Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, July 30, 2007

WinPatrol 2007 v12 Test

I appreciate all of you who come regularly to read my leaking thoughts. I try my best to come up with topics that will interest you and attract new readers. One of the keys to getting new readers is to have other popular Blogs link to your stories.

On the lower left-hand column of the Blog screen you’ll see I include a link to Technorati which keeps track of which Blogs link to me. Out of all the topics I cover my recent news about Scotty getting his bark back in Vista attracted the most attention ever.
At least five legitimate Blogs linked to my post.
CertifiedBug: Scotty will bark again on Vista
Nellie2: Winpatrol Will Soon Woof Again
Security Ticker: Winpatrol Gets It’s Bark Back
Security Garden: Windows Vista Won’t Silence Scotty’s Bark
Larry Osterman: Playsound is Failing on Vista! What’s Wrong?
Little did I realize how exciting this news would be. There are some other changes which I hope folks will also enjoy. There’s a new icon and two new report formats. One report choice creates a file called HijackPatrol.log which outputs all our information in a format familiar to any online helpers.

WinPatrol 2007The new version is almost ready for release but I wanted to get a little more feedback before finalizing version 12. If you’re interested in downloading our new version and providing feedback, go to If not, I promise you won’t have to wait long for the new version.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Disney, Microsoft and NASA

When I was new to software development I thought about what companies would really be cool to work for. It seemed fantastic if I could someday get a job at Disney, Microsoft or NASA. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized it’s all about the project and not necessarily the company. Fortunately, over the years I did have opportunities to do really fun projects while working for both Disney(ABC’s Enhanced TV) and Microsoft(Information Highway PC).

I never did any work for NASA although we do have 30 WinPatrol’s licensed at one of their sites in Georgia. Growing up in the 1960’s I’m still a big fan of NASA but lately they’ve really been getting a bad rap.

I thought we had just gotten over the jokes about astronauts in diapers when more scandal has hit the news. Reports this week are that on more than one occasion an astronaut was intoxicated before blasting off. I don’t know how drunk he or she was but somehow this didn’t shock me. I might need a little help before I sat on the top of a huge cylinder of rocket fuel about to be ignited. It’s kinda like the accusations in Paul McCartney’s divorce that he drank and smoked pot. Hello? Was this a surprise to anyone?

The really scary news from NASA is that a worker intentionally sabotaged equipment that was suppose to be sent to International Space Station on the next Space Shuttle mission. Wires were cut in a computer designed to report stress measurements on the space station structure.

I’m too old to start a new career with NASA but I’ll still be cheering for them every time they go into outer space.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Apple's Future is still the MacIntosh

Overall it's been a good week for Apple although sales of the iPhone didn't meet expectations. Apple (AAPL) reported quarterly revenue of $5.41 billion dollars which is its 2nd highest in its history. The sale of 1.7 million Macs accounted for 55% as opposed to last years 29.7% piece of the Apple Pie. Apple is now in a tie for 3rd place with Gateway for sales of computers in the US.

Like its revenue, Apple's image is the best it has been in many years. People love the iPod and its polished company image is one of the reasons for an increase in Macintosh sales. It also hasn't hurt that nobody has been standing in lines to get Windows Vista. It appears that 8–9% of my readers are using Vista but that number hasn’t changed much.

The iPhone sales may have been a national event 2nd only to Paris Hilton going to jail, but only half of the expected half million units were sold. AT&T reported Tuesday that 146,000 phone have been activated as of June 30th. That’s not bad, but doesn’t match up with Apples claim of 270,000 phones sold through their stores. Perhaps, a lot of them were purchased to sell on eBay.

I predict that iPod, Mac and MacBook sales are going to continue to grow and will provide a healthy fiscal orchard for Apple. Now that the hype for iPhone has subsided I doubt Apple will meet their goal for 1 million iPhone sales this quarter and 10 million by the end of 2008. It will be interesting to see if the iPhone has the same impact on Apple as the Xbox has had on Microsoft.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vista Won't Silence Scotty's Bark

The new WinPatrol 2007 was designed to be Vista compatible as well as introduce a few other  new features like Delayed Start. Much to my surprise the number one bug reported with the new version was that Scotty no longer barked on Vista machines.

This was a real mystery to me since Scotty’s bark was a single function call(PlaySound) in Windows. It has worked for the last 9 years all the way back to Windows 95. Reports to Microsoft via the developer forums were pretty much ignored and it remained a mystery.

Next week I plan on releasing a new version of WinPatrol so I thought it was a good time to revisit this unique problem. I was lucky enough to track down a programmer at Microsoft named Larry Osterman. My new best friend Larry is very familiar with the workings of the PlaySound function and was kind enough to work into the early hours of the morning to give Scotty his voice back.

