Tech Tools: February 26, 2007

Running Interference

Wi-Fi is a critical part of most business networks these days, but interference caused by cordless phones, microwave ovens and other devices can wreak havoc on Wi-Fi connectivity. One of the most challenging tasks for solution providers is to track down the source of Wi-Fi interference. Fortunately, Cognio's Spectrum Expert 3.0 can help. Spectrum Expert 3.0 is a spectrum analysis tool consisting of software and a PC Card receiver for notebook computers running Windows XP or Windows 2000. With its familiar Windows interface, the tool is simple enough for most solution providers to use with no special training. Spectrum Expert identifies what kind of device is creating the interference and its location, with no need to analyze wave forms. Because it works with a notebook computer, solution providers don't have to carry around another device. MSRP: $3,995

Utility Tool Belt

USB key drives are everywhere nowadays. Most technicians have dozens of them scattered about their offices. While USB key drives are great for carrying data around, wouldn't it be even better if they could be used as a diagnostic tool? Well, WinInizio has that base covered with its PenSuite product. PenSuite is a gathering of open-source and freeware programs that are designed to run directly from a USB key (pen) drive. Techs will find various versions of the suite on the vendor's Web site and will find a robust selection of various applications. Handy utilities such as screen capture, antispyware products and Web browsers are the norm. Simply put, WinInizio turns that cheap USB key into a handy tool. Available for free download at

Let It Run

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Redeploying PCs can be a challenge, especially if one has to reinstall the operating system and applications. Those chores can chew through the hours and waste time. After all, the typical tech has something better to do than swap disks in and out, manually enter installation keys and baby-sit the installation process. You can find the answer to that dilemma in Advanced Windows Unattended Installer 1.61, which is used to create a universal install disk to ease and automate the installation of operating systems and applications. That can be a real time saver for VARs. Available for free download at

The Price Is Still Right

Despite the industry's best efforts, spyware is still a major problem on today's PCs. Combating spyware has become one of a technician's top priorities, especially when one considers the security and performance impact spyware can have on a desktop PC. Microsoft has finally moved its Windows defender antispyware product from beta to a shipping version, and it's still free. While far from perfect, Windows Defender does an adequate job of protecting Vista- and XP-based PCs from spyware, and upon installation, can detect and remove the most prevalent spyware threats out there today. Technicians troubleshooting performance or security issues are well advised to install the product on their customers' PCs to reduce spyware problems. Available at