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Topics - xtabber [ switch to compact view ]

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Poikosoft EZ CD Audio Converter is on sale right now for 30% off: $27.95 instead of $39.95.

This is by far my favorite program for high quality CD ripping and audio conversions.

No indication of how long the sale will last, but given that it is described as a New Year's special, I'd guess that it won't be long.

Non-Windows Software / Linux and Internet security
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:49 AM »
According to today's Washington Post, "The Internet’s future rests with a man who calls most security experts ‘completely crazy’"

I'd agree that Linus can be obnoxious at times, but I would certainly not call him crazy, or even wrong-headed about security experts.  But then, I'm not a security expert.

General Software Discussion / Klingon Support
« on: September 25, 2015, 02:00 PM »
With version 15.80, XYplorer has added Klingon support.


Does any other software support Klingon?

Mozilla has announced that they will be replacing add-ons with a new WebExtensions API that will be compatible with Chrome and Opera. XPCOM and XUL will be deprecated and all developers expected to convert their add-ons to the new API within the next year.

As part of this transition, beginning with Firefox 41, due to be released September 22, 2015, only add-ons signed by Mozilla will work with the browser.

You can read the Mozilla announcement here.

General Software Discussion / Is Windows 10 a trojan?
« on: August 15, 2015, 12:21 PM »
I’ve been highly critical of the many ways Windows 10 compromises users’ privacy,  but this article by Steven Auerbach in Slate is an eye opener as to just how awful the situation really is.

It is bad enough that Microsoft sees fit to capture every bit of data about you that it can. It is something else for them to turn your computer into a node in a peer-to-peer system for distributing Microsoft products.  But that is exactly what they are doing with Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO), if you do not find and turn off the obscure option to get updates from and send updates to other PCs.

At the very least, this is theft of bandwidth. But it also appears that by default, Windows 10 effectively turns users' computers into nodes in a Microsoft botnet.

Found Deals and Discounts / Paragon HDM Pro 50% off at BDJ
« on: August 11, 2015, 06:48 AM »
Paragon Backup and Recovery Compact is advertised for free today on BitsDuJour, but if you look at the list of products offered at the bottom of the page, there is also a link for Paragon Hard Disk Manager Professional 15 at 50% off ($49.95).  HDM Pro includes the functionality of just about every disk utility program Paragon offers.

FWIW, if past experience is anything to go by, a new version will come out before the end of the year, with a 50% off upgrade offer for registered users.

Living Room / The end of the hard disk
« on: June 22, 2015, 05:57 PM »
According to Information Week, the end of 2015 will see SSDs with greater capacity than any hard disks currently available and SSDs are expected to be cost competitive with hard disks by the end of 2016.

Even if these projections are a little optimistic, particularly with respect to the consumer market, it seems clear that the hard disk will soon be going the way of the floppy disk.

It won't be missed.

General Software Discussion / LastPass hacked
« on: June 15, 2015, 06:11 PM »
LastPass has issued a Security Notice saying that they have been hacked resulting in account owners personal information being compromised.

They claim that no password data was breached, but recommend that all users change their master password ASAP.

Living Room / Simpler tax forms? Intuit says NO!
« on: April 16, 2015, 06:03 PM »
Yesterday was Tax Day for those of us who live and work in the USA – the day by which you need to file your income tax return with the IRS.  If you wonder why the process is so complicated, don’t blame the agency, which would actually like to make it easier for most taxpayers (and itself).  It seems that the main roadblock to simplifying the way taxes are filed is a massive lobbying effort by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax software, which has spent over $13 million dollars over the past 5 years lobbying against reform.

Living Room / MS-DOS Mobile
« on: April 01, 2015, 07:06 PM »
I don't have a Windows Phone, but this would almost make it worth getting one.

Found Deals and Discounts / Total Uninstall 50% off at BDJ
« on: February 28, 2015, 07:19 AM »
Total Uninstall is 50% off at Bits Du Jour today (Feb 28 2015).

