Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 20, 2014

Hacked: The six most common ways non-tech people fall victim;  All your OS X 10.10 Yosemite how-to needs met, right here;  Secure, Private Email and Cloud Storage Alternatives to Gmail and Dropbox; Use Tinfoil for Facebook to protect your privacy on Android;  Android 5.0, Lollipop: The complete FAQ;  Windows 10: The votes are pouring in for these 10 features;  Here’s how Google’s Nexus 9 stacks up against Apple’s iPad Air 2;  Microsoft withdraws another buggy update;  7 must-have apps for iPad;  10 mirroring devices let you present without wires;  Can’t Sleep? 7 Apps to Help You Snooze;  Three services that take the headache out of creating a website;  Apple patches 144 security flaws across seven products;  Kickstarter Suspends Anonabox Campaign;  Once the FBI has a backdoor into your phone, everyone does.

Secure, Private Email and Cloud Storage Alternatives to Gmail and Dropbox – In this article, we take a look at some of the privacy-focused email and cloud storage services that have either sprung up or gained popularity in the wake of what’s popularly been referred to as the Summer of Snowden.

Use Tinfoil for Facebook to protect your privacy on Android – The developer, Daniel Velazco, refers to this app as “a wrapper for Facebook’s mobile site,” but it’s much more useful than it sounds. Behind the scenes, Tinfoil creates a sandbox for all of Facebook’s cookies, storing them independently from your normal browser cookies. This keeps your information from being leaked and tracked across other websites. Here’s how to get started.

Android 5.0, Lollipop: The complete FAQ – Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop release is full of interesting new features and flavors. Here’s a detailed FAQ on everything related to the release.

All your OS X 10.10 Yosemite how-to needs met, right here – Apple’s OS X 10.10 Yosemite brings its desktop and laptop OS closer to the look and feel of iOS 8. It also includes a bevy of new exclusive features you won’t find on any other OS. At least for now. Here you’ll find every Yosemite tip, trick, how to, explainer and DIY — don’t expect many of those — the CNET How To team has posted. Expect constant updates over the next few weeks as we continue to delve deeper.

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Here’s how Google’s Nexus 9 stacks up against Apple’s iPad Air 2 – On Wednesday, Google took the wraps off the Nexus 9, a spectacular new high-end tablet manufactured by HTC. Thursday, Apple announced the iPad Air 2, a modest upgrade to last year’s stellar iPad Air. Naturally, one runs iOS 8 and its associated apps, and one runs Android Lollipop and its apps. For many users, that’s difference enough to choose one over the other. If you’re not married to either ecosystem, and you want to know where to dive in, consider these points of comparison.

Windows 10: The votes are pouring in for these 10 features – One reason users hated Windows 8 is because it was thrust upon them. They had to like it or lump it. With the Windows 10 Technical Preview, that’s all changed. Microsoft wants to know what you want before the OS ships, and it’s provided a feedback mechanism: The Windows Feature Suggestion Box. Users can suggest and vote for new features to add. And the votes are pouring in, for everything from a revamped Notepad to a Persian calendar. The following 10 features have the most votes so far. Here’s hoping we’ll see them in Windows 10.

Microsoft withdraws another buggy update – A non-patch security update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 was causing systems to reboot. It’s been a rough few months for Microsoft’s update quality control.

7 must-have apps for iPad: Make the most of your iPad with these iOS apps – Just one month after announcing new iPhones and watches, Apple will unveil another set of new products on Thursday. While nothing is official yet, we’re anticipating next-generation iPads and Macs, the final release of Yosemite OS, and perhaps an Apple TV update. For the iPad, there are rumors of fingerprint sensors and a new color. Whether or not you’re ready for a tablet upgrade, our seven app picks will enhance your iPad experience.

