November 2013 - LUG

fullfattruckΚινητά – Ασύρματες Τεχνολογίες

10 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

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The ASCIIriber


THE JOURNAL OF THE LOWER BUCKS COMPUTER USERS GROUP

Volume
3
2

• Issue

9
,
November
,
201
3

Windows 8.1


I am going to try and make the November meeting
but I may have be tied up with work again.


Assuming I can make the meeting we’ll take a look at
Windows 8.1.
What was changed, what wasn’t and
how you can personalize it.


We’ll also examine
how
you get the upgrade, how
you apply it and any problems you might face.


With the introduction of Inte
l’s new

Haswell chip
there have been some interesting new tablets and
laptops. At the meeting we can look at the models,
the features and the prices.


See you Sunday, maybe.







NEXT MEETING:

SUNDAY
,

November 3
, 2

P.M
.

From OS’s to Apps, good
reading from

Jim McGorry




App to battle insomnia



Codec pack to view images



Create a custom
recovery
image
for Windows 8



CryptoLocker virus



MyMusic Cloud Storage



Protect yourself from the next big data breach



QuickOffice for Android



Remove Eazel

Search as homepage



Smart alarm clock



Your first hour with Windows 8.1



Webcams with built in Skype



Will other companies support Windows XP



Weekly Download Section


from Jim McGorry




APPS BATTLE INSOMNIA, GIVE
EYES A BREAK










Here is an Android app that is easy on the eyes. Much like our computer monitors, our mobile screens are also
designed to look like the sun. So you can read without a problem during daylight. However, when the light
goes
down, the screen remains the same, it irritates your retina, thanks to its blinding
light.

















But not if you use the
Twilight

app for Android. It works like magic. Not only does it reduce the brightness of
the screen, but also gives it a reddish tint as the day progresses. It’s a fantastic app that helps you battle your
insomnia, even while working at 3am. And the best part? It’
s free. Just go to Google Play and download
Twilight. Go to the settings and set your time of day and you are set. As the day progresses, the app removes
the blues and injects red, to make it warm at sundown.









Desktop/Laptop Software
:










Wondering if there’s a similar app for desktops and laptops too? Yes, there is, although it’s in beta. I have
tested it and it does work. Your eyes don’t burn. Just get
f.lux

and you are all set. The download happens in a
jiffy. All you have to do is click on ‘run’. It installs in seconds and your screen acquires a red tint if it’s sunset
already. Wondering how it knew? It acquires the date and time from your computer settings
. And the best part?
This app has versions for Linux, iPhone and iPads, too. Just go to its website and download the relevant
version.


Weekly Download Section


from Jim McGorry



CAMERA CODEC PACK: PREVIEW RAW IMAGES











RAW, which is a popular file format for higher
-
end digital cameras and digital SLR cameras, contains the raw
sensor information without any modifications made to the file. This format is very popular with photographers,
as you can adjust things
like white balance (to get accurate colors), change exposure (make an image brighter
or darker) and adjust noise reduction and processing details. The major problem with the format however, is
that unlike JPG images which you can preview in Windows Explore
r, RAW images usually show up as a
generic icon and not a preview image.











Microsoft’s Camera Codec Pack will allow you to preview these images so you don’t need to open every file
individually to see what is in the photo. The photo belo
w shows what RAW images will look like when you
open them on an SD card before and after the codec pack is installed.
























You can download the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack by clicking here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en
-
us/download/details.aspx?id=26829

and choosing the x86 version for 32bit computers or the amd64 for 64bit
machines.


From:

The D
esk of Jim McGorry


Excerpts taken from the Windows Secrets Periodical


CREATING CUSTOMIZED RECOVERY IMAGES FOR WIN8










Windows 8's easy
-
to
-
use and built
-
in backup, restore, and rebuild tools go far beyond those found in
previous version
s of Windows. When using Win8's

Refresh

option, the advanced
Recimg

tool can preserve
your current Win8 setup including desktop apps that Refresh would, by default, remove.










This is the fourth installment in a series detailing Window
s 8's backup
-
and
-
recover system. The previous Top
Stories include:














July 11
: "Understanding Windows 8's File History"



Aug. 15
: "A 'no
-
reformat reinstall' for Windo
ws 8," which discusses Win8's
Refresh

command

Sept. 12:

"A clean
-
slate reinstall for Windows 8," a description of Win8's lean
-
slate tool,
Reset.














Unfortunately, in its default application,
Refresh

has a major drawback. Although it doesn't change your user
files, native (Metro/Modern) Win8 apps, or applications you obtained via the Windows Store, Refresh

does

remove traditional Windows desktop
apps that you installed from other websites or from optical media. (See
the explanation on a Microsoft Windows 8 Support
page
.)








You can, however, avoid
this Refresh limitation by creating and using a
custom system image.

It
automatically rebuilds Win8 to the specific configuration you want


standard desktop apps included.




A custom system image still gives you the benefits of the default Ref
resh. Win8's core files will be completely
rebuilt, and your user accounts, data, passwords, and personal files will be left intact.





Best of all, it's incredibly simple to make a custom system image. The only tool you need


recimg.exe



is
already built into your copy of Windows 8!











Recimg.exe

(or Recimg for short) gets its name from a contraction of the phrase "
rec
ord
im
a
g
e," a command
-
line tool. Microsoft offers instructions on using the command in support article
2748351
. But those instructions
leave out important details


and that's where this article will help.







In the following steps, you'll see how to prep your system for the best Recimg
results, and you'll learn how to
use the tool and its various options. You'll also get some extra tips and tweaks that can make the process of
creating a custom system image go faster and more smoothly, including a solution to the most common
problem that
can interfere with Recimg's operation.










Before You Begin, Some Basic Prep Work












Because Recimg will create a custom system image based on your current Win8 setup, it stands to reason that
you'll want Windows to be as

nearly perfect as it can be: complete, up to date, and error
-
free.

So before you
begin, spend a few minutes performing some basic system maintenance:





Update all your software:















Manually run Windows Update and ensure you're running the latest versions of all third
-
party software. An
automated update tool such as Secunia PSI (free/paid;
site
) can simplify and speed up this process. For more
auto
-
update tools, see the July 26, 2012,
Top Story
, "Software that updates your other software."
Run a
reput
able Registry cleaner

to help ensure that your Registry doesn't contain errors such as references to
absent software or altered system locations. Piriform's CCleaner (free/paid;
site
) is a popular tool, but
there are
many others


some excellent, some more trouble than help.









Tip #1:

Cleanup tools can also remove junk and trash files


generally a good thing. But Recimg doesn't
collect and preserve junk files, so junk
-
file cleanup is
not

a
necessary prerequisite for running the imaging
tool.















Verify your disk's health:















Using Windows' built
-
in tools


either the command
-
line
chkdsk

or the GUI
-
based
Error
-
checking/Check
now:














If you need a refresher on these apps, see the "Check the hard drive's physical/logical health" subsection of the
Jan. 10
Top Story
, "Let your PC start the new ye
ar right!"

With those three basic tasks done, you're ready to create your custom system image.

Tip #2:

Recimg is CPU
-

and disk
-
intensive; it can take several hours to run to completion. If needed, you can
keep using your
PC because Recimg uses Windows'
shadow copy

function (more
info
) to process files even if
they're open, in use, or locked.











Keep in mind, however, that because Recimg makes heavy
demands of your system, it will cause a noticeable
slowdown.

