Microsoft Windows

10 Gbyte Win10 Spyware “upgrade” now forced on users

Sunday, September 27, 2015 

Microsoft has, historically, done some amazingly boneheaded things like clippy, Vista, Win 8, and Win 10.  They have one really good product: Excel, otherwise everything they’ve done has succeeded only through illegal exploitation of an aggressively defended monopoly. OK, maybe the Xbox is competitive, but I’m not much of a gamer.

Sadly for the world, the model of selling users for profit to advertisers and spies has gained ground to the point where Microsoft was starting to look like the least evil major entity in closed-source computing.  Poor microsoft.  To lose the evil crown must be at least as humiliating as their waning revenue and abject failures in the mobile space (so strange… try to enter a space where they don’t have a monopoly to force users to accept their mediocre crap and they fail, who’da thunk it?)

“There is a difference between policy and practice. We don’t read customers mail. We don’t read customer documents. We don’t triangulate YouTube views and searches. We don’t use the content of your Hotmail to target ads in Bing,”

Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications for Microsoft

Well, never fear: Windows 10 is here and they’re radically one-upping the data theft economy by p0wning not just the data you idiotically entrust to someone else’s server for free without ever considering why they’re giving you that useful service for “free” or what they, or whoever buys their ultimately failed business, might do with your data, but also the data you consider too sensitive for the Google or the Apple.  Windows 10 exfiltrates all your data to Microsoft for their use and profit without your information.  Don’t believe it? Read their Privacy Statement.

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.

And it is free (as in beer but not as in speech).  What could possiblay go wrong?

Well, people weren’t updating fast enough so Microsoft is now pushing that update on you involuntarily.  Do you have a data cap that a 10G download might break and cost you money?  So what!  Your loss!  Don’t have enough space on your drive for a 10G hidden folder of crapware foisted off on you without your permission?  Tough crap, Microsoft don’t care.

To be clear, Windows 10 is spyware.  If this was coming from a teenage hacker somewhere, they’d be facing jail time.  It is absolutely, unequivocally malware that will create a liability for you if you use it.  If you have any confidentiality requirement, you must not install windows 10.  Ever. Not even on your home machine.  Just don’t.

The only way to prevent this is really annoying and a little risky: disable automatic downloads.  One of the problems with Microsoft’s operating systems is the unbelievably crappy spaghetti code that results in a constant flow of cracks, a week’s worth are patched every Tuesday.  About 1 serious vulnerability every fortnight these days (note this is about the same as Ubuntu and about 1/4 the rate of OSX or iOS, why people think Apple products are “secure” is beyond me – live in that fantasy walled garden!  But nice logo you paid a 50% premium for on your shiny device). Not patching increases the risk that some hacker somewhere will steal your datas, but patching guarantees that Microsoft will steal your datas.  Keep your anti-virus up to date and live a little dangerously by keeping Microsoft out.

Here’s an interesting article: how-to-clean-the-windows-10-crapware-off-your-windows-7-or-81-pc

And a tool referenced in that article: GWX control panel (that can help remove the windows 10 infection if you got it).

And a list of patches I found that are related to Win10 malware that you can remove if you haven’t installed it yet (Windows 10 eliminates the ability to choose or selectively remove patches, once you’re in for the ride, you’re chained in: all or nothing.)

Basic advice:

  • Disable automatic updates and automatic downloads of updates.
  • Review each update Microsoft offers.  This is tedious, my win 7 install reports 384 updates, 5-10 a week, but other than security patches, you probably don’t really need them.  Only install a patch if there’s a reason.  Sorry, that sucks, but there’s always Linux Mint: free like beer AND free like speech.
  • If you’re still on Win 7/8, uninstall the spyware Microsoft has probably already installed.  If you’re on Windows 8, you probably want to upgrade to Windows 7 if at all possible.
  • If you succumbed to the pressure and became a Microsoft Product by installing Windows 10, uninstall it.
  • If uninstall doesn’t work, switch to Mint or reinstall 7.

Most importantly, if you develop software for servers or for end users, stop developing for Microsoft (and Apple too).  Respect the privacy of your customers by not exposing them to exploitation by desperate operating system vendors.  In many classes of applications, your customers buy their computers to run your software: they don’t care what operating system it requires – that should be transparent and painless.  Microsoft is no longer an even remotely acceptable choice.  Server applications should run under FreeBSD or OpenBSD and desktop applications should run under Linux.  You can charge more and generate more profit because the total net cost for your customers will be lower.  Split the difference and give them a more reliable, more secure, and lower cost environment and make more money doing so.

