The Wall Street Journal reports today: “Hackers in Europe and China successfully broke into computers at nearly 2,500 companies and government agencies over the last 18 months in a coordinated global attack that exposed vast amounts of personal and corporate secrets to theft, according to a computer-security company that discovered the breach.”
This is apparently not related to the attacks from China that caused Google to make noises last month about closing its operations in that country. In fact, the New York Times calmly notes that this is a relatively small blip in the world of compromised computers and botnets. The Conficker botnet reached its peak at 15 million computers and continues to contaminate more than 7 million systems globally. […] continued
Live Mesh is Microsoft’s program for syncing folders between multiple computers and online storage, making your files available to you wherever you are.
I think Live Mesh is dead, and I think I know why: Microsoft is deliberately cutting back on what it could have delivered to protect the revenue it wants from Office 2010.
Live Mesh was built on promising technology and it fulfills part of its promise: once it’s set up, it syncs files accurately and quietly.
Its quirks were easy to overlook – for a while. Two examples:
If you are running Firefox, you can get the new version by clicking on Help / Check for updates. Presumably it will soon be offered automatically when you launch Firefox.
Switching from IE is easy: start at this page and you’ll be given lots of information about what to expect. Firefox imports favorites and passwords from IE automatically. If you’re using LastPass, you can separately install the Firefox add-in and all of your passwords will begin working immediately. […] continued
I’ve prepared a list of computer safety tips for years. Over time, the advice to keep critical programs up to date has moved to the top spot on the list. You don’t have to spend all your time reading technology news but you do have to be able to identify which reminders are legitimate when they pop up from the system tray.
There’s a weird news story to illustrate why updates are important: the entire network of computers at the University of Exeter has been locked down and taken offline for days because a virus has been raging through it. The virus was able to spread because the computers had not been updated with critical updates for Windows that were published four months ago. […] continued
On Tuesday Google announced that it would no longer comply with Chinese censorship demands and might cease operating in China altogether. As I understand it, Google has set up a separate search page that operates within China and censors some search results as requested by the Chinese government.
I believe Google also cooperates with the government in blocking access to Google.com. Update: Apparently Google.com can be reached from Chinese computers but search results are censored. […] continued
LastPass will help you manage all of your online passwords. You should learn about it, install it, and use it every day. This is seriously good stuff.
LastPass is a free program that memorizes each password typed into a web site and automatically fills it in when you return to the same site. Once it’s up and running, the master password for LastPass is the only password you have to remember.
The feature that makes this genuinely exciting: your passwords are stored online (safely). You can use LastPass on more than one computer – an office computer, a home computer, a notebook, a netbook – and your passwords will be automatically filled in on all of them. […] continued
Two recent announcements.
The New York Times officially added “Times Skimmer” to its family of web sites, with an attractive interface for browsing through news stories without scrolling. Here’s the announcement, and here’s more information about Times Skimmer. Make sure you’re also familiar with the standalone New York Times Reader, an even better way to read the news on a computer.
Google rolled out a minor change to its home page, adding an effect that initially displays an almost bare page with a search box. The other menus and links will fade in when you move the mouse. […] continued
Google built its reputation on its streamlined, minimalist home page and search results, but it may change that design to add more information soon. A small number of people will randomly begin to see “Google Search Options” displayed on the left of the search results as Google runs tests to expose useful features and make results more predictable. Here’s an article with details about the tests and comments by Google’s design diva Marissa Mayer.
If you do a search today on Google, the search results are laid out this way.
Across the top are links that narrow the search to different categories – images, videos, maps, and more. […] continued
Two weeks ago my son clicked OK on a message about some security problem. He called out and asked me about it after he clicked. By the time I walked in and unplugged the network cable, there were seven malware startup programs and services installed and over 700 files in C:, C:Windows, C:WindowsSystem32, and a few other places. He got lucky; I know some tricks and cleaned them out successfully.
Last week a Windows XP computer was discovered by a client in a closet where it had been sitting for three years. He brought it to the office and plugged it into an Internet connection. […] continued
There is no shortage of how-to guides online, but loyal reader Stan Beck pointed out a particularly nice collection of free manuals – each one short enough to be appealing but long enough to have useful details. If any of these titles sounds appealing, you might want to take a look.