Microsoft’s Free Security Tools

Found on chat board. It’s on a Microsoft TechNet blog so it’s a trustworthy [secure] source.

Click on the URL below to open the webpage containing the downloads:

Microsoft’s Free Security Tools – Summary – Microsoft Security Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

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Patent Trolls

Just received this from a Daily Snapshot email I subscribed to from on the The White House website.

Click on the URL [below] to read the article:

Taking on Patent Trolls to Protect American Innovation | The White House

Social Media Overload

Lots of social media out there now these days. Most of it good. Some, not really worth my time. While some may provide a needed distraction. Others, offer us a detour down a long road of catchy boards to leave us probably saying to someone at some point “Well I don’t recall what I was doing when I clicked that link, Mr. “Nosey”!!!” (sarcasm)

So let’s just talk about the good shall we. On second thought, let’s at least start with the good and try to minimize the bad and the ugly. That sounds better. Let us go with that.

  1. Social connections. More connected to more people. More often. But how connected and with what? Well, the people I’m connected to are really people. So that’s always good. My immediate circle I could chat, text, call, video call, or see them in person anytime they want. Permitted they want to. I live like 115 miles away from some family. Do they really need to be there? Ever heard of the phrase, “too close for comfort”. For me, it can be a welcome retreat from reality sometimes. But it’s actually both that and a way to keep in touch and reach out and touch someone every now and then. For me, just using Cisco, Google+, or Skype for now is social networking in a way. Especially if it’s something I would normally do.
  2. Video: It’s nearly ruin’t (ruined) me from television. Which is good. I don’t watch as much or not at all other than a YouTube or RuTube or whatever tube they got now in the Ukrane or something. I don’t know, they’re just cool sites I find out there. The good thing is that I get more media from more sources but served up in less time. I’ll gladly watch a 30 second add about a talking gecko to get a 5 minute tape of what I’d have to spend 30 minutes or at least 10 to get after the ‘no wait weather’ part of the Hutch forecast. Gotta get that Hutch forecast. Well, I still can because they put it on their website. So there you go. Hutch crisis averted.
  3. Media clearance: I have more control over what I see on my computer than what comes through most other forms. Heck, I’ll take Windows 8 Pro off my Dell right now if you don’t give me free Netflix for the rest of my…. I’m sorry, it’s just that… I’m… so…greedy. I actually could probably load Ubuntu on this right now but I can do the same in a Hyper-V or VMWare virtual machine. The good thing about those last two incoherent, rambling sentences, was that now I actually have more time to do that stuff. Both with the learning how to do (via the web) and connecting with social media. But now that I can choose what I want to watch or read then it’s easy. And it helps me find new, better learning or information sources that may even allow me to learn more in less time even further. But it kind of gets neurotic like this paragraph so let’s move on.
  4. To Tweet or to Facebook, ah (screwdriver) ta heck wit it, let’s just Instagram it. I actually got into public social media through Twitter even though I had a Facebook account before my Twitter account I never used it. I did get a tablet before going on twitter though, a Surface Pro. Not my #1 recommendation for affordable tablet. It was approx. $1,030.00 USD but I still got it because it was the 128GB hard drive SDD (solid state drive) and Office 365 Home Premium subscription that I use quite a bit with Office 2013 and 20GB SkyDrive and Skype minutes. Plus I’m not working at the moment which has been really good cause I can catch up on technology that I wasn’t really focused on at my last job. I’ll mainly use Twitter as my main board. I link this WordPress blog to it under the tagline. I’m also now active on Facebook, finally after like four years of trashing it I get to now play hypocrite to the critical acclaim it has always brought me. But I think I’ve only touched like 10% of it and don’t do business on it…..yet. That’s kind of a joke but not really. The 10% is real but the yet. Well, you’ll just have to keep tuning in for that. I’m also on LinkedIn which is probably the best thing out there for professionals trying to network. That’s social media at about it’s best if you have a desire to network and at least see what they’re talking about. Lots of good discussion groups out there. I actively participate either in a group discussion or commenting about an article. I can post external articles there on LinkedIn provided the external webpage has some kind of button on the page (syndication) to get it in.
  5. RSS Feeds. Yes, syndication. There’s that word. That, in my opinion, if you’re on Windows and use Outlook, is what you must use. For me, it has reduced my Twitter dependence to nil. But also I still use Twitter and tweet more than ever now with RSS because I still use Twitter as my big board and just post the goods that I get through RSS subscriptions. For those who don’t know what RSS feeds are, if you ever see the orange, it almost looks like a WiFi icon, squarish but beveled (rounded edges) in shape, that’s the RSS icon. It’ll usually be next to the Twitter and Facebook or YouTube tags (icons) on the webpage. Those are the ‘syndicated’ sources. Basically, allowing you to redeceminate (forward) for reuse, as long as you don’t hack it up (modify it or misuse it in anyway). Kind of like the major league baseball thing they put in commercials. I’d love to tell you but I’d need to get permission from them first. Some of that is also a joke but not really.

