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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, July 31, 2006

I Want My Kernel Patch Protection

The makers of the OutPost firewall, Agnitum has been making news with loud objections to a new security feature Microsoft is adding to Windows Vista.  The new feature called, “Kernel Patch Protection” already exists in Windows x64

“Kernel patching is the practice of using internal system calls and other unsupported mechanisms to modify or replace code or critical structures in the kernel of the Microsoft Windows operating system with unknown code or data. “

According to Agnitum,

Microsoft kernel patch protection prevents security software developers from installing security software at the kernel level, an approach that developers use to ensure security against malware applications.

"As the vendor of Outpost Firewall Pro, we have to install at the kernel level" said Alexey Belkin, chief software architect at Agnitum. "In addressing the potential problem of not being able to install Outpost on new versions of Windows, we have discovered that it is possible to drill past the new security measures introduced by Microsoft - if we use the same techniques used by hackers. That's a wide-open hole. If we discovered it, then hackers will discover it, and they will use that hole to install malicious software."

According to Microsoft:

Developers sometimes patch the kernel by changing a function pointer in the system service table, which is an array of function pointers to in-memory system services.

Patching fundamentally violates the integrity of the Windows kernel by replacing actual kernel code with unknown third-party code. As a result, patching introduces problems in three primary areas: reliability, performance and, most importantly, security


While I frequently find reasons to criticize Microsoft you may all be surprised I’m on their side this time.  I should note that my own product WinPatrol, doesn’t rely on Kernel Patching to do its job. All the “API’s” or system calls made by WinPatrol are standard functions available to all software vendors.

In a perfect world allowing security vendor to patch system tables in the kernel might be reasonable through a proper interface. Unfortunately, there are too many variables at work on any single computer system.  I have never seen any system that doesn’t have two or more “quirks” in how Windows works or how applications interact.  Allowing kernel patches creates a non-standard system which is difficult to support and invites more failures.  What works on a test system at Agnitum may not be 100% reliable on my system.  If a failure occurs it may not be obvious to whoever supports you.

Microsoft is however obligated under past anti-trust rulings to disclose all interfaces internal to Windows used by their own software.  In theory, that means any function call available to Microsoft Defender or any other Microsoft security product is available to any of us.  Microsoft claims they’ll abide by these rules and has even published their Twelve Tenets to Promote Competition this month.  We'll be watching to see how this works out and I predict I'll be making future Blog entries about this topic.

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Free Online Polls

Just yesterday I was thinking how useful it would be to add some kind of polls to the Bits from Bill Blog. I would enjoy more feedback and it would add some value to readers.  

Much to my surprise I was reading one of my favorite Blogs "Zats Not Funny" and saw that Dave Zatz was running a poll titled "TiVo Series Release Date Poll".

The poll software is provided free by freepolls.coms. Also available for $19.95 is something called Polls Pro which allows you to further customize your polls and remove any advertising from freepolls.com.  It’s not a bad deal for the ability to create custom polls and drop them on any page.

You’ll see I’ve added my first poll on the left side of this Blog.  Email readers can take the poll by clicking here.  Blogger.com which hosts my blog won’t allow the JavaScript or Forms within a blog entry but I can add code to the blog template

 

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Windows XP Optimizing Myths

I ran into an excellent page today which provides some good details on many popular myths for optimizing Windows XP.

For instance you can find out why the myths below and others are actually more harmful to your performance.

Myth - "Deleting the contents of the Prefetch folder improves performance"
Myth - "Moving the Pagefile to a different partition on the same drive improves performance”.
Myth - "Disabling these Services(DNS Cache Service and Task Scheduler Service) improves performance."
Myth - "Disabling System Restore improves performance."
Myth - "Registry Cleaners improve performance."
Myth - "Setting Set CPU Priority Tweak value to 26 gives a boost to the priority of foreground applications."

For details on these and more go to http://mywebpages.comcast.net/supportcd/XPMyths.html

There’s a discussion on DonationCode.com but your feedback and opinion is welcome here as well.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Warner 2 Zango, That's all Folks

Looks like Warner Bros said, "That's all Folks" to its 180solutions/Zango Inc. relationship.

Brian Krebs at the Washington Post sent out this special report today,
Warner Bros. To Cut Link With Adware Firm Zango

Warner Bros. Studios, home to Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo and Harry Potter, said yesterday that it plans to terminate a business relationship with Zango Inc., an adware company that has been offering free games on the Warner Bros. Web site in exchange for permission to install a computer program that could push advertisements and pornography.