Posted at 08:07:54 UTC

Category: FreeBSDHowToLinuxSecuritytechnology

Microsoft Spyware Now Being Installed On Win 7

Monday, August 24, 2015 

If you’re the sort of person who isn’t entirely happy about the idea of Microsoft claiming the right to copy your personal files, photos, emails, chat logs, diary entries, medical records, etc over to their own servers to sell to whoever they want for whatever they can get for your personal data – into markets that already exist for insurance companies to deny you insurance based on algorithmic analysis of your habits or your friends habits or for financial institutions to set your interest rates based on similar criterion, or perhaps even for law enforcement to investigate you without a warrant, then OBVIOUSLY you would never, ever install Windows 10 under any circumstances.

Well, Microsoft seems to have fully jumped on the Google/Facebook gravy train and is now completely invested in stealing your data and selling it to the highest bidder (Apple has been exfiltrating your data for a long time, but so far for internal use).  I’ve become more suspect of Microsoft’s updates since they made the Windows 10 advertisement an important (not optional) update (important for what? their bottom line, obviously).  Turns out that the latest updates to Windows 7 are pushing Microsoft’s new business model of stealing your data for profit to Windows 7 and 8.

Staying safe is going to require ever more vigilance.  It may be possible to block windows components from reaching out to microsoft’s servers at the personal firewall level and certainly it can be done at the corporate firewall level (and should be), but blocking Microsoft is a somewhat complex issue.  You can’t run Windows safely without installing security patches because the underlying OS is so completely insecure that new, critical, exploitable flaws are discovered every single week.  If you don’t constantly patch these security failures, you will be hacked by people other than microsoft.  If you install the wrong microsoft patch, you will be hacked by microsoft.  Debian anyone? Also, software developers developing enterprise software, please, please, please stop developing for that horrible, insecure, performance hobbling abomination of a tarted-up single-user OS “Server” and focus on a secure, stable server OS like FreeBSD.  Please.  I hate, hate having to fork over $1k to microsoft for each box to run their horrible OS just so I can run your software.  Why do you support that extortion? Do you despise your customers that much? Stop.

If you care about corporate governance and data security or HIPAA compliance, you are probably violating some critical requirements by installing windows 10 or these new updates to your existing Win7/8 base if you do not block data exfiltration to Microsoft’s servers.  This is spyware.  These updates are stealing your data and sending it to Microsoft.  If your business is subject to data privacy laws, these updates put you in violation of those laws.  Microsoft is doing something that is extremely significant and extremely evil and completely wrong.  Take action or you may very well be facing personal or corporate consequences.  srsly.

I am a strong believer in data privacy and extremely suspect of what I consider highly disingenuous business practices like Google’s but I recognize that there are reasonable people out there who think Google isn’t evil.  However, this windows 10 issue, now being pushed to windows 7, goes well beyond Google taking advantage of people’s historical assumptions about the security of email to offer them a free look-alike honey trap to gather their data.  Windows 10 and these Win 7 updates are intrusive, not merely misleading.  Do not update.  Srsly.  Do not update.  Block the spyware “hotfixes.”

Stop Gap Fixes

In researching these updates, I came across this article on techworm that has a nice summary of the Malware updates Microsoft is pushing out (with some additional amendments I found):

With a whiff of irony, this google search “telemetry site:https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb” shows these patches and many more…

Do not automatically install Microsoft updates.  You must turn that feature off or you will keep getting additional spyware installed.  Go to windows update and verify your settings.  I have mine set so windows downloads the updates (so the updates are waiting locally), but I don’t let windows install them automatically.  That gives me a chance to review the updates and look for spyware.

windows_update_settings

When you get updates, you now have to check each one of them to find out if it is spyware or not.  The list above is current as far as I know, but clicking on the “more information” link to the right of the updates list will get you microsoft’s marketing speak obfuscation of the true purpose.  Any update that “adds telemetry points” or something like that is spyware.  Uncheck the install and hide the update.  Note that some of these were moved from “optional” to “important.”  Microsoft is absolutely intent on stealing your data and is taking some pretty underhanded steps to make it difficult for you to avoid it.

block_microsoft_spyware

 

If updates get past you or it turns out later that a seemingly important or innocuous update was spyware (the fun part is that you now have to be vigilant and look all this stuff up), then you can uninstall them from the “installed updates” control panel.

uninstall_microsoft_spyware

Work to be done

I’ll start looking into firewall settings to block communication to microsoft’s servers.  This is a standard anti-malware technique and should work here, except that microsoft has so many servers it is more challenging to block them than your typical malware botnet.