It turns out Vista has “tightened up the validation logic that's used when checking files before the PlaySound call”. Essentially, it means Vista is a little more picky with the format header used by WAV files.  Scotty’s bark was created a long time ago using a shareware program called CoolEdit96.  A little tweak to the wav file header and he’s happy again, barking on Vista machines.

If you’d like all the technical details and the debate on whether it’s a bug in Vista you can read more on todays post on Larry Osterman’s Weblog.

Stay tuned for a new version of WinPatrol with this fix and a few other surprises sometime next week.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Fans, Don't Read This

No, I’m not going to tell you who dies in the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’m going to explain why the internet seems so much faster today.

Millions of Harry Potter readers who might otherwise be online are home reading or afraid to sign on because they might find out Harry’s fate by accident. My sister-in-law Mary sent out this Email recently to give us warning and I doubt she’s alone.

“Okay, the HP spoiler frenzy is hitting unforeseen levels. A co-worker just told me that Fly92 is going to read the supposed last chapter on the radio this morning. I am therefore going in to hiding. It's going to kill me, but I am going to stay off of the internet until HP7 is read, I'm not listening to any radio station and the TV is going to have to wait too. My iPod is now my only form of entertainment. Good grief... I may go mad, lol!! “

In other useless news, the President of the United States went in for a colonoscopy today. Some might wonder if he scheduled this day off so he could read Harry Potter but I’m not sure it’s available on audio cassette yet. My wife Cindi was quick to note because of the pre-exam prep this may be a historic day. It’s one day when George Bush isn’t full of shit.

Enjoy your weekend! Smile and the whole world smiles with you

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Detecting FBI (CIPAV) Spyware

There has been a lot of news recently about FBI software being used to install keyloggers on the computers of suspected bad guys. Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache recently interviewed many Anti-Malware companies and asked them if they would cooperate by ignoring so called Fedware.

The software was originally called “Magic Lantern” but has migrated into something called CIPAV(Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier). It’s actually pretty cool software if you want to trace someones activities.

Most companies claim they haven’t been asked by federal authorities to ignore CIPAV. McAfee and Microsoft refused to say if they have been contacted. It’s not really a secret that both US and British officials have had talks with Microsoft about install security backdoors in Windows. McAfee are reported to have contacted the FBI on their own to make sure they wouldn’t detect their software.

I’ve been asked if I have a policy regarding working with law enforcement. I’m all for catching the bad guys but I don’t have simple answer. By design our program will detect any intrusion. Detection in WinPatrol is not based on signature files or known bad guys. I’m pretty sure I would comply with a court order but not-detecting something would take a special new version of WinPatrol. We’re not really big enough to get the attention of the FBI so I doubt I’ll be asked for any special consideration.

Recent News:

Wired 7/18/2007 : FBI's Secret Spyware
NewsFactor 7/19/2007 : FBI Uses Spyware to Track Bomb Hoax
Wired 7/18/2007 : How Does the CIPAV Work?

FBI: How to Protect Your Computer

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PC Pitstop recommends WinPatrol PLUS

WinPatrol PLUS   Heart     PC Pitstop

For many years I’ve been a big fan of PC Pitstop.  They’ve been helping optimize and diagnose PC’s since 2000.  Prior to that I had the pleasure to work with CEO Rob Cheng while he served as VP at Gateway.

I’m pleased announce we’ll be working together with PC Pitstop to continue our mutual tradition of helping users and their sluggish PC’s.  WinPatrol users will now have direct access to years of research by the PC Pitstop team.  If we can’t find the information you’re looking for, we’ll direct you to PC Pitstops database of information and resources.

PC Pitstop recommends WinPatrol as a way “get control over your running programs”.  Click here to explore what PC Pitstop has to offer.


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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tagged by Most Annoying Spam Yet

I’ve always been a little leery of Social Network sites. As an experiment, I did join LinkedIn and it doesn’t suck but I’m not a big fan of MySpace or Facebook. I especially don’t like sites who encourage users to enter the Email addresses of their friends and family.

The Email I received below is by far one of the most annoying I’ve received in a long time. I don’t know Kathie B and I was almost tempted to click on “No” just to show my disgust. Of course by doing so Tagged would now have a confirmation that my Email address was active. This same approach is sure to be copied by online phishers trying to get additional information.

Annoy Email from

I wandered over to to see what it was all about.

“ was launched in 2004, and is an explosively growing social-networking portal developed specifically for teens aged 13 through 19. Emerging as the premier brand in the lucrative teen demographic, is rapidly becoming the number one teen site on the web.”

Tagged claims 30 million registered users and they also acknowledge that 63% are 18 or older. Site Advisor hasn’t flagged this site yet even though its members don’t have a lot of good things to say.