Google’s latest anti-piracy efforts: download suggestions, demoted rankings – Google has been active in helping combat the issue of piracy, and as such has tried various methods to deter users away from copyright-infringing sources to legitimate download websites. Last year Google published a report called “How Google Fights Piracy”, which detailed the methods with which it was trifling and what users could expect as a result. That report has now been updated to encompass the changes that have taken place since its first publication, and among those changes is the addition of a large legit downloads suggestion box.

10 mirroring devices let you present without wires – Wirelessly sending a presentation from your laptop or tablet to a large screen is a breeze with one of these mirroring devices. The ten devices we’ve rounded up plug into a projector or large monitor and can mirror the display of a laptop, tablet or smartphone so you can make presentations from your own device — and from anywhere in the room.

This is not a toy: $250 Samsung Chromebook 2 has Intel CPU, fanless design, aluminum reinforcement – Chromebooks are moving beyond basic browsing. Samsung’s $250, aluminum-reinforced Chromebook 2 is designed to take a school’s worth of rough handling, and it’ll appeal to consumers as well.

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Can’t Sleep? 7 Apps to Help You Snooze – The solution to getting a good night’s sleep could lie in fitness devices that also function as sleep trackers, like the Misfit Shine and Basis B1 Band, giving us insight into our behaviors before bedtime and our patterns of sleep. But before you invest in another piece of hardware, you may want to try downloading an app or two. Though it might seem counterintuitive, there are apps and services that are intended to help you wind down and count virtual sheep instead of Facebook likes for awhile.

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Smartphones and tablets may be the cause of your sleepless nights but they could also be the cure.

Twitter starts adding tweets to your timeline from accounts you don’t follow – With immediate effect Twitter will start adding tweets to your timeline from accounts you have not chosen to follow. These aren’t promoted tweets (those will continue to appear, too), they are tweets Twitter has decided are either popular or relevant to you, and therefore you should see them.

Three services that take the headache out of creating a website – Even in this time of Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook many people argue you need your own online presence with a personal or professional website. Having your own website gives you a place to represent you that is under your complete control. Here are three free services that can help you create a website. By default, they all direct your newly created site to a generic domain name, but all three also let you use your own purchased website name if you choose.

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WordPress.com

Intel Bay Trail-based USB stick capable of running Windows 8.1 goes on sale – An Intel Bay Trail-based USB stick has gone on sale on Chinese retailer Alibaba’s website for just $110 excluding shipping. Unlike other USB dongles that provide the ability to mirror content to televisions, the Intel-based stick listed as Meegopad features a full blown x86 CPU capable of running most operating systems including Windows 8.1 and popular Linux distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora. The USB stick is just under 100mm long and is packed with a quad core Intel Atom CPU running at 1.7 GHz. Other specifications of the device include 1 GB DDR3 RAM, 2 MicroUSB ports, 1 HDMI port, 16 GB and 32 GB storage options, a memory card slot, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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SoftMaker beta for Android tablets: A throwback to old-school ways – Back in the day, there wasn’t a single thing wrong with the tools we used. Yes, in comparison to how we work today, they were a bit limited, ugly, and single-minded. But they got the job done and did it well. So, when I installed the beta version of SoftMaker Office HD tools, I immediately tossed back to those “good ol’ days.” That’s right, SoftMaker has brought their tools, in full force, to the Android platform — and the second you open them, you’ll be right at home.

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Internet trolls will face up to two years in prison under new UK bill – British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling stated his intentions today to raise the criminal penalty for cyber trolling in the UK up to a maximum two year sentence, in an attempt to halt the spread of online abuse happening on social media and other sites.

Security:

Apple patches 144 security flaws across seven products – Patches are released for Mavericks, Mountain Lion, OS X Server and iTunes. A fix for the POODLE bug is included where appropriate. Most of the bugs are old ones in iTunes.

Anonymous app Whisper allegedly tracks user location, shares data with government – The app is accused by The Guardian of tracking users’ locations.

