Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reviewing Your PC Security

It seems dozens of times a year a friend or co-worker asks me to "fix" their PC. This is because generally users of personal computers do not care about how secure their home computers (and laptops) actually are. I believe that this is because the majority of home computer users are unaware of how vulnerable they are to hackers, or how their personal information can be misused. It is, widely and mistakenly, believed that if a mere antivirus is installed, computers are secure. People assume their Antivirus can protect them against all forms of malware, be it a virus, worm, or a Trojan horse. This, however, is far from the reality. Antivirus programs cannot be relied on solely to protect your data and information from hackers.

Here is the Basic Question. Why is it so important to keep your PC secure?

An ordinary person may have no reason to believe why his computer and data may be hacked into, and no knowledge whatsoever of how his personal information might be misused. An unsecured computer over the internet is immensely risky. Your personal information can be altered and abused if your PC security is compromised. Your personal details, such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank and utility account numbers can all be used to access your savings or to open new bank accounts under your name which, consequently may be used for serious crimes such as money laundering or fraud, or simply for stealing your money.

There are some very basic & long standing things you can do. What are they?

There are a number of ways to make sure your PC, and as a result your personal information, is protected properly. First and foremost, reliable anti-virus software must be installed and regularly updated. These are compared to “flu shots,” because they only protect you to a certain extent. Then, you must refrain from opening emails or attachments from people or sources you do not know personally. Take care while opening attachments even from people you know if it is unexpected.

If you want to take same extra steps to protect your PC, Try This.

You must use firewalls to ensure that the ports you are not using are closed off and cannot be used unless you need them. The security updates and ‘patches’ on your operating system and all other software must be kept up to date. All your passwords should be strong, at least eight characters long, and preferably an amalgam of upper and lower case letters and numbers. Keep your PC disconnected from the internet when you are not using it, and keep from sharing access to your computer with people you do not know- sharing files on online servers is very risky. To be even safer, make regular backups of all your data on disks or CDs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Windows Under The Dome

Ok maybe it's not just me who has high hopes for Microsoft's Windows Phone. I suggest this because of the new  mini-series,  “Under the Dome”. This new series from CBS follows a group of people suddenly cut off from the rest of the world after an indestructible invisible dome suddenly surrounds their town began airing this summer.

The show is classified as sci-fi/horror and watching part 3 this week I had to do a double take several times as Windows phones and Windows tablets were on display and being used by many of the characters.

Hey, that's a Windows Nokia Lumia 920 being charged!

In this week's episode (part 3), Microsoft clearly got under the dome as a few products suddenly showed up in the town, mostly in the youth’s hands. We saw two Nokia Lumia 920s (one white, one red) and even a few Microsoft Surfaces being used by the teens in the scene where they all use a generator to re-charge their devices. The best is probably seeing the Surface being swiped back and forth on the Start screen, which is just kind of fun.

A Microsoft Surface Table appears Under the Dome.

Does this kind of hidden placement really help? Well it can't hurt that's for sure. Microsoft has been working very hard this past year in an attempt to gather some buzz and the "cool" factor.  I believe there is a good chance that this sort of product placement will indeed help increase Microsoft's product share, which has been improving regularly, if not slowly recently.

I am not sure how I actually feel about this new series after 3 episodes but at least the residents are using something other than Android & Apple.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Android Users Beware

It is stories like this that make me glad I am a Windows Phone user.

It was recently discovered that Android has had a major security hole since version 1.6, which allowed hackers to modify almost any Play Store app and turn it malicious without tripping the built-in security measures. The good news for Android users is that the that hole has already been plugged and the fix has been sent out to OEMs (Google was made aware of the issue in February, so it has had time to fix it).

Google claims that it has not seen any app from the Play Store (or other app stores for that matter) that have been affected by this vulnerability.

The Play Store itself scans the apps it offers and the Verify App feature (new in 4.2) scans all apps (even if you installed them from elsewhere).

Samsung and some other OEMs are reportedly already shipping devices that contain the fix. Current devices will have to wait for an update, which has an uncertain timeframe as it depends on OEMs and then carriers to push it out.

As with anything else, be cautious of what you download, not only on your PC, but on your mobile devices as well.

Alert (TA13-190A)

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team

US-CERT’s mission is to improve the nation's cybersecurity posture, coordinate cyber information sharing, and proactively manage cyber risks to the nation while protecting the constitutional rights of Americans. US-CERT's vision is to be a trusted global leader in cybersecurity — collaborative, agile, and responsive in a complex environment.

As a public service the West Chester Technology Blog will forward alerts issued by US-CERT.

Microsoft Updates for Multiple Vulnerabilities


Systems Affected

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Microsoft Lync
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows Defender


Select Microsoft software products contain multiple vulnerabilities. Microsoft has released updates to address these vulnerabilities.


The Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for July 2013 describes multiple vulnerabilities in Microsoft software. Microsoft has released updates to address these vulnerabilities.


These vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution or elevation of privilege.


Apply Updates
Microsoft has provided updates for these vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for July 2013, which describes any known issues related to the updates. Administrators are encouraged to note these issues and test for any potentially adverse effects. In addition, administrators should consider using an automated update distribution system such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). Home users are encouraged to enable automatic updates.