Zango is offering free downloads of games on a Warner Bros. Web page called "Fun Stuff" that appears to be for children. But when users click on the game, they're directed to a page that asks for permission to install on the computer a program called Zango Search Assistant. Hidden in the terms of agreement is the disclosure that users may receive adult-oriented ads through it.

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Google & Advertisers Both Lose

And surprise, the lawyers win!
You just gotta love lawyers who specialize in class action lawsuits.

“An Arkansas judge Thursday approved a $90 million settlement between Google and advertisers who claimed the Internet search engine company improperly billed them for "clicks" that didn’t lead to genuine customers seeking their products.

By settling claims made in the plaintiffs’ class-action lawsuit, Google will give advertising credits that are the equivalent of a $3.80 refund on every $1,000 spent in its advertising network during the past 4 years.
No one will receive cash except the lawyers, who will split $30 million. "

On a recent conference call with analyst, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel also addressed “click fraud” (More Info) and Yahoo has now agreed to have advertisers submit click fraud claims.(More InfoYahoo got away with paying only $4.95 million in legal expenses.

While the settlement resolves the claim of a few businesses it doesn’t address the real problem.   Google is making an effort to track click-fraud by showing advertisers the number of clicks they’re filtering out. (More Info)  Will it be enough?   Click fraud is still running rampant thanks to spyware, specialized Click-fraud software and sophisticated automatic processes called “bots”. 

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

WarnerBros Dangerous to Children

This week everyone has been talking about how Warner Bros is now exposing kids to porn thanks to their relationship with the notorious spyware company 180solutions.

At DoNotReply.com there’s. 
Kids Thank Warner Brothers for the Ads and Porn
From ReveNews “More on WarnerBros and 180Solutions
And RealTechNews, “Warner Bros Partners with 180Solutions

This is nothing new to Ben Edelman who pointed out a relationship between 180solutions and WarnerBros over a year ago in “180solutions Domain Exclusion List

It didn't take me long to realize Warnerbros.com was no place for my grand kids or any of their friends. Just look at their Privacy warning. http://www2.warnerbros.com/main/privacy/privacy_kids.html?frompage=kids.

WE COLLECT LIMITED PERSONAL INFORMATION FROM CHILDREN

At our sites, we have a policy of collecting limited personally identifiable information. To enable children to participate in some of our online activities, we may ask them to provide us with their first name, hometown, and e-mail address.

On some pages of our sites, such as where children can send electronic postcards to their friends, we also may ask your child to provide personal information about other people.

Not only will they collect information about your kids,  they'll also entice your kids to give up personal information about their friends. And Nani wonders why she gets SPAM when she's never ever surfed the web.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Don't swallow your phone

From the category of  “Some people just don’t think like you and I”, comes this news clip from Independence, Missouri.  This really isn’t funny but I had to share it.

Man Accused of Shoving Phone Down Throat
Jul 26 7:36 AM US/Eastern

INDEPENDENCE, Mo.

The assault trial of a man accused of shoving a cell phone down a woman's throat has begun.

Prosecutors say 24-year-old Marlon Brando Gill was angry and jealous when he forced the phone into Melinda Abell's throat in December. But defense attorneys insist the 25-year-old victim swallowed the phone intentionally to prevent Gill from finding out who she'd been calling.

Gill is charged with felony first-degree assault.

A doctor at a Kansas City hospital's emergency room used a tool called a "pincher" to remove the phone from Abell's throat.

She testified yesterday that she couldn't remember how the phone got in her throat, saying she drank too much that night. Court records show that her blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Zune Viral Marketing

In its newest attempt at viral marketing Microsoft has created a buzz about a new product brand called Zune.  Just confirmed on Friday, searching on this Seussian term on Google News is already finding over 500 stories about it and the list keeps growing. 

Nobody really has what I consider solid specs about a product yet reputable news organizations have swallowed the bait and many analysts have jumped on board discussing how it will compare to the Apple iPod.  I have some decent inside sources at Microsoft and nobody really seems to know what the final product will be.

This isn’t the first I’ve written about Microsoft’s viral marketing approach.   In March, the Blogsphere was full of ::ahem:: leaks about the Origami Project.  I thought  it was all a plan to take advantage of the legal problems which almost caused the demise of the Blackberry. Luckily the Blackberry company, Research in Motion survived and we haven’t heard much more about the Origami Project.