Hacked: The six most common ways non-tech people fall victim – In the era of BYOD, the less technical among us are prime targets for cybercrime attacks against your company. Learn the six top ways non-tech people get hacked.

MasterCards will soon come with a built-in fingerprint scanner – With all the recent security issues surrounding credit card numbers, there’s increasing interest in adding additional security measures. For example, PIN codes are being integrated with cards in many regions, but a company called Zwipe has something a little different in mind. Zwype is partnering with MasterCard to make a new kind of card that uses your fingerprint for authorization when the time comes to pay, and there’s no transaction limit.

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Once the FBI has a backdoor into your phone, everyone does – FBI director James Comey believes tech companies should be forced to insert back doors to bypass encryption on smartphones. But experts say once that happen,s security is moot and anyone can breach your privacy.

New Web vulnerability enables powerful social engineering attacks – Users who are careful to download files only from trusted websites may be tricked by a new type of Web vulnerability: this one cons them into downloading malicious executable files that are not actually hosted where they appear to be. The attack has been dubbed reflected file download (RFD) and is somewhat similar in concept to reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks where users are tricked to click on specifically crafted links to legitimate sites that force their browsers to execute rogue code contained in the URLs themselves.

BBC takes a stand against ‘right to be forgotten’ – The BBC has taken a stand against what it says are wrongful removals under the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, and is planning to publish a list of its articles which are removed from Google.

Company News:

Google And Microsoft Battle For Market Cap Supremacy – Update: Microsoft pulled it off, and at the time of writing (2:45 pm London, 9:45 am New York), Microsoft is worth more than Google. We’ll check back in at the end of the day: – Google and Microsoft are currently locked in a dogfight to be the second-most valuable technology company in the world.

Kickstarter Suspends Anonabox Campaign – Well, it sounded good on paper, at least. Said Kickstarter, which raised an impressive amount of funding ($585,549) over its brief few days of existence, has since been suspended. While it blew past its initial funding goal of $7,500, Reddit members questioned the project’s integrity as a result of its creator’s claims that the Anonabox was an original creation which took four years’ worth of development to build.

Report: Microsoft is about to jump into the smartwatch fray – According to Forbes, Microsoft plans to release a smartwatch of its own “within weeks.” Forbes goes on to say that the smartwatch “will passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms,” and that it would be able to go two days between charges. That would be an improvement over many current smartwatches, which often need to be charged nightly.

HBO may price online-only subscription service at $15 a month – HBO’s plans to bring its programming to Internet users via a Netflix-style streaming service may cost as much as bundling it with a cable package, according to a report.

Microsoft CEO ‘humbled’ by backlash to equal pay comments, outlines diversity plan – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is not done addressing the criticism over his recent remarks that women in the notoriously sexist technology industry shouldn’t be “asking for a raise” but should instead be “having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” After making those comments in early October at a conference celebrating women in tech, and then walking back them back on Twitter and in an internal email, Nadella is taking even more steps to apologize and emphasize that he is committed to greater gender equality at Microsoft.

Games and Entertainment:

The Binge-Watch List: Gilmore Girls are three generations of charming – It’s not hard to find TV shows to watch these days. But finding good ones to watch amid all the streaming video services fighting for your attention and your eyeballs? That’s more of a challenge. Every other week, we’ll help you separate a would-be House of Cards from the rest of the pack, as we look at which streaming TV shows are worth your time.

Watch ‘The Hobbit,’ as told in 72 seconds of Lego stop-motion animation – The YouTube stop-motion artists Brotherhood Workshop have condensed the story of The Hobbit down into 72 tight seconds (it is a kid’s book, after all) and animated it using Lego’s Hobbit-themed minifigs and sets. The results are simultaneously hilarious but also quite fun for Middle-earth fans — the whole thing feels like it could easily have been produced by Lego itself.

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Does your Xbox One controller randomly disconnect? – If you have an Xbox One, have you had any issues with your controller randomly disconnecting? We have received quite a few tips and it happens to us as well on occasion.

You Should Play: Side-scoller El is all about the powerful storyline – El isn’t your typical mobile game: For one thing, it’s wholly uncompetitive—the levels are only moderately challenging, and there are no bonuses awarded for completing the game at a higher difficulty. While El may not satisfy your lust for competition or endless gameplay, it’s absolutely worth a look for the following reasons.

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The game may be short, but it’s storyline is one you’ll want to visit again.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Do you think this cartoon is offensive? Many Indians do – Indians around the world have expressed outrage at the cartoon ostensibly because they’re tired of being depicted as snake charmers, fakirs or perched on flying carpets; they regard this cartoon as merely an extension of the gaze through which the West has looked at the East for hundreds of years. Indeed, Edward Said’s landmark book Orientalism chronicles much of this tendency.

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The recent New York Times cartoon referencing India’s Mission to Mars

Watch Earth roll by live in HD, streamed from the ISS – Get your relaxing Internet fix by sitting back and watching the Blue Marble roll away in real-time under the orbit of the ISS.

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The season you’re born in affects your moodiness, study says – Sometimes we struggle to discover why we’re the way we are. There are people who believe they’re naturally caring or miserable or just sensitive — whatever that might mean. Now a scientific study has come along to explain, at least to some extent, why people are moody. It seems to be quite simple: those born in the winter tend to be placid, friendly, lovable adults. Those born in the summer, however, are allegedly prone to be the moody snivellers whom we tolerate at our own peril. This, at least, is how the Telegraph reports a piece of research from Hungary.

Watch These Tiny Robots As They Fly Well With Others – The quadccopters at the University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab are truly trained to follow the golden robot rule: fly with others as you’d fly with yourself. Thanks to researchers Yash Mulgaonkar, Gareth Cross and Vijay Kumar, we can see how close these little flying robots are to their noble goal. The team has also created a system for a sort of uncanny flocking behavior.

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Amazing footage of a F/A-18 Super Hornet’s low-level maneuvers – Despite being in service for more than 30 years, the F/A-18 Hornet continues to be a mainstay of American air power. The video was taken as planes took off and landed on the deck of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), an Enterprise-class aircraft carrier that actively served from 1962-2012. The jets take up their positions on the deck and are latched to a hydraulic arm that accelerates them down the short runway. When landing, a tailhook is used to slow the plane before it shoots off the other end of the ship. You can see what both of these moments are like from inside the cockpit in the video.

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Harnessing depression: One Ars writer’s journey – In his final piece for Ars, Dave Girard talks about life with depression – Getting to the point where I could write this article involved a series of debates. I debated talking about my father’s suicide; I debated “outing” myself as a depression sufferer; I debated not talking about it and what that meant. I decided in the end that I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I believed that dialog about depression was essential but was unwilling to start that dialog myself. I hope that my story can help others understand why the traits that cause depression have been both a plague and a gift to so many.

Pointing up   As a traveller on the devastating road to major depression, I can tell you that depression is real. Thankfully, I have been symptom and medication free for better than 15 years, but the scars remain.

I encourage you to read this article – you may recognize someone you know. If you do, please hold out a helping hand.

Microsoft’s biggest Windows 10 challenge: Generating enthusiasm – There’s more to getting Windows 10 right than just perfecting the code. Microsoft needs to make us once again enthusiastic about Windows.

Secrets become history: Edward Snowden on film as Citizenfour – Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras’ account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on October 24. For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn’t full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the Internet, or journalism—it won’t matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material.

Something to think about:

“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

–      David Dunning

Today’s Free Downloads:

Earth Alerts – Earth Alerts is a Windows-based application that allows you to monitor in near real-time a variety of natural hazard events that are occurring anywhere around the world. Alert notifications, reports, and imagery provide the user with a convenient way to view natural phenomenon as they occur, whether close to home or some far-flung corner of the globe!

