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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Toolbars & Unwanted Programs Very Popular

Recently, a few people asked me about the “Donation” boxes that I have on my web pages.  I’m also questioned about how much money I’ve made from WinPatrol and other projects. There were good times and I never forget the folks who occasionally give $5 – $50 to show their appreciation.


In 2008-2009,  I wrote about offers I received from companies wanting me to include their toolbars in the free WinPatrol. It became clear I could retire early if I had decided to include what is now called a PUPs or “Potentially Unwanted Programs.” It still amazes me how many large companies use tricky check boxes to treat their customers as personal bank accounts.

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I made the decision to keep WinPatrol clean. I was glad that some of the folks knew something about me but they still used WinPatrol because it protected them. I’ve also been asked about the decision so I agreed to share some more personal details which aren’t likely to make it into any book.

WinPatrol was holding its own thanks to great reviews by magazines but soon the rules changed and everyone moved to an Internet economy. It was also the time when family health problems would take my attention away from full time developing and promoting software.  No one expects a rare disease to take over your life.

 
behcetsBehcet's Disease is an autoinflammatory disease resulting in damage to blood vessels throughout the body, particularly veins. It is a form of vasculitis (an inflammation of the blood vessels). Inflammation is a characteristic reaction of the body to injury or disease and is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.



Unfortunately, independent programmers don’t usually have pension plans or company

neck1retirement programs. When serious health issues attack both heads of the household the savings go quickly and income can dry up as well. While the government argued over health plans medical expenses took everything we had.


I’ve been lucky and had the opportunity to live a good life, in a dream house with income that allowed me to share the benefits with family and friends. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and experiences. I can’t complain even though having nothing may be harder if you once had everything

I’m now taking as many steps as possible to continue on.  Last year we put our house up for sale and to meet our responsibilities I sold the rights to WinPatrol. While I didn’t receive what you might think I found a buyer who would continue to support current users and agreed never to include toolbars or other unwanted software.

When possible, I have been working hard on other programs I believe are valuable. A few friends online have suggested it couldn’t hurt to explain the Donation links. They insist my policy on taskbars and work I’ve done with WinPatrol has generated enough good will to make it worthwhile.  Donations could give me a chance to continue the creation of new safe programs. 

So, the Donation boxes are there in case they can help allow me to worry about customers instead of medical bills.. It was a little hard when I sold  my car but it doesn’t compare to when a spouse asks about selling her engagement ring. That’s when anyone wishes they had included Toolbars or PUPs with their software.


Toolbar Features

2013-02-27 Death of the Personal Computer Due to Greed

2010-06-28 Legal Software More Annoying than Most Viruses

2010-04-27 Where Can I Find an Alternate PDF Viewer?

2009-04-26 Sun Java Promoting Microsoft Toolbar
2009-03-31 No, I Don't Want Your #^$% Toolbar

2008-08-25 What's Wrong with Toolbars?

2008-01-16 Would you like Toolbar with your Software Order? 

2006-11-08 Intermix Media settles with California

2006-10-17 What is Zwinky?

2006-09-11 Response from MyWebSearch & FunWebProducts

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Your BillP & WinPatrol News in 2014

One mistake I made when WinPatrol became a popular and serious product was not providing an Opt-In email list. SPAM is such a dirty word I didn’t realize how many would want to keep in contact for more than just software updates. This was a big year for changes so I’ve taken the risk to send out an Email with important news. I’ve also provided an Opt-In.

Opt-In for BillP News

If you weren’t on our mailing list what went out looked like the image below.  
Click for PDF version

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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Your Feedback Creates Special Offer

One price (under $10), for an established app, available on multiple devices.  This limited offer is available with one requirement. Users are asked to provide feedback on their experience. It doesn’t have to be a bug report, it could just be a request for a feature you can’t find in other programs.

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Task Catcher 1.x

For many years our Task Catcher program has been available to meet the needs of a specific audience. Even though I have neglected new development for Task Catcher it continued to attract an large audience. Many of our most vocal fans have waited patiently for a new version. 

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Watch List


Task Catcher is most often used for its specific restart function. Many depend on Task Catcher to make sure an important program continues to run even if it crashes or the system reboots. Many others use it to protect a their favorite security program. One long time customer actually runs a radio station and Task Catcher prevents any dead air during the night and early morning recorded sets.

If you’ve ever wondered why a program is no longer running Task Catcher can help. Like many new Windows programs Task Catcher 2 has been redesigned to work with mobile devices, Tablets as well as traditional Windows desktops.

Very Special Offer


Our newest version is available as a Sneak Peek Preview and currently runs as a Windows Desktop app. Mobile and Tablet versions are being developed and I look forward your feedback.
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Many people may have heard of the term “beta test” before the release of new software.

At one time, this was a useful process but those days are gone.

When you consider the number of machines running Microsoft Windows world-wide it’s easy to see there are
more variations and unique combinations than there are snowflakes.

