Tech – for Everyone

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

Service Pack 1 and Polite Phishing. OddJob & Meow.

Service Pack Released. Holdouts can migrate to Windows 7 now.

Last night my Win7 machine told me that there were Updates available. So, like I always do, I clicked to view the details. I noticed that one of the “Important” updates was not checked. So I looked closer and saw that it was indeed the awaited first Service Pack, which rumors had said was coming soon.
I placed a check in the checkbox, and clicked “Install”. Because Service Packs are good things. And I have been testing IE 9, so I let that upgrade to the new “Release Candidate” as well.

After a twice rebooting install, which went smoothly, my upgrades were in, and my Windows 7 machine was now 72 times faster and three times shinier. Yay!

Okay. You know I’m kidding.. right? “Service Packs” sometimes do bring new features to the operating system, but generally are simply a collection (a “pack”) of security patches and bug fixes. There is an old saying in the Geek world – Do Not Buy Until The First Service Pack Is Released.

That’s good advice. Generally speaking, you do not want Version 1.0 of anything. You want the next version.. the one where most of the bugs have been found and fixed. I have been telling people that Windows 7 is an exception to that Rule – being already remarkably stable and bug free. However, if you have been waiting, SP1 is now here.

So what is in the first Windows 7 Service Pack (aka SP1)? I quote, “Win 7 SP1 sports a little nip here and a roll-up tuck there — but there’s not a single significant enhancement to Win7.”
Woody Leonhard wrote a great piece for Windows Secrets that sums things up in a nutshell: What you need to know about Windows 7 SP1

* For those who have trouble with this Update (or.. Updates in general), see Microsoft notes Windows Update “inconsistencies,” provides fix

Cybercriminals try the polite approach:

I ask non-regular readers to note the attachment ‘paperclip’, and to trust me when I say that it is a clear signal that you do NOT want to do anything with this email except delete it — opening the email will put you on the Global Sucker List. And opening the attachment…. probably worse.
And I believe that regular readers will know that “Please confirm your identity” translates to “Please hand me your identity”.

Related?

A new banking trojan targeting U.S. customers has the ability to keep online account sessions open after customers believe they have logged off, enabling criminals to surreptitiously steal money, according to researchers at web security firm Trusteer.

Eastern European cybercrooks are using the trojan, dubbed “OddJob” by researchers, to attack banking customers in the United States, Poland and Denmark…

Learn more here, Trojan steals session IDs, bypasses logout requests

Too kewel not to post:
A reader shared with me a photo. I am not a “cat person”, but one look at this fellow…

King of his hill

and I had to smile. One ‘cool cat’ there.

Have a great day everyone!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 24, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, IE 9, Microsoft, News, PC, performance, Phishing, tech, upgrading, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vista Service Pack, Microsoft news, “Super” Tuesday

Today is “Super Tuesday”, and a lot of things will get voted on. The talking heads are saying that California (where Tech–for Everyone HQ is located) will play a decisive role in shaping the future. Yippee.
For me, (and I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t apply to lots and lots and lots of other folks as well) the best thing about “Super” Tuesday is — it is really Ahhh Wednesday Eve. For those of you who have never heard of “Ahhh Wednesday”, Ahhh Wednesday is the national celebration of no more dang-blasted political commercials. Very soon there’ll be no more “Vote ‘Yes’ on Prop 12883!”, followed immediately by an equally (non)compelling “Vote ‘No’ on Prop 12883!” ad. (I have an idea: stop throwing money away on advertising we ignore.. and fix the roads?)
Yes, Ahhh Wednesday is almost here (YAY!) and there will be blessed relief from political activism…for a while; then the real fun begins as we approach November. Yippee.

In the Long-Awaited News Department: Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Vista. This is good news for you folks who have been holding off upgrading to a Vista machine until “Vista 2.0” is out. (For more on “Service Packs”, click here.)
This is also good news for people in general, and I highly recommend that anyone using Vista should apply the release… but there’s a few caveats:
1) Microsoft has only released Vista SP1 to manufactures (like HP, Dell, etc.), and is going to make the general public wait a while yet (BOO!). I have read conflicting reports, all quite authentic and citing ‘insider sources’, stating the Public Release as happening “Feb. 4th”, “sometime in March”, and “early April”. Hmmm. I will certainly inform you, Dear Reader, when you can get it.
2) Service Pack 1 will not fix every bug and quirk in Vista. It will not make Vista run on 4 yr-old+ machines with 512MBs of RAM (as so many folks tried to make it do). And, it does not add any new “I-gotta-have-that!” features.
3) Microsoft apparently is not going to make SP1 part of the Windows Update feature, and so it will not be “automatically” downloaded and installed for you. You will have to browse to the download URL and Install it yourself. Why? You got me.

Having said those things, you may wonder why a person would want to go to the trouble… as I recommended that you do. Vista SP1 will fix quite a few of Vista’s bugs and quirks, and installing the SP will greatly “stabilize” Vista and improve its “reliability” (for those of you whose geek speak is a little weak, that translates to “longer periods between blue screens of death”). There’s security improvements too.
Also, SP1 will make some things faster. SP1 will improve Vista’s disk-write times, which will speed up file copying and transferring. Windows seem to open and close faster. And SP1 fixes the zipped folder tool, and makes it usable again.
And while these things might not “wow” you, I remind you that all the benefits aren’t fully known yet, and won’t become clear until more people have used it for longer periods of time.