To reduce potential frustration, and to allow Recimg to complete its task in the shortest
-
possible time, I suggest
that you run it only when your PC would otherwise be idle and unused.



In the
same vein, you can further quicken Recimg's operations by shutting down or disabling as many
background tasks as possible. For example, before running the tool, disable or postpone any scheduled
backups, data syncs, malware scans, defragmentation operation
s, and so on.








Building Your First Custom System Image












Using Recimg to create a custom system image is amazingly simple. Here are the steps:





To start, bring up an administrator
-
level command prompt by w
hatever method you prefer. In Windows 8, the
easiest way is to simply press the Windows key + X (
WinX
) and then select Command Prompt (Admin). A
standard admin
-
level command window will open. At the command prompt, type
recimg /createimage {folder
path}











NOTE:

Replace
{folder path}

with the path/folder name where you want the custom system image stored. For
example, you might use
C:
\
RefreshImage

as the path and folder name. (If the folder doesn't exist, Recimg

will
create one.) So the entire command would be:
recimg /createimage C:
\
RefreshImage









Tip #3:

System images can be quite large, typically 15

25GB. Make sure the destination drive has sufficient
room.













Tip #4:

To sp
eed Recimg's processing, create the system image on your fastest hard drive, even if you don't
want to keep it there permanently. (System images can be moved after they've been created; more on this in a
moment.)














With the command, p
ath, and folder name entered, press Enter. Recimg will go to work in three stages:
initializing, creating a
snapshot

of the current setup, and then
writing

the image to the specified location, as
shown in Figure 1.















The custom syst
em
-
image file is always called
CustomRefresh.wim.

(The extension
.wim

stands for
Windows Imaging Medium


see the MS TechNet
explanation
.)












Figure 1. A typical
Recimg

progress screen. Here, the tool is beginning to write an image to
C:
\
RefreshImage
.



When the custom image is fully written (typically after several hours), Recimg will register the new

CustomRefresh.wim

file as your system's
active

system image.

Windows 8 will automatically use the newly
created image whenever you run
Refresh

on your system. (For complete information on refreshing Win8, see
the Aug. 15
Top Story
, "A 'no
-
reformat reinstall' for Windows 8.")








You can run Recimg as often as you like. If you specify the same folder over and over, only the last
CustomRefresh.wim

will be retained. But you also can specify a differen
t destination folder each time in
order to build a library of custom system
-
image configurations.










You also can move
CustomRefresh.wim

files from wherever they were created to any other suitably
capacious location


either to save space
or for long
-
term archiving.






If you move a
CustomRefresh.wim

file, or if you have multiple image files you've created over time, use
Recimg to tell Windows 8 which file should be used as the current, active system image.



Open an a
dministrator's command window and type:

recimg /setcurrent {folder}

Where
{folder}

is the path to and name of the
CustomRefresh.wim

file you wish to use as the current source
of Refresh files.














Other Recimg options include:











recimg /showcurrent:


Displays the folder that holds the currently active image. It's useful if you lose track of which
CustomRefresh.wim:














Win8 is using.
recimg /deregister



enter this command if, for some reason, y
ou want or need to return to
Win8's default system image. Refresh will use the image originally provided by the PC's manufacturer or, if no
OEM file is available, the files on your original installation medium.







Using the
/setcurrent

comm
and described above, you can always return to one of your custom system
-
image
files.













recimg /help:
















Displays a list of all available Recimg commands, plus some simple help text.





Solving the Mos
t Common Recimg Problem












Win8's custom system image

creation tool can occasionally be confused by virtual volumes (logical hard
drives or partitions) and/or by symlinks (symbolic links; MSDN
explanation
).




For example, popular cryptographic software such as TrueCrypt, Boxcryptor, and others commonly create their
own private volumes to hold encrypted data.








If there

are any irregularities with the way those volumes are mounted or dismounted, Recimg might stop early
in its initialization process and display error messages such as
The recovery image cannot be written

or
The
system cannot find the file specified.

The mo
st common error code associated with this problem is the cryptic
0x80070003.








The Solution:

Temporarily uninstall whatever software created the volume or symlink and then run
recimg.exe.

Reinstall the problematic software after the custom
system image has been created.
Obviously, the problem app
won't

be restored along with your other apps, if you use Win8's Refresh.













Win8's Multi
-
tiered Backup/Recovery Options












As you've
seen from this series, Windows 8 offers a wider range of built
-
in backup and recovery options than
any previous version of the OS does. In summary:







File History:

Provides automatic, nearly constant, always
-
on backups of your user data and
files.


Reset:

sets you rapidly restore your PC to its original, fresh
-
from
-
the
-
box setup.






Refresh:

Provides a quick
-
and
-
easy, nondestructive reinstall of Win8's core files


without disturbing your
user files. And
when combined with a
custom system image,

it won't remove apps that were not included with
Windows or not purchased from the Windows Store.







Whatever your feelings about Win8's interface, you have to agree: it's good to have all that protec
tion built into
the base operating system!


From:

The Desk of Jim McGorry


Excerpts taken from the Windows Secrets Periodical


CRYPTOLOCKER: A PARTICULARLY PERNICIOUS VIRUS









Online attackers are using encryption
to lock up our files and demand a ransom and AV software probably won't
protect you.











Here are ways to defend yourself from CryptoLocker


pass this information along to friends, family, and
business associates.










Forgive me if I sound a bit like those bogus virus warnings proclaiming, "You have the worst virus ever!!" But
there's a new threat to our data that we need to take seriously. It's already hit many consumers and small
businesses. Called CryptoLocker, this
infection shows up in two ways.






First, you see a red banner (see Figure 1) on your computer system, warning that your files are now

encrypted



and if you send money to a given email address, access to
your files will be restored to you.













Figure 1. CryptoLocker is not making idle threats.











The other sign you've been hit: you can no longer open Office files, database files, and most other common
documents on your system. When you try to do so, you get another

warning, such as "Excel cannot open the
file [filename] because the file format or file extension is not valid," as stated on a TechNet MS Excel Support
Team
blog
.















As noted in a Reddit
comment
, CryptoLocker goes after dozens of file types such

as
.doc, .xls, .ppt, .pst,
.dwg, .rtf, .dbf, .psd, .raw, and .pdf.












CyptoLocker attacks typically come in three ways:









1.

Via

an email attachment. For example, you receive an email from a shipping company you do business with.
Attached to the email is a
.zip

file. Opening the attachment launches a virus that finds and encrypts all files
you have access to


including th
ose located on any attached drives or mapped network drives.



2.

You browse a malicious website that exploits vulnerabilities in an out
-
of
-
date version of Java.




3.

Most recently, you're tricked into downloading a malicious video driver or codec file.






There are no patches to undo CryptoLocker and, as yet, there's no clean
-
up tool


the only sure way to get
your files back is to restore them from a bac
kup.








Some users have paid the ransom and, surprisingly, were given the keys to their data. (Not completely
surprising; returning encrypted files to their owners might encourage others to pay the ransom.) This is,
obviously, a risky option
. But if it's the only way you
might

get your data restored, use a
prepaid debit card



not your personal credit card. You don't want to add the insult of identity theft to the injury of data loss.



In This Case, Your Best Defense Is Prevention












Keep in mind that antivirus software probably won't prevent a CryptoLocker infection. In every case I'm aware
of, the PC owner had an up
-
to
-
date AV application installed. Moreover, running Windows without admin
rights does not stop o
r limit this virus. It uses social engineering techniques


and a good bit of fear,
uncertainty, and doubt


to trick users into clicking a malicious download or opening a bogus attachment.


