Google Toolbar Tracking

I like most Google products. But in the past I have been pretty vocal about not installing its stuff on my desktop, regardless of platform. Today, it looks like I was right to be wary. Bug or feature? Considering Google openly points out that its leadership deems privacy as something dated and needing to be retired, I’m suspicious.

Regardless of why or how it happened, the damage has been done. Google will need to work hard to not only make sure that this kind of bug doesn’t happen again, but also explain why a “bug” like this would happen in the first place if the toolbar was supposedly disabled.

I have no problem with the Google toolbar sending data, assuming I have chosen to leave it turned on. But running data transmissions in the background when the end user is under the impression that it’s off? Clearly, something needs to be reconsidered here.

[awsbullet:adrenalin o.d.]

Google URL Shortener Does Not Work With Firefox

The announcement by Google that they will provide a URL shortener service for all, didn’t really mean all. Firefox users have learned the hard way that there is a bug that is preventing the program from functioning in Mozilla’s popular Firefox browser.

Google has announced that a fix should be available this week. In the mean time be patient. Help is on the way.


Microsoft Post Fix For RMS Bug

Microsoft has posted a fix for the RMS bug I had written about last week. Here are the links for the fix:

Cannot Open Office 2003 Documents Protected with RMS – Update

The issue of the inability to open Office 2003 documents protected with RMS has now been resolved with a hotfix.  You can obtain the hotfix by using the following locations.

Office Client – KB978551

Word Viewer – KB978558

Excel Viewer – KB978557

I hope this helps those who are having this issue.

Comment welcome.

Direct source to fixes is here

Windows 7 Does Not Have A Critical Bug

The sky is falling! Again. Over at InfoWorld Mr. Randall C. Kennedy is reporting a ‘critical’ bug in Windows 7 which he claims in bold print that:

An apparent fatal flaw in the NTFS driver stack may bring Microsoft’s Windows 7 impending victory parade to a grinding halt

Whoa there cowboy, them spurs are digging mighty hard into that pony’s side. One would think that from the bold print that there would be some type of exploit that would render the entire computer useless. A bug of such magnitude that running Windows 7 would be akin to committing suicide, a life or death proposition. When in fact it is not.

It is a memory leak that is caused when a process is run on a system when the user employees the chkdsk tool.

Which bring to mind this. This will most likely be an easy fix and most likely will be cured with a Windows update. Second, almost 99% of consumers don’t even know what the chkdsk tool is anyway and will not be running it. Third, the word ‘may’ was used too many times in the article to take this seriously.

But that’s my 2 cents. What do you think? Does anyone care? LOL

Comments welcome.


OK Corral Shootout Coming To Cyberspace On April 1st, 2009

For those who may not be familiar with the tale of the OK Corral, it happened back in 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona. The famous gunfight featured a host of characters with Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan Earp, plus Doc Holiday on one side. These four went up against fought the Clantons and McLaurys at what was known as the OK Corral. Accounts vary as to what actually happened but all agree that it was a bloody day.

So we now have another shootout brewing, but this time the battle will take place on the Internet. On one side there is Microsoft who is leading a group of security professionals. On the other side are the people who wrote the Conficker bug that is getting ready to explode on April 1st, 2009. It is estimated that the virus has infected some 3 to 12 million computer systems with its payload. 

In an article from USA Today it states that there is little the good guys can do to stop the Conficker bug.

Conficker’s controllers have set a date for what amounts to a cyber-shootout at the OK Corral. Next Wednesday — April Fools’ Day — millions of infected PCs, called bots, will begin reporting for further instructions, presumably to begin spreading spam, stealing data or carrying out online scams. And there appears to be little the good guys can do to cut off such communications.

“We have not yet begun to feel the real impact of Conficker,” says Paul Henry, researcher at security firm Lumension. “We may soon be at the whim of those in control of what has emerged as a formidable army of infected machines.”

Vintage worm

Conficker requires no action on the part of the PC user to spread. It’s a throwback to self-replicating worms that scanned the Internet for PCs displaying known — and unpatched — Windows security holes.

Now here comes the fun part. Since April 1st is known as April Fools Day, this may turn out to be nothing more than a hoax. Or is it? 

One of the simplest ways to avoid infection is to not log onto the Internet on April 1st. I have switched over to using Google’s Chrome browser since it seems the most secure browser as of today. Even the hackers gave up trying to break Chrome since it uses a ‘sandbox’ approach. 

