Monthly Archives: February 2023

  • MS-DEFCON 4: Wrapping up a short month

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    ISSUE 20.09.1 • 2023-02-28


    By Susan Bradley

    February’s patches affected you either severely, or not at all.

    The good news: If you are a consumer, home user, or business that does not use Windows Server 2022 or any version of on-premises Exchange server, you will be just fine installing the updates at this time. Therefore, I am very comfortable with lowering the MS-DEFCON level to 4.

    However, if you are a business patcher with Windows Server 2022 hosted in VMware, you may have been significantly impacted. In addition, patch administrators are still dealing with the side effects of the Exchange updates.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (20.09.1, 2023-02-28).

  • A bunch of free RAM testing tools — most called “MemTest”

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    ISSUE 20.09 • 2023-02-27


    Deanna McElveen

    By Deanna McElveen

    While navigating our way down to Austin to visit our daughter over the years, we have learned one thing about Texas. It has too many highways, they are all still being built, and they are all named I-35.

    Well, the creators of RAM (random access memory) testing programs must live in Texas because they named most of them “MemTest”!

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.09.0, 2023-02-27).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • How to jailbreak ChatGPT and Bing AI — to see their evil twins


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    The world has gone gaga for chatbots: text-based artificial intelligence apps like Open AI’s ChatGPT — which Microsoft is using for its new, gabby Bing AI.

    The power of these bots, which converse in a frighteningly human-like way, may be the greatest technology breakthrough since Gutenberg invented movable type, eliminating the tedious hand-copying of manuscripts.

    However, that’s like saying the invention of the electric chair was a great advance for criminal justice over the older guillotine technology.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.09.0, 2023-02-27).

  • Being legal, supported, and secure


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Who regulates your software decisions?

    As an operating system comes to the end of its life span, we users have to decide what to do with our technology. Do we continue using it as is, with no consideration of risks? Do we stop using the technology and look for alternatives? Or do some of us do a combination of both?

    With proprietary software, our decisions are often driven by what type of customer we are.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.09.0, 2023-02-27).

  • Who are you?


    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    Here are a few things we learned from this year’s reader survey.

    First, many thanks to the large number of readers who took the time to complete our 2023 reader survey. Your response is very gratifying and greatly appreciated.

    Although we can’t share every detail of our results, and we haven’t published them in the previous two years, we now feel we have enough information to present the basics.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.09.0, 2023-02-27).

  • Beware of the fine print

    The other day I retired an HP color laser all in one that I had here at home because my Sister was about to chuck it out the window. It would get jammed. It would stop and “clean” constantly. So I replaced it with a Lexmark MC3426i unit. Now this unit is not for the faint of heart. First off when it says it’s a “Multifunction Wireless Printer with Print, Copy, Scan and Cloud Fax Capabilities” beware on that last part.  When it says “Cloud fax” it does NOT mean a plain old analog fax that uses a phone line. Nor does it mean a free cloud faxing service built in. Rather it means a trial for a cloud fax service and if you want it to continue you have to pay for it. I found it fascinating that there is a hole in the back of the unit where the faxboard USED to be. So if you go shopping for a multi-function fax machine – beware of devices that include “cloud fax”. That just means it has a hook into an online faxing service.

    On the back of the unit they even still have a plastic hole where the fax machine USED to be connected with an analog fax board, but clearly the manufacturer deems faxing with a phone line to no longer be used.

    Slowly but surely faxing is starting to die out. Once upon a time we lived on faxing. Everything was faxed. Now we are emailing or sending PDFs.  Back in the day there was a specific fax board that was the best computer faxing board around. If you depended on faxing, this was the board to have. The Brooktrout board.

    So here’s a dirty little secret about faxing. We think it’s more secure than email. It’s not. If someone intercepted that screeching sound transmission and had a receiving device listening, they could read that transmission. It’s not protected as it transmits across phone lines. It’s just HARDER to hack into a fax machine versus a computer. A fax machine also can’t be phished like a human can be with email. Typically as well the fax machine is less connected to the rest of the network. Especially with fax machines connected to phone lines, they typically were not connected to the RJ45 connection. If, however you had a device like the Brooktrout in your workstation or server, and if the attacker knew your fax machine answered at a certain number, and if the attacker send a specially crafted signal to the fax/brooktrout board, then they could, in theory, do potential bad things on a network. But as you can see from that, there are a lot of “ifs” in there. It’s easier to phish someone. But that’s not to say in theory fax machines connected to network devices bring vulnerabilities, but then too do humans and keyboards.

    So what technology did you rely on then, is now being slowly killed off?  Did you rely on faxing?

  • Microsoft kills off Internet Explorer — mostly

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    ISSUE 20.08 • 2023-02-20


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Not feeling the love from Microsoft this month?

    That might be because the company is saying goodbye to its aged Internet Explorer Web browser (IE), albeit only on certain platforms.

