Recommended default action in windows 8 defender – Making windows defender in windows 8 complete!

With Windows 8 , Microsoft has made a radical change in its approach on the operation system. Its true that the OS is in a not so beautiful transitional phase. Its embracing future interface, a modern one. But keeping desktop with the modern ui giving the twin personality is not easily digestible to some. But people resist change , and that is what made windows successful and the reason for its recent criticism. Letting aside the UI changes , there is universal agreement that the the underlying architecture of the OS has improved a lot , that includes boot speeds-  using fast boot technique, Security – with promoting windows defender as a complete antivirus, windows smart screen ( smart screen or common sense , i think the latter is enough)….

Windows defender:

Before Windows 8, Windows Defender featured anti spyware capabilities. It included a number of real-time security agents that monitored several common areas of Windows for changes which may be caused by spyware.

In Windows 8, Microsoft upgraded Windows Defender into an antivirus program comparable to Microsoft Security Essentials. This new Windows Defender greatly resembles Microsoft Security Essentials and uses the same virus definition signatures.

Defender

As part of the minimalism Microsoft  made  all OS maintenance tasks being extremely silent , mostly invisible to or less intrusive to the user. Let the user use the pc for the realization of his creativity  and not to make the end user an IT pro just to maintain  his workstation in a fair condition.

But for windows defender it went a little too lean.Being less visible to the user. This time Microsoft took out the Default actions setting from the program. Now the defender takes the recommended action  (remove,quarantine,allow) automatically based on the severity of the alert. Tray icon is also removed. Microsoft has previously done the the same act of removing “Automatically do the Default actions” but the team later revised the decision and brought it back.

Windows defender/Microsoft security essentials do have the reputation detecting very less false positives, but that is with a cost of reduction in actual detection rate of zero day threats compared to vendors like avast,avira etc as per the AVTEST.

Still we cannot guarantee that windows defender wont generate false positive. The alerting mechanism used by windows defender in windows 8’s toast notifications are such a away that there is a possibility of missing alerts  when you are not in front of the pc. I also do not want defender to quarantine files on the fly. I would like an interactive way. Most power users would love that. So how to make that happen.

1) Open Policy editor and navigate to

2) Computer Configuration ==> Administrative Templates ==> Windows Components ==> Windows Defender :

3) Enable “Turn off Routinely Taking Actions”

Enable this policy and windows defender now waits for your input before before taking the action.

Enable this policy and windows defender now waits for your input before before taking the action.

14 Days With The Nokia Lumia 920 ….

lumia edit 2

Here it is.. handset that raised the bar of the perception of a smartphone. Whenever Nokia introduced a flagship, it has always excelled  in one way or another. When we talk about the flagships the heritage falls through Nokia 3650 to 6600 to n95 to n8 to lumia 920. Who would have thought a company who manufactured paper pulp went on to make technological disruptions and sculpt most of the wireless telecommunication technologies we have today. So a comeback is warranted.

Thanks to Nokia MEA (Nokia Connects)  for providing me the handset for reviewing.

lumia edit

When i unboxed the phone and started using it, the first person that came to my mind was Marco Ahtisari, his design principles, his vision is right there in the product. The poly-carbonate uni-body design made its first appearance as Nokia N9,  Now i would say Nokia Lumia 920 is the refined version of this design.

Marko Ahtisari, Nokia’s head of design giving personality to the lumia 920.

(Trivia: Marko is the Son of Martti Ahtisari,Nobel peace price winner and Former President of Finland)

 

Hardware:

A marvelous piece of engineering achievement.  The curved glass flows into the body. Colored poly-carbonate  shell comes in matte finish (black,cyan,grey) and glossy ( red,yellow,white). I personally have an affinity towards matte finish as it adds more class to the device.

The amazing everyday....

The amazing everyday….

IMG_1460edit

IMG_0206edit

Polycarb unibody.... Built like a tank...

poly-carbonate uni-body…. built like a tank…

 

Using the Nokia Lumia 920 :

The colors runs through the whole shell. So if you scratch the red phone the red color is what that will appear from underneath. This does matter as the phone will continue to look good after considerable use.

The Handset is little bit on the heavier side at 185 grams. For me the added weight is a blessing in disguise, i have a habit of checking my pockets to find all is there several times in a day. With the weight the handset is giving its attendance to me always.

Display:

One of the best in the market today and the best in many ways as detailed below.

Puremotion HD+ : More response time so now the windows phone fluid ui will be so fluid when you flick through the menus.

