Urgent Information

Just as things are winding down for the season, two big issues have emerged. By now you have heard of the Heartbleed disaster, and of course Windows 8.1 Update 1 is in play.

Windows 8.1 Update 1

If you’ve already updated Windows 8.1 with the latest update, congratulations. Otherwise you might want to hold off until April 24 when I will have more information. You can track my “Pearls” on the topic here.


Heartbeat is the name of a faulty module for the encrypted website protocol that most of the world uses. One tiny oversight in Heartbeat renders secure sites, such as your bank’s, insecure. The hole has been named Heartbleed.

The bigger problem is, Heartbleed is not just a fix-and-forget kind of problem. By now, most most sensitive sites have been fixed. But it’s tough to find out the absolute status of many of them.

Your best bet is to change your passwords for sensitive sites now, and then again when the fog clears. Be sure to take the opportunity to use a different password for each of your sensitive sites, and make it a robust one.

George alerted us to the problem at the meeting yesterday, and I have started a Pearltree to track developments. Ignore at your own risk.


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CyberCoyote — March 7, 2014

Security at hotspots and other public venues

My notes for this talk are now online, and there is more information on WiFi and public venues at the new resource page I’ve added in the Security section of this website.

Wintel, Disrupted: Part 2 — Chromebooks

In the February 2, 2014 issue of this occasional tabloid, I wrote about the active disruption that Microsoft and their OEM partners are experiencing in the conventional PC business. One thing I didn’t mention explicitly was Chromebooks.

I did mention that Google’s Android and Chrome OS operating systems were a challenge to Windows, and that Google Apps are a formidable threat to Microsoft Office. There are other challenges to the legacy PC, not the least of which is Microsoft’s Surface Tablets, which compete directly with their long-term OEM partners business.

This confluence of trends triggered a revolt by their OEMs, who are now charting their own future instead of tagging along with the Wintel game plan.

Chromebooks are part of the OEM’s new independence. That is illustrated by Google’s dramatic promotion of an HP Chromebook. PCs were never a consumer appliance, but Chromebooks are. They are simple to learn and use, Google manages updates and security for you, and they do just about anything the average consumer needs done.

Chromebooks aren’t for everybody though. For one thing they have a couple of key limitations. For example, Chromebooks don’t have a straightforward printing solution yet. I’ll be talking about Chromebooks on the 3rd of April. I know that many of you will be long gone by then. But if you’re thinking about a new computer, say to replace your (or a friend’s) old Windows XP notebook, the notes for my Chromebook talk may be worth waiting for.

Uncommon sense

“To lament that we shall not be alive a hundred years hence, is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive a hundred years ago.” ~Montaigne
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2014 Windows 8.1 Hangouts

Note: There won’t be any further hangouts/jam sessions this season.

These “Hangouts” started off being called Jam Sessions. I knew there was a better name for them, but I just couldn’t conjure it up. Of course, Hangouts seems like the obvious choice now.

That indicates the casual environment we’re after. We will learn about Windows 8.1 by asking questions, solving problems, and exploring features. Anyone is welcome to drop by.

Live page

This is a live page for our hangouts. I’ll post various notes and links here from time to time as the season progresses. Just send me a message if you’d like to be notified when it is updated. Or check back here from time to time.

Links for topics that came up at the hangouts

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