Click here to view current Bits From Bill posts Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cost of Cloud Computing Cartoon

Microsoft said the cost for cloud computing with Windows Azure would be “competitive”.


First thoughts I have about cloud computing

Share on Facebook


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Windows 7 Desktop Preview at PDC

Microsoft let the cat out of the bag today with a semi-public demo of Windows 7. While I not really about Microsoft’s new Windows Azure, Cloud computing, the new Desktop for Windows 7 is promising. Unfortunately, it also means folks will be forced to learn some new terminology and functionality. New “Jump Lists”, “Libraries” are both designed to make it easier to find your documents in your “Home Group”.

New Library based access in Windows 7
New Library based replacement for “My Documents” spans multiple locations.

Find your documents easier
Finding and opening documents just got easier.


New Windows 7 tasb bar
Windows 7 Task Bar


The new system tray is completely configurable so it’s easier for you to decide which icons are displayed in your notification area. If you don’t like those notifications which slide up, you can decide which ones you want immediately and send others to a log that you can look through when you feel like it.

Windows 7 Device Manager
Windows 7 designed to manage and communicate with more device types.


Microsoft also showed us a new version of Windows Paint and promised upgrades of most of the standard Windows applications like Notepad, WordPad, Calculator, etc… Be prepared for all these applications to use a standard Ribbon Interface just like you love in Office 2007.

If you like multi-touch, Windows 7 has a touch layer that mimics mouse events so you can use a multi-touch interface even if the application isn’t touch aware.


As Marisa Tomei would say... There’s more!
Microsoft has finally found a use for Bitlocker by allowing you to use it on external portable USB drives. This is a must just in case someone else finds your lost thumb drive.

The biggest applause of the day came when it was announced that Virtual Disk Partitioning was native to Windows 7. Developers in particular need to have machines that can run multiple platforms. 


Disk Partitioning


Conclusion
For now Microsoft has succeeded in getting me excited but it wasn’t all the new desktop enhancements. It was their promise to increase speed, responsiveness, and scale, while decreasing memory, Input/Output and power consumption. If they keep this promise we’ll all be upgrading. The official release of Windows 7 isn’t going to be for well over a year so anything is possible. 



Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Monday, October 27, 2008

Live from LA, It's Microsoft PDC!

I’m happy to report I’ve left the cold rainy northeast to bask in the warm sun of southern California. This year Microsoft is releasing the first large scale alpha of what they call Windows 7 at the Professional Developers Conference this week. They’re trying to get everyone as excited about this event as Steve Jobs does for his new Apple product announcements.

I’m really hoping that Microsoft will excite me more than they have with Vista but I’m not easy. There will be plenty of sites reporting on this event so I’ll try my best to provide my own little twisted view of what I learn.


While I had hoped they would give me my copy of Windows 7 today, they’re saving Windows 7 specific stuff until Tuesday. Today is all about “Cloud Computing” and the new Microsoft service called “Windows Azure”.  We even learned how to create programs today that will run on the Microsoft cloud server. 

That’s right, all the code that we create would run on a Microsoft owned server. I’ll bet that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy right?  Naturally, the Cloud Computing investment also relies on your local provider to keep you productive. According to Microsoft, pricing for hosting applications on Azure would be “competitive”.

Azure


They say one advantage of Azure is scalability.  Not only will applications be designed to be available for your Windows 7 based machine but will be mobile accessible as well.  We already learned how to create a “Hello Cloud” application. Microsoft showed an existing demo of something called BlueHoo with the obligatory cute representations of the people around you.


Bluehoo
Boys are blue, Girls are red, and grey I guess if you’re not sure.


I’ll have more to write tomorrow about Windows 7 from my point of view. I’ve already had a sneak peek but can’t blog about it yet. You can however get an early fix (wink wink) from Mary-Jo Foley at http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1667


UPDATE:  Live Tuesday  Windows 7 Desktop Preview

First thoughts I have about cloud computing

Labels: , , ,

Share on Facebook


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Change Still a Problem

View from Santa Monica Doubletre Guest Suites
Night One while at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference

I have to admit, the folks here at the Santa Monica Doubletree Guest Suites made sure I had a room with a great view. I took this photo last night.  Once the sun goes down the Ferris wheel puts on a light show that can only be described as “trippy”.

