Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

What to write..

Today I am off to a late start writing today’s article. This is due, in part, to a minor case of “writer’s block”..
The funny thing is, I had today’s topic all figured out — including my ‘slant’ — before I fell asleep last night. But you know what? Durned if I can recall it now.

I am sitting at my keyboard with this writer’s block-thing going on, and I cannot focus in on one topic to write about– there’s a lot going on.
Like what?

Well, for one, we are in a Microsoft release phase: Service Pack 3 for XP is here (as is Office 2003), we approaching the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista, Server 2008 is almost here.. and things are changing. Microsoft Update has been giving us dribs-and-drabs of these releases, semi-unbeknown to us, and our computer’s behavior is changing.
What do I mean?

Well, after Update gave us the new *Service Pack for Office, security enhancements completely blocked the opening (accessing) of really old Office formats, and this pretty much happened without warning (for more on this, and how to restore the function [should you need to, for some reason], read my article here).
* Also, a lot of the security features of Vista are being backwards ported for XP (this is a “good thing”, folks), and now XP is behaving more and more like it has Vista’s UAC— there’s more “are you sure you want to do that?” windows popping open.
* You are being asked to validate yourself more often in other ways too. IE 7 is being forced down the Update pike, and each Update Tuesday, its “Protected Mode” setting is switched on. (Again, while this can get annoying, this is a “good thing”.) Hopefully, everyone reading this will be using IE 7 or an “alternative” browser: IE 6 is the most hacked piece of software ever written.
* In preparation for the new Service Pack for Vista, device manufacturers have been cranking out new drivers and getting them approved by Microsoft, and so there’s been a rash of “there’s a new driver available..” windows (and some are pushed through Update, or offered as “Optional” Updates). My brand-new laptop has already prompted me to “update to the latest driver” for my graphics four different times (in two ½ weeks?!). These, and the incremental SP1-prep installs are causing a lot of b.s.o.d’s (fortunately, these have been tending to go away after the first, or second, reboot).
To read my articles on drivers, click here, and be aware of the “Roll back driver” feature if you experience ongoing blue screens.
* Server 2008 has been long-awaited.

In short, Microsoft is turning on the security settings that should have been on from the get-go, and it is causing a few problems.. and frustrating users who are expecting one-click access, auto-authentication, auto-logon.. and view security warnings as hurdles they don’t want or need. (“I just want to see this cool website!”)

My other possible topics today stem from the InfoSec learning that I am doing. I am watching what the cyber-criminals are doing and how they’re doing it. Regular readers of this series know that security is a common theme of mine, and I try to advocate good and safe practices.
There’s a lot to talk about in digital security, too.

But today, I just couldn’t find a way to write that wouldn’t be discouraging.. nor cause me to become more depressed/alarmed than I already am. Sometimes I feel the crooks have won the war, and not just a few battles. (Fear not though, Dear Reader! I am resilient, courageous, and upbeat! …just, today,.. not so much.)
I understand enough of Human Nature to grasp why people are resistant to changes like the UAC.. and want more access, not less: but I will repeat– it is necessary, and “good”.

So, you see.. a little writer’s block.. a little depression/discouragement.. and a few blue screens. Not my best day.
I’m ready for Spring.

Today’s free link: To combat this blase feeling when it strikes, I surf over to the comics, Sudoku-style games, and editorial cartoons on GoComics.com (sometimes looking up a “classic” Calvin and Hobbes). Guaranteed to give a smile.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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March 6, 2008 - Posted by | computers, device drivers, IE 7, PC, security, tech, Vista, Windows, XP

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