Staying Tech Safe On Vacation

Summertime 2013 tech Tip #4

My summer series of tech tips continues with help on staying safe, digitally (at least) while on vacation.

The reality is many 21st century families want or need to text, check email and update social media accounts, even when the goal of taking a vacation is to take a break from our everyday lives. I struggle with this as well. Every summer vacation at the shore I try to disconnect - but I usually fail to do so. However, would should all be aware that our online activity while on the road can put us at a higher risk of having our identity stolen.

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have a lasting negative impact. Just one important piece of information, like a Social Security card, a driver’s license or a bank account statement, can provide a criminal what he needs to steal someone’s identity. What’s worse is victims may not realize their identities have been stolen for weeks, months or years after the fact, allowing the crime to perpetuate and destroy their credit. The good news is there are actions you can take to help protect your identity while on vacation — and anywhere else you may be mobile and online.

Mobile Routers or Cellular Hotspots
Consider a portable router to create your own Wi-Fi hotspot for your own or your family’s devices. You’ll need a local SIM data card, which is available at most electronic stores or even airport kiosks. This will help you avoid using public Wi-Fi spots.  All cellular companies sell mobile hotspot devices.

Avoid Contact with Hackers
If you use public Wi-Fi, be very cautious of using unsecured networks. Make sure you are logging into a secured or private network when you use Wi-Fi. If you aren’t sure, don’t visit sites that contain sensitive information, like bank accounts.

Be Careful Being Social
Using social media while you travel can be a great way to share your family’s trip but remember — checking in or posting pictures can alert someone that your home is vacant! Make sure to set your home alarm, hire a house-sitter or maybe the best option is to delay posts until you are back home. If you do really want to share these photos while you are on vacation, make sure to set your privacy settings to “friends” only. This will help limit the number of people who actually see these pictures.

Make Sure It's Legit
Before logging onto a website from your mobile device, make sure the URL is legit. There are plenty of URL spoof sites out there, created in order to steal your information. Unfortunately many mobile browsers do not show the URL, so it is best to bookmark your favorite sites after you type in the address.

Lock Down Your Social Networks
If you have a blog or social accounts — such as Facebook and Twitter — use the highest security settings possible to ensure your information, posts and photos aren’t being leaked onto the internet.

Strong Passwords
Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation marks to make your passwords harder to crack.

Secure Your Mobile Devices
Losing your mobile phone, tablet or laptop can be just as bad as losing your wallet. Be sure to protect your mobile devices with strong passwords and encryption. Consider installing wiping software on your mobile device so that you can remove your information remotely if your phone is lost.

Facebook's New Graph Search

The feature allows users to make in depth searches of your friends based on similar interests, details and so on. It has been in limited beta since earlier this year.

This new feature went live yesterday, July 8. It is currently only available for users with their language set to US English.

The tool is designed to help people find friends and other users with similar interests. It is also possible to dive much deeper into the information given on people’s profiles.

From Here You Can Complete Searches in Facebook Like Never Before

For example, it is possible to find people who have worked at two companies and list them.

It has also been referred to as Facebook’s first incursion into online dating. It is possible to type in “Single friends in West Chester”. Doing so will bring up all of your friends in West Chester who are single.

It is also possible to use the search menu to find local restaurants and what your friends are saying about them, and so on.

According to reports, a mobile version of the function will be released later this year for iOS and Android devices.

You can learn more about Facebook's new graph search here.

I, personally am a fan of services like Foursquare and Untappd for features like this, but if you are entrenched in Facebook's world check their new grap search out.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Steve Lipsky's Water is On Fire from Recent Fracking ~ RRC Says, "No, It's Not!"

Featured in the Debut of  Josh Fox's "Gasland 2" on HBO Earlier Tonight.  It will run at various times all week. 

Watch carefully, as Steve Lipsky's water catches on fire.  

Thank you to WFAA's Award-Winning Journalist 

Brett Shipp 

for this important report earlier this year.

Click Here to read all about the Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order issued by the EPA for this methane contaminated water well in the backyard of the Lipsky's. (December 7, 2010.)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WOW! Solar Impulse ~ The First Trip Across America 2013

Happening Now. Zero Fossil Fuels Used. 

Livestreaming NOW. July 6, 2013

"[...]Zero-fuel airplane's epic flight to New York live! 

Check out the triumphant conclusion of the historic crossing of the United States with the world's first airplane able to fly day and night without fuel!

Solar Impulse, a project born in Switzerland, is ending its Across America mission that started exactly two months ago at NASA's Moffett Airfield at the heart of Silicon Valley.  

This epic in stages that led the solar plane to Phoenix (AZ), Dallas (TX), St. Louis (MO) and Washington D.C. is now coming to an end with the scheduled landing at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport sometime after 2AM EDT (UTC-4) on Sunday July 7th 2013.

Watch the entire flight live starting one hour before take-off -- around 3:30AM EDT (UTC-4).
The live streaming includes interviews with pilots and project Co-founders André Borschberg from the cockpit and Bertrand Piccard from the ground, reruns of the mission flights and interviews with Solar Impulse team members."[...] (~ From the Solar Impulse LiveStream)

Click here to visit the Solar Impulse YouTube Channel for incredible videos of this first solar flight across America!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

West Chester Connect Launches July 8, 2013

The Borough of West Chester is proud to announce that we are providing a new service which is intended to enhance civic engagement within our community.

