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Email service used by Snowden shuts itself down, warns against using US-based companies

Posted on August 9th, 2013 at 18:03 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Microsoft, News, Privacy


Snowden, who told me today that he found Lavabit’s stand “inspiring”, added:

“Ladar Levison and his team suspended the operations of their 10 year old business rather than violate the Constitutional rights of their roughly 400,000 users. The President, Congress, and the Courts have forgotten that the costs of bad policy are always borne by ordinary citizens, and it is our job to remind them that there are limits to what we will pay.

“America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful. Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren’t fighting for our interests the same way small businesses are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred Lavabits could not.

“When Congress returns to session in September, let us take note of whether the internet industry’s statements and lobbyists – which were invisible in the lead-up to the Conyers-Amash vote – emerge on the side of the Free Internet or the NSA and its Intelligence Committees in Congress.”


U.S. President Barack Obama met with the CEOs of Apple Inc, AT&T Inc as well as other technology and privacy representatives on Thursday to discuss government surveillance in the wake of revelations about the programs, the White House confirmed on Friday.

Google Inc computer scientist Vint Cerf and civil liberties leaders also participated in the meeting, along with Apple’s Tim Cook and AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, the White House said in confirming a report by Politico, which broke the news of the meeting.

“The meeting was part of the ongoing dialogue the president has called for on how to respect privacy while protecting national security in a digital era,” a White House official said.

The session was not included on Obama’s daily public schedule for Thursday.

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How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

Posted on July 12th, 2013 at 9:23 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.

The documents show that:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.

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Microsoft’s New Strategy Doomed By Contradictions

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 20:51 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Microsoft unveiled a long-awaited new strategy today in a public document titled “Transforming Our Company“ and an all hands e-mail “One Microsoft” In what is supposed to be a forward-looking, clean-sheet approach, the software giant ironically opened its transformation memo by reminding everyone how old is it, a child of the ’80s. In that context, it’s less surprising that the company’s plan took more than 3,000 words to lay out, is laden with contradictions and contains an old-school “ reorganization.” Oh and it has almost no chance to work.

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  1. Anybody else reminded by this memo?

    Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion.

Microsoft issues partners Windows XP phase-out marching orders

Posted on July 10th, 2013 at 10:49 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Microsoft and its partners would need to migrate 586,000 PCs per day over the next 273 days in order to get rid of all PCs running Windows XP, Visser said. Microsoft’s actual goal is to get the XP base below 10 percent of the total Windows installed base by that time, he said.

How on earth are these partners going to be able to sell that many Macs? I don’t think it is a realistic goal…

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  1. One of issues is the degree of pain. To migrate upward, one needs to reinstall all non standard MS programs a company uses. Unless you have a tiny firm, that is a high degree of pain. Better companies go to a desktop VDI solution IMO. But that also comes at a price. MS should put XP in the public domain and let others support and enhance it. But pigs will first I believe.

Times certainly have changed…

Posted on June 21st, 2013 at 8:55 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft


A Microsoft representative urged the board to try more than one product and not to rely on one platform.

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U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms

Posted on June 14th, 2013 at 10:07 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft, Security


Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. Microsoft doesn’t ask and can’t be told how the government uses such tip-offs, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.


Michael Hayden, who formerly directed the National Security Agency and the CIA, described the attention paid to important company partners: “If I were the director and had a relationship with a company who was doing things that were not just directed by law but were also valuable to the defense of the Republic, I would go out of my way to thank them and give them a sense as to why this is necessary and useful.”

“You would keep it closely held within the company and there would be very few cleared individuals,” Hayden said.


If necessary, a company executive, known as a “committing officer,” is given documents that guarantee immunity from civil actions resulting from the transfer of data. The companies are provided with regular updates, which may include the broad parameters of how that information is used.

Intel Corp. (INTC)’s McAfee unit, which makes Internet security software, regularly cooperates with the NSA, FBI and the CIA, for example, and is a valuable partner because of its broad view of malicious Internet traffic, including espionage operations by foreign powers, according to one of the four people, who is familiar with the arrangement.

Such a relationship would start with an approach to McAfee’s chief executive, who would then clear specific individuals to work with investigators or provide the requested data, the person said. The public would be surprised at how much help the government seeks, the person said.

