Microsoft Windows has Free Virtual Machines

Wish I had know about these earlier. Microsoft offers free Windows virtual machines for VirtualBox, VMWare, and others. You can choose from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (a few different flavors of each). They last 90 days before expiring, but you can snapshot them right after you install them to make it easy to reset that 90 days by rolling back to the snapshot.

Officially, these are for testing out the Edge browser, but you can also use them for whatever else 😉

Check them out here:

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/

 

 

Hide Yourself From Social Networks (and others)

Did you know that Facebook gets a report every time you visit a site with a Facebook “Like” button, even if you never click the button, are not a Facebook user, or are not logged in?

That, and more you should be aware of here in this Consumer Reports article.

Priv3 for Firefox will silently prevent the cookies from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ from being installed in your browser, thus protecting you from being tracked everywhere you go online.

Take it a step further and install CSFire to block not only the big four social networks, but any site that surreptitiously makes requests to third parties without your knowing it. It takes a little more management to unblock sites you want to function this way, but it will greatly increase your overall online privacy (and safety).

One of the above, paired with AdBlock Plus and NoScript will go a long way toward keeping you safe online.

 

Firefox 4 beta 1

Mozilla released the first beta version of Firefox 4, for public review. Version 4 of the browser is due out towards the end of the year, but you can try out the beta now by grabbing it from the nightly build page. I’ve been using it for a few hours, and I do believe it will give Chrome a run for its money in the speed department. This sucker is fast!

Can’t Install Firebug in Firefox

I ran into this problem where I was unable to install Firebug in Firefox. It would act like it was installing, Firefox would restart, but the plugin was simply not there.

A little research revealed there could be a variety of reasons for this, but for me it turned out Avast! antivirus was preventing it from working.

I disabled the Network service in Avast! long enough to try again, and it all worked.

Hopefully this will help someone else who runs into the problem.

WordPress and special characters

Today when I was adding an article, I was getting really upset with WordPress, I just wanted to add some simple characters and have it printed AS IS.

When working with WordPress and using special characters like a redirection symbol ” > ”  or something enclosed in it’s on tag  like “<dev>” it will get hosed while editing in “HTML” mode. You could insert syntax to stop it from doing that, but it’s much easier to add a post with such things in “Visual” mode first. Then switch over to “HTML” mode if any other special tags are needed. Continue reading

Practical Security: Web Browser Vulnerabilities

Secunia, a computing security clearinghouse, has issued a warning regarding a new, zero day vulnerability in the Internet Explorer web browser.  This includes Internet Explorer 5, Internet Explorer 6, and Internet Explorer 7 on fully patched Windows XP systems.

Attackers can craft web pages in such a way to use this vulnerability to issue commands on your computer.  There are active exploits currently being used on the Internet to do this.

Your safest immediate course of action is to not use Internet Explorer until a patch is issued by Microsoft.  Instead, use Firefox, Safari, or Chrome.  Unless you are using version 9.3 of Opera, you should quit using it as well.

On another note, there was an article in the news recently which named Firefox as the most insecure application of 2008.  The article is highly biased, however, and the criteria for defining insecure applications ruled out the inclusion of Internet Explorer.  Still, it’s worth a read to help raise awareness about the vulnerabilities of computing on the Internet these days.

Whatever browser you use, you should know that exploits are found in all of them.  As exploits are discovered, they are usually patched as soon as possible, and it’s well worth checking for and installing the latest versions often.  Until patches are released, however, it’s a good plan to switch browsers.