“West Chester Connect” is the name of our new service. You can download the free app in your smartphone’s app store by searching for “West Chester Connect”. The app is free of charge. Once downloaded you can easily report “environmental”, “public safety” & “quality of life” issues. You can then follow the process of your work orders through push notifications on your smart phone.
“West Chester Connect” officially launches on July 8, 2013.

You can learn more about “West Chester Connect” by visiting our website at
This service is not intended for emergencies. As always continue to call 911 for emergency situations.

What is West Chester Connect? 

West Chester Connect is simply a way of fostering engagement between citizens and their government. Through the free "West Chester Connect" smartphone app citizens can easily and quickly provide information regarding environmental, public safety and quality of life issues. 

Citizens can then remain engaged with their government as the work orders are processed and completed through push notifications on their smartphones.

What is West Chester Connect NOT For?

First and foremost. West Chester Connect is not for reporting emergency situations.  The reports made through this service are handled as non-emergency situations. 

West Chester Connect is not a place for social commentary. 

You can read the official press release here.

You can learn more by reading our "Citizen Guide"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fun in the Sun With Your Smartphone

Summertime 2013 Tech Tip #3

A trip to the shore for some sunshine and water may sound like the perfect getaway and in many ways it can be. However your smartphone probably will not agree. There is little doubt that many of us are addicted to our smartphones so here are some tips for keeping them safe this summer.

Seek some shade. Direct sunlight can cause overheating, so be sure to stash your devices somewhere shady. If you do trigger an “overheated” alert, be sure to turn off the device and move it to a cooler location. Do not place it inside a freezer!

Invest in a quality case. In the summertime, the living is easy – but not for your gadgets. Sticky fingers from ice cream, blowing sand and condensation are just a few of the perils the season brings for your devices. There are a ton of options on the market, including rugged cases to help protect from drops and waterproof options to help keep things safe poolside – or tabletop during meals.

Limit the glare. Sunlight can make your screen hard to read. You can tackle this in a few ways:

Adjust your brightness settings. Navigate to your device’s “Settings” menu, then select the “Display Settings.” You can modify both “Brightness” and “Backlight” options on most devices: the higher the brightness settings, the easier it is to read your screen in sunlight. Some devices also offer an “Auto Brightness” option that automatically adjusts your screen for optimal viewing.

Purchase an anti-glare cover which will help make your screen more legible in bright light.

Find some shade. Relax under an umbrella or a tree for some temporary relief.

Low-Fi Stereo Fun!  Summer means impromptu gatherings, which just beg for a great music. But if you do not have portable speakers handy, you can try this simple trick to pump up the volume.  Place your music player in a bowl or glass to amplify your device’s speakers. It really works!

Stay tuned for more fun-in-the sun technology tips.

West Chester Connect Launches July 8, 2013

West Chester Connect officially launches next Monday, July 8. You can read the press release here.

You can also check out our "West Chester Connect - Citizen Guide" here.

West Chester Connect - Press Release

How To Tell If Your PC Has a Virus

Summertime 2013 Tech Tip #1

One of the questions I am asked very often is "how do I know if my computer has a virus"?

Is your computer running very slowly? A common symptom of a virus is much slower than normal computer performance. However, there can be other reasons for slow performance, including a hard disk that needs defragmenting, a computer that needs more memory (RAM), or the existence of spyware or adware. For more information about spyware, see How to tell if your computer is infected with spyware.

Are you getting unexpected messages, or are programs starting automatically? Some viruses can cause damage to Windows or some of your programs. The results of this damage might include messages appearing unexpectedly, programs starting or closing automatically, or Windows shutting down suddenly.
Is your modem or hard disk working overtime? An e‑mail virus works by sending many copies of itself by e‑mail. One indicator of this is that the activity light on your broadband or external modem is constantly lit; another is the sound of your computer's hard disk continually working. These are not always symptoms of a computer virus, but when combined with other problems, can indicate a virus infection.
To check for viruses, scan your computer with an antivirus program. New viruses appear every day, so keeping your antivirus program updated is important.

What is Spyware?

Summertime 2013 Tech Tip #2

One of the most common problems computer users deal with is Spyware. The threat of Spyware infecting your PC is becoming more real everyday. It is easier then ever for your PC to become a victim of Spyware. What is Spyware anyway?
Spyware is a type of software that is installed on your computer to watch and record your activity. Some types of spyware record your keystrokes and information that you type into websites or other programs and then use that information for targeted advertising or identity theft. These programs can be installed on your computer in many ways, but often they are hidden inside of software such as free games, screen savers, or animated cursors.
Here are some signs that your computer might be infected with spyware:
  • You notice new toolbars, links, or favorites that you didn't intentionally add to your web browser.
  • Your home page, mouse pointer, or search program changes unexpectedly.
  • You type the address of a specific website into your web browser, but you're taken to a completely unrelated website.
  • You see pop-up ads, even if your computer isn't connected to the Internet.
  • Your computer suddenly starts running slowly. Not all computer performance problems are caused by spyware, but spyware can cause a noticeable change.
Sometimes, your computer will show no symptoms, even if a spyware program is running. To help protect your privacy and your computer, I recommend that you run Windows Defender or another antispyware program at all times.
What if Spyware is on your PC?
If you have spyware or other potentially unwanted software on your computer, you should use an antispyware scanner and removal tool to try to remove it. You can also try to remove spyware manually. You might need to use both of these methods more than once to completely remove the spyware or other potentially unwanted software.
Spyware can sometimes be hard to remove. If an antispyware program notifies you that it can't remove spyware, follow the instructions provided by the antispyware program. If that doesn't work, try these options:
  • Try installing an antivirus or another antispyware program. Many antivirus programs also come with antispyware protection.
Sadly sometimes even the most trained and well informed computer experts cannot remove a well entrenched and hidden piece of spyware. Some spyware can hide itself so well that it can't be removed. If you still see evidence of spyware after trying to remove it with an antispyware program or after trying to uninstall it using Control Panel, you might need to reinstall Windows and your programs.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summertime Tech Advice

