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126  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Kiss Encryption Goodbye... :* on: September 06, 2013, 06:22:42 PM
Today's Dilbert captures the other side of this, namely what makes anyone think that the NSA is going to be particularly adept at keeping the data they have collected away from others who might want access and be clever (or powerful) enough to get it.

If Snowden had been a mole, he would have spent his time quietly building backdoors into the NSA's systems rather than blowing the whistle. If he could get away with what he did, how many others could have, and how much more could they have gotten if they had greater resources?

I'd say the most positive aspect of this whole affair is that it should lead to big improvements in encryption in the future.
127  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / OS Naming Rights on: September 06, 2013, 05:49:57 PM
I guess it was inevitable that some tech company would sell the naming rights to a popular product, and that the first company to do so would be Google, whose revenue comes almost entirely from advertising.  Android 4.4, formerly known as Key Lime Pie, has now been renamed KitKat.

Nestle (which owns the brand) and Hershey (which licenses it in the US) must have paid a pretty penny for this.  They have already launched a promotion giving away Nexus 7 tablets with game cards in in KitKat packages.

KitKat has also released a hilarious commercial spoofing Apple's Jony Ives commercial, that ends with a shot of a Nexus 7 tablet, just in case you missed the point.
128  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / 010 Editor 25% off through September 2013 on: September 02, 2013, 12:12:35 PM
Sweetscape is celebrating the 10th anniversary of 010 Editor by giving a 25% discount on new purchases and upgrades through the month of September.

This makes a single user license $97.46 for commercial purposes and $37.46 for home/academic use.

010 editor is not likely to replace your favorite text editor for programming (I continue to use Kedit and EditPad Pro for that), but the latest version is more than adequate as a text editor.  What sets it apart is that it can edit just about anything on one's computer, including binary files, disk sectors and even in-memory processes. It works well with, and converts between, many data types, and allows users to create templates to handle any it does not know.

It integrates nicely into the Explorer context menu and is very fast, even with huge files, which is why it has become my go to editor for most ad-hoc file viewing and editing.  Although I have only used it on Windows, it also runs on Mac OS-X and Linux (Ubuntu 10.4+).
129  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Nonplussed - Windows 7 random BSODS on: August 26, 2013, 05:28:56 PM
If you have a voltage regulated UPS available, I would try plugging the system into that at the client's location and let it run for a while.  If that makes the problem go away, you almost certainly have a marginal PSU that is cutting out on voltage dips.
130  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Chrome’s insane password security strategy on: August 23, 2013, 02:43:09 PM
Let me then amend that to say that you have no control over what is spread around through the sync function unless you know what your sync settings are and can verify that they are what you think they should be at the moment.

Given that Google has, in my personal experience, changed settings without my being aware of it, and that they furthermore make it difficult for most users to understand those settings and to set them the way they would expect them to be if they did understand, I think my amended statement is true.

AFAIAC, that is a glaring security hole, which I simply don't have the time and energy to step around every time I go online, and don't expect anyone else to, either.
131  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: why would you want to buy PowerDesk? on: August 23, 2013, 02:29:57 PM
I remember using the first version of PowerDesk under Windows 95!  It was developed by Mijenix, an innovative company also responsible for ZipFolders and the FixIt Utilities. Mijenix were acquired around 1999 by Ontrack.  PowerDesk had included an excellent file viewer which it lost when VCOM acquired it and came out with Version 6, in 2004, IIRC.  Some of the original developers started a new company called Novatix that came out with a replacement called ExplorerPlus (which started at Version 6 and never went any further).

Although there were periodic patches, there was no development of PowerDesk Pro after Version 6 and I stopped using it altogether many years ago.

FWIW, my file explorer of choice for the past 3+ years has been XYplorer, which is constantly adding new features that make my life easier.

132  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Chrome’s insane password security strategy on: August 23, 2013, 01:24:32 PM

You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. You don't have to assume anything. Significantly more detailed information about how Google Sync works is available on Google's website and the settings themselves make it more than clear. The first time you sign into your Google account using Chrome the settings are chosen by Google, meaning sync everything. If you've already signed in and unselected any of the options, those items will not be synced to the next computer you use.

Google's warning is absolutely true for most people because the settings are hidden and once you've logged in there are no obvious warnings about that. That's dishonest and wrong (some would go so far as to say evil) but still completely different than what you're claiming - by your own admission based almost entirely on assumptions.