Clear Black Display : Awesome outdoor (noon sun over the head) visibility. Really good contrast ratio , the colors pops out to you.

Camera, the pureview magic :

Pureview is the innovations that Nokia makes in the imaging technology incorporated in its smartphones. Previously they tackled loss-less zoom by putting a humongous 41 megapixel 1/1.2″ sensor on its Nokia 808 Pureview. That time we associated pureview with that particular sensor.

Optical Image Stabilization :

Optical image stabilization of stills and videos.A feature till date found in only digital cameras is now in smartphones too (Update now HTC One features OIS too).  OIS in turn enables improvement in low light photos as it makes way for the possibility of taking photos with low shutter speed blur free.

OIS

The graph above is Nokia’s way of plotting Image sharpness to the shutter speed with OIS on and OIS off States.

Other factor that leads to the awesome low light performance of the phone is the Aperture of f2.0 (carl zeiss optics).

OIS on Videos is a gem, Video is so much stabilized , that it seems weird now when comparing with video captured on other phones (without OIS)

OIS Sample Video :

Multi-Aspect Sensor:

This is something that is not comes under pureview branding but worth mentioning.

920 pv

At the time of writing the only devices (including Dslr, P&S and smartphones) only Nokia (smartphone) and Panasonic Lumix (P&S/Bridge) have embraced multi aspect sensor. All other cameras crop the image from their full real estate of the sensor to get the desired aspect ratio. In Lumia you are getting true 16:9 that is actually wider than 4:3 picture.

Total used sensor area : 3552×2448 = 8.7MP
4:3 mode : 3264×2448 = 8MP
16:9 mode : 3552×1998 = 7.1MP

About the dilemma of choosing the aspect ratio, in the land non multi aspect sensors my rule is to take photos in the maximum resolution / using maximum area on the sensor. So in a DSLR take in 3:2. in a point and shoot take in 4:3 and crop according to your needs in post processing. So if you crop a 4:3 image to 16:9 you will loose approximately 25% of the original resolution. While in the case of multi aspect sensor by Nokia you will lose only 11% of the resolution. We can say Nokia image sensor is b0th natively 16:9 and 4:3 at the same time. When taking  4:3 pictures it uses the full vertical resolution (height) of the sensor and while taking 16:9 pictures it uses the full horizontal resolution (width) of the 8.7 Megapixel sensor.

What I choose is I use 16:9 for landscape for the obvious reason of widespread adoption of widescreen displays we have and 4:3 for portrait as 16:9 feels very narrow. Well at last it turns into your personal choice.

Photos from the pureview :

Here are some sample pictures that came from Lumia 920 under different conditions. Please Note that the photos are untouched.Click the photos to view in full size.

View from the breakwaters

View from the breakwaters…

Bokeh...

Bokeh…

blue...

Ocean blue…

Landmark...

Landmark…

Hilton..

Hilton…

Corniche...

Corniche…

Landmark...

Landmark…

Sunset..

Sunset…

Flare art !

Flare art !

@ night

@ night

Night Snap...

Night Snap…

Landmark...

Landmark…

WP_20130219_030

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Panoramas:

Beautiful Skyline...

Beautiful Skyline…

Ocean Blue...

Ocean Blue…

Cinemagraph:

The fountain..

The fountain…

Video from the pureview :

Here are some Video Samples that came from Lumia 920 under different conditions.

Video is untouched (Loss less joining done – Consider YouTube compression).Please watch in 1080p.

 

Operating System and the software features:

Exactly 2 years back Nokia placed its bet completely on Windows phone ecosystem. Consistently backing the ecosystem during the hard times, saying there is no plan B , plan B is to make the plan A successful.

When Nokia backed the ecosystem , it was not a halfhearted approach that other OEMs showed to windows phone. We saw that in the form of high quality apps released by Nokia  utilizing the strength the have. The services arena.

Apps like Here Maps,City Lens,Transit,Drive,Music

Lenses like Cinemagraph,Panorama,Smartshoot

and even apps that are born out of partnerships like Burton….

All these make experience on the lumia so much better and once again proves how Nokia is committed to the ecosystem.

As all these are software / OS Features , there will be continues evolution of both as they are updated. These information may not be reflected in the review.

Nokia Apps That make the experience so much special :

Nokia’s core strength in the services arena lies in their location based services. Nokia bought Navteq for a whooping $8.1 Billion in 2007  (with so many models sell like hot cakes at that time h/w sales was the cash cow for Nokia). Navteq Is a major player in providing maps for automobiles for GPS navigation systems. They have around 85% market share. This strength makes Nokia Lumia’s Location based apps pure gems.