I’m going to take a pass at Zune for now.  I get suspicious when I hear Microsoft describing a product as…  “It’s Microsoft’s new, holistic approach to music and entertainment.”

I see the whole Zune brand timing as more of a diversion. If the press is discussing a Microsoft iPod than they’ll ignore other stories like product delays. More than likely it’s part of the strategy to build up the Xbox (Home & Entertainment) division which recently reported a 1.26 Billion loss.  Amazing how that got so little press thanks to the timing of the Zune announcement.

Microsoft is proud of the base of 5 million Xbox 360’s users worldwide but they still lose money on every box they sell. According to the company…

“Our business model anticipates that while we currently sell Xbox 360 consoles at a negative margin, product cost reductions and the future margins on sales of games and other products will enable us to achieve a positive margin over the Xbox 360 console life cycle."

I hope I live that long!

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Friday, July 21, 2006

WinPatrol 10.0.3

My commitment to WinPatrol users is something I take serious.  We've released a “revision” of WinPatrol 10 today to fix a couple issues which have been reported. After three weeks and over 100,000 downloads I’m thinking having only two bugs to fix isn't bad.

Revision indicates some changes to fix bugs and minor enhancements as requested. Upgrade recommended if specific error is addressed.

  • Fixed issue with the Info dialog when not using the default 96 DPI display property.
    If you’ve changed your Display properties to greater than the default 96 DPI the Info/Properties dialog may have appeared to be chopped off. This problem only occurred after we made the Info dialog expandable.
  • Buffer Overflow crash may occur when using "Delete on Reboot".
    A couple builds ago we added extremely tight buffer overflow control for security reasons.(More Info) It’s possible in previous versions of WinPatrol a buffer overflow occurred when using Delete on Reboot and we never caught it.  Now we get an error dialog so we were able to resolve this issue immediately. If this bug affects your machine you’ll know immediately.
  • Feature Request: Added -NoOpen parameter to WinPatrol.exe.
    Normally, running WinPatrol.exe a second time will launch the tabbed interface, WinPatrolEx.exe. Using user controlled process launchers such as Sudo for Windows can cause the interface to open when launching a 2nd WinPatrol process. Adding -NoOpen to WinPatrol will resolve this issue.


  • You can always download the newest version of WinPatrol by going to our web site, www.WinPatrol.com\download.html.  Upgrades are always free!
    In most cases Scotty will remember you're a PLUS member and activate your PLUS features. If not click on the PLUS tab and enter your Name/Registration code combination to activate your PLUS features.

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    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Just Say No to MySpace

    I’ve been preparing to write a column about MySpace for while but it seems like there is no end to the controversy.  I’ve always had a bad feeling about MySpace until recently tried to suppress it.  I’m a parent, but my kids are too old for MySpace and they learned responsible online behavior at a very young age.  I can’t help this nagging impression that MySpace is just a shopping mall  for pedophiles.  I must not be alone, searching Google on pedophiles and myspace returns 176,000 thousand hits.

    Many of my friends have been detailing the relationship between MySpace and notorious spyware like Zango and Direct Revenue. (More Info from Chris Boyd).  SpywareWarrior Suzi Turner at ZDNet reports that someone is actually reading our Blogs working to cover their tracks. ( More Info from Suzi).

    Now it’s just getting worse.  Yesterday Brain Krebs at the Washington Post reported that MySpace had allowed advertising from a client who embedded spyware into the ad using an image security flaw I first wrote about last December.  The Zero-Day WMF Exploit information helped launch Bits from Bill into the Blogshere.  Anyone who might still be running an unpatched machine would have been inflected just by going to MySpace and getting this ad.  They wouldn’t even have to click on the ad!

    Last month I actually wrote to MySpace about advertising WinPatrol but never heard back. I figured the MySpace user base would be folks who really needed WinPatrol.  Apparently, I was correct.

    Just as I was completing today’s rant I received an additional link from my buddy Wayne Porter to the “Be Smart, Be Safe” blog which checked out  a new “bonus” free feature on MySpace. The “bonus” include Smiley Central, Cursor Mania, Popular Screensavers, the infamous MyWebSearch toolbar, and Search Assistant.  All the above are candidates for inclusion at http://www.stopbadware.org/.