We need something like a variant of Peer Guardian to block microsoft’s servers using the standard P2P crowd-sourcing model to keep the list up to date. I’m not aware of anything like this yet, but I’m looking.  Microsoft has become more of an enemy to privacy than the RIAA ever was.

UPDATE:  this superuser answer includes a list of telemetry endpoints to block at your firewall or router.  Alternatively you can edit your hosts file and add these entries from DSL reports.

Larger Significance

This shift in business focus by Microsoft from providing a product people are willing to pay for to stealing data from people to sell on the commercial market has some significant lessons for the entire software model.

It isn’t just that Microsoft is now adopting Google’s business model of giving away “free” goodies as traps to collect product (you) to sell to the highest bidder, but that the model of corporate trust that underpins most of the security assumptions the internet is built on is manifestly false and unsustainable.  If any hacker tried to create these spyware updates, locked-down computers that only install signed code would refuse to install them.  Ignoring for the moment that the signed code model is idiotically flawed as signing keys are stolen all the time, this microsoft spyware is properly signed with legitimate keys.  It will be installed on locked down computers without complaint and will not show up in commercial anti-virus software.  But it is spyware.  It contains keyloggers and extremely productive data exfiltration code that is currently copying wholesale data dumps from unfortunate victims to Microsoft’s servers in such volume that their data caps are being hit.

If a non-commercial third party (e.g. “hacker”) did this, they’d be prosecuted.  It makes no difference to you that your data is being stolen by Microsoft rather than by some clever teenager in a former eastern block country: your data is being stolen.  But the model that has been promoted, a model of centralized corporate trust to validate the “security” of your system has been utterly and irrevocably shattered.  This isn’t an accident, isn’t something that better data management might have prevented, this is an intentional ex post facto rewrite of the usual, customary, and regular assumptions we have about the privacy of our computer systems and one that significantly impacts the security of almost everyone in the world: military, medical, legal, fiduciary, as well as personal.

And even if you trust Microsoft (for whatever bizarre, irrational reason), Microsoft is creating a whole series of security holes in their already crappy and insecure operating system that will be exploited by third parties.  By adding keyloggers and data exfiltration tools to the core OS, they’re making it even easier for non-corporate hackers to jump on the data theft gravy train. Everyone profits but you. You lose.

Posted at 04:19:18 UTC

Category: Privacytechnology

Windows 10 Privacy Annihilator

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 

Why would Microsoft, a company whose revenue comes entirely from sales of Windows and Office, start giving Windows 10 away – not just giving it away, but foisting it on users with unbelievably annoying integrated advertisements in the menu of Win 7/8 that pop up endlessly and are tedious to remove and reinstall themselves constantly?

Have they just gone altruistic?  Decided that while they won’t make software free like speech, they’ll make it free like beer? Or is there something more nefarious going on? Something truly horrible, something that will basically screw over the entire windows-using population and sell them off like chattel to any bidder without consent or knowledge?

Of course, it is the latter.

Microsoft is a for-profit company and while their star has been waning lately and they’ve basically ceded the evil empire mantle to Apple, they desperately want to get into the game of stealing your private information and selling it to whoever is willing to pay.

So that’s what Windows 10 does.  It enables Microsoft to steal all of your information, every email, photo, or document you have on your computer and exfiltrate it silently to Microsoft’s servers, and to make it legal they have reserved the right to give it to whoever they want.  This isn’t just the information you stupidly gifted to Google by being dumb enough to use Gmail or ignorantly gifted to Apple by being idiotic enough to load into the iButt, but the files you think are private, on your computer, the ones you don’t upload.  Microsoft gets those.

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.

They’ll “access” your data and “disclose” it (meaning to a third party) whenever they have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.  No warrant needed.  It is necessary for Microsoft to make a buck, so if a  buck is offered for your data, they’re gonna sell it.

If you install Windows 10, you lose. So don’t. If you need to upgrade your operating system, it is time to switch to something that preserves Free like speech: Linux Mint is probably the best choice.

If you’re forced to run Windows 10 for some reason and can’t upgrade to windows 7, then follow these instructions (and these) and remain vigilant, Microsoft’s new strategy is to steal your data and sell it via any backdoor they can sneak past you. Locking them down is going to be a lot of work and might not be possible so keep an eye out for your selfies showing up on pr0n sites: they pay for pix and once you install Windows 10, Microsoft has every right to sell yours.


