Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sun Java Promoting Microsoft Toolbar

I’ve written more than once about annoying toolbars but I ran into one today that just made me laugh.  I was updating Java and during the setup, they encouraged me to “Get the new MSN Toolbar for FREE”.

Sun Java promoting the MSN Toolbar

While this is annoying, it’s ironic in so many ways. At one time, Java was on a path to change the computing world and was expected to be one of the hottest technologies of the decade.  That was before Microsoft bastardized Java and eventually killed support for it.  While Java is still a great tool it never reached the popular role it was once destined for.

Even more ironic was that I was updating Java on my Google Chrome Browser.  The idea of using an MSN Toolbar on Chrome is truly bizarre.

As I’ve indicated in the past, the economics of hoisting toolbars on unsuspecting downloads is force to be reckoned with. Sun and its Java line will soon be owned by Oracle but I don’t expect any change in toolbar deals.
April 20th: Oracle to Buy Sun

As I completed this article I read that a dreaded cease & desist order was recently sent the download site Softpedia by makers of Comodo Internet Security. Softpedia has their own standards for classifying software and categorized Comodo as “adware” because they bundled the toolbar. They’re not exactly alone.
Softpedia Review of WinPatrol

 As a result of this threat of legal action, Softpedia has chosen to remove any Comodo products from their online library. Hopefully, Comodo won’t threaten others who call them out like the Calendar of Update Installers Hall of Shame.


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Friday, April 24, 2009

BillP Birthday 50% Off Sale

I’ve always had special ways to include WinPatrol as part of my birthday fun.  In the early days, WinPatrol was distributed as something called free Birthdayware. This year I thought I’d do something special again. Just like the Hobbits, I like giving my friends a present to celebrate the day of my birth.

On today, April 24th, I’m offering WinPatrol PLUS for $14.98 USD which is a savings of 50%.  ( Approx. 11.50 EUR ).  So if you’ve been thinking about upgrading or have friends who need WinPatrol PLUS today is the day!

Just go to to upgrade.

The 50% discount will be valid from April 24th, at 12:01 AM EST until April 24th, 11:59 PM EST.  This sale includes WinPatrol 1 GB wirstbands and sport shirts while supply lasts.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The BillP WinPatrol Story

I was asked recently about my history in the computer industry so I thought today was a good day to share some personal information. I’m sure many of my readers will be surprised by some of the fun projects I’ve been involved with. If you’re interested, I created self indulgent and gratuitous post but it’s all part of the BillP WinPatrol Story. I don’t have enough to write a book but here’s a summary of some highlights.

I have had the good fortune to pick some real winners but I’ve also been extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time. When I graduated from college my first job was programming employee payroll for Schenectady County, NY in a language called COBOL. After work, I discovered the bliss of a “personal” computer, the Commodore Vic-20 which would eventually change my life.


The more interesting part of the story begins in 1985 at a Commodore trade show when I was introduced to Marc Seriff and Steve Case. We shared a vision of a large online service that would be easy enough, even our mothers could use it. I joined their company in Virginia which at the time was known as Quantum Computer Services. It was later renamed America Online.

I was one of the 30-35 employees original AOL employees, half of which were devoted to customer service. In the book, “Stealing Time” the author includes the true story of my first week when I was given a hammer and screw driver so I could put my desk together. During my time at AOL I managed the software development and user experience for our C64 service; Q-Link, AppleLink Personal Edition for the Apple II and Mac, PC-Link and Promenade for the PC and lastly the prototype of our first version of Windows based software. I left in the early 90's but continued to work as a consultant for many years.

America Online
My main interests at the time and role with AOL was creating synergy between content on TV and the online world. ABC and CBS both hired me to help get their content online. One of my applications was used to take closed captioning from news events and stream it to a specialized AOL rooms. I was the first to create a tool that over layed online content to a live broadcast via something called a Chyron machine. One of our big events was a live simul-chat with Michael Jackson and AOL MTVmembers. MTV was the first to adopt the technology for video chats and called it MTV’s Yak Chat.

In the winter of 1995-96 I was invited to Redmond to work on a secret joint Microsoft/Gateway project called the Information Highway PC.  This was a large screen TV/PC  combining the TV and Internet with content provided by a satellite link from DirecTV. This was the same time Microsoft was trying to conquer the online world with their first version of MSN. It was before they realized the key was just to own the browser and not the portal.  Meanwhile AOL had declared war on Microsoft so some of my friends were a little suspicious but my focus was completely on the TV/PC and not MSN.    Microsoft

Our project was a little ahead of its time and our group was gobbled up so I headed back home to upstate NY. It wasn’t long before Gateway asked me to be part of their own PC/TV initiative called the Gateway Destination. This 30 and 36 in PC/TV was still a little ahead of its time. This was before cheap memory, fast hard drives and lighter flat screen monitors. Nobody really wanted to share a single PC/TV device in their living room.
Gateway Destination

In 1997 my old friends at ABC asked me come to Maryland part time and help in the creation of a joint venture between games developer MicroProse and Capital Cities/ABC. Our goal was the creation of ABC Sports themed games(Indy Racing and Monday Night Football).  

Soon afterwards came an exciting merger of Walt Disney Co and ABC. ABC Enhanced TV I joined Disney’s Buena Vista Internet Group and worked with a brilliant team of innovators to launch ABC's Enhanced TV.
My role was to quickly put together PrimeTime Player™ the first game which combined real-time game play on the Internet in sync with broadcasts of Sunday/Monday Night Football as well as College Bowl games.

In the midst of my fun and exciting projects in 1997 I was caught off guard by a password surfing program. This annoyed me but not as much as when AOL support suggested the only solution was to reformat my entire hard drive. That’s when I created my own personal project called WinPatrol.  This program was originally designed to help my family and friends prevent programs from taking over their computers.

I soon specialized in small utilities and created a number of useful programs for my friends at Gateway and new friends at Epson America. Both were pleased with my Ink Monitor program which detected when your ink was low and immediately connected users to an online store for ink purchase.

As the threat of spyware grew the distribution of WinPatrol expanded and soon became my prime focus. WinPatrol grew from word of mouth and slowly developed its own cult following. In winter of 2002 I first launched the premium version, WinPatrol PLUS. Since 2004 WinPatrol and internet safety has become my passion.

As a member of the security community I’ve had the honor to work with volunteers who spend countless hours helping users decipher hijack logs. I’ve as the pleasure of sharing data with AntiSpyware crusaders who pour over millions of bytes of captured data proving how reputable companies were encouraging invasive adware popups. I’ve reverse engineered malware attacks tracing their roots to countries whose governments turn a blind eye to criminal activities. I’ve been threaten, received cease & desist orders from lawyers and offered big bucks to join the dark side.

I’m now happy to write and share my experience with others. I hope that my insights into the ever changing consumer technology industry may be valuable to others and encourage their thoughts and imagination. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write, but I continue to consider myself lucky if I can spark new innovative thoughts from my readers.

On the personal note, I’m married with four grown children and four grand kids. Tomorrow, I’ll be celebrating my 54th birthday and in the BillP WinPatrol tradition I’ll be offering something special for Fans of WinPatrol.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

WinPatrol Maintenance Release 16.0.2009.2

I’ve often talked about how there are so many different favors of Windows out there. It’s one of the reasons why beta testing is difficult these days.
Windows versions are like SnowFlakes

When WinPatrol 2009 was released we had over 100,000 downloads in the first week.  Naturally, there were so many different system configurations there were a few problems that I was alerted too.  Unless it’s somehow dangerous, I usually wait a couple weeks before releasing a fix just to be sure there aren’t other problem reports.

Here’s a summary of what’s new.

1) On some Vista systems, WinPatrol 2009.1 conflicted with a Windows library called NTDLL.DLL. The new build has fixed this problem.

2) I’ve also had some folks getting notified more than they should that WinPatrol needed to switch UAC mode.  This has also been corrected.

3) Clicking on Active Tasks on the WinPatrol system tray menu would go to the Recent list instead of Active Tasks.  Corrected.

Unless you’ve experience the problems above there’s no reason why you need to bother upgrading but you’re always welcome to use our newest version for no additional fee.

Special thanks to everyone who reported problems and provided details and screen shots to make my life easier.

International users: I will be updating all the localized setup programs this week as quickly as I can build and test them.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

What is Twitter and Why Do I Care?

