Sunday, November 4, 2018

The UGLY underbelly of the End User License Agreement

All of us - well, almost all of us have been conditioned to accept the so called "End User License Agreement" (EULA) for next to everything. Sometimes we agree unknowingly just by turning a new gadget ON; my classical example for that is Windows 10 with it's 12,000 words long EULA.

EVERY app on our phones,
EVERY program ever installed on our computers,
EVERY so called "smart" or "connected" TV in our living rooms,
EVERY supposedly "intelligent" device that recognizes "Google Hello" or is "Alexa enabled",
EVERY of the many useful things that require an Internet connection and an app on a smart phone
and many more things too numerous to list here can be used to spy on us.

Hard to believe? Please listen to this 12 minutes long TED talk, maybe it will change your view.

Stay safe!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

URGENT ALERT - Please read!

Updated 2018-12-17 to include ALL current versions of MS Windows!

Users of ALL versions of Windows:

Please DO NOT manually check for Updates any more, now and in the future!
Insufficiently or untested updates have very recently caused many home computer systems to break and/or show erratic behavior or they have led to file loss!

Microsoft has quietly modified the technology hidden behind Windows Update. The gist of it is that when you check manually for Updates your Windows operating system will be given all available but eventually insufficiently tested updates! 

As a way of avoiding that to occur Microsoft has begun to check much more thoroughly if every given update is fully compatible with the individual computer's hardware. They give that update to a given computer only when the previously mentioned checks and tests end positively.

But all this happens only in the course of the regular, automatic update process! 

If you manually 'check for updates' your computer will get ALL available updates without these compatibility tests!

You can find an interesting article about this general problem here at This article talks about all major operating systems including iOS and Android for cell phones. But you will find Windows 10 and Microsoft mentioned many times. Just overlook everything that does not pertain to Windows. Windows 8 and 7 are now treated the same way!

So again and to summarize:

Please DO NOT manually check for Updates any more,  now and in the future!

Stay safe!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Why I Don't Like Windows 10 and MS

In quite a few articles on this blog I have referred to, quoted from or linked to one of the web sites I regularly draw information from; I am talking about Tech Support Alert aka Gizmo's Freeware.

Two days ago they published an article titled "Windows 10 connects to these websites after a clean installation". Since many of my customers are not very technically minded let me quote some points that I consider to be the important details. 

IMHO it is, to say the least, misleading to use Microsoft's wording "telemetry" when our Windows 10 systems talk to Microsoft [MS] all the time without ever having asked our permission. They even don't ever tell us about the simple fact that they do that; you have to be a technology geek and read lots of very technical stuff to even become aware of what is going on.

The article lists 20 web sites that Windows 10 connect to when you start a brand new Windows 10 system. All these sites collect technical information about our computers and about us. As a simple example: Why does MS want or need to know where I am? That is information I personally would only disclose to the police if they ever wanted or needed to know that.

Here is list from above mentioned article. I have added the bold typeface in Line 1.
Windows 10 connects to one or more websites in these categories:
  • Cortana and Search
  • Certificates
  • Device authentication
  • Device metadata
  • Diagnostic data
  • Font streaming
  • Licensing
  • Location
  • Maps
  • Microsoft account
  • Microsoft store
  • Network connection status indicator (NCSI)
  • Office
  • OneDrive
  • Settings
  • Skype
  • Windows Defender
  • Windows Spotlight
  • Windows Update
  • Microsoft forward link redirection service (FWLink)
All this can on slower Internet connections add significantly to the time it takes for the system to start up. I have experienced that quite often when a sluggish or outright slow system all of a sudden works with normal reaction times after all that got turned off.

And to top it off, the program I use to turn off this talking back to MS is from a well reputed company and totally free.

Any questions or comments? Pleas use the Comment feature of this blog.

Please stay safe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

This is well done - WATCH OUT!

For many years I use PayPal; I just received this email:

Something made me more suspicious than I usually am so I moved the cursor to the "Verify Your Account" button. And YES, that button translates to a shortened link - as you can see in the second red square.

Why would a well reputed company like PayPal ever use a shortened link?

I admit, the email looks convincing and even sort of professional.

Before I hit the Delete button in my email program, I took above screen shot for this blog post.

Stay safe!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Old Scam - New Clothes

A scammer from India came up with a new twist of an old ruse.

 Look at this screen shot of the offending email as shown in my email program:

Btw. following references to the blue or red squares do in no way refer to BattleBots. 😉

In the blue square we have the sender's email address. I believe that NO administrator in the whole wide world would ever use an AOL email account for his official business. Some criticism of AOL can be found here.

In the first red square you see my cursor on the VERIFY NOW link and because of that you can see in the second red square the textual representation of what web page that link would actually send my browser to - if I were sufficiently un-attentive to click my mouse in that situation.

