Last month, Dell announced they would be replacing over 4 million batteries from notebook computers shipped worldwide during the last 2 years. Shortly, after that Apple announced a similar recall on a smaller scale. Doing a recall on this magnitude is an extremely expensive and complex task, and PC Pitstop applauds these companies for leading the way. The reality is that all portables running LiON batteries have some probability of exploding. Apple and Dell owners should be pleased, not dismayed, that their manufacturers chose to be the leaders in alerting their users to the risks of portable computing.
Hello, my name’s Rob and I’m a speedaholic. I am addicted to bandwith. The fatter and faster my pipe to the internet, the better I feel about myself. Me and my internet connection are inextricably linked at the hip for better and worse. As soon as my bandwidth provider has a higher speed, I am always among the first to purchase the faster service. Right now, I have 8000 kbps in the United States and 2000 kbps in Brazil. But the future is even more exciting! One day soon we will be downloading at 50,000 kbps.
I was born in 1959, which puts me at the tail end of a trend called the Baby Boom. I’m a Baby Boomer. I remember long hair, Jimi Hendrix, LSD, bell bottoms, and Kent State as a rebellious youth. Maturity and greed replaced our wayward spirit; and with it came junk bonds, the personal computer, compact discs, IRA’s and the internet. We, Baby Boomers, have impacted, changed, and molded American society like no other generation before or after. Until now.
In 1985, I remember fondly opening the box to my first PC. It had 768K of memory, a 6 Mhz processor, and a 10 MB hard drive. It was a state of the art, technological marvel. I wrote my master’s thesis in a program called EZ Writer, and I planned my life and balanced my books in Lotus 123. It did everything I wanted it and more. I never thought it was slow, except when I saved to the 5.25 inch floppy.
If you had a complete knowledge of what most spyware was doing to your system, you would never agree to install it. So how does it end up installed on so many PCs? Here are some of the dirty tricks that spyware uses to worm its way onto your system and stay there. (Not all spyware uses every technique.)
My friend Jeanne called in a panic the other day. Apparently, she had lost all her email stored in Microsoft Outlook. She had spent the last week on the phone with Microsoft and doing Google searches to find some glimmer of hope that she could recover her last five years of email. She was clearly distraught, and I did my best to help her and calm her down. But inside I was livid. It was deja vu because the exact same thing had happened to me 3 years ago.
It’s no secret that Windows has security holes so large you can drive a truck through them. My last article analyzed the difficulty Microsoft faces with Vista in winning acceptance of an improved security model. But this of course begs the question, what can Microsoft do to make a more secure computing environment for us all? Even if Microsoft is one of the most profitable companies run by the richest man in the world, I hope they can take a little constructive criticism.
By and large we live in a world of standards. Wouldn’t it be a drag if we had to buy a new faucet each time we bought a new garden hose? Or a new electric outlet whenever we bought a new refrigerator? We live in a world of standards, and this is no more true than in the PC industry.
Does everyone remember a few years ago the wacko guy that was blowing up mailboxes in the midwest? What I remember most of all is that suddenly everyone was afraid to open their mailboxes. The ramifications were huge. Millions of businesses rely on the US mail to deliver marketing materials, invoices, and other important communications. What would have happened if the US mail became unreliable?
When I was going to high school in the late 70’s, required reading for all English students was George Orwell’s 1984. I still remember reading about the overly structured life created by a highly bureaucratic government dubbed Big Brother. The book is essentially an anecdote for many of today’s problems related to governmental power versus the privacy and self determination of citizens such as ourselves.
There is no doubt that the lines are being drawn for a galactic cyber battle for control over your PC and your desktop. Spyware and adware companies make barrels of money installing their clandestine applications on your PC without your knowledge. Even for an advanced user, typically the most expedient solution is to install an anti spyware product. This article will take an in depth look at the various anti spyware solutions we have seen at PC Pitstop. During this discussion, the reader should refer to our anti spyware graph from our research section.
By Robert P. Lipschutz
Adware vendors, in their quest to infiltrate computers everywhere, benefit from confusion, a lack of user knowledge, and the realities of human nature. However, by using a combination of defensive strategies, you can lower the impact of adware on your computer. If you wish to enjoy the benefits of “free” Internet software, the primary carrier of adware, diligence is key.
Since March 2004, PC Pitstop has been surveying WhenU users about their installation experience with WhenU products. Our first report on this data was published in April 2004, and it validated our anecdotal experience that very few users knowingly consent to installing WhenU.
Here’s a special shoutout to all the Pitstoppers in the Louisiana delta area. Our prayers and heart felt concerns are with you as you go through this incredible disaster. It is times like these when we truly realize how powerless we are to bend this world to our own human desires. I am sure that I am not alone, as I watched hour after hour of television, of the slow developing tragedy developing down in the bayou. The entire world felt the pain down south, but there was little that any of us could do but watch the events unfold.
As the companies that use deceptive software installations rack up bigger and bigger profits, their tactics are evolving to further increase their profits and ensure their long term existence. Although we had already been sued by Gator, we were a little surprised when, when we received two emails like the one below last month.
About a year ago, I was helping a friend with some minor computer problems in his small business in Rio. He is a pretty smart guy, but his computer knowledge was lacking, and I wanted to help. As we sat down at the computer, we got the familiar XP error message that asked us whether we want to send the error details back to Microsoft. My neophyte friend hit “Do Not Send” immediately. When I asked why, he said “I don’t trust those bastards for anything and I would never send personal information over the internet to them.”
Since early in 2002, we have been using an ad network called Tribal Fusion that serves banner and popup ads to our web site. And since 2002, I have hated these popup ads. Dave would regularly bother me to kill the popup ads, but we just could not afford to do it. Advertisers are willing to pay a significant premium for pop up ads, and at times they have been a significant portion of our revenues. Although XP Service Pack 2 initially provided a respite to users with its built-in popup blocker, nearly all the ad networks have found ways around popup blockers, which makes the popups even more annoying.
Over the past few years, a new class of software has emerged that’s up to no good. It goes by many names: spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity we’ll just call them all spyware. Here are some of the “features” you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more.