Good user feedback isn’t what it used to be so I’m offering Sneak Peekers a very special offer. I’m confident anyone trying Task Catcher 2 will have a suggestion or two. When you share your opinion with
support@TaskCatcher.com your under $10 purchase will activate full participation for our desktop and mobile versions.

 
Task Catcher providers a clean interface that will work the same on all your devices. The program ‘Watch List” will continue to be a primary feature but we’ve also added the ability to track which programs are used often. The decision of which program “metrics” are important and how your data is presented is the kind of feedback we need you to tell us. 
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When a program fails you can decide the action Task Catcher will take. In most cases, you may want to automatically restart your program.  You’ll also have the option to keep an event log of any failures.  
In some cases, you’ll want to be notified immediately. At that time you can chose to restart but even more important Task Catcher can help you diagnose if a program conflict exists. The choice is always up to you.
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The trend for new systems is that “internally” programs don’t exit or close. They are always running in the background but claim not to be using any resources on your phone or tablet. Task Catcher’s program tracker will let you know the truth. 

Visit http://www.taskcatcher.com and order your special activation code.  Download Task Catcher 1.4 and explore how your favorite new program used to work.  After you’ve seen Task Catcher in action download Task Catcher 2 Sneak Peek and you’ll be a part of our newest project Team.



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All files from BillP Studios are signed with a class 3 digital security certificate.



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Monday, October 06, 2014

Your Email Password is a Target

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Interested in hacking into the Email account of Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, Sean Penn or Carson Daly?  You’ll want to know they attended Santa Monica High School. Want access to the CEO of a large retail corporation?  Keep reading.


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Simple question used by Yahoo to verify your identity.

Truth is we’re all screwed but having good password habits will keep out the amateurs. It may save you from emailing people on your contact list to say, “I’ve been hacked, if you received email from me don’t click on the link.”
My security expert friends will advise you to use…

1) Strong Passwords
2) Unique passwords for each of your password protected websites
3) Two-step verification

Important Advice to Share From BillP
My most important tip to family and friends is “Use fake information when asked for answers to security questions.”


Example of Fake Security Answer
Example of making up your own unique answers to security questions.

I had plenty of time this summer to research malware and identify the first step in the infection process.  The most common way to get hacked is someone using the small amount of public information needed too reset your email password. Once they have one of your email addresses it’s not hard to receive a new password on other services.
I recommend creating easy to remember jokes to use when asked for answers to security questions.  Some examples may be “What high school did you attend?” Pick something like Jefferson High School (Happy Days) or Rydell High(Grease). I won’t tell you what it is but people often laugh out loud when they see what I use for my mothers maiden name. Yes, some company’s still use it.
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Target’s Easy Target

Using real data is dangerous. In less than 15 minutes I was able to find information about “former” Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel. His mother’s maiden name was Schreindl. He graduated from Homestead High School.
His first job was at Steinhafel's Furniture and he attends Wayzata Community Church. Born in Milwaukee, Steinhafel graduated from Carroll University in 1977 and earned an MBA from Northwestern University two years later. I could say more but for the safety of his wife and three children I’ll stop here.
When a high school kid gained access to Sarah Palin’s email he wasn’t a computer genius. He just looked up the answers to the security questions used by Yahoo. Even though that was way back in 2008 this method has continued to grow as the number one way to steal personal data.

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I’ve also noticed a set of quizzes common on Facebook specifically designed to collect personal data used in security questions.  I am currently investigating the background of the companies who spread these quizzes. Most created their domain within the last 30 days. I will share any information in the future.


Some Security Advice May Be Outdated
Complicated passwords:

Some may recommend a complicated password like “hfY4df$dhEW_!cvrh3H7D&d.” It’s safer than 123456 but isn’t very easy to remember. A complicated password may be useful to beat programs which try every possible combination but most systems will lock you out after a handful of incorrect attempts.

Unique passwords:
Using different passwords on different services is good advice but unless you’re using a program that remembers your passwords it’s too easy to forget unique passwords. If you’re like me you’ll just end up resetting your password using security questions.

Two-Step Verification
The two step verification process is a step in the right direction For banking or any service where real harm could be done it’s worth the extra step. If someone gains access to your cell phone or one of your email accounts the benefit is lost. Unfortunately, you’re trusting that the company is not going to take advantage of having more of your personal data like your cell phone number or alternate email address.

Some Advice Will Never Change
As far as recent failures by Home Depot, Lowes and other large companies the advice hasn’t changed much in 20 years. When your bill comes, check all your charges and make sure they’re legitimate. Most likely you can access your credit card online and see charges as they come in. If you haven’t already, register an account connected to your credit card and review charges regularly.
Reviewing your bills doesn’t just apply to credit or bank cards. Keep an eye on any charges like your cable or phone bill. Legitimate companies have been known to add bogus charges. Verizon wireless added a monthly charge for ring tones on Cindi’s phone. They claimed she agreed to the monthly charge by not responding to a text message. They removed the charge when I explained her cell phone at the time didn’t support test messaging.

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