The target web page is on a server in India at "managershub"! You don't see that? Learn how to read URLs.

And I don't even use what the scammer refers to as a "Web-mail system".

To top it off there are three simple spelling errors or typos in the short text of the email; unprofessional to the hilt! 

Sum total: An old but time honored scam in a new dress - but not even a fancy dress.

Again it comes down to the first of my ten commandments for safe computing:
Thou shalt read and think(!) before you click.
Stay safe!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

URGENT ALERT! For users of any Apple thinghy!

Hi y'all and thanks for reading this.

If you or someone in your household has any piece of equipment from Apple, like an iPhone, iPad, iPod or the like then
 this is for you!

Since iPhones a.s.o. are so common nowadays the crooks are targeting you. Look at the email I just got in a partial screen shot of the Thunderbird screen:


I have marked the give-away items with colored rectangles as follows:

Blue: I don't have an Apple account! Ha, ha, ha.

Purple: The email does not even come from Apple!

Green: My cursor pointing to the "Verify..." button.

Red: The URL (web site address) that the "Verify..." button actually is pointing to; it has NOTHING AT ALL to do with Apple.

To be addressed as "Dear" is so unprofessional this alone would be reason enough to click on the Delete button!

The item in the red rectangle I see only because I told my email program to show this and because the cursor is on the "Verify..." button. I believe none of this needs further clarification. Should you have any questions please feel free to ask me, preferably in an email.

A general remark: 
If the program you use to read your emails
does not show you any of the information in blue, purple and red
then you potentially endanger your computer!

Any Questions? Please feel free to ask me, preferably in an email. 

Stay safe.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome vs. Firefox

And again it is a customer's question that triggers me to write on this blog. The customer, thank you Steve H, asked simply "What is your opinion of Microsoft Edge vs Firefox?".

Here is my reply:

I strongly advise against using any web browser from Microsoft!

I collected some articles for your enjoyment that can give you some background for my various reasons. The articles quotes are in no particular sequence.

Test Link

Microsoft Edge introduces new security risks in Windows 10

IE, Edge Users at Risk from Serious Browser Security Flaw,news-24565.html

Windows 10 users ignore Edge for a reason

Windows 10's new browser Microsoft Edge: Improved but also new risks

Before you ask let me please preempt the question about Google Chrome vs. Firefox:

So far the main argument for Chrome was "it is faster". That was and is a phony argument that shows a deplorable lack of knowledge by the people using it. I'll give you an example.

Let's assume from the moment you click on a link to having the new web page in front of your eyes it takes all together 10 seconds.

90% of that time is needed to get the many little files that comprise a web page from the server these files reside on to your computer. We and/or the web browser have no way to make that faster.

The last 10% of the time is used by the web browser to "convert " the many little files into the picture we see; this process is called rendering. And that actually was where Chrome was faster.

MS Edge, the new version of Firefox and others have closed and/or eliminated that speed gap.

If Chrome were 30% faster in rendering the web page that would be only 0.3 seconds. Even in a direct A/B comparison we would not be able to experience that difference.

Additionally: The Chrome web store, from where you'd download any browser extension you might want or need, has been plagued by rogue extensions (only one example here, there are many more!). You may find way too late that the extension you downloaded and installed was rogue.

So for me it is clear:

No to Google Chrome and ANY Microsoft browser; IMHO the only well supported alternative is Firefox.

Stay safe.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

FINALLY - Microsoft comes to (their?) senses

FINALLY something IMHO long overdue is going to happen:

Microsoft will start to remove the worst of the bad ones!

Please read the details here.

You don't need to call me if after March 1st. your "Optimizer program" has gone missing. I will wait and see what else they (Micro$oft) will declare "coercive" and then remove.

Stay safe!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Meltdown and Spectre bugs in our CPUs

Have you read about and eventually been concerned about these bugs?

First and foremost: Please DO NOT confuse cloud storage of data with cloud computing; these are two very different animals. If you use cloud storage you and your data are NOT directly affected! And as far as I know these attacks are difficult to pull off in the first place and I don't personally know anybody who actively uses cloud computing.

Here is a good and fairly easily to read article that explains the details much better then I ever could.

My short synopsis: If you are using a regular home computer I believe you are and most likely will remain safe. These bugs MIGHT affect companies that run their software, web sites, email systems and what not on Cloud Services like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Computing, and/or Microsoft Azure.

Don't get overly alarmed but install updates as soon as they are available, especially updates for the Windows Operating system and your web browser.

Stay safe.

Happy 2018!

A happy and healthy New Year yo all my customers and - actually- - to everybody else who happens to  read this.

Stay Safe.
Eike Heinze