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Skype with care – Microsoft is reading everything you write

Posted on May 19th, 2013 at 22:33 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft, Privacy, Security


Anyone who uses Skype has consented to the company reading everything they write. The H’s associates in Germany at heise Security have now discovered that the Microsoft subsidiary does in fact make use of this privilege in practice. Shortly after sending HTTPS URLs over the instant messaging service, those URLs receive an unannounced visit from Microsoft HQ in Redmond.

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Please Stop Fighting About Your Smartphone

Posted on March 23rd, 2013 at 8:05 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Microsoft


BlackBerry just shipped a new phone that almost nobody has tried. But lots of people already have an opinion about it! Some people think it is great! Others are already making fun of it! That’s pretty typical behavior. People love to fight and fight about phone platforms; to toss around the term fanboi and other insults and invective. People love to lob polemic after polemic in the most boring argument since Mac vs. Windows ever.

Do you like Android? You should, it’s amazing. iOS? Wow, what a great platform, no wonder it started a revolution. Windows Phone? Seriously, it’s got a remarkable and beautiful interface. BlackBerry? There are plenty of great reasons people love it. And no matter which platform you adore, it’s shockingly possible to both have a preference and respect that other people may prefer an entirely different device. I know. Totally weird. But true.

Or, you can just call anyone who expresses a contrary opinion a jerk, or a fanboi, or butthurt, some other un-clever and deeply unoriginal pejorative that ends with the suffix “tard” and ultimately makes you look dumber than the person you’re trying, vainly, to insult.

The phone wars, the platform wars, should be left to people who work for Apple and Samsung and Google and Microsoft and Nokia and BlackBerry. Do you work for Apple? Do you work for Samsung? No? Then shut up.

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Microsoft backs law banning Google Apps from schools

Posted on March 9th, 2013 at 10:45 by John Sinteur in category: Google, Microsoft


Microsoft is backing a bill in Massachusetts that would effectively force schools to stop using Google Apps, or any other service that uses students’ data.

“Any person who provides a cloud computing service to an educational institution operating within the State shall process data of a student enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade for the sole purpose of providing the cloud computing service to the educational institution and shall not process such data for any commercial purpose, including but not limited to advertising purposes that benefit the cloud computing service provider,” the bill states.

The proposed legislation was introduced by state representative Carlo Basile (D-East Boston), and Microsoft has said it is supporting it, using the old canard of wanting to protect children from harm. Blocking Google and other providers that use an ad-funded service model is just a side benefit, it seems.

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  1. But didn’t Bill Gates just give money to a project that collects students’ data at a remarkable level?

Denmark wants $1 bln in back-taxes from Microsoft

Posted on March 4th, 2013 at 16:33 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Denmark wants Microsoft to pay 5.8 billion Danish crowns ($1 billion) in back taxes in one of the biggest tax cases in the country’s history, local media reported on Monday.

The Danish tax authority is in negotiations with Microsoft over unpaid taxes stemming from the 10.8 billion-crown ($1.88 billion) takeover of Danish software company Navision in 2002, Danish Radio DR said, quoting unnamed sources.

The tax authority claims Microsoft sold the rights to Navision’s successful business planning software, now under the name of Dynamics NAV, at below market value to a subsidiary in Ireland, DR said.

As a result the tax authority is claiming 5.8 billion crowns in back taxes and interest from sales of Dynamics NAV, the public service radio broadcaster said.

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Why Nobody Can Copy Apple

Posted on February 28th, 2013 at 8:09 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Microsoft


In my experience, the behaviors and culture of an organization (large or small) that focuses on the Consumer as a customer is diametrically incompatible with the behaviors and culture of an organization that focuses on Business as a customer.

I feel strongly that this is a key reason Microsoft’s products are often good, but not excellent; the consumer ones and the business ones. This is why Google will never be able to beat Apple at Apple’s game: Google’s customer focus is split between the advertiser and consumer.  

The behaviors of organization, which are really driven by the attitudes, actions, priorities of the people, define what the organization produces. The behaviors required to delight the consumer are simply at odds with the behaviors required to delight businesses. You cannot do both simultaneously in a single organization and be excellent.