Nokia Music :

The best app to discover music. It opens door to music through handpicked playlists. A music lover will cherish…

Nokia Music

City Lens:

Literally taking navigation to the whole new perspective.. City Lens Overlays information about shopping, restaurants etc in a cool augmented reality manner.

City lens

 

Drive:

Drive,the best navigation experience ever.That too completely offline.Bandwidth Saved.

Drive

Spec Sheet: (Source : Wikipedia)

Specs are just numbers , as i believe in the experience it provides.

Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia_Lumia_920_on_JBL
Manufacturer Nokia
Slogan “The world’s most innovative smartphone”
Series Lumia
Compatible networks GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
HSPA 850/900/1700/1900/2100
LTE 700/1700/2100 (except non-LTE model)
First released November 2, 2012
Dimensions 130.3 mm (5.13 in) H
70.8 mm (2.79 in) W
10.7 mm (0.42 in) D
Weight 185 g (6.5 oz)
Operating system Windows Phone 8
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960
CPU 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Krait
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 225 (920)
Memory 1 GB RAM
Storage 32 GB internal flash
Removable storage No memory card slot
Battery Rechargeable BP-4GW 2000 mAh Lithium polymer batteryQi inductive charging (Wireless Charging)
Data inputs Multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope,magnetometer, 3-axis accelerometer
Display 114 mm (4.5″) IPS LCD WXGA capacitive touchscreen with high sensitivity touch,
1280 × 768 pixels at 332 ppi,
16.7m-color,
Refresh rate 60 Hz,
Polarization filter (Clear Black Display),
Curved glass,
RGB Stripe,
Luminance 600 nits,
Aspect ratio 15:9,
Gorilla Glass 2
Rear camera 8.7 megapixel PureView with Optical image stabilization,
3264 × 2448 pixels, f/2.0,
Short Pulse High Power Dual-LED flash,
autofocusCarl Zeiss optics,
1080p video capture
Front camera 1.3 megapixel, 1280 × 1024 pixels720pvideo capture
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0,
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/nNFCmicroUSB v2.0GPS with A-GPS & GLONASS
Other Talk time: Up to 10 hours (9 hours for AT&T version)
Standby time: Up to 400 hours (approx. 16.7 days)
Website Nokia Lumia 920

Making windows Firewall complete….. Block outgoing connections and get notified, Review of Binisoft’s Windows Firewall Control

Windows_Firewall_Vista_icon

Windows Firewall (old school internet connection firewall or ICF) is what is protecting most of us. More people are concerned with an antivirus and may opt one from a third party vendor.For most of them a firewall is something what comes with windows.

firewall can either be software-based or hardware-based and is used to help keep a network secure (in this case a workstation/pc). Its primary objective is to control the incoming and outgoing network traffic by analyzing the data packets and determining whether it should be allowed through or not, based on a predetermined rule set. Windows firewall is a software based firewall that protects the workstation it resides on.

Background:

During the xp days windows firewall (ICF) didn’t have the ability to block the outbound connection, while it provided fair bit of protection for the pc by blocking incoming connections ( that are not in the allowed rule).

Windows firewall had a complete makeover when windows vista was released and gradual incremental evolution when time took us through windows 7 and windows 8.

windows firewall

The firewall blocks/allows are based on the predetermined rule set. There are rules for inbound connections and outbound connections separately or can be for both. We can block/allow both the inbound connection and outbound connection in Windows firewall based on rules. For the Inbound connection when the Windows firewall is set to “block” (which is the default setting) and then an application needs inbound connection we are notified and yes we can allow or deny based on the common sense.

outbound

For outbound connections its a completely different story, windows firewall lets you block outbound connection but will not give a notification , when an application needs internet access. So initially when you set the outbound connections to block , its like all the applications (applications that are not already explicitly allowed by a outbound rule) are forbidden to go out, its actually a daunting task to go to the windows firewall advanced setting (which is surprisingly powerful) and select an application and open the communication door for it.So Microsoft’s answer keep the door opened! Yes the default setting for your windows firewall is Allow all. Microsoft took this decision , so that it will be less intrusive to the user.

On Screenshot below the outbound connections are set to “block”, which is not the default windows firewall setting.

blk

Firewall is like a security officer at the gate and will allow only those people that are in his list to go out. But there is a security manager that is us , who decide whom to let through based on request. In windows firewall there is no request so the manager is now in the sweet spot to find and make the list.

Why do we need outbound filtering?

