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    ON SECURITY By Susan Bradley If you are as old as I am, you will remember the revolutionary changes the browser Netscape Navigator and search engine A
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    Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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    • #2599123

      I use the  Firefox  browser.  The plain Yahoo search without the articles.  I believe they are linked with Bing.  Were with Google.

      • #2599186

        I use Vivaldi with uBlock Origin & Cookie Autodelete extensions as my default browser on Windows. If I use the Goole search engine within Vivaldi & type in “gmail” it asks me to sign in so I think that I am using Google search anonymously & uncustomized which is what I prefer.

        I use the Chrome browser when I want to use my Google account for Keep Notes, Calendar, etc.

    • #2599138

      Just being curious about the ‘password-manager solution that can move between platforms and browsers’ statement. I personally use ‘Roboform’, and have since 2005 (V6) then ‘Roboform2Go’, now ‘Everywhere’. I am interested in one from AskWoody’s very own Deanna McElveen (OlderGeeks) called ‘NoCrappyPasswords’. That program seems to be able to generate unlimited passwords, with just knowing a small phrase or set of numbers. After trying it, that password that is generated can be reproduced with ease and no secured storage worries at all. Thank you for the great article, can’t wait to try out the search engines mentioned.

    • #2599163

      “You’ll want a management tool to control phones used in your firms as well.”

      Other than Intune, has anyone found a mobile device management solution that they are happy with? Bonus points if it offers any sort of viable antivirus component.


      • #2599268

        If you are a larger company https://www.jamf.com is the vendor I’ve seen recommended.

        For phones, I don’t think I’d recommend an antivirus – rather something that scanned the web urls.

        I’m most familiar with Intune and Defender for Endpoint.  The other vendors, not so much but I’ll ask around.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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        • #2599271

          We’re just a tiny company, but I have looked at Jamf. I believe it’s for Apple devices only, and I have a few stubborn Android holdouts.

      • #2599979

        Bitdefender internet security. Consistent products. Centralized browser control panel including mobile devices. You can even perform a remote wipe of devices from your console. Decent support, including phone last I needed it. We’re running it on Windows, Macs, and iPhones. They also bundle a decent VPN with their suites so you don’t need to pay extra for a different provider. Advisory: Don’t even think about engaging Microsoft Defender with Bitdefender;  that’ll completely bollox up Bitdefender’s impressive performance. @RobM – how do I collect my bonus points?

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        • #2600052

          Excellent info, thank you! I will definitely look into them. I wasn’t aware they had a mobile offering. As far as bonus points, if I end up going with them I’ll buy you a pizza 🙂


    • #2599223

      My 9600 bps (2400 baud) modem was my fourth modem upgrade, after the 300 (Westridge) and 1200 (1670) on Commodore and my first on the PC, which was 2400 (generic internal, unknown chipset). After I bought it, I discovered that my US Robotics 9600 (v.32) modem was actually a 14,400 bps (v.32bis) that had the v.32bis mode disabled in firmware, as I had read some were in one of the PC magazines. A quick AT init command and it was back to being a v.32bis (for that session), at $100 cheaper than the same modem with different firmware. Since it was normal for a modem to have an init string, it was a painless way to get a free upgrade.

      From there I went to 28,800 bps (v.34), then 33k, then 56k (USR X2), and then 56k (v.90, then v.92). I was selling self-built computers periodically, and I sold quite a few that had slightly used, like new parts that were my upgrades from less than a year prior. It was an easy way to get incremental upgrades more or less for free, or big upgrades for a big discount.

      I always preferred USR modems or their generic TI chipset clones, though in the V.90 era I tried all kinds. I got the best consistent speeds from Lucent chipsets.

      I always avoided “Winmodems” right through the time that I moved on from dial-up internet. These had no onboard ROM to hold the firmware, and were dependent on the Windows driver to load what would have been the firmware. They were troublesome at the time, with PnP (Plug n Play, or as we used to call it, Plug n Pray) in its infancy, and often on a system bus (ISA) that was never intended for dynamic configuration. On top of that, they were supposedly not compatible with MS-DOS, which I still used at the time, so I just stuck with tried and true (and more expensive) onboard-ROM models.

      Today, the “Winmodem” model is normal for all kinds of hardware, like wifi adapters, and it works quite well. Now it is normal to use the word “firmware” to describe the code that gets loaded into the device at initialization to make it work (like a microcode for a CPU), as it serves the same purpose as the ROM-based firmware, but the original definition of firmware that predated things like Winmodems meant it was stored in NVRAM onboard the device in question. Hardware was physically hard, like a motherboard or disk drive; software was soft, meaning it was intangible (the disk is not the software), while firmware usually came on a chip (so it was hard), but the part that mattered was intangible code, so it was also soft. Soft and hard at the same way is firm.