What are you doing to protect your computer just in case the worm does attack?

Comments welcome.


FBI Warns About Facebook Virus

The FBI is warning consumers about a Facebook virus that is being spread via email, that is in fact a bug. The warning also states that if you are the victim of such an attack, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, linked in their press release. It also states:

 Storm Worm Virus

Be on the lookout for spam e-mails spreading the Storm Worm malicious software (malware) which mention “F.B.I. vs. facebook”. The e-mail directs the recipient to click on a link to view an article about the  FBI and Facebook. Once the user clicks on the link, malware is downloadedto the Internet connected device and causes it to become infected and become part of the Storm Worm botnet. A botnet is a network of compromised machines under the control of a single user. Botnets are typically set up to facilitate criminal activity such as spam e-mail, identity theft, denial of service attacks, and spreading malware to other machines on the Internet.

The Storm Worm virus has capitalized on various holidays and fictitious world events in the last year by sending millions of e-mails advertising an e-card link within the text of the spam e-mail.

Be wary of any e-mail received from an unknown sender. Do not open any unsolicited e-mail and do not click on any links provided.

If you are become a victim, you can file a complaint here:

Comments welcome.

Windows Home Server – Bug Plagues Operating System

Since December 2007, the Windows Home Server team is trying to uncover and rectify a ‘bug’ in the system that may corrupt data. Though not every system is affected, it appears that use who use more than one hard disk in the system and use specific programs to modify files could be at risk. On its blog site the team has stated:

One question that is getting asked is, “Will I be affected?” We are aware of only a very small percentage of users with confirmed instances of this issue, and we believe that most people are unlikely to be affected. In the KB article we offer up some precautionary measures that people can take. Some of the instances that were initially attributed to this issue ended up being something else, such as a faulty network card/driver, old routers with outdated firmware, or people incorrectly testing the limits of their home servers.

From the outside looking in, some people would say “Why is this taking so long?” Fixing this issue is the Windows Home Server team’s top priority and the team is making good progress on the fix. We understand the issue really well at this point – it is at an extremely low level of the operating system and it requires thorough testing to ensure that the fix addresses the issue. We have coded a part of the fix which is currently being tested internally. Internal testing is expected to continue for at least several more weeks.

Once the patch has passed internal quality bars, external participants will be asked to help test the fix. Our current plan is to release beta test versions of a fix over the next few months, with a final version currently estimated for June 2008, although that date could change as testing progresses. Thorough testing of the fix is critical and will take time.

On the site is a link to a KB article that describes which programs could cause issues with WHS.

Complete article is here.

How To Get Rid Of Bugs

Bugs – those little creepy-crawlies that might be hanging around your computer – can be very annoying. They’re especially bothersome when you’re outside on your laptop in the middle of summer: spiders, bugs, flies, ants, and other insects can really bother you during your computer time.

Ultrafobos is a program you can run on your computer that helps you keep those bugs – real insects – at bay by emitting a high-frequency sound that should scare them off.

We have not yet used this software, so we’re interested if you have any experience with this – and software like it. Let us know! Leave a comment!

Want to embed our How to Get Rid of Bugs video in your blog? Use this code:

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Other problems solved, tech revealed, and questions answered from The Chris Pirillo Show:

Want to keep up with what Chris is up to at this very moment and maybe have some of your own questions answered? Join us here!

[tags]bug, insect, pest[/tags]

Are The Old Anti-Virus Standbys Obsolete In The New Age?

Things tend to come in bunches. Either that, or we impose patterns where nothing really exists. In this case, I think there is really a pattern, but I don’t have a good reason for it. Several clients recently called me to report they received scary messages from their anti-virus software providers (Norton, McAfee, Zone Alarm, and even AVG) that their protection had expired and they would be killed by the next new virus to come down the pike unless they ponied up some bucks for a new subscription. A couple of my clients were really concerned. Seniors in the process of becoming computer literate tend to have an exaggerated fear of bad things happening to their computers.

When they ask me what to do, I usually tell them they have the choice of renewing, or they could find one of the software specials that seem to run so often they should be called “usuals” instead of “specials.” These usually involve buying a package with two rebates: one for being a good guy, and the other for switching products. For what it is worth, none of my clients have ever reported a problem with getting their rebates, but several have reported problems with online renewals.

Of course, if they buy a special, they have to wait for their rebates, and wait, and wait. But they know the rebate is coming because they are given a site and a number so they can check the status — maybe.