Reflecting increasing concerns about spyware and viruses that attempt to “phone home“. Outbound rules came into place in windows firewall from windows vista onwards. Notifications are not shown however for outbound connections on windows firewall.

Phoning home, in computing, refers to an act of client to server communication which is undesirable to the user and/or proprietor of the device or software. It is often used to refer to the behavior of security systems which report network location, username, or other sensitive data to another computer.There are many Malware applications that “phone home” to gather and store information about a person’s machine. Then there are legal phoning home , that is when applications try to validate its serial with a server each time the application is opened.

It is just not about phoning home or application validating or anything , ability to get notified when an application tries for an outbound connection/and having visibility gives user more control and informed about what is happening with his workstation.

How to Block outgoing connections and get notified?

Some will go in the direction of getting a third party firewall. Installing one will mostly disable your windows firewall.

There are products like

1) Checkpoint’s Zone Alarm Firewall

2) Comodo Firewall

3) Internet security suites from antivirus vendors like avira,avast  etc (end of thinking capacity)

The above mentioned products will be in command when you so with the third party route. I am not commenting on how good they are,  but some of the above mentioned definitely have followers.

My route is a much leaner solution , if you are after this , only this feature of  the ability to get notified and to have visibility to outbound connections that makes you feel that you are in control of the windows pc.

Windows Firewall Control:

Windows firewall control (WFC) is a front end to our beloved Windows Firewall , Its using the firewall api’s provided by microsoft to offer just what we need. By going the WFC way offers a much needed leaner solution. Its  our windows firewall itself that protects us. Microsoft will also be looking after your windows firewall as part of patches(windows update). Just that we will be notified so we can easily create rules for better protection.

Windows firewall control is from Binisoft. The software is under active development which is what makes this attractive.

You can follow the development how it has been unwinding @ http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=293143&page=67

In the first page of the thread you can see Alexandru Dicu’s (the creator of Windows Firewall Control)  humble beginning . Being his first project in c# and now grown into the best front end for windows firewall. Thanks Alex.

Using the amazing WFC :

It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the Windows firewall easily.

Filtering

High Filtering – All outbound and inbound connections are blocked. This setting blocks all attempts to connect to and from your computer. No communication whatsoever. Its just like pulling the Ethernet cable.
Medium Filtering – Outbound connections that do not match a rule are blocked. Only programs you allow can initiate outbound connections. This setting is our favorite part. that changes the windows firewall setting from outgoing to blocked from the allow status. This is just what we need.
Low Filtering – Outbound connections that do not match a rule are allowed. The user can block the programs he doesn’t want to initiate outbound connections.  This is our Windows firewall default setting now.
No Filtering – Windows Firewall is turned off. Avoid using this setting unless you have another firewall running on your computer.

Recommended System Rules:

The setup will create some recommended rules at installation Internet Control Message Protocol, Windows Time Service,Windows Update. The rest will learned based on how you respond to the notifications.

Learning Mode/ Notifications:

This provides notifications for outgoing blocked connections. Four modes are available:

Notification

High – Display notifications for all outgoing connections that were blocked by Windows Firewall, including System and Svchost.exe
Medium – Display notifications only for regular programs, without notifications for System and Svchost.exe.
Low – Automatically allow digitally signed programs without notifications, but show notifications for unsigned programs.
Disabled – Notifications are disabled.

Notifications we get :

The feature we longed for , for the windows firewall..

Here is the notification i got for firefox, when i first opened it. Allow the program to access internet, done… a new rule is created. How easy is that.

WFC1

If you want to be more specific in the port you open / restricting to a particular remote ip,protocol etc you can click “customize this rule before creating it”  , that way you have even more of a tighter rule.

WFN2

Manage Rules:

One intuitive interface where we can search, see the firewall rules at a single glance. This view gives sufficient information to satisfy us completely.

Untitled

Managing rules in WFC is a breeze, compared to what can be achieved with windows firewall.

Getting Windows Firewall Control:

We can get the Windows Firewall Control from  http://www.binisoft.org/

Follow the Development evolution @ wilders : http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=293143&page=67

Mozilla started metrofying firefox!

According to the blog post by Mozilla developer  Brian Bondy

http://www.brianbondy.com/blog/id/129/

This week Mozilla started churning out the code for the ambitious Firefox metro project and lets hope its not ambitious as the shelved/postponed electrolysis, but that was too ambitious.
Mozilla has already developed/optimized Firefox for Android (fennec) for tablets  . But as Metro design theme is different to that of android and gives controls to top and the bottom of the app and windows takes the left and right for its own charms bar and apps switching, there will be radical redesign in the firefox  metro.

