Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Retirement of an Independent Developer

As an Independent Developer I've experienced a couple common problems with growing old and planning for retirement.  The first is a challenge for anyone who works for themselves. When you have an occupation without  a pension or shared retirement plan you really need to put something aside for retirement. I reinvested most profits back into the business which mostly went to health benefits. Makes me wonder if adding 3rd party toolbars would have been the best long term business decision. 

Another more unique challenge is how to complete a product cycle.  Over the years I've developed special relationships with many of my customers. How do you notify a large user base that you no longer support a program because you want to retire?  In the case of my flagship WinPatrol product I found Bret Lowry. A young ambitious and experienced security expert Bret has an understanding and respect for his customers. Bret is now the face of WinPatrol and owns all its code, graphics and reputation. Many WinPatrol fans have been using it for over 10 years so it was important to meet everyone's needs. Bret has combined the best of WinPatrol technology with his own experience to create new solutions ready to battle with new security threats.

Over the last couple years, I've updated an old favorite called Task Catcher. I also created a service to let folks know what personal data has been compromised and how. Customers found the "BlueHat" service to be curious but most who took advantage of this service were already educated on best practices for personal security. As more attacks were acknowledged by large and small corporations it became increasingly difficult and costly to keep up. It also put me in contact with too many untrustworthy groups who were stealing personal information. 
I've had many ideas for the future but continued health issues have made me realize I won't be able to make the commitment required of an Independent Developer. As such,  I'm taking this opportunity to officially announce my retirement. I've had an amazing experience working in the personal computer; online service;  PC gaming; Interactive TV, Security industry and more. My brain will continue to think, "How can this be better?" as I use my laptop, phone and other programmable devices. Education is still important to me from sharing good computer stories to serving on the board of our local school district.

To my friends who have made donations during my toughest time of medical treatments, I will forever be grateful and will forward your kindness on to others.  If I do create any programs that might be useful I'll be making them available for free. I will also continue to live up to the honor of receiving the Microsoft “Most Valuable Professional” awards. I hope to have more time to help answer questions online, write useful Bits from Bill leaks and continue speaking engagements when possible.


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Saturday, December 26, 2015

BillP Studios Update for 2015

It's been awhile since I've updated my Bits from Bill.  After the sale of my WinPatrol program, life online has been quiet.  I do have a couple for utilities available along with my popular Task Catcher program but they haven’t required as much time as I put into WinPatrol.  It has still been a challenge since getting older has come with a few surprises.

The result of multiple hospitalizations has meant a temporary loss of many BillP managed websites. This includes email functionality for sites like and  I can't say when everything will be back to normal so I'm making my personal e-mail available to anyone with questions.  I can be contacted at  I've had this e-mail address for almost 30 years and I plan on keeping it even if they do make fun of America Online on NCIS.
Page Not Found

I've hosted my web sites using Verio for almost 20 years and this is the first time I’ve been offline for such a long period of time. Verio has helped as much as possible but this outage is a failure that is my responsibility.

The past year has been one of transition. I've really been lucky to have many friends online who have provided support in many ways. Over the years of developing WinPatrol  I’ve been lucky to  consider many customers as friends and will continue to be helpful as long as I can. I hope that 2016 will be a year of recovery and the introduction of new BillP apps that are universally available to all Windows 10 systems, including tablets, phones and the “Internet of Things.

I'll continue updates here on Bits From Bill.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Network Connected Devices

One of the new terms I often hear is "Internet of Things". I'm not a huge fan of this terminology but it does indicate a trend towards many new devices that are connected to the Internet but don't represent your typical computer. The number of devices that now are connected to home networks or business networks has grown substantially.

Unfortunately in many cases security has been an afterthought with new Internet connected devices. This was demonstrated recently when the car company Audi recalled the many years of vehicles which contained network connected devices that could be used to control functions within the car. Nobody ever imagined someone with a computer could change the speed, the steering, or the breaking mechanisms which were now enhanced by the automobile. One of the issues that surprised me the most was the sound system could actually be used as an interface to the car's computer network.

Having devices controlled by a smart phone or laptop is not a bad idea. As long as the interface with devices includes major security protections I'll be one of the first to invest in them. Even now many companies fail trying to secure smart phones and personal computers. Seems like every week a new vulnerability is discovered and we all hear of unwanted users  taking control of devices we depend on.

Having a background in discovering vulnerabilities and a knowledge of the new computer language "ARM", BillP Studios has been asked to research a number of network connected devices. So far, we have discovered potential vulnerabilities in home thermostats, security cameras, automatic garage door openers, lawn sprinkler systems, water meters and popular printers available through the internet.

Johnson Controls Automated Water Meter with Leak Detection

Other devices being researched include IV poles used in hospitals to control distribution of fluids and medication. While hospital equipment vulnerabilities have not been found here, others have reported this failure. Hospitals are being warned to remove certain equipment. Additional research is being done on home appliances such as washers, dryers and microwave ovens. We've looked hard at home alarm systems, devices used for television streaming, gasoline pumps, solar panels, home routers, and communication devices including police, fire, and other emergency management systems.

Ultimately, having many of these devices monitored and controlled via the Internet is a great feature to have available. These devices and their remote functionality fall into that category of computers that actually make our life easier. Obviously, all of these devices are useless if they can't be used in a secure manner.

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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


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.


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.


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 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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