No, people shouldn't sign into Chrome because Google refuses to take security or user choice seriously. If you have to rely on FUD to justify it you're not paying enough attention.

Not sure what button I pushed to justify this outburst, but your arguments are neither consistent nor correct.

On the one hand, you complain about Google being dishonest and say that people shouldn't sign in to Chrome. On the other hand, you complain that I don't understand that sync can be turned off and that my arguments about using Chrome are therefore false.

I like much about Google and have used their products for years.  I also have friends who are research scientists there. If Google is,  as you say, dishonest in dealing with users, they are probably less so than most big online players, IMHO, which is why I expect to continue to use their products.  But they make their money almost exclusively by selling targeted advertising, and I am not about to trust them to respect my privacy if they can get away with not doing so.

Sync is not the only reason I don't use Chrome for most browsing, but it IS a security risk unless one is vigilant about making sure that it is always turned off. Unfortunately, Google is relentless about trying to get users to relax their privacy settings. I have personally had the experience of activating a new device on a Google account and suddenly finding settings changed everywhere because some screen had a non-obvious pre-checked option to that effect.

Remember that most security breaches are caused by social exploits, not technical flaws.  Google may not be as reckless in exposing their users to this kind of exploit as, say Facebook, but that is still the foundation of their business model. The best way to avoid getting burned is not to play with fire in the first place.  That's why I rarely use Chrome and advise others not to do so when they have safer alternatives.
133  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Chrome’s insane password security strategy on: August 22, 2013, 10:10:28 PM
Chrome has another gigantic security hole baked in: if you sign in to your Google account, it automatically syncs with Google's servers and caches account information on whatever computer you signed in from.

I won't install Chrome on any of my PCs and will only run it from inside a VM. 

I use Android devices extensively, so I am automatically signed in to my Google accounts at all times, but I use Chrome as little as possible for browsing on those devices and always make sure that I have password saving disabled in any browser I use .  There are plenty of good Android browsers that offer much better privacy options.


I don't think this is the case.  You have to actually sign into the browser.  Which I don't do.

That is correct, you must sign in to sync.  And once signed in, you must explicitly sign out or you will remain signed in for future session.  When you are signed in, everything you do is synced with your account on Google's servers.

Google's description of how Chrome sync works has the following warning:

Don't sign in to Chrome if you're using a public or untrusted computer. When you set up Chrome with your Google Account, a copy of your data is stored on the computer you're using and can be accessed by other people using the same computer. To remove your data, delete the user you are signed in as.

If you take Google at their word, this indicates that signing out still leaves the synced information stored locally.

Of course, you can use Chrome without ever signing in, but as soon as you do, you have no control over what is spread around through the sync function.  As I said, I use Android devices and I also have ported my home and business phone numbers to Google Voice to keep them when I dumped the landlines they were attached to.  This means I need to sign into my Google accounts regularly. I just don't use Chrome to do so, because I don't want whatever is cached locally from other sessions to be synced to those Google accounts.

134  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Chrome’s insane password security strategy on: August 22, 2013, 10:05:58 AM
Chrome has another gigantic security hole baked in: if you sign in to your Google account, it automatically syncs with Google's servers and caches account information on whatever computer you signed in from.

I won't install Chrome on any of my PCs and will only run it from inside a VM. 

I use Android devices extensively, so I am automatically signed in to my Google accounts at all times, but I use Chrome as little as possible for browsing on those devices and always make sure that I have password saving disabled in any browser I use .  There are plenty of good Android browsers that offer much better privacy options.

135  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Groklaw shutting down because of our new US survelliance state on: August 20, 2013, 12:52:46 PM
Not to worry!

We have it on the authority of Katarina Witt that there is a big difference between East German Stasi and United States' NSA program.

Of course, she also goes on to say that "people are naïve if they don't think storage of their email, telephone and other electronic records doesn't make them vulnerable."

In their wildest dreams, the Stasi couldn't have imagined the technological capabilities of the NSA, but alas, our elected leaders don't seem to have learned anything at all from the example of East Germany (or North Korea, for that matter).


136  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: What Android apps do you use to read digital books? on: August 12, 2013, 09:23:10 AM
Reading ebooks is the number one use for my Android tablets and I've tried quite a few readers over the past two years.  Aldiko was my reader of choice originally, but it has fallen so far behind that I haven't even bothered to install it on the tablet I now use most often for reading (Nexus 10).