Your best prevention is two
-
fold:











Basic method:
















Ensure you keep complete and recent backups of your system. Making an image backup once or twice a year
isn't much protection. Given the size of today's hard drives on standalone PCs, an external USB hard drive is
st
ill your best backup option. A 1TB drive is relatively cheap; you can get 3TB drives for under U.S. $200. For
multiple PCs on a single local
-
area network, consider Michael Lasky's recommendations in the Oct. 10 Best
Hardware
article
, "External hard drives take on cloud storage."








Small businesses with networked PCs should have automated workstation backups enabled, in addition to
server back
ups. At my office, I use Backup Box by Gramps'
Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

(
site
). It lets me join the backup server to my office domain and back up all workstations. I run the backups
during the

day, while others in the office are using their machines


and I've had no complaints of noticeable
drops in workstation performance.













The upcoming release of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials (
site
) will also include easy
-
to
-
use, workstation
-
backup capabilities. Recently
announced

Western Digital drives will also act as both file
-
storage servers and
workstation
-
backup devices.











The advanced method:















If you have Windows Professional or hig
her, you can tweak your systems to protect them against
CryptoLocker. You'll want to thoroughly test the impact of the settings changes detailed below


and be
prepared to roll back to your original settings if needed. (After making some of these changes,
you might not
be able to install or update some applications.)












All business and Pro versions of Windows include the ability to prevent certain types of software from
launching from specific locations. CryptoLocker launches from a spec
ific location and in a specific way (well,
for now). By implementing Windows' Software Restriction Policies rules, we can block CryptoLocker from
launching its payload in your computer.












Software Restriction Policies (
more info
) were first introduced in Windows XP and Server 2003. In a domain
setting, you can use

Group Policy

to set up these restrictions or rules; on standalone machines, you can use
Local Security
Policy.

(Windows Home Premium doesn't support Group or Local policies, so none of the
following settings changes is supported.)












Again, be sure you test these settings changes on a single workstation first before rolling them out to ot
her
systems. Also, take the extra step of
undoing

the changes and checking whether the test system still runs as
expected. Most important: Back up
all

systems before making the changes.







To make the changes, click Start/Control Panel/Admini
strative Tools. Click Local Security Policy and locate
Software Restriction Policies under the Security Settings heading. Right
-
click it and select
New Software
Restriction Policies.

Right
-
click Additional Rules and select
New Path Rule

to open the new
-
rule dialog box
shown in Figure 2.
















Figure 2. Creating a new path rule to block CryptoLocker










The following rules block applications such as CryptoLocker

from running in the defined locations. For
example, the first set of rules applies to the specific user folder
%Appdata%,

which equates to
user
\
{yourusername}
\
appdata
\
roaming.












Enter the following sets of Path, Security Level, and Des
cription information as separate rules:


For Windows XP,

enter the following:



Path:
%AppData%
\
*.exe



Security Level:
Disallowed














Description:
Don't allow executables from AppData

and

Path:
%AppData%
\
*
\
*.exe





Security Level:
Disallowed














Description:
Don't allow executables from AppData









For Windows Vista and higher,

use the above settings plus the
following:




Path:
%localAppData%
\
*.exe




Security Level:
Disallowed















Description:
Don't allow executables from AppData

and Path:
%localAppData%
\
*
\
*.exe













Security Level:
Disallowed














Description:
Don't allow executables from AppData









Additional paths for

blocking ZIP
-
file locations are described in the
bleepingcomputer.com CryptoLocker
Ransomware Information Guide and FAQ
.

The following will ensure the
virus can't launch from embedded or attached

.zip

files.











Path:
%Temp%
\
Rar*
\
*.exe













Security Level:
Disallowed














Description:
Block executables run from archive attachments opened with WinRAR.




From archive attachments opened with
7zip:


Path:
%Temp%
\
7z*
\
*.exe




Security Level:
Disallowed














Descript
ion:
Block executables run from archive attachments opened with 7
-
Zip.




From archive attachments opened with
WinZip:











Path:
%Temp%
\
wz*
\
*.exe














Security Level:
Disallowed














Descrip
tion:
Block executables run from archive attachments opened with WinZip.




From archive attachments opened using
Windows' built
-
in .zip support:








Path:
%Temp%
\
*.zip
\
*.exe













Security Level:
Disallowed














Description:
Block executables run from archive attachments opened using Windows' built
-
in ZIP
support.











Figure 3 shows the Software Restrictions Policies section
with newly entered rules.













Figure 3. A
completed set of software restriction policies










When you're done entering new rules, reboot your system so that the changes take effect. Again, if you
discover you can no longer update some applications or install software, you might n
eed to undo some of these
changes. Look in your
application event log



or in the admin section


for the specific rule that's
misbehaving. (To open the log, click Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Event Viewer; then, in the navigation
pane, click Windows

Logs/Application. For more on the Event Viewer, see the Oct. 27, 2011,
Top Story
,
"What you should know about Windows' Event Viewer.")


As the malware aut
hors change their tactics, you might need to revisit the rules settings; I'll try to post updates
into the Windows Secrets Lounge whenever needed.






For even stronger CryptoLocker protection, those folks with solid IT savvy might want to consider

applic
ation
whitelisting



i.e., setting up a list of applications approved to run on their workstations. All other software
installations are blocked. See the National Security Agency (yes,
that

NSA)
document

(downloaded PDF),
"Application whitelisting using Software Restriction Policies."


Be aware that application whitelisting is a highly advanced tactic. Take some time to determin
e
all

allowed
applications in order to

properly set up application whitelisting.





Once again, keeping your AV software up to date is not the panacea for CryptoLocker. The hackers using this
exploit are adapting the virus so quickly that AV vendors can't keep up with the many CryptoLocker va
riations
in play. It's up to individual users to stay vigilant about what they click. The bad guys just keep getting badder.


Weekly Download Section


from Jim McGorry


Welcome members and visitors alike to this new section I hope it will be of interest and use to you.


Each month I will try and have interesting and useful programs for you to download and try on your systems as
you see fit. Some are free and some may hav
e a nominal fee.


A brief write
-
up and link to download page will be displayed here so you can determine if you wish to get it
and use it.


ALSO NOTE:

Some web addresses may not be a direct link. If not, then just copy and paste the address into
the “Addre
ss Location” window and hit enter.



MYMUSICCLOUD STORAGE
-

STORE AND SYNC ALL YOUR MUSIC FOR FREE





Most cloud storage services restrict how much you can store.
MyMusicCloud

began this way, but h
as since
given music lovers the freedom to store unlimited music for free. It also plays nicely with a wide range of
devices, so you can keep your music collection updated no matter what device you use or where you are.

MyMusicCloud allows you

to import an unlimited number of audio tracks. The service doesn’t allow you to
store any other file types, such as videos or documents, so you’ll need a different service for those files.
Surprisingly, the service isn’t just a free storage unit for your
music. It also helps you find the right song at the
right time by learning your preferences.












Currently, the service lets you sync your stored music to and from your computer and Internet
-
ready TV along
with the following mobile device
s: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Nokia and
Kindle with more to come. You’ll need to download the MyMusicCloud app to your device in order to sync
back and forth. Use your device’s official app store to download and use the app.