Note that it requires a hardware footprint and does not allow re-installation on a computer if you move the license to another one.  As a rule, I won't use any program that imposes that kind of restriction on principle, but I like Total Uninstall so much that I have made an exception for it.  The developer is also quite responsive.

Living Room / Preloaded spyware, courtesy Lenovo
« on: February 19, 2015, 11:31 AM »
It seems that Lenovo has been preloading their consumer grade laptops with ad-injecting spyware.

Even worse, this particular spyware installs its own root certificate and serves fake certificates on the fly.

You can read more about it here.

Living Room / Why phishing won't go away
« on: January 24, 2015, 11:07 AM »
This is from the reply received in response to an email forwarded to the address Intuit provides to report phishing attempts.

Thank you for your recent message to the TurboTax Privacy Team.

We also thank you for reporting this e-mail to us as it is not legitimate. We are investigating now and will take action on it. We have the following support site article to help you understand phishing and what you can do to avoid it.    [case reference # removed]

When you suspect you are being phished :

1.    Do not click on a link in a suspicious email, but rather go to the company site and view the information. Even if a suspicious email is not requesting personal information, it may contain viruses that can retrieve personal information off of a computer.

You really have to wonder how Intuit's "Privacy Team" could be so clueless as to not notice the disconnect between the first paragraphs and the advice immediately following.

Found Deals and Discounts / WinPatrol & WinPrivacy holiday discounts
« on: December 21, 2014, 11:52 AM »
WinPrivacy beta 1 was released today.

Ruiware has extended the pre-beta 80% off lifetime license offer and is also offering WinPatrol licenses at 60% off for the holiday season.http:

Use coupon code: Happy Holidays

General Software Discussion / Farewell, Dr. Dobbs
« on: December 16, 2014, 06:51 PM »
After 38 years of glory, the long run of Dr. Dobb's has come to an end.

To be quite honest, I was hardly aware that it was still around.  Although I had been a subscriber since shortly after it began, and remained so for nearly as long as there was a print edition, I hadn't looked at it in many years.

Nonetheless, it marks the passing of an era.

General Software Discussion / WinPrivacy
« on: November 24, 2014, 09:13 PM »
Bret Lowry's Ruiware took over WinPatrol from BillP Studio earlier this year.  Now he is planning to introduce a new program called WinPrivacy which, as best as I can tell, will be sort of like WinPatrol for Internet connections with additional abilities to block some of the sneakier tracking methods.

WinPrivacy is expected to begin beta before the end of the year and to be available sometime in early 2015. Unlike WinPatrol, it will be sold on a subscription basis.  However, until the beta actually begins, Ruiware is offering a lifetime WinPrivacy license at 80% off to anyone with a paid WinPatrol Plus license.

Living Room / Component return rates
« on: November 07, 2014, 11:23 AM »
French web site has a comparison of computer component return rates.

The information was obtained from an unnamed major e-tailer. It ranks brands and models by name according to the percentage of items sold that were returned as defective.  Only models with a sample of 100 or more were counted. According to the author, the sample size for some unspecified items was in the tens of thousands.

The article is in French, but you don't need to understand the language to follow the return rate listings.

Living Room / What Google (and others) know about you
« on: September 04, 2014, 12:02 PM »
If you aren't already paranoid about  just how much information Google and others are collecting about you, this article by Woody Leonhard will probably cure you of your complacency.

General Software Discussion / Top 25 Free Windows Utilities
« on: July 30, 2014, 01:30 PM »
Here's Woody Leonhard's list of his top 25 free Windows utilities.

Living Room / The Web Never Forgets
« on: July 22, 2014, 06:24 AM »
If you value your privacy online, this paper from researchers at Princeton and Leuven universities will be deeply depressing.