Summertime has finally arrived and that usually means many of us are headed to the shore for some rest and relaxation. Unfortunately our mobile devices usually tag along. If this is true in your case be sure to take care with your mobile devices as they are even more susceptible to the summer's unique weather conditions then you are.

Avoid "Heat-Related Death"

Extremely warm (and hot) temperatures have noticeable effects on your phone's battery, display and the parts inside your phone. There's even a possibility of the ominously named "heat-related death," which is exactly as horrible as it sounds. The best way to protect your tech is to keep it in the shade. If you do find that your phone has overheated in the sun, don't panic and let it cool gradually. Do not put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Let it cool down on it's own, and out of the sun.

Use a cooling pad when you're working on a laptop outdoors, even if you don’t use one at home. Increased temperatures mean even new laptops could easily overheat in the summer sun. Also take the time to clean your laptop fan before heading into the sun. This will help to ensure that it is running properly and keeping your laptop cooler. Of course the best protection is to keep it in the shade.

Use "Protection"

Another concern is water damage. While your smartphone case protects against damage from dropping your phone, it will do little to protect your phone from damage caused by liquid, dust or sand. If you want to tote your cell to the shore, you’ll need a little something extra like a waterproof case. You can find these online easily. I found dozens of these cases at

US-CERT (Risks of Default Passwords on the Internet)

I will start posting cyber alerts that are published by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).

US-CERT’s mission is to improve the nation's cybersecurity posture, coordinate cyber information sharing, and proactively manage cyber risks to the nation while protecting the constitutional rights of Americans. US-CERT's vision is to be a trusted global leader in cybersecurity — collaborative, agile, and responsive in a complex environment.


06/24/2013 03:11 PM EDT

Original release date: June 24, 2013

Systems Affected

Any system using password authentication accessible from the internet may be affected. Critical infrastructure and other important embedded systems, appliances, and devices are of particular concern.


Attackers can easily identify and access internet-connected systems that use shared default passwords. It is imperative to change default manufacturer passwords and restrict network access to critical and important systems.


What Are Default Passwords?

Factory default software configurations for embedded systems, devices, and appliances often include simple, publicly documented passwords. These systems usually do not provide a full operating system interface for user management, and the default passwords are typically identical (shared) among all systems from a vendor or within product lines. Default passwords are intended for initial testing, installation, and configuration operations, and many vendors recommend changing the default password before deploying the system in a production environment.

What Is the Risk?

Attackers can easily obtain default passwords and identify internet-connected target systems. Passwords can be found in product documentation and compiled lists available on the internet. It is possible to identify exposed systems using search engines like Shodan, and it is feasible to scan the entire IPv4 internet, as demonstrated by such research as

Attempting to log in with blank, default, and common passwords is a widely used attack technique.


An attacker with knowledge of the password and network access to a system can log in, usually with root or administrative privileges. Further consequences depend on the type and use of the compromised system. Examples of incident activity involving unchanged default passwords include

  • Internet Census 2012 Carna Botnet distributed scanning
  • Fake Emergency Alert System (EAS) warnings about zombies
  • Stuxnet and Siemens SIMATIC WinCC software
  • Kaiten malware and older versions of Microsoft SQL Server
  • SSH access to jailbroken Apple iPhones
  • Cisco router default Telnet and enable passwords
  • SNMP community strings


Change Default Passwords

Change default passwords as soon as possible and absolutely before deploying the system on an untrusted network such as the internet. Use a sufficiently strong and unique password. See US-CERT Security Tip ST04-002 and Password Security, Protection, and Management for more information on password security.

Use Unique Default Passwords

Vendors can design systems that use unique default passwords. Such passwords may be based on some inherent characteristic of the system, like a MAC address, and the password may be physically printed on the system.

Use Alternative Authentication Mechanisms

When possible, use alternative authentication mechanisms like Kerberos, x.509 certificates, public keys, or multi-factor authentication. Embedded systems may not support these authentication mechanisms and the associated infrastructure.

Force Default Password Changes

Vendors can design systems to require password changes the first time a default password is used. Recent versions of DD-WRT wireless router firmware operate this way.

Restrict Network Access

Restrict network access to trusted hosts and networks. Only allow internet access to required network services, and unless absolutely necessary, do not deploy systems that can be directly accessed from the internet. If remote access is required, consider using VPN, SSH, or other secure access methods and be sure to change default passwords.

