The Dangers of Turning Back the Clock – SMB Computing

windows-evo2Even as we try to embrace new technology, there is always comfort and stability in the familiar.  In our small offices, we probably still have Windows machines that run virtually every operating system from Windows 8 on back through to XP for some limited purposes machines.  I’m pretty sure we still have some Windows 3.X floppies lying around. Not that we have any drives that could read them.  Windows, we wish we knew how to quit ya’…

 

Anyway…

Microsoft Indroduces Chinese Version of XPMicrosoft has issued another warning to those of us still living in the past, to avoid being compromised by a new email vulnerability in Windows XP.  Maybe this is the final straw to drag us off this old platform for good (or at least until the next end-of-life event for the evolving Windows stable).  Who’s on deck to get knocked off next?  Vista, you out there?

 

 

Microsoft: SMBs are at dire risk opening email on Windows XP machines (via The Inquirer)

IN ITS ALMOST DAILY EFFORT to convince Windows XP die-hards to finally give up their old machines, Microsoft has posted a security advisory about all the terrible things that might happen after it switches off Windows XP support on 8 April. In a very…

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Requiem / Paean for a Dot-Com Darling

It’s a tale that unfolds more than we care to count, but is heart-wrenching to see nonetheless.  We’ve seen it many times: a young star meets with great success early on.  Their ascent is met with many accolades and kudos.  Then, they fall from grace.  Scandal; missteps; a change in public sentiment.  No matter how hard they try, they can’t reverse their fall from the great heights.

Sock puppets and search engines

yahoo pets.comI’m talking, of course, about Yahoo!, the once-revered icon of the late 1990’s dot-com era.  Two young Stanford grad students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, unleashed on the world an indexing service that would help navigate journeys on the increasingly congested “information superhighway.”  In this context, Yahoo! was nothing short of revolutionary.  Even its silly name seemed to capture the slightly irrational, but very fun, mood of the time.  This was when “burn rate” was a proxy for a company’s growth prospects, Herman Miller chairs and foosball tables represented credibility, and Jack Welch could get upstaged by a sock puppet as a company spokesman.

I have fond memories of that era: it’s when I moved to Chicago, fell in love with the woman with whom I just celebrated 11 years of marriage, and arrived at the very satisfying answer to the Frequently Asked Question, “what the hell are you going to do with a History and French degree?”  It’s why I still have a great deal of affection for this Sunnyvale company, even after the Microsoft acquisition debacle, the dustup over Carol Bartz ignominious departure, and the Scott Thompson resume kerfuffle.

Having logged time at two financial services companies, I was obviously a big fan of Yahoo! Finance.  There were two services, however, that capture the era well.

Yahoo! MailWashington University alums will recall standing in line waiting for the sterile “green screen” terminals to check their “Pinemail” in the Olin Library.  I quickly tired of the clunky interface I used to check my email after leaving St. Louis, and abandoned my “@wustl.edu” account for a Yahoo! one.  Granted, I am on the whole underwhelmed by Yahoo! Mail, given their glacial pace of introducing upgrades, and the fact that their integration with Outlook is a joke.   However, my Inbox is an ever-evolving scrapbook, a digital collection of moments I’ve shared with friends, family, and professional connections.  It’s why even though I have a Gmail account I’m still not parting with my Yahoo! account.

Geocities.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have found a captive audience in folks looking for exposure – sometimes a little too much, as in the case of the “oversharenting” moms and dads examined in The Wall Street Journal.  It wasn’t always this easy.  I hate pulling out the “in my day” card, but you had to sort of know what you were doing in the late 90’s to publish content.  Geocities was the middle ground between Facebook and WordPress, that offered some primitive drag and drop tools for building and maintaining Websites.  Through Geocities I was able to share pictures with relatives in India, develop a Web portfolio to show hiring managers that a liberal arts grad could write code, and acquire a minor following from folks interested in sound clips from Goodfellas (one of my all-time favorite flicks).   Geocities has unfortunately gone the way of Delicious, Briefcase, and other sunsetted properties.

Holding out for a Hero (or a Good Product)

Ashton Kutcher was recently tapped to play Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic.  At time of writing, if we were to associate a celebrity with Yahoo!, it would unfortunately be the likes of Lindsay Lohan or some other misstep-prone, washed up train wreck.  I’m holding out hope though.  Few seem to recall that the Apple of today was very much like Yahoo! before Jobs rescued it from the brink in the late 90’s – incidentally, while Yahoo! was riding high.  To win over the hearts and minds of customers and investors, Yahoo! needs to completely reinvent itself like Jobs did with the iPod, as opposed to half-baked, poorly executed attempts at innovation such as Livestand, and now Axis.

I’d like the next chapter of  the Yahoo! story to unfold like the amazing scene in Limitless when Eddie Mora shakes off the cobwebs, gets to work, and starts kicking some serious butt.  It would be nice for Yahoo! to replace “LiLo” with Bradley Cooper as the star with whom they are identified.  As talented as he is, however, I’m not sure Cooper could pull off the Jerry Yang look.  There’s always Eddie Murphy.

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Microsoft Security Essentials Update

microsoft security essentials

Guest Contributor, Bruce Berls. Originally posted at Bruceb.com

An updated version of Microsoft Security Essentials is being installed automatically for anyone currently running the free antivirus program. It is being pushed out silently by the Automatic Updates system and will likely be completely invisible to most of you. It does not require a restart after the update is installed.

One recent report showed that Microsoft Security Essentials has become the most popular security program in North America and second worldwide. MSE is one of Microsoft’s best program designs precisely because it is nearly invisible when it is doing its job: it installs with two or three clicks and no restart, and there are virtually no popup windows calling attention to the program when it is running, unlike every other antivirus program on the market. It is free – no registration, no trials, no expiration date, no renewals. The license authorizes it to be used in businesses up to ten PCs (and personally I sleep well even if I discover that a business with 20 or 25 workstations is using it).

Windows 8 has the functionality of Microsoft Security Essentials built into the OS. At that point malware protection will finally sit where it has always belonged, as a function of the operating system rather than a bolted-on afterthought.

It’s important to keep in mind that most malware sidesteps your security program by arriving from poisoned web sites that attempt to convince you to click an OK button. When you click the OK button, you are telling your security program to stand down. Your most effective security is your common sense. Antivirus programs are just one item on theRules For Computer Safety. (If those aren’t taped to your refrigerator already, do it now!)

The interface for Microsoft Security Essentials is almost unchanged, other than a new background color. If you’re curious about whether you’ve gotten the upgrade yet, open MSE and click in the upper right on Help / About Security Essentials. The upgrade shows 4.0 for both the Security Essentials Version and the Antimalware Client Version.

Microsoft Security Essentials updated to version 4.0

The updates are all under the hood. One interesting improvement, according to Microsoft: “We have improved on Microsoft Security Essentials’ Automatic Remediation, which will automatically quarantine highly harmful threats without prompting the user to take action.” A reasonable interpretation: if a web page drops a potentially dangerous file into your Temporary Internet Files folder, MSE might remove it without bothering you.

The upgrade began to be rolled out on April 24. I got mine on April 25. I’ve seen several computers get the update in the last couple of days. If the update is installed while you’re using the computer, you may see a popup that Microsoft Security Essentials has been turned off. It will disappear in a minute or two when the updated version is turned on. (On one computer today, the old version was uninstalled but the new version failed to install correctly. Windows popped up its notice that no antivirus program was installed. Manually installing directly from the MSE web site cured the problem.)

Be careful out there!

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Bruceb Consulting is one of the leading IT consulting firms in the North Bay, providing computer consulting and IT support to law firms, small businesses, and individuals – onsite in Sonoma County and Marin County, and remotely for clients all over California.

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