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  • Take control of your privacy – iPhone & iPad

    Posted on April 5th, 2021 at 01:02 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge


    Take control of your privacy – iPhone & iPad

    Nathan Parker

    By Nathan Parker

    Apple heavily promotes its devices and services as being focused on your privacy, especially for those who heavily use Apple’s built-in apps and services.

    Apple has a prominent page on its site devoted to its view of privacy.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.12.0 (2021-04-05).

  • If you have an avatar (a picture) here on AskWoody, make sure Gravatar doesn’t have any personal data

    Posted on October 4th, 2020 at 10:20 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Ax Sharma at BleepingComputer published an article that shows how a sufficiently motivated cracker can scan all of the entries at and pick up personal information there.

    If you have an avatar here on AskWoody (or on any other WordPress-based site), you have an entry in the Gravatar database. That’s where WordPress (and other sites) pick up your picture. Your picture is indexed by email address – your username on AskWoody doesn’t make any difference. The picture gets picked up by matching the email address you have associated with your AskWoody account, with an email address in the Gravatar database.

    Gravatar is owned by WordPress.

    Since this new scraping technique can pull data from Gravatar, you might want to double-check and make sure you don’t have any sensitive info stored over there. It’s easy.

    Step 1. Go to

    Step 2. In the upper right, click Sign In. Enter your email address and your Gravatar password (not your AskWoody password). Click Continue and Sign In.

    Step 3. Click My Profile. You see the settings in the screenshot.


    Step 4. Work through the entries on the right side and make sure there’s absolutely nothing there that you want to have snooped.

    Step 5. If you changed anything, click Save Profile.

    To be clear, this hack has nothing to do with WordPress itself, nor with AskWoody. But if you’ve set up an avatar for use on AskWoody or any other WordPress site, you should make the effort now to ensure that there’s nothing in the Gravatar database that you don’t want scarfed up for posterity.

    A reminder that AskWoody maintains the absolute minimum amount of information necessary to keep the site going — your username, the email address you used to create the account, your Plus membership status, and any additional info you may have stored, including your signature if you created one. Your password is stored in a one-way salted hash, which means that anyone reading the AskWoody database wouldn’t be able to figure out your password.

    Of course, we don’t store any payment information on, or anything else worthy of tracking.

    Thx @Microfix, @Kirsty, @PKCano…

  • Is there a DNS Blackhole in your future?

    Posted on August 9th, 2020 at 23:05 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge


    By Richard Hay

    Managing your online security and privacy is a never-ending battle.

    There is a variety of tools for this task, but each has its limitations. So I decided to experiment with a somewhat lesser-known technique called DNS Blackholes. Here’s my report on a journey of discovery.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.31.0 (2020-08-10).

  • Technology in a pandemic

    Posted on July 27th, 2020 at 01:15 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge


    By Susan Bradley

    We all have good years and bad, but 2020 has been rough on everyone.

    The pandemic has damaged world economies, caused untold disruptions to our education systems, put millions in financial peril, and tested our ability to socialize responsibly — and it’s not over yet.

    In the face of those difficulties, I’ve been impressed and encouraged by how people have adjusted their personal lives, their work, and their businesses. And much of that adaptation involves technology. Interestingly, quite a bit of that tech is not based on Windows.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.29.0 (2020-07-27).

  • Patch Lady – would you opt in for tracking?

    Posted on April 26th, 2020 at 22:08 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I kinda know how this is going to go before I post it but I thought this was interesting.  So I know how everyone feels about telemetry.  Here’s the ULTIMATE telemetry:

    Tracking yourself.

    Australia is rolling out an app that uses bluetooth to track your proximity with others to show your risk of COVID-19.  China even has a tracking app that sounds even more impactful big brotherish.

    So what do you think?  Would you use it?  Are you using it?  IDG’s techtalk talks about what the apps do and what the intent is.

    If you want a big under the hood review of the Australian app, check out this twitter thread.


  • Thurrott: Frustrating changes to the Win10 version 1909 installation experience

    Posted on November 20th, 2019 at 08:20 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I vividly recall writing around the installation process for Win10 version 1809 in Win10 All-In-One For Dummies. Microsoft did everything it could to convince you to set up your system with a Microsoft Account — and thus permanently brand your machine with your Microsoft i.d.

    I think that stinks. Most people are better off setting up a new PC with a local account (Microsoft calls it an “offline account” and, now, a “limited experience” account). MS setup should make it easy to keep this fundamental bit of snooping at bay.

    But it doesn’t.

    Paul Thurrott has gone through the maze with a fresh installation of the latest version of Windows 10, version 1909, and come up with some surprising results. Microsoft still plays a cat-and-mouse game with local accounts, but if you set up a machine while offline (thus forcing the installer to step you through setting up a local account), and then plug your machine back into the internet, Microsoft forces you to go through the installation process again.

    Of course, if you’re upgrading a machine to version 1909, you’re spared the indignity. But those of you setting up Win10 on a new computer are going to get pushed and shoved even harder into branding it with your Microsoft Account.

    Tell me again how Google snooping is so much worse than Microsoft snooping….

  • How to view and protect the privacy of your MS account

    Posted on October 28th, 2019 at 01:15 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge


    By Lance Whitney

    Microsoft accounts are used to sign in to Windows, access Office 365 and other services, purchase Microsoft products, and manage devices. But those accounts are also used by Microsoft to keep tabs on us.

    Through your MS account, the company can track the websites you visit, the activities you perform online, and even the places you go in the real world via your mobile device. You can, however, limit and remove the data Microsoft collects about you — to some extent. Within your online Microsoft Account page, you can view and clear your browsing history, check your privacy settings for specific apps and services, review and control targeted ads directed at you, and even download an archive of your Microsoft-related activities.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.39.0 (2019-10-28).