Welcome to the Oct 11, 2014 issue of
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Click to see full-sizeMicrosoft announced last week that its new operating system, due to be released in a few months, will be called "Windows 10." You can find out more about it by clicking on the thumbnail photo to the left, or you can download an ISO disk image of Windows 10 Technical Preview at http://preview.windows.com... if you're technically minded and you have an extra PC to run it on. You shouldn't run it on a PC that you need for doing productive work, because this pre-beta release is still buggy and will likely crash alot. Or you could install "virtual machine" software, then install Windows 10 in a virtual machine: I just may do this!

Why is Microsoft's upcoming operating system named Windows 10, and not Windows 9? Some people are guessing it's because Microsoft wants to distance itself from Windows 8 that hasn't exactly been well-received. The new "Metro" renamed "Modern" interface with "tiles" instead of icons scared many people off, and the simplified black-text-on-white-background Start menu is a little stark. Yes, the "tiles" interface takes a bit getting used to, but I don't mind the different Start menu or in general adapting to changes -- most people, however, are change-adverse.

Did you hear about my quantum computer project? It's successfully completed, and not even started yet.

One blogger, though, posted this reason for the new name, which seems to me more likely -

"Microsoft dev here, the internal rumours are that early testing revealed just how many third party products that had code of the form"

if(version.StartsWith("Windows 9")) { /* 95 and 98 */ } else {

and that this was the pragmatic solution to avoid that."

So lots of those third-party programs written to run differently -- or not at all -- on Windows 95 and 98 PCs would behave wierdly or crash if running under a "Windows 9" version of the operating system. Does that reason for calling it "Windows 10" make more sense to you too?

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You'll notice in the above thumbnail photo that the dearly-beloved Start menu is back... well, sort of! On its right side are some "Modern" tiles that you can rearrange to your taste, or delete all of them. And the upcoming Windows 10 will automatically sense if your PC has a keyboard and mouse, and if so it will boot directly into the Desktop. But if your PC has a touch-screen or is a tablet, Windows 10 will boot right into the "Modern" tiles interface.

You will be able to resize the "Modern" apps any way you want, not just full-screen or half-screen, and move them around to wherever you want them on your screen. You'll still be able to "snap" apps to half-screen size, but now even to one-fourth-screen size. Another feature is multiple Desktops, so you can have work programs set up on a "work" Desktop, and games or Facebook, etc. set up on a "home" Desktop.

The Security Blurb:
A new article, "NSA May Have Undercover Operatives in Foreign Companies," in the latest issue of the online Wired Magazine tells another story about Snowdon's whistle-blowing leaks. It appears that the NSA has bases of operations in several foreign countries, such as outh Korea, Germany and Beijing, China, as well as having NSA personnel in U.S. embassies all around the world (which goes without saying, because the main job of diplomats isn't just to get drunk at parties, but to find out what foreign governments are doing or planning to do).

But this article goes on to describe three previously-unknown NSA programs for collecting information through private companies, domestic as well as foreign -

Sentry Raven-focuses on cracking encryption systems. The documents state that the NSA 'works with specific U.S. commercial entities... to modify U.S manufactured encryption systems to make them exploitable for SIGINT.' It doesn't name the commercial entities or the encryption tools they modified, however.

Sentry Condor-involves computer network attacks (CNA), the government's term for computer and network penetrations that involve degrading, damaging, delaying or destroying systems.

Sentry Owl-a program involving collaboration with private companies. The report doesn't elaborate on this. The most controversial detail in the documents... involves a reference to clandestine agents infiltrating commercial entities.

Just last Sunday on CBS's "Sixty Minutes" program the new head of the FBI was interviewed. He was asked about China's spying on U.S. companies. He replied, "There are two kinds of companies in the U.S. - those who are being hacked by China, and those who don't know yet that they're being hacked." We've known for years that the Chinese firm Huawei's internet backbone routers and switches -- which account for a large percentage worldwide of the infrastructure that handles Internet traffic -- is very insecure and may contain "call home" code. But another article tells us how the NSA, CIA and FBI hacked into Huawei's own networking equipment in their headquarters, "allowing it to monitor internal communications, including those of the chairman, Ren Zhengfei." Isn't the pot calling the kettle black?

In our last issue I mentioned the "ClamWin" portable app as a good backup anti-malware program that you can run from a flash drive. Well, when I ran it, I discovered to my chagrin that my made-in-China ASUS notebook's "Cyberlink" software for burning DVDs contains "call home" code - malware that potentially could monitor my every keystroke and send my information to China. So I deleted the whole "Cyberlink" subfolder! I hadn't installed the software because my notebook doesn't even have a DVD drive (I have an external DVD drive and I use Microsoft's disk burning program), so I feel safe.

But perhaps the only way to really be safe is to use the Linux operating system and other open-source software that has been vetted by programmers who are looking for security holes and backdoors. Now it comes out that Google's DoubleClick and Zedo advertising networks have been hit by large-scale malware in ads put up on these advertising networks: Crooks use Google ad network for ransomeware attack. Would Linux be immune from such attacks? What do you think?

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer, tablet or phone. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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