Earth Alerts uses a variety of online resources provided by organizations such as the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Smithsonian Institution (just to name a few), to identify what sort of activities “Mother Earth” is currently dishing out on the planet.

To use Earth Alerts, you simply select the specific natural hazards — earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, tropical cyclones, wildland fires, landslides, severe weather, local weather, etc. — and the locations that interest you. The application will then automatically retrieve the latest information from various live data feeds available on the Internet and present it to you in a convenient arrangement of reports, maps and images.

Earth Alerts has been available to the general public since 2005. In that time it has undergone a number of significant enhancements. As a hobby, a one man production and a labor of love, conceiving the ideas and creating Earth Alerts has been a (time consuming) pet project over the past few years!

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WirelessNetView – WirelessNetView is a small utility that runs in the background, and monitor the activity of wireless networks around you. For each detected network, it displays the following information: SSID, Last Signal Quality, Average Signal Quality, Detection Counter, Authentication Algorithm, Cipher Algorithm, MAC Address, RSSI, Channel Frequency, Channel Number, and more.

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Combofix – Combofix is frequently updated, so we only provide a direct link to the author to ensure you are getting the latest version. Be sure to download it every time you need Combofix so you have the most recent version.

ComboFix is a program, created by sUBs, that scans your computer for known malware, and when found, attempts to clean these infections automatically. In addition to being able to remove a large amount of the most common and current malware, ComboFix also displays a report that can be used by trained helpers to remove malware that is not automatically removed by the program.

You should not run ComboFix unless you are specifically asked to by a helper. Also, due to the power of this tool it is strongly advised that you do not attempt to act upon any of the information displayed by ComboFix without supervision from someone who has been properly trained. If you do so, it may lead to problems with the normal functionality of your computer.

It is also understood that the use of ComboFix is done at your own risk.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

“Under internal review,” NSA CTO works part-time for agency’s former chief: It’s the second possible conflict of interest involving former NSA head Keith Alexander – The National Security Agency is now conducting an internal investigation of a top official’s part-time work for a private cybersecurity firm, according to Reuters.

That company, IronNet Cybersecurity, was founded by Keith Alexander. Alexander served as the head of the spy agency from August 2005 until March 2014. IronNet Cybersecurity currently offers protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month.

Last Friday, Reuters cited Alexander himself as well as other intelligence officials, reporting that current NSA CTO Patrick Dowd can work up to 20 hours per week for IronNet Cybersecurity.

This investigation marks the second time in less than two weeks that serious questions have been raised about possible conflicts of interest and questionable ethics involving Alexander. As Ars reported earlier this month, newly released documents show that during his tenure as director, Alexander personally had thousands of dollars invested in obscure technology companies that could have materially benefited as a result of his actions running the NSA.

The FBI Director’s Evidence Against Encryption Is Pathetic – FBI Director James Comey gave a speech Thursday about how cell-phone encryption could lead law enforcement to a “very dark place” where it “misses out” on crucial evidence to nail criminals. To make his case, he cited four real-life examples — examples that would be laughable if they weren’t so tragic.

In the three cases The Intercept was able to examine, cell-phone evidence had nothing to do with the identification or capture of the culprits, and encryption would not remotely have been a factor.

In the most dramatic case that Comey invoked — the death of a 2-year-old Los Angeles girl — not only was cellphone data a non-issue, but records show the girl’s death could actually have been avoided had government agencies involved in overseeing her and her parents acted on the extensive record they already had before them.

In another case, of a Lousiana sex offender who enticed and then killed a 12-year-old boy, the big break had nothing to do with a phone: The murderer left behind his keys and a trail of muddy footprints, and was stopped nearby after his car ran out of gas.

And in the case of a Sacramento hit-and-run that killed a man and his girlfriend’s four dogs, the driver was arrested in a traffic stop because his car was smashed up, and immediately confessed to involvement in the incident.

Comey described the cases differently. Here’s one….

