Archive for December, 2008

Change display language of non Ultimate and Enterprise Vista editions

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Have you bought a desktop or notebook PC running Vista Home Basic, Home Premium or Business and want to change the display language? Microsoft wants you to buy Vista Ultimate (or Enterprise, but that's a little more complex) to do this simple thing, but here's a way to do it for free - using Vistalizator.

Here's the deal. If you're running Vista Ultimate you can install Microsoft's Vista language packs as part of the Ultimate Extras and switch between different languages. If you're running Home Basic or Home Premium then you're stuck with the one language. This is a really annoying limitation.

Vistalizator_screen6

Vistalizator makes the job simple. You download the app, download the language pack you want (available on the download page), work your way through a few simple steps and in a few minutes you've changed the language of your system!

If you are feeling ambitious you can actually create installation media in the language that you want.

Note that all this goes way outside of what's supported by Microsoft and if things go wrong, you are on your own!

Why eCards are a bad idea all round

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

This is the time of year when many people will be sending holiday greetings to one another. And a popular method of doing this is to send eCards (email greetings cards), but I'm here to tell you that this is a bad idea all round.

The attraction of eCards is obvious. It's a cheap, inexpensive, and quick way of sending greetings to someone. All you need is the recipient's email address and you're done.

So why are eCards a bad idea? Well, it's because the idea of eCards has been latched onto by scammers as a way of getting you to click on links and visit a website that could hold malware. And that's the problem - how do you tell the difference between a legitimate eCard sent by your friend of family and one sent by a scammer? It's tricky, which is why I recommend that people ignore all emails claiming to be eCards. There are too many scammers out there trying to get you to click on links or open attachments.

Rather than sending people eCards, and therefore encouraging them to click on links and making them vulnerable to hackers, just send your friends and family a standard email. This is both better and safer.

Happy Holidays!

Microsoft to IE users – Don’t switch browsers!!!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

While security experts are urging Internet Explorer users to find a safer browser, Microsoft is recommending users stick with IE:

"I cannot recommend people switch due to this one flaw," said John Curran, head of Microsoft UK's Windows group.

Sorry Microsoft, but this sounds like daft advice to me. It's easy enough for people to have multiple browsers installed on their PCs and to switch temporarily when one is under attack. I usually have IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera installed on my systems and regularly run more than one browser.

December’s Patch Tuesday

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Final Patch Tuesday of the year:

Critical:

  • MS08-070: Vulnerabilities in Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime Extended Files (ActiveX Controls) Could Allow Remote Code Execution (932349)
  • MS08-071: Vulnerabilities in GDI Could Allow Remote Code Execution (956802)
  • MS08-072: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (957173)
  • MS08-073: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (958215)
  • MS08-074: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (959070)
  • MS08-075: Vulnerabilities in Windows Search Could Allow Remote Code Execution (959349)

Important:

  • MS08-076: Vulnerabilities in Windows Media Components Could Allow Remote Code Execution (959807)
  • MS08-077: Vulnerability in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Could Cause Elevation of Privilege (957175)

Microsoft’s counterfeit software gallery

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

When shopping for software bargains you always need to be on the lookout for people selling counterfeit software. Online auction sites such as eBay are a haven for pirates trying to offload fake software on users so you need your wits about you.

To make life easier, Microsoft has revamped the counterfeit software gallery which highlights examples from three different categories of counterfeit software:

  • High-grade: Software that appears professionally produced and attempts to include the piracy prevention features of genuine Microsoft software. 
  • Mid-grade: Software that may appear professionally produced, but makes no attempt to include the piracy prevention features of genuine Microsoft software. 
  • Low-grade: Software that does not attempt to appear to be genuine Microsoft software. 

High-grade counterfeits are tricky to spot, but are quite rare. The most prolific fakes are the low-grade kind and very easy to spot.

A couple of other points worth making:

  • It's not just Microsoft software that's subject to being ripped off. Products such as Adobe Photoshop are also extensively pirated.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.