Okay, now let’s get to the bad, shall we. C’mon, you know you want it.

  • Spam: It’s like a spam sandwich on a whole wheat rye bread roll or something. Social medial still has tons of spam, but also scams. Phishing scams. People go ph(fishing) looking to catch the “big one” and you know what? They don’t tell fish tales. You get it? OK, stupid yes. But it has me on high alert for scams and suspicious websites or activity or content on those websites or what’s being marketed to me. Well, that’ mostly good if you’re running a business but in my personal life it leads to paranoia. Like either you’re being watched or exploited. Or, both.
  • Compensation for business only?: Yes that monetary thing where those people protest stuff and then get all uppity about how we run things. Aren’t they just the worst? Just kidding. That’s not the bad stuff but it may get to a mild form of that online with the monetization of things now. Things are more individualized now. That’s good for independence but for others it comes to isolation. The one good thing to avoid this from becoming ugly is that we’re evolving our policies at a national and global level, at least I hope we are. But that’s just my “vibe” of the “pulse”, like I have a clue. But seriously now, when I hear about someone posting a song or something on YouTube first thing I think is “get in line and audition like everyone else, honey”, bad thing is I’ll probably be eating my words after hearing the Grammy nominations in 3 years. It’s the chicken and the egg. I’m not sure whether to protest or get in line for tickets. Mainly, I think I’m a little jealous I didn’t think about posting a video on what I was going to do that day??? I don’t even want to get that part, don’t ask. Anyways, the only thing to avoid that from getting ugly (no pun intended) is like the fact that you can post stuff and make money off it. I just hope that doesn’t become the pervasive movement and you can’t go somewhere and work for an honest wage anymore, if that’s even possible. I like choice.
  • Check out Kevin Spacey’s new lemonade stand, free cup for Netflix subscribers! That’s a joke, haven’t even seen the show on Netflix but that’s the point. Wasn’t that guy in Glen Garry Glen Ross and the Usual Suspects? What the heck’s he doing on Netflix. At least that one girl (they’re like 80 of them) is on Showtime now. What gives? Well, first I think women are taking over society (laugh, sigh). But seriously here, why is this on Netflix. I think they’re probably one of the best places to work for now if you’re in the high tech, programmer style level, at least from what I’ve heard, but that info is a little dated. That was before they up’d their prices. I only want the streaming movies. The only one I wanted to watch the last time almost made me want to stop watching movies. So what’s up with that lemonade stand comment from the beginning of another well crafted, yet again incoherent rant? It’s the fact that I thought when I saw Kevin Spacey had a show I thought “cool, may watch it”, then went “Wait, what? Why’s that guy on Netflix, you know he was in….” I mean I honestly felt like when you go to a lemonade stand and you buy the lemonade out of the kindness (shame) of your heart (shame II the sequel) and the good people (shamers) of your neighborhood. Basically I feel as if I’m being shamed into watching Netflix. I know, it’s sick. I know, but I’m getting better. At least I think so because I just realized that trial I signed up for I think expired………..

The ugly:

  • LED 47″ is collecting dust. Not a big let down since it’s probably going to retain a longer life, but I have no scientific proof of that.
  • Hulu’s pay for commercials campaign. Although I like Hulu, I just don’t get a return on investment (ROI). As much as I love Hulu and the concepts of on demand TV shows online, other networks are doing their own thing, TruTV for example. Hulu has so many shows that just redirect you to an external source. It’s more a media clearinghouse than anything if you ask me. The biggest complaint that I have is that whenever I tell someone how much I like it there’s always the people I talk to that say “you pay for commercials?”, then I get defensive. Then I go, wait, they got a point.
  • Controversy! Scandal! Bad tweets! Drunk tweets! Stoned tweets! Angry tweets! angry birds. That last one’s not capitalized. Exactly! There are times where I wish some real angry birds would start a decent onto one of some of these tweeterers homes for some spring cleaning. But really, it’s not about the big celebs behaving badly (yes it is), it’s just the bombardment of negativity that rules the roost at times. But that’s easily taken care of by closing the IE or Chrome or Firefox window. For others you need to put like a breathalyzer on there computers or something. Better yet, just put it on to let them access twitter: “Take a deep breath. Ah-up, you didn’t exhale deep enough. Please try back later.” Fortunately, some forums now ‘drunk-proof’ (proof, ya get it) their forums by not allowing the ‘keep me logged in’ and/or block persistent cookies. Some organizations may want to consider that. Because having a website you can just login automatically to and leave comment to a discussion group (blog/forum) on your phone, not exactly what I’d call a technological “windfall” for those on wall street or the private sector.
  • Ephemeral data: Meaning it’s only good for like a day, if that. Like I saw a pic of the “Biebs” (Justin Bieber) on twitter drinking a beer. That was useful for about 8 seconds while I forwarded it going, “what’s that he’s drinking, I wonder where he is?”, like I really care (oh really now). Just because it was trending on Twitter and everyone had there tweeterer pens out and tweeterering. But the point being, who the heck is going to care what that guy or anyone was doing on a Friday afternoon on some date in time where all these words I’m typing now will be about as useful as Twitter in a cold mine. Wait, I meant a canary. Twitter would probably be useful in a coal mine provided you get bars on your phone or you can string a line out the mineshaft. Any taker on that? Apple? Droid? WinPhone?

What is the Upload Center in Microsoft Office?

Image

If you’ve used Microsoft Office 2010 or the latest version, 2013, you may notice this orange circular icon with a white arrow pointing upwards in the systray (system tray) in the lower right corner of the screen. The systray area is officially called the Notification Area in Windows documentation, by the way.

If you see such an orange icon you’re probably seeing the Upload Center. The name may seem a bit esoteric in messaging (to the user) since it never really seems to be uploading anything. Non-technical folks (users) may complain “what is this thing”? What’s it do.

The answer is, it’s actually an “upload center” for something. But for what?

Answer: Interaction (saving or opening files) from a web server running WebDAV extensions. It’s not really an upload center like for uploading stuff to Facebook or multiple upload add-on for SharePoint in IE (ActiveX control). Just a control panel or console, if you will, for monitoring status of files saved to web sites running stuff like SharePoint or IIS/Apache. However, it does have options for resolving synchronization (sync) conflicts and saving a copy of a file that won’t upload.

What is WebDAV?

Answer: WebDAV is the authoring part of HTTP (1.1) protocol (for websites). Just having HTTP extensions on a web server won’t let you save to the site. Your site or web server hosting the site needs to have WebDAV installed on it for users to save documents to a web folder (subdirectory).

What about SharePoint? SharePoint from a technical and software analyst perspective is a web solution, not just a web server like Apache (UNIX or Linux)  or IIS (Windows). IBM also has something called QuickR that I believe used to be called QuickPlace. It’s kind of like SharePoint but kind of not. Written in different programming languages on different platforms, etc…,etc… I’m not even sure what it’s called now. Other companies have web solutions that they sell for customers to deploy (install) on their web server. Many are CMS (content management system) solutions that are sometimes referred to as document repositories. They do file versioning which is basically keeping copies of older versions of files and keeping track of said files for auditing and compliance.

How does this tie into Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013? Upload Center is just a GUI (graphical user interface) console app to monitor what’s really happening under the hood.

Office Document Cache: This is a folder stored on the local (your) computer’s hard drive. The location to which is exposed in the Settings button in Upload Center.

Efficient data transfer: Data is broken into tiny files containing data (chunks) enabling for more efficient uploads to web servers. The upload speed is always slower than the download speed. Check your DSL modem software, speed tester app, or contact your ISP for more info on upload speeds pertaining to ISPs.

Multi-user editing: Also called co-authoring to make it more user friendly (I guess). It’s what allows you to have multiple people edit your document in the cloud (the Internet) or local web store (WebDAV server on local network, or LAN). The save icon in the upper left gets this green sync, circular, cyclical, design on it.

So why do we have the Upload Center? Troubleshooting the three topics above mainly. For the purposes of this article, consider it a low level (tier 1-2) troubleshooting cube note (something printed out and posted in your cubical at work).

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are the only apps impacted by this architecture, to my knowledge. Therefore, OneNote or Visio or Publisher, etc… use an older method of saving. I’m not sure what changed in 2013 but haven’t seen any *.one, *.vsd (Visio file) or *.pub files in the upload center just yet.