You should be aware of a few restrictions though. MyMusicCloud

has two plans. The Basic or free plan allows
you to import and store unlimited tracks. However, you can only sync and play 250 tracks to any device. You
can choose which songs you want to sync or play from within your account. If you want unlimited syncin
g and
playing, you have to buy the Unlimited plan for $40 a year, which is still cheaper than most cloud services. If
you only want to use the service as a backup, you won’t need to upgrade unless you need to export all of your
music.


















To get started, click the
Sign Up
button and fill out the form. Check the
Terms and Conditions

box and
press
Sign Up

to create your account. You’ll be asked to login to your email and click the confirmation link to
complete the process. You won’t be a
ble to log in or use MyMusicCloud until you confirm your email address.
As soon as you click the verification link in your email, you’ll be taken

to MyMusicCloud to begin importing
music.
















You have three options for importing. First, you can

download the desktop agent using the
Automatic
option
which links directly to MyMusicCloud when you have an Internet connection. Once you’ve downloaded and
installed the desktop agent, you choose which programs and folders to import music from such as iTu
nes,
Windows Media Player or any folders on your computer. Whenever you add music to any of these folders,
your music is imported into MyMusicCloud the next time you’re online.
















If you want even more control over what you import, choose the
Manually

option. You don’t have to
download or install anything. Simply press
Import

and choose which songs you want to add to MyMusicCloud.
To choose more than one at a time, hold the
Ctrl

button while selecting files and
folders.
















Finally, y
ou can link MyMusicCloud to your Google Drive or Dropbox account if you have one. Every time
you add music to either account, it will import into MyMusicCloud. You can use a combination of these
options or just one, depending on your needs.
















To connect and manage your devices, select
Account

from your MyMusicCloud dashboard.








Select
Devices

to add a new device or manage existing ones.





To manage your music and choose which tracks you want to sync or play (if you use the free account) use
the
My Music

page. You can also buy new tracks to add to your collection via the
Store

page from your
dashboard. The prices are comparable to other servi
ces such as iTunes or Amazon MP3.


From:

The Desk of Jim McGorry


Excerpts taken from the Windows Secrets Periodical


PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE NEXT BIG DATA BREACH









Huge online attacks, such
as the recent Adobe break
-
in, bring to mind a pressing question: What should
we do if our credit
-
card data or sign in credentials are stolen?












Plus, what steps will help minimize future exposures when large corporate sites are cracked


as they no
doubt will be


by malicious hackers and cyber thieves?








A Real
-
life Experience with Data Theft













Let's start with a potential worst
-
case scenario, as related by a Windows Secrets reader. To protect his pr
ivacy,





I'll call him KP. He was among the
three million

Adobe customers whose sign
-
in information


and in some
cases credit
-
/debit
-
card data


was stolen in the recent, highly publicized breach of Adobe's servers (
more
info
).
















Being victim in the Adobe theft was bad enough, but KP (and many, many others) used a practice that made
things even worse: he re
used the same username and password on many different sites. This meant that the one
theft from Adobe instantly compromised his security at
every other site

where he used the same sign
-
in info!

















Here's the note he sent:















"The thieves who robbed Adobe's data now have the username and password I've used on many sites. I've
changed my password on the accounts I remember using, but I'm sure there are many accounts I've forgotten
about. I'm now at risk of fraud o
n those accounts.












"I know that I should use a separate password for each account I set up, but that's just impossible.














"Is there anything I can do? Help!"











Yes, there's lots you



and everyone else who has sensitive data on webservers


can and should do, both
when involved in a data
-
theft incident and as a general policy.








In cases such as the Adobe break
-
in, the immediate response is to ensure that the damage d
oesn't snowball into
a full
-
fledged identity
-
theft incident


one that could ruin your personal finances and compromise your
privacy.














Next, take the necessary steps that will

limit

any vulnerabilities from future breaches. (Practica
lly speaking,
there will be more major break
-
ins, and it's impossible to eliminate all threats.) Contrary to conventional
thinking, it's emphatically
not

hard to use a unique sign
-
in for each and every site. In fact, using unique sign
-
in
credentials is qui
te easy and doesn't have to cost a dime.








I'll come back to these points later, but let's deal with the emergency situation first.




Steps to Take After a Data
-
theft Attack













The keys to your online data ar
e your sign
-
in credentials. Here's what to do if your username and password are
stolen from any site where you've conducted a commercial transaction:





Credit
-
/debit
-
card transactions:




If a commercial site you use suffers a data breach that might expose your credit
-

or debit
-
card numbers or data,
act immediately. Virtually all credit
-
/debit
-
card companies print a toll
-
free number on the back of their cards.
Call the number, tell them wha
t's going on, and ask them to send you new cards with new numbers. You'll
typically receive the new cards within a few days and there's usually no extra charge for the replacements. The
card issuers are just as anxious to avoid fraudulent card use as you a
re.




Other financial transactions:














If a hack attack compromises the username, password, or account information for financial transactions such as
checking, savings, mortgage, etc., contact the bank or other institution, tell them

what happened, and follow
their advice. Some institutions will simply increase the level of monitoring on your accounts; others will issue
new account numbers. If you're given a choice, opt for wholly new account numbers.





Changing user and

account information will, of course, require the annoying and time
-
consuming task of
updating your user information on online sites. It simply has to be done. But if you can't recall all sites where
you've had financial transactions, at least the old acco
unt information will be useless to cyber thieves.



Monitor and protect your financial identity:












Contact the major credit
-
reporting agencies (in the U.S.:
Equifax
,
Experian
, and
TransUnion
) and ask to
have a
fraud alert

placed on your accounts. That should impose extra identity
-
verification steps and thus
prevent thieves from opening new accounts or new lines of credit in your name.







You might also choose to sign up for one or more of the
identity theft

protection services

the reporting
agencies offer


such as immediate notification of any

and all new activity in your credit records, insurance
against ID theft

related losses, and so on. Each site lists the services offered; read carefully, as there are often
extra costs involved.













If you prefer a no
-
cost option, you al
so can monitor your credit records for free, though often at a somewhat
slower pace. In the U.S., the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the three major credit
-
reporting agencies
listed above provide you with one free credit report every 12 months. By

staggering your report requests to
each agency, you could obtain a free report every four months. (Their reports tend to overlap, so major
problems with your credit reports should show up in all three agencies.)






Keep records of all account

calls and contacts:












It's easy to lose track of whom you've contacted. Include dates and times, and if a human contact is involved,
get the name of the person with whom you speak. If you work online, take screen shots or make printout
s of
the relevant webpages. These records could help prove due diligence on your part, should the worst happen and
your stolen data be used for fraudulent or malicious purposes.







Letting Your Browser Manage Sign
-
in Credentials












We can't eliminate all breaches of corporate data. However, as already noted, we can limit our exposure from
future data
-
theft events relatively easily


by using a unique password for every site. (Using unique user
names would increase security, b
ut it's impractical


especially as more and more sites use an email address
for the sign
-
in username.)







Many PC users still quail at the thought of remembering potentially dozens of passwords. But
password
-
management

software easily solves that probl
em. You just have to use it.





In fact, the browser you're using right now most likely has a free, basic password manager built in. (That
should not be a surprise


most major browsers ask whether they should save usernames and passwords when
you first sign in to sites.) Browsers store sign
-
in information in an encrypted file on your hard drive. They then
automatically fill in the correct credentials for each specific site. So there's no excuse not to use a unique,
complex, difficult
-
to
-
crack p
assword on every site you sign in to.









There are a few exceptions. For example, browser
-
based password managers might not work with some
banking sites


especially those that use two
-
step verification.