 

Update: you can’t stop windows 10 from stealing your private data

That’s not quite true – if you never connect your computer to a network, it is very unlikely that Microsoft will be able to secretly exfiltrate your private data through the Windows 10 trojan.  However, it turns out that while the privacy settings do reduce the amount of data that gets sent back to Microsoft, they continue to steal your data even though you’ve told them not to.

Windows 10 is spyware.  It is not an operating system, it is Trojan malware masquerading as an operating system that’s true purpose is to steal your data so Microsoft can sell it without your consent.  If you install Windows 10, you are installing spyware.

Win 10 has apparently been installed 65 million times.  That’s more than 3x as many users’ most intimate, most private data stolen as by the Ashley Madison attack.  If you value privacy, if the idea that you might be denied a loan or insurance because of secret data stolen from your computer without your consent bothers you, if the idea of having evidence of your potential crimes shared with law enforcement without your knowledge and without a warrant worries you then do not install windows 10.  Ever.

Posted at 11:00:30 UTC

Category: Privacytechnology

A Solution for Mosh Scrollback

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 

Mosh is a pretty good tool, almost indispensable when working in places with crappy internet. While it is designed to help with situations like “LTE on the beach,” it actually works very well in places where internet connectivity is genuinely bad: 1500msec RT, latency, 30% packet loss, and frequent drops in connectivity that last seconds to hours, otherwise known as most of the world. On a good day I lose an SSH connection randomly about every 3-6 hours but I’ve only ever lost a Mosh session when my system went down.

It does a lot of things, but two are key for my use: it syncs user input in the background while local echoing what you type so you can finish your command (and correct a typo) without waiting 1500msec for the remote echo to update; and it creates persistent connections that survive drop off of almost any type except killing the terminal application on one end or the other (anything between can die and when it recovers, you catch up). This means compiles finish and you actually get the output warnings…

…well…

…some of them. Because Mosh’s one giant, glaring, painful, almost debilitating weakness is that it doesn’t support scrollback. So compared to tmux or something else that you can reconnect to after your SSH session drops, you really lose screen content, which is a PITA when ls-ing a directory. I mean, it isn’t that much of an efficiency gain to have to type “ls | less” instead of just “ls” every time you want to see a directory.

I found a solution that works for me. I also use Tmux with Mosh because Tmux will survive a dead client and working with Windows client reboots are a fact of life (I know, sad, but there are some tools I still need on windows, hopefully not for much longer).

Tmux has a facility for creating a local log file, which I then “tail -f” using a separate SSH window. If the SSH client disconnects, no loss, I can pick up the log anytime. It is just mirroring everything that the mosh terminal is doing and the scroll bar scroll back works fine. And it is a raw text file, so you can pipe the output through grep to limit what’s displayed to something of interest and review the log asynchronously as, say, a build is progressing.

Although there are some nice advantages to this, when/if Mosh supports scrollback, it’ll be far more convenient having it in the same window, but for now this is the easiest solution I could come up with.

FreeBSD:

# portmaster sysutils/tmux
# portmaster net/mosh
# ee ~/.tmux.conf
-> bind-key H pipe-pane -o "exec cat >>$HOME/'#W-tmux.log'" \; display-message 'Logging enabled to $HOME/#W-tmux.log'
-> set -g history-limit 30000
Start a Mosh session (for example with Mobaxterm on windows)
# tmux
# [CTRL]-b H
start SSH session (Mobaxterm or Putty on windows)
# tail -f csh-tmux.log
("csh" will be the name of the mosh window - so really "(MoshWindowName)-tmux.log"

You can tmux the ssh session too and still have scrollback and then just reconnect into the same tail command, which preserves the whole scrollback. If you’re on a connection like I’m on, your scrollback logfile will drop off a couple of times a day, but you won’t lose your Mosh session, and it’ll be waiting for you when you’re reminded that you need to see those security warnings from the compile that just scrolled off the Mosh screen forever.

Posted at 00:57:12 UTC

Category: FreeBSDHowToLinuxtechnology

SSL for Authentication Sucks

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 

One of the most horrible mistakes made in the early days of the internet was to use SSL (an “HTTPS” connection) for both securing a connection with encryption and verifying that the server you reach matches the URL you entered.

Encryption is necessary so you can’t be spied on by anyone running wireshark on the same hotspot you’re on, something that happens all the time, every day, to everyone connecting to public wifi, which means just about everyone just about any time they take a wifi device out of the house.  It is pretty certain that you – you yourself – have thwarted cybercrime attempts thanks to SSL, not just once but perhaps dozens of times a day, depending on how often you go to Starbucks.

