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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Home from Hilton & Albany Medical Center

A quick note of thanks to all the kind messages regarding my recent surgery.  I’m happy to report I’m home recovering in the hands of my loving wife Cindi.


Special thanks to the folks at Hilton Garden Inn which is connected to Albany Med. I decided spending the night before the surgery would give me an hour or so more sleep and a comfortable place to rest for Cindi while I spent the night nearby in the hospital. Unfortunately, the very loud guest in the next room was not in on the plan. I called down to the desk to request a different room and Brandon upgraded us to an especially nice quiet corner suite. I’ll be booking a hotel in the Hilton family on our next trip.


Albany Medical Center from our suite at the Hilton Garden Inn
Albany Medical Center viewed from Hlton Gardan Inn.


At this moment, I can’t remember the names of all the wonderful doctors, nurses and others at Albany Medical Center. They were wonderful and did a fantastic job at making me comfortable.


I’ll post again soon but it might be a good idea to wait until I’m no longer taking the Oxymoron drugs they gave me.


 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

This will be my last post for at few days at least.  Tomorrow, I’m having what Dr Cheney assures me is a text-book procedure at Albany Medical Center.  I’m told it’s very common and I’ll be back to work in a couple weeks.


It’s amazing how many people tell me they know someone who has had this procedure. I’m surprised at how many people have had their throat cut open, their cervical discs removed, replaced with new bone and then fused together with a little clip.


While it sure doesn’t sound like fun, I’m looking forward to the relief it will provide.  For the last few months I’ve been connecting to my office computer via my ThinkPad and GoToMyPC so I’m looking forward to sitting up straight again.


Feel free to read through some of my older posts and check out the search box for previous topics.  BitsFromBill.com will be three years old next week. I’ll have some time to come up with some new topics and will be posting again as soon as I get a chance.


If you found me searching Google because you have neck problems stop back and I’ll tell you how it goes.  One of my old friends helped create http://www.revolutionhealth.com so I’ll probably post reviews of my medical care there. 


Sidenote: November 19th is also the 11th Anniversary of the launch of our very first WinPatrol to the public.


 


 

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Photo From Your IPAddress Has Been Uploaded

It starts with an innocent message that you think comes from one of your Facebook friends. Below is a classic example of social engineering designed to steal your password.  It didn’t take a brilliant hacker to come up with this scam. It just took someone with evil thoughts and no life.


Facebook message from NOT a friend


I noticed this message on a friends Facebook page this morning and my experience told me right away that something smelled funny. When I cautiously went to the web page listed via my test machine it all become clear.


Bogus error message
First, they try and scare you.


 


Here's where you close your browser with Ctrl-Alt -Del
It might seems safe because they only want your Email right?


DO NOT ENTER YOUR PASSWORD!
If you entered your password, it’s time to go to Facebook
and other sites listed before and change it now.


There's more


Next Step


Here's where they finally get you so they know which password you gave them.
Now, they want to know where to use your name and password.



Final Screen
And finally, you get the final let down.


If you fell for this, you’re not alone.  Like most social engineering scams they use fear to throw you off.


 


 


 

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Start Your Holiday Shopping Now

It's never too early to start your holiday shopping and this year I have some recommendations I promise will be popular with your loved ones.

Bakugan Starter Pack 

My recommendation for kids is Bakugan, Bakugan, Bakugan.
They will be the hottest item under tree this year and you better purchase now. I predict you’ll have a hard time finding these in December.
Bakugan Battle Arena


We’re already a Bakugan family and have already had problems finding new Series 2 packs.


For the adults, I recommend a digital photo frame.  We received one last year and love it.  Ours came from a company I had never heard of before called SmartParts but it turned out to be one of the best I’ve seen.  My biggest surprise is that ten year old photos I took with my first low-res Casio QV-PC 0.23 megapixel camera look great on our digital photo frame.