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  1. IF this is actually the case (and I’m somewhat skeptical about the explanatory power of these kinds of theories), but IF this is actually the case, then the competitor to watch is Amazon.

  2. I have been using Apple stuff for 2 years now. I failed to notice where “Apple focuses on the Consumer” as opposed to “Apple focusing on profit, and ignoring the consumer”.

    Microsoft fulfills more consumer (business or private) requests than Apple, the company that simply ignores consumer requests and proceeds the way it wants.

Attacking the Windows 7/8 Address Space Randomization

Posted on January 26th, 2013 at 15:59 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


The nuts and bolts of what is presented here is the idea that DLLs are loaded into memory space if there is memory available, and if there is no memory or only small amounts of memory available then the DLL will be put into the remaining memory hole. This sounds simple. And it works, we can load a DLL into a remaining memory hole. First of all the exploit writer has to code a javascript routine that does fill memory until the memory boundary is hit and a javascript exception is raised. When the memory is filled up the installed javascript exception handler will execute javascript code that frees small chunks of memory in several steps, each step the javascript code will try to load an ActiveX object. The result is that the DLL (sometimes there are several DLLs loaded for an ActiveX object) will be loaded at a predictable address. This means that now the exploit writer has a predictable address to jump to and the ‘where do i jump when I have code execution’ problem is solved. One problem the method has is that Windows will become unresponsive at the time memory is exhausted but will resume normal operation after the DLL is loaded at a fixed address and the memory is freed using the javascript code.

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Windows 8: The Animated Evaluation

Posted on January 7th, 2013 at 13:27 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft

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  1. Excellent. But a few inaccuracies. Windows 7 still available. Also the stapled analogy was good, but not the first time. Recall window 3.x and to more limited extent win95 were stapled on top of DOS. Hard to teach old dog new tricks. There are many 3rd party apps to make Win8 look and more useable like Windows 7 ui. Of course if one needs to do this, there is no reason to use windows 8.

  2. This is both perceptive and funny, why did he give it such a long test period, I hated Windows 8 after ten minutes and, after finding it so difficult and confusing to navigate, it became history.

Google enabling Maps access for Windows Phone after uproar

Posted on January 6th, 2013 at 15:26 by John Sinteur in category: Google, Microsoft


The Google Maps on Windows Phone debacle looks like it will be resolved after all. Google now says that it is in fact planning to get rid of the redirect that’s preventing Windows Phone users from accessing the Google Maps website using Internet Explorer — “soon,” even.

So it isn’t IE incompatibility after all, right? You just got caught.

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Misspelling “Windows Phone” Makes Google Maps Work

Posted on January 5th, 2013 at 19:56 by John Sinteur in category: Google, Microsoft

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Posted on January 5th, 2013 at 13:09 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft


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  1. There is too such a thing as an iPad 4; it’s the one that was launched the same time as the iPad Mini.

‘We are screwed!’ Fonts eat a bullet in Microsoft security patch

Posted on December 22nd, 2012 at 13:21 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Windows users were surprised to find that a Microsoft security update stopped fonts from working on their PCs.

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Microsoft Security Essentials loses AV-Test certificate

Posted on November 30th, 2012 at 12:43 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Every two months, AV-Test takes a look at popular antivirus software and security suites and tests them in several ways. In their latest test which was performed on Windows 7 during September and October, Microsoft Security Essentials didn’t pass the test to achieve certification. Although that may not sound that impressive, Microsoft’s program was the only one which didn’t receive AV-Test’s certificate. For comparison, the other free antivirus software, including Avast, AVG and Panda Cloud did.

I remember about a year ago, there was an article where Microsoft was one of the best. Either the playing field changes rapidly, or all these tests are bogus.

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The amount of crap computer users have to put up with is incredible

Posted on November 11th, 2012 at 13:50 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft, Software


The bottom line is that this isn’t about Microsoft, HP, Apple or Adobe. It’s about all of them, and how bad the experience has become. While many of these issues can be fixed, checkboxes unchecked, and so on, I feel like as time goes on, every company is trying to come up with any possible idea that they can garner in order to screw their customers over, in most cases just to make an extra buck. The simple fact is that most people don’t go through the trouble is fixing all of this crap, they just put up with it, and that’s exactly what companies count on.