Are American Tech Companies Disloyal? – FBI Director James Comey had some choice words this week for startups and technology companies about their increasing use of encryption and their responsibilities to law enforcement. Speaking at Brookings, Comey argued that “…if the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place.”

He specifically named Apple and Google as companies challenging the FBI in its pursuit of criminals. “Both companies are run by good people, responding to what they perceive is a market demand. But the place they are leading us is one we shouldn’t go to without careful thought and debate as a country.” He argued that the FBI is not looking for backdoors, but rather “We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law.”

As the debate over end-to-end encryption heats up, there is a fundamental question at work: What loyalty do companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook have to the U.S. government?

Facebook tells the DEA it can’t use phony profiles to go after suspects: Everyone has to use their real name on Facebook, even the feds – Facebook has a message for the DEA: if you want to use our service, you have to use your real name.

In a letter sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration on Friday, chief security office Joe Sullivan chided the agency for allowing one of its officers to lure criminals with a fake Facebook account created in a suspect’s name. “We regard the DEA’s conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies,” writes Sullivan. He adds that the social network “asks that the DEA immediately confirm that it has ceased all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others or that otherwise violate our terms and policies.”

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7 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

7 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 20, 2014

  1. hey still with you. how are you doing? veterans just purchased a new laptop (HP) for school. i was wondering where could i find the program you wrote about bloatware removal some time ago. i know it is full of crap, i click on a page and it will take me everywhere else but where i am trying to go.

    thanks
    kenneth lunkins/cleveland ohio

    • Well hey there. 🙂 Always good to hear from you.

      Take a look at – Free PC Decrapifier – Bloatware Begone! (Jan/2011) – my review on this neat freebie. Or, you can go directly to the developer’s site here, and download directly.

      The symptoms you describe (losing control of the browser; i.e. redirects), wouldn’t appear to me to be a bloatware issue. So, here’s a suggestion – just in case.

      First run Pcdecrapifier – and, in the event that doesn’t solve the problem, do the following.

      Download, install, and run Malwarebytes free which is particularly good at dealing with this type of issue.

      BTW, you’ll find a specially application in today’s freebies which might come in handy if you have further problems resolving this issue. AdwCleaner is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.

      Take care Kenneth.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. It would be interesting to know how many of your followers will brick their computers by not following the posted caution and simply run ComboFix.
    A great program in the right hands. An absolute disaster if used by the average computer user. It certainly is not a one button removal of all your malware. It certainly can be a one button disaster to a bricked computer.
    In the right hands, this and several other tools can recoup even a very compromised computer.

    • Hi Bob,

      Hopefully – fingers crossed – that won’t happen. But, we both know better. Gotta agree – “An absolute disaster if used by the average computer user.”

      Best,

      Bill

      • John Bent

        Hi Bob and Bill,

        Certainly I dropped ComboFix like a hot potato when I read the caution and I would imagine most people reading this blog would treat it with the same respect; Bill has educated us non-techs too well to think otherwise. I have enough faith in human nature to believe that someone sufficiently interested in removing malware from their computer, but not having the benefit of the Mullins mojo,would nevertheless do as I did.

        Kind regards,
        John (call me adorable) Bent

        • Hey John The Adorable, 🙂

          Agreed – except, that is, for the adventurous “Hey, what can it hurt – am I right?” type. We’ve all met this gal/guy – much to our misfortune. Just thinking about it makes me shudder. 🙂

          Best,

          Bill

        • Hello John,
          Human nature being what it is, never surprises me. Just look at the recent rash a underdressed pictures shared with the world. Everyone was appalled and disappointed in Apple’s inability to stop something like that from happening. Most of those damming Apple, never questioned why those pictures were there in the first place.
          I do customer support daily and Computer Security Seminars very often all over this great Country. I know that people always say that they know what they should do but, the state of their computers tells you the exact opposite.
          Only time will tell.