So far my only problem has been with the alarm clock in my room. I’m running an hour behind because the smart alarm clocks here thought that today was the start of Daylight Savings and fell back over the night. I learned of this problem with a note under my door.

Dear Valued Guest,

Please be aware in room alarm clocks are not correct due to previous programming for day light savings time. Actual time is one hour ahead. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call our CARE line by dialing extension 7.

Hospitality Yours,
Hotel Management Team


Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Friday, October 24, 2008

Today's a Good Day to Update

If you’re a regular BitsFromBill.com reader you know how I feel about the concept of auto updating software. I hate autoupdate programs from Apple, Google and Adobe.

Occasionally, the bad guys learn about a vulnerability and are quick to deploy dangerous attacks designed to take advantage newly discovered security holes. When this happens installing an update to protect yourself is worth any risk of updated code.

Today is one of those days. Yesterday Microsoft released security bulletin MS08–067 Vulernability in Server Service Could Allow Remove Code Execution. You might be thinking, “But I have a laptop, not a server”. Well, technically you do have a server and even your laptop is exposed if you’re connected to the internet.

So far the reported attacks seem to be targeted but it won’t be long before internet bots are scanning all IP address for this vulnerability. Microsoft has been a little vague only giving specific details to security providers. This attack can bypass firewalls and users don’t have to visit any webpages to become infected. I’ve read enough to suggest this security patch is a special exception.

So, I don’t know if this update could cause problems but I’ve updated my machines and I recommend you do the same.

http://update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/default.aspx



Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meet Me in Los Angeles at PDC

Meet me at PDCI haven’t posted this week since I’ve been getting ready for a trip out to this years Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.

I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones. I’m bringing along a couple dozen 1 GB WinPatrol Flash wristbands so if you spot me please say hello and introduce yourself.

The first 20 people who ask will receive a free 1 GB WinPatrol Flash wristband.


While I expect to be wearing our popular WinPatrol PLUS sports shirts I can also be identified with my always present BillP smile.



Bill Pytlovany in home office
Bill Pytlovany working hard at BillP Studios home office.
(Photo courtesy of Temerc)


I’ll be reporting live from L.A. so expect some Windows 7 and other news in this blog next week. Microsoft is trying hard to get the kind of coverage you typically see with Apple events. The keynote speeches will be streamed live and number of “All-Star” bloggers have joined together to cover the event. Click for more info.


Labels: , , ,

Share on Facebook


Friday, October 17, 2008

Engineering Features for Windows 7

It’s no secret that I’ve been disappointed with the current version of Windows known as Vista. I really wanted to love Vista but it just never happen. I’m skipping Vista and hoping that Microsoft will get me excited about Windows 7. I’m so hopeful that I’ll be attending this years Professional Developers Conference and will start playing with the newest version next month.


Today I caught an article that described changes in the Windows development process that sound very promising. Last year, I connected with Larry Osterman, a long time developer at Microsoft who helped me find a compatibility problem with WinPatrol in Vista. Larry went out of his way, working into the night to help debug the problem and became one of my heroes in Redmond. Larry is busy working on Windows 7 but took the time to post an article describing how the development process has improved.


ENGINEERING 7: A VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM

“… the test team was brought into the planning process very early on, the test team provided valuable input and we were able to ensure that we built features that were not only code complete but also test complete by the end of the milestone (something that didn’t always happen in Vista). And it ensured that the features we built were actually testable (it sounds stupid I know, but you’d be surprised at how hard it can be to test some features).”

Larry also hints that some features may not make the final version but any that do will be solid.

“A feature is not permitted to be checked into the winmain branch until it is complete. And I do mean complete: the feature has to be capable of being shipped before it hits winmain – the UI has to be finished, the feature has to be fully functional, etc.”


So from an engineering stand point is sounds like Microsoft really has it together. This sounds more like the habits I learned from my mentor when I worked for Microsoft.


I would love to see a similar article that describes how new user experience issues are adopted. Some of my disdain for Vista came from changes in how to accomplish simple tasks. In a support role, providing help to others is much easier when the steps are consistent. Vista made some major changes and hopefully we all won’t have to start all over again with Windows 7.


Larry will be speaking at the Professional Developers Conference so I’m looking forward to thanking him in person for both his help and for getting me excited about Windows 7.


Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unboxing Most Valuable Professional Kit

As I mentioned recently I've had the honor of receiving a Microsoft MVP(Most Valuable Professional) award for 2009. Today DHL delivered some fun stuff to make me really feel special.


Microsoft Most Valuable Professional 2009 kit


The MVP kit includes a lapel pin, certificate, badge and a nice crystal statue.  The only thing missing was a MVP t-shirt.

Thank you Microsoft



 

Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Monday, October 13, 2008

Microsoft Professional Developers Conference

If everything goes as planned I’ll be traveling out to Los Angeles later this month for the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference. I’ve attended a number of PDC’s in the past and always had a good time. In the old days Bill Gates would give the keynote address. This year we’ll be double teamed by Ray Ozzie, Amitabh Srivastava, Bob Muglia, David Thompson, Steven Sinofsky, Scott Guthrie, David Treadwell and Rick Rashid.

This is a big chance for Microsoft to get developers excited enough to begin programming for Windows 7. Microsoft says they’ll provide each participant with a 160 GB external hard drive with everything we need to get started. Like many I’ve been disappointed with Vista so I’m really hoping this event will get me engergized.


If I like what I see I may add some Win7 specific features to future WinPatrol versions. At the very least I’ll make sure that Scotty is compatible. I’ve always looked for ways to make WinPatrol fill in the gaps in Windows both in security and other useful functionality. Either way, I’m sure my imagination will be working overtime.


If any of my readers are attending this event be sure to let me know. You’ll recognize me in L.A. my WinPatrol sports shirt.

WinPatrol Sports Shirt.  Click to purchase

and my WinPatrol wrist band.
WinPatrol Wrist band


I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends, meeting some new ones and doing a little California dreamin’. I’ll be bringing a camera, doing screen shots and will report all my findings here on BitsfromBill.com, so stay tuned for more.


Labels: ,

Share on Facebook


Friday, October 10, 2008

WinPatrol Explorer Integration Option

By popular demand, I’ve released an update to the latest version of WinPatrol. In the last new version I added the ability to request PLUS Info directly from Windows Explorer. Unfortunately, I neglected to make this an optional feature.  As always I like to make everyone happy so I found room for a new option.


New Explorer Integration Options


If you’d like this option you can download the newest WinPatrol 15.9.2008.5 at http://www.winpatrol.com/download.html.  Thanks again to everyone for their feedback and support.

Share on Facebook


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Shame on Windows Secrets Newsletter

I’m a big fan of all the folks who publish the Windows Secrets Newsletter but today an article by Scott Dunn gave me chills.  Scott reviewed a number of keylogging programs under the premise of good parenting.

Are your kids visiting sites you disapprove of, or is your schnauzer making unauthorized purchases of doggie biscuits on eBay?”

Scott did his homework on the functionality of keyloggers but neglected to understand how often these programs are used for malicious intent. In my own research, I spent a great deal of time listening to the folks at NNEDV(National Network to End Domestic Violence). If Scott had talked with anyone who deals with domestic violence he would understand just how horrible and dangerous these programs are. Their primary customers are not parents.


These programs know they’ll be used for no good and try to ease their guilt with weak warnings. They are not a replacement for proper parental supervision.  The risk and degree of pain caused by the evil use of these programs doesn’t make up for any legitimate usage.


When I was researching keyloggers to verify WinPatrol would detect them I couldn’t help but laugh at the following disclaimers.


Bogus warning for keylogger


Another bogus Keylogger warning


Aside from this faux pas, I still recommend the Windows Secrets Newsletter. They’ve given some good reviews of my efforts with WinPatrol in the past. They also announced that Fred Langa is coming out of retirement and will be contributing again which was the best news in today’s newsletter.


See: Ex-Husband Gets Jail Time for Keylogger


Thanks to all my friends on Twitter who helped me figure out how to spell “faux pas”.


 

Labels: , , ,

Share on Facebook


Sunday, October 05, 2008

How to Stop AntiVirus 2009

I’ve often said, even some of the smartest folks I know can find themselves infected with malware. Last week a family member found themselves with frequent pop ups telling them they were infected.  They didn’t do anything wrong. Their machine had a vulnerability that allowed the infection just by being connected to the Internet.  They finally gave up and downloaded Antivirus 2009.  Luckily, they had WinPatrol available to remove it but one simple step could have saved them a lot of anxiety.