In other news: You may have seen or read that Microsoft has made a bid to purchase Yahoo.
This bid, is just that– a bid.. a proposal. However, when one tech giant purchases another (or tries to) it makes for much talk in the industry. There is much hand-wringing and speculation going on in the tech blogs. However, if you don’t own stock in Microsoft, Yahoo, or (the other giant) Google, you probably won’t be affected much by such a merger.

Yes; Microsoft — already accused of being (or trying to be) a monopoly — will get “bigger”. On the other hand, this is sort of an admission that MSN Search, and MS adCenter, just isn’t competing with Google as things stand.

Lots goin’ on…for a Tuesday.

Today’s free link: For those of you who have been reading my website, and have picked up on my emphasis on securing your computer, you may have taken note of my advice to download and install a 3rd-party firewall (this is particularly apt for XP users). If you haven’t done so yet, the free ZoneAlarm Firewall is still one of (if not the) the top-rated firewalls…and it’s free.

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

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February 5, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, PC, tech, Vista, Windows | , , | Leave a comment

Opening old Word files after Office SP3

I look forward to the release of “Service Packs”. (Here is how Microsoft describes a Service Pack: “Service packs are the means by which product updates are distributed. Service packs may contain updates for system reliability, program compatibility, security, and more. All of these updates are conveniently bundled for easy downloading.“) I look forward to SP’s not only because they roll several Updates into one download, but Service Packs also (sometimes) include new products/features — such as, XP SP2 added the Security Center and a firewall.

And besides… I’m a “security guy.” I am all for getting patches (aka “Updates”) and have written many advice articles urging folks to thwart hacker vulnerability exploits and to keep their software updated; most recently, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/11/23/learn-to-love-the-pop-up/. If there’s a patch, I say “get it!”

Recently Microsoft released the third Service Pack for Office 2003 (SP3), and SP3 makes some rather significant changes to how Office 2003 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) behave: namely, it shuts off backwards compatibilty and you can no longer open (or Save) files saved in older versions of Office. Whoa!

What this means to you is, if you are tootling along with an older Version of Word (let’s just say, Word XP as a ‘for instance’) and you send a document to someone using a more current version (which most people are), they may not be able to open your file. Or, if you need to open a file you created some time ago with an old version of Excel (say, an old tax-expense spreadsheet), maybe from an old backup, but you have since upgraded to Office 2003, you will not be able to read your own file.
You will get, instead, an error message.

In short, Office will no longer do what it used to do, and you (may) have lost access to your own files.

My initial reaction to this was incredulity. A hallmark of Microsoft IS backwards compatibility (In fact, BC is a big reason why Vista failed to deliver all that was promised; they just couldn’t deliver the new features AND be backwards compatible.), and here they are –for the first time that I know of– turning off existing compatibility! And, they aren’t (really) asking our permission to do so, either.. but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

The reason MS did this is for security, (Hey! I heard that.) and says this only affects really old file types, like pre-Word 97, (though I have read differently in various geek forums) and older Corel Draw, Lotus, Quattro, and dBase II files. And Microsoft points out that this change is the same as what was written as the defaults for Office 2007. So this probably will not affect you until you have some cause to dig out something you created a very long time ago.. but if it does:

Tip of the day: restore Office 2003’s ability to access old files only if it becomes necessary, and only restore the abilities you need. And then turn them off again.
Microsoft provides .reg file downloads to restore the functionality of certain areas of Office: use just the one you need. A .reg file modifies the Windows Registry (which is a serious issue) and so I highly recommend creating a System Restore point before making these types of changes. Close any open Office applications and…

1) Download the file to your desktop by choosing “Save” (do not “Open” or “Run”) when prompted, and selecting Desktop as the “Save file to…” location.
* To re-enable Word formats only, click here.
* To re-enable Excel formats only, click here.
* To re-enable PowerPoint formats only, click here.
* To re-enable CorelDraw formats only, click here.

2) Double-click on the new (download) .reg icon on your Desktop, and click on “Yes” to proceed.

3) Re-launch Word (or, Excel, or PowerPoint, as the case may be) and Open the old file(s) you need access to, and then “Save As” them to 2003 files (using the “Save As Type” drop-down arrow.)

4) Repeat the download/double-click procedure with the links below to re-enable the security shutdown.
* To re-block old Word formats only, click here.
* To re-block old Excel formats only, click here.
* To re-block old PowerPoint formats only, click here.
* To re-block old CorelDraw formats only, click here.

I feel compelled to mention to you (again) that another alternative is to use the Open Source suite of applications to access the old (and new) Microsoft Office files, and re-post it as..

Today’s free link: Open Office. From website: “OpenOffice.org is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute.”
*It is available in a “portable” version too.

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

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January 7, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, MS Word, PC, removing Updates, security, tech, Windows, word processors | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments