Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New WinPatrol 24.5 FREE & PLUS

Due to a severe family illness there was a six month span last year without any updates to WinPatrol.  I’m very happy to report things have turned around this year and every month I’ve been able to release a new improved version of WinPatrol.

Thanks to patience and support from both free and PLUS users I’ve stomped out a few bugs in our last build. I’m also grateful to some engineers at Microsoft I met at a recent Most Valuable Professional summit in Redmond. They offered tips that would help make sure Scotty kept running smoothly.

You can read more and download WinPatrol 24.5 on our upgrade page
Just install the new setup directly over your current version in the default folder. If you’re already a WinPatrol PLUS your name/code should be detected and automatically activated.

Even with major changes to Windows I’ll continue to improve WinPatrol and make it a first install program. I’ve even made some long needed changes to our Task Catcher program. Stay tuned this weekend for a low cost special that will introduce many to Task Catcher.lady128

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Facebook in Pink is Not Cheap

Facebook continues to be a fertile ground for crooks to steal personal information and nobody really seems to care.  The message going around this week appears to be an application to change your Facebook color from Blue to Pink or several other colors.


I honestly don’t know if this is real, although my gut say it’s a scam.  Even if it isn’t a scam what Facebook users will give up is hardly worth changing the screen color to pink.


Take a look at what you’re agreeing to as part of changing your screen color.  The one that is most annoying is “list of friends” so if any of my friends use this app, my name and FB ID have been transmitted to a company which doesn’t provide a name, privacy statement or legitimate address.  This screen is not from Facebook.  They already have all our information.

Before you click Allow would you think twice after reading “…may post on my behalf, including status updates, photos and more”?  Sorry to my Facebook friends who fell for this but who in their right mind would agree to this? I can tell you the numbers are high. Last count was 39 thousand.

The final touch is “…access my data when I’m not using the application”.  That’s so vague I’m sure most people will skip merrily past this incredible give-away and click on Allow.

In my job I really have to be on Facebook so I can learn about these scams but I’ve stopped recommending the service to others. The folks at Facebook are laughing all the way to the bank not caring who they allow to create apps that many of our friends will fall for. Their motto is “Sharing is good”.

I really want to rant and rave more about this type of Facebook behavior but I know everyone is going to keep using it.  I just ask, please take the time to read the screen.  In many cases, it’s my information you’re giving away. If one of your friends tells you about a pink theme, just move along to the next cute photo of a dog or baby.

Also Read:

Who Gets Your Personal Information on Facebook?

Facebook May Not Be For Everyone
Facebook Wants Your Pre-Teen

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Facebook: Where Everyone Knows Your Name

I’ve often warned readers about Facebook privacy settings and how important it is to protect personal information. I was stunned years ago to find out that just by accepting an application users not only provided their own personal data but allow any information they could access of their friends. What is equally stunning is Facebook apps still use this deceptive practice today.

Common application approval screen

Some folks have commented to me, “What do I care if strangers know my sex, birthday or who my friends are?”

This morning all my friends were exposed to danger due to Facebook’s desire to share. Even though I thought I had changed my settings, my privacy was set so “my" friends could see and had access to all my other friends.  On the surface this seems like a reasonable and safe feature.

Unfortunately, one of my friends inadvertently gave a malicious app access to my entire friends list.  This allowed the bad guys behind the app to send a message to all my friends. The message gave them the impression I was promoting a link to win a free iPhone. Naturally, it was a scam that hopefully no one clicked on.

This is what many of my friends woke up to this morning in their private Facebook message box.

Even though this message didn’t come from me, it seemed like it came from a good friend. There is a privacy option that prevents strangers from sending you a message and many of my friends apparently did have set.  I like to think that my most of friends would immediately recognize this message as a scam. It’s certainly not the most sophisticated social engineering trick but we’re all human and if some people didn’t fall for these scams they wouldn’t exist.

Update March 15, 2012
The award winning news blog “nakedsecurity” from security firm Sophos also experienced and wrote about this particular scam. Their scenario was slightly different so for additional information and tips click below.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Windows 8 Metro: Success or Failure?

Last week Microsoft made a test version of Windows 8 available to the public.  Windows 8 is a dramatic change and you’ll see many articles which will evaluate changes and predict it’s success or failure. The new interface is called “Metro”.

I’ve been playing with Windows 8 but even I won’t make a prediction on the how Metro will eventually do. If you read the entire article you’ll be able to decide Microsoft’s future yourself.  Based on Microsoft history, developers often joke that the first and 2nd versions won’t be accepted but the third major release will be a hit.  This was true with DOS 3.x,  Windows 3.x and other Microsoft products except of course Microsoft Bob.



One of the funniest and ironic situations I’ve experienced with Microsoft is how they market new versions of Windows. To encourage folks to upgrade to new versions of Windows, Microsoft will acknowledge how bad their current version is. 

I’ve been at many new launches including one in New York City for the launch of Windows XP.  On stage, Bill Gates actually demonstrated the Blue Screen of Death as a reason to upgrade to Windows XP. We all shook our heads in disbelief but there was no real competition to compare too.

I do give Bill Gates credit for having the launch in New York City at the request of the mayor. It was soon after the 9/11 tragedy and this event was designed to show the world that NYC was a safe place to visit and have events.  It really did help.

I’ve read many reviews that dismiss Windows 8’s new “Metro” because they say “people don’t like change”.  While this is true, the real issue is that people really like Windows 7.  After the Vista disaster, Windows 7 came along and saved the day.  It was designed to work fast especially with popular multi-core processors and without major changes it was easy to use.

To convince people to upgrade, Microsoft will need to give them a reason to leave Windows 7 behind. That may not be an easy task,  yet is critical to Microsoft’s future.  Most of us who planned an upgrade to Windows 7 have already done so causing sales to flatten.

While we all pick at and debate the new Windows 8 Metro interface many folks are missing the real game changer. The most significant cash cow for MSFT is Microsoft Office. If PC sales eventually drop off so will the revenue from Microsoft Office which is the costliest and most required component of any new PC.

If you’re interested in the future of Microsoft, keep your eyes and ears open for what’s new from the Microsoft Office group.  What will the Metro version eventually look like?  How about an iPad or Droid version? The only thing certain is you should expect your data to be saved in an Azure cloud.  Ultimately, my prediction is, I’ll be very happy when version 3 is released.

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