Here's informatio
n on the password managers built into the big
-
three browsers:







Internet Explorer's
User names and passwords on forms

is a selection in the AutoComplete Settings (tool
icon/Internet options/Content). It's explained on the Microsoft
help page
, "Remember passwords and fill out
web forms."















Chrome's
Offer to save passwords I enter on the web

is found in its
advanced settings (three
-
bar
icon/Settings/Show advanced settings/Passwords and forms). It's explained on Google's "Manage your website
passwords"
















Firefox's
Remember passwords for sites

option is in its Security section (Tools/Opt
ions/Security). See
Mozilla's "Remember, delete and change saved passwords in Firefox"
page

for more info.










All three browsers also le
t you review and edit saved credentials. For password management in other browsers,
check their local and online help pages.







Stepping Up to a Standalone Password Manager











I'm a belt
-
and
-
suspenders kind of guy when it comes to secu
rity, so I generally use a browser's built
-
in
password manager only for low
-
risk sites


typically, sites where I don't enter credit
-
card numbers or other
sensitive personal data. That way, if some newly exploited browser flaw exposes my saved passwords to

hackers, there's little serious risk to me.






For sites where I perform commercial transactions and/or enter sensitive personal data, I use a separate,
standalone

password manager that operates independently of my browsers.




There are many available,

both free and paid. I use RoboForm Everywhere (free trial, U.S. $10 for the first full
year;
site
). It will store your passwords in a file encrypted with the method of your choice (I use 256
-
AES). It
can also autom
atically synchronize your passwords across the various digital devices you use, including PCs,
Macs, tablets, smartphones, and so on.





RoboForm is good, but I freely admit that some of my preference for it is based partly on simple inertia


I've
been u
sing it for over a decade. I list some excellent alternatives below.



Here's what a good standalone password manager can do: my RoboForm vault currently contains 592 unique
username/password combinations. I need to remember only
one



a master password I
established when I set
up RoboForm.














When I go to any of those 592 sites, RoboForm recognizes the specific site and automatically fills in the sign
-
in boxes with the correct username and password for that site.









If
I need to generate a new password, RoboForm's internal password generator creates a unique, hard
-
to
-
crack
password on the fly


of whatever length and level of complexity I
specify (see Figure 1).




















Figure 1. A good password manager such as RoboForm can generate and remember high
-
quality, patternless, hard
-
to
-
crack passwords for you.







For example, the RoboForm
-
generated password shown in Figure 1 follows the
best practice

rules for secure
passwor
ds:











Long:
I chose 16 characters for this example, but some sites might allow a maximum of eight or 10 characters.











Random:

The password contains no simple patterns or recognizable words, names, or phrases.












Numerals:

In this example, I set a minimum of two.









Upper case/lower case:

Good passwords use a mix of upper
-

and lowercase letters.












Special characters:

Always include keyboard characters that are n
ot letters, numbers, or spaces.









Clicking the Generate New button instantly created the password
3w$pEf95aNL!kc*h;

a second click
produced
WDQ3*GU^Rq4q8qo7;

a third click generated
YB6s3aV*^6xJVDNF;

and so on.

Those are all excellent pa
sswords. For example, the Kaspersky Secure Password Check estimated an average
PC would require over 10,000
centuries

to crack those passwords. The following four password
-
testing sites
confirmed the passwords' quality.











How Secure Is My Password


The Password Meter














How Big is Your Haystack?













Check your password


is it strong?











Obviously, I'd be hard
-
pressed to remember

any

of those passwords on my own! Fortunately, I don't have to.













And again, RoboForm is just one of many excellent free/paid password managers. A Web search will turn up
dozens more. Some of the best
-
regarded include (in no particular order):



LastPass:

(free/premium;
site
)

installs and sets up easily on Windows and Macs and has a good help system.
The free version is ad
-
supported; the premium version


currently $12/year


removes the ads and includes
support for mobile devices such as phones and tablets.






S10 Password Vault:

(free for personal use, $35 for businesses;
site
) is available in both installed and portable
versions for Windows. An Android version is also available.





KeePass
Password Safe:

(free, open
-
source;
site
) is also available in installed or portable versions; it runs on
Windows, Macs, and most smartphones and tablets. The fact that it's open source

makes it unlikely there could be any covert backdoors into the software. But, as is often the case with open
-
source software, the help system is relatively thin. The easiest way to get KeePass going is to read the KeePass
Help Center
page
, "First steps tutorial."











1Password:

($39 and up;
site
) gets rave reviews and is available for Windows, Macs, and most smartphones
and tablets.













Again, no matter which one you choose, a good password manager makes it easy to create and use a long,
hard
-
to
-
crack password for each and every site you visit.









Once you're using unique si
gn
-
in everywhere, any future data hacks should be just a one
-
site annoyance that
you can contain with the steps outlined at the top of the story. The problem won't snowball into a potentially
widespread threat to your identity, privacy, and financial secur
ity.







Remember: Stolen usernames and passwords are often sold or given to other cyber thieves. If you give
someone access to your entire online financial cookie jar, you have no one to blame but yourself!


Weekly
Download Section


from Jim McGorry


Welcome members and visitors alike to this new section I hope it will be of interest and use to you.

Each month I will try and have interesting and useful programs for you to download and try on your systems as
you
see fit. Some are free and some may have a nominal fee.



A brief write
-
up and link to download page will be displayed here so you can determine if you wish to get it
and use it.



ALSO NOTE:

Some web addresses may not be a direct link. If not, then just c
opy and paste the address into
the “Address Location” window and hit enter.



FREE QUICKOFFICE FOR ANDROID & IOS











Google wants you to use Quickoffice on your mobile device and they’re willing to give it to you for free.


















Quickoffice was previously a paid app, though it had been made available for free a few months ago for
Google Apps for Business Customer. Now Quickoffice is available as free download for your Android or iOS
device. The only catch is that you
have to have a Google
account.














In a statement on the Google Drive Blog, the company said, “Everyone likes free stuff, which is why starting
today we’re making Quickoffice available for free, for everyone. With Quickoffice
, you can edit Microsoft®
Office documents across your devices, giving you the freedom to work with anyone no matter what hardware
or software they’re using. Quickoffice also integrates seamlessly with Google Drive
storage so you can safely access your fil
es from anywhere. And while the easiest
thing to do is simply convert your old files to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides,
Quickoffice gives you another way to work with people who haven’t gone Google
yet.”
























The app allows users to
create and edit word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files and access those
files from Google Drive across multiple devices. Users can also open and view PDF files and attach files to e
-
mails.














Google also promises a number of new features including the ability to creat .ZIP folders and view Excel and
PowerPoint files. The one app will work across both tablets and smartphones.



To download
for an Android device, click here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quickoffice.android







This version will work on your Android Smartphone or Android Tablet.

To download for an iOS device,
cl
ick here:









https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quickoffice
-
exclusively
-
for/id578386521?mt=8


This version will
work on iPhones and iPads.











Previous versions of the apps have been removed from Google Play and Apple App store. Google says those
with previous versions can continue to run them, but suggest that they move to the new app to take advan
tage
of the new features.













They also warn that the earlier versions of Quickoffice Pro and Pro HD are not fully compatible with iOS 7 and
some features may not work.

After March 31, 2014 cloud storage services will not be available f
or Quickoffice
Pro and Pro HD.


