Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WinPatrol 28 Responds to User Feedback

For over 15 years WinPatrol has provided a tool that fills a need not available directly in Windows. WinPatrol has evolved from removing simple adware to complex malware infiltrations. By maintaining control over what changes are allowed on a Windows computer this small, non-obstructive application lives on attracting new fans thanks to social networking.

* WinPatrol Maintenance and Reset Tool

Under the PLUS tab, you'll find About/Version information along with your way to activate WinPatrol PLUS once you purchase a lifetime Name and PLUS code. You'll also find a search box so you can look up PLUS Information on files even if they aren't found in any of your lists. This can be used when you want to help a friend find out more about a mystery file on their computer.

There's also a "Reset" link previously used to initialize the PLUS name and code. The clickable Reset link has been expanded to provide useful tools created based on email questions from WinPatrol users.For details on each tool the help button will open the following information...

* Windows Services -  Automatic (Delayed Start)
One of the possible startup values for Windows Services is Automatic but with Delayed Start. WinPatrol now supports versions of Window and displays the Delayed Start option when available WinPatrol also allows Services to be managed so you can include this option when appropriate.

* User Interface Improvements

Alert screens have been updated to be less annoying and provide most effective information.  Readability has been improved with icons moved to the right side and some buttons have more descriptive text.  Nobody likes alert windows and under normal use you'll never see an Alert message. When you do, WinPatrol will help you decide if a change is required and do what it can to reduce repeating alerts. We've found that 8 out of 10 programs which fight efforts to be removed from the Startup list are legitimate programs, usually designed to provide dangerous automatic updates.


* Registration Improvements

When installing WinPatrol you'll be asked to supply your name, country and email. This information is used for statistical reasons to help BillP Studios understand the rate WinPatrol is installed, how installations react to promotions and especially how we can make WinPatrol PLUS the best possible value. Your name and email is used as a unique identifier and also helps to quickly find any requested PLUS codes that may be lost..
Anyone concerned about privacy didn't have to provide their truthful information but still had to fill in the form to continue.. Even though it's a standard practice to request registration for free software we don't want to alienate any fans of WinPatrol.
Version 28.0 found a new way to provide the same statistics without requiring a name or Email. All registration information is now optional.


* Improved Handling of Invalid Filenames
When programs are uninstalled poorly there can often be left over characters or spaces that frequently trigger WinPatrol alerts that contain no information. This version reduces the possibility of corrupted filenames.

Better Display when File Does Not Exist
Much of the information displayed by WinPatrol comes from registry and our goal is to let users see what's in the registry without having to know how to use regedit.exe. In some cases, programs have been registered but the file no longer exists. Often other security software removes the file but doesn't update registry pointers. This version make it more obvious when a file no longer exists and is no possible threat.

Click to Download WinPatrol 2013 version 28

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Check Your Verizon or Other Wireless Bill NOW!

Many of my readers know I'm not a fan of software added to a downloads if you don't read one of the setup screens and uncheck the option. This behavior has been accepted as a legitimate business practice even when the parasitic program blocks attempts at removal.
Large, well known company's like Oracle and Adobe commonly add browsers, toolbars, download managers even to required security updates. They receive a royalty on every successful installation which depends completely on users not paying attention.

Unwanted downloads isn’t the only business with growth projections that  take advantage of consumer ignorance. A number of company’s have established their business on providing ringtone services that we never signed up for. The only way I found out we were unwilling subscribers was by taking the time to read our phone bill. Over $20 was added to our bill for a services I had never heard of.  It turned out to be a subscription so if I hadn’t found it we would have continued to have it on every monthly bill. Reviewing old Verizon Wireless bills I discovered that we had been charged every month since last year.

The Verizon rep was willing to remove the charge and stop the subscription but hesitated when I said this charge as part of a scam.  During my first call the rep never bothered to review previous phone bills to remove charges while I could still reverse them. Apparently, by providing the billing of this service, Verizon receives sizable revenue.  So the phone company's don’t really care how these ring tone company’s obtain their customers as long as they receive payments for providing the billing. 