The readers I use today are:

1) Mantano Reader Premium ($6.99 - there is free Lite version and an intermediate Essential version for $2.99). My favorite in most situations for both epub and pdf. By far the best document navigation and library management if you have an extensive library (as I do). They have a paid cloud service for synchronization which I tried and quickly dumped. Rendering is not quite as good as Nook, but it allows you to install many TTF fonts.  Reasonably good support with a user forum and  an actual manual.

2) Moon+ Reader Pro ($4.99, on sale through August 2013 for $2.49, the free version is much less capable).  Extremely flexible with many customization options, and very robust - it can handle malformed epubs that other readers choke on.  Also does CHM well. The interface is rather quirky and can take some getting used to: It breaks epubs by chapters and allows you to scroll smoothly within them, so it is my first choice for reading on a phone (one-handed), however that design also makes it hard to find your place within a large book.  Can synchronize using Dropbox.

3) Nook from Barnes & Noble.  Although meant to work with the B&N Nook store, this is an excellent free epub reader that allows side loading and can be used with any non-DRM epub file. Not as flexible as the two mentioned above, it has the best on-screen rendering of any Android reader and pretty good within book navigation.

All three of these support Adobe DRM, but I always convert purchased ebooks to DRM-free epub before loading them on my devices, so I have never tested this.  I buy books from both Amazon and B&N, and other vendors too (e.g., O'Reilly), but while I do use the Nook reader on my devices, I hardly ever use the dreadful Kindle for Android app.

137  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: RightNote version 3.0.0 released on: August 09, 2013, 11:43:14 AM
RightNote is "coming soon" at a 50% off on BitsDuJour. $29.97, which is $.02 more than the cost of an upgrade.

I've had RN for over a year and haven't found myself using it. If the discount also applies to upgrades, I might take it on spec that I might find a use for it in the future, otherwise, I will pass for now.
138  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Apple vs. Samsung Goes NUCLEAR! on: August 06, 2013, 10:37:18 AM
Nothing new here.

For an enlightening overview of how the same kind of Goliath vs. Goliath has played out over the last century and a half, I recommend reading The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications by Paul Starr.
139  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / WinPatrol Plus Sale on: August 05, 2013, 06:29:25 PM
WinPatrol is currently on sale for an unspecified "limited time:"

Single machine license:  $2.50  (regularly $29.95).
Lifetime family pack:  $10.50 (regularly $49.95).

Not quite free, but close.
140  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: New software obfuscation method - possible end to need for SW patents? on: August 04, 2013, 09:32:56 PM
It sounds like you're asking about the dumping problem for decrypted code. Is that right?

I don't believe static approaches like dump analysis are as effective for reverse-engineering as dynamic approaches like tracing program execution steps.  A program's gotta do what a program's gotta do.
141  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: New software obfuscation method - possible end to need for SW patents? on: August 04, 2013, 06:23:43 AM
"You write your software in a nice, reasonable, human-understandable way and then feed that software to our system," Sahai said. "It will output this mathematically transformed piece of software that would be equivalent in functionality, but when you look at it, you would have no idea what it's doing."

If the system works, this just means that the code is not retrievable from the program itself, but, the computer must still be able to follow the instructions in the code, or the program won't be of much use.  That means that the functionality of an "obfuscated" program can still be recreated by capturing what it does when it is executed or interpreted.

A bigger speed bump perhaps, but still just a speed bump.

142  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / DOJ to Apple: all your iTunes are belong to us. on: August 02, 2013, 08:12:22 PM
After winning their anti-trust suit against Apple for e-book price-fixing, the US Department of Justice has revealed their proposed remedy, and it is no mere slap on the wrist.

DOJ is demanding that Apple terminate the agreements with the 5 major publishing conglomerates that brought on the lawsuit. But it would also require Apple to cease and desist from any anti-competitive practiices, allow in-app sales by Amazon, B&N and other competitors for e-books, as well as for other media including music and video. It would also require an auditor to monitor Apple's compliance over the next 2 years.

Apple, needless to say, is calling this "draconian" and pledging to fight it, and of course, the court would have to approve any remedy, but it should be remembered that this judge has already ruled twice against Apple and has had very harsh words about their business practices.


143  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / ExtFS for Windows on: July 31, 2013, 06:09:16 AM
Paragon Software has made their new version of ExtFS for Windows free for personal use. It claims to be the only solution that provides full read/write access to Ext4, as wells as Ext2 and Ext3.

