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Calendar of Events - Or NOT!

We have a lot going on in our lives and we could document our every move with dates and times.  But if we did thieves could tell when we were out of town and would certainly break in and steal our expansive collection of priceless Hummel figurines.  Note to thieves: We don't actually have any Hummel figurines - not a one.  If we did we would definitely not have them in numbered boxes inside blue plastic bins under our bed.  So don't look there.  We don't ever go out of town.

 

A Monthly Event from Microsoft

Each month (and often more often) Microsoft puts out a list of things that are wrong with their products.  Okay, actually the list only focuses on the catastrophically wrong things they have 'fixed' that month; things that can render your machine a veritable robot controlled by someone else on the Internet.  They aren't tiny bugs - but gaping wounds practically anyone with half a brain can use to steal your data, infect your PC, turn it into a zombie, and you may not even know anything is wrong.  

These are major programming guffaws which allow hackers to actually load their software onto your PC without your permission - without asking properly - without even asking.   Sometimes the infection is obvious like the software will prevent you from even being able to use your PC.  You try to start your email program (or anything) and a message pops up saying "Sorry.  If you want to run this program you will have to buy our software.  Click here".

BTW: Right now this is a super common type of infection.  If you get a message telling you to get rid of your PC's problems by buying their software - DO NOT DO IT!  Buying their software does not allow you to use your PC again.  Nothing gets better - it only gets worse.  You are out the money and the infiltrator now has your CREDIT CARD info (if they didn't already).  This type of malware, called a rogue, has been the most prevalent type of attack for about two years running. 

DANGER: If a site ever tells you it detects a problem or virus on your computer, never ever agree to let it help you get rid of the problem.  It is evil.  It is bad.  It is not your friend.

These monthly Microsoft "Bulletins" are pretty sobering since they show just how easy it is to take over your PC.  Lest you think you are safe because you are very careful on the Internet realize you can being infected while surfing very legitimate sites like the New York Times.  That's because hackers can infect legit sites with evil code that you can get infected by.  Even Google was hacked; lot's of big names have been hacked.  Speaking of Google try searching for "SEO Code Injection" to see how easily you can get hacked just searching for normal stuff - on Google.  Its downright frightening.

 

Monthly Musts - Geeks & Newbies

  • Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification
    Get it straight from the horses mouth!
    This is the list of what updates are coming your way.  Why should you care about doing your updates?  OMG.  Just visit this fun page (where you can also sign up for these bullentins) and check out the current month's updates.  Follow the link to peruse the Executive Summary (which is an odd name since we doubt any executives have ever looked at them).  Stare in awe and amazement at all the holes they are patching and realize just how porous your computer really is.  Spoiler alert: The flaws almost always affect every operating system they have ever created for PCs and servers - including Windows 7 (their best yet).  Please don't be offended Microsoft but you have to agree Windows and Internet Explorer are sucking wounds!

 

  • The September Microsoft Security Bulletin            Read it and weep!                                                Not to belabor the porosity point above but perhaps an example would be helpful?  In the September 2010 Microsoft Security Bulletin they told us that anyone can create an MP4 file (a video and audio file format by, guess who, Microsoft) that can allow a perp to take full control or your PC.  Yep.  That's right.  Just by watching a video, listening to some music, your PC can allow someone on the Internet (a big place) to remotely control your PC.  Now wouldn't you have thunk Microsoft would have thought about this ahead of time and figured out how to block someone from putting a Trojan in your videos or music?  Seriously Microsoft?  Come on.  So now do you think you should do the updates?

 

  • Symantec on DemonicWare (our name for it)
    These guys know Demonicware best!
    Symantec (think Norton) responds each month to each month's MS Bulletin (the publication discussed above).  Symantic's publication tells you if Symantec's software eliminates the holes in your computer Microsoft is 'fixing'.  This is kind of interesting because in many cases it is Symantec who finds the holes and quietly tells Microsoft about them so they can fix them.  Thanks Symantec!  Shockingly because the information about the fixes to the problems is so well documented by Microsoft and Symantec hackers can use this very information to figure out how to hack in to computers.  And since lots of computer users don't (or can't) do updates, untold millions of machines are made venerable.  Hacker Alert: If Microsoft sends out advance notification of what they are fixing and a hacker happened to subscribe to it, the hacker could break into every PC in the world until the updates were released and installed.  In theory.

 

Some Upcoming Annual Events

Science Fairs are great!  They not only help kids learn science but they teach them many other skills too.  Like how to present things to others, how to be confident, the ominous and unflinching power of experimental data, etc.  Our Space Coast has always done extremely well in fairs and we are always impressed by the depth and breath of projects we see.

FIRST is phenomenal.  Take a bunch of great kids, give them lots of cool Legos, add a controller with inputs and outputs programmable with a MathWorks drag and drop interface, simmer with a complement of sensors and output devices...and you get robots which can perform amazing feats.  You really have to see this to believe it.  But stop.  Its not just about technology - its about good sportsmanship and team effort and much more.  Try and check out a local competition if you can.  We have several around the county.  In fact the State competition is held at our own Florida Tech in Melbourne in spring time.  Once you witness how much fun it is for the kids you will be hooked.  Join the fun and excitement.  Join FIRST.

Science Bowl, despite its name, is not something you eat out of.  Picture lots of kids, on lots of teams, all competing against each other to answer all sorts of complicated science questions.  Want your brain to hurt?  Who doesn't?  Want to be humbled by kids in middle school?  Who doesn't?  Come to one of these competitions and get both.  Get your kids involved.  Get yourself involved.  The more the merrier!

Energy Whiz Olympics lets kids build vehicles that run off sunlight and/or hydrogen.  And if that isn't enough run then they get to race them against each other.  And if that isn't enough fun you must be having way to much fun already.  Kids get to learn so much competing in this event - but don't tell them that.  They just think it is great fun.  We know the real truth is they are gaining invaluable knowledge they wouldn't get otherwise.  Like the sun?  Like hydrogen?  Come on down.

BTW: TechWorks gets involved in all of the events above (mostly being judges at them).  We are volunteering nuts and have committed to giving as much time as possible to promoting science and technology in our area.  We also belong to a very worthy group called Space Coast Science Education Alliance - a great group of folks who give a lot to our community every year.  And don't miss our annual Brevard Research Rules event where we bring in experts from all science disciplines to help kids do science fair projects. 

Indialantic by the Sea Halloween Festival is an annual event we like, sponsor, and organize.  Technically it is called: The Annual Town of Indialantic By the Sea Halloween Festival and Very Scary Haunted House! We wouldn't normally mention this but TechWorks spends a lot of time and effort on this event.  We really like being spooky and on Halloween no one even notices we are different.  The Haunted House is our favorite part of the event of course but there are a lot of other fun things for parents and kids, like the hay ride, the popcorn, Frosties from Wendy's, hot doggers, drinks, costume contest, candy, games, prizes, face painters, tattoos, and more.  Here is a link to the town's website: Indialantic by the Sea.  This year's 16th Annual event is being held on October 29th.  Did we mention everything is free?

~ BE THERE OR BE WARE! ~

 

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