Firefox for Android (fennec)

Windows 8 supports mainly 3 types of applications

1) Classic Desktop applications

2) Metro applications (run in the metro sandbox)

3) Metro style enabled desktop browsers (ability to run outside of the Metro sandbox and have access to the most of Win32 API & WinRT API)

Firefox will fall into the third category Metro enabled desktop browsers , So this fox will have 2 faces one in desktop and other in metro. The metro face will need a lot of new code.

Metro style enabled desktop browsers enjoys the privilege running outside of the Metro sandbox and have access to most Win32 API & WinRT API.So utilizing all these privileges in the metro land of restrictions  Mozilla plans to give us a metro style look with the experience of the powerful desktop counterpart.

Firefox Metro mode is only available if Firefox is set as the default browser a decision made by Microsoft.As it is not entirely a metro app and actually a metro style enabled browser The Firefox Metro enabled desktop browser will be distributed in the traditional way and most probably not the app store way.

The beauty of the metro…… USA TODAY app

When Microsoft pressed on the beauty of the metro,the minimalistic approach of the ui , atleast some were skeptical about the aesthetic value of the design language. When Microsoft released Windows 8 consumer preview on 29-Feb-12, a far more baked product compared to what was released as a developer preview which often required killing of the apps the “task manager way”..

When we talk about the aesthetics of the metro one of the 64 applications that was released on the windows store demands appreciation.I am talking about the USA TODAY app, the way the news is presented to the people weren’t this beautiful all along the human history. As most of the apps are a preview version they have not unleashed its full potential or even showed off its beauty. 

The news is presented so beautifully so that it is asking to be read and makes you feel eyegasmic.

Now we understand the metro is beautiful as time progresses making the new design ui and the WIN RT runtime to be more mature and capable without losing the minimalism in the design approach.

Also to be mentioned is that some apps are poorly implemented, some not enabling mouse scrolling otherwise would have made the life mush easier for desktop mouse users. There are few minor glitches here and there and are to expected at this early build!!!

My full windows 8 consumer preview review is on the way.By the time windows 8 go gold it will be an excellent tablet OS (touchscreen ) and good desktop/laptop OS (rat & keyboard)….

Stop innovating on Water Damage Detection & make the phone water proof….

The tech world is crazy… It is insanely fast in innovation and extremely good at packing more and more transistors onto the silicon in the valley. Smartphone is one device that saw extreme progress in the last 10 years but they where busy bumping up the GHz,Megapixels,Resolution,Screen size,Memory… I recently read that Apple is working on improving the already existing water damage detection in iPhone to reduce false warranty claims by customers.. Pathetic…. This is something that global leaders like Apple,Nokia,Samsung,RIM,Sony Ericsson, Google (Motorola) should learn from the Japanese. Water proof devices are much common in Japanese market.Instead of innovating on Water Damage Detection they made hardware innovation and made devices that are water proof.

Thank god these weren’t the players in the watch (the time machine) business. Then we would still be wearing time machines that stops pumping out time during rain / or after a hand wash.

Fujitsu showcased an aquarium with water proof phones and tablets (arrow) in CES 2012.Others “should follow”.

Mobile Phones / to an extend tablets should be water/dust proof as they are always with you and humans go near water.

Please tell me honestly do you want a quad core or settle for dual core but water proof phone?..

Hate when we hear service guy say that “our ultra modern water detector detected water damage and so no warranty for you”. Also hate to hear that ooops phone cracked it cant survive 3 feet fall. Guys we need some serious hardware innovation here.

So why this rant? One of the global leaders  in smartphone business i mentioned above  denied warranty , they detected water damage that too within one week of the purchase….  The next time you go to the service center the customer should be in command even if the device is not working due to water damage..

Unassociate File Type in Windows!

For whatever reason if you feel that you need to unassociate or remove the file type association to a program there is a way.

The best way to do it is this without downloading anything:

1) Open up notepad. Type something like “to remove” .

2) Save as, to_remove.exe. File type should be .exe

Note : Please check that you saved it as to_remove.exe & not to_remove.exe.txt . To see there is a double extention or not please uncheck ” Hide extentions of known file types in Organize –> Folder & Search Options –>

3) Right click on the file with that file type you want to unassociate and click Open With –> Choose default program

Browse to “to_remove.exe”  and click “always use the selected program” and click ok.

4) Delete “to_remove.exe”. Not you have unassociated that file type.