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Adblock Plus adds an option for allowable ads

Adblock Plus, starting with version 2.0, is going to start allowing acceptable ads, something I see as a good thing.

I’m not against advertising–I use it on my own site. I’d prefer not to have an all-or-nothing approach to ad blocking. In fact, I only started blocking ads when I started getting malware that I expected was coming from booby-trapped ads. I stopped getting the malware when I started blocking all ads, so draw your own conclusions.
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Yesterday was Patch Tuesday again

I’m way too tired to do the kind of Patch Tuesday writeup I did last month, so I’ll just remind you, and hope that suffices. This month we have vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer, Silverlight, and .NET, some of which can cause remote code execution, which is a holy grail for spreading malware. So apply those updates. The Silverlight update applies to Macintoshes as well.

Don’t use software firewalls: Good advice or bad?

A common piece of good-meaning advice you’ll hear is that you should never use software firewalls. But is that good advice, or bad?

On the surface, it’s good advice. It’s much better to use the firewall built into a cable/DSL router. But the software firewall built into Windows XP, Vista, 7, and (presumably) 8 makes for a good second line of defense, so I don’t recommend disabling it.

I’ll explain further.

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We’re just about ready for an era of 64-bit browsers

Adobe released a new Flash player this week. As almost an afterthought, they mentioned there’s a 64-bit version included.

That means Windows users can finally have mainstream 64-bit web browsers without using any beta software. I can put one on my main machine, and Gmail and Youtube and anything else that relies on Flash works the way it’s supposed to work.

What about Firefox? Read on.
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Two commands to fix Internet connectivity

I can think of two times someone has asked me to fix their computer when it has suddenly lost the ability to connect to the Internet. Assuming there’s nothing wrong with the modem or the network card, the problem usually comes down to something messing with either the TCP/IP stack or the Winsock. Security software frequently does this, as does malware. A few years ago, I briefly worked for an ISP that provided a security suite based on F-Secure, and that program was notorious for breaking the Winsock.

Here’s the simple fix.
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If you’re suddenly seeing obnoxious banner ads on Facebook…

It’s not Facebook, it’s you. You’ve got malware.

The malware is called Page Rage and Drop Down Deals. Head to this page to disable Page Rage, and this page to uncheck everything related to Drop Down Deals. And if you’re not infected, then no, I don’t suggest visiting either of those pages. Only go there if you’re having the issue.

Once you’ve visited those two sites with every web browser on your system, then scan the living daylights out of your computer with your antivirus/antimalware software. And install Bit Defender Safego to reduce the chances of something like this happening again.

And if you hear anyone talking about how great Page Rage or Drop Down Deals are… Well, ignore them. It’s just adware, 2011 edition.

Milestone! I’ve been pirated!

In searching for the abstract of my book, I found more than I expected: What appeared to be a pirated PDF copy of the book in its entirety. What’s worse is that it appeared #1 in Google’s search. Numbers 2 and 3 were various pages on my site, #4 was my Wikipedia profile page, #5 was O’Reilly’s page, and #6 was Amazon’s page. So it’s easier to download a pirated copy of my book than it is to buy it. (It’s $2.03 at Amazon right now. Maybe I should buy some copies.)

I’m having trouble deciding whether that bothers me. The likelihood of me ever making another 25 cents off that book is slim. There was some talk at one time of releasing the book under some kind of Creative Commons license, but I never received the paperwork so I guess they changed their mind. As far as I know, it’s still under copyright.

And the copyright doesn’t belong to me, so ultimately it’s not up to me. I wrote it, but O’Reilly owns the copyright. So I e-mailed O’Reilly to ask them if they care.
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How to clean an MBR and recover drive partitions

Sometimes it’s necessary to recover drive partitions because you accidentally repartitioned a drive you didn’t mean to, or because your MBR got infected or otherwise trashed. Here’s how to recover them, for free.

Infecting MBRs with malware is popular with virus writers again. And I fully expect chaos to ensue, because that’s what happened the last time there was more than one virus floating around that infected MBRs. They quit doing it for a good reason.

So here’s how to clean up the mess when an MBR gets infected, or when multiple infections blitzes the MBR and the hard drive loses the ability to boot, just displaying a message like Missing Operating System or Operating System Not Found.

We’ll be using the Gparted Live CD. Many Linux live CDs have the proper tools, but GParted works well and it’s a small download. You can try to use another Linux live CD, and it will work fine, but the icons might not all be where I say they are.

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