Of course, they could simply ignore the warning and be careful about their habits online (which is always a good thing in any case). I tell them their protection does not disappear overnight, but slowly erodes away. That is not an accurate description, but it gets the point across.

Sooner or later the conversation always comes around to what I recommend. That makes me uneasy. In the first place, I do not know which system is best. In the second place, I wonder if I could be sued if they were successfully attacked through a shield that I recommended. My small business does not maintain an in-house attorney.

Some clients have complained that Zone Alarm seems to slow their computers down. Others say that they heard XXXX (fill in your favorite villain) is not as good as YYYY (fill in your second favorite villain). My own judgment is clouded by the nasty experience of going way down in clients’ registries to fix problems with Norton that sometimes start with them installing McAfee on top of Norton and then (after the computer does not work right) deleting as much of the Norton package as Explorer will let them. These clients get a short lecture on the difference between uninstalling and deleting.

I tell them that the least hassle is to download the free version of AVG, but that is not necessarily the best way for them to go. When they ask what I use, there is no need to punt or equivocate. I speak right up and honestly say, “All of them. I keep different software packages on several computers just so that I can learn their quirks and by able to answer your questions.” Then if I am feeling frisky, I add, “But not the Linux computer, of course.”

Lately I have also been asked whether Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware are useful anymore under Vista. Frankly, I had not thought about that, but maybe the old standbys are obsolete in the new age.

Click here to read about my new tutorial on helping seniors. The new version has grown considerably over the original. It has more topics and anecdotes, and fewer typos. While you’re at it, check out my expanded tutorial on decision theory.

[tags]antivirus, anti-virus, bug, virus, malware, worm[/tags]

Yet Another Couple Of Vista Bugs

Gnomie Mike Dixon writes:

Chris, Love your Webcasts, miss TechTV, yada yada yada…

Here’s my ever growing list of Vista Annoyances and Bugs. The first one is the most recent one I found this morning that pushed me over the edge because of its lack of accessibility for the disabled.

File Replacement Dialog Is Mouse Only
Copy a file and paste it so that you’ll get the Copy File prompt for “There is already a file with the same name in this location.” Now, without using the mouse, try and execute one of the options. Sure, you can TAB to each of the options, but you can’t hit ENTER to actually execute one; you have to click it with the mouse. Also, as a side note to this buggy dialog, TAB allows you to tab to the different “buttons,” but the cursor keys only allow you to switch between Copy and Don’t copy – leaving “Copy, but keep both files” out of the cursor key loop, even though the cursor keys let you go up off the “Copy, but keep both files,” it doesn’t let you get back to it.

Not only that, but when I right click and paste that file, the file replacement dialog is shown, but isn’t the active window! No Window is active! You have to mouse click the dialog to even get it to accept keyboard input.

Standard User Can’t Turn on UAC
If you are logged on as a Standard User, and UAC is off, going into the User Accounts, selecting Turn User Account Control on or off, and then checking the “Use User Account Control (UAC)…” checkbox and clicking OK does NOTHING. Vista gives you no warning or indication that you need to be an administrator to do this.

Standard User Can’t See User Pictures
If you are logged on as a Standard User, and UAC is on, going into the User Accounts and selecting “Manage another account” prompts you for the Admin password, then once in the list of accounts, only the guest account has a picture, the rest are blank.

End Task Opens Behind Task Manager
If you CTRL-ALT-DEL to task Manager, it runs “Always on Top” by default. Choosing a “Not Responding” program and selecting “End Task” causes the resulting dialog to appear behind the Task Manager.

Mike Dixon, Software Developer – XP User – Vista Hater

[tags]vista, bug, windows, microsoft, xp[/tags]

Microsoft To Hunt For New Species Of Windows Bug

Joris Evers of writes:

Microsoft plans to scour its code to look for flaws similar to a recent serious Windows bug and to update its development practices to prevent similar problems in future products.

The critical flaw, in the way Windows Meta File images are handled, is different than any security vulnerability the software maker has dealt with in the past, Kevin Kean and Debby Fry Wilson, directors in Microsoft’s Security Response Center, said in an interview with CNET Typical flaws are unforeseen gaps in programs that hackers can take advantage of and run code. By contrast, the WMF problem lies in a software feature being used in an unintended way.

Continue reading “Microsoft To Hunt For New Species Of Windows Bug”