      As for search…

      I tried various search engines before AltaVista came around. AV was the first one that I thought really worked well. I used that from its first announcement through 2003 when Yahoo bought AV, then blended AV with some of their own search tech to form the new Yahoo search, for which altavista.com became a front-end. It was still getting good results, so I kept using AV (Yahoo) until about 2010, if my notes here are correct, when I noticed that suddenly it couldn’t find anything.

      From that point, altavista.com (Yahoo) was turning up all kinds of irrelevant junk, where I would generally be patient enough to search through about three pages of results looking for the thing I wanted. When that failed, I would try the same query on Google, and the thing I was looking for would be right there, at or near the top.

      I remember the search that finally did it for me… I had remembered reading an article about a hiker who went hiking (no kidding) in Death Valley in the summer, attempting to cross the entire valley and back in the heat of the day, only to meet an untimely end and demonstrate how the name of the valley and the associated National Park had come to be. I entered some relevant terms related to the article I had read (and wished to read again).

      Altavista found links to the National Park and all kinds of tourist trap info, completely disregarding my search terms related to the late hiker. I tried a few more searches with different search terms, and I could not find the article, or any other article on the topic of that hiker.

      I tried Google with the original search term I had tried on altavista.com (Yahoo/Bing), and the article was the first result.

      I was loath to consider using Google as my go-to, but back then to a much lesser degree than now, so I believe that became my default for a while. It was initially every bit as good as AV had been, if not more so, but it got worse and worse as time passed. Within a year or two I moved to DDG, even though its results were still worse than Google’s worsening results.

      Since it’s not Google, DDF has been my first-attempt web search go-to ever since, though it still fails in much the same manner as AV (Yahoo/Bing) did years ago with some regularity. That’s when I turn to StartPage, which is an an anonymizer/frontend for Google, much as DDG is for Bing.

      I am familiar with the existence of Qwant and Ecosia from their inclusion in Waterfox, but they are also frontends for Bing, and I already have DDG, so I have never really tried them.

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    • #2599243

      I am always open to trying a new browser or search engine.

      I was intrigued by your mention of Qwant.    I tried entering it as a choice in Vivaldi (my browser) and had trouble figuring out the correct search string to use.  I entered “qwant default search string” in the qwant site search box and received a page of references to google.  I entered the same search query into duckduckgo and received a page of references about using qwant.   looks like qwant has a long way to go.

      I also use Startpage for searches. It anonymizes and searches google.  Occasionally I get a useful result that way if duckduckgo isn’t doing it for me.

      • #2599249


        I added a Qwant shortcut to my Windows 10 desktop.

        Now when I click on the Qwant desktop icon it opens in Firefox – my default browser.

    • #2599265

      Ah yes, I remember the early days of the internet when it was still called ARPANET.

      My first browser was Mosiac running on Windows 3.11, which became Netscape Navigator, which evolved into Netscape Communicator and eventually morphed into Seamonkey.

      I avoided using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as if it was The Plague and never bought into the whole Firefox browser thing since it was just a “stripped down” version of Netscape Communicator.

      During the Windows XP era I started providing IT support for various companies and had to finally break down and start using MSIE to ensure I could keep things running smoothly for them (still support a few that use it internally for special jobs.)

      I also occasionally have to use Chrome, Edge or Opera, but my default browser is still Seamonkey and I’ll continue to use it until such time as it no longer works for most of the sites I regularly visit (already encountered a few, like cnn.com, that just don’t display properly in my non-chromium based browser.)

      As for dial-up, I had an Apple II+ with a 300 baud Haynes modem that I regularly used to connect to various BBS during the 80’s, most often the ExecPC BBS service. Talk about s-s-l-l-o-o-w-w connectivity!

      I thought it was amazing when they finally upped modem speeds to 900 then 1200 and finally 56K baud!

      • #2600163

        Also remember Mosaic (running on HP Unix for me) as revolutionary, compared to what I had on DOS/Win 3.1 (Lynx, text only command line).   Also Alta Vista and Lycos.  Back then I switched to OS/2 2.0 as my PC OS.  By the time of Warp 3.0 IBM had developed a browser but dropped it and instead provided Netscape as the built-in browser, so kind of back to Mosaic.  Since then I’ve always been on some flavor of Netscape/Mozilla.

    • #2599318

      Several things I do with browsers and searching.