From:

The Desk of Jim McGorry


Excerpts taken from the Windows Secrets Periodical


REMOVE EAZEL SEARCH AS HOMEPAGE


I have a HP computer about 6 months old running Windows 8 with updates since then. In

the last 2
weeks whenever I go to the internet the first in the day the Eazel search with a download comes up and I
have to remove it as my home page then reset my home page.

Each day this happens and I cannot figure
out how to remove it permanently. I
ran a virus scan and it does not find any problems.

Whose program
is this search engine and how can I get rid of it?













Search.eazel.com

is an add
-
on that redirects your computer to a new homepa
ge and search engine. It probably
secretly attached itself to something else you wanted to download. Your virus scanner probably views it just as
another add
-
on or toolbar. Here’s how to get rid of it.









Type

Control Panel

in your search bar
.















Then choose
Control Panel

when it turns up in results.









Choose

Uninstall a program

right beneath
Programs.
















You’ll get a list of

Installed Programs.

















Find Eazel

Bar in the list and select it.









Then choose
Uninstall

at the top of the list.








Now we want to make sure you remove Eazel as your homepage and as your default search engine. You’ll
want to open Internet Explorer and choose Internet Options.

















When the
Internet Options

window opens, choose the
General

tab and remove Eazel.com as your homepage
and put in the page or pages you’d like for a
homepage.


















Now select Manage add
-
ons in Internet Explorer:


















Choose Search Providers.














You’ll see a list of enabled search providers on your
computer.









Highlight Eazel (or any search provider you don’t
want) and then remove it.
















Hopefully this will remove Eazel from system.


ED
NOTE:



This procedure will also work for any unintended programs that may have inadvertently got installed on your
computer. It will generally remove all references to the files associated with the program you wish to uninstall.
Including any icons instya
lled on your desktop.


Weekly Download Section


from Jim McGorry


Welcome members and visitors alike to this new section I hope it will be of interest and use to you.

Each month I
will try and have interesting and useful programs for you to download and try on your systems as
you see fit. Some are free and some may have a nominal fee.


A brief write
-
up and link to download page will be displayed here so you can determine if you wish

to get it
and use it.


ALSO NOTE:

Some web addresses may not be a direct link. If not, then just copy and paste the address into
the “Address Location” window and hit enter.



SMART ALARM CLOCKS











Apps are getting more intelligent by
the day. Here are a few apps that do the job of monitoring our sleep
patterns, recording our snores (if any) and movements and even lay it out on a graph to show us when we deep
sleep and when we don’t. Importantly, they are better than alarm clocks becaus
e they wake you up when you
are most relaxed and rested


in the lightest sleep phase. It almost feels like you are waking up without an
alarm clock. That’s the science behind these mighty useful apps for Android and iOS users. You can download
“Sleep As A
ndroid” here:














https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.urbandroid.sleep&hl=en

This Android app measures our sleep cycles and wakes

us up gently. Pray how? By measuring our sleep, it
wakes up after we have had our share of sleep and not when we are in the middle of a deep sleep. Not just that.
This app also tracks our sleep and shows graphs of our sleep habits overnight. Which also me
ans that this app
also warns us of sleep deficits, catches us snoring, records our sleep talk (if any) and helps us diagnose sleep
illnesses we never thought we had, like sleep apnea. And the best part? The app wakes us up gently at the best
time to wake u
p with nature sounds, soothing music, captcha or puzzle alarms, or whatever you choose from
the music on your phone or a special playlist to get you started. The first two weeks are free. After that, you
will have to buy it for $3 for an unlock code and a
few bucks more for other useful in
-
app purchases. You can
download “Sleep Cycle” here:













https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/sleep
-
cycle
-
alarm
-
clock/id320606217?mt=8






This iOS app works much like the previous app though it’s priced at $1. But then again, you get more, like
motion monitoring. The app uses your iPhone’s accelerometer and monitor
s your tossing and turning sleepy












movements since you keep the phone right next to your pillow. You can download “Sleepbot” here:


https://play.google.com/s
tore/apps/details?id=com.lslk.sleepbot&hl=en


This Android and
iOS

app is great at tracking and measuring your sleep patterns over several nights and also
records m
ovements like the previous app. It auto
-
records your snores (if any), sleeptalking and other breathing
problems during the night. It even gives out tips to help you sleep better and faster. Clock in and clock out. But
the best part? It’s a full
-
featured ap
p that comes to you for free.








Sweet dreams!

From:

The Desk of Jim McGorry


Excerpts taken from the Windows Secrets Periodical


HOW TO SPEND YOUR FIRST HOUR WITH WINDOWS 8.1









Windows 8.1, currently

available on MS TechNet and MSDN, should roll out on Oct. 17 for both new
PCs and Win8 upgrades.







Here's what every knowledgeable Windows user should know about setting up Win8.1, whether they're coming
from Windows 8, Win7, Vista, or XP
.











For anyone already using Windows 8, upgrading to Version 8.1 is a no
-
brainer. It's commonly said that Win8.1
is the Windows Microsoft should've released last year. And there's a lot of truth to that observation. On the
other hand, i
f you're still on Windows 7 and need a compelling reason to upgrade, there's nothing new in
Windows 8.1 (in my opinion) that justifies the considerable effort required to switch. That said, you still might
find yourself staring at a Windows 8.1 screen, if
you or someone you know buys new hardware or upgrades.
Fortunately, there's plenty that's familiar in Windows 8.1


trust me.






To make your initial Windows 8 experience as pain
-
free as possible, here's how you should spend your first
hour wi
th the new OS


how to get comfortable with the beast and change it to be more (for lack of a better
term) user
-
friendly. I mean that in a productive Windows
-
desktop sense, not a mobile
-
phone sense.

Make Sure You Have the Right Operating System











Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 might look the same from the Start screen, but they're
not

the same thing


not by a long shot. The Win8.1 is "real" Windows; Windows RT 8.1 is an OS that has just the Metro half of
Windows. You might fi
nd either one on a tablet or hybrid laptop/tablet computer, and it's not always easy to
tell them apart.














For example, Microsoft's Surface RT and Surface 2 both run Windows RT. Neither runs standard Windows
applications. On the other

hand, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 run full Windows; they're compatible with
almost any app that runs on a traditional Windows desktop PC.









If you're dealing with Windows RT, I wish you luck. A year after Windows RT officially launched,

and almost
two years after it hit beta, the choice of Metro apps is still dismal. There are, for example, no Metro apps for
Bloomberg, Chrome, E
-
Trade, Facebook, Firefox, Flipboard, or Foursquare; no Google Maps, HBO Go,
LinkedIn, PayPal, etc., etc. You'r
e left with using the website versions of those popular services, which can be
a real pain in the neck.














So before you start making configuration changes to Windows, figure out which version you're working with.
It should be Windows
8.1, not RT.












If you're hooked into the TechNet or MSDN sites, you've probably already upgraded your Windows 8 machine
to Windows 8.1. If you're not among that privileged group, mark the Oct. 17 date on your calendar. As I stated
above

and explained in the Sept. 19
Top Story
, "Touring through the final Windows 8.1," you should
definitely upgrade to Windows 8.1.












Win8 101: A Q
uick Refresher on the New Windows











If you've never used Windows 8 or 8.1 before but you know Windows 7, take this five
-
minute exercise to
familiarize yourself with the Windows 8 "experience." I guarantee it'll help keep your hair where
it belongs.