One of the reasons I don't use the Chrome browser is that I've always assumed that Google had built persistent tracking mechanisms into it. -- Don't do evil! Don't make me laugh! -- But it now looks like no browser is safe from the relentless efforts of those who make a living by selling your eyeballs to paying customers.

Non-Windows Software / Android malware
« on: July 02, 2014, 05:16 PM »
I received an email alert today from a credit union where I have an account warning me about a new variant of Android malware called Svpeng that seems to have the US banking industry very worried.

You can read details about Svpeng on the Kaspersky blog.

While I do use online banking, I have always avoided using any bank's Android apps, for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I don't trust any of them to enforce either privacy or security competently.  That now seems to be a wise approach.

Living Room / Call to arms on net neutrailty
« on: June 05, 2014, 02:13 PM »
So many people tried to post comments on the FCC Web site after watching John Oliver's very funny rant on net neutrality a few days ago that the site crashed.

There have been some complaints from the usual suspects that Oliver doesn't understand net neutrality, but IMHO, he has done all of us a great favor by bringing the debate to the masses in a way that the masses can actually understand.

General Software Discussion / Nice guide to using a RAM disk
« on: May 27, 2014, 12:15 PM »
TechARP has posted the RAM Disk Guide Rev. 2.0, a useful guide to when and how to use a ram disk under Windows.

Last week, it was revealed that Microsoft had examined the Hotmail/ emails of a blogger, who was NOT a Microsoft employee, in order to find who had leaked confidential information to that person.

It seems this is legal because, under Microsoft’s terms of use, the company has the right to examine any user’s data for any reason they see fit.

This is very different from data mining user data to sell advertising, and it makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would consider using Office 365 for any reason at all.

General Software Discussion / Windows 8.1 and the future of PCs
« on: March 15, 2014, 10:47 PM »
A couple of weeks ago, Best Buy had a quickie online sale of the 32 GB Lenovo Miix 2 8 tablet for $199.99.  That was cheap enough for me buy one just to see for myself how Windows 8.1 works on a tablet, particularly since it came with a full copy of MS Office 2013 H&S.

The quick answer is that the Windows 8.1 Modern interface is no better on a tablet touchscreen than on a desktop PC, meaning that it is close to unusable, but what really surprised me was how well the tablet runs the full Windows desktop environment.

The Miix 2 8 has a quad-core x64 Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM and runs 32-bit Windows 8.1, so I am not going to be loading Adobe Lightroom on it or doing MCMC simulations. But it runs Word, Excel and Internet Explorer just fine, as well as the other 32-bit Windows programs I have tried so far.

While It has less than 8GB of storage left after Windows, one can add a 32GB micro-SD card, so that isn’t a problem for me.  Bluetooth keyboard and mouse work beautifully with it.  The only thing keeping it from being used as a full blown desktop system is that it has no video out, and its 8” display is too small for serious work.

It does however, have a micro-USB port that supports OTG, and Plugable has a USB dock that can be used to provides video from a Dell Venue 8 Pro, which is almost identical to the Miix 2 8. Unlike the Dell, Lenovo does not require a shorted data line to initiate charging through the USB port, so it is possible to use a Y-OTG cable to charge and connect a USB device at the same time. I have a Plugable dock on order and by next week should be able to test how well my Miix 2 8 can function as a full desktop computer.

The Miix 2 8 is roughly the same size as the Nexus 7 and weighs just 12 oz.  In the next couple of months, Lenovo should be introducing the ThinkPad Tablet 2, which is similar in size and weighs just a couple of ounces more, but with a 1920x1080 display instead of 1280x800, USB 3.0 support and HDMI out, meaning it can substitute for a low-end desktop PC out of the box, although it will cost considerably more.

This really changes a lot of things. I expect Android and iOS tablets to remain the devices of choice for things like reading, watching videos, browsing, games, etc., if only because the Windows tiled UI is just too clumsy, and the desktop environment too complicated, for that kind of activity.  But I can see Windows tablets replacing laptop and desktop PCs for many users in the not too distant future.

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