It happen to me today as well.  I clicked on a legitimate link and suddenly received the following pop up.


Rogue AntiVirus 2009
This appeared just by being on the Internet


It won’t do you any good to click any button including the X.  The result will always be a fake scan by Extortion-ware Anti Virus 2009


Fake scan by AntiVirus 2009
STOP here, clicking on the Red X won't save you.


Eventually, most folks give up and end up downloading Antivirus 2009 which turns into Extortion-Ware.  They try to convince you that upgrading and paying is the only way to clean up the viruses listed above.


Solution: Ctrl-Alt-Del
The answer to this situation is simple. As soon as you experience your first pop up that can’t be closed by the X in the upper right-hand corner your next step should be Ctrl-Alt-Del.  This is your opportunity to open the Windows Task Manager. Check the list of Applications and Kill your browser.


Windows Task Manager
Windows XP Task Manager


You could also use WinPatrol’s Active Task list to kill the browser but since you only need to kill a single task, Ctrl-Alt-Del is even easier.  If however you did download AntiVirus 2009 you’ll want WinPatrol so you can sort, select and kill multiple tasks in a single operation.  You can also use WinPatrol to “Delete File on Reboot” any files which don’t seem to want to go away. WinPatrol users see http://www.winpatrol.com/helpme.html.


Prevention: Security Updates
Your next step is to make sure you’ve downloaded all the available Windows security updates. Many of you know, I typically recommend against automatically installing new Windows updates on the day they’re released. Last month Microsoft did release a number of new security patches. Guess what?  It’s time to update.


Let me repeat. The first pop up I received came with I clicked on a valid link. I went back to the same link and it was fine. IT’S TIME TO UPDATE!!!


 

Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Congrats Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals

Today, Microsoft provided the award of MVP (Most Valuable Professional) to number of bright and outstanding individuals who devote their time to help others. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Microsoft MVP’s and today I’ve been given the honor to join them.

Microsoft notified me this morning that I’ve been selected as a Microsoft MVP.

The Microsoft MVP Award Program recognizes and thanks outstanding members of technical communities for their community participation and willingness to help others. The MVP Award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who foster the free and objective exchange of knowledge by actively sharing their real-world expertise with technology users. The MVP Award celebrates the most active community members from around the world who provide invaluable online and offline expertise that enriches the community experience and makes a difference in technical communities that feature Microsoft products.


While I had been approached by Microsoft to see if I was interested, the award was still a little bit of a surprise.  It’s no secret that I haven’t spent much time promoting Windows Vista and I have been slightly critical of the auto update process.  I’m impressed and humbled that the folks at Microsoft honored me with this title.  I promise to continue speaking out when I can offer some constructive criticism but I’m still thrilled to be included in a group of exceptional professions.

I would especially like to thank those MVP’s who nominated me and helped Microsoft think I was worthy. It’s been a decade since I worked out at the Redmond campus so I look forward to next years MVP Global Summit and meeting my fellow MVP’s.


 

Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook


Fun on Google's Birthday

This week our friends at Google are celebrating their 10th birthday. In the tradition of the Hobbits, Google had decided to give us all a present in the form of their oldest available search index.


Click on http://www.google.com/search2001.html and you can go back in history to 2001 and see what kind of results were delivered by Google. Search on Sarah Palin and you'll find nothing. A search on Windows Vista won't bring many computer related items. An iPod was an Image Proof of Deposit Document System.


I often use my own unique last name (Pytlovany) to test search engines. On Google in 2001 there were 77 items found when I searched. Today, Google reports that are 5,500 pages that include my last name. In 2001, WinPatrol was mentioned on 371 pages.  This morning a Google search on WinPatrol shows well over a million.


What makes this really fun is that Google as partnered with archive.org so that when you click on the results there’s a good chance you can see what the resulting page actually looked like in 2001. Searching on John McCain or Joe Biden will give you access to many of their historic positions. There’s even a chat with John McCain on AOL.

Click on “View old version of the Internet Archive
Click on View Internet Archives


Here’s what our WinPatrol web page looked like seven years ago.


WinPatrol 3.0 in 2001


WinPatrol.com in 2001. Click for more


I’m told that Google 2001 will only be available for the month of October so use your imagination and see what fun you can have.


 


More screen shots:
Technologizer: Time Travel via Google


 


 

Labels: , ,

Share on Facebook