Review of Site Advisor users

I was able to trace Kathie B’s Email address to a WinPatrol customer from 2004 who apparently had in her address book. Just how all the names from her address book were obtained by is a mystery for now. I do thank Kathie for giving me something to write about and will update y’all if we find out more.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Another Flakey Windows Update

Everyone who reads my Blog knows how much I hate AutoUpdate programs including the automatic updates for Windows. In most cases, the risk of any update far exceeds the benefits. When there are exceptions I will mention them here.

This weeks update caused a couple problems so far this week. First reported was a conflict with Sunbelts Ninja Email Security. Sunbelt’s crack development team was quick to provide a fix for their users.

Now we have word of “sluggish” applications which use .Net Managed Applications. More information can be found on Heath Stewart’s Blog.

What I regularly recommend is that users set the Windows Update option so that it only downloads updates and doesn’t install them. I suggest waiting 7–10 days before installing any updates. Usually, the only exception is when it’s a security fix for a zero-day threat that is known to be widely deployed by the bad guys. If you do have problems with a security update you can contact Microsoft for free at 1–866–PC-Safety.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dell Wants Me to Plant A Tree

I was looking at new laptops on the Dell website today and noticed something interesting. Perhaps Al Gore and the Live Earth Concerts are having an impact. When you select Customize you’re taken through many pages of options including the two below.

As seen on the Dell Customize pages

It will be interesting to see how long Dell continues this effort. I really hope they eventually publish the results of this promotion.

And guess what? No purchase necessary!

"Dell now makes it easy to help protect the Earth’s climate
by offering anyone in the U.S. and Europe the opportunity to
offset the CO2 emissions related to the use of an extended
selection of IT products. Participants can also help offset
the total one-year carbon impact of the average citizen.
Click here to make a donation and plant a tree today. "

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Do I need Apple Mobile Device Service?

As often as possible, I like to review the list of programs that our WinPatrol members are asking for PLUS Info on. This gives me a good idea of what programs have suddenly been appearing on a users system often without their knowledge.

Most of this year the number one PLUS Info request has been about “GoogleToolbarNotifier.exe”. This little program pops up now and then especially since so many new machines are coming with the Google Toolbar pre-installed. Click here for our PLUS Info

This week a new Windows “service” has suddenly appeared in our top ten. When users upgrade to iTunes 7.3, it comes with a new Automatic Service just in case you’re the proud owner of an iPhone. The file is named “AppleMobileDeviceService.exe” and can be found in your list of Services either using WinPatrol or Services.msc which comes with Windows. Apple says, it “Provides the interface to Apple mobile devices.

It only takes up 3,640K of memory when at rest but if you don’t have an iPhone you really don’t need it. You can stop it with WinPatrol and set it to Manual startup. You’ll also find it under the list of programs in the Add/Remove Control Panel applet so it can be removed completely from there.

To add insult to injury, Apple also just tried to change my default MP3 player to iTunes

Give me a break Apple. This is yet another example of companies who think they can just take over your whole machine. I’m obviously biased but you can protect yourself by downloading WinPatrol for free. If you’re not sure a program can be removed, upgrade to WinPatrol PLUS.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy B-Day USA, Good and Bad

Happy Independence DayIt’s a holiday in the USA today but most of us will have been celebrating all week. Our own party for family and friends was last Friday night.

For my friends outside the USA, July 4th is “Independence Day” when we celebrate the American colonies Declaration of Independence from the British Empire.

There’s some good and some bad this week.

The good news for me is, my nephew John is home on a two week leave from his post in Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division based out of Watertown NY.

The bad news is an onslaught of malware spam disguised as holiday greetings is collecting in all our Email in-boxes. Many appear to come from reputable greeting card companies like or

The topics are wide ranging and here’s an example of what I received just this morning.

Independence Day At The Park from postcardsfrom(dot)com.
Independence Day Celebration from funnypostcards(dot).com.
July 4th Fireworks Show from vintagepostcards(dot).com
God Bless America from
Your Nations Birthday from FunnyPostcards(dot).com
July 4th Family Day from Postcards(dot)org
Celebrate your Independence from riversongs(dot).com
Fireworks on The 4th from
4th of July Celebration from

Take my advice and Delete, Delete, Delete!

The USA is really a nation made up of people from every other country in the world so you all should take the day off too.
Thank you Great Britain for a great start and y’all have a great week!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

WinPatrol Chinese and More

Thanks again to the wonderful friends of Scotty who take the time to provide us with localized language pack files for WinPatrol.

Today I’m excited to announce the release the Chinese version of WinPatrol 2007.

WinPatrol Chinese

Finnish Flag I’m also happy to announce the premier of our Finnish version of WinPatrol. These and 15 other localized versions are available at

If you don’t see your language and would like to help, all you need to know can be found at

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