Is this a question you’re asking yourself? Twitter

I wrote about Twitter in Sept 2007 when I first became “Twitterpaited”. Since that time Twitter has grown to become the most talked about web technology since Beanie Babies discovered eBay or Google went public.  Today, the Oprah Show demo’d Twitter but still left many wondering “What the heck is Twitter, and why do I care”.

Well, the fact is, most of you probably don’t care. For information junkies like myself who are online most of the day, Twitter is a great tool. For people struggling to raise a family or others who have a more active life, Twitter may not have a lot of importance.

Twitter is often called a “Micro-blogging” service but what’s that mean? Well, folks can type what ever is on their mind but with only 140 characters or less. There is plenty of value in Twitter but it all depends on who you follow and if you care what those people have to say. Some people think Twitter is only for mobile devices and while that’s one reason for the 140 characters it’s not just for iPhones and Blackberries.

The real value of Twitter can be had without joining Twitter or creating a name and password.  It’s Using Twitter as a search engine will provide real-time information on news events along with opinions from around the world. The news and information you can find on will not only beat Google, but will frequently beat the AP wire service. That’s one of the reasons you’ll find all your local TV stations and newspaper using and promoting Twitter.

If you want to give Twitter a try you can join and then follow me at  I don’t get any special credit for you joining but you’ll get to see what I babble about daily. You could be my 1000th follower.

If you’re looking for interesting people to follow, again I recommend using  Type in a topic you’re interested in and you’ll see people talking about the same subject.  If they sound intelligent, just click on their name and you’ll be able to follow their “tweets”. They’ll be notified you’re following them and there’s a good chance they’ll follow you back. It doesn’t mean you’re now best friends but you’ll be part global conversation. You can always unfollow or block someone if you don’t think they’re an appropriate part of your twitter community.

Like any internet service, privacy and security is something you should always keep in mind. Anything you type will be on the Internet forever. You may not want to trust a link that someone tells you to click on, and just because someone says it, doesn’t mean it’s true.

35 Twitter Tips from 35 Twitter Users

Pogue's Twittering Tips for Beginners



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Friday, April 10, 2009

Privacy Warning using Facebook on a Network.

First let me say, if anyone else wrote this I’d say they were crazy.

I had a big surprise this morning when I clicked on a Facebook link and saw I had new friends.   I was even more surprised when I noticed I wasn’t signed on as myself, but was signed on as Cindi my wife.

Using normal logic I would have thought my wife had used my computer. I knew that couldn’t be true because Cindi hates my computer.  My laptop is a ThinkPad x61 with a track-point and doesn’t even have a a mouse touchpad.  My laptop hadn’t left my side since last using Facebook and even if it had, she wouldn’t have been able to use it.

Thinkpad Trackpoint

How could this happen?  All the common sense within me says that Facebook would use cookies on my machine as a way to remember me. What I experienced today implies some kind of IP address related connection. That would be stupid right?

We both use the same wireless network but still, that shouldn’t have anything to do with it.  This makes no sense to me, and some might think I’m crazy but I feel a need to share it. It really did  happen so it can only be a flaw in Facebook or some kind of weird network error.

Do you use Facebook at work on a network?  Do you say anything you wouldn’t want you co-workers to see?  Even in private messages? Well, Stop.  The only reason I started to use Facebook was to write about privacy but I never expected this.

If this has happen to you or if anyone has a better explanation… please comment.


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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dear Apple, We Don't Want Safari

Have you downloaded and installed Safari?
Would you use it?

Apple has used an interesting approach to market their Safari browser for Windows users.  The folks in Cupertino realized that plenty of Windows users had iTunes. I guess they figured Windows users aren’t too bright so maybe they could trick them into downloading Safari and they would start using it without noticing.

Updating iTunes

I’m not a big fan of autoupdate programs. I’ve written before about annoying updates form Google, Adobe, AOL and Apple. My point today is even with all these efforts Safari still hasn’t made any impact on the browser market.  According to my recent web stats, Safari only has 3.5%.  That includes Mac users!

But my setting is not to be updated?
Wait a Minute?
I have my settings set to NEVER!!!

Someone needs to tell Apple that Windows users aren’t stupid. They’ve tried to force Safari on folks for a couple years and it’s just not working. If they really want to enter the browser war they need a new approach.  Maybe we need some commercials with “I’m on a Safari” vs “I’m an Explorer”.




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