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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

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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Friday, February 06, 2015

CEO’s Expose Their Personal Data


You'll be hearing more about the exposure of 80 million customers and employees of Anthem Inc. This time the blame was quickly directed towards mainland China although the exact method of attack is unknown.fbi
 
Our friend Brian Krebs has details on the China connection and a recent FBI alert.

I raised a lot of eyebrows when I disclosed that Target was successfully compromised using social engineering based on personal information published for former CEO Gregg Steinhafel.  The information found in his company biography was enough to create a complete false identify. 

I couldn't help but see parallels with information published about Anthem CEO, Joseph R. Swedish.

joeswedishHe’s proud of his accomplishments and his company bio includes a lifetime of his work, education and personal history.

Chairman of the Public Education and Business Coalition he's also on the board of the Metro Denver Boy Scouts. You’ll find him supporting his alma mater, Duke University where he obtained a masters in Health Administration. He received his bachelor's from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Mr. Swedish didn’t need 30 days to notify the public which is currently the industry proposed timeline. His apology can be found at
http://www.anthemfacts.com/

Ironically, Mr. Swedish is an advisor for the China Health Care Corporation. This unique company helps VIPs in China find premium maternity and gynecological services. I’m no expert on China’s population control laws and their family planning policy but this is obviously a big deal.


Like most health care companies Anthem Inc,  (formerly WellPoint), donates large sums to members of both political parties in the U.S..  In 2013, they gave $10,000 to New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.  In Texas, $15,000 went to Republican candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott.


Click for

WELLPAC 2013 donations


Based on current details, the danger from the Anthem exposure may be insignificant for most of us. If you're an officer in a large company, a government employee, contractor or elected official it's time to reduce your online foot print. It’s time to review your online BIO so it only has information needed for public disclosure.

I expect this attack will generate more press than previous data exposures. I’m already reading details of the attack which are complete fabrications meant to match dramatic headlines. The only winners will be credit monitoring sites when companies should be investing in services like our BlueHat research.

bluehatblackhats

BillP Studios  Sample BlueHat Report Page                 

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Grateful & Motivated by Donations

I recently posted an unusual plea with what some compared to a KickStarter request for donations. I shared some of the difficulties experienced by independent developers especially when faced with increasing health and interruptions.

I want to express my thanks and share some of the results that helped cover the cost of life saving medications.

Thirty individuals responded to my January 2015 plea for help. Many expressed gratitude for my policy never include toolbars and other unwanted software. Some had similar events in their life and wanted to pay forward. Quite a few understood that it must have been serious for me to share such desperation publically.

The donations ranged from $5 to a generous $250. Most were in the $10-$20 range although the average for all thirty donations calculated to $27.67 USD.
Over 20% of the donations were from supporters outside the United States.

As I mentioned, the gift of donations has been very motivating. During a recent fever caused by a case of pneumonia I may have come up with a way to protect users from variations of Crypto-Ransomware. This trend in malware has been very destructive and I’d love to announce a solution soon.

hdpasswordkey
Thanks again,
BillP

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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.

java

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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