You can see what’s in the Upload Center by simply clicking on the word Pending Uploads. This will activate a drop down list. Change to Recently Uploaded [screenshot pending]. This will show you anything uploaded in the past few days. I think it’s actually 14, probably going off the Upload Center ‘Settings’.

The one thing it is not is some kind of upload or publishing app like you have on your phone or PC that can publish something like a photo to Facebook. The Upload Center doesn’t have anything to do with uploading anything from the Upload Center application itself. It’s simply a “monitor” or “message board” to tell you how things are going with uploads. If there’s nothing in the Pending Uploads view, then great. No news is good news. Also, the Upload Center messages also tie into the Office applications themselves: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If there’s an upload failure you’ll get an Information Bar popup under the ribbon telling you there was an error. Clicking on that message (not the retry button) will bring you to the Backstage area (File menu in 2010/2013) showing you the same messaging that the Upload Center would show.

Really it’s just a notification app that “pushes” information. No different than my Lexmark application that I install along with my all-in-one printer. The only difference is that the Upload Center can’t be or shouldn’t be closed (in the background). Not a good idea to try to kill the process with Task Manager.

What you can do is turn off the notifications. You can either do that in Upload Center settings or just right-click the Upload Center (orange) icon and click the checked boxes to toggle the settings. Not hard.

OneNote and SharePoint Workspace (singular, not the plural form: workspace(s)) have a similar method but it’s built into their core code so you shouldn’t see *.one files in the Upload Center. I’m not sure if SharePoint Workspace cached (offline copies of) files show up in Upload Center though. It’s been a while since 2010 beta but I don’t think they do.

The best thing I like about the Upload Center is that it is something useful once you learn what it is and what it’s for.

Benefits

  • Check status of file uploads from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (core Office apps) documents uploaded to cloud storage (http(s)) or local web server.
  • Resolve issues with (said) files even when the Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) are not running. Even save copy of them to local hard drive to ensure you have local backup copy.
  • Clear the Office Document Cache, found in Settings in the Upload Center window. The cache is stored in the user profile, each user login on the computer has it’s own stored in %userprofile%. You can hit that from Windows Explorer or the Run window. It should be in Local folder. You need have hidden files showing in Folder Options to view in Windows Explorer (file system viewer).
  • Notify you if a file failed to upload and why. It also integrates with the Office app (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to message you when you’re in the app. But the Upload Center is useful or special because you don’t need the app (e.g. Word) open. It may try again after the app is closed and fail. So it’s a good thing to know. Especially when others may be editing the document. Now or later when you’re away from your computer or mobile device.

What to do if someone comes to you with an issue with Upload Center:

  • If they ask what it is, use this post as a guide to help explain it to them.
  • Are they using SharePoint or just WebDAV on a web server like IIS or Apache? SharePoint has it’s own WebDAV implementation. Good to know because they’ll get more integration and the co-authoring if SharePoint 2010 (or higher) or SkyDrive/Office 365 subscriptions with SharePoint Online. I’m not %100 if all online offerings have co-authoring though.
  • Search Bing.com and Office.com for Upload Center for the latest documentation.
  • If they are getting an error uploading did they change anything?
  • If not, toggle the Automatically detect settings
  • If someone is scared of loosing their work, they can save a copy temporarily and backup to USB as a workaround. From the Upload Center interface, they can switch the view from Pending Uploads to All Cached Files.
  • If someone can’t find the Upload Center and it’s missing from the Notification Area (systray) on Windows 7 they can click the Start button and type upload, they should find it. It’s in either the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folder on their computer, provided they didn’t customize the install path. In Windows 8 you can just do Start+Q. That’s the Start key (on the keyboard) followed by the Q key. Then type upload and click it. Upload Center is installed with all Office suites (or standalone applications) as a “shared” or “Office Tool” component by default.

I’ll likely be blogging more about how to use the upload center or examples (screenshots) of network issues. Ping me if you have examples.

So can Office open files from an Apache server or one of those other servers? Yes, Office applications can in fact open a file over HTTP or HTTPS from a third party (web) server such as Apache. Actually Office isn’t an app, it’s just a suite of apps (applications) that Microsoft bundles for distribution to resellers and (online) software distributors.

The other fact is that you can save back to that third party server provided you can connect, authenticate, and the server has the WebDAV extensions installed. I’m not too experienced with Apache but an administrator of the web server in a particular case would most likely be able to install them if you needed to. But that’s not always the cause of problems that arise saving or opening from web servers. I’ve written a TechNet Wiki article that goes more in depth on troubleshooting web servers interacting with Office client applications. Search for something like TechNet Wiki office save open troubleshooting and you should find it.