The second purpose, attempting to guarantee that the website you reached is served by the owner of the domain name as verified by some random company you’ve never heard of is an attempt to thwart so-called “Man in the Middle” (MITM) and DNS poisoning attacks.  While these are also fairly easy (especially the latter), they’re both relatively uncommon and the “fix” doesn’t work anyway.

In practice, the “fix” can be detrimental because it gives a false sense of security to that sliver of the population that knows enough to be aware that the browser bar ever shows a green lock or any other indicator of browser trust and not aware enough to realize that the indicator is a lie. It is beyond idiotic that our browsers make a big show of this charade of identity verification with great colorful warnings of non-compliance whenever detected to order to force everyone to pay off the cert mafia and join in the protection racket of pretending that their sites are verified.

I’ve written before why this is counterproductive, but the basic problems is that browsers ship with a set of “root” certificates1You can review a list of the certificates of trusted Certificate Authorities here. Note that the list includes state-agency certificates from countries with controversial human rights records. that they trust for no good reason at all except that there’s a massive payola racket and if you’re a certificate issuer with a distributed accepted CA certificate you can print money by charging people absurd fees for executing a script on your server which, at zero cost to the operator, “signs” their certificate request (oh please, please great cert authority sign my request) so that browsers will accept it without warning.  It isn’t like they actually have the owner of the site come in to their office, show ID, and verify they are who they say they are.  Nobody does that except CACert; which is a free service and, surprise, their root cert is not included in any shipping browser.

Users then will typically “trust” that the site they’re connecting to is actually the one they expected when they typed in a URL.  Except they didn’t type a URL, they clicked on a link and they really have no idea where there browser is going and will not read the URL in the browser bar anyway and bankomurica.com is just as valid as bankofamerica.com, so the typical user has no clue where the browser thinks it is going and a perfectly legit, valid cert can be presented for a confusing (or not really so much) URL.  Typosquatters and pranksters have exploited this very successfully and have proven beyond any doubt that pretending that a URL is an unambiguous identifier is foolish and so too, therefore, is proving that the connection between the browser and the URL hasn’t been hijacked.

Further, law enforcement in most countries require that service providers ensure that it is possible to surreptitiously intercept communications on the web: that is do the exact thing we’re sold that a “valid” certificate makes “impossible.” In practice they get what are called “lawful intercept” certificates which are a bit like fireman’s key that doesn’t compromise your security because only a fireman would ever, ever have one..  Countries change hands and so do these.  If you think you’re a state-level target and certificate signing has any value, you’re actually putting your life at risk.  This is an immense disservice because there will be some people at risk, under surveillance, who will actually pay attention to the green bar and think it means they are safe.  It does not.  They may die.  Really.

Commercial certs can cost thousands of dollars a year and they provide absolutely zero value to the site visitor except making the browser warnings go away so they can visit the site without dismissing meaningless and annoying warnings.  There is absolutely no additional value to the site operator for a commercial cert over a completely free self-signed cert except to make the browser warnings go away for their visitors.  The only entity that benefits from this is the certificate vendor from the fees they charge site operators and for the browser vendor for whatever fees are associated with including their certificates in the browser installer.  You, the internet user, just lose out because small sites don’t use encryption because they can’t afford certs or the hassle and so your security is compromised to make other people rich.

There are far better tools2The hierarchical security model that browsers currently use, referencing a certificate authority, does work well for top-down organizations like companies or the military (oddly, the US Military’s root certificates aren’t included in browsers).  In such a situation, it makes sense for a central authority to dictate what sources are trusted.  It just does not make sense in an unstructured public environment where the “authority” is unknown and their vouch means nothing.  that use a “Web Of Trust” model that was pioneered by PGP back in the early 1990s that actually does have some meaning and is used by CACert, meaning CACert certificates actually have some meaning when they indicate that the site you’re visiting is the one indicated by the URL, but since CACert doesn’t charge and therefore can’t afford to buy into the cert mafia, their root certs are not included in browsers, so you have to install it yourself.