     


     

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    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Microsoft welcomes Cogswell and Russinovich

    Wininternals A Microsoft Subsidiary
    One of the Blogs I list in those I read is Mark’s Sysinternals Blog.  Mark is one of the co-founders of Winternals Software LP. Winternals is a leading provider of systems recovery and data protection solutions for Microsoft-based enterprises.

    Yesterday, it was announced the Austin, Texas based Winternals and Sysinternals have been acquired by Microsoft.  The announcement sent a fury of activity on the Winternals web site as users rushed to download all the free utilities and source code available.

    I view this as great news for both the consumer and for developers.  Cogswell and Russinovich have a knowledge of low level Windows functions shared only by a handful of 3rd party developers.  Both gentlemen will be adding their expertise to Windows.  Bryce Cogswell will be joining the Core Operating Systems Division in the role of Software Architect. Mark will be joining the Platforms and Services Division (PSD) in the role of Technical Fellow.  Being named a Technical Fellow is a huge honor with only 14 other such fellows at this time.

    “The title of Technical Fellow is awarded to someone whose technical vision, expertise, and world-class leadership is widely recognized. These individuals are instrumental in developing and driving technical strategies for the customer, the company, and the industry.”

    I can only hope that both will have some impact on Windows Vista before it’s released.  They could both help to increase the internal security of Windows. At the same time, I expect they’ll be respectful of developers and our need to access many low level functions. I would gladly wait another quarter for Vista knowing that Cogswell and Russinovich will be doing some kind of code review. 

    Good Luck Bryce and Mark, we’re counting on you guys!

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    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    WGA: Microsoft thinks I'm stupid

    I checked my Automatic Updates today and noticed Microsoft wanted me to update the “Windows Genuine Advantage Notification(KB905474)” yet again.  The details are hysterical…

    “The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy of Windows is not genuine.  If your system is found to be a non-genuine, the tool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows”

    One minor bitch is that unless you’re a tech (KB905474) is useless, confusing information. It’s right up there with those useful message boxes that pop up and tells me I have an “error -5”.

    My real complaint is Microsoft thinks I’m stupid and I don’t know if my copy of Windows is valid. 

    I know I’ve written about this before but it continues to haunt me.  Why not include the WGA check as part of the system properties dialog.  You know, the one that already displays my 23 character license.  I certainly don’t need to know every time I boot, and I really resent my information being sent to Microsoft.  I don’t accepted Microsoft excuse that it will only be used to provide updates since they’ve already had a system in place online when providing new downloads.

    PC World recently discussed how some companies are now classifying WGA as Spyware. ( More Info ). At BillP Studios WGA has created a brand new category called Slap-in-the-face-ware.

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    Monday, July 17, 2006

    AOL UnCut Video

    One of the most popular trends on the web is the sharing of funny or just plain stupid videos.  Google launched a video service earlier this year and sites like YouTube.com have gotten enough exposure to attract the interest of major media outlets.  After first being annoyed that segments of Saturday Night Live were being posted on YouTube, NBC did an about face and has now partnered with YouTube.

    Some videos are very high content quality but most are user-generated.  Since most digital cameras can also take short videos many of the uploads are just home made amateur projects designed for friends and family.  There are a lot of folks looking to produce the next Numa Numa video.  It’s amazing how adding a great music score to any home video entertaining.

    Time Warner’s AOL has been working on their own video sharing service called “UnCut Video” which is currently in their 3rd beta.  One of the most commented upon videos has been from a guy looking to find out if he should have lasik surgery (Click Here to view "Glasses on?" 

    AOL re-compresses the video so they appear quickly and yet the video quality is very good.  The quality of the content isn’t at YouTube’s level yet but with all the folks using AOL I’m sure that will change.  I’ve uploaded a few of my own favorites which you can view by searching on my AOL screen name “BillP”. (Click Here)  Even with no promotion they’ve each had over 100 views so apparently a lot of folks are trying UnCut Video.

    Disclaimer: I do have family connection to the UnCut Video team.

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    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Does Microsoft Answer to Anyone?