    For Windows 10, the death of IE is not part of this month’s Windows update but rather part of the update to the Edge browser. That update would have been in the background, silent, and you may not have noticed it. Even if you did, you probably didn’t pay much attention. Unless, of course, you had moved from IE to Edge a while back. For you, the update re-migrated your favorites and bookmarks, making a duplicate list.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.08.0, 2023-02-20).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • How you can use generative AI images — legally


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    Suddenly, image-creation programs based on generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) have exploded into one of the most exciting tech breakthroughs we’ve seen in years.

    A big problem is that the developers of these capabilities — and perhaps you, if you use them — are being sued big-time. The charges are copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property from the artists whose works were “scraped” off the Internet to train the systems.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.08.0, 2023-02-20).

  • How to take screenshots in Windows 11

    WINDOWS 11

    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    The ability to take a screenshot in Windows can come in handy, both for personal and professional reasons.

    Maybe you’re documenting a certain process. Perhaps you need to share an image of an error message. Or maybe you’re making certain changes in Windows and want to capture the before and after. I take screenshots to supply images for the articles I write.

    Whatever the reason, Windows 11 (and 10) provides several methods to take a screenshot of an app or window.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.08.0, 2023-02-20).

  • Why sharing in OneNote isn’t easy, and how to fix it


    Mary Branscombe

    By Mary Branscombe

    It will get simpler eventually, but for now you must plan ahead and double-check which account you’re using.

    OneNote automatically syncs all the notes you create between all the devices you use it on — and those don’t have to be only your own devices. You can share notebooks with other people and — as long as they’re stored somewhere they can connect to — they can see and update the information in OneNote. The same goes for your own multiple Microsoft accounts, such as work and personal; you can get access to your notes from both.

    But there are a few quirks to the way sharing works in OneNote that can trip you up if you’re not clear about how it works. There are also some long-standing frustrations and limitations that we’re still waiting to see fixed.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.08.0, 2023-02-20).

  • Organizing and networking

    In the United States, it’s that time of the year we call tax time. When you have to find those receipts and documents if you fill out a tax return. (As an aside, be kind to your accountant and get your information in early as well as recap your receipts on an Excel spreadsheet, Google docs, or Open office document to make it easier for them and cheaper for you, but I digress …. organizing your tax data isn’t tonight’s topic).

    I’m a gadget girl and one of the things I got recently at the office is a small little desktop scanner called the Epson ES-200. It’s a USB based scanner and I can easily scan in invoices we receive and  there is an add on called the Epson smart scan accounting edition (for $99 for the software) that scans in the invoice, reads the document and then connects it to QuickBooks desktop or online and adds it to either bill pay or write a check. Now it’s not 100% foolproof as you do have to review what it read but it certainly is more accurate than some of the AI chat things that Microsoft and Google love to demo these days.

    So of course now I have to have one at home. But while I don’t need it to scan into QuickBooks, as I don’t use that software at home, it just has nice easy scanning software that I can take my receipts and keep them in smaller electronic versions rather than in boxes of paper.  And of course, me being a geeky gadget girl I would like to share the scanner with other computers on my peer to peer network. And that’s when I remember how hard it is to share a USB based device when it doesn’t want to be shared. Now while there is a unit that can do wireless (the ES-300) in the reviews some say it’s a little flakey.

    I have in the past used such tools such as Fabulatech when I’ve needed to share usb devices at the office, but $149 just to share this scanner with my sister when we can probably just unplug and plug in the USB connection on her computer? Needless to say a longer USB extension cord is going to be cheaper in the long run. But it reminds me that sharing printers, scanners, and other home devices is often frustrating and doesn’t work as well as advertised.

    I’ve also seen devices that can make a USB connected over a network jack, but again, overkill for a home network.

    Bottom line, I think home network should be easier. It’s still way too complicated. What do you think?

  • Master patch list as of February 14, 2023

    I’ve updated the Master Patch list for the February releases. While this month doesn’t have the vulnerability count that many gage a big month by, it has .NET security releases which – on some platforms – add additional patch offerings.

    Remember to always review the known issues we are tracking on the Master Patch List. I will keep the latest info there.  Right now the big trending issue is Server 2022 and VMware.


    I am recommending at this time that you install Apple updates, I’m not recommending Windows updates at this time. I’ll have more details in the newsletter on Monday.

    • Windows 11 22H2: Not recommended
    • Windows 11 21H2: If you have a Windows 11 PC, recommended
    • Windows 10 22H2: Recommended
    • Windows 10 21H2: Recommended (if a vendor won’t support 22H2)
    • Apple Ventura – Recommended for newer hardware – as always check with the applications you rely on if they recommend this release.

    As always, thank you all for supporting the cause! Remember a donation will give you access and if you donate $50 or more you’ll get a special code to enable text messages sent to your phone each time the Master Patch List gets updated and when I change the MS-DEFCON level.