      • In Firefox, I have multiple profiles — one is a hyper-tweaked version that has a lot of privacy things, including liberal use of NoScript. I have a second browser that is barely tweaked at all, other than setting a home page, and where I set the browser to discard all cookies and history at the end of a session.  Sometimes, that’s useful to quickly determine if the hyper-tweak setup is getting in the way.
      • I don’t like searching from the address bar, and I have that turned off.  Instead, I keep a folder in my bookmarks bar, which is located directly underneath the address bar. Despite what I have set as the default search engine, that folder has a list of several search engines, which I can quickly choose from for every search.
      • I tend to default to startpage.com — it’s a proxy for Google, but one nice thing is that StartPage allows saving all user preferences as a URL, without having to log in, or to maintain persistent cookies.  If I click on the link to StartPage, I get all of my preferences on the first try.
      • In Thunderbird, there is an extension called OpenWith, that allows right-clicking on a link, and then choosing which installed browser I want to use.  I haven’t tried to see if this works in Firefox, but I know that there’s an old XUL-based version that works in Seamonkey.  A really nice way to bypass things that go through the default browser.
      • I make a measure of use of Edge, especially at sites that are more business-focused and not tied to advertising infrastructures, especially stuff that’s part of Microsoft 365.  I’ve found that with some work of reviewing all of the preference settings, it’s possible to turn off pretty much all the telemetry and advertising stuff that Microsoft builds in (including the MSN home page, the sidebar, and other value-added Microsoft services).  If these are adjusted correctly, I’m convinced that Edge is preferable to anything I can do in Chrome, and nearly as good as Firefox, and not a built-in spyware vector.  That said as with other Microsoft things, it is necessary to make periodic reviews to check for things that Microsoft may have silently reset to their preferences.
      • I mentioned StartPage, and it’s a proxy for searching Google (years ago, they dropped their meta engine that aggregates the results of several engines). StartPage streams Google results, but as with DuckDuckGo, user data is not exposed to StartPage.  Overall depth of searches seems to match Google, but ordering of results is different. Susan mentioned Qwant, and I believe that they are also a proxy for Google (even if they adhere to EU privacy rules).  Another proxy for Google is Ecosia, based in Germany. They claim to direct their revenues to planting trees, but also privacy-enhanced.
      • One other thing about Firefox is an extension called uBlacklist.  This one allows you to permanently filter search results to exclude certain sites, and works on any search engine.  Thus, I have the nearly-useless answers.microsoft.com listed and even a search of Bing will not return results there.
      • Bing has other issues with too much ad placement, but with some careful application of filtering from uBlock origin, it’s possible to block a lot of the placed content at the top of search results.  However, this is something that takes some tinkering with and as with NoScript, isn’t good for casual and non-technical users.


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      • #2600103

        In Thunderbird, there is an extension called OpenWith, that allows right-clicking on a link, and then choosing which installed browser I want to use. I haven’t tried to see if this works in Firefox, but I know that there’s an old XUL-based version that works in Seamonkey. A really nice way to bypass things that go through the default browser.

        I did not know that seamonkey still had XUL. I am now using Pale Moon but have some compatibility issues. Nice to know. And a big yes to Openwith for both.


        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • #2600107

          The main reason I still use Seamonkey instead of Firefox is because it uses a set of XUL only extensions that were never ported over to the new WebExtensions setup Firefox now uses.

          They allow me to customize a lot of different things about how the browser looks and acts that I really like for which there are no equivalent Firefox add-ons that do the same things.

          The other reason is the fact my email client (i.e. Thunderbird) is built-in to the browser and not a separate app (i.e. if I’m browsing, it’s active and regularly checking for new emails. If I’m not browsing, it’s inactive and not using any PC resources.)

    • #2599324

      Something that I really miss about AltaVista and other early-generation search engines is in-depth ability to control my searches, especially results order.  Unfortunately Google (and everybody else) now subscribes to the idea that their algorithm is best at anticipating what you want (or delivering the advertising that is related to your search params).  There’s no longer capacity for setting advanced params, and the capacity for Boolean inclusion and exclusion has degraded signficantly.  I know that DuckDuckGo has a few things that they support, but I haven’t spent enough time there to learn the syntax, much less whether using it is effective, or not.

    • #2599327

      Started with Netscape Communicator and Altavista in the mid 90s until Internet Explorer was released.  I always found the the Mac PowerPCs to be effectively unusable with it.  IE was blindlingly fast on both Win95 systems as well as the Macs once it was released for them.

      At around IE6 I started to notice it was getting more bloated and I found the Phoenix browser (Mozilla/Firefox).  I think the first version I used was in the .60b area, and I had been a continuous user up until around 2010.  That’s about when Chrome started to replace FF in my life back when it was far superior speed-wise to the then bloated Firefox..  Quantum has made FF an option once again, however momentum has kept me on Chrome for now.

