is no such utility that I could find. It’s not so much that the registry takes up a whopping 58 megs last time I checked it, it’s that it loads into memory, and so the smaller the better.

Warning: run at your own risk!

I found two freeware utilities that do wonders for shrinking and defragging the registry:

NTREGOPT will optimize your registry for Windows NT/2000/2003/XP. It will not remove any registry keys, it just rewrites the registry, and dumps any deleted data. When I tried it, it meant going from 58MBs to 42MBs.

PageDefrag goes ahead and defrags the actual registry and paging files, on your actual hard disk. You only need this utility if you are running WindowsNT or Win2k. XP already does this automatically.

To check the registry size on Windows2000, go to My Computer, Right-click – Properties – Advanced – Performance Options – Change – Registry size – Current registry size.