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  1. Yesterday I had to install a new win7 pro system on a small customer network. 6 hours of hell. The print drivers alone were a headache. HP should be put out of their misery IMO. And then came crapware removal and next that bloated behemoth quickbooks which even in 2012 does not understand that users should not run in the administrator group. The amount of firewall gymnastics to get to behave for a standard user was amazing. These days I advise customers to do VDI (virtual desktop)and ditch the PC and instead use a thin client end user device. Yeah, setting up a terminal/citrix server is a headache, but it’s once and not each time a new workstation is installed. And these days, I only do workstations if customers allow me to swear at it while doing the install. I swore a lot yesterday.

  2. It’s OK Mykolas, there is a rate sheet for swearing that you can post in your workplace. Then you can tell your customer that you are raising money for charity. It’s not unreasonable and will encourage an improved tone around your efforts to wrest usability from crap (10 cents).

    Swear box tariff:
    (denominated in your local currency units)

    0.50 Female anatomy
    0.30 Male anatomy
    0.25 Unisex anatomy
    0.25 Incestual relations
    0.20 Other sexual activity
    0.10 Bestiality
    0.10 Blasphemy
    0.10 Bodily functions (excluding sexual acts)
    0.10 Ordure and assorted excrement

  3. Oh I forgot one:

    0.05 Euphemisms (e.g tabarnouche, heck).

  4. @SueW 🙂

  5. I guess Win7 Pro = Professional Hell.

Microsoft’s security team is killing it: Not one product on Kaspersky’s top 10 vulnerabilities list

Posted on November 3rd, 2012 at 13:23 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Security firm Kaspersky has released its latest IT Threat Evolution report. There were some interesting findings in the report, as always, but the most interesting thing that stuck out was all the way at the bottom:

Microsoft products no longer feature among the Top 10 products with vulnerabilities. This is because the automatic updates mechanism has now been well developed in recent versions of Windows OS.

On the Top 10 list: Adobe (5 times), Oracle (2 times), Apple (2 times), and Winamp AVI.

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Verizon’s Windows Phone 8 Devices Could Be Delayed or Canceled

Posted on October 19th, 2012 at 17:07 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Rumor has it that mobile phone carrier Verizon Wireless has delayed the launch of Windows Phone 8 handsets on its network, and that it might even cancel them due to a series of issues with the management software.


Verizon requires for all smartphones on its network to be opened to remote management, yet Microsoft is reportedly refusing to provide the carrier with this feature at the moment.

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  1. Did Apple give Verizon remote management features for the iPhone?

  2. Nope. That’s why initially it was exclusive to AT&T

Data Centers in Rural Washington State Gobble Power

Posted on September 24th, 2012 at 10:49 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Then came a showdown late last year between the utility and Microsoft, whose hardball tactics shocked some local officials.

In an attempt to erase a $210,000 penalty the utility said the company owed for underestimating its power use, Microsoft proceeded to simply waste millions of watts of electricity, records show. Then it threatened to continue burning power in what it acknowledged was an “unnecessarily wasteful” way until the fine was substantially cut, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

“For a company of that size and that nature, and with all the ‘green’ things they advertised to me, that was an insult,” said Randall Allred, a utility commissioner and local farmer.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the episode was “a one-time event that was quickly resolved.”

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  1. When the contract with the power utility penalizes you for using less power than you thought you might, something’s fundamentally messed up.

  2. Problem is with the energy grid. They plan X MegaWatts to be used up, and generate that much. If it is not used up, then they can’t simply store it.
    If they generate less that’s not good either. Electricity is not like boots – not sold today, will sell tomorrow.
    Also when they “overproduce” they have to stop the generator, and then restart later which costs a lot. Electricity grids have yearly production/consumption plans for this exact reason.

    At least, that’s what I remember from my studies. Not absolutely precise, but something like that 🙂

  3. Remember that this is hydro power; the whole point of the data center being where it is is to be next to the dam that generates the power. So they’re not starting up or spinning down some coal or gas powered plant. It’s easy to throttle a hydro plant: either let the turbine run disconnected from the generator.

    I do agree with your bigger point that demand planning is hard and the better the power companies do, then the less fuel is wasted. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that they set up perverted incentives where Microsoft would pay more if they saved power than if they used it. They decided to make that point and, hey, look, the incentives were changed.