Vendors can design systems to only allow default or recovery password use on local interfaces, such as a serial console, or when the system is in maintenance mode and only accessible from a local network.

Identify Affected Products

It is important to identify software and systems that are likely to use default passwords. The following list includes software, systems, and services that commonly use default passwords:

  • Routers, access points, switches, firewalls, and other network equipment
  • Databases
  • Web applications
  • Industrial Control Systems (ICS) systems
  • Other embedded systems and devices
  • Remote terminal interfaces like Telnet and SSH
  • Administrative web interfaces

Running a vulnerability scanner on your network can identify systems and services using default passwords. Freely available scanners include Metasploit and OpenVAS.


You can learn more at the official US-CERT website.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Windows 8.1 Preview

If you are currently using Windows 8 you are aware that it obviously is a work in progress. While Windows 8 works fine on touch screens it can be clunky on non-touch screens. In addition if Microsoft has dreams of the corporate world adopting Windows 8 in the workplace further development and customization is required. Microsoft has obviously been working on some of these issues as the upcoming release of Windows 8.1 (or Windows Blue) proves. As with Windows 8 and Office 2013 Microsoft will be releasing a "preview" a few months before the final release on June 26.

It makes sense to look at what the Windows 8.1 Preview will bring to the table, and its requirements and changes, before you make a decision whether you should upgrade your system to the preview build right away.

For many users, it may be better to wait until the final version of Windows 8.1 gets released. While there is no definite date set for that yet, it is likely that Microsoft will make it available just a couple of months after the release of the preview version.

The system requirements have not changed at all.
  • 1 GHz or faster processor.
  • 1 Gigabyte or 2 Gigabyte of RAM depending on whether you are using a 32-bit or 64-bit system.
  • 16 Gigabyte or 20 Gigabyte of hard drive space again depending on whether you are using a 32-bit or 64-bit system.
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics card.
Windows RT users need to have at least 10 Gigabyte of free storage on their device for the upgrade.
There is one main change though that users need to know about. You need to use a Microsoft account to sign in to PCs that run the preview build of Windows 8.1 There is no option to create a local account in the release, but Microsoft promises that it will be made available when the final version of Windows 8.1 gets released later this year.

Windows 8.1 Preview will be made available via Windows Store as a direct download and as a Preview ISO image. If you want to download it from Windows Store, you need to install an update first on the system that you get from the Windows 8.1 Preview download page. Next time you start the system after installing the update you receive a notification that you can get Windows 8.1 Preview for free from the store.

An Internet connection is needed to download the app from Store, but once it has been downloaded no Internet connection is required until the update has been successfully installed and the system rebooted.

You can alternatively download the Windows 8.1 Preview ISO from the download page and use it to install the operating system. You will need a product key that Microsoft makes available on the download page. It is likely that this is a generic key that all users who install the preview build share.

What's New in Windows 8.1?

  • Boot to Desktop
  • More rows on start screen and additional tile sizes.
  • Improvements for mouse and keyboard users on the desktop and start screen.
  • Snap View feature improved, supports now up to three apps.
  • Internet Explorer 11.
  • Windows Defender with network behavior monitoring.
  • Device Lockdown with Assigned Access (RT, Pro and Enterprise) to enable a "single Windows Store application experience on a device".
  • Pervasive Device Encryption for all Windows editions. Enabled out of the box and can be configured "with additional BitLocker protection and management capabilities".
  • Improved Biometrics including optimization for fingerprint based biometrics.
  • Remote Business data removal.
  • Support for a wider range of VPN clients and auto-triggered VPN.
  • Broadband tethering.
  • Windows Store enabled by default for Windows To Go users.
  • Bring your own Device enhancements such as work folders, Wi-Fi direct printing, RDS enhancements and web application proxy.
  • SkyDrive is integrated natively into Windows 8.1 but does not sync data automatically to the PC. Placeholders are displayed instead.
  • You need to sign in to a Microsoft account to use the store.
  • All Windows 8 apps will work on Windows 8.1 but not the other way round.
  • Apps are automatically updated unless you are connected to a metered Internet connection.
  • Desktop background can now be displayed on start screen.
  • Lock Screen slideshow of photos.
  • Aggregated search powered by Bing.
  • Improved stock apps and new apps such as a Calculator, Sound Recorder and new Alarm features.
  • PC Settings updated (the start screen control panel) so that it is no longer necessary to switch to the desktop Control Panel.
  • Start button that links to the start screen.

  • Unconfirmed
    You will lose access to apps and programs that you have installed on Windows 8.1 Preview systems when you upgrade to the final RTM version of the operating system.

    I may actually end up waiting if it is indeed true that all applications will need to be re-installed when moving from the preview release to the final RTM. I am still waiting on what is happening here before deciding what to do.

    Below is a video preview of Windows 8.1

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    West Chester Connect Is On The Horizon!

    Today the Windows Phone 8 app for "West Chester Connect" became available in the Windows Store. The iPhone and Android Apps are already available. Still waiting on Blackberry to approve our app, but that will not stop us from launching our very exciting new citizen engagement tool, "West Chester Connect" next month! Stay tuned for exciting details!