To login into USA Today’s website with Facebook using Internet Explorer, add URL to Trusted Sites

To login into USA Today’s website with Facebook with Internet Explorer add to Trusted Sites

Just found this out by navigating to USA Today’s News subsite and trying to click on the Sign in with Facebook under the generic avatar icon positioned off to the top right of the webpage.

If you use Windows 7 or 8 and/or Internet Explorer 9 or 10 try this:

  1. Click on the gear icon found in the upper right corner of Internet Explorer under the red X.
  2. Click Internet Options
  3. Click on the Security tab
  4. Click on the icon of a green check box with the words Trusted Sites underneath it
  5. Click on the Sites button
  6. In the Add this website to the zone: section, with the keyboard type http://www.usatoday.com
  7. Click the Add button.
  8. Click Close.
  9. Click the OK button to close out of Internet Options. You don’t need to click Apply first.
  10. Hit (press) the F5 key on your keyboard. You may need to do Ctrl+F5 (hard refresh) to get a fresh (un-cached) copy of the webpage. To do that, press and hold down the Ctrl key. Keeping your finger pressed down on the Ctrl key, press the F5 key, then release both.
  11. Now hover over the avatar on the top of the webpage and click Sign in with Facebook.

If you don’t have a Facebook account but have a Google+ account then click on the Sign in with Google button. You an also try holding the Ctrl key down while you click the button. That sometimes helps.

Quick tips for social media users who use IE10 on Windows 8

ImageI was on my (non-touch) PC just a minute ago and for some reason wasn’t able to register on a website using my Facebook account so that I could sign up for a newsletter. This has been happening for quite some time. I installed Chrome recently and the site works there if I copy the address and do a Paste and Go (right-click) from Chrome’s address bar. What gives? Should I just ditch IE and go to Chrome?

Well, no. Chrome is considered by Microsoft as a 3rd party web browser. The native web browser to Windows operating systems is Internet Explorer. Always has been.

Why don’t you try this:

From within Internet Explorer, look for an tiny icon representing a broken page (screenshot below) to the far right side of the address bar up on the top left of the Internet Explorer window. Click on that.

Compatibility View toggle button in photo of the broken page icon below. Currently off in this photo. Only certain sites will have this based on the way the webpage was created.

Here it is off (below this line)

IECompatViewOff

And…

Here it is on (below this line)

IECompatViewOn

Now click on the Login with Facebook button. Or whatever it’s called.

If that doesn’t work, press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard. Then click Login with Facebook.

Okay, that works now. So do I need to uninstall Chrome? No. Just use it sparingly, they should keep patching it. It’s from Google and it’s for free. I use it for cases like this.

The other thing to be aware of is the enhanced IE security you get with Windows versus 3rd party web browsers. IE is native to the Windows OS.

The best advice I can give moving forward is to consider adding your most commonly used sites that you trust to the Trusted Sites zone in Internet Options. It’s under the Security tab within the Internet Options menu.

Tips:

  • Compatibility View (the broken page icon that fixed this) shows the page in a previous version (mode) of IE. Try that first then click the Login with Facebook. This should work for other things like Tweet and Google+ tags.
  • Add sites that you commonly use to Trusted Sites. You can uncheck the HTTPS box to get HTTP addresses in there.
  • Use the accelerators in IE. Try this, highlight the italic text add site to Trusted Sites in Internet Explorer 10. Click on the accelerator (blue/white) icon

Accelerator

TrustedSitesHighlightedTextRange

Next, click the search provider’s command.

Please note, in this example I’m using Search with Web Search from Yahoo but the default provider in IE10 is Bing.com.

Accelerator2

Final advice for anyone using Internet Explorer on Windows 8:

  • For non-touch device (desktop PC) users, I prefer to use the Desktop version of Internet Explorer.
  • The Windows 8 Modern (built-in) version of Internet Explorer has a command called View on the desktop you get by clicking on the wrench icon in the lower right of the new Internet Explorer.
  • Desktop mode is accessible by pressing Start key on the keyboard and clicking the Desktop icon in the Start Screen.
  • Non-touch devices seem to be better pinning apps all legacy (Desktop) apps to taskbar and start screen.
  • Touch devices (tablets) like Surface RT (ARM chip) and Surface Pro (Intel/AMD chips) you’re better off adopting the Modern apps and the Start screen (live tile) experience.