Windows 10

Windows 10 is a privacy sinkhole, best described recently as Microsoft's latest bit of malware.  I won't fool myself into thinking that people are going to drop this malware entirely and use a real operating system. I also won't fool myself into thinking that people won't downgrade their current operating system to Windows 10 because everyone loves the Latest and Greatest. With that in mind, here are some helpful links:

  • Mrs. Smith is one of my favorite columnists. She writes for Network World on security and privacy. Here are her tweaks for privacy.
  • Lifehacker, a very handy site for all sorts of 'life hacks', explains what the Win 10 settings do.
  • Slate tells you how to protect yourself.
  • This is why torrent sites are not allowing access for Win 10 users. Regardless of whether or not you torrent, this is a must-read.
  • Microsoft will not provide full release notes for Win 10 updates
  • Windows Hello uses your webcam even if you disabled your camera. Just tape a tiny piece of paper over it already. This protects you against all similar attacks.

I strongly urge you to read the links and familiarize yourself with the privacy-sucking features of Windows 10. If you have already installed it, there is a function that will take you back to Win 7 or 8.

  • Slashdot article and somewhat useful commentary on keeping MS' nose out of your data
  • - Privacy features are turned off by default - try these settings
  • 3 apps to quickly configure privacy options

As if Windows 10 isn't enough of a pervasive, spying data sinkhole, Windows is now downloading it to your computer, even if you didn't ask for it. Just in case, you know.


My (too many) years in customer service provided me with at least one good piece of advice: do not recommend against something without providing an alternate solution.

You'd have to be blind and dumb to not know that I'm a linux user. I don't reboot much, my computer doesn't lock or Phone Home and I am not stuck shoehorning myself into the Mac or Windows ecosystem. I can open all Office documents and save in that format and my software is free and open source. And a lot less like swiss cheese than other operating systems (nothing is flawless).

My favorite distribution is Ubuntu. On top of that, my favorite desktop is XFCE. You don't need to know too much about this, other than which Ubuntu to download - Xubuntu (light, fast, configures well), Ubuntu (Gnome desktop, a little heavier on resources, 'traditional' desktop) or Kubuntu (heavier, all the bells and whistles). Choose one and download. A great point here is that you can use many desktops and switch between them. Check out the screenshots to see what looks best to you. You can customize most features. I find Xubuntu a great blend of configureability and speed - it works well on older hardware too. Linux is your answer if you have an older computer that won't run Windows reliably or quickly.

If you don't have a spare pc for a trial, there are a number of ways to check linux out. You can use a live cd or usb stick. You boot to this and run Ubuntu, very quickly, in memory. It does not touch your computer and there will be no difference when you boot back into Windows. You can run linux in a virtual machine under Vmware or Virtualbox, which also doesn't bother your computer, allowing you to run Windows and linux at the same time.  You can also dual-boot. If you're certain you want to use linux, install it as dual-boot so when you start up, you get the choice of Windows or linux.



As if 'Microsoft's latest malware' (Windows 10) spying wasn't bad enough, updates are coming for Windows 7 and 8 that will allow some of the same kind of spying.

 The updates in question are:
  • KB3068708 – This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices.
  • KB3022345 (replaced by KB3068708) – This update adds the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to in-market devices.
  • KB3075249
  • – This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature in order to collect data on elevations that come from low integrity levels.
  • KB3080149 – This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices.

These recent updates released by Redmond install the "Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service" that is the most controversial component of the Microsoft's newest operating system.
Once installed, the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service immediately begins phoning home to Microsoft even if privacy controls are enabled – apparently with no option to stop it.


Here is the extremely complex action needed to stop this current round of spying: Don't Install Them.

Windows 7/8 will inform you when updates are ready, if you do not have Windows set to Update Automatically. If you DO have Windows set to Update Automatically, go into Control Panel, Windows Update, and Change Settings (on left). I set mine to download but not install - it will download the updates and let you know they have arrived for installation. When you tell it to install the updates, go further into the options and do not allow the above updates to install (do not check them). You should be free from this variety of Windows spying.  You will not, however, be free from the regular old Windows spying and backdoors.

If the updates were already installed, go to the article in the first link, which will show you how to uninstall them.

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