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  • We’re easing into the Plus Membership benefits

    Posted on August 23rd, 2019 at 15:37 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Several of you have written to tell me that you can’t download Susan Bradley’s Master Patch List. There’s a reason for that.

    We’re gradually enforcing the Plus Membership restrictions: In order to get onto the Master Patch List page — and, soon, in order to download the latest Plus Newsletter and Alerts — you have to be a Plus Member.

    I’ve waited more than six months to clamp down. We’re starting now.

    If you want to get to Susan’s Master Patch List, or want to see the latest AskWoody Plus Newsletter, you need to:

    1. Sign up for an AskWoody account. That’s easy and free — just click Register.
    2. Log in using your AskWoody account.
    3. Sign up for Plus Membership.

    Keep in mind that we’re still on a donation model: You get to decide how much to pay for a one year’s Plus Membership. Really.

    The new Newsletter download page should be up early next week. We’ll bring over all of the old Windows Secrets Newsletters as part of the migration. Right now, it’s my intent to limit access to just the most recent Newsletter, and keep that block in place for a week. Everyone will be able to view or download every Newsletter except the most recent one — which requires Plus Membership.

    There are no plans to change our policy on Anonymous posting, or to limit the site in any other way. The big question is whether we can bring in enough revenue to keep the whole ship moving. And that, my friends, is up to you.

  • Think Chromebooks don’t work offline? Think again.

    Posted on August 8th, 2019 at 07:43 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    JR Raphael has an excellent article in Computerworld that explores how to set up your Chromebook so it’ll work offline.

    Yes, there are limitations. No, they aren’t as debilitating as you may think.

    I keep sayin’… for most people, a Chromebook is exactly what you need. Unless you have a very specific need for a very specific Windows-only program (and some of you do), you should seriously consider getting a Chromebook.

    I use mine all the time.

  • Microsoft contractors listen to some Skype calls

    Posted on August 8th, 2019 at 06:15 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Joseph Cox on Motherboard/Vice has a startling discovery:

    Contractors working for Microsoft are listening to personal conversations of Skype users conducted through the app’s translation service, according to a cache of internal documents, screenshots, and audio recordings obtained by Motherboard. Although Skype’s website says that the company may analyze audio of phone calls that a user wants to translate in order to improve the chat platform’s services, it does not say some of this analysis will be done by humans.

    Like other voice snooping revelations in recent weeks — by both Apple and Google — this fiasco appears to be limited to a very small subset of all translated conversations. And it appears to be covered by a tiny clause in a terms of service agreement. But it still makes me wonder what kind of corporate culture allows this sort of thing to happen — not just at Microsoft.

    UPDATE: That was quick… Lexington Law Group is seeking class action status for a lawsuit against Apple for listening to Siri commands. Thx Bogdan Popa.

  • Microsoft raises prices for organizations using VMware and either Google Cloud or AWS

    Posted on August 8th, 2019 at 05:55 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    An interesting chess move by Microsoft will make it considerably more expensive to move from on-premises servers to either Google or Amazon clouds.

    Details are complicated, but there’s a good overview by Julie Bort on Business Insider.

    Thx @getwired.

  • Do you know a MailChimp/Woocommerce expert?

    Posted on August 4th, 2019 at 07:40 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’re starting the next round of expansion here at AskWoody by beefing up the Plus Newsletter subscription plumbing, and launching a new product. At the same time, we’re fixing a lot of loose ends here on the site. Swallowing a whale has its consequences.

    If you know someone with MailChimp experience (we use MailChimp for the Plus Newsletter) and particularly the interface between WordPress’s Woocommerce package (which we use for subscriptions) and MailChimp, I’d sure like to talk to them. Have them email me ( with a pointer to their best MailChimp/Woocommerce work.

    Juggling three databases (WordPress/bbPress, Woocommerce and MailChimp) is a, uh, daunting experience.

  • Apple’s revelations about keeping/scanning Siri recordings demand a response

    Posted on July 29th, 2019 at 10:11 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Excellent article out this morning from Johnny Evans in Computerworld.

    You may have heard on Friday the Guardian assertion:

    Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or “grading”, the company’s Siri voice assistant

    For a company that touts its privacy superiority, that’s clearly way over the line. Even I was shocked – and I’ve been jaded by years of Microsoft’s snooping.

    This morning, Johnny Evans published a clear plan for fixing the wrongs:

    • Apple should introduce much clearer and easier to understand privacy warnings around use of Siri on its devices.
    • When setting up Siri on a new device you as a user should be given the chance to explicitly reject use of your voice for any purpose other than the original request.
    • Apple should bring this [contracted human snooping] work in-house, become completely accountable for what its voice workers and management do with these recordings, and ensure customers have some way in which to punish any infraction of their data privacy.
    • In the event Siri is invoked but no specific request is made, the system should be smart enough to ignore the interaction and delete any recording made as a result of that interaction.
    • Only in those instances in which different voice recognition systems can’t find a way to agree on what is said should human ears be necessary.

    It’s an excellent article. Windows users take note.

  • turns 15 years told

    Posted on July 14th, 2019 at 03:38 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Hard to believe it’s been this long, but the first post on appeared on July 14, 2004.

    Funny that the site’s second post was a recommendation that folks install a patch immediately. Man, how times have changed!

    I started AskWoody to set up a direct contact with readers… kind of a personal parallel universe to the Lounge and its emphasis on Windows support. Took a couple of years to iron out the MS-DEFCON system, grow the “woody” background, attach the bbPress Lounge appendage, then swallow the Secrets whale — which we’re still swallowing.

    More good stuff is just around the corner, after I get over jet lag. Promise.

    Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me,
    Other times I can barely see.
    Lately it occurs to me…

  • Internet of Things – reset your “C by GE” lightbulb

    Posted on July 7th, 2019 at 22:14 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    And people wonder why I don’t have any “smart” stuff in the house. Except for my vacuum cleaner, doorbell and security floodlight, of course.