The result is that a small website operator has four options:

  • Give up on security and expose all the content that moves between their server and their visitors to anyone snooping or logging,
  • Use a self-signed cert3If you’re running your own web services, for example a web-interface to your wifi router or a server or some other device with a web interface, it will probably use a self-signed cert and you’ve probably gotten used to clicking through the warnings, which at least diminishes the blackmail value of the browser warnings as people get used to ignoring them.  Installing certificates in Firefox is pretty easy.  It is a major hassle in Chrome or IE (because Chrome, awesome work Google, great job, uses IE’s certificate store, at least on Windows). Self-signed certs are used everywhere in IT management, almost all web-interfaced equipment uses them.   IBM has a fairly concise description of how to install the certs.  Firefox wins.  to encrypt traffic that will generate all sorts of browser warnings for their visitors in an attempt to extort money from them,
  • Use one of the free SSL certificate services that become increasingly annoying to keep up to date and provide absolutely zero authentication value but will encrypt traffic without generating warnings,
  • Use CACert and ask users to be smart enough to install the CACert root certificate and thus actually encrypt and reasonably securely prove ownership.

And, of course, agitate for rationality: Perspectives and the CACert root should ship with every browser install.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. You can review a list of the certificates of trusted Certificate Authorities here. Note that the list includes state-agency certificates from countries with controversial human rights records.
2. The hierarchical security model that browsers currently use, referencing a certificate authority, does work well for top-down organizations like companies or the military (oddly, the US Military’s root certificates aren’t included in browsers).  In such a situation, it makes sense for a central authority to dictate what sources are trusted.  It just does not make sense in an unstructured public environment where the “authority” is unknown and their vouch means nothing.
3. If you’re running your own web services, for example a web-interface to your wifi router or a server or some other device with a web interface, it will probably use a self-signed cert and you’ve probably gotten used to clicking through the warnings, which at least diminishes the blackmail value of the browser warnings as people get used to ignoring them.  Installing certificates in Firefox is pretty easy.  It is a major hassle in Chrome or IE (because Chrome, awesome work Google, great job, uses IE’s certificate store, at least on Windows). Self-signed certs are used everywhere in IT management, almost all web-interfaced equipment uses them.   IBM has a fairly concise description of how to install the certs.  Firefox wins.
Posted at 15:50:20 UTC

Category: technology

Copying Text Without the Horrible Formatting

Saturday, August 16, 2014 

Have you ever copied some text off a web page or a document and then gone to paste it in another document or spreadsheet only to find some horribly formatted hypertext pasted in for some bizarre reason, then had to go through the hassle of trying to figure out how to remove the formatting?

Have you ever used Putty or another SSH client that automatically copies highlighted text to the copy buffer and allows pasting with a middle click and wished all programs were this smart?

Has anyone, ever, in the history of using a computer, WANTED to paste formatted text from a web page or drop some idiotic OLE object into their FrameMaker document?  I know I’ve never once wanted that to happen.

Tonight I had to copy a 100 or so mac addresses out of a DHCP list from the web interface of pfSense into an Excel table and each damn time I got stupid formatting and then had to select the cell, select the drop down menu for paste options, select paste as text, repeat.  Holy crap, what the hell were they thinking?  No clue.

None of the paste solutions recommended for Excel worked for me and OpenOffice/Libre were just as screwed up.  But I found some solutions for the copy side for Windows.  Some of the plugins should work on Linux.  If you’re using a Mac, The Steve has already decided how your work is permitted to look and the Apple goons will probably break your fingers if you try to modify formatting.

  • Auto Copy makes Chrome on windowz almost as efficient as a linux application! Copy as text, select to copy. Middle click to paste.  Dang. But it doesn’t seem to always remove formatting (select to copy works reliably though).
  • Copy as Plain text fixes this stupidity on Firefox.
  • UPDATE: Márton Anka is an awesome developer who writes some of the best code on the internet and his plugin PLAINCOPY, is an excellent solution.
  • Autocopy2 adds the incredibly useful select to copy to Firefox.  Once you get used to it, you’ll be frustrated with applications that don’t support it.
  • This edit to maker.ini will prefer pasting plain text (or now UTF8) over OLE2, eliminating that horror from FrameMaker.

It turns out there’s a universal solution for Windows.

  • PureText removes formatting from text on the clipboard and pastes it with an alternate key command (like Windows-V), so even copying from word documents to excel isn’t a horrible nightmare of tedium.

I haven’t yet figured out how to copy images from Firefox to Thunderbird without pasting it as a reference to the original image.  Pasting an HTML reference to remote content means the recipient either doesn’t see the image (because they don’t auto-load remote content or because they don’t have permission to load it or aren’t on-line when they read their mail) or Thunderbird makes a request to the referenced site to load the media creating a privacy violating log entry.  The most convenient solution I’ve found is to paste the image into irfanview first and then copy from there into Thunderbird.