    West Chester Connect in the Windows Phone Store!

    The mission of “West Chester Connect” is to provide enhanced communication between our community and our staff. Work Orders that are reported through “West Chester Connect” shall be handled in the same professional manner as service requests made by telephone, walk-in or email.

    Work Orders shall be completed in a timely and professional manner at all times. It should be understood that anyone can access any work order filed through “West Chester Connect”.

    Citizens who submit work orders have the ability to receive “push notifications” on their mobile device as the work order is processed.

    Work Orders completed through “West Chester Connect” are a public record and shall be handled in the most efficient manner possible.

    The Borough of West Chester is committed to utilizing technology whenever possible in order to improve engagement and involvement between the members of our community and our government.

    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Foundations Summer Preparation Tips For Parents and Students

    Please realize that we do not suggest students "memorize ahead" the upcoming cycle's memory work. Their tutors will introduce new topics in exciting ways every week, and we do not wish to detract from that experience for the students, but these are some great ideas to help your family get ready for the pace and the content of the Foundations program:

    Search out, display, and memorize scriptures as your family "mottos" on topics like diligence for the year ahead. You
    may wish to get a gentle "jump start" on the long scripture passages recommended for memorization in the year ahead.

    English Grammar
    Work lightly through an English text that is grade level appropriate for each (or all) of your Foundations children, to prepare them for certain terminology to be introduced in our memory work. Do grammar exercises aloud or written.

    Familiarize your children with globes and maps with fun activites, use directions on the map, explore water and land masses, and begin tracing/drawing locations, so this is not a challenge when it is introduced in Foundations.

    Read together a history series that covers the topics for the upcoming cycle, such as The Story of the World, to gain an "big picture" understanding, so that more detailed reading/projects/studies can take place at home, throughout the academic year, as the new memory work is introduced each week. Movies may be incorporated, as well as field trips, or other projects, to begin to provide "learning pegs" even before the history facts are introduced, and then memorized.

    You may wish to begin to work through Latin's Not So Tough beginner levels, Latin for Children, or another elementary Latin program, to familarize your students with the Latin, (but this is not a requirement of the Foundations program).

    Introduce or review the Multiplication Tables, plus the cubes and squares, especially if your children are new to them.

    Spend lots of time outside playing in nature. Read books including some science topics covered in the upcoming cycle.

    Organize and preview the timeline cards and begin to read through the information provided on the back of the cards. This is one of the most challenging subjects for some families to "keep up" with, so a "gentle start" can be helpful here. Read books and view movies/documentaries on some of the history topics covered in the timeline cards, as there will not be sufficient time for all of the world events to be studied weekly, at this level of detail, during the busy school year.

    Pink Floyd Invades Spotify

    A month or so ago my son was praising the merits of the internet music service, Spotify. I checked it out and there is a lot to like about it but I had a couple of problems with it.
    You can now enjoy the entire awesome Pink Floyd catalog on Spotify.
    1. Although there is a free version of this - you can not listen to Spotify on mobile devices without paying $9.99 per month. That is too expensive for me, especially since I already am a subscriber to Sirius/XM Radio.
    2. My son went on about the massive song selection, however I found that there was almost no Pink Floyd there. This was a big problem for me.
    Meanwhile, shortly after I checked out and gave up on Spotify my favorite rock group Pink Floyd gave the green light to Spotify to host the band's entire catalog. Why did the greatest rock band ever formed do this? Well apparently Pink Floyd announced earlier this month that it would resist releasing its music on Spotify until the 1975 classic "Wish You Were Here" hit 1 million streams.
    Well, the song hit 1 million, and Spotify announced via Twitter that Pink Floyd's tunes are now unlocked.

    You can check out Spotify at

    Now I have a decision to make....

    NASA Seeks Your Help

    On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 NASA announced an Asteroid Grand Challenge that solicits the public’s help in proposing asteroid-wrangling strategies for the agency’s Asteroid Initiative.

    "NASA already is working to find asteroids that might be a threat to our planet, and while we have found 95 percent of the large asteroids near the Earth's orbit, we need to find all those that might be a threat to Earth," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, in a press release. "This Grand Challenge is focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats. We will also harness public engagement, open innovation and citizen science to help solve this global problem.".

    Throughout recorded history there have been hundreds of Earth impacts with many of these occurrences causing death and destruction. Of course the one we are think of is the one that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. There is some recent evidence that perhaps it was actually a comet that ruined everything for the dinosaurs, but even if was a comet - it was big - and it was from space.

    NASA seems too be on edge about asteroid strikes these days - and with good reason. Here are just some of the recent events if you missed them:

    1908 - This is one of the most infamous events in modern times. The explosion of an asteroid of Siberia, Russia destroyed 80 million trees in a remote region.

    1913 - A ship was destroyed when it was struck by a meteorite while sailing between Sydney and South America.

    1954 - The first recorded case of a human being injured from space rocks occurred on November 30,  in Alabama.

    1972 - A meteorite which ranged in size from a house to a car was filmed over the Rocky Mountains. Luckily the rock was reduced in size enough as it travelled through the atmosphere (photo below), otherwise the impact could have been a Hiroshima type event.

    2000 - A fireball exploded over the city of Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon lighting up the night sky. The space rock that exploded was estimated to weigh about 180 tons.