      Always used IE off and on since I have to support it for family and business but I’ve considered it to be the inferior since version 6.  Have had brief stints with Opera during the periods when FF started to fail for me but I never could get myself to like it.

      With everything going on nowadays I need to move towards a browser like Vivaldi or Brave.  I’m leaning towards transitioning to LibreWolf almost entirely.

      • #2599332

        For search engines, I’ve been using Google nearly exclusively since its release.  I’ve tried other engines at different times, such as  Lycos and Yahoo in the era of Altavista, or MSN/Altavista in Google’s era, but their search results were rarely better.  Google has been the single greatest search engine ever devised… up until the last 5 years or so?  The results are getting a lot worse and part of that may be due to the “walled garden” nature the Internet has turned into.

        Finding information is a lot harder now and a centralized search system isn’t as useful.  I have been using DuckDuckGo more recently, but since I think it uses Google as its backbone it is getting worse as well.  I’m not certain how or what search is going to look like in the future.

        Bing may be an example of a better choice where an AI search system powers most of my general queries while I dig in with DDG when I need something more.  Hopefully we’ll see  some good federated service evolve out where you can subscribe to different filter/crawler systems to help control results without losing access to niche but useful websites.

        For now I just use DDG or Google with “Reddit” added in to most queries.

    • #2599350

      All the analog modem references remind me of the good ol’ days of running a BBS 😀

      I was thrilled when I upgraded to Hayes 2400 Baud…and even MORE thrilled years later when upgrading to USR 14.4k, USR 33.6k, USR 56k (Back when upgrades were actually UPgrades 😀 )

      Someone mentioned the Winmodem — I never owned one, but bumped into plenty of people who did.  Basically the manufacturers were stripping theose modems of all the electronic circuitry that allowed them to operate independently from the host PC.  The manufacturers loved it because it cut their costs, but consumers who bought it were in for a world of hurt when they discovered their Win95/98 era PCs couldn’t reliably meet the pseudo threaded processor demands such a device required to properly operate:  constant disconnects, corrupted buffers, … what a disaster.

      As for HTML based search engines (on www) I began with Yahoo! when it was introduced.

      Once AltaVista was launched, I began using their search engine and it quickly became my favorite.

      I experimented with varoius other search engines as they became available (lycos, excite, dogpile, netscape, and various smaller indexes). They all had their pros and cons.

      Once Google search launched, I gradually began shifting from AltaVista to Google.

      As most know, Google continued to improve search over time.  However, circa 2017-ish, Google search began going downhill for me (search results began to be incomplete/limited and biased) As the saying goes, “All [sometimes] good things must come to an end”

      Now I typically use DuckDuckGo.com … at least until it sells out 😀

    • #2599438

      Maybe I’m dense, but none of the links to duckduckgo in the newsletter went to any place useful. I’d like to try it.

      (Separately, when I click on a link like this one:


      the click tracker list-manage.com is rejected by my privacy/security settings and goes nowhere-see screenshot. Many people use that service, even my alma mater. I have to manually edit it out which is only sometime successful. If anyone has a better solution I’d like to hear it (using Firefox with uBlock, privacybadger, HTTPS everywhere, among others)

    • #2599527

      Thanks – any suggestions as to WHICH settings?

    • #2599554

      Nice try but no cigar. “Learn how” says to click the shield, but there is no shield – see screen grab.

    • #2599938

      I miss AltaVista. It was kind of like Google was before Google got lousy. One of many reasons I miss Digital Equipment Corporation as well.

      We are SysAdmins.
      We walk in the wiring closets no others will enter.
      We stand on the bridge, and no malware may pass.
      We engage in support, we do not retreat.
      We live for the LAN.
      We die for the LAN.

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    • #2599939

      You can read “Soul of a New Machine” for a blast from the past.

    • #2599980

      Brave browser using Presearch web search for us. I stopped using Duck Duck Go long ago when they started curating their results based on politics. That practice is known widely as censorship. I don’t want anyone filtering results for us. I want the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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    • #2600368

      a) yes I am. Started with RS and C64 and 3.11 and 95.

      b) copilot as replacement for bing and cortina… 🙂 Certainly, I agree that the current level of copilot is = or < simple bing output. Very different from how it was hyped in the MS presentation.

      c) though I have occasionally tried other search engines over the years, I stick with google simply because it gives me the info I am looking for, quickly.

      - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2.
      - Win 11 Pro 23H2 WU. HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell s3221QS for old games.

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