Posted at 15:40:40 UTC

Category: HowTotechnology

Windows Suckz

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 

I will never understand why companies choose to spend good money developing software and systems around Windows. How can they be so stupid as to pay for absurd and byzantine licensing of inferior, insecure, opaque operating systems on which to build their products the regular failure of which only serves to damage the reliability of their applications and harm their reputation while reducing profit and increasing cost?

On the plus side, seeing BSODs and hang screens in public places is always good for lulz.

Posted at 07:03:05 UTC

Category: technologytravel

Cleaner, More Efficient Windows 7

Thursday, January 26, 2012 

One of the things I hate about Win 7 is the automatic “smart” folders like Homegroup, Favorites, Libraries, and the User folder. They are ass and unbelievably annoying. I have a folder called work that is well organized, but way too often I’d end up the the Library “work” which is just idiotically bizarre. I want my pictures organized the way I want them, typically topically, not all lumped into a folder called “Pictures” and segregated from another folder of “videos.”

Why someone at Microsoft thought that dynamically self-organizing file structures was a good idea is beyond me. They are in love with this insanely stupid premise that it is somehow helpful that every time you click on a menu or open a folder it is organized differently that the last time based on some algorithm you can’t control. It is like having Clippy restructure your documents for you.

They should have a central “turn off all features where MS engineers think they can organize things for you automatically and let me organize my computer myself, OK?” But they don’t, and while it is a bit tedious, it is possible keep Microsoft’s meddling fingers out of your organization with a few regedits.

Remove Favorites: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/remove-favorites-from-windows-explorer-in-windows-7/3461

Remove User Folder: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/48123-user-folder-add-remove-navigation-pane.html

Remove HomeGroup: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/remove-homegroup-from-windows-explorer-in-windows-7/3425

Remove Libraries: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/remove-libraries-from-windows-explorer-in-windows-7/3401

And regain control of your computer.

Clean_Computer.JPG
Posted at 17:48:57 UTC

Category: technology

Lenovo System Update breaks Windows Update

Monday, August 29, 2011 

An unfortunate series of events afflicted my poor Lenovo W500. At some point I started to get odd errors and ran sfc /scannow and found a large set of uncorrectable errors in a variety of packages. Nothing caused me too much trouble, so I ignored it. I kept hoping some giant windows update would overwrite all the broken bits and save me the trouble of debugging it, so I was happy when Win 7 Service Pack 1 was finally available – at 70-400MB it has to overwrite just about everything, but my happiness was short lived.

windows update broken.PNG

sfc scannow fail.PNG

Sadness… somewhere in the preamble updates something got hosed and a check of my disk showed bad blocks. Chkdisk confirmed it and it seemed a failing disk was likely the cause of many of my woes. I strapped as many belts and suspenders around the disk as I could – windows backup, clonezilla, copying files. Clonezilla couldn’t read all the blocks, so I had to use the recover option, but that version still had problems. Dang.

Windows recovery was fail, rollback, in place upgrade, system restore. All fail. Fine. Life sucks – reinstall from scratch and then reinstall all my applications. This is a huge pain in the ass, but windows just get sluggish in a year or so without a complete reinstall anyway; it isn’t like Microsoft cares whether you can get your work done or not, what are you going to do? Pay 100% style premium so The Steve can dictate what you can do? When choosing one evil empire over another, pick the cheapest.

So I do a reinstall from scratch. Windows reinstalls more than a few weeks out from the release of the OS are a monumental undertaking as the updates take forever. Bringing a windows 7 computer up to date takes between 1-1.5GB of updates, after installing a DVD’s worth of software. There’s the endless reboots as patches are installed and removed and whatever, multi-hour downloads. But eventually, you get a perfect, up-to-date OEM blessed configuration. Or so you think… duh duh duh.

I finished the whole mess, including the Lenovo System Update drivers and windows update stopped working and sfc /scannow gave me errors. Crappenfest. Reverting to the first system snapshot failed, uninstalling every single thing – all windows updates, all Lenovo updates was fail. Whatever did this can’t be fixed after it is done. You’re screwed.

Nothing to do but try again from scratch, this time paying attention and not using the computer at all until everything was installed, including anti-virus. Another 36 hours of updates later, same result. CRAPPENFEST.