Smartparts 10.4 inch Digital Picture Frame


Mario Kart for Nintendo Wii

I’m not a real gamer but I’ve had a blast with this one. We have grand kids in Germany and every Saturday we connect to the Internet, play Mario Kart and race against the kids in real-time. It would be perfect if they could also integrate it with Wii Speak but for now our unlimited Germany plan with Vonage allows us all to chat on speaker phone while we play.


And for the entire expanded family, get your Nintendo Wii now while they last. Nintendo claims they’ve increased production so there will be plenty on the shelves but I recommend if you plan on a Wii Christmas, order now.


Nintendo Wii


My last personal recommendation saved my butt when I went out to LA for the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference. I don’t regularly drive on highways with over 6 lanes so I was happy to have this available.

Garmin Nuvi 760

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Technologizer, New Playground for Harry McCracken

Last year I wrote about the adventures of former PC World Editor, Harry McCracken.  I had the pleasure of getting to know Harry while on vacation in early 2007. He’s a true gentleman and an absolutely classic geek.

Last year, Harry left his 13+ year position with PC World due to a conflict between editorial content and pressure to please advertisers. PC World owners IDG recognized the folly of their directive and asked Harry to return which he did.

Now Harry has left the hard copy publishing world behind to start a new venture called “Technologizer”. This time he left PC World in good hands as he starts his new job, expanding his editorial coverage of the industry.

Technologizer includes a social network element thanks to technology from Ning.com. Technologizer, A Smarter Tech Community is like a personal facebook dedicated to the kind of technology that Harry loves best.


One of PC World’s other great assets has gone off to expand his audience.  Columist Steve Bass who wrote PC Worlds “Tips & Tweaks” can now be found at TechBite: Take a Bite Out of Technology. You can sign up for Steve’s newsletter and have it delieved to your Email free of charge.


 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Truth Behind Windows 7

It’s been a couple weeks now that I’ve been playing with Windows 7 so I figured it’s about time to speak out. To the delight of the folks in Redmond, I’m not the only one talking about the new Windows.

There are currently two versions of the new Windows.  The first one was given to developers at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference to get us excited. The 2nd is what the developers were shown at the conference. Most of the images you’ll see online are from the 2nd version available to internal Microsoft developers.


Western Digital Hard Drive With Windows 7
Developers at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference were all given a Western Digital USB hard drive with the alpha version of Windows 7.


I’m happy with the version of Windows 7 I’m running. It’s stable and so far has been able to handle everything I’ve thrown at it.  This is the diversion that Microsoft had hoped for.  Redmond desperately needs the buzz to prevent a mass exodus from Windows Vista toward Apple.

A recent survey by ChangeWave predicts that 33% of laptop sales during the next three months will be from Apple. I’ve seen this coming but my prediction would be closer to 15–20%.


Looking under the hood of Windows 7
Looking under the hood of my Windows 7, what I found looks like Windows Vista, smells like Windows Vista and feels like Windows Vista. I did find some memory optimization related to accessing the registry but I’m not sure if that’s good or bad yet. It seemed to speed up WinPatrol’s real-time detection but could slow frequent scans with the free version. I’ll be waiting for an official beta before doing serious benchmark testing.


So far the main difference seems to be new applications, configuration applets and some tweaking to the window manager that provides just a little performance gain. Most of the changes that I learned about during the conference are yet to be included.


Jump Lists in Windows 7
“Ignore that man behind the curtain”


In one of the sessions at Microsoft PDC I learned how to integrate WinPatrol with new Windows 7 “Jump Lists” available off the cool new Task Bar.  Unfortunately, I have to wait for a spring beta build before I can actually start programming for this feature. Jump Lists aren’t supported in my version of Windows 7 and the documentation still calls them “Destinations”.


Now, there is a little secret.  The PDC version of Windows has a secret user flag that can make it appear like the 2nd.  It works if you trick Windows 7 into thinking you’re on a specific Microsoft domain. If you’re one of the folks with access to the officially released version of Window you can find the instructions at WithinWindows.com.

