Windows 10 – pt.2 (privacy problems)

Windows 10 PrivacySince that last post my opinion of Windows 10 has changed.

I pretty much use Windows for two applications: FamilyTree Maker and FrameMaker. They run well under the new system but there’s a more to the “upgrade” than meets the eye.

There are a whole host of privacy problems, look here, and some annoying general issues which are all over the internet.

Let’s get it clear, I’m not paranoid about sites gathering information about me, I just want them to be open about it.

I have AdBlock installed along with Ghostery in my browser and they take care of most intrusive browsing stuff but Windows 10 has a heap of things that are nothing to do with the web, they just send info about me and my internet usage to Microsoft. worse still, I need to switch these off rather than accept the default install settings.

If you have doubts about this, search Google for “Windows 10 privacy”, I suggest you read those results carefully!

For information: I use BitDefender free edition for antivirus and Malwarebytes for malware protection, those seem to work well together and rarely intrude on my computer use while keeping my computer clear of problems.

These precautions alone don’t stop Windows “phoning home” so I suggest you check the links given above to protect yourself.

Adverts and Popups

The internet is filled with webpages which are in turn filled with adverts – and a bit like spam, they seem to breed!

Most of my spam problems have now been controlled by setting filters as “tight” as possible on my normal email accounts and forwarding all the junk collected to a gmail account. I then collect my normal email and gmail normally as part of Outlook’s normal mail cycle so that all mail is collected centrally on my main PC and deleted from the mailservers. Any spam getting through after this is neatly mopped up by my old favourite, SpamBayes

When I’m out and about I still collect mail on the iPhone or iPad, but this time the POP collection process is set to leave mail on the server. It seems to work for me!

Anyhow, back to annoying popups and adverts; I’ve tried a lot of ad-blocking software (usually configured as a browser add-on or extension). They work but require updating from time to time and, of course, add-ons slow down the browser. While searching for solutions the other day I saw mention of an open-source solution called Privoxy and decided to give it a try. It’s still early days, but things are looking good!

This might get a little techy but I’ll do my best to keep it simple; Privoxy works at network level outside the browser and therefore doesn’t care which one (or 6!) you choose to use. Essentially, your browser now send requests  to Privoxy, it gets the page, filters out all the stuff you don’t need then forwards the nice clean, ad-free website to your browser.

OK, this does require a couple of small changes to your internet settings, but they are very easy to make. I won’t go into the detail here as the software authors have done a great job in producing all the info you need in a nice understandable manual – in fact everything apart from the small setting change mentioned just works straight “out of the box”.

Privoxy is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, and quite a few other operating systems and once installed it allows you to route all your website requests through it.

For the moment I am using Privoxy on OSX, Windows and Mint Linux machines and all work perfectly – the next step is to “donate” a Raspberry Pi to this little project and put the software on that, which would allow me to remove the individual installations on each machine and route browser requests from any of them through Privoxy on the Pi.

There’s more for me to learn but things are looking good.

Whoops, I should have mentioned that Privoxy is free although, of course, donations are welcome.

Spam Solution?

Looking back on this blog a recurring theme has been email spam and my attempts to clear my inbox of this plague.

This blog uses built in WordPress tools to ensure that I don’t see any spam posted in the comments but keeping control of my mail client’s filters isn’t quite so easy – I should say wasn’t quite so easy!

All my registered domains have spam filtering on their mail servers but increasingly this doesn’t always catch the latest rubbish, that still makes its way through to my desktop and, in my case, Outlook. The inbuilt Microsoft filter isn’t that bright and for some years now I have relied on a little add-in called SpamBayes which is an Open Source solution to the problem using Baysian filters to “score” each message and filter it accordingly. All fine and dandy then? Well no, not really. Unfortunately updates to SpamBayes have been few and far between over the last 2 or 3 years and the project seems to have stalled. This means that recent updates to Windows and Outlook have started causing proiblems with it.

I have noticed that Outlook often doesn’t fully quit when I shut it down. That means that when I restart it, I actually get two copies, 1 hidden from the previous session and 1 for the latest startup, this causes resource problems by the end of each day as I have seen 5 or 6 Outlook sessions running in Task Manager. There are various add-ons to cure this but so far I haven’t found one without its own problems.

Enter SpamFighter! I came across this when I decided to ditch SpamBayes for something more up-to-date and have been using it for the last few weeks. It works a treat and doesn’t interfere with Outlook at all, so I decided to lash out the £17 for a years subscription to the system. After a very simple download/install, I now have aclean inbox again.

SpamFighter works as an add-in to Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird and for the main part operates as a basic spam filter, putting all bad mail into its own folder and marking it. The clever bit is that it is user supported and anything it misses which makes its way through to the inbox can simply be marked by me as spam and that action is relayed to several million other SpamFighter users who systems will also mark that message in the same way. Of course they do the same for my inbox! In addition to the “community” rules I can also add my own white or blacklist for senders and the software uses those rules to override the community ones if needbe.

There’s a free, fully functional, 30 day trial available at the website. Download SPAMfighter today.

Embarrassing hack at

Monitoring the feed on the 2009 Keynote just now and a rather alarming ALL CAPS post popped in:

9:27 am Retraction on Steve Jobs comment…we don’t know how that got in our feed.
9:26 am Showing a “pumpkin patch” event with no geotag. Starts typing name, and iPhoto assists using its database of locations.
9:25 am Hovering over a pin at Aspen. Click an arrow and go straight to all Aspen photos, even across multiple events.
9:24 am Now demoing Places.
9:24 am Can also group people in sidebar…smart albums. Showing “Our Family”…automatically contains and updates all members of the family.

Still monitoring it now at and more hacks are being added….

Update: Feed has been suspended…..