Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vote2008 WinPatrol Discount Coupon

This is a historic week in our country and while I’m trying to stop watching the news it’s like a train wreak. I just can’t turn away as the trains keep plowing into the current mess.

I’m not an expert on economics or politics so I try to only write about what I know.  Knowing that I have a reasonable audience it’s hard not to inject my political opinion into what I write about. 
While I have been successful recently in getting help from our friends at Dell(thanks Catherine), I doubt anyone in Congress will care what I say.

What I can do is provide some economic assistance to folks who’d like to upgrade WinPatrol. So, I’m suspending my faith in the folks in Washington and offering a $10 discount on the purchase of WinPatrol PLUS.  This offer is good until a reasonable agreement is reached to prevent additional collapse in the financial market. Hopefully it won’t be long.

To take advantage of this discount, upgrade to WinPatrol PLUS at

Use coupon code “Vote2008” for $10 off.

If you need to use our Paypal option, just include the coupon in the comments or Email us to receive a $10 rebate refunded to your PayPal account.

Update: While it's still to be seen if the "rescue" bill was a good idea, it was signed into law today. The Vote2008 coupon will expire tonight at midnight.  I'm pleased to welcome 24 new WinPatrol PLUS members who took advantage of this offer.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dell Laptop Battery Support Problems

As a computer guy, folks frequently ask me what kind of computer they should buy.  Until recently my recommendation was to go with a Dell. I’ve changed my preference although I’m sure you can still find some good deals from Dell. 

One of the reasons I’ll stop recommending Dell is their lack of support. Earlier this year I had a problem and now daughter my Erica has been charged over $200 for batteries that don’t match her laptop. You may have read my “Dell Phone Support Disassembles My Laptop” post. Erica’s experience was more frustrating and costly.

Last month, Erica ordered a replacement battery for her Dell laptop after her original battery died. Her problem started when Dell sent her the wrong replacement battery.

Her first call to Dell was unsuccessful because she didn’t have her laptop available when she called.  On her 2nd phone call she was told, “sorry”, she was a few days past the 21 day return policy.

After some discussion the support representative decided, as long as it was a replacement and not money back there wouldn’t be a problem. That sounded reasonable until they sent her wrong battery again.

After calling Dell support back expecting them to chuckle at their mistake, she was told it was her problem, not theirs. She could only get a replacement on the wrong battery. A supervisor repeatedly told her “ I don't know ma'am, that's not my problem."  Even, the tech support who forwarded her call told the supervisor that Dell wasn’t being “customer centric”.

I should point out that each phone call included a 20–40 minute wait time which is also unacceptable. The real irony is my youngest daughter Amy also replaced her Dell Laptop battery but ordered a 3rd party battery on Amazon. Her experience was a positive one and Amazon’s 30 return policy was clear.

My own recent laptop purchase was a Lenovo ThinkPad and I couldn't be happier. Looks like Lenovo will be my new recommendation.

Thanks to Ben Popkin at The Consumerist 
   Dell: We Can Only Send You the Wrong Kind Of Battery

Update: Thanks to Dell Customer Outreach Liasison, Larry I'm pleased to report that Erica finally has the proper battery and refund.   Snaps to Dell, their customer advocates and the folk(s) who let Dell know of our problem.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WinPatrol Integration with Windows Explorer

I'm happy to report the release of WinPatrol 15.9. I’ve made a few improvements but also made a great bug find thanks to support and screen shots from WinPatrol friends.  Our PLUS database now exceeds over 19,000 easy to understand program descriptions that can now be accessed directly from Windows Explorer.

The following information along with a download link is available at

  • Explorer Integration of PLUS Info...

    One of the main features of WinPatrol PLUS is the ability to look up information for strange filenames. We now have over 19,000 descriptions available in a form that mere humans can understand. Our new WinPatrol now adds the ability to research programs to any executable on your system directly from Windows Explorer.

  • Quicker Access to PLUS Info

    In previous versions of WinPatrol we shipped PLUS descriptions of some of the most popular file requests. As our database grew and things changed it became obvious that we would never be installing our entire database on local machines. Our new version removes the check for local PLUS data saving you from unnecessary access to your hard drive and speeds up access to our online database

  • Bug Fix: Firefox 3 Cookies

    At this time WinPatrol hasn't been updated to manage cookies in Firefox 3. Cookies in Firefox 3 use a database method called SQlite which is completely different then its old plain cookies.txt file. We've removed the option if Firefox 3 or greater is detected so there is no confusion.

  • Bug Fix: AppInit_DLL

    One non-traditional startup location frequently used by malware is a registry key AppInit_DLL found at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows. This key is now also used by security programs as way to hide from users and malware. WinPatrol has always monitored this location successfully but recently the over use of this location helped us find a bug in the way we parsed this key. Users of Kaspersky Internet Security were the first to discover this problem because KIS 2009 actually stores four separate DLL's in this location.
    In previous versions of WinPatrol Scotty would incorrectly report filenames when there were three files or more located in this key.

Non-English version users with current language packs installed can just download our new default setup. No new text strings were added so all your text will still be localized.  New non-English setups will be available soon for new WinPatrol users.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spamming Laws Provide No Solution

I don’t think it’s a secret that we all hate spam. Every month or so I see new products and new schemes to get past spam filters. Lady ChalupaSpammers continue to be concerned about my penis, my watch and my credit report but now they’re really worried about how I trim my cat’s nails. I also hear from lonely girls sitting in internet cafe’s. They obviously are aren’t aware of my need for Viagra.

While we all hoped the CAN_SPAM Act would help it’s done little to stem the flood of unwanted Emails. Suing someone under the federal act can be expensive so many plantiffs rely on state anti-spam laws.