Here's how WinPatrol looks on the taskbar if you're running the internal Microsoft version of Windows 7
WinPatrol on the Windows 7 task bar

Final Thought
If Microsoft allows Windows 7 to be technology driven I think we’ll be happy with the results.  The Microsoft developers I met at PDC are highly motivated, and sincere. They did get me excited.  If however, it’s market driven to meet holiday PC sales in 2009 it could be a disaster.


 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Removing AntiVirus 2008/2009 The Easy Way

Last week, I wrote about how to prevent getting infected with the to common AntiVirus 2008 or other similar branded attacks.  I have been hearing from far too many people who have been getting infections lately.


In my post, I talked about preventing this infection but I didn’t cover how to remove this infection in case it was too late.  I started working on details and steps on how to use WinPatrol to remove this infection but realized there is an easier way. Many folks have also run into the problem that this infection will block access to any WinPatrol pages.  In some ways I’m honored that the bad guys are afraid of WinPatrol and how things were easier when WinPatrol only had a small following.


Our friends over at MalwareBytes.org have often dedicated their programs to specific threats and they have a solution that works great for most of the common infections I’ve been seeing this fall. The free version of their Anti-Malware program is simple, easy to use and can automatically scan your system cleaning up many of these threats.


The bad guys are also blocking MalwareBytes.org so it might be easiest to download from a 3rd party site like CNets Download.com. 
Download Here


It’s a never ending cycle as we all battle various computer threats but fear not, there are plenty of good guys out there too. Marcin and the folks at MalwareBytes are just part of a larger group who sincerely want to help. I recommend helping them by licensing their full version. Just like my WinPatrol PLUS they provide a lifetime of free upgrades and support with no hidden fees.  

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Veteran's Day is special all week long.

I’m lucky that I frequently get a chance to honor our veterans with special offers or reminders to others who read my bits. On Memorial Day 2008 I took all the purchases of WinPatrol PLUS, matched them and donated the funds to the Honor Flight Network.


Kids of Kosovo with their freinds from Camp Bondsteel
Our son Chris during a break with his friends in Kosovo


For Veterans Day 2008 I’d like to provide something special just for vets. Good this week, I’m offering a 50% discount to anyone who is a veteran.  This offer will expire midnight Saturday Nov 15th EST.


This offer does rely on the honor system and doesn’t require proof. It’s a reasonable risk since those without honor are typically using a friends PLUS code or an illegal keygen type PLUS code.


To obtain your discount use the coupon code, “IAMAVET”  when ordering WinPatrol or other items at the BillP Studios online store. This includes WinPatrol shirts and Wristbands. (Limit 2)


Given all the friends Scotty has made around the world, this offer is extended to veterans who fought for freedom even if it wasn’t in a US uniform. I would request you’re at least a citizen of one of our of allies.


Pssst…  If you’re currently the wife, husband of, or someone currently deployed in harms way, just Email support@winpatrol.com and I’ll see you get a complimentary Winpatrol PLUS activation code.


 

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Passwords Up for Grabs on Social Networks

I’m not a big fan of new Web 2.0 Social networks but I have participated in some new ventures. You won’t find me on MySpace, BeBo or other silly services. I am active on LinkedIn which is geared towards professionals and yes, I’m addicted to Twitter. I did join Facebook to write about their Beacon privacy problems and still participate now and then to see what my friends are doing.  I don’t participate in any of the Facebook applications because like many services they always try to trick me into sending invites to my friends.


The services I really hate are the ones who try to get you to hand over your address book so they can spam your contacts with invites to join. In many cases, they just want you to give them access to your Email accounts so they can suck out your contacts and automatically populate your new friends list.  While this might be convenient it can be very dangerous. 


The most annoying is a service called Tagged.
You've been tagged


It Gets Worse


Many sites will transmit your name and passwords as unsecured data. This makes your name and password visible to anyone along the Internet path.


When you’re entering or giving someone else access to your name and password you should first look to see if you’re on a page that is https:// or shows the locked symbol indicating a secure transmission of data.  There’s also a method which can be used encrypt data called OAuth but it’s impossible to know which sites actually support this. 