The Verizon rep did describe what happen. My wife received a text message welcoming her to a ringtone service and asked her if she wanted to cancel this service.  She never had any connection to this company yet, she had to select No on one of the screens or she was considered a new subscriber. The trouble is my wife doesn't have a smart phone and doesn't even know how to use text messages with her phone. She remembers getting some kind of unrequested message and that she routinely deletes text messages without reading them. Ignoring these messages apparently is the same as agreeing to their terms.
The service rep I spoke to today admitted that besides harvesting your cell phone number from services you give it to, they have software to generate random phone numbers and blast out text messages to millions of cell phones.  If they reach a valid phone and you don’t reply correctly you’re automatically a subscriber. We used to call these “War Games Dialers” after the movie with Matthew Broderick.
In the business world I grew up in this is considered deceptive, near criminal behavior. It doesn’t make me a Verizon fan no matter what other services I love that Verizon provides.

Apparently, Verizon isn’t the only wireless company allowing these scams.  The day I started to write this a friend alerted me to the same problem he experienced with Sprint. He didn’t have the same quick attention II had removing the charges and was fighting his $60 USD bill.
Doing just a little background I found my Jamster bill came from a company, Jesta Digital, LLC which used to be the Fox Mobile Group owned by News Corp. They have multiple services that go by the names Jamba, Jamster, Mobizzo, iLove and BitBop.  Apparently, I’m not the first one to experience a problem since someone has created an entire website called The consumer site contains many similar stories and information on a class action law suit.

Researching other ring tone services wasn’t as easy but eventually led me to similar websites full of complaints, class action lawsuits, patent trolls and behavior so obviously deceptive that many investors hid behind generic limited liability corporations. 

Ultimately, the responsibility falls with wireless companies like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Cellular One, AWCC, U.S. Cellular and  for some reason Cincinnati Bell kept showing up. Sadly, these companies have not received enough complaints to stop their participation.  All we can do it let our family, friends and neighbors know to check their bills and tell their family, friends and anyone who will listen.

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Monday, April 01, 2013

MVP’s Helping MVP’s

mvp_fullcolor_forscreen1I’ve had the honor for 6 years of being a member of a worldwide group sharing an award from Microsoft called “Most Valuable Professional”. MVP’s are described as “exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others”. This sharing is typically done with other Microsoft customers but recently I needed expertise with a popular Microsoft product. I had the pleasure of experiencing an MVP at their best providing critical assistance for one of my community roles.

This is also my 6th year on the board of a local non-profit called the “Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum”. We’re also known as the Traveling Museum since, instead of visitors coming to us, our teachers travel to schools and other events in the region providing hands-onmuseum programs that are fun and educational. 
This year the museum celebrates its 25th anniversary. I discovered our computer system worked like it was the same one they started with 25 years ago.

The organization recently invested in new computers and now runs quickly and securely on Windows 8. Unfortunately, problems were exposed in class scheduling which depended on an older version of a fantastic program called CRM.  We had just completed an exhausting search for an Executive Director and a broken computer system wasn't the best way to welcome her. Even though our two full-time staff members were ready to work hard manually emailing individual schedules to dozens of teachers every day wasn't an option.

I confess, I didn’t have a clue how CRM worked and only recently learned the amazing potential. While many in my small community think of me as a local computer wiz, my focus these days has been on security solutions. If you wanted help programming Windows or needed to reverse engineer a virus, I'm the guy.  In this case, we desperately needed someone with Server and CRM experience.

Just before traveling to this years annual MVP Summit I posted a call for help on a private forum shared by other MVP’s.  I suspect when other MVP’s heard we were still using CRM 3.0 they figured it was hopeless.  Not so with MVP Donna Edwards

Donna specializes in Dynamics CRM but her expertise includes Office365, SharePoint Server and SQL Server. She was the lead author on The CRM Field Guide. She had all the knowledge I lacked to assist the museum staff move ahead. There are kids in upstate NY getting a better education now thanks to a Microsoft MVP in North Carolina.

Donna went out of her way to advise the museum so we could find the least painful upgrade path. She connected to our system and fixed configuration errors created by previous computer firms. Like many non-profits, the Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum could face extinction without volunteers and the support from folks like Donna. The new software licenses alone were not in this years budget so bringing in a local computer firm was risky and an expense we couldn’t have afforded. Donna even helped us find a required channel distributor willing to work with such a small organization.

Ironically, I never had an opportunity to meet Donna while we were both in Redmond, WA.  Microsoft kept us pretty busy so I’ll have to wait until next year to thank Donna in person. Until then I’m happy to let Microsoft and everyone associated with the MVP program know that it works, it really works!

* CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
You’ll now hear it referred to as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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