Two OSes in One:



Some have described Windows
8x

as a schizophrenic operating system. When y
ou launch it, you see the tiled
(aka Metro) side of Windows. Like your smartphone, it's a place where programs run full
-
screen and all of the
navigation techniques you've used since Windows 3.1 are out the, uh, window. Click the Desktop tile (see
Figure 1)

and you're switched to a more familiar world


the desktop you've always known, but with a few
wrinkles.


















Figure 1. The Metro Start screen displays a tiled selection of applications. The Desktop "app" is highlighted in yellow.


To
switch back to the Metro Start screen


which you must do from time to time because a few
settings reside on the Metro side


just click the Windows button on the left edge of the taskbar. (In Windows
8, you have to blindly hover your cursor in the lower
-
l
eft corner of the screen.) You can also simply press the
Windows key on your keyboard or, if you have a tablet, press the Windows button.





Invoke Charms:




Hiding on the right side of the Start screen are the five options icons: Search, Share,
Start, Devices, and Settings (see Figure 2).



















Figure 2. The five hidden Charms offer

various system options


including the all
-
important Settings, where you control
and customize some Windows settings.










Charms are somewhat useful on the Metro side of Win8. They can also be invoked while in the Desktop app;
but in my
opinion, they're mostly useless. Fortunately, the Desktop has more powerful alternatives


such as
the Control Panel


that will no doubt be familiar.










There are various ways to reveal the Charms, such as hovering the cursor in the upper
-
right corner of the
screen, but the easiest method is to simply press
Windows key + C.

(On the Desktop, the Charms have an
annoying habit of popping up when the cursor inadvertently lands in the upper
-
right corner.)




Switch programs sensibly:




Windows
8x

provides clever ways to flip through running programs. But if you're working mostly in the
Desktop, they jus
t get in the way. To switch among all running programs (both Metro and classic Windows) in
a more familiar way, use the method that's been around since Windows 95: hold down the Alt key and press
Tab to cycle through running apps. It works on both the Metr
o and Desktop sides. (Of course, apps running on
the Desktop can also be accessed via the Taskbar. Keep in mind that Win
8x

does
not

have Win7's Start menu.)


Bring up the
WinX

Menu:















Windows 8 introduced the "Power
-
user" menu, accessed by pressing
Windows key + X.

(Most users now
simply refer to it as the
WinX

menu.) As shown in Figure 3,
WinX

has a few of Windows 7's Start
-
menu
options plus some Control Panel applets such as
Programs
and Features

and
Device Manager.

















Figure 3. Pressing the Windows key + X pops up a menu of common Windows tasks.







In Windows 8.1, you can also invoke
WinX

by right
-
clicking the new Windows logo at the edge of the taskbar.
(This is the new non
-
Start menu, called "Start menu." Clicking it simply takes you to the Metro Start screen.)
In Windows 8, you have to right
-
click an ill
-
defined region in the lower
-
left

corner of the Desktop screen.
















That completes my whirlwind introduction to Windows 8.1 navigation for Windows 7 users. There are about a
dozen other navigation options including hotkeys, coldkeys, lukewarmkeys, pinches, slides, an
d stabs. But the
few controls discussed above will let most Windows 7 users work with Win
8x

with relative ease.

Set Up the Right Kinds of Accounts












Windows 8 and 8.1 have two types of accounts


Microsoft and local


and c
hoosing one over the other isn't
especially easy. I discussed Microsoft accounts in detail in the Nov. 15, 2012,
Top Story
, "Microsoft
Accounts: The
good, bad, and indifferent."












Mostly it's a question of privacy, or lack thereof, vs. convenience. If you aren't at all concerned that Microsoft
might track every search you make on your computer


the better to serve you ads


you hav
e nothing to
worry about.














Don't bother mentioning Microsoft's
Scroogled

ads. Microsoft probably snoops just as much personal
information as does Google. However, while Google might scan the contents of all emails (both in and out of

Gmail), Microsoft scans all the mail coming and going through Hotmail/Outlook.com, too. The only
difference: Microsoft claims it doesn't
retain

details about mail content for use in setting up ads.






Microsoft reportedly
does

keep track of t
he sender/recipients and the subject line. And, like every other email
handler, it examines the body of mail to guard against malware. That said, Microsoft can, by default in Win8.1,
track
all

searches on your computer


both Internet and local.

















I discussed how to turn off "Smart Search" in the Sept. 19
Top Story
, "Touring through the final Windows
8.1." (See the subsection, "Some Windows
8.1 'features' best avoided.") But even with it off, when you sign in
to Windows with a Microsoft account, the company can keep a record of when and where you signed in. That
doesn't exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy.









Of course, there'
s some benefit to signing in to Windows with an MS account; it will automatically update the
Metro
-
based Mail, Calendar, and People apps. It also signs you in to SkyDrive and Skype. Moreover, using a
Microsoft account lets you carry your settings from one
computer to another (a feature I personally find worse
than useless, because I rarely want to see my desktop tiles, wallpaper, Metro
-
app status, or other settings
automatically carried over to my tablet.)










Using a
local

account doesn't m
ake those automatic connections to Microsoft. But Windows will nag you to
associate your local account with a Microsoft account. It is, after all, the only way you'll be able to use
SkyDrive storage, purchase apps at the Windows Store, or pick up a wonderf
ul new track from Metro Xbox
Music. (If you stay mostly on the desktop and ignore SkyDrive, you won't be nagged very often.)





If you want to change the account type you started with, you're better off simply setting up an entirely new user
account. (It's somewhat analogous to setting up admin and standard
-
user accounts in older versions of
Windows.) You can do so by selecting Cha
rms/Settings/Change PC settings/Users or by going through the
Control Panel. In either case, you're shuffled over to the Metro
-
style user
-
setup applet, where Windows will try
hard to get you to use a Microsoft account. The only way out is to select the
Sig
n in without a Microsoft
account (not recommended)

link at the bottom of page.










At least now you know why it's not recommended.









Take Some of the
Metro

Out of Windows 8.1












For those who prefer the c
lassic desktop, Windows 8.1 makes life a bit easier. With a few settings changes, you
can boot straight to the desktop and disable the hot corners at the top of the screen that invariably get in the
way when using a mouse.













As detaile
d in the Sept. 19
Top Story
, you make the changes in an obscure dialog box (see Figure 4) accessed
by right
-
clicking an empty spot on the taskbar, clicking Properti
es, and then
the Navigation tab.

















Figure 4. In Windows 8.1, the first Start Screen option in
Taskbar and Navigation properties

lets you go directly to the
Win8 Desktop on startup.













Finally, if you really miss the now
-
classic Windows 7 Start menu, as I certainly do, download one of the many
good, third
-
party, Start menu add
-
ons. My favorite is Stardock's
Start8

(U.S. $5;
site
),
but other popular and
free apps can be found at sites such as
Start Menu 8
,
Classic Shell
, and
StartIs
Back
. (While you're on the
Stardock site, look for

ModernMix;

it lets you run Metro programs on the Desktop.)






Check Your Security and Privacy Perimeter













Before you finish this hour
-
long intro to Windows 8.1, take a few

seconds to make sure that the machine you're
using is reasonably locked down. Here are two suggestions:







Turn off Automatic Updates:



Microsoft reissued
12

botched security patches in September (that's no exaggeration). It's not unusual for
Microsoft to release flawed updates, but this past month was over the top, as reported in the Sept. 26 Patch
Watch
column

and in a recent InfoWorld
story
. If you set up a computer for someone who wo
n't look after it,
then by all means, turn on automatic updates. But most Windows Secrets readers are savvy enough to control
their own update destiny.