As I inch closer to giving Linux a serious tryout, this has been a concern of mine, as I would want to be able to access stored data on portable drives from either OS. I've heard bad things about Windows ExtFS drivers in general, but I've used Paragon products for many years and found them to be very reliable.

I'd be interested in what dual Windows/Linux users here think about this.
144  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: XYplorer Lifetime License 51% discount on BitsDuJour on Monday 8 Nov 2010 on: July 29, 2013, 09:05:15 AM
As of version 12.70 (July 23, 2013), the XYplorer lifetime license is back!

You can also upgrade from a standard to a lifetime license.
145  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / O'Reilly programming Ebooks & videos 50% off through 7/27/2013 on: July 22, 2013, 01:41:16 PM
To celebrate the 2013 Open Source Convention, O'Reilly is discounting all programming Ebooks & videos by 50% until July 27, 3013.

Go here to browse the titles and get the discount code (CFSCN13).
146  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Teamviewer mobile support on: July 18, 2013, 10:05:59 PM
For some time, Teamviewer has had an app that allows one to control a remote PC from an Android device.

They have now introduced a new mobile app called Teamviewer QuickSupport that allows a user to control certain Android devices (Samsung, Sony and a few others) from a PC.

The app is remarkably flexible, allowing not just remote control of the device, but file transfers in both directions through a 2-pane file explorer, screen captures and remote process control, among other features.  Some quick testing on my Nexus 10 (Samsung) showed that everything worked smoothly.

They also have a much less powerful version for iPad/iPhone, which I haven't tried, since I have no iOS devices.
147  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Samsung Galaxy Android Camera EK-GC110 Anyone have real-world experience of it? on: July 03, 2013, 03:31:47 PM
You could trade in your smartphone for the new Galaxy S4 Zoom and replace two stones with one bird.
148  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Microsoft 'retires' TechNet on: July 02, 2013, 03:10:20 PM
In yet another sign that Microsoft has decided the future lies elsewhere than the desktop, TechNet subscriptions will no longer be sold after August 31 2013 and the TechNet support site will disappear on September 30, 2014

My take on this is that small consultants will need to seriously start talking to their customers about switching to Linux, because that may soon be the only desktop OS for which they will actually be able to get support.

149  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Interesting Amazon MP3 development on: June 30, 2013, 12:28:43 PM
It is quite possible to buy a CD from Amazon and then list it for sale again on Amazon (which costs nothing until you sell it). Anyone can sell on Amazon. I often buy stuff on Amazon that is new but slightly cheaper from a third party seller.

Sounds like a quick route to bankruptcy.

Amazon has your cash until someone else comes along and buys your CD, at which point you will still be out the shipping charges both ways. You'd also have to sell it for less than Amazon to get someone to buy from you rather than Amazon, since you won't be offering the free MP3/streaming version that Amazon does.

BTW, I mostly listen to classical music and Jazz and am very picky about sound quality, which is why I always buy CDs (or flac) and rip my own MP3s for listening on players.  Amazon's rips are actually better than most (they use a relatively high bitrate VBR), but ripping them myself gives me complete control over quality, size and tagging.

Many newer CDs have been remastered at higher bitrates, so the sound is much better than older CD versions of the same music. CDs themselves are limited to 16 bit 44,100 Mhz reproduction, but the improved quality of the mastering makes the sound noticeably better. The highest quality MP3 rips are in practice indistinguishable from the CD and preserve the benefits of the remastering.

The same is NOT true of  DSD sound on SACDs, which can deliver vastly superior sound to anything you can get from a regular CD, if you have the proper playback equipment.  DSD cannot be ripped to regular digital formats, although most SACDs also incorporate a CD (Redbook) layer, which can be, albeit without the 5-1 surround and higher definition of DSD.
150  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Interesting Amazon MP3 development on: June 29, 2013, 04:16:06 PM
The idea that anyone would buy a CD from Amazon just to get the music as an MP3 and sell the CD as new, strikes me as beyond ridiculous.

To begin with, you'd need to have a buyer lined up for the CD, unless you already had a music store (remember those) where you could sell it - in which case, you wouldn't be buying from Amazon in the first place.

The simple explanation is the Amazon makes money selling CDs, and that providing buyers with the music they have legally purchased in MP3 format gives it a way to compete with iTunes, Google Play and music subscription services.  Nothing wrong with that.


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