    2007 - On September 15, a chondritic meteor crashed near the village of Carancas in southeastern Peru near Lake Titicaca, leaving a water-filled hole (photo below) and spewing gases across the surrounding area. Many residents became ill, apparently from the noxious gases shortly after the impact.

    2007 - On October 7, a meteroid labeled 2008 TC3 was tracked for 20 hours as it approached Earth and as it fell through the atmosphere and impacted in Sudan. This was the first time an object was detected before it reached the atmosphere and hundreds of pieces of the meteorite were recovered from the Nubian Desert.

    2013 - On February 15 an asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere (photo below) over Russia as a fireball and exploded above the city of Chelyabinsk during its passage through the Ural Mountains region. The object's air burst occurred at an altitude between 19 and 31 miles  above the ground. About 1,500 people were injured, mainly by broken window glass shattered by the shock wave.

    These are just a small amount of the countless documented collisions between space debris and the Earth. The problem we have is that NASA's mission has been seriously damaged by recent cuts to it's budget. In addition there are actually some things that NASA could do if a space rock was observed hurtling toward our planet, however there simply is not the money to monitor the space in a way that we should be, especially considering we are living in the 21st century and that we landed on the Moon 44 years ago.

    You can learn more about NASA's Asteroid Initiative here.

    Microsoft's Bounty Program

    Microsoft is following in the footsteps of Google, Facebook, and Mozilla by finally implementing a bug bounty program. These programs have helped Google and Mozilla create very competitive internet browsers which of course have been stealing market share away from Microsoft's Internet Explorer for years.

    Starting on June 26, Redmond will kick off three bounty programs for exploits related to Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11. Those who manage to crack Microsoft's programs can collect up to $100,000 in reward money.

    These programs will allow Microsoft to reward work by researchers and improve the security of their software — all to the benefit of consumers.

    The three programs include:

    Mitigation Bypass Bounty: Earn up to $100,000 for an exploit against Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 update, Windows 8.1.

    BlueHat Bonus for Defense: Earn up to $50,000 "for defensive ideas that accompany a qualifying Mitigation Bypass submission," Microsoft said.

    Internet Explorer 11 Preview Bug Bounty: Earn up to $11,000 for vulnerabilities on IE11 within Windows 8.1.

    Microsoft did not set a hard deadline for the first two programs, but participants have 30 days, or until July 26, to uncover a bug within IE11.

    The highest rewards will be given to those who demonstrate the ability of the exploit to bypass Microsoft's security layers.

    Aside from offering heaps of cash to researchers, the three researcher-focused programs "will also help to fill gaps in the current marketplace and enhance our relationships within this invaluable community, all while making our products more secure for our customers," Mike Reavey, senior director of the Microsoft Security Response Center, said in a statement.

    This move marks Microsoft's first step into the world of bug bounties which their competitors have been using for years. I expect Microsoft's Internet Explorer to improve as a result of this new program. I just wish they had done this years ago. 

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Office 365 Arrives @ Apple - Sort Of

    Timing is everything. We here at the Borough of West Chester have been in Microsoft's (email) cloud for over 2 years now and in fact just a couple weeks ago we were upgraded to Microsoft 365. This week after more than a year of rumors, Microsoft has finally released a version of its Office suite for the iPhone (yes the iPhone). If you use an iPhone you can now access Office 365 from your smartphone.

    Office 365 in the iPhone App Store!

    The app, available for subscribers of Office 365, includes iPhone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which will allow you to create, edit, and update all of your documents and sync them with Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage service.

    However the app is currently only being offered for the iPhone, not the iPad. You can get around this somewhat by searching in the store for it on your iPad but selecting iPhone apps. Once downloaded you will need to increase the size (2x) to fill your screen. Until a true iPad app is available this is the only option if you want to access your Office 365 account on your iPad.

    Here is How to Setup Office 365 on Your iPhone or iPad

    1. Search for Office 365 in the app store. If you are using an iPad make sure to select "iPhone Apps" or you will not see it. The app is free so there is no reason not to install it - if you have an Office 365 account.

    2. Once downloaded slide through the short tutorial and at the end you will be promoted to log into to your account. Select "I have an Office 365 subscription" and enter your email address to activate Office.

    3. It will then ask you what type of account you have. Select "Organizational Account".

    4. Once completed you will have access to any documents you have saved in SkyDrive or SharePoint.

    5. If you have an additional Skydrive account you can add it by selecting the "Open" folder and choosing Add a Place.

    With Microsoft now selling Office 365 as a subscription service to consumers I am sure a true iPad app as well one for Android devices is around the corner as well. Stay tuned.

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Teach Them Diligently Conference in Oaks, PA!
    Ken Hamm is the featured speaker in Philadelphia.
    Visit for more information...

    A New Way to Experience Teach Them Diligently Near You!

    Thousands of families across the country have heard of the encouragement and discipleship focus of a Teach Them Diligently Convention. Now experience all of the wonderful encouragement of our larger conventions, but on a smaller scale and lower cost.
    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace
    • GREAT SPEAKERS & Encouragement
    • LOW PRICES on Homeschool Curriculum & Resources
    • MOM’S RETREAT sampler option the evening before
    • COMPARISON SHOPPING easily evaluate homeschool curriculums side-by-side

    JOIN US!
    in Pittsburgh & Philly
    June 22 & 29

    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace
    Choose from these locations:

    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace

    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool MarketplaceThis is a totally new concept in homeschool events which will feature an incredible selection of curriculum and educational materials in a manner that will allow you to compare them side by side to help you choose what is best for your family.