Turn off Smart Search:















I discussed this above, but it b
ears repeating. I think Smart Search is the most intrusive, privacy
-
busting
"feature" ever put into Windows. (Keep in mind that it's new to Windows 8.1


it was not in Win8.) To turn it
off, select
Charms/Settings/Change PC settings/Search and apps/Search.

Move the
Get search suggestions
and Web results from Bing

slider to
Off.

Install a Desktop App from Start to Finish











As a final exercise, you should try installing a classic Windows desktop application or two


just to take back
the
file
-
name extensions automatically grabbed by the Metro side of Windows 8. If you don't have Start8
running, you'll also get a chance to see how Windows 8.1 dumps a tile for a newly installed program in the
Metro
-
side, All Apps list, which you can see by c
licking the new down arrow in the lower
-
left corner area of
the Metro Start screen.














Here's my list of must
-
have desktop apps I always install on Windows (the links go to the download sites):
















VLC media player
:

Let it take over all supported audio
-
/video
-
file formats.

PDF
-
XChange Viewer
:

I was using Foxit as my free PDF viewer, but too many p
eople have complained to
me rightly, that the Foxit installer tries to sneak junk apps onto your computer. PDF
-

Change works great, and there's no slimy side effect.


Irfan
View
:

Excellent for viewing pictures.

7
-
Zip
:

It not only creates and opens many types of compressed files, it includes encryption to protect your files
from prying eyes. 7
-
Zip should be part of every emailer's toolkit.









That concludes our hour
-
long recon trip through Windows 8.1. It's an improvement over Windows 8, and it
makes it relatively easy for those who prefer classic Windows to stay out of Metro hell. Add a third
-
party Start
menu add
-
on, and yo
u will probably grow to like Windows 8.1.



Weekly Download Section


from Jim McGorry


Welcome members and visitors alike to this new section I hope it will be of interest and use to you.

Each month I will try
and have interesting and useful programs for you to download and try on your systems as
you see fit. Some are free and some may have a nominal fee.


A brief write
-
up and link to download page will be displayed here so you can determine if you wish to get i
t
and use it.

ALSO NOTE:

Some web addresses may not be a direct link. If not, then just copy and paste the address into
the “Address Location” window and hit enter.



Webcam With Built
-
In Skype: The Best Solution?










I recently had someo
ne ask me for the best video conferencing/Skype setup for a small office that uses Skype.
Upon searching the internet, the choice seemed quite easy: A
Logitech TV Cam HD.














The Logitech TV cam comes with Skype built into the device, so there is

no need for an additional computer.
The product initially appears to be the perfect solution for a small office or living room at home. The camera
plugs straight into a Plasma, LCD or LED TV, and there you go, you can sit your whole family down in the
liv
ing room or your staff around the meeting room table and talk through your large TV. Not bad, huh? Or is
there more than meets the eye?













Although this solution seems quite simple and hassle free, you may end up finding you lose more t
han half the




functionality you previously had with your small PC camera. But exactly what features could you lose when
using one of these devices? Well, let’s first have a look at some of the key features you might use for your
Skype calls or a video confe
rencing system and then determine whether a Logitech Skype TV cam is the
solution for you.















Skype Feature List:















Video and Voice Calling 1
-
to
-
1




Instant Messaging














Screen Sharing














Group Calling


Video (conferencing)











Group Calling


Voice (conferencing)











External Mi
crophone













Screen Sharing













Well, you might find it hard to believe but the Skype built
-
in software is NOT capable of over 85% of these
features! In fact, it really only fully supports one of these features (Video

and Voice Calling 1
-
to
-
1). Check out
the article below by Skype to see this.












Skype Support Article












Does this mean you shoul
d avoid buying the device for your home or small office? Well, that’s up to you, but I
can think of many environments (whether it be at home or in the office) where such a device is the ideal
solution.
















Most of the features listed
above (excluding instant messaging and external microphones) are only available
with the Skype premium account, so if you are only using the free version of Skype, this device could just be
the right camera for you.













But don’t decide
just yet, because one of the other disadvantages of the Logitech TV Cam is that you cannot
connect external speakers or a microphone to the device. You can only use the speakers on your TV and the
microphone that is built into the camera.
















So, if you simply want a video conferencing system where you can make 1
-
to
-
1 calls to your family or clients
using the free version of Skype and the built
-
in speakers (on the TV) and microphone (on the webcam), then it
is the perfect solution.














NOTE:

The device has two inputs on the back, one for HDMI (to connect to your TV) and the other is for an
Ethernet cable if you do not have WiFi (otherwise you can
just connect to the internet using the inbuilt Wi
-
Fi).










If however you
are using a Skype premium account, then I would advise looking for a different device as your
premium services will not work with these devices. I would recommend purchasing a mini PC (a small PC that
takes up little room and won’t break the bank) and plac
e it under the desk or behind the TV so it is not visible.
Asus has a good range of these PC’s available at good prices. See
here:
http://www.asus.com/Eee_Box_PCs/EeeBox_PC_EB1007/










They attach to the back of your TV so no one would even know it’s there. The PC then connects up to your TV
and web cam (including other external devices such as speakers and microphones) and acts as the Skype/video
conferencing unit, providing you with
all the features of your Skype premium account.






The other advantage of this setup is that the PC can also be used as a media center for playing all your movies,
music and photos through your TV.












In conclusion, here is
what I’d say about the two solutions mentioned above.






Logitech TV Cam Solution














A good solution only if you will be using it purely for 1
-
to
-
1 video and voice calls with a free Skype Account
and will not be using ex
ternal speakers and/or microphone.







Mini PC Solution















A good solution if you are using a Skype premium account or you would like to use Instant Messaging with
your free Skype account.













You may

also choose this solution if you’d like to have the advantages of a media center as well.

I hope you
found this article useful.


WILL OTHER COMPANIES SUPPORT WIN XP?



Since Microsoft will no longer be supporting there operating
system Windows XP do you know of
another company that will continue to support their operating system? It appears that greedy old
Microsoft has finally convinced me they can’t be depended on and it’s time to move on to a less greedy
company.

In Microsoft’
s defense, XP is a 12
-
year
-
old operating system. It will be 13
-
years
-
old when they
cease support. And because of XP’s age there are a considerable amount of security and bug issues. Plus, it just
isn’t powerful enough to keep up with many new applications.




















As Microsoft pointed out recently XP was the subject of 45 security bulletins. between July 2012 and July
2013. There is the possibility of third
-
party support for some businesses or custom support of businesses from
Microsoft. But thi
s support is really just designed to hold businesses over while they migrate to another
operating system.















But third
-
party support will not address security issues for the core Windows kernel. Security providers have
always gotten
that information from Microsoft. Microsoft is offering Custom Support for business clients that
will run about $200 per device for the first year.
This could cost a large company millions of dollars
a year.

















It’s unlikely that you’ll find
third
-
party support for XP, because without Microsoft providing the security and
bug
-
fix research, it would be prohibitively expensive for any service to put out that kind of effort. They would
likely have to charge hundreds of dollars a year for the servi
ce. And since the number of XP users will continue
to decline, a third
-
party company would be unlikely to want to put the time and money into the product.
















Some are hoping that Microsoft will change its mind and continue support,

but that seems unlikely. The least
expensive option at this point is to simply upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. That is, if you want to stay with
Windows. If you are truly done with Microsoft, you could consider switching to a Mac, a Linux system or even
a Chro
mebook powered by Google.