Recently an obvious spam case in Virginia was thrown out because the law as written was to broad. ( Commonwealth vs Jaynes )

On July 16, 2003, Jaynes sent 12,197 pieces of unsolicited e-mail with falsified routing and transmission information onto AOL’s proprietary network. On July 19, 2003, he sent 24,172, and on July 26, 2003, he sent 19,104. None of the recipients of the e-mails had requested any communication from Jaynes. He intentionally falsified the header information and sender domain names before transmitting the e-mails to the recipients.

Unfortunately the court concluded the following…

…we hold that the circuit court properly had jurisdiction over Jaynes. We also hold that Jaynes has standing to raise a First Amendment overbreadth claim as to Code § 18.2-152.3:1. That statute is unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, we will reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and vacate Jaynes’ convictions of violations of Code § 18.2-152.3:1. 13

Our law makers have a difficult time creating laws that cover every possible situation but wouldn’t it be nice if judges were able to enforce the true spirit or intent of laws?

I still use AOL and I must admit they have a decent spam filter. Unfortunately, they have their own “certified” approved spam which comes with a special blue colored icon. I find joy in selecting these and clicking AOL’s “Report Spam” button.

AOL Certified Email

I still have to review what Outlook filters out but it’s getting easier to pick out the crap just by looking at it. I expect we’ll all start seeing a lot of Email on how to solve our financial crisis.

How do you deal with your spam?

PS… Lady Chalupa says “No to Pedi Paws”. Lady Chalupa

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chrome Proves, No Future for Web OS

It’s far to early for me to actually review of the new Google Chrome browser but my gut still says this beta is huge news. Based on what I’ve read so far, the real news about Chrome is that it proves the concept of a web based operating system will never work.

Google Chrome Beta As a web browser I like Chrome. It’s lighting fast and in the typical Google tradition it has a simple UI. It has a plain appearance like the Google home page and it’s not overly cluttered with useless icons I’ll never use. Each tab is a separate process which is a natural step in the evolution of a browser into a desktop platform. I especially love how they’ve speeded up the execution of javascript which I use on many of my web sites.

So far, the most compelling articles you’ll read about Chrome are two topics which are diametrically opposed to each other, Web based applications and privacy.

While many may look at Chrome as just another browser don’t be fooled. It’s a direct attack at Microsoft and it’s control over the who sees what on the Internet and eventually the desktop.

eWeek’s Joe Wilcox writes…

“Chrome's threat to Microsoft is much bigger than Web browsing or a new Web-based application platform. For years, Google has encroached on Microsoft's most important territory: the Windows desktop. Chrome will be Google's best attempt yet to supplant the desktop.”

Computerworld’s Heather Haverstein wrote…
Google's Chrome aims to kill Windows, make Web the OS of choice

Even Google’s says

We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.

This all sounds great until you read what people are saying about Chromes Terms of Service.

For instance…

  • When you type URLs or queries in the address bar, the letters you type are sent to Google so the Suggest feature can automatically recommend terms or URLs you may be looking for. If you choose to share usage statistics with Google and you accept a suggested query or URL, Google Chrome will send that information to Google as well. You can disable this feature as explained here.

  • If you navigate to a URL that does not exist, Google Chrome may send the URL to Google so we can help you find the URL you were looking for. You can disable this feature as explained here.

I tend to agree with CNet’s Matt Also who wrote:

The primary problem with Google's terms of service (other than the auto-update feature that Ina also points out) is that Google allows itself too much, and restricts itself too little. I suspect that Google will actually do none of the evil privacy-busting practices that many will accuse it of preparing. My concern is that this language is so broad that Google could, if it were so inclined, invade user privacy on a grand scale. The terms of service allow it. Only Google's best intentions prevent it.

Even if I trust the folks currently in charge at Google, what about the future?

Googles Matt Cutts counters in his post:
Preventing paranoia: when does Google Chrome talk to

As the beta grows I’m hearing more and more concerns about privacy. What if every character you typed in to your Word document was sent to Microsoft? This is an inherent nature of running application on the web.

I’ll admit my customers/supporters are a little more concerned with privacy than your average user but I hear daily from folks worried about someone having access to their data. I just don’t see a future where your data exists on some a remote server under someone else’s control.
My newest quote; “From my cold, dead hard drive”.

Chrome users: To access Chromes first reported easter egg, type “about:internets” into the browser.

Update: Easter eggs thanks to our friends at CloudEight


Download Google Chrome here

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chrome Steals Headlines back from Gov Palin.

Google Chrome
First it was hurricane Gustav. Today it’s a new internet browser called, Google Chrome. Even with the shocking announcement of VP candidate Sarah Palin other news stories keep taking attention away from the Republic National Convention.

There’s no doubt that everyone will be talking about and evaluating the possible success of Google’s surprise entry into the browser wars. Google’s announcement came in the form of a comic book. Hopefully, it will be a more successful launch than the recent PR disaster from Cuil.

Chrome PR
Comic adaptation by Scott McCloud

At the time I post this, Google Chrome isn’t yet available for public download but according to the Google Blog it should be available today. I was planning on rearranging my office today but instead I’ll be reviewing Chrome and making any needed updates to WinPatrol so it’s completely compatible. WinPatrol v16 is almost ready for release but won’t be coming with its own comic book.

Google Chrome with built in malware fishing
Click Here to Read the Google Chrome Comic book

It will be interesting to see what people think about Chrome. Techies will be pleased that it’s open-source, but so far, no word on a Mac version. I know I’m a geek and this is exciting to me but I still think this is big news. It will be the talk of main stream news media and is definitely more news worthy than another pregnant 17 year old.

Read More/Chrome Easter EggsChrome Proves, No Future in Web OS

Update: Download Google Chrome

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