    EU FlagThere has been a lot of talk recently about the European Union fining Microsoft for its deliberate monopolistic behavior.  This has been big news on the Blogs lately but for those of us who have watched Microsoft over the year, it’s business as usual.  The case against Microsoft has been in the courts for over four years. Apparently, Microsoft made $50 billion with its current behavior they can afford the multi-million dollar daily fines

    In the 90’s as a consultant for Gateway 2000 I was part of a group making a deal to include the Netscape browser as the default startup on new Gateway computers being sold.  Everything was looking good and I was almost done with a cool TV/Video plugin for the desktop when I was told to stop.  It seems Microsoft had put so much pressure on Gateway that not only was the project dropped but some folks were asked to leave after appearing in court as witnesses in the governments antitrust case against Microsoft.

    Want to kill off a competing browser.  Include yours for free.
    Want to create a new video format you can control?  Just include a cool Movie Maker program in Windows and don’t allow people to remove it. 
    Want to kill off Word Perfect, once the standard in Word Processors?  Integrate Word and Microsoft Office into your operating system and give it access to functions not available to others.

    Windows System Updates

    Want proof how integrated Office and Windows are? You only need to look at this weeks Windows automatic update.  Not only does Windows update its own components, it automatically will update security flaws in Office!

    The issue of Microsoft Security has also been in the blogs lately.  Sunbelt’s President Alex Eckelberry makes a good case that shows how Microsoft is trying to take over the security business with the use of predatory pricing. ( More Info ).  It caused so much Email, Alex had to follow it up with “Is Microsoft resorting to bribes”.  There’s a good history of Microsoft’s feet dragging at FindLaw.com.

    Of course, it brings up the basic question, Why doesn’t Microsoft just produce software that doesn’t require an entire business segment devoted to protecting its users?  As I’ve said before,  if Microsoft spent as much on development as they do on lawyers they would do fine.

     

     

     

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    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs

    I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Microsoft is dumping any support or updates for folks running Windows 98 and Windows ME. Brian Krebs at the Washington Post has recently covered the issue well. ( More Info ).  He even wrote about security tools like WinPatrol that still worked on older versions of Windows.

    This morning InfoWorld reports Microsoft has finally released a new version of Windows called “Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs”.  The new OS essentially turns a older less powerful PC into a thin-client computer. 

    “The OS can run only a few programs locally, such as security tools, management tools and document viewers, which means line-of-business and productivity applications will need to be run remotely on a server. “

    Unfortunately, this version isn’t for the general public. It’s only available to customers of the “Microsoft Software Assurance” licensing and maintenance program. As of this morning it was not yet available on my Microsoft download page.

    Microsoft Software Assurance is a maintenance offer that helps your organization get the most from Microsoft software through a broad range of benefits. From deployment planning and staff training to product support and software upgrades, Software Assurance benefits help you increase worker productivity, accelerate organizational performance, and realize a return on your software investment faster.

    WinFun is actually based on a special version of Windows XP “Embedded” SP2. Microsoft says this will help users transition to Vista when they can afford to upgrade their older hardware. ( More Info )

     

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    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Definition of Spyware

    Thanks for Eric Goldman for noting that Merriam-Webster has added the term “Spyware” to its dictionary. (More Info) I’ve been to multiple conferences where half the morning was devoted to the task of defining Spyware.  The Webster definition is pretty simple.

    Main Entry: spy·ware
    Pronunciation: 'spI-"wer
    Function: noun
    :
    software that is installed in a computer without the user's knowledge and transmits information about the user's computer activities over the Internet

    A number of self proclaimed “adware” companies have sent me Cease & Desist order over the years because WinPatrol labeled them as spyware.  Guess what guys?  You’re spyware! stick it up yours

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    Exploding Dell Laptop

    There has been a bit of press these days about a laptop which caught fire at a conference in Japan. (More Info)  They even showed the video on the Today Show this morning.  In this case, I actually feel sorry for the folks at Dell who are getting the bad rap for this one.  While it was in fact a Dell laptop, the fire and explosion was due to a faulty lithium battery.  Overheating and fires aren’t new to Dell, but in the past they’ve been quick to recall faulty power supplies that suffered from overheating problems. In 2004 they recalled over a million power adapters. ( More Info )

    Dell laptop catches fire and explodes

    The bottom line is, this kind of problem could happen to any laptop.  My niece is going off to college this fall and I’m still recommending a Dell laptop for her.  I’m not worried about purchasing an exploding laptop. I’m more worried about all the crap that Dell installs as startup programs on the laptop.  Before she goes away my job will be to help her remove all the startup garbage so she can actually use the machine for school. (Click here) to read about what Dell was putting on their laptops last December

     If you purchased a Dell laptop or replacement battery last year you might want to check into the Dell Battery Recall Program. (More Info )


    Update: 08/16/2006

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    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Windows Genuine Advantage Not

    Microsoft has been getting a lot of attention lately over its implementation of a startup process called WGA( Windows Genuine Advantage ). I wrote about it myself when I first discovered it.( More Info )  I still think it was a poor implementation forced on the developers by  “suits” who were concerned about piracy.  We even added a new feature to WinPatrol 10 that allows users to disable the current WGA and any future implementations. 