Melinda Gates’ New Crusade: Investing Billions in Women’s Health

Posted on September 6th, 2012 at 22:31 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Microsoft


“When I started to realize that that needed to get done in family planning, I finally said, OK, I’m the person that’s going to do that,”

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  1. Good. I’d vote her for pope.

  2. From same article:

    By the early 1960s, Dwight Eisenhower was calling for foreign aid for birth control in The Saturday Evening Post, and he and Harry Truman became honorary chairmen of Planned Parenthood.

How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo: Steve Ballmer and Corporate America’s Most Spectacular Decline

Posted on September 4th, 2012 at 0:45 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


The story of Microsoft’s lost decade could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success. For what began as a lean competition machine led by young visionaries of unparalleled talent has mutated into something bloated and bureaucracy-laden, with an internal culture that unintentionally rewards managers who strangle innovative ideas that might threaten the established order of things.

By the dawn of the millennium, the hallways at Microsoft were no longer home to barefoot programmers in Hawaiian shirts working through nights and weekends toward a common goal of excellence; instead, life behind the thick corporate walls had become staid and brutish. Fiefdoms had taken root, and a mastery of internal politics emerged as key to career success.

In those years Microsoft had stepped up its efforts to cripple competitors, but—because of a series of astonishingly foolish management decisions—the competitors being crippled were often co-workers at Microsoft, instead of other companies. Staffers were rewarded not just for doing well but for making sure that their colleagues failed. As a result, the company was consumed by an endless series of internal knife fights. Potential market-busting businesses—such as e-book and smartphone technology—were killed, derailed, or delayed amid bickering and power plays.

That is the portrait of Microsoft depicted in interviews with dozens of current and former executives, as well as in thousands of pages of internal documents and legal records.

“They used to point their finger at IBM and laugh,” said Bill Hill, a former Microsoft manager. “Now they’ve become the thing they despised.”

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What if Microsoft’s new logo style was applied to other famous brands?

Posted on August 25th, 2012 at 8:41 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft


Microsoft’s new logo, unveiled yesterday, is a bold departure from tradition because it’s the first to feature a visual symbol alongside the familiar wordmark. This sudden outburst of color from the typically staid company has inevitably stimulated designers’ imaginations, and one product from it has been a gallery posted on Tumblr showing what other famous brands would look like if they underwent the same minimalist treatment.

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  1. So, has Microsoft patented the box yet? … :rolleyes:

You can’t block Facebook using Windows 8′s hosts file

Posted on August 19th, 2012 at 17:40 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


While you can still add any host you want to the hosts file and map it to an IP, you will notice that some of the mappings will get reset once you open an Internet browser. If you only save, close and re-open the hosts file you will still see the new mappings in the the file, but once you open a web browser, some of them are removed automatically from the hosts file.

Two of the sites that you can’t block using the hosts file are facebook.com and ad.doubleclick.net, the former the most popular social networking site, the second a popular ad serving domain.

Anybody have Windows 8 installed and to try this?

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  1. To correct the misinformation:
    turning off Windows Defender, which basically is Microsoft Security Essentials, in Windows 8 will resolve the issue. It appears that the program has been designed to protect some hosts from being added to the Windows hosts file. To turn off Windows Defender press the Windows key, type Windows Defender and hit enter. This launches the program. Switch to Settings here and select Administrator on the left. Locate Turn on Windows Defender and uncheck the preference and click save changes afterwards.

    If you do not want to disable Windows Defender completely, you can alternatively add the hosts file to the list of excluded files and processes. You do that with a on Settings > Excluded files and locations. This basically blocks Windows Defender from scanning or manipulating the hosts file in the operating system.

  2. Sounds like a bug if this is the only way it can distinguish FB from malware.

Microsoft sticks to default Do Not Track settings in IE 10

Posted on August 8th, 2012 at 15:14 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft, Privacy


When Microsoft shipped its Release Preview of Windows 8 in June, it announced that the default browser, Internet Explorer 10, would have the Do Not Track (DNT) signal enabled by default. That action unleashed a heated debate in the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

To the advertising and analytics companies that make up the tracking industry, this issue is an existential one. If the default browser in the world’s most popular operating system is set to disallow tracking, the effect would be profoundly disruptive to companies that live and die by their ability to follow users around the web.

