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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, May 02, 2015

64 Bit Windows is Here, Like it or Not

In recent years the average consumer hasn’t realized there has been a significant change in computer hardware. It used to be an option but now most personal computers are sold with 64 bit processor.

Typically, programs have been developed to run on 32 bit computers and most will run on 64 bit computers without any changes. As expected requests for programs that take advantage of 64 bit features has also increased. The work required to convert a program to a 64 app can vary which is why even Microsoft hasn’t converted all their programs.

The key feature of 64 bit computer is the ability to access more memory.  This is beneficial if your computer came with extra memory and you use a programs that uses a lot of memory like photo or video editors. Having more memory available is great  The downside is a program created specifically for 64 bits won’t work on any 32 bit computers. Separate programs will be needed to each type of processor.

Task Catcher 2/64

It took a little time to create a version of my Task Catcher program.  Task Catcher has features which need it to find both 32 and 64 bit programs. This isn’t possible just a 32 bit program.

One feature of Task Catcher is the ability to detect programs you want running all the time.  Now Task Catcher can find both 32 and 64 bit programs

Restarting Programs that Fail

action64




















After selecting a program you want running at all times, you have options on what action to take if the program is detected as no longer running.

restart64

If you asked to be Alerted than Task Catcher’s real-time monitor will let you know when your computer is no longer working as expected. Malware often shuts down popular Anti-Virus software but Task Catcher will re-launch your protection and/or will let you know what’s going on.


Multiple Ways to Block Programs

Task Catcher has always allowed you to block programs based on their filename but the new version supports wild cards. This allows it to catch many more unwanted programs.  Just enter specific text like “conduit”, “Ask”, “avg” or other text segments commonly found in a potentially unwanted programs. If a program or Windows Service with this text in its name tries to run, Task Catcher can automatically block it or let you decide if it’s ok.

taskcat64


These are just a couple of the features in Task Catcher 2. Like WinPatrol I’ve developed this program for my own use and it include features I can’t find in other programs. As I found myself using more 64 bit programs it was obvious that Task Catcher 2/64 was needed.

The 64 bit version is now available and will be updated regularly. Any compatibility problems should be reported to support@taskcatcher.com so they can be fixed quickly.

The free Task Catcher includes all of the new features but does limit the number of programs in each list. This will still allow many to use the free version for their needs. Purchasing a license will remove any limits.

Special thanks to all our supporters so you’ll never worry about unchecking a box when installing our software.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

BillP’s WinPatrol Toolkit

Over the years I added a lot of features to WinPatrol and many were unnoticed or forgotten. It was actually at the request of one of our blind users I added the ability to assign unique sound files to each WinPatrol notification type.

Reviewers were often critical of WinPatrol’s use of old style windows and buttons. While many considered the interface boring I kept it this way to support popular screen readers and other accessibility tools. Even Robin, popular researcher for BillP Studios and college professor is legally blind.

A program wanting to have custom sounds can use the Windows Sounds Applet in the Control Panel as a user interface.  Few programs actually take advantage of this feature but WinPatrol has always supported this enhancement.

SoundApplet


I've created a FREE easy to use app that will allow you to customize your WinPatrol with your favorite .wav files. I've included some .wav examples but they're pretty boring. 
BillP's WinPatrol Toolkit can be downloaded from BillP.com or click the image below.

Toolkit1


BONUS:
For those wanting a different system tray icon, the toolkit will also trick Scotty into using one of the choices currently available.

        Option101    Option102    Option104   Option107     Option159

This is a first pass so I expect improvements based on your feedback. The program is Free as-is. While I’ve had permission from WinPatrol’s owner, Bret Lowry to release this app, there is no guarantee future versions will be supported.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

WinPatrol & Task Catcher Both Golden


Last week I was happy to be a part of a new release of

WinPatrol
(v33) from “WinPatrol (Formerly Ruiware, LLC).  This is the first major release since WinPatrol ownership was transferred to former lead at Sunbelt Software, Bret Lowry.  The introduction of Bret’s WinPrivacy program has received a lot of attention.

winprivacy

WinPrivacy

At the same time, I was happy with the release of Task Catcher 2 from BillP Studios. This program has been around for many years but remained in the shadow of WinPatrol. A small number of fans have used Task Catcher for its feature of restarting programs that fail or are closed by other programs.