Recently, I joined BrightKite which allows me to integrate messages to Twitter. They tell me Twitter doesn’t support “OAuth” which means I sent my Twitter login information across the net unsecured. This is scary because there are a wide variety of tools which integrate with Twitter. None of them will encrypt your name/password when logging on to Twitter. So if you see me say something really stupid on Twitter, it might not be me.  Smile


I’m sure you don’t use the same password for different online sites ( cough cough) but in the case of social networks, it’s very important you create different passwords. Just like I periodically remind readers to review their backup procedures, and today is a good day to look at your current password scheme.


 


 


 


 

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Monday, November 03, 2008

$10 Coupon on 1 GB WinPatrol Flash Wristband

On my recent trip to the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference I brought some of my WinPatrol Flash wristbands to giveaway. It turned out I didn’t get a chance to give out as many as I had expected so we can afford a special offer for Bits From Bill readers.

Good until November 15th, the coupon code “Windows7” will get you $10 off when ordering the 1 GB Flash memory wristband. Retail price is $24.95. (Approx. 12 EUR down from 19.5 EUR)

Click to order your WinPatrol Flash wristband
Click to order


 Included:

  • 1 GB Flash memory

  • WinPatrolFlash.exe Portable version of WinPatrol for helping others.

  • wpsetup.exe For installing the newest WinPatrol build.

Use your WinPatrol USB Wristband to copy your music, photos or even your data from one computer to another.

Paypal orders enter code in comments and you’ll receive a $10 rebate.


 

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

WinPatrol Exposes New Windows 7 Services

I was pleased that my 1st install of Windows 7 went well. Keep in mind everything below is related to the current alpha build of Windows 7.  The final release is more than a year away

I’m thrilled to report that WinPatrol works great and plays well with Windows 7.  In fact, immediately after the install Scotty notified me that someone was trying to reset my Auto-Update settings.  This is one of the unique settings that WinPatrol monitors and apparently Microsoft thinks everyone should be auto-updating.

Windows 7 System Tray

Microsoft has listened and made it easier to manage the icons in the system tray or what should be called the “Notification Area”. The down icon is used to open and close the system tray program icons. The yellow ! shield provides you have notifications so they won’t continue to slide up and annoy you.  The blank spot on the far right is now the click region that provides the “Show Desktop” action.

WinPatrol Hijack log
Start of WinPatrol HiJackPatrol Log for Windows 7 Alpha

Again, keep in mind this version is over a year from completion so it still shows up as Vista. I also found that TaskHost.exe was a new integral part of the newest Windows.


Windows 7 Services
New Services that showed up with Windows 7

One of the other unique features of WinPatrol that folks don’t realize is the ability to sort programs by the date they were first detected on your system. Using WinPatrol it was easy for me to see the list of new Services that are Windows 7 specific.  WinPatrol will also tell you which ones are running and if they’re automatically loaded.

The following are the interesting new filenames. Highlighted ones seem to be running at all times, at least on my machine.

AppID Service appidsvc.dll
BitLocker Drive Encryption Service bdesvc.dll
Bluetooth Support Service bthserv.dll
Disk Defragmenter defragsvc.dll
DHCP Client dhcpcore.dll
Windows Font Cache Service FntCache.dll
HomeGroup Listener ListSvc.dll
HomeGroup Provider provsvc.dll
Peer Networking Identity Manager pnrpsvc.dll
Peer Distribution peerdistsvc.dll
Pong Service for Wireless USB pngdll.dll
PNRP Machine Name Publication Service pnrpauto.dll
Peer Name Resolution Protocol pnrpsvc.dll
Power umpo.dll
RPC Endpoint Mapper RpcEpMap.dll
Sensors MTP Monitor Service SensorsMTPMonitor.dll
Adaptive brightness sensrsvc.dll
Software Protection sppsvc.exe
SPP Notification Service sppuinotify.dll
Themes themeservice.dll
Windows Biometric Service wbiosrvc.dll
WWAN AutoConfig wwansvc.dll

There were many features that Microsoft showed at the Professional Developers Conference that don’t exist in this alpha build. I’ll be looking forward to future releases and will continue to let you all know what I find under the hood.


 

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