After much discussion, the working group agreed that DNT could only be turned on by a browser if that decision “reflects the user’s preference.” The result was a consensus by the working group that a browser (technically, a user-agent) should not enable DNT by default.

Today, Microsoft answered those critics by saying it still intends to enable DNT in Internet Explorer in IE 10. But the final released version will make one concession, according to Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch, who announced the decision in a blog post

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  1. From farther down:

    One of Microsoft’s most ardent foes in this debate is Mike Zaneis, SVP & General Counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who has argued strenuously that the tracking industry should feel free to ignore DNT signals from anyone using any browser that enables DNT by default:

    Sounds a bit like a lose-lose situation.

  2. The only way to be sure is to use a browser that doesn’t send the request in the first place. That way, there’s no DNT flag for the tracking site to ignore.

    In other words, to use AdBlock.

Apple TV outsells Xbox 360 in latest quarter, still a ‘hobby’

Posted on July 25th, 2012 at 22:00 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft


Apple sold 1.3 million Apple TV devices during the June quarter, an increase of 170 percent over the same quarter a year ago.

That still qualifies as a “hobby,” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who disclosed the number in response to an analyst’s question on the company’s earnings conference call. But here’s an interesting data point: Microsoft sold 1.1 million Xbox 360s worldwide during the same time period.

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Skype won’t comment on whether it can now eavesdrop on conversations.

Posted on July 22nd, 2012 at 16:08 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft, Privacy, Security


Historically, Skype has been a major barrier to law enforcement agencies. Using strong encryption and complex peer-to-peer network connections, Skype was considered by most to be virtually impossible to intercept. Police forces in Germany complained in 2007 that they couldn’t spy on Skype calls and even hired a company to develop covert Trojans to record suspects’ chats. At around the same time, Skype happily went on record saying that it could not conduct wiretaps because of its “peer-to-peer architecture and encryption techniques.”

Recently, however, hackers alleged that Skype made a change to its architecture this spring that could possibly make it easier to enable “lawful interception” of calls. Skype rejected the charge in a comment issued to the website Extremetech, saying the restructure was an upgrade and had nothing to do with surveillance. But when I repeatedly questioned the company on Wednesday whether it could currently facilitate wiretap requests, a clear answer was not forthcoming. Citing “company policy,” Skype PR man Chaim Haas wouldn’t confirm or deny, telling me only that the chat service “co-operates with law enforcement agencies as much as is legally and technically possible.”

So what has changed? In May 2011, Microsoft bought over Skype for $8.5 billion. One month later, in June, Microsoft was granted a patent for “legal intercept” technology designed to be used with VOIP services like Skype to “silently copy communication transmitted via the communication session.” Whether this technology was subsequently integrated into the Skype architecture, it’s impossible to say for sure.

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  1. And if you think that MS has your best interests at heart … good luck with that!

  2. Time to start a discussion on Skype alternatives

Microsoft reports first quarterly loss ever

Posted on July 20th, 2012 at 4:24 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Microsoft, the once-dominant computer software giant that has seen its fortunes wane in recent years, posted its first quarterly loss since emerging as a public company in 1986 Thursday as it took a huge charge for a failed acquisition.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company reported a net loss of $492 million as its operating income was wiped out by a $6.2 billion writedown related to its acquisition of advertising company aQuantive in 2007. Microsoft wrote down almost the entire $6.3 billion purchase price.

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  1. But, if we put that 5 years old, one off that had to be written now in one chunk aside, they ended up with a $5.7billion profit.

    So still not that bad.

  2. If Balmer was responsible for that acquisition, then he should be fired, without his golden parachute. If Gates was the mover behind it, then he should relinquish an equal value in his stocks/options in MS. If executives are not held accountable for decisions this bad, then where is the accountability? … Oh, I forgot, there isn’t any in Corporate America…

  3. MS latest version of office looks to be a bloated monstrosity, and their next OS looks to be MS version of Unity, ask Ubuntu how that worked out. Which seems to leave them beating the house on doing well in the mobile market, not going to be easy and I they are a long way behind.

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