Task Catcher 2 is a complete rewrite but continues use the C programming language so it can run in the background without impacting performance. It continues to support older versions of Windows while taking advantage of the newest technology from Microsoft.  Windows Phone and Surface RT users will be pleased when Task Catcher Universal is available.

track-screen

Task Catcher Program Tracking

One new feature in Task Catcher is its ability to track usage of your favorite or even unwanted programs. The screen above shows it’s initial data which will be expanded based on user feedback and needs.

Previous features have been renamed and enhanced. Watch List is now appropriately called “Restart List” and the Black List is now called “Blocked” programs.
 
blocked

Task Catcher 2 has expanded the flexibility and control over blocking a program and preventing it from running. Using text which is part of a filename can be entered to block programs.

Using a small part of a filename allows Task Catcher to block all related programs. For example, using text segments like “avg”, “conduit” or “ask” will block a range of programs related to the undesirable text.

BillP Studios has also recognized the need to block programs used for online extortion. Expanding quickly are ransomware apps that encrypt a users data and require a payment to restore their files. Task Catcher checks for suspicious apps that encrypt data and offers users a chance to block program that may not be familiar.

WinPatrol (v33)

I was happy to have a chance to work on changes for the new WinPatrol. I’ve enjoyed the break but I still know how the software works inside and out. The user interface includes some new columns that provide consistency. Startup programs and Delayed Start both include a Status column letting users know if a program is running.

One of the major enhancements comes with the updated History screen. It’s obvious that more changes to this screen are on the way.

WinPatrol-History


Unlike Task Catcher 2, WinPatrol will continue using the Tab Dialog UI and standard Windows buttons. I’ve stayed with Common Dialog buttons to support users with screen readers.

As part of our affiliation agreement WinPatrol PLUS members who use Task Catcher have access to the WinPatrol PLUS Info database.  WinPatrol PLUS  members will have one-click access to my BitsFromBill Blog.

plusnews-winpatrol

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Task Catcher 2.0 Surprising New Features

For many years I made a name for myself as the developer of the unique WinPatrol program. To protect running programs I created an App designed to restart failed tasks called Task Catcher. Until now, I never put the same attention into other programs like I did WinPatrol.

mainscreenI started with cosmetic changes but the more time I had, the more improvements were added.  I discovered I wanted more features that weren’t available in other software. The result is now a program I can be proud. All our long time users will be confident recommending this program to family and friends.

Features include:

Block Programs with wildcard text blocked
In previous versions you could specify a particular program based on its full path name.  TC2 allows you to block programs that have any bits of suspicious text in their filename. This allows you to specify text like “conduit”, “Ask” or “avg”. When a program or Windows Service is detected with this text in its name, Task Catcher can automatically block it or let’s you decide if it can run.


Detect and Block Crypto-Ransom programs

Using newly discovered algorithm to decrypt what appears to be a randomly created filename Task Catcher detects possible Ransomware programs. These programs encrypt files and use extortion requiring a payment to decrypt valuable files. These programs can cause a disaster if it happens to a business or an individual losing their tax data or family photos. Our algorithm won’t retrieve encrypted files but it can help detect possible threats and continues to improve.

Track Program Usage track
Microsoft Windows has been evolving and like many new mobile operating systems may keep programs running in the background even when you exit. While this trend shouldn’t hurt your overall performance many of us want to know which programs are running. You’ll be able to pick those apps you’re most interested in and Task Catcher will keep track of how often it runs. This feature is one I expect will be expanded to create more elaborate reports


Restart Programs that Fail or are Closed restart
One of the most popular features of the previous Task Catcher launching a program meant to always run is an important function. Malware often shuts down popular Anti-Virus software but Task Catcher will re-launch your protection and/or will let you know what’s going on. Sometimes, you may have a program that is just buggy and shutdown when you don’t expect it.

Windows Servicesservices
Most of you reading this, like me,  want to know what programs automatically run when you start your computer. Traditional registry startup locations no longer tell the whole story. Many programs running in the background at Windows Services.  This kind of program can register to launch immediately, may be delayed or will start based on a particular trigger event.  Task Catcher helps you keep track of Services that are running allowing you to start and stop them as you would normal applications.

 

Today is the release of the final beta both to public and to our long time Task Catcher users.
http://www.taskcatcher.com/beta2.html

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