    The news this week was about a second lawsuit filed claiming that, WGA is spyware and that Microsoft lied to customers telling them it was part of a critical security update. (More Info) According to Engineered Process Controls and Univex and other plaintiffs,

    WGA gathers data that can easily identify individual PCs, and WGA can be modified remotely to collect additional information at Microsoft's initiation,"

    As a casual observer I think Microsoft owes all of us an apology.  It’s one thing  to choose to install “beta” software, it’s another to have it forced down your throat.  WGA was a beta test that was disguised as a critical security update.  Microsoft already has a method in place to verify if I was using a legal version of Windows before updating or downloading extras.  They certainly didn’t need to check every time I boot.

    My big objection isn’t that it phones home to Microsoft.  I figure Microsoft already knows more about me than the IRS. My complaint is that it runs at Startup and I already have to wait longer than I should when I reboot.   When I did my time working on the Redmond campus, everyone, including Bill Gates talked about the need for a quick start PC. After all, that’s what people were used to with their televisions. 

    Microsoft has posted instructions on how do disable WGA Notifications and manually uninstall WGA(More Info ) but I expect we’ll continue to follow this story.

     

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    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    20 Popular Phishing Scams

    Earlier this year our friends at CastleCops and Sunbelt Software joined forces to create a grass-roots campaign to track Email phishing. The team of volunteers around the world is commonly called “PIRT”, the Phishing Incident Reporting and Termination Squad. Last week. Thanks for the folks working with PIRT a number of high volume sites have already been taken down.  Last week PIRT provide a list of the top 20 brands used to try and trick users into giving away information.

    I think it’s safe to say you should be sceptical about any Email from the following brands on the May 2006 list.

    1. PayPal - 520
    2. eBay - 309
    3. Bank of America - 37
    4. Barclays - 36
    5. Wells Fargo - 36
    6. Chase - 33
    7. WAMU - 28
    8. HSBC - 20
    9. MasterCard - 18
    10. e-gold - 17
    11. Nationwide - 17
    12. Citi - 16
    13. BancorpSouth - 14
    14. Postbank.de - 12
    15. Halifax - 11
    16. NetBank - 11
    17. Laredo Nat'l Bank - 10
    18. Nat'l Australia Bank - 10
    19. Western Union - 10
    20. National Credit Union - 9

    To learn more about PIRT click ( More Info )

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    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Who Killed Gator?

    They’ve been talking about it for over a year but now Claria(Formerly GAIN Network/Gator) has officially claimed they are no longer going to use Adware/Spyware to track customer habits. They’ve even gone as far as telling customers to remove the software (More Info). If you go to their Products page, they still list all their products like GotSmiley and Gator eWallet but you have to hunt a little to download them.

    As of yesterday, Claria says users won’t be seeing Pop-up adds from the GAIN Network. I bravely downloaded Precision Time to see what would happen.  I surfed around a little and didn’t find any Claria based popups.  I tried syncing up my computer clock and it still worked letting me know my time was off by 13 seconds.  It connected to a time server run by “National Institute of Standards and Technology “. 

    Support your local gator hunter

    There are some real heros in this story that proved the little guy can make a difference. My hero’s are the folks at PCPitstop.com, Dave Methvin and Rob Cheng.  PC PitStop told the truth about Gator but in September, 2003 Gator filed a lawsuit against PC PitStop for “false advertising, unfair business practices, trade libel, defamation, and tortious interference." The overall result of this lawsuit was to make the online world more aware of the bad practices and deception used by Gator and companies like it. (More Info).  After changing their name to Claria(More Info), the Gator folks thought perhaps they could sell stock in the company but the public said no way. (More Info). More recently Microsoft was in talks to purchase Claria but realized it would be a PR disaster reconsidered (More Info)

    Personally, I will never fully trust Claria but I welcome their admission of guilt.  Their business model is still tracking behavior and given the past methods it’s hard to really wish them well.

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