    Why Should You Attend?

    • Camraderie and encouragement with large numbers of other homeschool mothers and families
    • Great speakers that are experienced in homeschooling and able to equip you as a parent and homeschooler
    • Breadth and depth of selection for trusted curriculum at great prices! Hundreds of different brands will be represented!
    • Curriculum Specialists to help you evaluate which curriculums will best suit your children's learning styles.
    • Heather Laurie of Special Needs Homeschooling will be with us in Pittsburgh to help special needs families.
    No other homeschool convention can match the selection of curriculum and educational materials that we offer. We will even feature outstanding digital resources.Teach Them Diligently Homeschool MarketplaceTeach Them Diligently Marketplace Event Schedules

    Pittsburgh, PA Session Schedule - June 22

    11 Sessions, 50 minutes each with 20 minute break in between sessions.
    Carol Barnier - 17 Years of Homeschooling and I Hardly Twitch at All Anymore8:30 - 9:20
    Tim Chaffey - Is Genesis Relevant in Today’s World?9:40 - 10:30
    Debra Bell - Developing Motivation and Interest in Kids of All Ages 10:50 - 11:40
    Zan Tyler - How Do I Teach My Elementary-Aged Children to Have a Biblical Worldview?12:00 - 12:50
    Carol Barnier - Teaching Your Child to Read...Made Easy1:10 - 2:00
    Tim Chaffey - Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions2:20 - 3:10
    Debra Bell - Why Homeschooling Works3:30 - 4:20
    Zan Tyler - Living in the Fiery Furnace: How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout4:40 - 5:30
    Tim Chaffey - Infallible Proofs for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ5:50 - 6:40
    Debra Bell - Twenty-First Century Homeschooling7:00 - 7:50
    Zan Tyler - Overwhelmed? How the Bible Can Solve Your Homeschooling Challenges8:10 - 9:00

    Philadelphia, PA Session Schedule - June 29

    Ken Ham - Is Genesis Relevant in 20138:30 - 9:20
    Ken Ham - Science and the Bible-How to Defend the Christian Faith9:40 - 10:30
    Carol Barnier - 17 Years of Homeschooling and I Hardly Twitch at All Anymore10:50 - 11:40
    Hal & Melanie Young - Raising Real Men12:00 - 12:50
    Toni Anderson - Be a Yes Mom1:10 - 2:00
    Carol Barnier - Help! I Fell off my Lesson Plan!2:20 - 3:10
    Hal & Melanie Young - Ballistic Homeschooling: Teaching Boys3:30 - 4:20
    Toni Anderson - The Homeschool Mom's Guide to Getting Dinner on the Table4:40 - 5:30
    Carol Barnier - What are you THINKING? – Learning Styles and Beyond5:50 - 6:40
    Hal & Melanie Young - Teach Discernment7:00 - 7:50
    Toni Anderson - How to Homeschool an Average Child8:10 - 9:00
    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace
    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool MarketplaceTeach Them Diligently Homeschool MarketplaceTeach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace
    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace

    One Day Isn't Enough For you? Come the night before Marketplace for the Apologia Real Refreshment Retreat Sampler

    A Special Night of ENCOURAGEMENT for Homeschool Moms

    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool MarketplaceThousands of moms have experienced a full-course weekend of unparalleled homeschool encouragement offered at Apologia's Real Refreshment Retreats. Dynamic speakers have spoken life into their homeschool, refreshing their God-given vision of ministering to their families.
    Now it's your turn.
    These events have blessed so many moms across the country and now we're bringing a sampler to you! You can add the Refresh Retreat to your Marketplace experience for only $30 more!
    The Real Refreshment Sampler will be an exclusive event the evening before each Teach Them Diligently Marketplace. You will be treated to a chocolate reception followed by a feast of encouragement, renewal, and equipping. Join us as we fellowship together to recharge our spiritual batteries and satisfy our sweet tooth.
    How can you resist such a sweet invitation? Space is limited, so register today. We are already praying for our time together.

    Real Refreshment Sampler Speaking Sessions

    Rachael CarmanReal Refreshment Redefined
    Sherri SeligsonHow Should I think about Excellence? Seeing the Exceptional in the Everyday, the Phenomenal in the Nominal
    Debra BellThe Comparison Trap

    Real Refreshment Sampler Event Schedule

    Registration Begins4:45pm
    Chocolate Reception5:00pm
    Welcome and Orientation to the Evening5:30pm
    Presentation #15:45pm
    Prayer Circle6:30pm
    Presentation #27:15pm
    Speaker Testimonial and Invitation to RRR8:00pm
    Q&A Session8:20pm
    Shop and Meet Speakers8:40pm
    Closing Prayer8:55pm
    The Real Refreshment
    Retreats Sampler is not
    included as part of the
    $15 family
    Teach Them Diligently Marketplace is presented by...
    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace
    Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Marketplace