Author Archives: Fred Langa

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.

Hot Chip… Or Not So Hot?

Having read this article ("Horror
Story With A Good Ending":

http://langa.com/newsletters/2005/2005-08-15.htm#5 ) I have to question
something. Reader Fred Spector states "the only thing that troubles me is an overheating problem
with the Athlon xp processor. Spinrite temporarily terminated operation a few
times when the temperature reached 124 degrees +."

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Web Sites Lacking In Password Quality

Hi Fred, I just got around to reading
the June 20, 2005, Langa List article (

http://langalist.com/plus/newsletters/2005/2005-06-20plus.asp#1
) (and its counterpart in Information Week

http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=164303537 )
on password security. I’ve long been a proponent of really good passwords (much
to my wife’s annoyance, since I refuse to let her use our kids’ names, etc.) and
I have also used Roboform for a number of years both to generate and save my
passwords (I have something like a six or seven hundred accounts, services, etc,
that require passwords, so a good tool is essential, and Roboform is well worth
the price many times over IMHO). I’m writing to vent about a password related
pet peeve, to wit, almost none of those companies, services and so on who
require you to set up password protected accounts tell you what their allowed
password characteristics are at the point where you have to choose a password.
The forms say, "enter a password" but they don’t say which characters they
allow: upper or lower case only (and do they respect case sensitivity)? do they
allow numbers? symbols? punctuation? They also don’t tell you how many
characters they allow: 6 characters, or 8 or 12 or 36 or what? You can’t tell.
So then when you enter a good, random password of, say, 24 characters using
upper case, lower case, numbers, symbols and punctuation, the form comes back
with a really useless error, usually something like "invalid password – enter a
valid password to continue". So, you are left to guess what rules they used to
define "valid" passwords. And nobody has the time or patience to work their way
slowly down to the strongest combination of number and type(s) of characters
allowed in each particular instance by trial and error, so you’re essentially
forced use the lowest common denominator, ie, a relatively short password
including only one or both cases of letters, or maybe letters and numbers. And
this, of course, makes the whole point of your article moot and whatever it is
you are password-protecting many times more vulnerable that it should be.

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More Cool Free Tools

In last issue’s "Very Nice Free Software" (

http://langa.com/newsletters/2006/2006-09-21.htm#2 ) we discussed some
software available from Microsoft Research. In that issue, I said
"Microsoft Research explores new technologies and applications. Some of
them don’t pan out and thus never see the light of day. Others get built into
working demos or lightweight tools for further experimentation." I mentioned
"Continuous Flash," and some of you who took a look were disappointed
that it wasn’t a full-blown application. My description could have been clearer;
I apologize. Continuous Flash is one of those working demos; not a ready-to use
tool. That’s
the thing with an R&D site: you never know quite what you’ll find, or how useful
it will be. But as we said, it’s at least interesting, and worth a look.

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Got Your Vista RC1 Yet?

One major item that happened while I was offline was Microsoft’s public
release of Vista RC1— "release candidate 1." You may already know this, and
may have grabbed a copy; but it’s a significant enough thing to warrant a "just
in case" mention here.

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“Super-Hidden” Folders Are Super Annoying

HI Fred. In Windows XP Pro (and probably
most other flavors of Windows) when I’m using Outlook 2003, I receive messages
with attachments (e.g., a Word doc). When I save this attachment, the default
folder is something like “OLK1C” (without the quotes. If I accidentally save to
this folder, I can never find the document or the folder again. It is apparently
a “super-hidden” folder that cannot be seen in Windows Explorer. I think over
time I’ve accumulated lots of stuff in this folder (and maybe more similar
folders). There must be a way to “unhide” this folder so I can see it and work
with it like a normal folder. Your thoughts?

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Making the Remote Desktop Connection

Hi Fred: Enjoy your plus column very much,
to the point where I’ve bought and given out gift subscriptions. It’s the one
column that I read religiously as soon as it comes in. Thank you.

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Comodo Firewall: Friend or Foe?

Fred, When I downloaded the Comodo firewall,
I was surprised to see the company offering several other free security
programs: Verification Engine (anti-phishing), AntiSpam (which uses the
"challenge-response" method you detest), BackUp, iVault, Email Certificate,
Anti-Virus.

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Even *More* Ghostbusting

Our accidental series on spooky
"ghost-in-the-machine" noises and behaviors inside the apparently haunted PCs of
some users continues below. Previously:

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Netmeeting As Remote Control Software

Hi, Fred. In the 2005-11-07 Plus
Newsletter, Mark asked about Remote Control software. An often overlooked piece
of software that has remote control capabilities, and that many people already
have on their computers is Microsoft’s Netmeeting. Windows XP doesn’t install
the Netmeeting short cut under Accessories, Communications like previous
versions, but the program is still there, nevertheless. To start Netmeeting, run
"conf.exe". If Netmeeting hasn’t been run before, a wizard will step the user
through setting it up. Once Netmeeting is set up, another wizard can be run to
set up Remote Desktop Sharing (look under Tools).

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