How could that be? Some OEM/M$ update is breaking the system, and so began the hunt: reinstall from scratch #3. I used a binary search algo, saving disk images between each iteration so I wouldn’t have to do install from scratch 4. All windows update updates were fine, so the problem was with Lenovo. Updating only essential components was fail, restore windows. Installing just the really important bits one or two at a time (not quite binary splitting the install batch) got me through about half the useful lenovo updates, so time to create an image.

Reviewing the Device Manager, I saw 5 “?” devices – and searching around I found they were related to 3 drivers:

4-in-1 Card reader
Setup from “4in1” folder

  • Base system device Ricoh Memory Stick controller
  • Base system device Ricoh SD/MMC host controller
  • Base system device Ricoh XD- picture card controller

the above 3 unknown devices in device manager will be resolved by the Ricoh cardreader drivers.

Turbo Memory
Some models may or may not have a turbo memory module.
To verify, open “device manager” and check for a unknown device listed as “PCI Memory Controller”.
If such a device is listed, then install the Turbo Memory driver via setup from “turbomem” folder.
You may see a hardware device install popup from systray.
Reboot is required.

AMT
If Intel’s Adaptive Management Technology is implemented in anenterprise enviroment, then the AMT drivers can be installed viasetup from the “AMT\MEI” folder.
If AMT is not employed, AMT can be disabled via Bios.
The drivers from the AMT setup will resolve the unknown devices within “device mananger”, the PCI Simple Communications Controller.

I install just those.

FAIL!

recover using windows system recovery tools (format disk, reinstall from image)

One of those three. AMT I don’t want anyway, so I tried to disable it in BIOS, but there were no entries in my BIOS for AMT so I just disabled it in device manager. ?->! np. I don’t trust it, too deep in the OS. This seems like the problem.

Install Ricoh, seems benign. Reboot, system works. Just Turbo Memory to go.

Turbo Memory is kind of cool, especially for a laptop. As Intel says:

The benefits of Intel Turbo Memory include:

  • Faster application load and run time when multi-tasking
  • Faster boot time
  • Lowers PC power consumption by reducing hard drive spin

It uses some special on the mobo Intel cache memory to speed up disk access like a hybrid SSD/Rotating disk. I want this to work ’cause it cost money to put in the computer. Since it had to be that evil AMT security thing, no problem. FAIL. The problem is Intel’s Turbo Memory driver. If you install it, you’re screwed. Now that I know what the problem is, I find I’m not the only one with it.

I tried both the Lenovo supplied Turbo Memory Driver and the Intel supplied one here . Both are fail. No Turbo Memory For You. There are some hints in forums that maybe Turbo Memory isn’t compatible with advanced format disk drives, so possibly replacing my older 500GB disk with a newer 700GB uncovered a latent incompatibility.

Given how much of a disaster installing it is–the only recovery method is to restore a previous disk image–I suppose that’s one feature of my MoBo that is obsolete now. Bummer. Ate just about a week of work time to find this little monster of a driver. Thanks WinTel.

(my sfc /scannow log was filled with entries like:

POQ 119 starts: 0: Move File: Source = [l:192{96}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\a52557019366cc01d63500006c0a3c08._0000000000000000.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:104{52}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\_0000000000000000.cdf-ms" 1: Move File: Source = [l:162{81}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames58759019366cc01d73500006c0a3c08.$$.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:74{37}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$.cdf-ms" 2: Move File: Source = [l:224{112}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames58759019366cc01d83500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_3296b36dbe4c7fa3.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:136{68}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_3296b36dbe4c7fa3.cdf-ms" 3: Move File: Source = [l:244{122}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\c6495e019366cc01d93500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_framework_83386eac0379231b.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:156{78}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_framework_83386eac0379231b.cdf-ms" 4: Move File: Source = [l:266{133}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\26ab60019366cc01da3500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_e9368840261e60ee.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:178{89}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_e9368840261e60ee.cdf-ms" 5: Move File: Source = [l:288{144}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\860c63019366cc01db3500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_redistlist_2e6ab8b35e9ef953.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:200{100}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_redistlist_2e6ab8b35e9ef953.cdf-ms"

POQ 119 ends.

Posted at 17:12:45 UTC

Category: Negativetechnology

PDF thumbnails borked?

Friday, January 7, 2011 

If you have a 64 bit version of windows (x64) and you’re not seeing Acrobat/pdf thumbnails integrated into your shell/explorer view of folders and find that sad 🙁 then this should make you happy 🙂
http://www.pretentiousname.com/adobe_pdf_x64_fix/index.html

Posted at 22:10:23 UTC

Category: technology